Ten Things of Thankful: Mid-September


Ten Eleven Things for which I am thankful this week:

Bird song.

Opening the windows to let in the crisp fall air.

My country

And the freedoms I take for granted most weeks.

The Topeka Police Department.  Corporal Jason Harwood who lost his life in the line of duty last Sunday.  The Harwood family.

I am thankful for all my nieces and nephews, my own kids, and all the young people who have to try to make sense of the society we have handed them.  I wish them well and hope they have more wisdom than we have.

I am thankful whenever good conquers evil in this world.

Though the list looks short,  it has so much packed into it.  Even the somber weeks offer much to be grateful for.

#725-735 of my One Thousand Gifts


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The Battle for the Fuji Apples


Apparently it is National Apple Month.  So, when I saw that Mama Kat was calling for pieces inspired by apples, I decided to dust off this old story that I have shared before because it still makes me laugh even after the war has been won.

apple close up

We had planted an apple tree years ago and had grown several crops. Every year we saw the branches fill with apples. We watched as they got closer to ripeness our mouths watering at the thought of the yummy treats a tree full of apples could produce. Every year just as we had begun counting down the days until harvest, we would go to bed one night with the vision of a luscious tree of fruit in our heads only to wake the next day to empty branches. No sign that there had ever been apples remained. Apple, core, stem, all were gone along with our dreams of homemade applesauce and the crunch of a sweet juicy apple.

This was an affront we could no longer tolerate. So, we became detectives looking for clues. Chief suspects? A yard full of squirrels, the mama possum who brazenly scaled the back fence each night, and the raccoon we fought to keep out of the chimney.

Each growing season saw a new plan of attack. We researched natural repellents for each of the suspects. We sprayed the tree with hot pepper spray. We covered the tree from top to trunk in netting. We placed a covering on the trunk in an attempt to make it impossible to climb. Each growing season began with high hopes for our latest battle plan only to end with a stripped tree.

Finally, my husband had had enough arriving home one night with a live trap in tow. When I asked what would happen if he actually caught anything, he grinned and said we would figure that out if and when we had success. Up the trap went to the roof of the sleeping porch. It was fortified with cat food which was reportedly irresistable to chimney-seeking-raccoons. Every night my husband scaled a ladder to the rooftop to bait the trap. Every morning back up he went to find the trap sprung and the food missing. This was our routine as the high school prom approached.

When my daughter and her date arrived home in the wee hours they startled a humongous raccoon.  Attempting to shinny up the downspout, the portly (apparently from eating trees full of fruit) rascal lost his balance somewhere near the roof. He scraped along the uneven rocks of the second story as he tumbled down the side of the stone house. The kids hurried in wide eyed as a thud sounded in the bushes. The next morning there was no sign of the raccoon himself but the side of the house was covered in a trail of raccoon blood. War is hell.

One villain down-literally, the trap and the battle moved to the back fence area. To our surprise it captured not one but two opossums. There is a trick to removing these unattractive creatures from the trap as they really do “play possum”. You can be completely certain you are removing a corpse when suddenly faced with a mouth filled with tiny spiky teeth and a spitty hiss issuing forth. It wasn’t pretty. Suffice it to say the opossum family no longer resides out back.

While Man vs. Wild played out on Westwood Drive, the tree silently produced its best crop yet. We were optimistic, but not overly confident. The yard still teemed with dozens of squirrels who had not been eliminated as suspects. They seemed to taunt us with their chipper scampering around the tree, but each morning we awoke to branches still brimming with apples. Although we still don’t know who the real culprit was, when harvest came the apples were ours for the picking.

We enjoyed apples that fall until we could eat no more.  They make a healthy treat which is important. We need to be in tip top shape because apple season is just around the corner, and we must be prepared for battle.

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Mutterday: A New Season is Beginning

mutterday button

(Mutter is mother in German.)

As summer ends a new season begins.  This one finds my son in Germany where he will study for the fall semester.  This gives us a chance to renew our series of photos showing Mondays in Topeka and another part of the world.  For the next several weeks we will get a glimpse of Friedrichshafen, Germany where it looks like summer is still hanging on.


Friedrichshafen is on the southern border of Germany along Lake Constance.  A ferry crosses the lake several times a day taking passengers to Switzerland.


In Topeka, the lone little pumpkin that grew in our garden this summer has been picked.



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Ten Things of Thankful

What is it about a short week that feels so darned long?  I am thankful for the weekend.

I am thankful that I decided to bake some sort of bread each week for a whole year as an homage to my mother’s love of bread.  It is very gratifying to know I have a magical goop (aka starter) in the refrigerator that I can coax into something delicious for the people I love.  There is healing in the whole process of bread baking; it is slow and measured.

not by bread alone

This week I used the starter to make a homemade pizza crust which was substantial without being heavy. Oh, my.


Rounding out the list of things I am grateful for this week…

The upsides of an empty nest.

International calls through FaceTime.

Kids who try.


The feeling of fall in the air this morning.

Homemade applesauce.

#715-724 of My One Thousand Gifts

Ten Things of Thankful


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Girl Power Circa 1903

softballGrandma Ruth is second from the right.  Growing up in Central Kansas at the turn of the last century, she had an amazing array of interests and skills.  Quick witted she excelled academically.  She played softball and basketball on organized teams, and when the game was over she cleaned up quite well.  Her skills as a seamstress were impeccable.  Her talent on the piano led to a gig playing for her church’s Sunday service.  She hand braided rugs the size of a living room floor. She was known for her competitive nature. Her sugar cookies were the stuff of legends.  And she could keep the books for the family business as well as any man she knew.

In her own quiet way, just by being herself my grandmother blazed a trail for me.  She showed me and all her granddaughters that a girl could do anything she wanted conventional or not.  At no point did she objectify herself or sexualize herself to gain power.  She maintained dignity and grace throughout her life and led with competence. This is what feminism looks like regardless of what century we live in.



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