Texas Longhorns

texas longhorns

Spent some time mingling with the locals down in Texas last weekend.  Longhorns never fail to impress with their size and that massive headgear.  These cattle were stopping traffic just outside Georgetown.  Resting near a fence, they were content to pose for a bunch of out-of-towners like myself.

I was struck by the beauty of the cow in the front on the right side.  I have never seen a more photogenic cow.  Look at the tilt of her head, subtle and alluring and just the angle the photographers always try to get out of me as I awkwardly jerk my head about until they finally give up.

longhornsHere she is again, that super-model of bovines.  The dark guy to the left rear blinks as the shot is taken.  The light guy behind her appears drunk with his eyes half-mast and horns pointing different directions.  But the lovely cow sits serenely, titling her head in the most becoming of ways.

I have always been a skittish meat eater, and as I realize I am smitten with this Longhorn cow I think I may have just stumbled across why I have mixed emotions about eating beef.

texas longhornOver the past several years we have attempted to eat locally when possible.  As much as I can, I like to know where our food comes from.  If it was grown closely enough that I know the farmer, chances are really good that the nutrient levels are still high and the food will nourish us well.

I get eggs from one of the teachers at school, milk from a dairy on the county line.  There are people at church who provide us with corn and juicy tomatoes every summer.  The fruit trees in our own backyard offer us a bounty.  But when it comes to something that once had long eyelashes and big brown eyes, I get a little queasy.

bovine close-up

brandAll it takes is the sight of this brand on the hindquarters of one of the Longhorns to remind me that this herd is being grown as a food product.  My rancher nephews have no problem with this concept.  I remember enjoying a barbecue at my sister’s right up until the moment her youngest son asked, “Is this Snowball?” about his burger.  I remembered Snowball.  My dinner was over.

Texas Longhorns

I doubt if I will ever get as blasé as my nephew, but we have just ordered a side of beef from a guy my husband knows.  He and his dad raise the cattle.  They feed them grass rather than a corn diet they were never meant to ingest.  They deal in small enough numbers raised in large enough quarters that they have no need to load them up with antibiotics.  And on occasion the farmer has even been known to give the cows a hug or two.


OK,  I know the hug thing was supposed to make me feel better, but now I am back to thinking about the long eyelashes and pretty cow again.

I think I will just go with a grilled cheese sandwich.  Then nobody gets hurt.longhorns

My Memory Art

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Lots of times I share a photo at Black and White Wednesday.  Hostess Adrienne has such a good eye and takes beautiful photographs which she pairs with the perfect sentiment every time.  For weeks, Adrienne’s photos have revealed signs of spring well beyond any I have seen here in Kansas.  I mentioned to her how little spring we have had, and she suggested putting the camera on macro and taking a walk.  Sure enough, spring was as close as my own back yard.

bud buds buds bud

Little miracles were budding all around me, and I had totally missed them.  Life has been so drab and gray, I assumed bleakness was all that existed.  At first I really had to look to find the promise of spring, but the more I recognized the small signs the more evident and undeniable the promise of new life, color and light became.


When you learn to find blessings in the smallest things, the big things become positively spectacular.



My Memory Art
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The Rally

The last time I saw my mom she was in that end-of-life rally that some people who have been sick a long time are given.  I didn’t realize she was experiencing this when I happened to be able to squeeze in a visit.

I was stunned when I entered her room and found her sitting in her chair one leg folded up under her, a pose reserved for a young woman, carefree and lively.  Her cheeks were rosy and her eyes gleamed.  She laughed and told stories.  I could never have imagined that only three weeks later she would be dead.

Later that summer just before our  pet bunny died, I put him out to play in the grass.  I had seen in his eyes  for several months a cloudiness where the sharp brown shine had always been.  This day as I sat him on the lawn he kicked his hind legs into the air and scampered like he used to when he was young.  I sat in the grass watching and laughing as my thoughts traveled to Mom on that last visit.

Out of curiosity, I did a search to see what I could find online to explain how one so sick could behave and look so lively if only for a moment.  I found a couple of threads of discussion among physicians who scoffed at the idea of an end-of-life “rally”.  I read  a half dozen of their proclamations of “wishful thinking” and closed the sites.  They had nothing to offer me; I know what I know.

Sometimes a dying soul is given a window of energy and decreased pain.  It is a gift both to the person who receives it and those who love him or her.  I believe it is given by God so that we may have a chance to say a proper goodbye that will sustain us in our loss, and so that the dying person can get their final interpersonal affairs in place.  Both sides can let go a little more easily then.

I have no empirical evidence.  I don’t need it.  I was fortunate enough to be with my mom when she rallied.  The body that sat in that chair that day may have been ninety-two, but the soul that laughed and spun tales was ageless.

susie (We are coming close to the second anniversary of my mother’s death.  I didn’t know until it happened that no matter how old you are when you lose your mom, you are not prepared.)


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Finally Flowers

I am so ready for Spring, and this week gave some hints that it may almost be here.

jonquil jonquil jonquil jonquil

We finally have a few  more flowers blooming in the yard.

The precipitation this week came as rain rather than snow.

There was wind enough for kite-flying or flag-waving, but not frost-biting.

I opened a couple of windows and let in fresh air.  No more stale, stuffiness lingering here.

I did a little bit of planting.  It has been hard not to jump the gun because I am so anxious.

Planning in staff meetings has turned to the final push of the school year.

Social planning has shifted to Mother-Daughter teas, bridal showers and graduation events–celebrations with people I love.

The air is filled with bird song.

My energy level is high, and I’ve been productive this week completely due to the renewing powers of spring.

And best of all, though totally unrelated to spring…the latest report has our patient patients of the family–giver and receiver of kidney–feeling strong and positive.


Items #421-435 of My 1000 Gifts

Ten Things of Thankful
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Potbellies in Paxico

Paxico, Kansas-a little town that has saved itself from extinction by transforming from a farming community to a destination for people on the hunt for antiques.

Paxico, KSThirty years ago when we were newlyweds collecting inexpensive furniture to refinish for the home we were making together, we would run to Paxico fairly often.  Add three kids and leisurely weekends spent rummaging through antique stores evaporate pretty quickly. It had been a long time since we spent a Saturday poking around Paxico.

There are more stores to choose from now, but fewer of them seem to be operated by anyone who might have actually grown up in Paxico than when we used to be part of the regular crowd.  It made us wonder if we would find our favorite craftspeople still in business.

potbelliesSure enough.  At the end of the main drag after all this time you can still find a wide selection of antique potbelly stoves refurbished and nickel plated until they shine like new.  Because they are antiques, no two are the same.  They come in all shapes and sizes and burn either wood or gas depending on the model that captures your heart.

potbelly stoveI remember stopping in on many a winter day when the shop was heated by a stove the craftsman had restored.  The smell and the warmth enveloped the place in charm and sealed my memory.  My heart jumped for joy last week entering the shop again and finding the business is alive and well, and every bit as warm as I recalled.


You can still peek into the workroom in back of the shop and spot parts of potbelly stoves in various stages of repair.  If you are lucky, you might even catch the guy at work.

potbelliesAs much as things change in this world, it is an unexpected pleasure to come across something that has stayed pretty much as remembered.  You might even say it warms the heart.

potbelly stove potbelly stove



My Memory Art
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