Friday, December 31, 2010


Yesterday, after a warm game of horseshoes (which I won, by the way, 22-14), Big Bore and I reminisced about the year gone by.

"What was your favorite day of 2010?" I asked.

"When I had the hamburger at Estes Park," he said.

"Why that?"

"Because it was the same day we hiked to Gem Lake. I was never so glad to get back to the car! But I'd love to do it again. It was such a pretty area."

"That was my favorite day, too!" I said, although the hamburger had nothing to do with it.

As exhausting as it was, that hike was so beautiful that it will always be etched into my mind. I think this picture basically says it all. Thank-you, God, for this glorious day. ---So long, 2010. Happy trails in 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Since my ailing PC was in the shop for much of December, I didn't get to download any of the digital pictures I took during that time. Now that all systems are up and running, I'm going to belatedly show some of them today. Above is the winter solstice lunar eclipse of December 21st. Not exactly like what I was hoping for, but at least you can see the shadow. I will be 145-years old when the next one of these appears.

Our Christmas "tree."

We brought home a bag of big pine cones from our Colorado trip in October, and I stuck some of them in a wreath. These are home-grown Estes Park cones.

I finally learned how to make a wreath bow, but it wasn't from the E-Z Bow Maker I purchased for $9.99 (see Dec. 3 entry). We were driving by the local greenhouse a few days after my dilemma began, and the sign out front read, "Stop in any time and learn to make bows." Hallelujah! A message from heaven! I bopped on in and learned to make bows by my own handy-dandy hands! Here's my very first one. So much for the E-Z Bow Maker. For sale. Cheap.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


T-minus three days and counting before the Queen of Talk launches her own television network called, appropriately, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network!! Leave it up to Oprah to come up with cute initials.

Now, I quit watching Oprah’s syndicated talk show years ago once her shouting voice hit 1-katrillion decibels. My sorry ears just couldn’t take the assault anymore. That, plus all the drama just doesn’t appeal to me. I’d rather watch game shows. But, I admire Oprah’s income and if she wants to start her own TV network, then more power to her--except she’s not really starting her own network from the ground up. She’s just taking over what is now Discovery Health Network and stamping her name to it.

OWN is going to be on 24-7. It will have some of the old Oprah stand-bys like Dr. Phil (also known as Dr. Full--of Himself) and Dr. Oz. I’m not sure if she is still pals with Dr. Green, her diet guru, since she’s back to being Fat Oprah, but everyone knows that we all like Fat Oprah better than Thin Oprah, anyway. Otherwise, she’d be perfect, and no one likes perfection. Perfection is not good for the TV ratings. Viewers like to see Oprah cry in her size 24s.

I suspect I will watch a few of OWN’s new shows. There’s one with an intriguing title that I may check out: “In the Bedroom: Sex Therapy with Dr. Laura Berman.” Personally, however, if Oprah is going to play the sex angle I wish she had gone after the unflappable Sue Johanson, an 80-year-old nurse who is the hostess of “Talk Sex with Sue.” She will say ANYTHING, god love her, because anyone who has lived to be 80 can just blurt out whatever the heck is on her mind. She’s earned the right. Sue just loves to talk about sex toys and even shows viewers how they work. (Big Bore says I’m exaggerating. Imagine that. He asked me to clarify: “She doesn’t show how they work on HER!!”) Be that as it may; if Laura is half as hilarious as Sue, her show will be a hit. Just like Oprah Winfrey Network, of course.

At 12 AM Saturday I’m going to greet the new year by inserting my earplugs and tuning in to Oprah’s new channel, and I expect to see her proclaiming, “I OWN the WOOOORLD! in her patented Oprah shout. Steadman and Gayle will be there to crown her Queen of the Planet Earth Airwaves. Maybe Queen of the entire Milky Way Galaxy. Oh, it just will be tear-jerking Oprah-iffic!! If I can OWN-ly wait!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Howdy pahd-ners! Last week my sidekick Big Bore and I giddy-upped out west to the city to see the re-make of True Grit, and yee-haw! This here movie was a rootin’ tootin’ good time!

Okay, so much for the hokey cowboy vernacular. Let’s get to the review. True Grit is the story of a feisty 14-year-old Arkansas girl, Mattie Ross, seeking to avenge her father’s shooting death at the hands of the no-good Tom Chaney. She tags along into Indian territory with two lawmen who couldn’t be more polar opposite.

Texas Ranger La Boeuf, portrayed by Matt Damon, is a handsome no-nonsense type who is not about to have Mattie slow down the chase. On the other hand, grizzled marshal Rooster Cogburn, played by Jeff “The Dude” Bridges in the role made famous by John “The Duke” Wayne, is a boozy loser who secretly admires Mattie's stubborn determination to overcome the obstacles in her way.

Since Big Bore and I are fans of the original movie, we couldn’t help but make comparisons with this new version, which we liked even more. This True Grit of forty years later is grittier, as in graphic, but not overly so, and the settings are better. The pigtailed young actress who plays Mattie, Hailee Steinfield (why isn't she given credit on the movie poster?), is much more believable than the original’s Kim Darby because she actually is just a kid. Damon puts in his usual solid performance, and Bridges more than holds his own to Wayne’s award-winning role as Cogburn. He’s not as bigger-than-life blustery and doesn’t try to steal every scene as Wayne tended to do. This is Mattie's story, not Rooster's.

Out of the 4-Star Flaming Bore scoring system, I give this movie 3-1/2 flames. I suggest you mosey on over to your closest theatre to see it, but be sure to leave your six-shooter at home.


Monday, December 27, 2010


Here's a Christmas Eve shot from the car while we driving down beautiful downtown Pittsburg, Kansas.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Back when I was a school yearbook adviser, I absolutely dreaded group photo days. (My blog readers Tara, Sarah, Angela, and Dusti will be shouting, "Amen!" since they were on staff and know how royally bonkers I would get.) There were sooooooo many hassles: kids who showed up late, the clueless who couldn't line up by height, inappropriate messages on T-shirts, slouchy postures, funny faces, "rabbit ears" behind heads, and, the cardinal sin of all yearbook pictures: middle fingers popping up where middle fingers shouldn't be. It was enough to drive me to early retirement!

So, you'd think I would know better than to try to round up my four great nephews and my great niece for a cousins picture on Christmas Day. Right? But old habits die hard, and when I found them all semi-close together, I grabbed my camera and started lining them up. "Bo, you sit down in the chair since you're so much taller than the others. Maddie, you stand next to Bo. Luke, stand on Maddie's other side, and Boomer, you stand in front and between Maddie and Luke." The older four were pretty easy to deal with, but the baby William had a squirmy little mind of his own. He wasn't taking directions, of course, so I told Bo to pick him up, and soon we were ready to go. That was the easy part.

Now for the hard part: getting everybody to look at the camera and smile at the exact time I shot the picture---and I wasn't going to be able to get very many shots because Will was ready to blast off at any second. Oh, lord. First shot, Will wasn't looking at the camera. Shot two: Maddie had her eyes closed. Shot three: Boomer had his eyes half closed. Shot four: Maddie and Luke were looking to the side. Shot five: Maddie was wiping her nose. Shot six: oh, there was no shot six because Sweet William had wriggled away from Bo's clutches. End of photo shoot.

The good news: no one flipped off the photographer.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Last week a judge friend of mine celebrated his upcoming retirement in the district courtroom at our local courthouse.

"Gee!" I told the judge. "I don't think I've been in this courtroom since I was called for jury duty in the Bobby Gene Parker trial (name changed to protect the guilty.)

Bobby Gene had (allegedly, of course) whipped up on his wife and shot down two officers who had reported to a domestic dispute call. Fortunately, all the victims survived, but Bobby Gene was still in a world of trouble.

I first heard about the case when a well-known TV news reporter from the city accidentally called my home phone number, which is similar to the local newspaper's.

"Have you heard about the shooting in town?" he asked.


When he told me the address, I about flipped. "Why, that's just four blocks from here!"

Now, I wasn't about to go ambulance chasing, but I did call the neighbors to make sure their kids weren't out on their bikes after school. A helicopter was soon chopping overhead, and our town was the top story on the evening news. Long story short, Bobby Gene surrendered his angry ass when the house was surrounded by every sheriff's officer and highway patrolman within a 50-mile radius, so it seemed. Oh, it was the talk of the town for weeks.

Fast forward to the trial. I was one of a gazillion people in the county summoned for jury duty. Actually, as I recall 100 people were there on the first day--standing room only in the hallway and quite the social affair. We eventually were ushered into the courtroom to take a multi-page questionnaire, mainly about domestic abuse, firearms, and the legal system. I was all too happy to fill it out because I love to write and be opinionated and there were some open-ended questions. By the time I finished, every line and margin was filled--an essay of epic proportions--so I was quite proud of myself.

My goal was to be dismissed ASAP and get back to school, but we had to sit around and wait for the lawyers to look over the questionnaires, which went well into the afternoon. We were finally called back to the courtroom, and in groups of 10 we were instructed what to do. Many were immediately dismissed, others told to stay for Round Two, and my group was called back to the judge's office. Well, crap. What was that about? Was I going to get yelled at for writing so much?

"The judge has a few more questions for you," his secretary told us. So, individually, we were escorted into his chamber for the inquisition.

When it came my turn, I was surprised to see not only the judge but also lots of other men, including the prosecuting attorney, the defense attorney, some deputy sherrifs, and--dum, de, dum, dum--Bobby Gene himself--cuffed and looking none too happy to be there, just like me.

"We have a few questions to ask you about your responses," the kindly judge said.

The main drift of their interrogation was why I was so certain that Bobby Gene was guilty as charged, especially since I wasn't an eyewitness. I don't recall how many times I'd written in the questionnaire that I thought he was guilty, but it was enough to get my point across that I had no doubt and could not serve on his jury with an open mind.

"Well, I've seen the TV news reports, read the newspaper accounts, and talked to neighbors who saw Mr. Parker get arrested. Who else could have done it?"

More questions. More responses that were questions back to them. "Well, if he didn't do it, then who did? Who else was in that house?"

Finally, they'd heard enough. I was dismissed from the list of prospective jurors and was free to go on my merry way, unlike someone else sitting in the room.

A few days later I had a chance encounter with one of my former students, a sheriff's deputy, who laughingly told me what a great job I'd done in the judge's chamber.

"I didn't see you there," I told him.

"Oh, I was in the judge's restroom listening to the whole thing. You didn't back down like most of the people they questioned."

"Well, they were the smart ones who knew better to keep their flapping mouths shut. Bobby Gene was probably scrawling out notes with his handcuffs about that smart ass who thought he was guilty."

An unbiased jury WAS finally seated and, lo and behold, Bobby Gene was found guilty by those people, too. I don't know if he's still in prison or not. This all happened more than 10 years ago. Heck, maybe 15. Time goes by so fast when you're not behind bars. But I didn't see him lurking around at the judge's retirement reception last week, so that's a good sign.

Dec. 24 addendum: Well, I checked the Kansas Department of Corrections website, and Bobby Gene isn't up for parole until 2037, so I think I'm safe a while longer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My internal alarm clock went off at 1:15 this morning--time for the Great Astronomer to get up and view an event that had not taken place since the year 1638 and wouldn't happen again until 2094: a lunar eclipse on the winter solstice!

On went the jacket, slippers, eyeglasses, and out I went to the patio, but I had barely eased into a chair before I was joined by Big Bore, trailing behind, also wanting to see this once-in-a-lifetime event.

We were expecting to see this blood red orb in the sky, as pictured in the newspaper, but, to tell you the truth, it wasn't much different than other lunar eclipses we've seen--just maybe a slight tinge of orange, but mostly a black shadow. The conversation soon turned to other astronomical phenomena:

"Isn't there a song about an eclipse?" I asked Big Bore.

"Yeah, I think so," he said, but not offering any suggestions.

"Is it 'Dark Side of the Moon'? Pink Floyd? No, that's not it. The title has the word 'eclipse' in it."

"Oh, you're thinking of 'Total Eclipse of the Sun.' Meatloaf," Dr. Bore said. (After getting the rest of his night's sleep, he told me 'Sun' should be 'Heart.')

"That's it!" And I started humming the tune. "You are a mental giant."

I took some so-so pictures of the moon, went back inside to get our field binoculars for a better view, and we spoke to Orion, who faded out as the eclipse grew. We thought maybe the moon shadow might get redder as it got fuller, but it didn't, so we finally decided we'd seen all we wanted to see. Time to get out of the cold and get back to bed.

"Vini. Vidi. Vici. We came. We saw. We conquered," I lazily proclaimed. "Happy Winter Solstice. Happy Polar Eclipse."

"It's solar, not polar," BB corrected.

"Lunar," I corrected back.


The brains of great astronomers don't function too well at 2 AM....or at 2 PM, for that matter.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Last night Big Bore's channel surfing was turning into an episode of frustration until he finally hit the programming jackpot.

"Ah-ha! The Wizard of Oz!!" he happily announced--like we both hadn't seen the classic a billion times previously, the most recently being earlier in the week. But there's always something new to fascinate us about this wonderful movie, and this time it was Toto.

"I wonder how they trained that dog to stick with Dorothy and not run wild on the set," I posed to BB. Most terriers I've been around bark like little maniacs, especially around strangers, and nothing is stranger than munchkins and flying monkeys.

"Dorothy must have had a steak sandwich in her basket," BB summised about how the real-life Terry the Terrier faithfully stays with Judy Garland and behaves like a seasoned professional. No running around bonkers or lifting a leg on his co-stars. He acts and reacts to the other characters perfectly. Give that dog an Academy Award!

Without Toto, The Wizard of Oz is nothing. It is he, after all, who sets the action into motion when he infuriates Miss Gulch, causing Dorothy to run away from her Kansas farm. It is Toto who saves the day and leads the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion to rescue Dorothy from the Wicked Witch's castle, and it is Toto who leaps from the hot air balloon toward the end of the movie, resulting in the arrival of Glenda the Good Witch to tell Dorothy to click together her ruby slipppers. "There's no place like home. There's no place place like home." No Toto, no show.

When I retired from teaching four years ago, I gave away most of the loads of "stuff" in my two classrooms, including my two black witch hats and a Wizard of Oz poster, but I kept my Toto stuffed animal. Toto was a yearbook staff mascot of sorts, even being pictured and indexed in the several of the yearbooks, so Toto retired with me and now stands guard over some plants on my desk at home. I'm strictly a cat person, not too keen on dogs since I've been bitten by them more times than I can count on my fingers, but my Toto is quiet and obedient and has never tried to attack me, in spite of my periodic witchy ways.

So, here's to you, sweet Toto--the best supporting actor a girl ever had!

Monday, December 13, 2010


"Oooohhh!! Guess who's going to be hosting Saturday Night Live next weekend?" I asked Big Bore yesterday while scanning through the TV section of the Sunday newspaper. "One of my favorites!"

"Kendra," he answered, uninterested, his own nose stuck into whatever part of the newspaper he was reading.

"Kendra?" Why would you say Kendra? I don't even watch Kendra!" I was stunned.

"Okay," he said, still uninterested. "Kathy Griffin."

"No. But that's a better guess. At least I watch her show. Come on. Who do I REALLY, REALLY like?"

"TyRee." (This is Big Bore's nickname for KU basketball player Tyrell Reed, whose dad is an old teaching friend of mine.)

"You know Tyrell is NOT going to be hosting Saturday Night Live. Geez. Who am I just CRAZY about? And you like him, too," I said, giving a little hint.

"Santa Claus."

"NO!!!!!!!!" I was beginning to get exasperated.

"Hugh Hefner. Brad Pitts."

"It's Pitt," I corrected. "And, NO to both, but you're getting closer. We both think this guy is a great actor and we hope to see him at the movies soon." Good lord. Was I going to have to spell it out for him?"

"Oh, well, why didn't you say that in the first place? Jeff Bridges," he said and went on reading.

"YES!!! Hooray!!! You are a genius!!

I guess I'm going to have to stop playing guessing games with him before I lose my mind.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


There's some sort of conspiracy going on in the world of sweet treats. Trying to find a decent butterscotch shake is getting to be a challenge of monumental proportions, and I'm not happy about the situation.

I was in Pittsburg yesterday when the butterscotch shake urge overtook me, as it does about once a month. I knew not to even bother hitting up Dairy Queen or Sonic because for some reason that is beyond me and my persnickety taste buds, neither of them have my favorite ice cream downfall. Neither do Mickey D's or the other fast-food joints, and I wouldn't bother to check out Freddy's Frozen Cuss-Turd because my single visit there several years back was a disaster that I didn't even finish--and for me to throw away something sweet and creamy is strange, indeed.

I felt certain, however, that there was nothing to sweat because within two blocks of where I was staying in the 'burg, a Braum's was standing ready to save and serve me. But do you know what? Not even Braum's makes a buttershake shake!!! "The closest thing we have is a caramel shake," I was told by the wait-person. Good lord. The world must be coming to an end. Now, I'd have to wait all the way until I got to Fredonia for a butterscotch shake at the Tri-Mee Drive-In. Seventy whole miles! Could I last that long? Well, crap. I'd have to.

I put on my game face, told myself that I could live another 90 minutes without a butterscotch shake, and went on down the road. I was miserable the entire time, of course, but my spirits weren't totally shot since I knew the Tri-Mee would eventually be coming to my rescue. When I got into town, it wasn't quite 11 AM, opening time, so I sqaundered away 10 minutes or so at Mama Bore's empty house, which is just two blocks from Fredonia's famous burger and ice cream joint. I'd come this far. I wasn't going to give up now.

At last, the OPEN sign was glowing orange neon and the customers were starting to arrive. Oh, boy!! I was just second in line. "I'd like a small butterscotch shake," I said happily to the lady at the counter window. Man, just two more minutes and I'd be in butterscotch heaven!

And then she said something that shot my excitement all to hell. "I'm sorry, but our ice cream machine is broken."

What?? This can't be!! No ice cream?? The Tri-Mee was failing me at my time of desperate need?

"Oh," I said sadly back to her. "Well, that's all I wanted." I was a wounded bird, pathetic as I stood there a second longer, waiting for her to maybe say that she was just fooling me, and that she'd have that butterscotch shake to me in a flash. But she wasn't teasing, and I slumped back to my car, disappointed. When I got behind the steering wheel, I said aloud, "Well, I guess God is telling me that I don't need a butterscotch shake today." Likely a better reaction than bashing the wheel into the steering column, which was what I really wanted to do.

And, alas, that's the way my quest ended yesterday. Today I'm suffering from Butterscotch on the Brain and am already plotting when and where I will finally succeed. And don't tell me to just go to the grocery store and buy a gallon of vanilla ice cream and a bottle of butterscotch syrup and make my own shake. It wouldn't taste the same, plus I'd have the entire purchase eaten in a few days and then I'd feel guilty.

I think someone needs to shake some sense into me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


When I was a kid, I suspect I was the only girl in the block who got excited about bringing in the new year by watching the college football bowl games. There were five of them: the Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Gator Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Rose Bowl. The latter was always preceded by the Mother of all Parades--floats made of flowers galore rolling through the streets of Pasadena, Calilfornia. I could almost smell them through the television. Even in black and white, they were gorgeous.

Fast forward fifty years and, my god, there are now 35 major college bowl games!! That's not counting all the small college and junior college bowls. It used to be only the cream of the pigskin crop played in these bowls games, and now any old 6-6 team makes the grade. What's more, the games start in mid-December and go on and on and on until mid-January. What's the big deal anymore?

Adding to my frustration is that the bowls no longer have glamorous names like Rose and Orange. There's the Pinstripe Bowl, Meineke Bowl, Ticket City Bowl, BBVA Compass Bowl, and Bowl. What the hell are those all about? Besides someone's desire to make money?

A sports writer in today's Wichita newspaper claims that by the year 2050, "experts believe that three out of four Americans will play in a bowl game"--and I don't think he's too far off the mark.

The glut in college football bowl games is probably a financial payday for someone, but it's sure taken away all the fun and excitement of watching. A bowl game used to be something special. Now, it's just ho-hum, so what. I'd rather watch KU's basketball team play a game of H-O-R-S-E.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


While degfragging my computer's C-drive Sunday, I discovered six nasty problems that couldn't be fixed, so I have taken it to Dr. Fox, our local computer guru, for treatment. The Flaming Bore will likely be down and out during the recuperation period. Until then.......

Friday, December 3, 2010


As I was walking to the Hobby Lobby check-out line yesterday, my eyes honed in on something that wasn't on my shopping list: the incredible Deluxe E-Z Bow Maker!!! Just what I needed! I have several wreaths that I worked on last year but didn't finish because I couldn't find the right bows. After the holiday season, I loaded up on 75%-off spools of fancy ribbon with the idea that I'd just make my own bows, but all my efforts were disasters, so I just forgot about it all until the trip to the Lobby. This was going to be an impulse purchase made in heaven.

According to the box, the E-Z Bow Maker, ("as seen on TV") is made of durable hardwood and comes with a lifetime warranty. At $9.99, how could I go wrong? It just happens to be "The World's Best Selling Bow Maker," and if it's good enough for the world, then it's good enough for me. Plus, says the box, "It's E-Z as 1-2-3!" That's important to me since my brain can only deal with about three steps to follow in any single given day.

So, with Big Bore's unsolicited help, I put the contraption together, got out my ribbon and wire thread from last year, opened the manual, and selected Wreath Bow. Between the two of us, BB and I fumbled through the first two steps okay, but when we got to Step 3 we were hit with a major obstacle. After making a small loop, which I guessed was to be used for the center, we were referred to Steps 4-8 for the Floral Bow on some previous pages. What???!!! I thought this was only going to be 3 steps! And now we have 5 more??? ---Neither one of us could figure out the rest of the steps. Try as we might, and we tried over and over again, we couldn't get that blasted center loop to work. It just looked like a big wad of wayward material. Adding to the problem was that the beautiful ribbon I'd selected had silvery glitter stripes running throughout, and by the time I'd started all over again a jilllion times (practice makes perfect, you know) the living room looked like one big glitter factory explosion. I will be picking up those tiny pieces of silver forEVER! Even Fluffy is sparkling this morning.

I finally tossed in the towel, got on Facebook, and sent out an SOS. What are friends for, anyway? Could someone please come to my rescue and teach me how to use this damned E-Z Bow Maker? And like an angel from heaven, the local art teacher heard my plea and has offered to help me out after school today. She made 50 bows for her son's wedding, and lived to tell about it, so I figure she will be the perfect person to gently guide me through the center loop-making stage. And if I prove to be a poor pupil and still can't get my bows made, maybe I can pay her to do it for me, with the money I make from selling the E-Z Bow Maker to some other schmuck.

'Tis the season to be jolly.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Casa de la Flaming Bore has only one window with a western exposure, and when I went to close its blinds late yesterday afternoon, I screeched, "I gotta get my camera! Fast!" The sunset was ablaze.

When I was a kid, such Decemeber sunsets evoked a similar emotion from Mama Bore. "Mrs. Santa Claus is baking cookies for Christmas," she'd say about the red western sky, and, of course, I believed her and was certain I'd be one of the lucky recipients.

There is so much beauty in the world. Even out my front door.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Well, instead of heading off to Wichita today to shop till we drop, I've changed gears and gone into Nurse Nancy mode. Jeff is coughing, sneezing, and fighting a fever, so we've postponed the trip and I'm babying him. Our thermometer is on the fritz; it registered 188.8 degrees before AND after I put it in his mouth, so I went to Plan B. "This is what my mom always did when I had a fever"---and I plopped a cool, wet washcloth on his forehead, gave him a back rub, and he went back to sleep. Now, I'm off to the grocery store to get orange juice, 7-Up, chicken noodle soup, and cough drops. It's payback time, and I am happy to oblige. But if he's not feeling by better tomorrow, I'm going shopping by myself.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Well over a year ago, I dug into my savings and sprang for some new double-hung windows for the ancient Casa de la Flaming Bore. They’re the nifty kind where I can stay inside but still clean the outside of them--provided I could remember the salesman’s demonstration by the time I actually got around to washing them, which, in my case, was yesterday.

Fortunately, Big Bore came to my rescue to show me the ropes, and once I caught on, after three windows, the Windex and I had a grand time. And I was doubly happy, hallelujah, because earlier in the day, when I was cleaning out the entertainment cabinet, I found my O Brother, Where Art Thou? CD, which has been missing in action for five years or so. I turned on the tunes, cleaned the windows, and sang along while I worked. Here’s the chorus to my favorite song on the soundtrack:

“Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life.
It will help us every day, It will brighten all the way,
If we keep on the sunny side of life.”

I did a little research on this song and learned that the lyrics were written in 1899 by one Ada Blenkhorn, inspired by her disabled nephew who always wanted his wheelchair pushed along the “sunny side” of the street. Isn’t that sweet? Knowing the story makes me feel ashamed of ever being an old grumpy puss at times. We should always try to keep on the sunny side of life…even when we’re washing windows.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Great-neph Luke was sort of “lost” at our Thanksgiving dinner because he was cousin-less for the day and had no playmates. He likes hanging with his older cousin Misty because she’s sophisticated--at age 12. The younger ones, Maddie, Boomer, and Baby Will, are fun, too, provided Maddie doesn’t try to force “little girlie stuff” on him. “I draw the line at playing house with her,” Luke says. “No way!!” Typical 10-year-old boy.

So, being desperate for something to do after we ate, Luke said, “Hey, Aunt Nancy, do you want to go on a hike?”

It was cold and windy out, but the sun was shining, so I was game for a little outing to a new bike/walking path that has recently replaced railroad tracks that used to run through Pittsburg. I bundled on the layers and off we went, but it soon became clear that I wasn’t all that compatible as a companion--even though I wasn’t advocating playing house.

You see, at every street entrance and exit, there were yellow poles placed to keep out motorized vehicles, and Luke was fascinated by them. He was determined he was going to sit on top of them, although they were higher than his bottom could reach. I, on the other hand, wanted to keep walking--my only way of staying halfway warm. “I can’t stand here and watch you try to pole sit, Luke. I’m gonna freeze.” Any time it’s under 70 degrees, I turn into a whiner.

Well, we finally developed a system that sort of worked for both of us. He would run to a yellow pole and, while I walked there, he would think of every way possible to try to get on top of it or push against it or run around it. I would finally reach where he was, then he would run off to the next pole. This went on for almost a mile before he got tired of the routine and we turned back
Next stop was Lakeside Park. There we talked to the ducks and geese and they quacked and honked back. “I think they like us,” Luke decided, even though we had no Thanksgiving leftovers to offer them. We dawdled there until dark, carrying on conversations with the birds and dodging mass quantities of their droppings deposited on the sidewalk around the lake. “Watch your step!!” More than once I wished I’d brought my camera along to capture some of the scenery away from the sidewalk. The geese took off and landed on the water like aircraft, and the sunset was a gem. Luke, too, appreciated its beauty. “Boy, the sky sure is red.”

I don’t know how much longer my great nephew will want to “play” with me, but I hope he won’t “draw the line” with me any time soon.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Fast Eddie's is an outhouse memorial to the late great Eddie Pyle, a bassoon prodigy whose claim to fame was being the inventor of the question mark, the Vlasic pickle formula, AND an anti-venom for aarvark bites. According to his bio, Eddie also had the misfortune to suffer from marathon bouts of constipation. There is speculation that he died from a flash fire during one of his gas attacks. Library Lady and I gave this outhouse kudos for the lovely picture of the late Frank Zappa in the background.

The Dog Pound is unique in that the inner bowels of this outhouse consist only of a fire hydrant--specifically for the use of modest canines in Elk Falls. Judges got to decide if the impounded were guilty or innocent of busting into a chicken house. Duh!

There is a nifty pottery shop in Elk Falls, and next to it is an outhouse called the Chamber Pot. Inside this potty is an overalled gent multi-tasking, doing his duty while modeling a piece of clay at the potter's wheel. This classy hideaway was the only outhouse in the competition that had wallpaper AND oh-so-soft Charmin.

This holiday creation is called The North Hole. Leading up to it are all sorts of ghastly Christmas yard art. I expected to see Santa or one of his elves leaving a "present" inside this outhouse, but, instead, a big ol' turkey was popping a squat. Go figure.

Well, folks, this concludes my week of outhouse postings. I hope you have enjoyed the tour. It's been a gas!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Behind the Elk Falls Post Office sits the Postal Potty, "Where every delivery is a priority." I think a better name for this outhouse would be Going Postal, but I suppose such a title is a bit too politically incorrect.

Library Lady and I gave this creation our stamp of approval. The decor, inside and out, was bright and cheerful. Come rain or shine, the Postal Potty is ready to provide service with a smile. The United State Postal Service can be proud. First class all the way!

Friday, November 26, 2010


The outhouse called Facepot wasn't much to speak of on the outside, but the inside was fixed up like a computer station. The walls served as the screen for the outhouse computer, and visiting Facepot "Friends" were invited to leave messages. Library Lady and I couldn't think of anything clever to post, but someone before us left the little ditty in red, which we thought was genius.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Library Lady’s favorite outhouse in Elk Falls was Gilligan’s Contemplation Palace. It was way out in the sticks, almost a 3-hour tour, and made of sticks, as well. A cute “Just a Minute” life preserver adorned the grand entryway, and impressive His and Hers holes were inside. Ginger would NEVER share squatting room with the Skipper and his "Little Buddy," heaven forbid. This outhouse won Viewer’s Choice last year, so that’s why I didn’t vote for it, even though it is a masterpiece of jungle art. The Flaming Bore believes in equal opportunity outhouses.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Go Green, the Loo with a View, was the outhouse I selected for second place. The neon French doors certainly make it unique, and I’m a sucker for plants and bottle trees. Simple and oh, so environmentally correct. Practical? Well, maybe not--unless you’re an exhibitionist.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Here are some pics of my favorite outhouse at the big tour in Elk Falls over the weekend. I was impressed with the usher’s ropes, theater carpeting and seating, concession-style refreshments, posters, AND the sound track from the movie playing in the background (great title for the occasion, by the way). Why, I half expected Rhett Butler to sashay out. "Frankly, my dear, this is the finest outhouse I've ever used." So, I did my civic duty and voted “Potty Palace” as my Number One selection.

Like a nasty bout of Montezuma’s Revenge, there’s more to come tomorrow…

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Yesterday the Library Lady and I headed south to Elk Falls for the annual Outhouse Tour extravaganza. Thirteen privies were on display, and those who purchased the above button for a buck received voting privileges in choosing the Best of Show. I told LL that it couldn't be any worse than participating in the the recent November political elections, so we purchased our buttons and bravely headed off on the walking tour of Elk Falls' finest, ballots in hand. Some of our favorites will be featured throughout the coming week. Here's a sneak preview:

Friday, November 19, 2010


At last! Some news worth talking about! I’m tired of all the buzz on political in-fighting, the price of groceries, and the latest Cher movie. Yesterday, direct from jolly old England, came word that Brit’s hunky specimen of royalty, Prince William, is getting married! Hooray!! There’s nothing like an overblown wedding to put everyone in a better mood!

The Flaming Bore totally approves of Will’s choice for a bride, the lovely Kate Middleton, his gal pal for the past seven years or so. She has a dancer’s lean body and fabulous, long chestnut hair that will just look grand tangled around a tiara. I simply can’t wait to receive my personal invitation to plop in front of the TV and watch the spectacle across the Atlantic--and I say that in all seriousness. I’m always “up” for a good excuse to indulge in cake and ice cream.

My own wedding, thirty long years ago, was a courthouse affair. The bride and groom wore blue jeans and a “reception” of sorts took place at an ice hockey game. I never wanted all the fuss and frills for myself--I am the lowest of low on the low maintenance scale, but I’m sure hoping Will and Kate will spring for something elaborate--20 bridesmaids, the London Symphony, and fresh-cut flowers everywhere. If they opt out for an elopement, I’m going to be royally steamed.

Congratulations, you two love birds. And if I have any piece of marital advice for you, (yes, I’m qualified--I have the divorce papers to prove it) it’s NOT to take anyone’s advice. Just muddle along like the rest of us. Good luck, kids.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Eeee-ha! Five weeks and counting! I have circled December 22 on my hifalutin, rootin'-tootin' social calendar--the date the new version of True Grit “opens at a theater near you.” I’m popping in the ear plugs and we’re going to see Jeff “Be Still Our Aging Hearts” Bridges taking over the John Wayne role as crusty Rooster Cogburn. Rumor has it among critics’ circles that JB may be nominated for another Academy Award with this portrayal, so I’m anxious to see it. There’s nothing like a good ol’ fashioned western with a herd of corny cornball lines to get my blood flowing. 

“Well, sister, the time has come for me to ride hard and fast” outta here. There’s a lotta chores to get done here on the ranch between now and sunset, and they ain't gonna get done on their own!  "Happy Trails To You" on this Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Since we are always searching for cultural events to attend in our great state, Library Lady and I are planning to check out the Elk Falls Outhouse Tour this coming Saturday in a neighboring county. There was a blurb about this extravaganza in our local newpaper today, and the last few lines really caught my eye: “….the Howard Rotary will be serving funnel cakes.”

Hmmmm. In all my 61 years, I have never tasted a funnel cake. Oh, I’ve been to county fairs and state fairs and all sorts of other fine places that serve up this sweet treat of grease and powdered sugar, its aroma tempting my taste buds, but I’ve never caved in and tried it. Big Bore says he hasn’t, either. But everyone I’ve ever seen eating the puffy concoction always has a happy face, licking sticky fingers--acting as though it's delicious right down to the last bite.

So, for the next few days, I will be contemplating whether or not I should lose my funnel cake virginity or remain pure. Are they really that good? I’m afraid my stomach might rebel and I’ll end up in one of the outhouses. What should I do? Go for the funnel cake or stick up my nose, walk on by, and head for the sloppy Joe stand? It’s a question of monumental importance to me, so all opinions are welcome. To funnel or not to funnel?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Our hike yesterday at Woodson Cove was lots of fun, except several times I got us off the trail and we had to re-group, search for the blue tree markers ("I spy" in the above pic), and get back on track.  All the fallen leaves covered so much of the ground that sometimes the trail was difficult to follow.  Of course, it didn't help that we were gawking around and not really concentrating on where we were walking.  The funniest part of it was that I didn't realize we'd come to the end of the 1-1/4 mile circuit and had started another one when Big Bore yelled from behind, "Are you going around a second time?"  Oops. 

The Jayhawks won easily last night, so no swearing or resuscitation was required.  And instead of doing housework during time-outs and half-time, I pedaled on my recumbent bike--so guess what needs to be done today?  Horseshoes!!!  That's what!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Swish!!! I have joined KU coach Bill Self’s off-court team called, “Coaches Against Cancer 3-Point Attack.” For every three-point basket made by the Jayhawks this season, I have pledged 25 cents. With over 30 games on the schedule, I hope to be able to pledge close to $100.00. This is a fun way to made a donation to a good cause, don’t you think?

KU plays tonight, so I’m getting my game-face ready, as well as the rest of my body…dressed in my red and blue 2008 National Champions gear, of course. Big Bore is ready, too, psyching himself up to tolerate me during the game. He’s actually become somewhat of a fan, himself, although he still can’t remember guard Brady Morningstar’s name and continues to call him “Moonbeam.”

And speaking of KU, I had the coolest dream overnight about my favorite team. I was at the edge of a body of water, like a pond or creek, and I was finding all sorts of Jayhawk memorabilia in the water---pins, stickers, patches, etc., in pristine condition. I was also finding money, too, mostly dimes and quarters. I even found three look-alike K-State Wildcat pins, which I decided to take to give to someone who is a fan of there’s. I am an equal opportunity dreamer, you know.

Before the big game, though, Big Bore and I are headed out to Cross Timbers State Park to hike our favorite trail there, Woodson Cove. To heck with the housework that needs done. Right? Maybe I can get to some of it during halftime tonight.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


When I was teaching, sometimes curious students would ask, “Why didn’t you ever have any children?” I think the reason I never became a parent is because I babysat a lot when I was growing up myself and I was really terrible at it. Terrible with a capital T-Terrible.

I started out caring for my much younger siblings, for free, of course, graduated to the neighbor kids, 50 cents an hour, and then spread out to various homes around town as I got older. Now Big Sis was a babysitting genius--a regular teenage Mary Poppins--so I think it was expected that I would be likewise, but I wasn’t. The kids were always bratty and noisy and didn’t want to go to bed, and once they DID go to bed I was exhausted and wanted to fall asleep myself. I always prayed the parents would get home early to put me out of my misery.

My most memorable babysitting experience was with the three Fink boys, Danny, David, and Greggie, adorable little “stair-steps.” But they were as ornery as they were cute. On this particular night when I arrived, their mother told me they were playing in the basement. Out the door she went, and I headed downstairs to check out what the boys were doing. I was appalled. They were playing with their Uncle Larry’s chemistry set. We’re talking three, four, and five years old here. Regular Dr. Jekylls and Mr. Hydes.

There must have been twenty or more tubes of chemicals laying around, and the boys were mixing them together, undoubtedly to see what evil they could produce for their babysitter. As I got closer to them, I saw Greggie, the youngest, stirring some black, bubbly concoction in a beaker. Good grief! They were going to blow up the house!

“Let’s put this away and go upstairs and play,” I quickly suggested. At which point Greggie put the glass rod inside his mouth to taste his creation--like you would do with cake mix paddles. Holy crap! I went into freak-out mode, certain that he had poisoned himself with whatever chemicals that were now dripping down into his stomach. I grabbed him, dashed upstairs, and forced him to drink a glass of water and another and another. He didn’t seem sick at all and had no idea what the fuss was all about, but it really shook me up.

I decided to wait to see if he had any ill effects before calling his mother--and then the second wave of panic hit me: I’d totally forgotten about Danny and David, still downstairs. Lord knows what they were probably doing with their own beakers of bubbly stuff. So, Greggie and I went back to the basement--only to discover that his brothers were gone. Where in the world had THEY gone? Had some chemical caused them to totally disappear off the face of the earth? How was I going to explain THAT to their mother?

Back upstairs we went. I called for Danny and David. No answer. Checked every room. Nothing. Sonofabitch. Went outside and started yelling for them. Do you think they’d answer? Of course not. So, Greggie and I (now operating in pissed off mode) started scoping out the neighborhood. It was starting to get dark outside; I’d have to hurry up and find them--and eventually I did, hiding in shrubbery at the library down the street. They were laughing. I was steamed, but at least relieved that the chemicals hadn’t dissolved them. Home we marched.

I don’t recall now if I ever told Mrs. Fink about any of this. When she returned later that night and asked how the boys behaved, I probably mumbled, “just dandy,” collected my battle pay, and limped on home.

Anyway, that’s why I think I never wanted to have children of my own. Bad chemistry.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Autumn sunset near Severy, Kansas, Nov. 9, 2010

I don’t advocate taking pictures while driving, but every once in a while the sky is so flush with color that I can’t resist grabbing the camera, aiming it more or less through the car window, while keeping my eyes on the highway, of course, and hoping for the best. This shot did not disappoint.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I admire anyone who is a veteran of our nation’s armed forces; I never would have had the courage to sign up--not even for a day. I am scared of guns and rifles, and I don’t particularly care to engage in any kind of conflict, let alone a war. I am a coward.

I became more aware of what war was about when I was in high school. The Vietnam War was a horrific staple on the evening news--night after night, year after year, there it was in the living room on our black and white TV. Soldiers dodging bullets. Medics rushing the wounded to helicopters. Young men dying before our eyes. And for what, I wasn’t sure. I remember thinking I was lucky to be female and not subject to the military draft, but I worried about those I knew who might have to leave their families and go halfway around the world to put themselves in peril. In an old scrapbook I have a news clipping listing the order of birthdays drawn for the 1969 draft. Names of boys I knew are scribbled in beside certain dates. A circle is around 115, the draft number for my own birthdate.

Over 57,000 Americans were killed in that war. Soon after the Vietnam War Memorial was unveiled in 1982, I was in Washington, D.C. to see it. The long list of names engraved on “The Wall” is a somber reminder of those who died too young. Name after name after name of broken dreams. Why did they have to die? What could they have accomplished with their lives if there had not been a war? How did their families endure the loss? Why can’t people live in peace?

Freedom has one hell of a price. I suspect veterans realize that all too well.