Monday, December 29, 2008

I Love Pheasants ...

The Pheasants are finally starting to surface after all of the snow we have had the past couple of weeks. They typically "hunker down" in the shelter belt on the north side of our property. Now they are back to their routine of feeding in the morning sun and the late afternoon.

Yesterday this big guy came up close to the house, and eventually another three followed. They went up and down the drifts looking for something to eat. I put cracked corn out and will be watching for them this morning. My niece and her husband saw twenty of them up by the road last night.

Aren't they beautiful ? I come from a family of hunters extraordinaire ... and our pheasants are off limits.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Gifts That Rank Waaaay Up There ...

Ron and I took a trip to Italy and France a couple of years ago with our dear friends, Tirey, Jim and Kelly. Tirey and Jim's church in Houston, Bering Methodist, has a fabulous choir that occasionally performs in the early summers in various quaint towns in both countries.

There was room for just a few fortunate travelers to accompany them in 2006, so the five of us signed up.
It was an amazing trip that was meticulously planned. The choir was awesome and they were a blast to travel with. Things went at a leisurely pace if you wanted them to, or there were scheduled guided tours of all the key attractions.

We toured castles, churches and museums. We shopped. I shopped. We were invited to meals hosted by reciprocating choir groups. I shopped. One afternoon, after a picnic, shopping, and tour of a Mid Evil castle in Rivaralo, their choir surprised us by singing The Star Spang Laid Banner. That's right ... SPANG LAID ... just like I spelled it. It was
priceless. They wanted to honor us, The United States of America. You see ... we saved their butts in World War II. But not until we invaded, I shopped, and we bombed up the place to get at the Germans. Whoops ... you're not mad, are you ? Did I tell you that I shopped ?

On one leg of our journey we descended upon The Italian Riviera and The Cinque Terre. I shopped. You can travel around and between the five unique, self contained fishing villages by train, by boat or on foot. If my memory serves me correctly, I shopped. Then we took the train, only once, from Monterosso, very early one morning so I could shop. And that was to the farthest village, Riomaggiore, where I shopped, so we could "stroll" back, through the other three villages, Monarola, Corniglia, and Vernazza, after a bit of shopping and a leisurely lunch.

That "stroll" turned out to be the most physically challenging aerobic activity any of us had ever signed up for, with Kelly and Tirey, Zero Body Fat Butt Holes, in the lead. But we did it ... all five of us ... ten miles of blood, sweat, tears and shopping, through the olives, grapes, and flowers ... with a reward for every gasp of breath. Each of the cliffs we clung to and/or dangled from, extended way out into the Mediterranean, and sometimes, the only thing between us and the Sea, was a Bouganvilla, a Geranium, and my shopping bags.

Tirey and I were in a full press photographic competition for the 2007 Bering Calendar. I got January but he got June and July. Ron and Kelly were both in Atrial Fibrulation, her not knowing it. Jim and I were the sweatiest ... at one point, right before we found the coldest, best Coca Cola we've all ever had in our lives, our conversation went something like this:

Jim: Based on the map description, this is more difficult than I thought.

Laurie: We can bomb your country but we can't hike your Fucking State Park.

Then we crawled, literally and vertically on all fours, to get to Corniglia. So I could shop. But, I digress ...

The photo posted has to be enlarged to understand it. For Christmas, Tirey picked three of his photographs from our trip, manipulated them into what looks like Van Gogh painted them, and had them printed on 18 x 24 canvases. I have the perfect huge wall for them. They are all stunning. And one of them is of Ron and I on our 26th French Anniversary. Awww ...

But this is Vernazza ... Tirey's Impressionistic Style. And this is what I call a Christmas gift.

In Arles they are very proud of the fact that Vincent was depressed and cut his ear off there. And they don't shave under their arms. I shopped there too. I bet Lynette remembers.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Ornaments ...

There are Ornaments and then there are Ornaments ... this is the latter ... one of many. We've been collecting Christmas Ornaments for almost 30 years. Our collection marks time and has traveled the world.

There are some from my childhood tree. There are some that Allison and Brad made from melted Mardi Gras beads when they were children and lived in New Orleans. There is the one my Grandmother gave us when we were first married, with the couple riding in a sleigh, snuggled up, and says "Our First Christmas Together" ... I used to think it was so hokey ... try putting it on our tree and not passing it to me for special handling. You might loose your arm. There is another she gave us from the South Dakota Centennial celebration. She rode in a covered wagon both across The Prairie AND in the Centennial Parade that year.

There is a glittery barn on our tree with grazing cows. There are German Shepherds, Dragon Flies, Monkeys, Fish, a Penguin, Pheasants, a Giraffe, a Panda Bear and a Red Fox. There are Birds, Reindeer, Mice, Cats, Bears and a Baby Doe. There are Day of the Dead Skeletons, several of Catrina. There are stars, moons, snowflakes, icicles, Angels, Mermaids and tons of Santas. There are Snow Men, Snow Women, and Snow Skiiers. There is a huge pink Glenda the Good Witch, crown and all, and Charlie Brown riding with Lucy and Snoopy on a Toboggan.

There is a blue paper bow with dried flowers that my sister made. There's her Mice collection and some of her Frogs. There are acorns and pine cones ... shoes, slippers and hearts. There's one of The Beatles from the Abbey Road cover, and a King, Queen and Jack of Spades. There are hearts, tea cups, and shells ... and the priceless ornaments made by Ian and the Grand Babes.

There is a Taxi Cab from New York City and a Cable Car from San Francisco. A hollowed out earth from Provence with French Peasants dancing around a Christmas Tree on the inside. There are hand painted porcelain pieces from Italy and Holland. There is stained glass from Germany and a wooden carved hand painted Santa from Russia. Then there is the Opryland Hotel replica and a bell from Colonial Williamsburg. There are Revolutionary Soldiers wearing Tricors, playing a flute and a drum. There is the crest of The Princess of Monaco and the silver beaded Crest of Princess Diana's home, Althorp. And there is a spangly purple, green and gold Mardi Gras Fleur de Lis from New Orleans.

It takes quite a while to decorate our tree. After our Annual Light Fight I always say "Let's tone it down this year and just put up the REALLY special ones". And they all go up. Merry Christmas with love from The Prairie.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Don't Have To Dream ...

I don't have to dream of a White Christmas this year. It's out there. The photo with the Evergreens is the view from our front porch looking North. I'm not posting the house in the snow because it hasn't been painted yet ... I'm having an issue ... it needs to be it's Keller's On The Prairie color and it didn't get done this fall. It wasn't a priority with everything else that was going on. But as of today that's all behind us. Ron's eye surgery was successful so we are moving on into Christmas with lots to be thankful for.

It was some kind of cold yesterday. We did some shopping and ran errands. It was zero and the wind was out of control. The great thing about that is when it's 18 or 20 it feels fantastic with the sun out. Town is full of snow as well. It's beautiful ...

So that drift in the photo that lies between our Evergreens and our Shelter Belt ... it's about 12' high and about 40 yards long. It will be there until March, according to the resident Scientist. I'm not all that bothered about it. It's really beautiful all around us out here. And we can get to our vehicles, get to town, and get to the Neighbors.

The first photo is the view West from our Sun Porch. Check out the top of our Corn Stalks coming up out of the garden. To the right of the Corn Stalks is our Asparagus Patch. You can't even see the Raspberry Patch ... There were a couple of Rabbits out on top of those drifts this morning. They were eating the top of one of our Flowering Crab Apple Trees. Ron said, "That's what's called the end of the Food Chain". I say, "Let them have it".

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dig This ...

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Getting In The Spirit ...

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Very close to hitting the mall with the Visa Card after this ...

Chicken Toes Nativity ...

Just as I suspected, The Three Kings from the Orient have been playing Chicken Toes when we are not looking.

See the Double 9 to your bottom right ? That's where the game begins, and the next game you begin is with the Double 8 and so on and so forth. If you have 2 players, draw 8 Dominoes to begin, and draw from the pile left over when you don't have a play in your possession.

The object is, of course, to play all of your Dominoes, or to at least have a low score of total dots when someone else has played all of theirs. But here's the scoop: See the 9 that was played off of the Double 9, with the 4, and then the Double 4 going sideways ? That Double 4 going sideways is the Chicken Foot. And once someone plays a Chicken Foot, everyone has to play off of it until you have 3 Chicken Toes. Then you can continue to play off any of the Dominoes in the usual way. And the toes can be as long as you want and/or need them to be.

Thanks to my cousin, Roxy Goodman, for giving us yet another way to while away the days of Winter on The Prairie. Oh ... And ... if you have more than two people playing draw 6 Dominoes or so to begin. Be flexible. I mean, after all, it's just Chicken Toes : )

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Making Ice Candles With Mrs. Keller ...

If you were to walk up on my front porch right now you'd say, "What The Heck"? I've got an ice candle factory going right now. And since it's so cold (see Weather Pixie) like negative something or other, I'm cranking them out like crazy.

First you take your bucket, or your bathroom trash can if it's metal or plastic like mine, and fill it with water. Then you take a tall and wide jar or can and fill it with water too ... leave a couple of inches at the top because it's going to expand, like we learned in 4th Grade Science Glass. Thank you, Sister Elzear !!! It has to be taller that the amount of water you are using in the bucket so it defines the hole for your candle. You can also use marbles or stones to weigh the object down.

Set the contraption outside your door with the jar or can sitting right in the middle. Be sure it's close and convenient so you don't have to venture out to the edge of the deck in your negligee when it's negative something or other ... talk about your instant hot flash cure.

Give it 5 or 6 hours to chill then bring it in. If you used water to weigh the inside object down, run hot water inside the inside container so you can pull it up and out. Now you need some ice for the candle to sit on so put another couple of inches of water inside the hole you just created and put it back outside for another couple of hours.

The old fashioned technique calls for an ice pick to chip out the center where your candle goes but I like doing it my way. I know you are shocked. You can get creative and add food coloring, sprigs of Evergreen, or Cranberries. And if you don't live where it's negative something or other you can use your freezer. They actually freeze very clear in there and that's a nice touch.

Here they last forever, just sitting prettily outside. And a candle lasts forever here too. I will put some out at the Cemetery and close friends and relatives will get one too. Between ice candle making, Netflix, Turner Classic Movies, and playing Chicken Toe Dominoes, it's very busy here in these negative something or other temperatures. Thank you, Debbie Lukenon, for my first Ice Candle gift last year, and for giving me something to do in these negative something or other temperatures. -5, -30 ... does it really matter ? I'm just saying ...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dashing Through The Snow ...

You've heard it said that no two snowflakes are alike ?
How can that be ?
I want to believe it ...
Ok ... I do.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow Floating Lilly Pad And It Ain't Heavy ... It's My Life ...

I have to pat myself on the back every once in a while for being savvy enough to know that our West U Houston Fountain would make an even better statement, sitting here on The Prairie ... and in an almost bizarrely different life and place, than that which it was obtained for.

But the statement the fountain is making ... is made only for and to me. I don't live the type of life here, that requires making statements about anything and to anyone, anymore.

The Prairie bites me in the ass occasionally ... and reminds me that while life back then was pretty incredible, it's so much easier to do it like this ... remembering where I have been, but living where I am.

The sign on it's right ? "The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, one is nearer God's heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth". It was my Grandmother's ... see what I mean ?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Eagle Landed Here ...

As winter closes in, I am on the lookout for things I love, and how a dash of snow can perk up a building, an object, or a scene.

It's 12 degrees this morning and I will be heading out in a few minutes for a road trip to Brookings. I will take the Scalded Dog, Ron's Subaru, so I can get me some XM Radio.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mount Hope Mausoleum ...

I took this photo yesterday morning after putting a Christmas arrangement in the vase on Wendy's headstone. It had just started snowing and continued through the night.

The Mount Hope Cemetery was formed when the City of Watertown purchased 40 acres from the Winona and St. Peter Railroad. Additional adjacent land has been purchased throughout the years.

The Mausoleum was power washed last summer and got a new copper roof. It was in desperate need of repairs on the masonry and that was handled too. I think it's stunning and I love the way it stands out in the snow. When the sun hits it just right you can see through it's green windows.

It's 4 degrees and Goof Ball Weather Pixie Chick needs her hat and gloves on. She also needs to ditch that denim jacket ... I'm over it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Uncle Lee Was A Real Cowboy ...

Because he always wore a fine Cowboy Hat. He worked in the Montana Mines, he raised Appaloosas, he refurbished tractors. He welded ... his business was called "Thunderbird". He always looked so stern too ... with his kerchief around his neck.

When he came in at my Grandmother's house Sunday evenings ... the party was over. That's because we were little and out of control. We were a pain in the ass.

We always went to my Grandmother's house on Sunday ... usually for suppper and The Ed Sullivan Show ... with Lee, Aunt Celie and their girls. I am having a flashback of Uncle Lee bad mouthing The Beatles ... while Colleen, Roxy, Wendy, and I were falling to pieces.

He and I were just getting to know each other. His move back to South Dakota with his second wife, Nola, set the wheels in motion for Ron and I to move back too. It all stared with a picnic at their place in Willow Lake in September of 2006 that set the wheels in motion.

Uncle Lee turned out to be a very mellow guy ... he said "Hi" to me from his coma when I went to see him two days before he died. I'm going to miss my Cowboy Uncle. I don't have another.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Screaming Sky Watch Friday ...

The house is very quiet this morning after having been with family for the past few days.

Yesterday was my Uncle Lee Goodman's funeral service. I am thinking of his two families this morning and remembering that the day after it's all said and done ... life around you goes on as it always did ... there are appointments, there are errands, there is laundry, blah blah blah.

But it was so quiet. When it was me and my immediate family in the situation, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs "Can I just have some more time here please"? I was in that empty place in the photo ... between the two cloud formations ... a world with my sister and a world without her. I didn't get what I was screaming for.

Watch the sky at

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How Now Brown House ...

A little dash of snow can really bring a house to life. The gorgeous older homes here are nearly always meticulously cared for. The weather is still holding with sunny skies and mid 20 temps in the morning with highs in the mid 40's. Colder and more snow around the corner ... but I really like what the brightness does to the inside of our house and it's various views.

Looking at a glass that is half full ... and sending love from The Prairie. xoxo.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fresh Snow on Holy Name ...

Hey ... I took a little blogging break. We have been knee deep in projects around here. All of our artwork is finally hung, the paint touch ups are in progress, and I have cleaned the last of the sheet rock dust from the pad for good. I am almost ready to start pulling out the Christmas decorations. Bless my soul ... we have tons. I have to have Christmas in every room !!!

Thanksgiving was good ... it was easy ... it was no pressure whatsoever. My niece had the dinner this year so I got off easy. Ron made Nana's Pumpkin Pies and I contributed the Corn Souffle. My Mother's brother Lee passed away on Friday. I took her to see him at the hospital in Sioux Falls on Wednesday. Saying good bye is tough ... but I will do it every time, if given the option.

We have had fresh snow every day since the 22nd. But not a lot ... just enough to liven things up. Here we have Fresh Snow on Holy Name Catholic Church, across from St. Anne's Hill. Holy Name started out with services in their grade school gymnasium. Their new church was built in the late 60's and was way ahead of it's time, architecturally speaking.

The church is beautiful inside as well. It's altar stands in front of this stark brick interior wall, on the other side of this huge exterior wall. Since it was considered the wealthy, uppity, North Side church ... on prestigious Skyline Drive ... I felt a great sense of intimidation and envy when attending services here ... because we were too late to make the Immaculate Conception service, our service on the South Side of town, or I was staying with North Side friends ... how fucked up is that ?

I'm so glad I got over all of that. Moving home has been great for my spirit. Venus and Jupiter are lined up with the Moon tonight. It's a sight to behold here ... so clear and so close. I am in a good place tonight.