Frost Expected


I harvested almost everything from the garden this past weekend.  Beets, squash and onions are stored in the barn to dry.  They can remain in the barn until the nights are consistently in the mid-twenties.  One or two nights will not drain all the summer warmth from the building.

My houseplants have summered outside for years.  The brighter light and humidity outdoors always gives them a growth spurt.  The first frost is expected tonight, in the  second week in October,  later this year than usual.  The first frost has historically occurred at the end of September in this location.  My garden has been located in Agricultural Zone 4 as long as I can remember.  I haven’t moved, but the weather is warmer and this is now listed as  Zone 5, with a longer growing season.

I planned to bring the remaining house plants inside last evening, but it rained again and  the pots were covered with mud and wet leaves.  Early dark and a 40 degree cold rain encouraged an early finish to the task.  I covered the remaining pots this evening and hope they survive tonight’s frost.

Completing this task at a more leisurely pace is appealing.  When I retire I’ll spend daylight hours clearing the garden.

Peppered Peace

I’m not a religious person, but come from a long line of God-fearing folks, and often misquote, or half remember Bible verses.  This  year my bell pepper crop is outstanding.  I harvested a five-gallon bucket of huge green and red peppers and spent several hours chopping them for the freezer.  It seems only right to sit a few minutes on the porch with a glass of cabernet to toast my garden’s largess.  It’s a very quiet evening without a hint of wind.

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (I only  remembered part of this and looked it up.)  However, a  misquote popped into my head and won’t leave me alone. “Peace that peppers understanding.”  Most people misunderstand half the messages they hear.

The idea of peppered peace fits our world.  In the past year, there’s been a murder every other hour in Chicago.  The US has been bogged down in war in Afghanistan for more than 10 years, having learned nothing from Vietnam, except not to draft people.

It feels like a war zone at my place of work.  People are layed-off, fired outright, or, if lucky, given a chance to resign or retire with dignity. The targeted folks are hurt and angry.  The injured randomly fire vocal tirades toward those of us who have no power to change anything, leaving us with peppered understanding, and  little peace.

I began this blog before the mass killing in Las Vegas. To continue and follow my analogy, the killer peppered the crowd with rapid-firing bullets, murdering and injuring as many as he could.  People search for an understandable motive, and pray for the victims.  Our society must move beyond this predictable response and make actual changes in the legal system. Do we, as a nation, have the collective will to resist gun lobbyist?



Butterfly Migration


In 2015 my place was designated as a Monarch Way Station.  Many Monarchs migrated through my flower beds that year.  I’ve increased the number of milkweeds to feed the Monarchs at the ranch.  There are now perennials asters in several garden beds (like the flowers in the photo above), and planted wildflowers in the pasture for season-long blooms.  A good number of Monarchs migrated in 2016, but there are just a few this year.

2017 can be called the Painted Lady year.  The flowers have been full of Painted Lady butterflies for weeks.  They share the sedum flowers (below) with Monarchs, bumblebees, wasps, and occasional honey bees.  Monarchs and honey bees are in decline.


Butterflies feed on Autumn-blooming plants on warm afternoons.  They are eating as much as possible before beginning the next legs of their journeys.  I can identify with the idea of feeding on the warmth of fall days, conserving the last of the garden veggies, and picking the last of the apples, to get ready for winter’s cold.  I envy the butterfly’s ability to move to new life stages with seeming ease.  Going south during the coldest part of winter also sounds like a great retirement idea.

Retirement decision in perspective

Cell phone May 2017 031

I visited the Virgin Island of Anguilla, in the British West Indies in January, 2017. I took this photo of one of the beautiful beaches.  It was peaceful and picturesque. “Anguilla is the northernmost island of the Leeward Islands, located about 270 km (165 mi) east of Puerto Rico, and just north of the island of Saint Martin, in the Eastern Caribbean. The island shares maritime borders with Antigua and Barbuda and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

Hurricane Irma hit Anguilla with the full force of category five winds, leaving devastation behind. This photo from a CNN story about Anguilla and nearby islands, shows nearly complete destruction of people’s homes.  September 6, 2017. Homes destroyed in Anguilla on September 6, 2017.

It’s good for me to consider other people’s real struggles for basic necessities, like shelter, food, water, and electricity. My house stands up to winter storms, but Nebraska winds are gentle breezes compared to Caribbean hurricane-strength gales. It also reminds me that work politics are usually petty, and my internal struggle to make a good retirement decision, is minor in comparison.


I planted habanero pepper plants by mistake this summer.  I meant to plant jalapeños. The habaneros are super hot by my standards.   Perhaps the four-pack of peppers was misplaced in a shelf of jalapenos, or perhaps I didn’t read the label properly.  Only two of the four seedlings grew, but each plant is producing dozens of little fruits.  Several pepper websites show photos of many varieties.  I’m linking to Habanero Madness as the habanero description sounds about right and it has great pictures.


Tonight, I grilled a green pepper, chopped it along with half an onion, and sautéed for fifteen minutes in a big sauce pan, then added approximately a gallon of fresh tomatoes.  I added one tiny habanero to this sauce.  I neglected to put on gloves to chop the habanero (bad idea).  My fingers are tingling, and I had a coughing episode when the habanero began to simmer with the other veggies.  I’m writing this blog three rooms away from the kitchen, but the sauce’s smell is nearly as strong here in the office, as it is in the kitchen.

I’m writing about heat tonight.  The heat from this tiny pepper, compares to the heat I felt reading the first letter of reprimand I’ve received from my employer in about 37 years.  My first supervisor at this same institution, wrote a less than complimentary annual evaluation report my first year on the job. I did my best to improve as requested.  The intervening years have gone reasonably well.  This week’s unwelcome kind of heat helps in an odd way, to make it easier to make a retirement decision.  I suspect this is my supervisor’s intent.  I’m vain enough to want to leave on my own terms, and in my own time frame, but I feel the heat from the work kitchen, and am reasonably tired of being burned.



Predictions of a major change

I was born on wash day in early December, 1951 (that’s Monday folks).  I am a Sagittarian. My mother finished the laundry before going to the hospital to deliver me.

Monday’s laundry day was called “wash day” (pronounced warsh). Mom carried water to fill the washing machine. She used the same tub of water for all the laundry.  She’d begin with the least dirty items like sheets and towels, then underwear, then shirts and dresses, and finish with the dirtiest jeans and socks.

She washed the family laundry in a wringer-washer, and rinsed clothes in galvanized tubs. Clothes swished around the agitator first, then she put items through the wringer. To rinse clothes, she moved items to one tub, ran them through the wringer, and finally rinsed clothes in the second tub, and gave them a final run through the wringer. Everything dried outside on the clothes line, regardless of season.  Water from the washing machine and tubs had to be drained into buckets.  The buckets were carried outside and water was dumped in the yard.

I use those tubs to hold plants in the summer now. This is a long introduction to get to the premise of today’s blog; horoscopes can read like predictions that are written just for us.

The Sunday Omaha World Herald horoscope for Sagittarius this week says “you could be in the midst of a major change.  Others might not be as aware of what has been going on as you might like.  Be open, and you’ll gain a better perspective of what to do and when.”

It was a busy time at the office, with more needy students requesting help daily.  One of the staff will be leaving next week, as her position was eliminated by the administration.  It seems more difficult for me to contemplate leaving work to retire as the number of people needing help increase, and the number of helpers diminish.

Some of my mother’s dedication to finish the warsh, before bringing me into the world, must have been passed along. I feel responsible to take care of the students, but I’ll try to be open to new information and gain perspective about retirement.


There were many empty and abandoned farmsteads near my parent’s farm in the 1960’s.  A childhood friend and I walked or rode our bikes to those empty farms to explore the barns and vacant houses.  Houses were rarely locked and sometimes the doors were missing.  We explored those places to search for abandoned treasures as if we were pioneers heading west to pan for gold.

I am reminded of my childhood adventures today by my daughter’s article about barn restoration.

The barn on my parent’s rented farm was sadly neglected after they retired and moved to town.  The farm sold to someone who was not interested in saving outbuildings.  As I contemplate my own retirement, I worry about the future of the house and barns on this ranch.  Her article lists many good ideas to pursue to maintain the barns for future generations.  DSC02866



High School classmate turns 65

My high school graduating class was very small.  There were thirteen of us.  Two military veterans have passed away. I attended a birthday party for one of the remaining eleven today.  She is a nurse and also still working.  She likes her job and isn’t in a hurry to retire.

She and I were childhood friends as well.   We wore matching polka dot bikinis the summer we were ten or eleven and sang Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka Dot Bikini at the Clearwater summer carnival.  There are many versions of this song on YouTube, but this video is the first televised version.  TV sanctions against anything sexy were pretty strong in 1960, so the artists has a very young girl in a two piece swimsuit play the part while he sings.  Newer video versions of the song have women in skimpy bikinis.

Full Moon

The September full moon has been rising in the eastern sky for days, tracking slowly across the sky, and still present in the west pre-dawn.  Wildlife are more active in moonlight if the dog’s barking is a measure of activity.  She goes outside after dark to bark at something, returns to the house for a few minutes, then insists on chasing the foe only she hears, over and over.  I admire her determination to protect the house and yard.  DSC04751

Like wildlife, I’m often  awake far into the night during a full moon, and when I finally slumber, my sleep is restless.  I often feel completely relaxed and ready to sleep early morning.  This wonderful rest is interrupted by the alarm Monday through Friday.  I wonder what retirement will do for my sleep cycle.   Will I be able to stay awake later and sleep later regularly, or only during a full moon? Spring 2017 004

Step down from the merry-go-round?

Most of my days come and go in a whirl like an old-fashioned carrousel with horses bobbing up and down with the music as they go round and round.  It seemed like a major victory today to find time to call about repairing the lawn mower, making a hair appointment and finding time to get the car to the shop for an oil change.

Clients in need of assistance walk in the office door in a steady stream.  We won’t be able to see all of them with the staff cut in half by administrative fiat.  Who has to wait?   I’ve done multiple web searches to find models for Mental Health Waiting Lists, but must be using the wrong search parameters because there are no results.

There are discussions about the problems of waiting lists: increased danger to individuals, reduced college retention, poor academic performance, more hospitalizations, etc.  Retirement seems like a distant vision.  How can I walk away from so much need?