December 30, 2010

Country Living Randomness

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with their family, friends, and other loved ones. I had a great time with my friend, Anne's family. It was nice to be able to monopolize the kitchen for coffee and conversation. We even went for a walk down a trail back behind her parents house, it was a little bit chilly but quite nice to walk, talk, and look at plants. I didn't take photos so I looked through my photos and found a few I hadn't shared yet. All of these photos were taken some time during the summer.

The below picture is a common scene out in the country but I like it all the same; I call it “birds on a wire” not very original, I admit but very descriptive.

I found this egg on the pavement, it looks almost perfect but it is cracked. It was quite a ways from a tree but I know some birds lay eggs in the grass and it wasn't too far from the ditch. I thought it was an odd shaped rock until I took a closer look- it certainly is well camouflaged.

This is the hibiscus plant that Anne left me since she had three. I love this picture, its in full bloom. I managed to get it to bloom three or four times over the summer and then I neglected it so it became way to dry. Fortunately, it is still alive but it is definitely in recovery phase.

One day, I was walking and saw this by the roadside. It startled me until I took a closer look.

Did you figure it out? It's a cow leg; I had the fortune of being able to see the hoof attached to the leg but initially I though it was a human leg and that I was going to have to call the police.

On one of my walks I found this fantastic tree.

Does the tree remind you of anything? Anything at all? Well, the first time I saw the tree my thought was “its a treeherder.” For those of you unfamiliar with that term, how about "ent?"

All right, I will put those of you who are unfamiliar with The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Tolkien out of your misery. The tree reminds me of the giant talking man-trees from the books and the movies. I have been waiting for snow so I could take a picture of it covered with snow but no such luck. Maybe this weekend, the weather people are threatening us with a chance of snow. Really? but it's 64 (yes, I said it) 64 degrees in Kansas, in December. Every time I think about the fact that we have a cold front moving in, I'm thinking Tornado in December (well I haven't seen one of those so maybe)!

December 24, 2010

Halloween Parade

Did she say, "Halloween Parade?" Yes, I know it's December, the winter advisery lets me know that even though we saw a 63 this month it truely is winter! However, I have several photos from the Halloween parade that I wanted to share in November but I got a little busy so here they are.

First up, my dear friend, Anne. She wore this costume last year and I love it. Anne and her mom made the costume; maybe I should attempt to draft her mom into helping me make a costume.

Speaking of Annes mom, here is a picture of her sans costume; she spent the parade attempting to get a facial picture of Anne's husband.

I, also, tried to get a facial picture of Anne's husband but no such luck.

Of course, we can't forget the boy. Anne and "Mam-maw" created this great bat costume! He, also, did not want to have his photo taken; maybe it was something in the water or just the stress of getting ready to move.

Finally, here is a picture of me in my gypsy costume which was Anne's idea (the idea not the concept which is all me). I think the costume came together quite well and I can wear all of the materials with different outfits.

The last picture was an attempt by me to take a facial picture during the parade but I think the sky became the focus of this picture. I hope your Halloween was a fun one; I'm already looking forward to next years event(s)!

I hope everyone has safely reached their holiday destinations. May your holiday be filled with joyous memories!!!

December 22, 2010

Yule Decorations

So, it's December and the Yule decorations have been placed in their respective places. Yes, I know Yule was yesterday and I'm about a week late on my post :( such is life!

Several years ago, I had a tree but it's gone. Last year, I tried to buy a tree at the after-Christmas sell but there wasn't one. So this year, I decided to buy one. However, now you can only buy one with lights attached which was fine but I had to decide what kind of lights I wanted. So, here is the new tree.

Yes, you can see my favorite Halloween decoration was still up at the time this picture was taken. Do you think some of those presents are for you? Maybe.....

Some of the ornaments are rather sentimental; this first one was one of last years Christmas gifts from my friend Anne.

The next one was another Christmas gift from last year and it came from one of my tattooists, PaulLee.

Remeber that he is the one that found the Dragonfly song for me.

The last one was not a gift per say but it came from a box of giveaways that Anne was going through and she let me have some of the decorations. Although Santa is plastic, I really like his "old world" appearance.

This is part of my tin M&M village. Many years ago, my dads mom started this village by sending two tins from Arkansas (they are under the tree this year). Then occasionally my parents would give me a couple of tins a year for Christmas. They stopped doing this when I was in high-school and then I continued to buy them for myself. I looked for them this year but couldn't find any- I wonder if they stopped producing them.

I finally put up my stocking; you can see my angel tree topper as well. I bought the angel years ago but this year was the first time I could plug it into a light source. Please notice that I finally took down my favorite Halloween decoration ;)!

I, also, bought a fiber-optic tree with decorations from my friend who is moving to Switzerland. Her husband told me this was their first tree here in America and I felt bad that it might not get a good home and I had been thinking about obtaining a smaller tree. So now we are a two tree family!

As you can see that Woudin really likes this tree! He likes the other one as well but he tends to hang around this one and admires the ornaments. It was difficult to decorate the trees with him underfoot.

I, also, bought a garland and big snowflakes from my friends. At first, I was thinking I would give it to Anne since I wasn't sure what to do with it and then inspirations struck!

Here is a close up of the center of the garland.

And here is a close up of the right side of the garland.

I think the garland looks good and the red curtains make it even more festive. I'm already thinking of how I can decorate it next year but the after Christmas sells may provide me with more inspiration only time will tell.

I hope your house decorating has been as fun as mine!

Are you wondering about the "ornament" that is at the top of the blog? Well its a Native American Lacross stick that my friend Georgia made. She said that people often buy them from her shop as gifts. I decided it looked great as a Yule tree ornament so there it is.

December 13, 2010

Despiration Recipes 101

Another recipe created out of hunger and a need for time to go grocery shopping:

Put some corn in a bowl and microwave for three minutes.

Cut up some cheddar cheese and turkey sandwich meat; Place in bowl with corn and two tablespoons of sour cream; microwave for 2 minutes.

Get 10 crackers or so; use mixture as dip; eat and enjoy.

In case you were wondering; a friend found the flower plates (there are also some bowls) which I thought would complement the butterfly dishes and I think by the look of this photo that in fact they do complement each other. :)

December 9, 2010

Insect collections and the questions they create

ALLRIGHT!!!! I have been inspired by grading insect collections. Yes, inspired by insect collections. You may ask why or you may not (because you know me that well)!

So, Popillia japonica Newman, Japanese beetle (Order Coleoptera, Family Scarabaeidae).

P. japonica is the most destructive scarab beetles in North America particularly to agronomic and horticultural crops. Here is an example of some of their damage; picture and more information here


It was accidentally introduced into the US in New Jersey in 1916. Since it's introduction it has spread to all states east of the Mississippi River and into portions of Canada such as Quebec. Populations have been discovered in California but they were effectively eradicated there.

P. japonica was detected in Kansas in North Topeka in 1992. Since then Kansas entomologists routinely place Japanese beetle traps in high-risk areas such as landscape nurseries to detect the presence of this pest. These traps may be baited with eugenol and phenethyl propionate. I found a website with more information about organic trapping; the homemade mixture looks interesting! ;)

P. japonica is often confused with Euphoria spp (Fabricius), green June beetles. However, P. japonica can easily be told apart by looking for their white tufts of hair along the abdominal segments and they are smaller than green June beetles.

I found this lovely Japanese Beetle picture here

I found this Green June Beetle picture, here.

Now, that you have seen them do you think you could tell them apart?

I found this comparison picture, here. I'm sure that now you can definitely tell them apart.

Typical Life Cycle:

I found this beautiful life-cycle image here. In other words, larvae emerge from the soil in the spring. Pupation occurs during late May to early June. The adults begin emerging in late June and are active though September. The females will lay eggs in the soil during late September. The eggs hatch within 14 days. The larvae will feed until the onset of cold and then tunnel deeper into the ground where they will eat and grow until spring. In most places they are univoltine (one generation per year) however where the cold is really extreme thy may take two years to produce one generation.

So, now that you know a little bit about P. japonica, you may be wondering why seeing this insect in a collection made me want to blog about it. Well, I was curious about the current range in Kansas since this specimen was “collected” in Riley County which does not contain Northern Topeka. MMM???

Today, I wandered into the local extension agents office and I asked, "Is the Japanese beetle present in Riley county?" This lead to many questions such as "Why do you ask specifically about Riley County?" Where was it found? What time was it found? What was it doing? Were there more than one specimen in that location?

Of course, I could only answer the first question which was that a student turned it in and I wanted to know if it was possible to find them here in Riley county. The extension agent knows me well so this wasn't surprising for him but he did thank me for my vigilance. Apparently, Japanese beetles can be found in Riley county but are rare; they tend to be located in more metropolitan areas such as KC, Wichita, Lawrence, Topeka, and Salina. Recently, someone found one in Hays. For those of you unfamiliar with Kansas, I have found a map for you to look at so just click on Kansas and see the map.

The difficult part (because I wanted to encourage cooperation not fear of retribution) was to collect the rest of the information from the student. She did respond multiple times with plenty of information and stated that she thought it was cool that we were so interested in getting more information because of its pest status. She said she found the P. japonica at Marlott Memorial Park ("on top of the world"), on October 4th, in the evening (around 6pm), on some yellow flowers, and it was the only one found. I will be turning this information over to my extension agent friend and let him go from there.

I guess, you never really know what I'm going to blog about.

Book References Used:

Pedigo, L.A., & Rice, M.E. 2006. Entomology and Pest Management, 5th Ed. Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, US. Pg. 113, 322, 489

Salsbury, G. A., & White, S.C. 2000. Insects in Kansas. Kansas Department of Agriculture. Pg. 185 and 187.

December 7, 2010

Life with Pandora

When she first moved in, she had to be in a dog kennel so she could adjust to her surroundings.
As she got adjusted she discovered new places like the rocking chair in the living room aka "my bedroom."

Monopolizing one of Woudin's hiding holes.

To be fair, Woudin returned the favor by checking her quarters out.

Pandora, also, likes being nosy and getting into my things.
After, several days I decided to let Pandora out of the kennel during the day while I was at work. I came home one day and found Tzani hiding from Pans "territoriality" issues.
Now, you know why I have string “locks” on the cabinets in the kitchen.
There were a few times that Pan put herself away.

Tzani learned early that if she put herself higher than Pandora then she's declared the winner of "territoriality!"

Yup, life with Pan is interesting! Having her here is nice, while I was sick she followed me around and would sit on my lap and purr to me. Neither of my cats is a lap cat so it's nice to have a lap cat around the house. It's not so nice when you are trying to do your homework but we are trying to negotiate that out.

Where did that girl go?

I think I'm going to give up on apologizing for the lack of consistency with my blog. You all know that I'm a busy graduate student which means I don't have much time for “fun” activities.

So, since I last blogged, I have been teaching one section of General Entomology Lab, sitting on a committee for a faculty and student diversity award, working on more SAS GLIMMIX analysis (which I despise and find frustrating) which is for one of my manuscripts, writing/ updating my PhD proposal, and trying to get my PhD proposal meeting set up so I can get my new program of study approved which will allow me to perform the last necessary research experiments for my defense. Last week, I had the misfortune of getting the flu which meant lots of unwanted quality time in my bathroom and losing six pounds which I can afford to lose (the benefit of being a big girl). Additionally, having the flu meant another year where I missed the holiday gathering with my stitch-and-bitch sisters (ARGH!!!).

However, one of my friends is graduating and accepted a job in Switzerland! Yea, she has invited me to come visit her and her husband if I can get away. Additionally, she has to get rid of all of her furniture so she asked if there was anything I need. YES, I see a couch, a big persons bed (she has a king), a blender, another bookcase, did I mention a blender (can you tell that I am most anxious to obtain another blender- I miss my old one and the new one is mostly for smoothies), and possibly some other kitchen utensils in my future. I'm so pumped about the prospect of new furniture that I rearranged the living room (not that there is much to rearrange) to accommodate a new couch. I had another friend offer me a couch but I never moved anything since it didn't seem like a couch was really going to be moved to my living room.

I missed Thanksgiving holiday time with the DeLegges in Wisconsin due to being told to spend my break “working on my manuscript.” I spent lots of time fighting with GLIMMIX and no time writing the actually manuscript. Maybe someday I can actually work on writing instead of staring at SAS output with errors! However, I did get to spend Thanksgiving with a friends parents. We had a nice lunch at a local restaurant and then I went to their home where we talked. My friends mom gave me ideas on how to build my first quilt which inspired me to buy a new sewing machine since mine needs some work on it before I can use it.

The cats continue to struggle with the existence of Pandora but they generally get along by staying out of each others way. Occasionally, Pandora and Tzani have issues but it's generally Pandora and Woudin. Pictures of life with Pandora are coming soon.

November 4, 2010

Cousin Pandora has Landed!!

I guess reality has finally sank in; my closest family is really and truly leaving for Fort Hood.

We all knew this day was coming... first I moved into their house, learned the ins and outs of country life, and now Anne's cat Pandora has arrived to live with me until they return from Fort Hood.

The ride from Anne's place to "my" house was mostly quiet. Pan would occasionally talk to me and rub her head against my fingers. I moved her into the bathroom where she stayed while I set up the dog kennel in my bedroom, cleaned the dog kennel tray, set up the kennel, and then while I took a shower. She was okay with ALL of this, purring to me and talking.

However, Pandora's happiness quickly went down the tubes when she discovered Woudin outside the bathroom. She would growl and hiss at him while he moved around my bedroom. There for awhile I think she may have thought he was Isabelle (her Dad's cat, i.e. arch-nemesis). The reason I thought this was that she saw Tzani but didn't hiss at her just at Woudin. Then bedtime came and Tzani was on my bed and moved so I could curl up in the bed. Hiss, growl, growl, hiss from the kennel. Yup, Pandora is really NOT happy; she has finally realized there are TWO OF THEM and ONE OF HER.

I slept the whole night without any problems from the "children." This morning was entertaining...... I let her out of the kennel for awhile so she could explore and get readjusted (remember she lived here before we moved in). While, I was in the bathroom I heard unhappiness from Pan and then Woudin comes racing into the bathroom. Poor Woudin he just wants to be friends and I told him Pan is scared and needs some time. I put Pan back in the kennel so she could watch the household from the safety of "home (kennel with her cat box, toys, basket, food, and shirt from mom)." While I was exercising, Tzani came into the bedroom, just talking away, Pandora hissed and growled at her for awhile, and finally Tzani hissed back which shut Pan up. Then Tzani looked at me like whats her problem, mom? and then went mumbling and talking to herself back into the kitchen.

When I left the house, my cats were in the living room looking at Pan and she was looking back.

At times, I think Pan is just being unhappy for show. This morning she was standing on her back legs trying to see what my cats were up to and she seems interested in them but as soon as I'm around Growl, Growl, Hiss, Growl, Growl. She's just going to have to come to grips with the fact that she has to share "Aunt Angela."

Don't worry Anne- I'm sure we will be fine it just takes some getting used to and the weekend is coming up so provided I don't have to get my tires on Saturday, I will stay home with the "children" all weekend and play referee while they learn how to get along. :)

Note- I will have to take pictures but I just haven't yet.

October 27, 2010


Ladies and Gentleman
I'm in shock, serious shock! Today, for the first time in 12 years I had the pleasure of spending two hours with one of my best-friends from high-school. The time went so fast and I still can't believe that I got to hug my "sister", Angela DeLegge!!!! Two hours simply wasn't enough time but she has invited me and another friend to visit for Thanksgiving. I'm hoping I can work it out but right now it seems like a dream to have seen her, hold her, and hear her voice in person.

Its not just that I haven't seen her; its also the fact that I lost touch with her and the entire "family" for a decade. Two years ago was the first time I was able to connect with the DeLegge clan and I have missed them greatly and now it seems like its within my grasp to go "home" and see them and its right around the corner. Did I mention that there are two, count them two, precious little girls for me to corrupt with LegoMania????

I hope that I NEVER, NEVER lose contact with people I love for this long.

Sorry, I don't have photos but all I could think about was getting into my car and racing down the road. Honestly, until I pulled up next to her I didn't believe I was finally going to get to see her after all this time!!!!! Lets hope I can go "home" for Thanksgiving because then I will take my camera and take photos to share with everybody :)

October 22, 2010

Orange Kitten Therapy!!!!

As promised .......................... we have orange kitten therapy!
We start out the day with feeding time.

After we eat ........................................................... we clean out fur.

Then it's playtime and we have lots of toys to choose from:

Mom (aka Too Many)

The tree and rock in our backyard

Aunt Angela's G-6 which also serves as a place for naptime!

Speaking of naptime, if we are cold there are six of us to we can huddle close together to keep warm.

Our mom is a very good mommy and has been bringing us rodents to eat in the evening.

There are a few other things we like to do.......

Watch Aunt Angela play with the trash fire

Hide in the grass, can you find us in these pictures?????

We hide in the grass because some of us are really shy (AKA WILD which we are sure makes our human “mom,” Anne, very happy)!!!!! But don't worry mom Anne, those of us that aren't shy don't like “others” (aka anyone not Aunt Angela) so we run up the tree and/or scatter like leaves in the wind when “others” are around.

We hope that you have as much fun as us during your day and you are always welcome to come out, sit on the back porch, and watch us play “Lion Pride” which Aunt Angela has yet to get a picture for documentation.

October 14, 2010


Remember the 24 hours of entertainment? Well I forgot to mention something very important; on my drive to Council Grove I decided to listen to Manheim Steamrollers Halloween II CD. This inspired me to pull out the purple and orange plastic tub which contains my Halloween decorations!

As I was unwrapping breakable decorations, I started remembering who I was with and where I was when I found these decorations. Come with me while I take you down Halloween Memory Lane.

Lets start with my newly acquired console with record player, freshly decorated for Halloween.

The green and purple foam haunted castle is one of the many acquisitions I obtained last year when I went post-Halloween sale shopping with my good friend Anne and her wonderful mom. I actually forgot that I made this purchase until I pulled it out of the tub.

Here is my “Santana” black cat which was another of last years acquisitions. I didn't forget about it. Anne and I did some pre-shopping and we found this in Jo-Anns and it plays Santana's Black Magic Woman. I HAD to have it but it was too expensive. Jo-Anns was our last stop that shopping day and I was sure they were all out of this great toy/decoration and that it would still be to expensive. Fortunately they weren't, the price was just right, and he came home with me! Tzani isn't sure she likes him but now that he has been played several times, she seems resigned to deal with him until he goes back into the tub until next year.

This particular acquisition is a complete loss to my memory bank. It sort of made the opening of decorations like Christmas or my birthday because I didn't know what it was. In addition, I'm not sure where I got it. My first thought was maybe it was a gift from Anne but I don't think so...... perhaps I bought this at that closing-out sale I went to last spring. Irregardless, it's making it's debut on the console.

On to the ceramic trick-or-treat bag, this was actually a surprise gift from my mother when I lived in Colorado. Shocking isn't it??? I look at this bag and I have to touch it to make sure it's real. This is a reminder that my mother does have good days (although infrequent and rarer than finding an endangered species in the wild) and occasionally I get a reminder that she does in fact "love" me.

This is one of my “favorite” decorations. The first year I was back in Kansas working on my MS (before the by-pass to PhD), Anne made the shocking and horrifying discovery that while I was in Colorado the person I was dating had helped kill my Halloween spirit. This was the first year that I went shopping with Anne and her whole family (minus her dad) for Halloween. I found this and I had to have it. It makes me think of the 1920's and has a hint of class that I feel the rest of my decorations lack. I love it so much that it was a part of my permanent decor in my Manhattan apartment. You could see it directly to your left as you walked into my apartment.

The button came with a Halloween card that Anne gave me that first year back in Kansas . I love the button as well. The lights on the Witch's motorcycle light up and flash. Every time I look at it, I smile, and I think about the love Anne has for me and I'm grateful that she helped me find my Halloween Spirit again; I really can't thank her enough for doing so.

This plastic, recycled Trick-or-Treat bag is an acquisition from this year. I saw it in Dillon's the other day and since it has a spider on it I decided to bring it home with me. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the bag but then I had an epiphany.

Last Christmas, I discovered that Anne collects The Night Before Christmas books. I think this is a very interesting collection and I thought about that for awhile. A few months ago, I was with Anne and family and I bought my first Halloween shirt and I told her I was thinking about starting a new tradition of buying a Halloween related book as part of my Halloween traditions and when I was in the Dusty Bookshelf this week, I did so. Now the Trick-or-Treat bag holds my only (for now) Halloween book but I'm sure that before I know it, I will need another bag to hold my Halloween books!

I realized while I was decorating that the decorating is NOT just about getting ready for the holiday but about the memories that are associated with the decorations. I'm even looking forward to Thanksgiving which is when I traditionally exchange the Halloween decorations for the Yule decorations. Yes, I hold on to Halloween as LONG as I can and being a graduate student allows me the excuse of being too busy to do it before then. Additionally, I'm considering decorating for another holiday, perhaps.....Ostara (Easter for those non-pagan inclined)!

I hope that you all have happy memories associated with your decorations, regardless of the holiday and what you may call that holiday.

Before I close this blog segment out...... perhaps you are wondering about the first picture. The ceramic haunted house was a Halloween gift from a former friend and roommate from many years ago. It is another of my favorite decorations not because of the memories of that friend but because of where it's been and that it survived the "too-much stuff exodus!" The group of witches, also survived the "too-much stuff exodus" and I have had them for several years. Actually, I think I bought them from a dollar store when I lived with the previously mentioned roommate in Salina.