Kat

Kat

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Eight or more years ago, RM brought a tiny grey and white kitten to our home from a  remodeling site he was working at. The kitten attached herself to RM’s leg and wouldn’t let go or that was the story all of  us, four women, living on Ashland at the time were told.   The owner of the home where RM was helping to remodel was fond of cats and he had found our little kitten wandering around outside of Fred’s Cafe one rainy night.  The guy brought the little feline princess home with him and added her to his cat collection.  This little kitten was special as she was playful, petite, smart and craved individual attention. The owner and RM agreed to take her to a vet and get her fixed (very responsible of them) and have her thoroughly checked out for any health problems and then agreed that Kat would live with us on Ashland.  She has been with us ever since.  RM was crazy to bring yet another woman onto his property but he did it of free will.  Kat is an exceptional cat for many reasons and here are a few:

1.  She prefers to be outside but does not venture across the street or farther than the houses on either side of us.

2.  She doesn’t have a litter box as she is trained to go outside or when desperate, she pee pees in our bathroom sink (directly over the drain hole).  I have caught her doing this on many occasions.

3.  She loves fresh water out of the kitchen faucet so she cries until I fill up a little cup for her to have a refreshing drink even though she has a full water dish on the floor.  When she hears the water running she comes running too.  She makes distinct sounds when she wants her food bowl refreshed and a door opened to exit.

4.  She is a hunter and a fighter and has survived outside these many years with true grit and determination besides her petite physique.  Her ears get chewed on occasionally by the too many feral cats on our block but no major injuries to date or trips to the vet for illnesses. Her hunting ground is our backyard which she patrols like a city cop pounding her beat.

5.  She reminds me  of the Peanut’s comic strip character -Pig Pen – as she has never had a bath from a human and often has stickers and grass in her fur that we brush out when allowed. Kat prefers to roll around in the dirt and grass, present her tummy for a quick human rub and then come inside for a long nap on my freshly laundered bedspreads.  You can find tiny dirt circles where she has been napping in several of the favored spots she has carefully identified over the years.

6.  She likes to pretend she is a gargoyle perched high on the corner of the peaks of our roof — looking down upon her kingdom.

7.  She loathes being held or picked up but if you whistle she will come running to sit on your lap especially if you place a nice clean pillow under her first.  She circles and circles and finally plops down to create yet another dirty spot to mark her territory.

8.  She is incredibly fit and can leap into the air to grab a low flying bird and bring it to the ground in her clawed paws.  She fetches us all kinds of presents and leaves them gently in front of either the back and front door (sometimes both doors on the same night of hunting).  We are trained to look down before we step out.

9.  She sat on my chest for weeks while I was recovering from surgery and cancer treatment.  She couldn’t figure out why I needed to lay in bed so much but she was happy that I finally slowed down a bit so she could take care of me.

10.  She doesn’t have a name – nothing seemed to stick – but our little adobe on Ashland is her paradise and ours too with Kat in it.

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High-Speed Chase

High-Speed Chase

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Growing up, our family vehicle was a Ford station wagon.  This was before the introduction of the even cooler family van.  My dad had two or three different models of wagons during the 1960s and 1970s but he routinely selected the color green and often the favored vehicle style had that fake wood paneling glued to the side panels.  We rarely bought a new wagon but instead he invested in the gently worn models plucked carefully from the used car lot at the local dealer.

The wagon was used to transport the family around my hometown, to sports events at surrounding small towns and frequent week-end trips to Wichita for culture and entertainment.  We would all six pile in the car early Saturday morning and drive the two hours to Wichita—usually with a packed schedule of activities planned for the day.  Mom and Dad took ballroom dancing lessons, Hauck kids went to movies or hung out at the newly built indoor mall, and then we dined at an Italian or Chinese restaurant and then drove back to small town life in south, central Kansas.  The drive home was often late at night and I would fall to sleep in the back of the wagon in the storage area.  That was way before seat belt regulations passed.

One car trip back home from Wichita we stopped 20 miles short of our intended destination when our family wagon was blocked by a police road barricade and my dad arrested in handcuffs for participating in a high-speed chase with the local highway patrol.  I remember waking up that night to a bright flashlight in my face and two police officers with guns drawn shouting loud demands that I did not understand.  My dad got out of the car even when the police officer told him to stay in the car.  He was lucky they did not shoot him on the spot because they were trigger happy that night.  After much conversation and arguing, my dad was released from the cuffs and he got back into the car.  The barricade was removed and we proceeded on our route with the police cars following closely behind us.  I remember town folk passing us on the road with their faces smashed up to the windows and slowing down to rubber neck. Dad’s conversation back in the car ride centered around the importance of him continuing to drive (not Mom) and how he had been ordered to go directly to the police station in our home town for continued questioning.  He was madder than hell.  The whole time none of kids knew what had happened and why we were in trouble with the law but we didn’t ask one question and knew to stay mum.

The story that unfolded  at the lawyer’s office many days later was that the police said they had been tracking our family station wagon for 30 miles or more and we had exceeded speeds of 100 mph for great distances on the  two lane black top that connected Wichita to Medicine Lodge, Kansas.  The officers had tried to slip down several country roads to cut us off but they were unable to catch us in our lightening-speed green Ford station wagon.  This was the very same wagon that at any acceleration exceeding 70 mph, the chassis trembled so badly that it routinely made my brother, Ed, car sick, and the old beast had tires that blew out monthly because my Dad was a big believer in the value of retreads.

The police pressed charges against my dad and us kids were interviewed and counseled in preparation for a trial that was set at the courthouse of the neighboring county.  My dad and the attorney had prepared all sorts of evidence of how the charges could not be possible based on the distance traveled between mileage signs, memories of other cars passing us that night, probable mistaken identification and carefully crafted documentation of events as they unfolded.  The attorney was planning to call on us kids to testify.

The day the case came to trial, we all put on our Sunday best  and drove the 20 miles over to neighboring county to testify.  I was nervous even though they told me that I wouldn’t have to serve as a witness since I was asleep during the alleged high-speed chase and at an age where fact and fiction often intertwined.  We sat in leather chairs waiting for the judge to arrive and the prosecuting attorney as well as the police officers who had been called as witnesses.  We waited and waited and waited.  Dad’s attorney left to make some telephone calls to find out what was the delay.  Finally, the judge appeared and told us that our case was dismissed and we could all go home.  The attorney said that the prosecutor and the witnesses had failed to show up so the case was closed.

I was relieved but my Dad was not satisfied.  He wanted his day in court.  After much gnashing of teeth and at  the insistence of the calming voice of my mother, we all loaded back up in the wagon and headed toward home.  This event was rehashed many times during the years I was growing up.  We never did figure out what really happened that night but we had a lot of fun speculating about the car that got away and relished teasing our dad about the night he went on a high-speed chase with all of his kids in his 1966 Ford station wagon.

Tornado Alley

Tornado Alley

Growing up in the 1960’s in the infamous tornado alley of south central Kansas, we experienced numerous severe thunderstorms and tornadoes every spring and summer.  As a young girl, I was terrified of tornadoes and as soon as the siren sounded across the street from our modest home on Main Street, I sprinted to the basement for safety.  I always arrived the first of my family and worried until all of my kin was safely in the basement.  This was a problem because my father was one of those units that needed to stand out in the backyard looking up into the sky for the twister hiding in the ugly greenish clouds lit up by strikes of lightening versus the risk averse type of padre that wished to stay in the safe basement with Me.  My brothers teased me unmercifully because I was so frightened and insistent that every one get in the basement the moment the alarm was sounded.  My mother was more tolerant and tried to comfort me to little avail.  I was certain that a twister was going to march down Main Street and blow us all away.  This fear was well-founded as many small towns in Kansas have experienced horrific destruction in just this manner.  I had seen numerous black and white pictures in the newspaper as well as National Geographic color photographs to substantiate my beliefs.  My brothers, on the other hand, had that “devil may care attitude” about Mother Nature and entertained themselves downstairs waiting for the all clear signal with games of ping-pong,  basketball and other distractions found routinely in the basement of a family with four very active kids.  I huddled in the corner of the cellar like I was practicing for the duck and cover civil defense drills.  These drills were intended to protect me in the event of both an unexpected nuclear attack, which, we were told, might come at any time without warning. Under the conditions of a surprise attack, immediately after we saw a flash we had to stop what we were doing and get on the ground under some cover—such as a table, or at least next to a wall—and assume a prone like position, lying face-down and covering our exposed skin and back of our heads with our clothes, or if no excess clothes such as a coat was available, to cover the back of our heads with our hands.  I applied the same techniques to surviving childhood growing up in tornado alley as I did to surviving an atomic bomb.

One summer night, the Hauck family piled into the station wagon and drove to the drive-in to watch a double feature.  We had our lawn chairs, our brown grocery bag full of popcorn, and lots of excitement about a family night out on a warm, summer evening.  We watched the first feature and then the adults began to murmur about the lightning off to the south in the sky.  Some concerned souls listened to radio reports about the weather but there was nothing definitive to report except for a tornado watch – not a warning –  so nothing to worry or cause us to go home early from the fun night out.  The wind kicked up, the trees started swaying and the rain came down in sheets.  We piled into the wagon and made for the exit along with all of the other local cars and trunks.  The line moved slowly and our car started to rock with the force of the wind.  My dad drove the wagon down into a culvert that lined the side of the two-lane highway back into town.  My mom covered my body with blankets and pillows that we had brought along with us to pad the back of the wagon.  She was worried the windshield would blow in on me.  The wind grew stronger and wild and I remember thinking that a train was screaming down a track that must be  right beside the wagon.  Two teenage girls banged on the outside window of our vehicle and my brothers struggled to open the doors to let them in.  They were drenched, frightened and had somehow lost their ride out of the drive-in.  We waited the storm out and the wagon became very steamy with kids, heat and nerves.   The storm passed and we looked out the windows and began to creep toward home base.  Barns on the other side of the road were blown to bits, fences were down as well as electrical lines.  We were alive and I had made it through the storm, not in the basement, but out in the elements with my family.  From that experience on, I was never so afraid again.  I still took caution but I came to terms with my elements and surroundings.  It was like facing one of my biggest fears and coming out still standing.

So, I now live in Texas in homes with no basements, no cellars. The ground is just too rocky.   RM watches the weather better than the local meteorologists and I have a weather app that alerts me to any change in climate.  Let’s hope that we are alerted to severe weather in time to take the necessary steps to take care of ourselves and our love ones.  And when the sirens blow, please take cover!

P.S.

You may not know that Kansas is full of missile sites which we were told would protect us but were also the enviable targets of our Cold War enemies, the Soviets.  While you think that it would be unlikely the enemy would target a rural Kansas community, the locations of these missile sites made me worried. I discussed this issue with my Mom and Dad often to no satisfaction.  It did not help that often there were sonic booms going off overhead as the United State Air Force was in a routine test pattern over our little community.  Today, these old sites are for sale for residential homes for the security minded or those that like to live below ground.

 

 

Candles Redux

Candles Redux

Rainy days scream craft days to me.  So today I took some really ugly and old taper candles and make them new again.  Turned out kinda  nice and I didn’t burn down the kitchen in the process.  I am trying to stay out of the way of RM as he does the taxes.  Ugh.

Step 1 is to gather up your old and faded out candles that are cluttering up your cabinets and storage drawers.

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Step 2:  Use a sharp knife, cut the candle through so you can reuse the wick.  Just pull the wick out and cut it to lengths to use in your candles redux.

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Step 3:  Use an old metal can and make yourself a double boiler of sorts.  Throw in the can the old candle pieces and melt each color separately.

 

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Step 4:  Layer the wax into old candle jars that you have saved or you could find old mason jars or other fun glass containers you have in the house.  I used plastic strays to hold the wick in place while I poured in the wax in layers and waited for each layer to cool before proceeding with the next color of wax.  I alternated between green and blue.

 

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Here are the finished candles after they dry.  Very pretty and much more usable than those old tapers.