5-1/2 Inches!

Yikes, that is a lot of rain! The airport had less, but our new rain gauge read that number in a mere 24 hours. It came straight down in sheets! Sunflower stalks all over the neighborhood have been knocked down. Not certain if that is due to rain or rain and wind. Sunflowers do get top heavy when the seeds are formed. The ones on the right are the ones that were so lovely a few weeks ago with the goldfinch all over them!

 

On August 7 I noticed the tippy-top of the tallest maple trees were beginning to change colors. Then the locust trees dropped most of their leaves. The other trees in our yard are changing in earnest now, September 10. The Gingko and Yellow Poplar are not quite changing yet, but many others are turning yellow, or brown on the edges.

So autumn is under way! We actually needed sweatshirts yesterday. The house is insulated enough we still do not need blankets, but the change has begun. And not a moment too soon! The whole city is exhausted from the relentless heat and humidity the last couple months. Finally, for at least a few days we can have the windows open and enjoy the birds and crickets. Perhaps tonight I will hear the neighborhood owl?

Eeyore! In the Black Hills

Did you know that Custer State Park has donkeys who run wild? They are fairly tame though. Bob had great fun watching me balance and walk across an extra wide cattle guard that was similar to this photo so I could get a closer look at them and some photos.

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Now mind you, the guard I crossed was crowded with people and cars all flocking to see the donkeys. But it was this color with very wide spaces between the bars.

It was worth the crossing though! The “Burros” (which is Spanish for donkey) are undomesticated. They were released into the park after the original herd that took visitors to the top of Black Elk Peak had their job discontinued. So the donkeys there today are descendants of the working donkeys.

They are also called Beggar Donkeys as they have learned to beg from the tourists. And the tourists have spoiled them rotten with vegetables and apples.

They were tame and soft. Some larger than others. I especially liked the one with the black stripe!975f5930-c938-4ac0-bec6-d93fada9a69d.jpeg
So as Eeyore might say, “Guess I’ve seen everything now! Donkeys being fed by tourists and begging rather than foraging the prairie of delicious grass! Oh well. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe, I will get some free food if I find some tourists. We’ll see.”

Oklahoma!

When we visited the Bricktown area of Oklahoma City we were amazed to find these sculptures, larger than life, of famlies in wagon trains and men on horseback. At first I really had no idea what the purpose was. My imagination went wild!

Look at this couple. He is determined!

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Now notice the close-up of his woman below. Can’t you hear her terror?

DSCN2489“Honey, ARE YOU SURE YOU KNOW HOW TO DRIVE THIS THING?” It seemed as if she would rip his head off!

And then this couple – upright and focused.DSCN2486In their close up she looks eager and excited.

DSCN2487He seemed to be having a bit of trouble with his horse. A rider came up alongside him to help.dscn2484.jpgWell it turned out they were in a group of 50,000 people in the 1989 Oklahoma Land Rush (OOPS 1889 was the year) to lay claim to Unassigned Lands for homesteading. Paul Moore created these bronze statutes to commemorate the event and they are tremendous. If you like horses, be certain to stop here on your way through Oklahoma as the detail on the horses is magnificent.

A suit? Yes, he was wearing a suit!

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Prairie Dogs

… are known as  herbivorous burrowing rodents with no relation to canines.
The black-tailed are a member of the squirrel family,  NOT one of my husband’s favorite animal families!  According to the National park service they are an important species to the native mixed-grass prairie ecosystem at Badlands National Park.
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Art in the west!

They have many purposes! “Several federal studies indicate that more than 160 species of plants and animals can be found associated with prairie dog colonies. They serve as prey for black-footed ferrets, swift fox, badgers, coyotes, bobcats, and many species of resident and migratory hawks and eagles.

“They also create habitat for black-footed ferrets, burrowing owls, tiger salamanders, mice, voles, and insects. Burrowing also helps aerate the soil which helps to recycle nutrients.

”Foraging on grass and keeping the vegetation short provides better protection from predators. The constant clipping of grass also creates nutrient-rich forage for bison, who are attracted to prairie dog colonies for dirt wallows.“

Below is perhaps Jabba the Hutt of the P Dog world? Seriously, well fed!

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What! Being stepped on by a bison would be bad enough, but wallowed upon! Stop! Stop I cannot take the truth!

“A plague began to appear in the park in 2008 spread by flea bites. Several colonies of PDs have been dusted with an insecticide to kill the fleas. An oral vaccine is also being tried by scattering peanut flavored pellets throughout the prairie dog towns.”

Great Granny Calls it Paeh!

My mother was a Pie Queen. Apple, rhubarb, strawberry rhubarb, gooseberry, peach, mincemeat, coconut, pecan, lemon meringue, pumpkin. If you could make it into a pie she was all over it! For years she made her own crust. A year or so before she died she declared that Pillsbury could do a refrigerated crust as nice as hers. As far as I know, she never made another crust. I use Pillsbury, too.

One recipe she used was from a McCall’s cookbook. I have never heard of anyone else making this pie. If you like Welch’s grape jam, this is the pie for you! When I bake it the house smells like Mrs. Welch’s kitchen.

My husband used to grow Concord grapes. If our crop did not produce well, there was a farmer lady down the road where we could sometimes purchase grapes by the pound. When we moved the grapevines stayed put. We found an apple orchard that also sold grapes. Last year we waited in expectation, but their crop failed due to the weather. This year we got the call! “The grapes are ready if you want to come pick your own!” We went there the next morning.

Hauling bucket and clippers and gloves to protect against any competing insects, we approached the vines, realizing too late we forgot to take our camera! Suffice it to say we picked many more than we needed and delighted in doing so. After washing the grapes someone needs to “slip the skins.” That just means squeeze the grapes over a bowl until the skins slide off and the grape innards pop out. Bob did all of that for 15 cups of grapes! It takes 5 cups of grapes per pie. We froze the other two fillings. He ate the remaining grapes.

25C36DC1-3C68-4EC7-BA78-DC60665928E2Slipped skins shown above in two containers. Then you bring the grape innards to a boil for a couple minutes. This will make it so you can separate out the seeds from the juicy “meat.”

F5815940-59D6-489E-B466-5825795C8F50CD4AC857-D55E-4310-954A-3E727F9DEC3CMeanwhile, mix the sugar, flour and spices.

Then strain out the seeds from the hot grape pulp.

00AE3AA8-ED9C-4B00-A47C-89BD5700C79FWhen the seeds are removed, mix the strained pulp with the skins and add it the flour and spices. Put in a pie crust and top with butter and the top crust.

Bake and wait for the magic of Mrs. Welch’s aroma to fill the house.

Remove and cool on a wire rack. Try not to burn yourself if you are tempted like I always am to taste the goo leaking from the edges (best part).

Serve with vanilla ice cream or gelato. If you forgot the ice cream, eat the “paeh” anyway! The filling is so rich that a small slice is all one needs.78491F63-D01A-495F-9CC6-23E39642F810Shown below are the ingredients:

Pie recipe

Ya Sure, You Betcha!

Minnesota saying for certain! Found myself saying “You betcha” before we left Minnesota. We ate at Kroll’s Diner. It looked just like Cruisers Diner near our home.

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Way different things on their menu, though! Fleischkuechle, kuching, and knoephla soup. Sauerkraut and cheese buttons do not appeal to me, but I tried the soup and chicken wrap. The soup was a  rich chicken broth with potatoes and dumplings cut in rectangles. Also called lumpy yellow soup! It tasted good, but my body protested the next day! Billed as authentic North Dakota cuisine with a logo of “Sit down and eat” just like your Mom might tell you!