My New Professional Camera -- Courtesy of My Lovely Husband!!

Wow, I am still so blown away by the camera my husband got for me! He knew that I've been wanting a more professional DSLR camera for some time now, and I could not believe that he researched and researched and researched and then got me a Nikon D60 18-55 VR Kit (10 MP). This camera is even better than the camera I was eventually planning to get myself!!! He also got me an additional lens, a 55-200mm for close-ups, which he also knows I really get into. I am sooooooo excited, and I have so much to learn about my new camera and what it's capable of. The above pic of my NEW camera was taken with my old Fujifilm Finepix 3800 (3.2 MP). This is the last time I will use my Finepix .... here is a pic of the old camera....

Last but not least, here are a few pics taken with my new Nikon the last day or so.... I haven't gotten real deep into all its settings yet, so these are just taken with the most basic of settings. I'm loving it so far!!

Trixie snoozing on our bed.

Breakfast time!

December sunrise in Kansas ... I'm usually not up so early!

Sunrise over our icy pond.

My First Kansas Snow

Same scene as one at top of my blog.... big difference from summer to winter!

Paint horse and Murphy -- the cold doesn't seem to bother them much -- really they're fine, I know Murph looks sad but he's just really good at the sad look. :-)

Looking down our road toward "main" road, which you can't even see.

And you thought only Ohio could have 4 seasons in the space of a few days!!! No, I think Kansas does it even better.

We hit 68 degrees yesterday, just one degree shy of the record 69 in 1918. Today is 26 degrees with blowing snow, 2 to 4 inches forecast, and a wind chill of 10 degrees. And I've got the frozen photographer's fingers to prove it right now! It's a challenge just to type this.

By this weekend, we will be back up in the 60s. The snow will be gone by tomorrow, no matter how much accumulates today. I guess this is what I will learn to love about Kansas, and not miss about Ohio!

December Sunset

Tonight's entertainment.... a beautiful sunset! Trust me, these pictures do not even BEGIN to convey how breathtaking this sunset is tonight!!!

One more thing....

I updated my playlist (below right), so there's more music to listen to! :) If you happen to notice that any of the songs don't play all the way through, please let me know so I can fix it. Thanks!

Update on My Life....

Ok, so I've been most terribly remiss in keeping everyone up-to-date on my blog. Let's see, who or what shall I blame? The beautiful Kansas weather this time of year (up to 60 degrees today Dec. 2), the family that was here off and on throughout last week, the job at South Central Kansas Regional Medical Center that lasted just shy of 3 weeks, or the Mobsters game on Myspace???? Hmmmm, take your pick!

I will say that Mobsters can be quite addictive -- I play it for the strategy angle (should I buy more income-producing territory or more equipment for attacking other mobsters?) rather than joining some of the clique mobs that populate the game. And trust me, some of these mobs can become quite antagonistic at times! No, I prefer to play on my own, attacking those who do not belong to big mobs and making $$ off them so I can advance to my next level. I guess that mirrors my place in life -- I always prefer to take the lonesome road, or at least the road less traveled, as I excel by myself!

The job at SCKRMC was not for me. I was getting all the different medical insurance plans down pat, even though it can be extremely difficult and confusing. What finally pushed me over the edge and made me decide this job wasn't for me -- being alone on the 3-11 shift in ER, not only responsible for registration of all ER walk-ins and emergencies alike, but also responsible for answering the switchboard, calling code blues or reds and gathering appropriate staff as needed for these code calls, handling the fire alarm if it went off and following all protocols and processes involved thereto, etc., etc. The hospital's business is increasing rapidly, plus they just received approval to build a new hospital on the edge of town, which will cause their business to increase even more. I had a discussion with the Business Office Manager upon my departure, and she agreed with me on many counts that there should be 2 people staffing the ER registration desk, not just one. Just think how these patients must feel as the registrar stops to answer the switchboard multiple times as she is trying to get the patient registered!!

WalMart called and I just couldn't go through with that one!! They wanted to hire me as a cashier for the holiday season -- sure, it would have been some income, and perhaps I would have been retained after the holidays and even managed to move up in the ranks due to my most excellent abilities and experience (LOL), but I decided I just could NOT deal with the holiday mobs. Nope, not for me. I served my time in the retail world in my 20s!!!

And so I search for the next job. I just applied for an Accts Payable clerk with Sumner County. This job pays relatively well, and obviously would have great benefits as it is a gov't job. I decided a few years ago I really like working with numbers, so I think I might like this job. The only drawback -- full time 8-5, so I wouldn't see Tom much during the week, just on weekends. I just can't worry about that right now, maybe I could transfer into another position within the county later down the line. I'll cross my fingers and hope I hear from them.

We are less one horse as of yesterday. No, we haven't put paint horse down (yet). Tom's daughter Missy took Mike (Tom's former roping horse) back to Wyoming with them. Mike's roping days are over due to his age, so he will be pampered and get tons of attention from Missy and Jason and the kids.

The vet came by on Saturday to look at paint horse. He's been limping much worse the last 3 to 4 weeks. The vet thinks that he may actually have some hoof trying to grow under the old hoof growth. So Tom trimmed his front hooves and he seems to be walking a bit better, altho still limping. He lays down out in the pasture more during the day. I'm still going to try to get him into that sanctuary in eastern Kansas. He may still have the potential to be used as a training horse for kids; time will tell.

Tom was in WA state at the Boeing plant for the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving. There were some defective nut plates that had to be replaced; seems they didn't get anti-corrosive material applied to them before installation. So Tom got to work 12 hr shifts while he was in WA, and bulked up his paycheck for 2 weeks, for which he was very thankful. He was off all last week, and just returned to work at Spirit today, but he is still on the 3-day work weeks due to the recent Boeing strike. I hope he finds out some good news today when he returns to work -- such as they are going back to regular work shifts, or they may even want him to go to WA state again. I guess there are still some Spirit guys up there this week.

I think that's about all since October. I must say I love living out here and have never felt isolated or lonesome. It is so rugged and beautiful, and quiet. I do miss everyone back home in Ohio and I'm hoping I can drive home for a visit very soon. I'm trying to work something out, so we'll see.... I know it would be easier for me to do before I get a job!

Oh, re: pics........ I'm crossing my fingers that I can get a new camera real soon. My old camera just doesn't have the focus that I want or need. So IF I get that new camera, I promise there will be new pics coming. I didn't even get any pics with Tom's family here last week. :-(

I have been remiss...

in writing any updates for my blog. For this, I apologize. I started my new job at South Central Kansas Regional Medical Center on November 3, so it's been a whirlwind two weeks. So much to learn, and then throw medical insurance into the equation, and you just know I'm ready to pull my hair out!!! I promise, I will update my blog in detail this weekend. I'm also going to update my music, add some more songs. I will say, this is the first time since arriving in Kansas that I'm ever thankful the weekend is here!!!!

Everyone Waves Hello in Kansas!

One of the things I absolutely love about living in small town America.... everyone is so friendly. When you occasionally pass another car or truck on our gravel road, the other person always has a wave or tip of the hat as they zoom by. Even the farmers in their tractors have a friendly wave. This neighborly farmer waved as I went by, and again as I was taking pictures.

The Ongoing Kitchen Renovation Saga

after ~ new kitchen faucet

before ~ old kitchen faucet

There will be more kitchen renovation pics to come. For those who don't know, we tore out the walls and ceiling completely, and Tom has put up new drywall. We still need to finish the drywall, then prime and paint the walls and ceiling, and plaster the ceiling. We'll be getting those items finished up this weekend, since he has 5 days off.

After that, a new western style ceiling fan, new countertop and hopefully a new tile backsplash (with mom's help!), and new laminate flooring. When mom comes back in early November, we're going to repaint all the cabinets and put on the new brushed nickel handles that Tom bought on Ebay.

In the meantime, it's ongoing, and it's messy! I'll be so glad when it's all done.

Kansas ain't the Sunflower State for nothin'....

one of MANY sunflower fields

a sunflower is nature's smile!

Back Porch Renovation

Note the pink blinds and curtain topper. And the ugly gray panelling. UGH.

TA-DA! Neutral paint colors for walls and cabinets with alabaster window blind. Note my colorful dog painting by Susan Rene. We also infused shots of aqua throughout the back porch -- the closet door and the fabric covering for an antique phone bench. There will be more updates to the back porch in the weeks to come, the light being the next update.

A Splash of the Caribbean in Kansas

How's this for a hot shot of color in Kansas?! The table had been abandoned and left by the previous owners. It was in pretty bad shape, so we (mom & I) decided that bright, bright colors was the way to go. The chairs were Tom's and had been repainted green several years ago (see last photo in July post); however, I thought what better color to go with red than aqua! I can't help myself, I love my bright, sunny colors. Mom painted all the outdoor furniture and didn't she do an awesome job?!

On the back porch, we infused the aqua into the new and neutral color scheme. A closet door now screams "look at me!" when you walk into the house. A small western styled hook on the aqua door reminds visitors they're in the American west, not a cottage in the caribbean. A small and rustic 3-hook wall rack from the Pottery Barn provided a spot to hang the dog collars and leads. Tom's much-treasured clock from an aunt hangs above the 3-hook rack.

Big Sur and Carmel, California

The cottage I should be living in....

Ok, perhaps not... I certainly couldn't afford it! But it definitely speaks to my heart. The cottages in Carmel are gorgeous and that's an understatement. My sister and I stayed at the Big Sur River Inn, but since the temps were quite chilly, we decided against hiking and drove the 26 miles north to Carmel for some shopping and lunch. What a great day we had!

So many interesting people in Carmel and even more interesting dogs, as this is a dog-friendly town. Check out Doris Day's Cypress Inn, one of the most dog-friendly inns I've ever seen. We ate lunch at the Casanova Restaurant... we almost didn't, but we're so glad we did! Outstanding to-die-for food and luscious ambiance in eclectic cottage decor with a long and interesting history to boot! The red house wine was absolutely delicious and oh-so-smooth on your palate. My sister asked for the name of it -- Protocolo, from Spain. I ordered a chicken dish with garlic and herbs marinated in a merlot wine sauce. Oh my, just thinking about it makes me want it again!!! Yum, yum, yum!!

Casanova Restaurant, Carmel

One of the most interesting dogs was a greyhound and border collie mix. He had the black and white longer fur of a border collie with the regal bone structure and walk of a greyhound. He was most unique and quite beautiful! There were dogs, dogs everywhere... labs were common, as were the smaller frou-frou types. Many restaurants had outdoor courtyard areas that welcomed pets, with water bowls and treats for the animals. I would love to go back someday and stay at the Cypress Inn with Trixie, it would be such fun.

The Big Sur River Inn was gorgeous and fun also, even though it was just too darned cold to sit outside in the river. We still had fun in the evening, meeting new people in the restaurant and in the morning, drinking coffee while reading our books. All in all, a lovely weekend in northern California.

On the creek at Big Sur River Inn

Sis showing off her "booty-lishus"

Family Fun in the Bay Area

After dinner at Pacific Catch, downtown San Francisco
Left to right: My brother and his little girl and wife, me, my sister and her husband

After spending a weekend with my sister in Big Sur, we met my brother and his wife at Pacific Catch in downtown San Francisco. The group you see above virtually filled this tiny little restaurant crammed between other downtown buildings. If you're a seafood fan (I'm not!), then you would love this lil restaurant and its fresh offerings. I opted for the chicken tacos, which were very tasty themselves, along with a glass of rose. Afterwards, we had a passerby take a few family pics; the family pic had the potential to grow as another passerby offered to take the pics so our current picture-taker could join the group. We contemplated the humor of the situation and allowing the "family" group to grow into a dozen or more people, as we were sending these pics to our mother, but then decided against it. We walked across the street to Starbucks and "Sweet Dish", a small candy shop with yummy chocolates and candy I've never seen since my childhood. Four dark chocolates with caramel and marshmallow were $3.15, but the melt in my mouth proved their worth. My husband agreed whole heartedly after I returned home with 3 for him.

Okay, now everyone can see my recent haircut. I hate it.... it keeps wanting to part and I usually retain bangs, so next time at the hairdresser we'll need to remedy this. It's also time to get serious about what goes into my mouth and working out. I think I've gained 15 lbs since my move to Kansas!! ACK!!!!

Follow Oz Girl's Adventures with the new Blogger "Following" Gadget!

I just added the new "Followers" feature to the right, on my sidebar, to make it easy for anyone to follow my blog. I'm going to make an effort to be more timely with my posts; I realize too much time passes in between my news! Click on "Follow my blog" to the right and keep tabs on my adventures in Kansas. With winter just around the corner, there's tons of new adventures coming.

Here's a pic of the boys this afternoon, grazing in front of the house. Side note: we're hoping to paint the house exterior before winter yet!

Country Animals

Longhorn in Kansas

There are so many wonderful animals here in Kansas land. From the small herd of longhorn down our country road to the horses in our own "back yard", they provide more photo opps than my camera is ready for!

Paint horse sassing Murphy

It's always fun when Tom goes out to pasture to get one of the horses ... you just never know what a horse's mood is going to be on any given day. One day they are willing to be captured, the next they are all three running to the farthest corner of the pasture!


Roundup continued...

Then there's the dogs and cats that live on the property. My two girls, Trixie and Tori, live in the house (of course!!) Ringo is the ranch dog; he protects us all by barking at any intrusion and then running as far away as possible. He may not be much of a protector, but at least he gives us a warning! He loves going with Tom to the pond to fish and look for frogs. Boogie is the mom cat, Fluff is one of her kittens. Fluff recently had a kitten of her own, but it has been elusive for photographs. Fluff and her kitty will soon be going to the vet to ensure no more kitties are born in the future!



Going fishing!

Ringo watching for frogs



Oh, and I almost forgot.... there's my cat that I brought from Ohio, Baybee. She was an outside cat that I rescued, so she would spend most of her time outdoors and come inside only at night. Now she is an indoor cat; I'm afraid she would try to find her way back to Ohio if I put her outside, plus Tom's cats may not like her! Then there are the outside dangers, such as coyotes, of which Baybee would be unaware.


Finally, even though this post is about the animals, I can't resist putting up another photo of an unusual cloud formation. There are so many days where the clouds, the sunrise and the sunset are beautiful beyond words. The cloud formations can be seen for miles and miles. I have always loved the American west for its wide and open spaces.

Unusual cloud formation

Update On Paint Horse

We took paint horse to the vet again last Thursday, and this time the vet decided that hunk of flesh had to come off; it wasn't reconnecting to paint's foot. So he had to dope him up but good as this was a small amputation of sorts. I am chagrined to say that at one point I did get nauseous and couldn't watch. I was holding paint's head while Tom helped the vet wrap it but when I got a glance of all the blood on the floor, I thought I was going to throw up.

We created a new pen/pasture area for paint horse on Saturday, so he's got a huge new area of fresh grass. I think we may have almost named him as he decided to dance around when Tom was trying to change his dressing. So Tom started calling him Dancer. We'll see if it sticks. :)

Today was an extremely cloudy and chilly day, as the remnants of Gustav rained down upon us. Our temperature high was only 60 degrees, unheard of in Kansas in early September! Tomorrow we'll get back to normal, around 84 degrees and sunny. Since it sounds like it will be a beautiful day, I'll get a new pic of paint posted.

Paint horse in happier times with Mike & Murphy

Sometimes the daily mail DOES bring Good News!


The Cowley County Humane Society sent me a thank you card for my donation and gave me an update on "Emerson" (above).... he left for rescue on Friday and is now a Colorado dog!

Background story for those who don't know:
This golden retriever mix showed up on our property at the beginning of August. Tom's dog, Ringo, seemed quite proud that he found him and brought him home. No doubt he told him "this is a great place to live." All that being said, we could not keep another mouth to feed, plus "yellow dog" kept the two cats up in the trees at all times.

Tom was annoyed and was ready to load him in the pickup and take him a few miles away. My gut feeling said that's what someone else had already done -- dumped this poor dog out in the country. He was obviously very young, maybe not even a year old, and his general personality and demeanor were awesome.

After 4 days, I took him to the Cowley County Humane Society with tears in my eyes. I truly felt that "yellow dog" had huge potential to be the most awesome pet for someone out there. I told the girl who took him how great I thought he was and how sad I was that we could not keep him.

So they must have also decided he had potential. I'll just bet he cleaned up beautifully -- he had quite a few burrs stuck on his back end. I'm excited and happy that he's heading to a new life, and I hope he works out well in his new job.

The Life of a Non-Working Girl

Ok, first off, that title is not totally accurate. Even though I am not working a full-time job, I can't believe how busy I am staying. I end up with more on my "list" than I can get done in a day! So I may not be working at a professional job and getting paid, but I sure am working at the homestead here in Kansas.

Today, I got my hair cut. Yep. I think we took 3 or 4 inches off. It was getting pretty mangly at the ends and I just could not stand it any longer. I like it, I think. I'll give it a few days and see how it works out when I wash and dry it. Could be a whole different look then. I'll try to get a pic in the next few days and send to a select few. :)

Stopped at the grocery store before I headed out of town to get some fixings for a pasta salad; just finished putting it all together, and first taste was pretty good. We'll see how it tastes after the flavors blend together for a few hours.

Tom & I also took paint horse to the vet this a.m. for a follow-up. He tangled with some barb wire fencing last weekend, and it was very, very ugly. He tore off a section of his foot above one of his front hoofs (hooves?). We were up until midnight last Sat, between Tom getting him to the vet and then rigging up a small pen to keep him in from this point forward. Of course it was raining too. Took Tom almost an hour just to get the fifth wheel loose (rusted) and the trailer hooked up. He hadn't used it since last fall. He learned his lesson from that lil episode. :-( While he was doing that, I was holding paint. Amazing how high a horse's pain tolerance can be. He walked around with blood pooled at the bottom of the ripped portion, and he was quite content to eat the "good" grass. In any event, when the vet took off the bandage today, he just shook his head and said (again), "not good". So it's a day by day thing now. Tom has given paint a shot of penicillin every day for the last 5 days, and redressed his wound and rebandaged it every day too. Now we'll just be redressing it and rebandaging it everyday. I was blown away at Tom's patience, his calmness and his knowledge. He's awesome with horses. :)

This pic of paint a few days ago belies just how serious his injury is; you can just barely see the lovely aqua bandage on his front leg. His sedate temperament has really shown through these last few days and he's been awesome through everything. His problem is that he's only 7 years young, and he gets bored easily. He had a bad habit of hanging his head over the fence to get the grass on the other side, even though he has 15-20 acres to graze. He must have got his foot caught in the lower string of barb wire; we weren't home when it happened. We just came home to a disaster after a lovely day running errands on Saturday and eating at a mexican restaurant.

The Big Abilene, Kansas Rodeo

It's 103 degrees right now, at 4:07 p.m. Forecasted high is 107 by 6:00 p.m. Sheesh!!!

This is one of the big rodeos in the U.S. Everyone who is someone in rodeo makes a stop here. So many of the trucks and horse trailers were, well, nicer than the homes that some people live in! All in all, it was a great time, even though the temps were just shy of roasting. Note the sweaty backs on some of the cow guys. Yep, I don't even know how they could tolerate wearing jeans and long sleeve shirts that day!

We walked around and looked at the pigs, some of the horses, saw some cows. Quite interesting. LOL. Earlier in the day, Tom had made a joke about all the people that love to go to fairs/rodeos and get a big ole turkey leg to gnaw. Well, at one point, some guy walked by us eating one big, honkin' turkey leg. We got the giggles so bad we couldn't stop! What is it about those turkey legs at the fair??? :-D

On Kansas Wheat Fires, Storms and Fluffy Clouds

One of the more amazing phenomena here would be the wheat field fires. It seems I moved here as the farmers were harvesting their wheat fields. Well, the next step in the farming process, before they plant anything else in the wheat fields, is to burn them off. According to Tom, this eradicates any diseases or pests that could be in the soil, so as not to affect the next crops. The fires are quite an amazing sight, especially at night time! I've included a few pics here but it doesn't come close to capturing the sight as you stand outside the house and watch them when they are just a mile or two away!!

Then there are the storms. As they appear to the west and south of us, I love to take pics of them. Surprisingly, I am less afraid of storms out here than I was in Ohio. I think being able to see them form, and see the direction they are tracking, makes a big difference. It is awe-inspiring to be outside taking pics of a storm as it passes around you. Maybe I'll feel differently the first time it comes right at me!! :-0

Finally, there are the big white fluffy cloud days. I love these days the best. I think the sky is incredibly beautiful when it is big and blue, and full of white fluffy clouds!