Has Oz Girl Disappeared???

Not really.  It's just that time of year... summertime!  Seems there is so much to get done everyday, and not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything.  Add to that my new job, and life is pretty danged hectic!  

So here's an update, along with some lovely Kansas photos you might enjoy.

The garden... yes, we finally got one started!
Thanks and kudos go to the hubby, not I.
Corn on the far left (first row battered by a storm), 
then there's the new row of corn sprouting,
then cukes, beans, and radishes.

Woohoo!  Our first tomatoes.
We also have pepper plants, hard to see in this photo.

Hubby used nothing more than a shovel to turn over this hard, compacted piece of land.  Then a few months later he borrowed a tiller from someone at work, and rototilled what he had turned with the shovel.  He helped me plant the tomatoes and peppers, but thanks go to him for planting all the seeds and keeping it all watered on a daily basis.  I was watering at first, but the mosquitoes have been really bad this year, and I'm their feast every single time I venture outside (it's quite frustrating!!)  For some reason, they don't enjoy nibbling on him.  Lucky me, huh?

Our first radishes... I put one on hubby's salad last night.
He said they had quite a bit of heat!

Purple Fountain Grass we planted on the east side of the drive.
They are flourishing and I'm hoping they reach their
full potential next year... 4 to 5 feet!

The back porch.

By the old garage ... antique cream separator with flowers.

The outhouse, with coleus and ivy in the flowerbox.

My clean car.  Ok, ok...so it's not a beautiful rural photo.
But do you know how often I have a clean car??!!
It will be dirty again tomorrow once I drive the
3 miles down our gravel road to the main road.

Coneflower, coreopsis and dwarf zinnias.

Last night's sunset.

Yeah, I still like it here in Kansas.... except for these danged mosquitoes!!!
I'm sporting a bunch of new bites just to get these photos!

Update on the purple fountain grass:  This plant is only hardy to zone 9.  So we won't be seeing it return next spring.  This makes me sad.  I guess it's my bad for not paying more attention to the plant info tag.

Toll Booth Collector Girl is Tired

Who would have thought that being a toll booth collector could be stressful and VERY tiring??! Certainly not me!!!!

I must admit, I'm one of the legions who always believed a toll booth collector's job was pretty cushy. I mean, seriously... collecting money for 8 hours? How hard could that be? Getting state wages and retirement benefits? I always thought it was a great job and I envied those people with that easy job.

Trust me. Not easy, not cushy. It's a good thing I'm part-time right now. An 8-hour shift leaves me beat to the ground the next day. I need a day off just to regenerate some energy so I can go back the next day!!!

Since I work at the south terminal of the Kansas Turnpike Authority, there is rarely a minute to relax. (Check out the link to their website... the photo in the header shows the terminal where I work, so you can get an idea of what  my "office" looks like.) We are busy the entire shift, whether it's daytime or evening. I'm sure it probably slows down considerably in the overnight hours, but I haven't worked the night shift. Yet. I'm told the onslaught of summertime bugs will make up for the relaxation time that the "hoot" owl workers enjoy.

I'm not complaining. Nooo, actually, I rather like this job. If only because it is so different from what I have done my entire life. In my previous tenure, I served as office manager and media buyer for a small advertising agency. Prior to that, executive administrative assistant at a large corporation-type business, and prior to that, a senior administrative assistant and marketing coordinator at an architectural firm. So you can see I'm used to being in a nice temperature-controlled office on a plump, comfy chair.

Now I fight the bees as the bee trucks head north from Texas, slam my little booth doors shut as the livestock trucks go by, and crank the air conditioning to 55 degrees just to get some cool air circulating when it's almost 100 outside and the booth doors are open almost all the time. My feet hurt from standing all day, as does my lower back from the constant reaching ~ up to trucks, and down to cars.  There are K-Tag issues that must be dealt with -- tags that don't read, people who think other state tags WILL read (they don't), people without tags who think they can run the lane -- there are also people who think they don't have to pay at all and run the lane, people who lose their tickets, accidents, disabled cars, possible drunk drivers, ticket readers that decide not to work when you have a stream of cars waiting to pay, and of course, people who decide to empty their piggy bank and pay with a plastic bag full of pennies!  (Yes, that just happened to one gal last night!!)

I will say that I've discovered 90% of the people in our world are friendly, nice and polite.  They understand the purpose of a turnpike, what their ticket is for, and they have their money ready to pay upon exit.  But as you well know, there is always that other 10%.  I guess that's what will keep my job exciting!

Bonus ~ I am allowed to bring my camera with me to work. So I'm going to start doing so, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. I'll give y'all a peek into my world on the interstate highway.  And if you are ever driving south through Kansas, keep an eye out for me at the south terminal and say hi...  as a side note, you will find that the Kansas Turnpike keeps their road in top-notch condition.  It's such a pleasure to drive; I usually receive at least 2 customer compliments each shift that I work.

It's certainly a DIFFERENT job.

I did say that's what I wanted, RIGHT????!!  :-)

The newest addition to our animal menagerie...
another story, another day!

Welcome My Sweet Granddaughter

Leah's first few hours in this crazy world

The beautiful new mum with her sweetest little one

Sweet, sweet Leah Elizabeth

The happy new gramma!

Proud, yet tired, new daddy

Mummy, daddy and Leah

Leah with her new hat made by Aunt DeeDee (Stacie)
(I think she needs to grow into it!  :)

Me and my goofy-looking self
(which is why you don't see many pics of me on my blog!)

Yes, I finished the quilt before she was born
I found the little musical doll in Guthrie
It plays "Doggy in the Window"

My daughter-in-law has posted many more photos on her blog, and she will be putting up a hilarious video of Leah's first bath, soon!

So this would be why I've been absent for the last week or so.  I'm back home now, but will be working the next few days.  I'll try to get back on track and visit some of my bloggy friends in the next week or so!!  Hope everyone is having a marvelous summer so far.

Guthrie, Oklahoma... A Step Back in Time

A town well worth visiting... Guthrie, Oklahoma!  These townspeople obviously take pride in their western heritage, as the beautiful restored storefronts will testify.  

I had heard good things about this small town in Oklahoma since I moved to Kansas in 2008, and I finally had the opportunity to visit Guthrie with my friend Holly last week.  (Thanks to Janie at  Midlife Slices for mentioning Guthrie to me last year~)  Since Guthrie is only an hour and a half south of us, I do believe we'll be going back for another visit soon.

There's more photos on my photo blog, and Holly recounts our afternoon on her blog, Treasures on the Trail Ride Home.

No Berry Sweeter Than A Strawberry

Doubtless God could have made a better berry ,
but doubtless God never did.
~William Allen Butler, American lawyer and writer of poetical satires, 1825-1902

12 pounds of fresh strawberries picked by moi
at berry farm, ready to be cleaned and cut

"jam" strawberries on left, "eating" berries on right

16 jars of strawberry jam
(yes, two are missing)

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

And don't kid yourself.  Picking strawberries in the afternoon, in jeans, when it's sweltering outside, is hard work.  Suffice it to say, I didn't plan my day well.  Next year I will plan my attire better, and stay longer so as to pick more strawberries.  The price was good though ~ $1.25/lb.

We had pound cake with some of the strawberries.  As I was cleaning out the fridge today, there were a few berries left, so I found this recipe for Strawberry Oatmeal Bars.  They are absolutely delicious, but I would definitely recommend using a 9x9 pan instead of a 13x9 pan as my bars are a little bit on the thin side.  Check out the reviews on the recipe website, as there are all kinds of suggestions for altering the recipe slightly.   I like the idea of drizzling some cream cheese icing over top.  YUM!

I love poetry.  Sometimes.  As I read the following poem, I have difficulty getting the sense of all of it.  The first three stanzas are easy enough... the last three confound me.  Feel free to leave your interpretation.

Wild Strawberries
~Robert Graves

Strawberries that in gardens grow
Are plump and juicy fine,
But sweeter far as wise men know
Spring from the woodland vine. 

No need for bowl or silver spoon,
Sugar or spice or cream,
Has the wild berry plucked in June
Beside the trickling stream.

One such to melt at the tongue's root,
Confounding taste with scent,
Beats a full peck of garden fruit:
Which points my argument.

May sudden justice overtake
And snap the froward pen,
That old and palsied poets shake
Against the minds of men.

Blasphemers trusting to hold caught
In far-flung webs of ink,
The utmost ends of human thought
Till nothing's left to think.

But may the gift of heavenly peace
And glory for all time
Keep the boy Tom who tending geese
First made the nursery rhyme.