February 4, 2013
Warning: This is an up-close post about an aging family. If you’re having a bad day or were looking for light reading, click away. We can meet up another time. Or, here goes…
My mom’s Alzheimer’s/dementia/whatever-you-call-this-horrible disease has reached a point where two of my greatest fears have come true: She no longer recognizes me and she can’t live at home anymore.
In the messy aftermath, I realized there was an even greater fear lurking – that my mother wouldn’t love me anymore. But, my sweet mom showed this would never be the case, no matter how much Alzheimer’s separated us. And, she did so on a card game score pad during my recent visit.
She loves, loves, loves playing cards and she also loves winning, which means we always keep score. Since she didn’t know who I was, she just wrote “You” and “Me” at the top of the sheet. When I saw that, my mind hurtled back to something she said during a phone conversation this past summer, when she wasn’t so sick.
When I was hanging up, I told her that I loved her, just as I always do. Then, she answered in a sing-song voice, “I love you and you love me and that’s the way it will always be.”
So, despite what is awaiting mom, me and the rest of our family, I know there will always be love. And, hopefully, lots more card games.
December 7, 2011
November 25, 2011
On a cold, gray, windy, post-Thanksgiving day, D., E., Cesar and I headed to the woods.
June 20, 2011
Good storytellers write about what they know and what they love. For Roberta and Ramona, what they know is that prairie dogs can be pets, calves can sometimes find their way into the kitchen and a Clydesdale named Ruby was destined for divadom. What they love is turning these stories into children’s books about farm life.
Roberta Seiwert Lampe and her daughter Ramona Lampe together have written two novels, six children’s books, four books of poetry books — with several more in the works. I wrote about Roberta last year (http://lynnwoolf.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/strong-women-and-their-stories/ ) and was lucky to meet Ramona this spring.
Roberta has written throughout her career, but started writing her first novel later in life, as a way to cope with her husband’s cancer and other family tragedies.
“Agnes was a story I wanted to write for years. I thought ‘This story has to be told,’ “ says Roberta. Agnes was her grandmother, who emigrated from Germany, moved to Kansas and married a widower with six children.
Ramona started writing her first story, Ruby the Diva Clydesdale, at Roberta’s urging. “I kept saying she should write this story, but she said, ‘I don’t know anything about Clydesdales. You write it.’ So, I did.” Ramona drew upon the personality of a real-life Clydesdale from a horse farm where she works.
Their author relationship is separate from their mother-daughter relationship. Ramona says they’re not a creative team, but a marketing team. They write separately, but share book signings and speaking engagements. Both are good talkers and good listeners, so they enjoy conversations with strangers as well as friends.
I believe their mother-daughter relationship strengthens both their creativity and marketing efforts. And, it’s heartwarming to see their mutual admiration. For instance, Ramona warmly refers to Roberta as her “rebel mother.” Roberta tears up when she says how proud she was of Ramona at a recent book signing, when Ramona shared her personal struggles after a head injury.
They share a common goal, too: Draw upon their own experiences on their family farm to help educate children about agriculture — and bring a smile or two.
A testimonial from my own farm girl (and artist): “The stories are funny and cute and the drawings are very inspirational. My favorites are Prairie Dog Pet and Calves in the Kitchen.”
You can learn more Roberta, Ramona and their books here: http:\\lampebooks.tateauthor.com.
March 2, 2011
December 9, 2010
There were about 35 people in the Farm Bureau building on auction night — farmers, investors, brokers and others. Most were there out of curiosity about what the quarter section (160 acres) would bring. At the end, only one person mattered, and he wasn’t even in the room. V. had the winning bidding for his uncle, who listened by phone from Virginia.
The price went higher than was expected, $1,950 an acre — and higher than Uncle wanted to pay. The next day I emailed him to see how he was doing. His response: “Shouldn’t I be OK? LOL.”
He was looking for a good investment and feels he found one. The ground is right across from our home quarter and near other land Uncle owns. (Here’s a glimpse on this frosty December morning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pD5OfAtvjJA.)
We’re very pleased for the opportunity to farm more land. It also feels good to look out over Woolf land. Maybe someday, our son can farm it for Uncle’s daughters and grandchildren.
That’s the other value of farmland — what the land means for farm families. This rang especially true when I talked to the sellers, the granddaughters of the original owner. Their reason for selling: To help care for their father in his remaining years. Comments from Dana: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xf8IFvXpx9s.
Season to season, family to family.
December 1, 2010
November 3, 2010
June 21, 2010
E. and I ventured back into the Flint Hills last week, as part of the 18th Annual Flint Hills Prairie Wildflower and Pasture tour. More than five buses of photographers and nature lovers were lucky enough to explore private hay meadows and native prairie. The wildflowers were in full bloom, not as a cascade, but a wonderful peek-a-boo of color and shape.
We headed out from Cassoday (population: 130), which E. was delighted to find out is the “prairie chicken capital of the world.” Extension and Conservation experts walked us up and down the meadow, naming every bloom, grass and seed pod. We ended up on a majestic open range near Matfield Green (population: 60). In the Flint Hills, one ranch may consist of hundreds if not thousands of acres. It’s not feasible to fence such an expanse, so cattle roam freely, sometimes across county roads. Guards built into the roads keep cattle from wandering off the ranch. It felt like a prairie safari as we came upon a surprised cattle herd.
It was a beautiful evening and E. got some great shots for the county fair. I was sorry to leave, but will definitely be back. I can’t get enough of those rolling hills.
(Thanks Butler County and Chase County Extensions and Conservation Districts.)
April 29, 2010
I was never interested in creepy-crawly creatures. I’m more enamored with the four-legged, panting, drooling kind. However, thanks to my work with Extension 4-H School Enrichment, I can spell — and use in a sentence — worlds like chrysalides and proboscis. And, butterfly larvae are staring at me right now, merrily exploring their cup — their sealed cup — on my desk.
I helped develop the Life Cycle Miracle (butterfly hatching) program last year and I just wrapped up this Spring’s classroom presentations to nearly a dozen schools and hundreds of elementary students. The students capped off the program by releasing the butterflies they raised.
It’s been a wonderful opportunity to see the 4-H experiential learning model at work. Here’s a summary:
- Experience - Youth do before being told or shown how.
- Share – Youth describe results of the experience and their reactions.
- Process – Youth relate the experience to the targeted life skill.
- Generalize – Youth connect the life skill discussion to the larger world.
- Apply – Youth use the new life skill experience in other parts of their lives.
It’s been fun testing out the project at home with D. and E. The other day, we struck gold. We witnessed one caterpillar make its chrysalis when it shed a final layer of skin. D. described it perfectly: It’s like the caterpillar unzipped its sleeping bag. E. released one batch of butterflies last week. Pure joy for her, the butterflies, and me watching.
If you’d like to do the project, go here to download the guides: http://www.sedgwick.ksu.edu/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=481.