Who We Are

Thursday, May 31, 2018

In Case Anyone Was Wondering ...

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie.  In case anyone was wondering, this is what Cam and I look like when we're really bored:

"I think I have that ennui thing."
"So very, very bored ..."

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

We Both Won!

Hello, everyone!  It's me, Cammie!  Yesterday after our walk, Mom went out to water her plants while Maggie and I cooled down in the house.  She seemed to be taking a long time - then when she came in, she explained she had been cleaning the lower deck off, too.  (That's where our bat Bart leaves his calling card, so to speak.  Write.  Whatever.). Anyway -- that meant Maggie and I could you out and play one of our favorite games! It goes something like this:

Maggie runs down to the lower deck, then ...

"Hey, Maggie!  Look!  I'm Queen of the Stairs!  Bet you can't get past me!"
"Oh, yeah?  I can get pas--"
"Ha!  Nice try!  Ready for Round Two?"
"C'mon, Mags!  I'm the Queen of the Stairs!!!"
"Ho dee doh dee doh ..."
"Maggie?  You still want to play, don't you?  Maggie?  Where did she ..."

Then I turned around and headed up to the top deck and ...

"Who's the Queen of the Stairs now?!?"
"But how did you ....?"
"Gotta be quick, Cam-a-roo!"

It was great!  We both won a round!  After that, we decided to pose for a picture over by the planters:

"We're both the Queens of the Stairs!"
"I prefer to be the Prime Minister, actually."

Oh, right.  Stay tuned this Summer for more on those planters!  Mom is growing some new-to-us flowers from seed -- two varieties of small Sunflowers:  Little Becka and Orange Hobbit.  We'll keep you posted!

I hope you all have fun today and stay cool!


Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States - a day to honor our fallen service members, our war dead.


Originally called Decoration Day, this was a day on which flags and flowers were placed on the graves of soldiers who died in the American Civil War; today we remember all of our service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

A few years ago, we shared this photo of a plaque at nearby Fort Riley:

IMG_0670 Monument Plaque
The inscription reads:

The Young Dead Soldiers

The young dead soldiers do not speak. 
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses: 
who has not heard them? 
They have a silence that speaks for them at night 
and when the clock counts. 
They say: We were young. We have died. 
Remember us. 
They say: We have done what we could 
but until it is finished it is not done. 
They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished 
no one can know what our lives gave. 
They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours, 
they will mean what you make them. 
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for 
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say, 
it is you who must say this. 
We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning. 
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.

Archibald MacLeish

May God bless the souls of our fallen veterans and comfort their families. We will not forget you!

Mags, Cam, and our bipeds

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Serene Scenery Sunday

Hello, everyone!  It's me, Cammie!  Today, Maggie and I thought we'd give you an update on the Kansas Ocean!

We're still in a "severe drought", but we did have rain a few days ago.  We thought it would be a good idea to walk over to the KSO to check things out.  Just like a couple weeks ago, we spotted a nice, big puddle:

"Look at the size of that beauty, Maggie!"
"Look at how great the ocean is looking!"

I stomped through the puddle, Maggie jumped over it, and the ocean waters are still rising.

"That was so fun!"
"That felt great on my feety-feet!"

That's our update for now!

We ended up hitting 100 degrees yesterday and we're expecting similar temps today.  Stay cool, everyone!  If anyone needs us, now that we've taken Mom and Dad on a walk, we'll be hanging out inside!


Saturday, May 26, 2018

It's A Good Day

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie.  It's going to be a toasty day here in the great state of Kansas (expected high of 99℉/37.22℃), but after our walk, before it gets too warm, it's a good day to do a little bit of this:

"Isn't it lovely out here, Maggie?"
"Oh yeah.  Lovely, Cam."

... and perhaps a bit of this:

"Argh, sneak attack!"

Perhaps a lot of that second part.

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Friday, May 25, 2018

It's A Tough Job ...

Hello, everyone.  It's me, Cammie.  After our walk today, Mom and Dad got right to work outside in the garden. It's in the mid-90s out there, and the temps are still rising.  They took a quick break to get lunch, take us out, and give us our lunch, then went right back out.  Oh, don't worry.  We can see them from the windows.

"Somebody's got to be in here, enjoying the air conditioning!"

I mean, it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it - right?

"Hey, Maggie - make sure they're OK out there.  I'd hate to have to get up."

We've got this covered!


Thursday, May 24, 2018

What About All Of Those ...

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie.  Guess where we went again yesterday?  Yep.  To Mom's Happy Place - Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.  Birding.

"More BIRDS!!!"

I know - we just went!  But every time we go down there, we see different things!

"Like all those sneaky snakes you're seeing today, right, Mom!?!"
"I can't believe that didn't get her back in the vehicle!"
"I can't believe she's out there taking pictures of them!"

Anyway, we saw lots of birdies, too.  We'll share a few pix eventually.  In the meantime, stay cool, everyone!  ... and beware of sneaky snakes!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wordless Wednesday


Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Taking Care Of Business

Hello, everyone!  It's me, Cam.  As Maggie mentioned yesterday, our dad was out of town for a few days.  We did our best to take care of everything here at Ao4 Headquarters while he was gone - to include making sure Mom got plenty of exercise!

One morning, we decided to take the Water Tower Trail route.  At the top, we struck a nice pose:

"You should send this to Dad!"
"Make sure you tell him how good we're being!"

We continued on down the trail, checking everything out!

Me and Maggie, being very good girls

We had just gone a little further, when Mom called out, "Ooh!  Look!"

"What is it, Mom?  Bunny?  Birdie?  Squirrel?"
"Possum?  Puddle?  Maggie's BFF Chelsea the Border Collie?"
"No, wait.  Hold on, girls!"

Sigh.  Here's what got her all excited:

Blue Wild Indigo

I mean, sure, it's pretty and all, but you would have thought it was something really cool!  Nothing to really get that worked up about.

That being said, we decided to make our own excitement!


Yep.  Something for everyone on that day's walk!


Monday, May 21, 2018

Filling In

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie!  Dad was out of town for a while there, so it was up to me and Cam to fill in as best we could.  I took on gardening duties.

"Oh, yeah.  Speaking of filling in, the garden's filling in nicely, Mom."

Oh, not doing any of the work ... just supervising!

"Me?  Do manual labor?  Ha roo roo roo!"

Yeah.  So I didn't really do any of the work Dad does, I just came out and admired stuff after Mom did a bunch of stuff.  I think that's enough, don't you?

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Serene Scenery Sunday - Birds At Quivira

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie.  Cammie and I couldn't decide who would present the rest of our birding pix, so we settled it the way most Siberians would:

"... Five potatoes, six potatoes, seven potatoes, more.  You're it!"

OK!  Let's get birding!

Like at Cheyenne Bottoms, we saw lots of Avocets!  Here is one snorkeling for bugs while another does some preening:

American Avocets

There were also a lot of these long-legged birds:

Black-Necked Stilt

Aren't his legs awesome?!?  You can really see how long they are in this next shot:

Black-Necked Stilt with Blue-Winged Teals and a dragonfly buzzing around

They must be like the Great Dane of the birding world!

We also saw a lot of these guys and gals:

Wilson's Phalarope, male, with bug!
Wilson's Phalarope, female

Unlike most other birds, the females are the more colorful!

Mom also saw one her most very favorite birds:

   THE Snowy Plover!!!  

I have to admit, he's mighty cute!  He had that suave look about him, like he needs a tiny martini glass or something, you know?

"Right up there with the Northern Shoveler, huh, Mom?"

Mom said her bird-heart still belongs to the Northern Shoveler, but the Snowy Plover is a close second.

A relative to the Snowy Plover is this more common bird:


We saw lots of different kinds of sandpipers:  Least, White-Rumped, Spotted, and mostly this kind:

Stilt Sandpiper, on take-off

We also spotted two birdies we don't see very often with a "lifer" bird, one Mom's never seen before!

Front to back:  Black-Bellied Plover, Willet, and Whimbrel

The Whimbrel is the lifer!

There were Red-Headed Woodpeckers all over Quivira, taking off every time Mom spotted them and tried to fire off a photo.  Finally, when it was almost time to go, she hit upon a very cooperative one!

"Hey, Camera Lady!  Look!  I got a bug!"

What a nice guy!  I hope he enjoyed his snack!

When we got to the Observation Tower, it was getting mighty toasty.  Dad suggested that Mom go up to the top, while he and us girls stayed in the air-conditioned vehicle.  I love the way Dad thinks!

When Mom got over there, we saw her stop suddenly and pull out her iPhone.  She got closer and closer and was firing off photos, then backed off a bit and took some shots with the camera.  Dad said it couldn't have been a bird because she was too close, and he said it couldn't be a snake because Mom would have high-tailed it back to the vehicle.  Ha roo roo roo!  Good one, Dad.  Anyway - this is who was working security at the tower:

Prairie Lizard!

Mom said he tried to charge her 3 crickets to go up there, but I think she may have been joking.

Remember a trip ago, when we said we had left the refuge, but then when we were tooling down the highway, Mom spotted some Sandhill Cranes?  Something similar happened this time!

Dad was driving along the highway and asked Mom, "Did you see that?" 

"No - what?" 

"An Egret!  In with those cows!"


"Do you want me to turn around and go back?"

That was sort of one of those rhetorical questions, I think.  And Mom was able to get the shot she has been wanting for a long time:

Cattle Egret with cattle!

Mom was pretty stoked!

Anyway, thanks for coming along with us on our most recent birding adventure!  If you'd like to see more of Mom's photos, there is an album on FlickR at this link.

Have a great Sunday!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Armed Forces Day!

We would like to take this day to wish all of you who have served or who are serving honorably in our nation's military a happy Armed Forces Day!

"Whether you're in the Army, Navy, Air Force ..."
"... Marines or the Coast Guard - THANK YOU!!!"

To those men and women ... we appreciate you, we honor you, and we pray for you daily!

"Thank you, God, for the men and women of our military!!!"

Here at Ao4 Headquarters we are so grateful to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces!  God bless each and every one of you!

Mags and Cammie!

PS:  Remember:
     Armed Forces Day, the third Saturday in May, is a day we celebrate and thank all those who served or who are serving in our military.
     Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, is a day to honor those who have fallen in the service of our country - our war dead.
     Veterans Day, the 11th day of November, is when we honor those who served or who are serving in combat.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Birding At The Bottoms

Hello, everyone!  It's me, Cammie!  Maggie and I are going to start showing you a selection of the birds we saw on our recent birding trip.  Today, we'll cover some of the birds we saw at Cheyenne Bottoms.

Before we ventured into the wildlife area, we stopped at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center.  We saw a "lifer" for Mom there - a bird she had never seen before! Here he is, up on one of the lights:

Great-Tailed Grackle

Pretty awesome tail, don't you think?

Once we got into Cheyenne Bottoms, we saw a lot of these birds:

Stilt Sandpiper

Apparently, it's OK for them to trudge through the mud, but not us.  Go figure!

We also saw small sandpipers, like this one:

White-Rumped Sandpiper

We saw lots of Avocets hanging out with those sandpipers:

American Avocet, doing a Flamingo imitation 
American Avocet fly-by

Here's another fly-by:

Double-Crested Cormorant

He was taking a branch to help shore up their nesting area!

There were quite a few Pelicans at the Bottoms - here comes one now!

American White Pelican

As far as the birds at Cheyenne Bottoms went, Mom gave her "Most Cooperative Bird Award" to this colorful guy:

Yellow-Headed Blackbird

He struck many a pose for her, and seemed to like his photo being taken!  Contrast that to this guy:

Great Blue Heron

The second Mom spotted him, he took off.  Not nice, Mr. Heron!

We also saw this cool bird:

White-Faced Ibis

Isn't that a great bill?!!?

We'll eventually have an album up - Mom is still working on the photos from Quivira!

"Are you ready to head to Quivira?"
"Hang on, Dad.  She might be getting crackers out of the back of the vehicle."
"Yeah, Dad.  CRACKERS!"

I mean, we could stand a little snack on the way over - right?

Stay tuned - more birdies in a day or two!