Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Some Good Quotes

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
-Albert Einstein

Being on a tightrope is living; everything else is waiting.
Karl Wallenda (1904-1978):

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
-Helen Keller

It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.
--Eugene Ionesco

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult." - Seneca

It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one's thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them.
--Isabel Colegate

The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. Dante Alghieri

TV Screws Up The Kids

Well, we all *know* that TV screws up the kids, but it doesn't seem to stop us from planting them in front of it for multiple hours a day. There are shows marketed at two year olds and parents can't buy the associated crap fast enough to reinforce having their kids be quiet for that time they're watching the screen.

Of course, common sense would tell us this is idiotic. A horrible idea. A stupid way to raise a child - or, more accurately, a way to avoid having to raise a child.

Common sense would tell us that those first four years of life - when the brain is developing - DEVELOPING - would be a good time to be exposing it to wonderful things. But, putting a video in is so much easier. Amazing how that frantic pace on the screens keeps their brain occupied - not necessarily developing, just occupied - while we talk on the phone or make a work appointment or write an email.

Think back... into the long ago times... when people raised children without videos and DVDs. It wasn't that long ago. Think back even further into the very long, long, long ago times when people raised their children without TV. Those would be the generations that brought us the light bulb, cars, phones, computers, the space program, and other such things. They also brought us TV. I'm sure they didn't imagine we'd think they'd given us 'round the clock child care.

There's new research now from The University of Washington and Children's Hospital in Seattle that finds - not surprisingly - that the more TV your children watch when they're young, the more difficulty they have paying attention later.

For each hour of television a child watched daily before age four, their risk of having attention problems at age 7 increase by 9%.

So, if the kids are watching the average of 8-10 hours a day of television, it's pretty much a given - 72-90% likely - that they'll be unable to focus when they start school.

Well, gosh, that seems like a good trade off. You get to avoid dealing with your children. They get a rocky start on the education that will have tremendous impact on whether or not they're successful in life.

OK... so... stop reading this blog... go pull your kids out from the front of the TV and take them to the park.

Monday, May 30, 2005

A Holiday Monday

Well, I've been working in my soon to be library room today. I sponged over some of the funky green color in there and I'm not sure if I like it or not. I think I'll wait for a day or so and see how it strikes me in the daylight. I like the look of the metallics sponged on top of it, but I'm just not sure about the green. It's kind of a funky olive color. I bought it spur of the moment, which is never how I buy paint. Maybe there's a reason. lol

So, I'll see how I like it in the morning. If it doesn't sing, I'll go get more of the base color and paint over it. Better to lose the $20 on paint than all the work of having to redo it. We'll see how I like it in the morning. I'm 50/50 on it right now.

So, that's my big news of the day.

I haven't been out of the house except to hang out and get clothes. I had some left overs from my Wichita trip for brunch and some popcorn for whatever comes between lunch and dinner. I think I do need to fix myself some actual food for dinner. Even though it's almost 10, I haven't had any yet.

I also need to take a bath and get some of the paint off me. I always paint myself in addition to whatever else I'm working on.

One of my other color thoughts is blue and gold in there - an Egyptian theme - I may mix up some colors and try that out and see how I like it too. I think I'm definitely getting another gallon of the Porter paint that is the base color. I was really borderline of having enough and if I put blue on and don't want it I doubt I'll have enough to cover that up and finish up in there. We'll see.

Maybe in the morning I'll think it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. lol

I do like the woodwork I've gotten to being that bright white. I'd prefer it be natural but I just don't have the energy to attempt that so bright white it is. What was in there was so nasty that this is a dramatic improvement. Now, if I can just decide about the green color. We'll see...

For the rest of the time before I go to bed I have to do some MHA things. I'm behind!

4:30 and I'm Still Up

It's 4:30 a.m. and I'm still up. And I've accomplished very little tonight, other than computer work, and none of that was critical stuff. I am going to have to break this cycle. I dread going to bed at times like this.

Turquoise? Who Knew?

You are the color turquoise. A fairly tempermental
person, you're either upset or tranquil most of
the time. You can be as calm as your color.
You're a mysterious person, yet somehow
outgoing. You're balanced, simply put. You're
somewhat bold. You're generous and
sophisticated--but never ever snobby. You're
lively and rich in personality and attitude.
You're a beautiful person, aside from the fact
that you're a perfectionist and painfully
honest. But life is good to you!

What color are you? (Amazingly detailed & accurate--with pics!)
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, May 29, 2005

House Repairs

I'm thinking about getting some things done to my house this summer.

Last night when I couldn't sleep I was thinking about different rooms and realized that the room I'm working in now is the last room I have that I haven't done anything to. I still have the stairwell and upper hallway, and plenty of finishing things to do in other rooms, but this is my last room that hasn't been touched.

One of the first rooms I worked on was the kitchen - for the obvious reasons. People either love my bright blue and yellow or they look at it and go, "Oh, you haven't worked in here, yet."

Well, yes, I have. See the grease stains running down the side of the cabinet where the stove sat previously. I scrubbed all those off - took, literally, weeks of scrubbing and letting it soak every night with some different harmful chemical on it.

I painted my kitchen blue and yellow because I love Monet's kitchen at Giverny. When I was there I fell in love with the color scheme. Thank goodness I went years ago when you could actually SEE the house without your view being blocked by the hundreds of other tourists inside while you were. Obviously, my blue and yellow are a bit more brilliant, but I love the combo.

Every Dec. 19 I take pix of my house to chart my progress. That's the day I closed on it so that's the day I chose to do pix. Of course, I'm always decorated for Christmas then so it's all the better for me to do it then.


I'm thinking tonight about photographs and how they capture different moments in our lives and how those moments tell a story of who we are.

I'm thinking about what photographs would tell the story of my life up to now if I could only chose a few. If they were all scanned in, I'd show them here but they're not all in the computer, so I'll just share a couple.

Of course, something from childhood. This isn't especially meaningful - I don't even remember it - I'm guessing I was turning 4. But you have to have something from childhood, of course.

Going to Egypt by myself in 1999 was a turning point in my life in many ways. It was, truly, life changing - in every sense of the word. It made me think of myself, travel and experiences in a different way. I won't go into the details here, as I've never shared them with anyone and am not about to start by putting it on the world wide web, but that trip changed who I am and how I move in the world. It was when I really became "me" again after a relationship had ended over a year before.

There are some, of course, who think "me" is a dangerous thing to be (hi, Leah!). But, we have to be ourselves.

There are other photos I can think of that illustrate moments for me, but I don't have them handy. It's an interesting concept... maybe something I should devote some time to.

Mail Art Call on Anxiety

One of the things I do in my spare time is Mail Art. It's a movement that believes that art should be available to everyone.

Last year I did the first ever Mail Art exhibit in Hutchinson. My friend, Diana, hosted it at The Dancing Grouse (www.thedancinggrouse.com). You can see last year's exhibit by clicking on the link below. If you want to read more about mail art, google it and you'll find plenty to amuse yourself.

This is the call I have out now. It's fascinating to see what you get and from where.

Send Mail Art that illustrates ANXIETY.
Entries should be postcards, 4x6 inches, any media.

See last year's exhibit at http://www.mharenoco.org/mailart2004.htm

No Jury, No Fee, No Return, Documentation Provided.
Deadline is September 12, 2005
Exhibit will be held in the fall.

Send to:
Patsy Terrell
Mental Health Association
PO Box 2021
Hutchinson KS 67504-2021


I took off for Wichita this afternoon, just to get out of the house and out of town. For some reason, a change of scenery really helps my mood. I need all the mood lifters I can come up with these days.

I stocked up on some art supplies I was running low on.I'm still thinking about things I want to have in stock before any art shows. I'm thinking about going up to the studio for a while, but I'm also tired so may just head on to bed. Being sad is exhausting.

It was a gorgeous day today - perfect for folks who are at the lakes enjoying this first summer weekend.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Comments about Mama

Many people have written to me about the post regarding my mom. I decided to respond in a separate post since people read at different places, and some of the comments were private and not online.

First of all... thank you for taking time to read, share in those thoughts, and to write. Many of you have written about your own loved ones and I can tell you that when the time comes, it's often obvious what to do. It may not be what you want to do, but you know what to do.

It is an honor to attend the dying. I am not certain I did well at it, but I did the best I could. I am so thankful for nurses and doctors and aides who help those of us less knowledgable through the process.

My mother's neurologist was incredible. My family was amazing. The large circle of friends who surrounded us gave us comfort.

I will remain forever grateful that my brothers and I agreed to not take any extraordinary measures for my mom, and that we have no regrets. She would not have wanted a feeding tube or anything of that nature, and neither did we.

The medical staff was surprised that we could let go, but we had all had great experiences with Mama, and had expressed our love for each other many times.

As I told a nurse the last afternoon my mother was alive when she asked if we wanted to let her come out from the morphine... "No... we want her to be comfortable. No one has anything they need to say and no one has anything they need to hear. Keep her comfortable." Thankfully we are all at peace with that even four years later.

We were blessed to have her as a mother. It would have dishonored her to keep her "alive" in only the most technical sense, longer than was meant to be. She taught us better.

Asia and Its Infected Birds

Once again, we're hearing about some terrible strain of bird flu from Asia. What in the hell is up with Asia and its birds?

Every few months the world is suddenly in danger of dying from some new strain of bird flu in Asia. Are birds everywhere else just healthier? What is the deal? Why are Asian birds so deadly?

They're talking about a pandemic flu - meaning we don't have any protection from it, unlike various other flu strains.

And... of course... there's a shortage of the vaccine... well, there isn't even a vaccine... but they're talking about once they do get one, there won't be enough of it.

It seems we need to go to the source and deal with these birds... they seem to be a continual source of harm.

I'm expecting a Hitchcock cameo at any moment.

Remembering Mama

This was written around this time four years ago about my mother's death a couple of weeks earlier on May 11, 2001. It was sent to friends. I have edited it a bit for publication here but it's basically intact.

Just thought I'd update you on how things are going now that it has been almost two weeks since my mom died. I am feeling both still in shock and dazed and at the same time quite "raw." Yet, for reasons I can only attribute to the prayers of people who are close to God, I am at peace with having lost my mom. Even six months ago I could not have imagined that. It's not that I haven't cried and I'm sure I will for years to come. But there's an overriding sense of joy for having had her as a mother and that she was blessed to not linger at the end. Thank goodness she did not need to teach any of her children how to let her go by holding on any longer.

This is the woman who taught me to make divinity candy - her specialty. Admittedly, the first time I tried it without her supervision it was a mess, but I've learned now. :) This is the mother who when I'd make a mistake in the kitchen with ingredients that I know were scarce at times would just say, "Well, just learn from it and don't do it again." She was always calm and peaceful about such things, even though I know it must have been a hardship at times to even have me - much less be raising me and teaching me things.

This is the woman who calmly told me I could be anything I wanted to be, when such ideas were not popular for little girls. It's the woman who told me to get an education and not ever have to be dependent on anyone for a living - to share my life with a man based on better reasons than that. This is the woman who sewed my senior prom dress so it would be *exactly* like I wanted it. It's the mother who sat by my bed when I was crying and upset over changes in my life that I couldn't even put into words when I was going through so much change at one point in college. It's the woman who's response when I wrecked a brand new, three week old car, was "well, thank God no one was hurt. The car can be fixed. If it can't, it can be replaced. Just thank God no one was hurt." It's not like there was plenty of money for replacing the car, but she crystallized in a few words what was truly important.

I have spent decades praying for Mama to be healthy and with us and then I spent the last few days praying for God to take her and end her suffering - and mine and my family's at watching her. It is just so odd to have that change in attitude. I'm at once fascinated by it, horrified by it and pleased by it. It's compassionate and yet selfish. You find yourself questioning if you want her suffering to end or yours, which is of a completely different kind. In the end, I suppose it doesn't really matter. And, of course, we have no control over how such things will end.

The morning we were going to the hospital, Greg asked if I wanted him to drive because he would drive faster and I said, "no, we'll make it or we won't." I figured if God wanted me to be there I'd be there. I was frightened to be there, frankly. I didn't want to see her gasping for breath. I know that's not very flattering to me but it's the truth. I was scared. Afraid I couldn't handle it. Afraid I'd do something wrong. Afraid. Afraid of things I can't even put words to.

I put myself in the car and headed to the hospital and figured if I was meant to be there I would be. We missed it by a few minutes. I was so glad my brother, Jim, was there with her. He said she had been gasping for about an hour before she died. At the end he told her to just let go and she opened her eyes, looked at him and took two short breaths and died. They were the only breaths she had taken in an hour that weren't gasping rattles.

Obviously he did exactly what was needed. I'm not sure I would have been strong enough to do it. I'm very glad he was there at the end - not just for him and for Mama but for the rest of us too. He was very kind and very caring with her when he was with her at home and he certainly did the right thing as she died.

I come from an area that is old - meaning it is full of common sense wisdom and people accept things that are not scientifically proven. A few years ago, my great uncle died. The lady living in the apartment next to him - my sister in law Mattie's mother - told my mom and me a couple of days later that when she saw him collapsed in the doorway that she knew his wife calling the ambulance was a waste of time because, "death was already upon him."

I've thought about that phrase so many times - it's poetic and yet horrific. But, Mrs. Scott had probably seen death enough times that she recognized it. I truly believe she knew what she was talking about - and obviously she did - he died before the ambulance got there - death was already upon him.

Older people - the ones we're losing now - have a much more personal experience with death than we do. We now do it in hospitals and much more antiseptic surroundings as opposed to our homes. And most of us don't lose children and most of us don't tend our older relatives to the same degree as death approaches. We have a whole medical system to do that and I'm thankful for people who know better than I do what to do. But, people my age (39) don't know about "the death rattle" and we wouldn't recognize death if it were "upon" someone.

I've always heard people say you can smell death. I never believed it until I was with my mom near the end. But on Thursday afternoon, before she died early Friday, I could smell death. I left the hospital a little less than 12 hours before she died. All day that day, the smell had intensified. We kept looking at her legs and fingernails and their color had not changed, but there was a smell in the air. I can't describe it other than to say it was like a decay of some sort. It was as if her body was surrendering itself to a force outside itself - death. It was all around her. I helped the nurse's aide give her a bath and that smell lingered there, regardless of the lotions and potions the aide was using. That smell, above any other, permeated the room. The closer you got to my mom, the stronger it was. I could tell the aide could smell it and knew what it meant too. She came back to the room about every 45 minutes after that to see if we needed anything. I knew she could tell the end was near. When I went in to the room after my mom had died the smell was gone. The only smell near her then was a very, very, very faint scent of violets - the wild kind - like she planted under the shade tree in her front yard.

Well... I didn't intend for this to get so lengthy. I wanted to thank you again for your concern and your prayers. We're all doing OK - better than I expected. If Mama were here, she'd say "Life is for the Living" so I think that's what we're all trying to do - just go on with our lives. Of course, they'll never be the same without her. But, I'll always have a relationship with her - it will just be different. I'll never sew on a button, or stir a cake or send a note that she won't be part of the process. And she will always guide me - just as she did when she was alive.

I was blessed to have a wonderful mother. One who taught me to laugh and to be kind and to stand up for myself. She gave lessons every day simply by the life she led. We should all live our lives in a manner such that as our minister stands over our casket he reads the Proverbs passage about a virtuous woman...
"Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."

Thanks again for all your help. There truly is solace in the comfort of friends.


Tree Challenge

The challenge last week was to draw a tree. As usual, I'm behind. And, to top it off, this is a tree I did some time ago.
But, Wednesday when I drove down to Quivira to take my mind off the recent breakup, I noticed this tree is no longer standing. It has fallen and is in chunks now.

I loved the look of it and it was one of the first sketches I did in my first Moleskine. I think it's posted on the blog right after I started it at live journal, but I just can't recall. Anyway, I'm using it again because it's already scanned in.

Actually, trees are one of my favorite things to draw and I have multiple ones in my books. But, this one is scanned and so I'm wimping out.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Friday Nights of Holiday Weekends

Friday nights of a holiday weekend are always so wonderful - you have the whole weekend stretching out in front of you, with that extra day tacked on.

Unfortunately for me, this holiday means that people are occupied with family events and I can't call on friends to help me get through these rough days. It's understandable, but it always seems to work out that when I really *need* companionship, which isn't too often, but when I need to be distracted, I cannot connect with anyone. Always seems to be bad timing.

However, tonight I called Terry to see if he wanted to go to the Anchor and he said yes so we had dinner. Terry is a great story teller and can always make me laugh. Tonight was no exception, even though my mind is on my lost love.

Maybe tomorrow I will get in the car and drive somewhere. I should stay home and work on things here but there are so many things here that remind me of my now former bf. He helped me move into this place and did a lot of work on the house. So, his touch is everywhere.

I'd like to get my floors refinished this summer. It would make sense to have it done while I'm gone at some point this summer. I'm thinking about just borrowing money on my credit card to do it - that's often cheaper money than getting it at a bank - and I do need to get them done. We'll see how it all works out...

Wild Weekend Ahead

It's not even 7 p.m. and I can tell this is going to be a wild weekend for many. Cars are zooming by my house at high rates of speed with the music blasting. School is out. Summer is officially beginning.

My big start to the weekend is that I'm headed outside to Round Up the weeds in my front flower bed. What can I say, I lead a terribly exciting life here on the plains...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Goodbye to my Love

Today has been a very sad day. My boyfriend and I have been having the long goodbye for sometime and today was the day we made it official that we're no longer a couple. July 29 would have been 5 years since we met. They say four years is really the difficult time to get through a relationship - not seven - and so it is with us.

I have shared my heart and soul with this man on an intimacy level that I never thought possible for me. I miss him greatly, and will for a long time to come. He is a good, honest, trustworthy, faithful man. I have treasured being the woman he was in love with. He made me want to be a better person.

I went down to Quivira just to get away late in the day but I couldn't really get through the roads because of the recent rain. So I just drove around for a little while, out in the country, in the sunshine. At one point it looked like it was going to rain, which matched my mood, but it was just brief - a few rain drops. I wish I could say the same for my tears falling. My eyes are sore. But, they will heal. As they always do.

As I was coming back into town, a song that sums up my thoughts about such things came on the radio as I was turning onto my street - Garth Brooks' "The Dance." Ironic that it would come on right then. It's such a true song - I would not have missed the wonderful parts of this relationship to avoid the pain of this day and the ones past and the ones to come.

Life seems to come with a hearty helping of relationship pain for many of us. I'm not sure why that is, but I must have been in the front of the line on that one. I'm pretty careful with my heart. I'm 43 and only been in love three times. But, when you consider that there are people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and older who have never broken up with a boyfriend, who have never ended a relationship, who have never gone through this day, it's rather amazing that at age 43 I'm a veteran. Unfortunately, the fact that I have experience doesn't make it hurt less.

I don't have a lot of friends who can relate to this. But, I don't really want to talk anyway - it will just make me breakdown - and I really don't like to do that in front of people. I keep things like this private, generally. There's a reason they call it a "private life." I really debated mentioning it here, but thought it only fair to those of you who read regularly that I share a bit of my true personal life with you.

Trish is the only girl friend I've talked to about the situation prior to this. Besides, it's not like there's anything to say really. It's over. It hurts. It will hurt for a long time. And then it will hurt less. And then it will settle into a dull hurt that things couldn't be different. Then I'll focus on the good and let the negative fade away. And hopefully I'll learn.

You cannot make someone feel something for you that they no longer feel. So, there's no point trying. You can wonder why and what happened, but you'll just make yourself crazy. So, best to just accept it - get your questions answered if you can - but just accept. I have many questions. I don't know if he will answer them for me or not. Maybe. It would help give me closure but that is a gift one can only request, not expect.

With every relationship it is its own special creation, made by the two of you, unique and precious. And you never know that the last time you kiss or the last time you make love is going to be the last time until later. You don't know it is the last time you'll whisper good night into the darkness while holding each other close,or wake up feeling him close, until later. That's why each interaction with everyone in your life must always be treated as the last. All relationships end by choice or by death, and we never know when it will be.

I wanted him to know that I loved him - truly, madly, deeply - and that I did the best I could in this relationship. I gave it all I had to give and that wasn't enough. I'm not sure where that leaves me at - other than obviously alone for quite some time. But one doesn't have more to give than their "all" and I can honestly say I didn't hold back. I believe in giving 100% to everything - I never want to fail because I did something part way. Well, I loved fully and it still failed. That hurts. But at least I know I did the best I could. It just wasn't enough.

People's lives change, and sometimes there's no way to bring two of them together. There was a large age difference between us - 17 years. We are at different places in our lives. The age wasn't always an issue - he was more mature than his years, I was very "young" in my attitudes toward things - so it worked. But, he has things to do that twenty-somethings do, like build a career, and I don't fit into that. I wish I did, but in his mind I don't, and there's nothing I can do about that.

Whenever a relationship ends, I have to have some time by myself, to rediscover who I am as an individual. At some point in the future I'll meet someone else, but it will be a long time before I'm ready for that.

This man will always be special to me. He will always be someone I love and care about. I hope over time we will settle into a friendship. Being loved and accepted is a rare, rare thing in this world - it doesn't come casually into your life. Knowing how rare it is, I have always tried to treat it with great respect when it's given. He gave that freely and I am thankful. I am not sure that at his age he knows how rare it is, and I hope he never finds out. I hope he finds true love and is happy all his days, without the pain of discovering how rare it is to have true love. He is a wonderful man and deserves much happiness.

I'll always be grateful for the time I shared with him - the kindness, the grace, the love he gave me was a beautiful thing. I was blessed to have him in my life. I hope he would say the same about me. I miss him.

An Elegant Gathering of White Snows

I finished "An Elegant Gathering of White Snows" by Kris Radish tonight. I've been reading this book for a few weeks - trying to go slowly because it was so good I didn't want it to end.

The story is about eight women who walk across their county and the things they learn over that time. It had great character development, which is something I love in books. Although there were so many people in the book it was hard for me to keep them all straight.

It's one of those books you know you'll remember for a long time to come. And it speaks to why women bond well with each other. And, the support we give each other.

I'm blessed to have great women friends in my life now. I treasure them.


This is a recent photo of my favorite small person, Lily. I snapped it when I popped in to see if Diana wanted to join Julie and me for margaritas after work.

Julie and I had Altrusa, and I was in the mood for a margarita beforehand. It's weird for me to want to do that so Julie jumped at the idea and we went to the Anchor. It was a nice way to start the evening.

After Altrusa, we went with Peggy to the Metro and had tea and talked more.

Lily is rarely in her seat, as it seems there's always an adult around wanting to hold her. She has just awakened from a nap. She's a very laid back little gal. Of course, she wasn't in the seat more than 90 seconds after she woke up - we were holding her.

She still likes to snuggle, which is lovely. And I believe at only 3 1/2 months she's already well aware that I'm likely to do whatever she wants - bouncing, walking around, whatever.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

New Cookbook I Love

I have spent part of the evening enjoying a new cookbook that has come into my possession. Now, I should say, I get new cookbooks all the time - which I love - because I review them. But every once in awhile I get one that I know I'll treasure. That's the case with this one.

We had a committee meeting for Altrusa tonight and Debbie brought me a copy of the cookbook that she and her sister did with Grandma's recipes. I love it. Not only for the recipes, but for the stories and poems that are included.

That is the biggest mistake people make when they do a family cookbook - they forget to put the family in it. Recipes are just recipes - lists of ingredients - there's nothing special about them. I own hundreds of cookbooks - I've got a lot of recipes. What makes a cookbook wonderful is when it's personal. And this one is. I love that.

I think I've read all the tidbits added into it by now. I still have some recipes to go through but all the family stuff I've already enjoyed. I'm sure I'll go back to it again, but it's such a treat to peek into someone else's world.

It also reminds me I need to get busy with volume 2 of the Terrell Family Cookbook. I did the first one last year for Christmas and want to get another one done this year.

Of course, before that I have to get the Myatt family reunion book done. Seems I'm always doing a book.......

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Playing Home Owner Today

I've been playing home owner all day today. Geez... what a dull thing to do.

I painted more in the soon-to-be library. I have just a little touching up to do and very little paint from that gallon left so hopefully it will last until I get through.

I also went and bought the other paint. This is a beige and I'm going to sponge over this funky green and some metallics. The green is called "pianist" and is a kilz brand. I've never used Kilz paint so this will be a good experiment. I have used all sorts of different kinds of paint to see which I like best. I'll add this to my list of things I've tried after this.

I'm eager to see what it looks like so I'm sure I'll do some of it tonight.

I've been outside for the last couple of hours. I washed off the porch, which is no easy feat because I have to move all my rocks to spray under them and then put them all back. Then I sprayed the lawn with this stuff you hook up to the garden hose and it's supposed to kill the weeds and green up the lawn. Well, we'll see. The jury is out on that one. I'll report back.

I did have a bright spot of fun, though. Trish called and asked if I wanted to go to lunch. I had just come downstairs when the phone rang so it was good timing. We were having a wonderful conversation but had to stop because she was going to the high school graduation that was this afternoon.

Well, I'm off to put some funky green on the walls and see what it looks like...

Things About Me 103-224

OK... so now I can't stop doing this... Once my brain got into this mode it just kept on going. Don't worry - I'm sure I'll become bored with this soon too. Oooh.. there's the start of another list... I bore easily!

103. I love old diners and restaurants.
104. I love my Birks - and other comfy shoes.
105. I was hit on by a lesbian at Lilith Fair. Yes, she was wearing Birks. No, I declined her offer. Got no problem with it - just happen to like the equipment men come with best.
106. I have participated in a major, award-winning, oral history project.
107. One of my radio pieces is in a time capsule at the Cosmosphere.
108. I can crochet and knit and embroider.
109. I love kitsch.
110. Monet's gardens at Giverny used to be one of my favorite spots on Earth. Now the hoardes of tourists ruin the effect for me.
111. Willie Nelson told me I had "beautiful blue eyes" once.
112. I have covered all the public areas of the Louvre.
113. I've been alone inside Stonehenge.
114. I've been alone inside the tomb of Unas.
115. I climbed the Red Pyramid.
116. I love old cemetaries.
117. I've studied French. Extensively. Mais je ne parle pas francais.
118. I've studied Spanish. No hablo espanol.
119. I've studied heirogylphics. No hope I can ever manage that. I know a few things but no way can I read them.
120. I've never been married.
121. I've never been pregnant. (That I know of, anyway.)
122. I've had wonderful men in my life. I have great taste in boyfriends.
123. My mother taught me to be happy. It was a wonderful gift.
124. I have no parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles left.
125. I am fascinated by serial killer stories. No... I don't want to marry one... just want to study them like a bug under a microscope.
126. I enjoy thinking/reading/talking about quantum physics.
127. I am part Cherokee.
128. I know how to shoot a gun and use a bow and arrow. I'm pretty good with both.
129. I've never been arrested.
130. I've never even had a speeding ticket.
131. I sued a company once for packing a worm in a can of corn. I lost.
132. I want the world to be "fair" and will fight battles that are not my own. I also think companies shouldn't pack worms in cans or corn, and sell them as "wholesome," but a jury didn't agree so what do I know?
133. I love to dress up - Halloween, Ren Fest, whatever.
134. I don't like scary movies. Fear is not an emotion I enjoy so I don't pay people to induce it in me.
135. A drawing of my hand was used on a billboard once.
136. I never cheat. I'm a 1000% faithful in any relationship.
137. I don't believe in keeping a spotless house - too much energy for too little return.
138. I make very good pie crust.
139. I plan great parties.
140. I don't believe in regret.
141. I've fixed tea, with a dozen things on the plate, for 100.
142. I carry wet wipes with me at all times. Hate germs.
143. I don't mind the blood on accident scenes but the sounds people make when they're really hurt get to me.
144. I've never dyed my hair. (Although as more gray appears, this will change.)
145. I rarely take any over the counter medication.
146. I love Christmas.
147. I've never had a traditional birthday party.
148. I love my long hair.
149. I can't wear a watch - they stop working on me.
150. I seek others who see beyond the limits of this dimension in which we live.
151. I believe in the power of thought.
152. I like good old boys - minus the trans-am and the skoal.
153. I love fun surprises.
154. My mother didn't know she was pregnant with me for quite some time. Took modern medicine a four day hospital stay to figure it out. The local "witch doctor" had told her weeks before just from looking at her across a room.
155. I think on dozens of tracks all at the same time.
156. Writing helps me figure thing out.
157. I have a great interest in the civil rights movement.
158. I admire Mamie Till.
159. I think Minnow was right when he said TV was a "vast wasteland." It has only gotten worse since then.
160. I love rivers. I am a person of rivers.
161. I have some issues with the concept of women's rights. I'd like "people's rights."
162. I think we need to accept that there are some differences between the genders.
163. I am not politically correct a large part of the time.
164. I am not ethnocentric regarding being an American.
165. I love long bubble baths.
166. I know education is the key to solving all the world's problems.
167. I get very pissed off at the extremes of any political situation.
168. I want to stop having the abortion debate. I want to get rid of unwanted pregnancy and therefore never have abortion again.
169. I am fascinated by the minds of people who do things far outside the "norm" - like mothers who kill their own children. Don't want to emulate them - just want to question them.
170. I'm a good interviewer - it was one of my great skills in radio.
171. I have a good voice - if I lived in a larger city I could probably make a living by doing voice work.
172. I can't act.
173. I can't dance.
174. I can play piano.
175. I was a music major. Briefly.
176. I've never been hungry and not known food was available. That is something most Americans can say, but not most of the rest of the world.
177. I have done therapy.
178. I have been in caves.
179. I have been on mountains.
180. I have been at a volcano.
181. I have been on the sea.
182. I have looked at the Mediterrean, the Atlantic, the Pacific and sailed the Panama Canal.
183. I have done pieces for NPR and CBS.
184. I have a large birthmark.
185. I can't tell left/right without looking at my birthmark.
186. I have won awards for news, public relations and graphic design.
187. I find the French to be lovely people. The British seem to hate me - always rude to me when I'm there.
188. I have been to an Egyptian wedding.
189. I am not a jealous sort. I believe in trust - not jealousy.
190. I have had three broken bones.
191. I have never had stitches.
192. I am impressed with people who have vision. I used to work for a man who had tremendous vision. And he could see how to take it from vision to reality.
193. I've never met a very powerful person who didn't have a vice. (Think: Clinton and women; Bush and cocaine; etc. etc. etc.)
194. My family history goes back to France in the 12th century. Or so we think anyway.
195. Some people think I'm a computer geek. I'm really just a geek wanna be. I don't know enough to be a geek.
196. I was published in the India Times once. Yeah, the one that's published in India.
197. I came home from the hospital on Christmas Day.
198. I still have most of my childhood toys - including my first doll.
199. My grandmother was blind.
200. I can drive a stick shift.
201. I own a copy of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Doesn't everyone?
202. I have over 1000 cookbooks.
203. I have every letter I've ever gotten - and copies of many I've written.
204. I adore perfume. Nice perfume. Expensive perfume. I wear it every day - even if I'm just in my house alone.
205. I'm not a big jewelry person. But I like to make jewelry. Go figure.
206. I love to make art with other people.
207. Making things with other people is a bonding experience.
208. I have no savings. I have debt. Money is a continual thorn in my side.
209. I've been to Graceland.
210. I'm not especially modest.
211. I can't rollerskate. I've tried. It's not pretty.
212. I can make truffles. And divinity. And fudge.
213. I make a killer carrot cake.
214. I'm not into celebrities. At all.
215. But I do want my Mtv.
216. I painted my kitchen blue and yellow because Monet's kitchen is blue and yellow. Although I did use much more intense colors.
217. My upstairs bathroom color was chosen from some embroidery floss.
218. I hate snakes. Getting bitten by one this spring did not change my opinion of them any.
219. I've been to Nicaragua.
220. I studied handwriting analysis.
221. I love the feeling of sleeping in a chilly room under tons of blankets.
222. I have planned concerts, receptions, weddings, teas, garden tours, homes tours and dozens of other events.
223. My favorite journals are Claire Fontaine quad notebooks about 7 by 9 inches. Unfortunately, they're unavailable in the US.
224. I love to be in love.

Despite my Sloth Level...

Despite my sloth level, I must go upstairs and paint more... So, this will be the last one of these for me for a while... But, no reason you can't go there and test your liklihood of going to hell. 14% doesn't seem too bad, given my past...

Your Deadly Sins

Greed: 40%

Sloth: 40%

Lust: 20%

Envy: 0%

Gluttony: 0%

Pride: 0%

Wrath: 0%

Chance You'll Go to Hell: 14%

You'll die in a shuttle crash, on your way to your resort on the moon.

More tests

OK... of course, I've become immediately addicted to these things...

My "sociability" is only "medium?" Hmmmm... I thought I was pretty outgoing and sociable...

Your Extroversion Profile:

Activity Level: Very High
Assertiveness: Very High
Friendliness: Very High
Cheerfulness: High
Excitement Seeking: High
Sociability: Medium

Thinking Style

I'm a sucker for various little tests... Don't know why... always have been. Knowing of my addiction, someone sent this to me... you can do it too! They're right on with the first one - not so sure about the second one - I think a few more questions would have helped clear that up. But... fun...

Your Dominant Thinking Style:


You thrive on the unknown and unpredictable. Novelty is your middle name.
You are a challenger. You tend to challenge common assumptions and beliefs.

An expert inventor and problem solver, you approach everything from new angles.
You show people how to question their models of the world.

Your Secondary Thinking Style:


Super logical and rational, you consider every fact available to you.
You don't make rash decisions and are rarely moved by emotion.

You prefer what's known and proven - to the new and untested.
You tend to ground those around you and add stability.

Defining Oneself

I have been thinking a great deal about how we define ourselves, and how that impacts our worlds.

Tonight I have been surfing through blogs of various sorts - many, many blogs - at random. I've noticed the desire people have to define themselves in terms of disease. Now, I have to say, I have been *blessed* to not suffer from any chronic condition, so I don't know how that affects one's life. But, I do find it curious that one's disease is so important that it is often THE thing that is mentioned as a definition or one of two or three things that is mentioned as the most important things to note about a person in a profile or bio.

In the past I've noted this with regard to "survivor" or "victim" status. It's noted with a pride that is odd to me. We've all been victims and we're all survivors of various things, but I don't define myself in that fashion. It seems very limiting to me. If the most important thing about me is that I survived something 30 years ago, I need to examine what I've done in those 30 years. Surely I've done something else that's noteworthy.

Of course, that may have been what I call a "defining moment," but it's not the only thing that defines me. At least I hope not.

Humans are infinitely complex in many ways. I'm not sure why we want to keep ourselves in these small little boxes, defining ourselves as "survivors" or "sufferers" or whatever. Are we not bigger than this? More complex? More inventive?

This begs the question of how I define myself..... I guess the 101 things does some of that for me..... If I had to do a 15 second elevator speech for myself I'm not sure what I'd put in it...

Off the top of my head:
Creative person with an old soul... looking to connect with others on the same path...

I'll have to give that some thought.

A Saturday in the House

I worked on some computer projects most of the day. I created some free downloads of computer wallpaper to put on my website. Someone asked about having one from the monoprint I use as the buttons on my website. So, I did three different ones today. I'm usually a plain blue background kind of girl but I am using one of these now and it is kind of fun.

I did not leave the house until about 7:30 this evening - it has been HOT - and I've been enjoying the AC. I went and picked up my friend, Sondra, tonight and we went to Skaets for a moonburger. The sky was beautiful and it was one of the rare occasions when I didn't have my digital camera with me. It was cloudy and there was lightning but it looks like we're not going to get any rain after all.

After dinner, we went back to Sondra's and I looked at the various projects she's been working on in her house. Sondra has a wonderful old house that she's always doing something with. It's good for me to talk to her - it inspires me to work more on my own house.

Today I painted a bit more in what will be the library. I am torn about what to do with the walls in there. I'm just putting on a beige-y base coat. My plan is to sponge over some other colors. My first thought was a chocolate brown and copper metalic color. Then I considered an Egyptian look with a blue and gold sponged over. Tonight I went to Walmart to pick up some things and noticed a very nice leafy-sagey green. I think it with some copper highlights would be fabulous. It also looks good with the chocolate brown. So, I'm headed upstairs shortly with the various color chips to give it a look see.

Regardless of what I do paint wise, it will still be some effort to get things done in there as I want to add a number of shelving units and those will have to all be put together. And then the 40 plus boxes of cookbooks put on them. I do NOT enjoy hauling boxes of books up the stairs! Maybe I can hire a couple of high school kids who's like a little extra cash to do that.

There is a company in town that I've never hired but a friend has - two guys and a truck. They charge a flat hourly rate. I think I might just hire them to do it. I have been taking a box up whenever I go upstairs but I've now got those in the sun porch and they're in the way. So, I decided no more until I get the library done.

I also worked on a project for an art group today - an address book I committed to. I have my design done, but it requires some hand painting on each one. I thought I had printed enough that they were all done, but I realized after cutting them that I need a few more. So, I printed them and will paint those tonight. I like to slather on paint, so it takes awhile to dry. It seems my studio is constantly covered with things in various stages of drying.

I'm thinking about making a section of my website for "in the studio" with pix of whatever I'm working on. It might not always look very tidy but it seems to be of interest to people. Whenever I have work people here, or sometimes friends, people seem fascinated by whatever is spread out to dry. So, it might be fun to share that on the website.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

101 Things

Well... this idea has been going around the net for who knows how long... and I've resisted the urge... but after reading Kether's list yesterday at http://101kether.blogspot.com/, I'm going to do it too. I know... makes me look like a copy cat... but I'm gonna do it anyway.

1. I love old houses.
2. I came into this world knowing that time is not linear.
3. I am an incredibly loyal friend.
4. I "tell it like it is." Don't ask me a question if you don't want the answer.
5. I am the question person among my friends - always have a question.
6. I am happy most of the time.
7. I agree with my great grandmother Maranda Rose, who was gone long before I came along, who always ate dessert first because she said, "I might die and some other son of a bitch would get to eat it." It's a general philosophy of life - enjoy it. Now.
8. I have a trail of failed relationships behind me. I'm not very good at them, even though I try really hard.
9. I can sing.
10. I love to travel - nothing gets the heart pounding like a little jaunt into the developing world.
11. I wash my hands dozens of times a day - I've got a "germ thing."
12. I *rarely* get sick. (Reference #11)
13. I'm brand loyal to very few things - Wisk, Heinz ketchup, Colgate winterfresh gel toothpaste, Tampax tampons, Jif peanut butter.
14. I HATE to clothes shop. Good grief, could there be anything more mind numbingly dull?
15. I hate carpet - nasty stuff. If you put a rug down and walk on it, it's filthy in a few days. Why do you think gluing the rug down prevents it from getting dirty?
16. I suck at trivial pursuit.
17. I have a *major* case of ADD and consider it a blessing.
18. I don't like to go to the movies. I'm a prisoner in a theatre.
19. Freedom is the one thing I've never had enough of.
20. I was on my fourth career before I turned 40.
21. I write cookbook reviews.
22. I used to do radio.
23. I used to do TV.
24. I used to write for a newspaper.
25. I have written a novel. It's not great, but at least I strung together 100,000 words and they make some sense.
26. I've been keeping a journal since I was in grade school.
27. People tell me I don't look my age - 43. I certainly don't feel my age.
28. I've been involved with men much older and much younger.
29. I think people spend far too much time thinking about what they SHOULD do instead of just doing what they WANT to do.
30. One of the most meaningful songs to me is Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee" because of the line, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." Because it's true.
31. I love Maya Angelou.
32. I know what it's like to be facing someone older and stronger than you, thinking they are going to kill you. (He didn't, obviously. He probably regretted it.)
33. I have two brothers that were married with children before I was born.
34. I have laminates on eight of my teeth. I got them when it was a very new procedure. Love them.
35. I have been fat all my life. It's part of who I am. Take me or leave me.
36. I miss my Mama. She's been gone for 4 years now.
37. One of the people in this world I know I can always count on is my ex bf, who remains one of my best friends on the planet. He always will be. We just don't make a good couple.
38. I'm a pack rat.
39. I love "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR.
40. I collect rocks.
41. I am an artist.
42. I am a writer.
43. I cannot remember details of shows, books, etc.
44. I treasure my friends.
45. I adore my family - none of that "oh, I don't get along with fill-in-the-blank" foolishness.
46. My great nephew, BC, is one of my favorite people on the planet.
47. My sister in law, Mary Ann, has always been a second mom to me. She is the ROCK of the family. Don't know what families do that don't have a Mary Ann. We are blessed.
48. I know that the dimensions we perceive in this world are very limited. And we limit ourselves by not looking beyond them.
49. I adore having an art studio in my house.
50. I could create on the computer for hours and hours.
51. I'm a good cook. Very good cook. I love to bake.
52. I love lipfinity lipstick.
53. I believe that journalism is a noble profession.
54. I used to be a journalist.
55. I have compiled and edited cookbooks.
56. I have designed billboards, bus ads, posters, programs, ads and dozens of other things.
57. I have voiced national radio ads.
58. I like genealogy.
59. I took a quilting class. I like to choose the fabric. The sewing isn't my favorite thing.
60. I love to dye things like freezer paper.
61. I learned to sew by making Barbie Doll clothes.
62. I am redoing an old house.
63. People think I'm weird. They might be right.
64. I'm definitive.
65. Decision making is pretty easy for me.
66. I'm convinced it's pretty obvious what's right and what's wrong. People just like to pretend otherwise so they don't have to take responsibility.
67. I have "Patsy's Rules for Living" that keep me centered.
68. The confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Cairo, Illinois is an important place for me.
69. I was born and raised in Kentucky.
70. I graduated from the U. of Kentucky - Go Wildcats - with degrees in Journalism and Telecommunications. I work in the Mental Health field now. Nothing like using that education.
71. I love Mary Englebreit's Home Companion but still miss Victoria.
72. I went to Egypt by myself.
73. I've hiked in the Guatemalan jungle.
74. I love Paris.
75. I am not afraid of death. Never have been. I'd rather live fully and have fewer days, than live a long time and be afraid.
76. I get a lot of things done every day.
77. I don't sleep much. Six hours is plenty for me. I can do with much less.
78. I've never bought a new piece of furniture.
79. I grew up on a tobacco farm. I hope I never have to raise tobacco again but I can if I have to.
80. I have never smoked anything - including tobacco.
81. I don't drink. It all tastes bad to me - beer, wine, whatever. Very occasionally I have a margarita with Mexican food but don't get the thrill of getting shit faced. There's a season for everything in life and by the time you're old enough to do that legally, that season should be wrapping up.
82. I don't do drugs.
83. I own a discussion group.
84. I think our lack of connection with one another will be part of our undoing.
85. I can read people. Have always been able to. But I don't do it without permission.
86. I know when people are feeding me a line of bullshit. I can't figure out why others don't see it. It's incredibly obvious to me.
87. I have been criticized for being smart, efficient, getting a lot done and not needing supervision.
88. I have a "genius" IQ. Pity I think IQ tests are bogus.
89. I am incredibly annoyed by stupid people.
90. I laugh every day. Heartily. Multiple times a day.
91. I write every day.
92. I meditate every day.
93. I pray every day.
94. I do not believe in war.
95. Clinton is the only president I've ever voted for who got into the white house. And I've voted in every election since I've been old enough.
96. I love cats but don't have any.
97. I am not a huge fan of music. I sing along with the radio. That's about it.
98. I love old costume jewelry pins.
99. I treasure the family things I have - quilts, trinkets, furniture - my mom's dining room table where almost everyone I've ever loved has gathered at one point or another.
100. I have been kissed while standing on the banks of the Nile.
101. I think I'm a very dull person.
102. I hate to be confined in any fashion - including 101 things about me.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Administration Assholes

Wichita's Boeing plant has been sold to Onex. I'm not involved - don't know anyone who is - but Onex is proving itself to be full of Assholes - at least in the Administration.

Today they gave the machinists a memo saying that they'll get a letter tomorrow that will tell them if they're employed with the new company or not. So, tomorrow's mail will bring the news - yes, you're employed, but you're taking a pay cut OR you're not being offered a job.

This is so damned nasty. You don't have the balls to tell people face to face, so you've got to let the postal carrier do your dirty work. Trashy, Trashy, Trashy.

I guess I should say that I often think unions are out of control - expecting far too much. But, I think these administration types are just complete jerks.

Why must those in power think they need to treat people like crap?

I learned a long time ago that a job is what you do to make money and that you can be replaced - easily - and you should never think otherwise. You're employed only because you serve the purposes of the owner/manager. If you stop serving that purpose, or the purpose changes, they have NO loyalty to you. Don't be fooled into thinking otherwise.

This company is just proving the point... trashy.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

NewComers Tonight

Tonight was the monthly NewComers meeting. This is something the MHA is doing, in partnership with a project group from the Leadership class here. We started in the fall and have still be feeling our way through what we're doing.

Tonight was fun. Matt and Michelle were there. He was in the original group and they're also pretty new to town. Also there were Butch and Kelli - they've been once before and I really like them. They're very new to town but I'm sure they'll have no difficulty getting to know people.

Coming for the first time tonight was another lady I've known for years, but only just to say hello. She's involved with the Kid's museum here in town and it was wonderful to get to talk to her and learn about what they're doing. She used to work at the library and that's where I know her from first of all. It was really fun to chat with her in a more relaxed setting.

She paid me a really nice compliment - saying that she noticed that I always talk to everyone when I meet them. I never thought about that, but I guess I do. She and Kelli had both been to a marketing workshop yesterday and that's one of the things they talked about - was it is important to be "out there" as far as engaging people. I guess it's just natural to me so I don't think much about it.

It's always interesting to see how you're perceived by other people. Well, sometimes it's scary - this time it was interesting. But I do wish at times that I could see myself through others eyes.

It was a good night.

Today was a productive day for me with MHA things and I also got something done in my house that I've wanted done for forever - the kitchen ceiling repaired. I have had it repaired once, then the new roof leaked again. Anyway... I'm happy to have it done now that the roof problem has been corrected. I have to paint it to match the rest of the ceiling but I can handle that - no problem.

I also did some scans tonight of journals I've been doing. I'm painting the covers, and really loving the effect of the color and texture. I'm a big believer in texture in paint. As my friend, Matthew, says, "Patsy, one of the things I love about you is that you know no excess." I love the color - it makes me want to pick up it up and write more often - just because it's fun to look at.

I've decided this is one of the things I'm going to sell when I start doing art shows. Actually, I'm going to put them on my website in the next few days and sell them there too. We'll see how it goes.

I guess one of the big tricks is the pricing. I haven't figured that out yet. I want them to be affordable. I don't want people to feel like they can't write in them because they're too "special," so they have to be affordable - certainly less than $20. We'll see what I come up with.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Creative Sisterhood and More

Tonight was an exceptional Creative Sisterhood. Julie was unable to come at the last minute, but everyone else was here. It was a great night - very informative and a good bonding night. Some nights things just seem to click and tonight was one of those.

I made brownies tonight. I was just really in the mood for them. They were yummy as usual.

I had lunch with Teresa and Trish today. We're trying to plan a weekend to go to Arkansas to the Clinton Library. I live just about 90 minutes from a presidential library - Eisenhower's in Abilene - but I've never been. Seems appropriate that my first presidential library visit should be to Clinton's library.

I've been working on some MHA things tonight. I've got a ton of things to get done. I am about ready to head upstairs. I've been up about 20 hours - and I stripped the bed this morning so still have to make the bed yet tonight. For reasons I don't fully comprehend I hate making the bed. It takes all of two minutes but I don'ts like doing it. So, naturally, I would love the feel of clean sheets.

It falls into the category of things I spend more time contemplating than it takes to do.

Early Day

I got a very early start to the day today. The guy was coming to look at my ceiling upstairs at 8 and I wanted to get some things done before then. So, I got up a little after 5 and have been busy since.

I did sneak in a little studio time this morning. I've been experimenting with painting the covers on books I'm going to use as journals. I'm really enjoying the process and the finished product. I have a few kinks to work out but I like it overall.

It seems that every project I start - even ones that seem incredibly simple - have a learning curve involved. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems. And it's the reason artists cringe when people say, "Oh, I could do that." Well... yes... maybe you could... but the key is that you didn't.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Journaling Class

Thursday night, May 12, I taught a gratitude journaling class through the Mental Health Association. I did it as a way to help people be happier. We know that journaling - especially gratitude journaling - will make people's happiness level increase. So this was a good thing for us to do.

I've taught journaling classes before and I'm never quite sure what, exactly, to share with people. It seems like a simple thing to me because I've been doing it since I was in grade school. But, it is something that people do need to learn to do. I think I'll try to find another date soon since I've had requests for more classes.

I had six people who came, including Julie and Diana. It seems from the evaluation forms that everyone liked it. One of the women who came is someone I think I would like to get to know better. We seem to have a lot in common.

I did have two women who were grieving and both were having a very difficult time. I suggested that other journaling would be a good adjunct for them. It occurs to me that maybe a grief group would be a good thing for this community, but I'm not qualified to do that.

We discussed having more journaling sessions - for art journaling in particular. I've also had a number of people ask if I'm going to do this again.

We also talked about doing Artists Way. We'll see how that develops. I'd like to do it again but 12 weeks seems like a big commitment. But it is a wonderful thing to do. We'll see.

Red Hat

Tonight we had Red Hat. Diana, Susan K., Debbie and Susan N. came. It was a nice evening.

We got to talking about various self help books we'd read. "Co-Dependent No More" was one that was recommended by a couple of people. We talked at length about how each of us "takes care" of others.

Diana and I also answered questions about the training we did with the energy healer and our visit with the psychic.

Diana shared a new photo of Lily - out with the Lily of the Valley. I haven't shown a photo of Lily in awhile and she has grown a lot. This one is from the day we were with the energy healer so it's a week and a half old but she hasn't changed too much since then.

Ranchos de Taos

Just south of Taos is a town called Ranchos de Taos. Taos is just "too cool" to have things one needs to live life - like gas stations. So, those are a couple of miles south in Ranchos de Taos. You'll also find a WalMart here.

And don't let those Taosenos fool you (yes, that's what they call themselves - pretentious, isn't it?) they flood into the WalMart just like the rest of us do all over the country.

But, there is a very cool thing in Ranchos de Taos - the old church. "The Ranchos Church," San Francisco de Asis, was completed in 1815 and is supposedly the most photographed church in America. I don't know if that's true, but I did yet more photographs of it - as if we were short on them.

I loved the church, but the neatest thing I saw were these carved doors. I'm guessing they go to the rectory. They're on the north side of the plaza. They're just stunning. Very beautiful.

The buildings around the square were wonderfully ancient. Adobe is apparently made by making bricks and mortaring them together, then covering the whole with more adobe. Over time walls get quite thick as it is generally recovered each fall.

I didn't get to go inside the church, as I was there after 4 p.m. but perhaps on another trip.

I went on in to Taos and drove around the square. I never returned to it, other than this one visit. I drove down the main drag and spotted Michael's Kitchen, which I had read about. I went in and had some dinner. It was a nice place - very casual - friendly staff - good food. I ate there twice more over my trip. I recommend it heartily.

Then I decided to head out to a campsite and get settled for the night. Supposedly the State Park people operate a number of them but they were all closed. I'm not sure why - maybe it was too early in the season. But, fortunately, I drove a little further and found a real gem.

Exactly five miles from downtown, east on Highway 64, is one of the best finds of the trip. It's Sierra Village Vacation RV Park and campsite (505-758-3660). For $15 a night I put myself in a beautiful site, complete with creek a few feet away. I listened to the running water all night and got up to find a roomy and clean shower facility.

The gentleman who runs this park is wonderful - very friendly and very laid back. If you come in after hours, you'll see the sign on the door that says the office is closed - to pick a site and pay in the morning, which is what I did.

It was such a good experience, that I stayed there the following night too. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Santa Fe For the First Time

For years people have been telling me I need to go to Santa Fe - that it's my kind of place, I'll love it, it's spiritual, it's wonderful, it's a place I'll adore.

Well, I have finally made the trek. There were things I enjoyed but, frankly, I found it to be little more than an overgrown tourist trap. How much silver and turquoise jewelry does one person really need?

I went to the folk art museum and the Native American museum the first afternoon I arrived, which was Mother's Day Sunday. Part of the reason for my timing was to be away from home over Mother's Day, which is a difficult time for me every year because of my mother's death.

I drove around the city a bit, got a feel of the lay of the land, but didn't do anything other than those two museums. I had planned to have a nice dinner, but I called a few places and could not find any place that was available that evening. I realize it was Mother's Day, but supposedly Santa Fe has enough restaurants that everyone can be eating out at once. Apparently not. At least not at nice places.

I also went to the tourist information center to get more information but it's closed other than 8-5, Monday through Friday. This is something I wish tourism places all over the country would realize - pleasure does not work on business hours. If you really want to serve tourists, being open during "tourist hours" as opposed to business hours would be helpful. At the end of the day, I had a burger at Sonic, and packed it in early.

But, on the upside, I got out of the traffic, which was horrendous. I think part of this was that it was Mother's Day because it wasn't so bad the following day. I found a KOA campground outside of Santa Fe, overpriced at $30, but very pleasant, helpful people and very safe. I settled in for the night to have a fresh outlook for the next day.

I started Monday at the St. Francis Cathedral, right on the plaza. It's famous, of course, for being built by Jean Baptiste Lamy, the first archbishop of Santa Fe, who is the star of Willa Cather's book, "Death Comes for the Archbishop."

This was on my list of things to see because of the Lamy connection. One of the wonderful things is that it opens very early in the morning, so I was able to get there early and park nearby. Parking, of course, is an issue in Santa Fe on the plaza.

I had a few other targets in Santa Fe, although some of them were closed because it was a Monday. I've never figured out why museums assume people do not want to visit them on Mondays. It's like tourist information places being closed on weekends, when most tourism occurs. It's idiotic. Anyway, I could not see the Georgia O'Keefe museum without staying another day and I wasn't going to do that. But, I had plenty to amuse myself with.

One of my favorite stores in Santa Fe was JL Brass at La Fonda, even though I didn't get to go inside. But, it was my kind of place. To begin with it was a beautiful blue trimmed door, with color coordinating plant life, and seemed to be brimming with fun art.

There was a temporary note on the door that said, "Closed Monday May 9 - Mental Health Day." The small print noted they were also tearing up the street that day - which they were busy doing when I was there - but I just loved the attitude.Further investigation revealed this would not have been a surprise to anyone who knew the proprietor.

Another sign that was a more permanent fixture said, "Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday are my tennis mornings. I am often 1/2 hour late. One must keep one's priorities straight." You just have to love that attitude. Oh, by the way, the hours were listed as "10-6 daily, subject to weather and/or whim."

I wandered on toward Loretto Chapel. This is the chapel with the miraculous staircase, built by a stranger who seemed to appear in response to the nuns' novena. Modern engineers cannot figure out how the staircase supports itself.

One of the things I've never had a sufficient explanation for about this is why the staircase wasn't built in the first place. Well, finally, I have an answer. Apparently it was not uncommon for choir lofts to not have staircases because choirs were generally men. They climbed up by ladder. This wasn't practical for the nuns. So, there's the answer to that quandry.

I had a lovely lunch at the French Pastry Shop. It was wonderful to hear French being spoken, as well as Spanish. I loved the signs, posted prominently, that said, "All pastries are made with real butter." It was so beautiful in its unapologetic directness.

After feeding the parking meter some more money, I went to visit the Mission of San Miguel. It's open every day from 9-4, except the day I was there when next to the "open" sign was a post it note saying, "will return at 1."

Not to worry, the "Oldest House in the USA" is right across the street. I went to visit it. Its most interesting features are outside, one of which is the sign. I wish it weren't backlit in this photo so you could get the full effect, but the top panel says, "Oldest House in the USA" and the bottom one says "ATM."

The oldest house part is only two rooms but it's very neat to see the old wood. The rest of the building is a gallery. And, there's a resident kitty cat who will wander up and make you his by rubbing your ankles.

The outside of the building is fascinating. You can see the uneven texture and those two old doorways. I took some time to sit down in front of the church and do a quick watercolor because the color was so nice. I pretty much just used it right out of the tube - it was the perfect rich color. I grew very fond of the blue and adobe combination seen so many places.

The San Miguel Mission was my last stop of the day. It's one of the oldest churches in the US, operating since the 1600s. It has some really unusual art, including a painting on deer hide. It's worth a visit and happens to be right next door to a well known pizza place.

I didn't have the time or inclination to eat there. My slight case of altitude sickness kept me from fully enjoying the cuisine, I'm afraid. Next time I'll allow myself a little extra time to acclimate.

By mid afternoon I was headed out of Santa Fe, toward Taos.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Land of Enchantment

I started my New Mexico trip on Saturday, May 7. My goal the first night was Tucumcari. I had planned to stay at the famous Route 66 hotel - The Blue Swallow - but during a phone call to them earlier I learned the hotel was temporarily closed. Its neon has been recently restored and Greg had stayed there before and heartily recommended it. Later in the trip, I learned that it's for sale.

I arrived before nightfall and drove the route to take a look. Much of the neon in Tucumcari has been restored on old Route 66. There are also a couple of restaurants that date from its hey day, including Del's Restaurant, where I had dinner. The food was nothing exceptional, but perfectly passable, and it was nice to eat in a place that has been there for about 50 years.

After dinner I headed out of town toward Conchas Lake State Park to camp for the night. When I say "camp" I mean sleeping in the back of my van - safe from animals, weather and other humans. I'm not sure one can really call it "camping" but it costs $8 to do it at this campground in a "primitive" site. I really am not sure what that means, but it was a beautiful place. I discovered the next morning when it was daylight that there were wildflowers in bloom all over the place, there was a beautiful lake, and after some searching I found the showers in another part of the park. I arrived after dark and finding my way around in the blackness prompted me to get to campsites earlier in the day the next few nights.

I continued on NM104, which is a beautiful road to drive, headed for Las Vegas. The road continued to climb and when I got out of the car at a beautiful spot with lots of rock and cactus, I realized I was suffering a tiny bit of altitude sickness - just minor - but I was very lethargic. The scenery was nice, though. I adore rocks, so this was very pleasant.

I hadn't necessarily planned to go to Las Vegas, but I hadn't really "planned" any part of the trip and the night before I decided to head that way to eat lunch at a restaurant I had read about in the Moon Guide. It's the Spic and Span diner, also known as Charlie's, and the recommended dish is "Al's Special," which is what I had. It's an omlette, filled with tons of good things including ham, peppers, veggies and cheese. It was mighty good. Of course, I was traveling with Ace Jackalope in tow - what trip would be complete with the Lope?

I really enjoyed my little visit to Las Vegas, New Mexico. It isn't a place I've ever hear much about, but it was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was a great diversion and I imagine it will become a regular stop when I'm in the Land of Enchantment.

I headed on up the road toward Santa Fe.

Taos Pueblo

One of the obligatory stops in Taos is the Pueblo. I went on Wednesday, before coming home.

It was designated in 1992 by UNESCO as the First Living World Heritage Site. It's also a National Historic Landmark and on the National Register. Why? Because it is the oldest continuously inhabited community in the US. This building and its southern counterpart are estimated to be about 1000 years old.

The native people who live here today are the descendants of the tribe who lived there 1000 years ago. The Pueblo maintains a restriction of no running water and no electricity.

But, as is often the case in these situations, this is an odd bit of restriction. During my visit I saw an elderly gentleman walking down the dusty road carrying a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken under his arm. It was an odd juxtaposition - this gentleman with a traditional blanket flapping in the breeze as he walked purposefully, carrying fast food.

While there is no electricity, there are plenty of propane tanks. I'm not sure those were there 1000 years ago. They say the only difference is the doorways, which were introduced by the Spanish, although the traditional roof holes and ladders remain. Somehow I think doorways are not the only change.

And I haven't even mentioned the casino yet, that you can find just a little bit away from the pueblo, which is in the beautiful foothills. Or the very modern rest room facilities that are outside the gate. Not that I'm complaining of the visitor facilities - I made use of them myself - but there was definitely running water. Thank Goodness.

When you arrive, you pay $10 for an entrance fee and an additional $5 for your still camera and another $5 if you have a video camera. I don't mind the fees. At all.

And the first thing I saw after paying my money made me very happy that I had paid the extra $5 to take photos - the cemetery.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned here before about my love of cemeteries. I've visited some fabulous ones. This one was amazing.

It is built on the site of the old San Geronimo Church. Although the church is nothing but ruins - a new church was built in 1850 - the cemetery is still in use. Now, it doesn't take a mathematical genius to figure out if people have been living here for 1000 years and using the same cemetery, it's going to fill up in none too many years.

Well, these ingenious people came up with a wonderful solution. The system is simple - when the cross marking your grave falls over, that indicates that the space is available for use. The bodies are buried one on top of the other. It's a brilliant solution as far as I'm concerned, but I guess some Catholic visitors have had some difficulty with the concept.

People are not buried in caskets, even though the church still has the ceremonial casket placed in missions to encourage natives to conform to Catholic funeral practices. Not these folks. They still bury in native regalia, wrapped in blankets, one on top of the other. When your cross falls over, it's removed and laid on the ruins of the old church. Apparently it's about a 75 year turn over.

The fact that some are now using headstones is going to mess with the system. They're contemplating how to handle that. But, the variety of wooden crosses, all hand made, are an amazing site to see.

The religion is an interesting mix - they are Catholic but also maintain their earth worship. I wish I could show you a photo of the inside of the new church, which is just lovely, but no photos are allowed. It has the traditional niches with Mary and others, but the walls are painted with beautiful earth symbols too - the Sun and moon, corn, squash, pumpkins, etc. It is gorgeous. Stunningly beautiful in its simplicity. But a perfect reminder that these people effortlessly blend two religions while most of us can't even manage one.

The "new" church is a wonderful structure. Don't miss the hand hewn marks on the wooden support posts at the back of the church. And do leave some time for soaking up the details of the altar area with its Catholic symbols and very intact Earth worship.

It's a gorgeous setting, with a creek running through that provides all the drinking water for the pueblo. Red Willow Creek divides the pueblo into the north and south sides, with wooden foot bridges that connect them. Water is carried to the homes by pottery and pails. The creek comes from a sacred source known as Blue Lake. Because it and the surrounding area are sacred, non-tribal members are not allowed into these areas.

You can get a tour from a local college student. It was my guide who explained that the buildings are made of the adobe bricks and then recoated each year with the mud and straw mixture. You can see it crumbling in places, which is why it's redone each year. Of course, the buildings keep growing in size. Some walls are over 2 feet thick now.

The North and South buildings now have shops in the lower floors. You can buy jewelry and various crafts. It's obvious that tourism has become a business here, but it's still in its infancy.

I fear what tourism will do to this place in another 20 years.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Road Signs of a Different Sort

Sometimes when you're traveling, you run across something that makes you smile. This visage in Santa Fe did that for me earlier this week. It was a bright, beautiful day and I knew that these people were my people. I love the fact that he has gone out and gotten the specific letters to put on the tailgate - and obviously created his own rendition of this Howard Zinn comment. And, of course, I love the message. I couldn't agree more.

The next day in Taos, I run across this gem parked near Loretto Chapel - that's the place with the miraculous staircase. What a beautiful sentiment. This SUV also had a "Defend America, Beat Bush" bumper sticker.

You know it's going to be an interesting trip when you're not even an hour from home and already seeing something bizarre. Saturday morning in Pratt, Kansas - barely on the road - I passed this red, white and blue painted tricycle strapped down on a trailer that could have easily held a couple dozen of them. To top it off, it was being hauled by an SUV, that could have held the tricycle in the back - no trailer necessary. Your guess is as good as mine as to why someone would strap down a tricycle on a trailer pulled behind an SUV. I don't think it's necessary to repeat the lyrics to "People are Strange" - just scroll down a few entries to find them.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Traveling Alone

Traveling alone gives plenty of opportunity for insights of various sorts. As I was driving home tonight from 4 1/2 days on the road alone - 1434.3 miles for those of you counting - I was thinking about this. The conclusion I came to is that the reason traveling alone brings insight is that you have to be alone with yourself.

It's something most of us are loathe to do, and when you're alone in the car - and if like this trip, not even in radio range large parts of the time - you have no choice but to be alone with who you are. It's intoxicating and terrifying.

Generally I think I'm pretty good about being with myself, even at home. But it's different to be zipping down an unfamiliar highway or settled into a camp ground for the night and realize just how alone you are. In many places I had no radio and no cell phone signal. It was just me, my thoughts and my writing.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Energy Healer Visit

I spent the day today in a workshop with an energy healer I've visited a couple of times. She works with the subtle energies.

Today's workshop was to teach us some of the basic techniques so we can heal ourselves. There were six of us - all friends.

It was a fascinating day. We experimented with a number of techniques from making energy balls to finishing with a healing.

On Tuesday evening she did a brief talk about what she does. There were 17 people there. Today there were only six of us. Jocelyn, Teresa, Trish, Diana and Ruth and I were the pupils. It was such a bonus to do it in a small group where we got a lot of individual attention.

I had two very interesting moments, one of which I can share here. The other was not really my experience - I was a witness to it - so it's not my place to share. But, one other I can share.

We were doing a meditation and during it I felt the urge to roll my head around slowing, cracking my neck as it went. This is always what I want the chiropractor to do when I go - crack my neck.

So, I started just moving it however it wanted to go. When we were done I tried to recreate it and couldn't get my neck to go nearly as far back as it had earlier. Apparently when working with these subtle energies, it's not uncommon for people to do things that are "physically impossible," which is what this was. It was a fascinating feeling. In one direction it seemed to flow easily and in the other it seems to require "pushing" - as if it were going backwards.

I would like to get the group together to practice more.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Statistics Become Real

I've had a string of really busy days this week - starting very early and going very late. I have had very little sleep. Maybe that's why I've been in tears since I've been home and had the privacy to fall apart, but I think it's much more about a young person who's name I didn't know a few hours ago.

Today was National Anxiety Screening Day. The Mental Health Association I run was one of 1000 places around the country where you could get a free, confidential screening. I had a local mental health professional who agreed to do the screenings for me since I'm not trained to do them. Many MHA people do them anyway, but I don't feel comfortable with that so I always ask professionals to help and they're very generous about offering their time.

How it works is that people can come in, fill out a little questionnaire, and then talk to someone for free, all confidential.

It was a beautiful day here today and we thought we might have no one show up. But we did. And one of the people who came spoke the words that made my heart stop and my breath catch, "I just want to die."

I'm still new enough at this (3 years) that those words made my entire being shiver. It's one thing to hear suicide statistics. It's another to see a vital, young person talking about not wanting to live.

Hours later I'm still shaken up just from witnessing even part of the story - and really I had very little to do with helping this person. I'm more worried about what would have happened tomorrow if this screening hadn't happened today. That question has taken up residence in my soul and has settled into a place inside my core self. I don't think it will ever leave. But I'm not sure I can handle the responsibility and weight of carrying it with me.

Monday, May 02, 2005

A New Venture into Art Shows

Sunday morning I woke up at 5:14. I stayed in my bedroom reading and writing until about 7 but finally just couldn't take it anymore. I was trying to be quiet since Mark was sleeping in the next room.

But, when I couldn't stay still anymore, I went into the studio and started playing. I'm experimenting with doing monoprints directly onto wood. It's an interesting because it means many of the typical techniques do not work.

After the art fair on Saturday, Greg, Mia and Mark were all encouraging me to do art shows myself. I'm starting to think it's a good idea. So, I was looking at the various things I make and what would be saleable and how I should handle all that. I haven't produced things with the idea of selling them but I'm warming up to the idea.

I think I'm going to put a few things on my website and try to garner reaction so I have some idea of what approach to take with various items.