Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rivers and River Towns

I have been home in Kentucky for a couple of days and it has been nice. I just headed on here Saturday after spending Friday night in Kansas City after getting the Clinton tickets.

I went to the river today, as I do everytime I'm in Kentucky. When I talk about going to "the river," I'm really talking about going to Illinois to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, near Cairo. Yes, it's named after the Egyptian city, but it's pronounced differently. The one in Illinois sounds more like CARE-roe. But, it was named after the one in Egypt because of the river connection - same as Memphis.

As I usually do at the river, I collected some driftwood and took some photos. I have some art projects in mind for the driftwood.

That ripple that you can see in the water is where the Ohio and the Mississippi run together. It's the Mississippi on the right and the Ohio on the left.

Tomorrow I drive home. It takes about 12 hours to get from my brother's house in KY to my house in KS. It's a lot of time to think. The other day driving here I really didn't think much about my life - I'm not sure why, but I just listened to the radio and some podcasts and didn't do much thinking, plotting or planning like I usually do. Maybe my brain just needed a break.

I have been pretty overwhelmed the last couple of months but I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I completed some projects while here, which is nice. Sometimes I can focus better and think better in a different environment.

After going to the river today I drove on into Cairo to look around. It was once a thriving town - we used to go shop there when I was a kid - but it has really gone downhill.

Many of the building on the main drag near the river levee are just falling apart. Some have collapsed. In some ways it's a beautiful bit of "urban" decay. I think it would make an amazing "portrait" of a town in decline. I didn't have time today to take all the pix I wanted to take but maybe next time I'm here I'll go over in the morning and in the afternoon to get sun on a variety of things and do a better job.

Even in the ruin you can see the beauty that once was.

This was one of the few businesses still operating in that area and the building is a stellar example of the "porthole" windows so common in Cairo and other river towns. Much of the architecture in towns like Cairo traveled up river from New Orleans, so you'll see some of the same styles you expect in the deep south river towns.

There are some bright spots there, though, including the library built in 1883, which is a stunningly beautiful building, with lots of stained glass.

Hopefully one day soon I'll get around to working on some more of the photos I took today and sharing more of the town. Cairo has some beautiful mansions and some incredibly run-down areas. It's a microcosm of urban life in a small town.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I have it!

I have it - that precious little piece of paper - that lets me in to the lecture on Friday by President Bill Clinton at Kansas State University. It required a night of no sleep - and I mean none, a long drive during the night/morning of no sleep, and waiting in line in the cold, but I have it.

They were distributed at 10 a.m. Friday morning, which I found out at about 11 p.m. Thursday night. So, I had to do the work I had slated for Friday in the overnight hours so it was done. I left for Manhattan, about 2 1/2 hours from where I live, about 5:00 a.m. Greg came up separately since I was not coming directly home. We were expecting the line to be very long, but it wasn't too bad. Greg got there before I did so we're not sitting together, but that's OK - we both get to go.

We bought our tickets for the Topeka event, but I'm thinking Clinton may talk more in Manhattan and I really wanted to do both. The last time he was in Kansas - in Lawrence - I did not get to go. I couldn't go stand in line the day they were handing out tickets that time and I didn't get to benefit from any friends' extra tickets. So, I missed out. I was really disappointed then, and I didn't want to be disappointed this time.

I have been calling everyone I thought might have any connection to K-state for weeks, since this was announced, trying to get details on how to get tickets. K-state didn't seem to want to share that information. Finally, late Thursday afternoon Greg got word from someone he knows who is a student that after the student distribution there were still tickets left for the public - then it was a matter of how to lay our hands on them.

It wasn't as smooth as I would have liked it to be, but we got them.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Lemuel Sheppard

Tonight Greg and I went to see Lemuel Sheppard at the Flag Theatre in Hutchinson, Kansas. He was here as part of the Gordon Parks events in conjunction with the state reading, "The Learning Tree."

Sheppard did a fantastic job of weaving together poems, information and song. It was a really interesting evening.

Sometimes when you go to events like this they're fabulous - like tonight. Other times they end up being a scholar reading the equivalent of a term paper to you, and not with much feeling.

Sheppard had the perfect blend. I could have listened to him for another hour or two, which is something for me. I tend to get pretty fidgety pretty quickly. To top it off he was very personable, which is not always to be expected either.

He had a Langston Hughes poem set to music that I just loved:

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow
of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went
down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy bosom turn
all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

-- Langston Hughes

Being a person of rivers, myself, I love that poem. (

I must read more Langston Hughes - I have obviously missed some spectacular writing. I used to have a copy of Harlem Sweeties on my bulletin board where I saw it every day. The first time I heard it outloud was when I saw Maya Angelou speak, so whenever I read it I hear it in her voice, which is an incredible gift.

Excerpted from Sheppard's website (

Lemuel Sheppard is a folk musician who has gained a reputation as an authority on African-American folk music. He feels his cultural heritage is his greatest asset as a performer.

Lemuel began playing guitar at the age of nine in Kansas City's rich jazz and blues atmosphere. The self-taught guitarist developed many natural abilities to perform this music. Lemuel is not only an interpreter of African-American folk music, but composes much of his own repertoire. Lemuel states, "So much of the blues is about personal expression, an artist should be able to connect with the audience and share something about their life and time."

In 1999, Lemuel Sheppard was nominated by a congressional committee to represent the state of Kansas in a solo performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. That performance was presented live over the Internet and can still be viewed there on the Kennedy Center's Web Page.

Lemuel prefers to define some performances as "short-term diplomatic duties." Whether one is representing a discipline, one's background and training, or a presenter, the audience should leave with an understanding of the kind of artist one is, as well as be entertained.

The U.S. Embassy in Brazil referred to Lemuel as "the perfect touring artist...talented, flexible, interested in the local culture, and knowledgeable of his own." The Eisteddfod International Music Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, referred to Lemuel (the first American to perform there) as an example of inter-cultural relations.

Another song he did tonight was "Sunny Kansas," a tune I've never heard, despite living here more than 20 years. You learn something new every day and if I had 11 Rules for Living instead of only 10, that would be one of them.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lunches and Lectures

I went to lunch with Peggy today and we sat and talked for a long time. It was good to reconnect. We don't seem to see each other often enough. I needed a break so it worked out great.

Tonight I went to a lecture on grief, which I'll say more about when I'm not quite so weary, but for tonight I want to get some rest.

The last few days I've been working every waking moment and that's all I've done tonight since getting home. It is time for me to rest. I need to rest. I must rest.

Shorter Work Week

As a result of my "Dilbert isn't funny when you're living it" post, I got an email from the folks who founded an organization for a shorter work week.

Americans are way overworked. We don't even seem to have time to feed ourselves anymore, hence the proliferation of fast food restaurants. You'd think  not being able to feed our own young would be a long term issue for the species, but so far we don't seem to have noticed.

Blue Skinned

I'm starting to feel like that kid we see on King of the Hill every once inawhile that is hunched over his computer with the blue skin. It seems I've been typing for days and days and days. This time of year I do a lot of grant writing and budgeting and such, and it all requires a lot of computer time. But I've had a string of really productive days and accomplished many projects. Tomorrow I'm hoping to get outside and see some sun. I need to take some daylight time and get outdoors a bit. I'm starting to feel as though my veins are visible.

Tonight was my board meeting and afterwards Trish and I spent some time chatting. We also ran into Terry as he was coming in to the library. Trish is someone I trust implicitly and trust is a huge deal to me. She is never judgemental, never-passive agressive, never condescending. It's a rare blend in a person and one I try to emulate. She is far better at it than I am.

I knew this about Trish, but when I was involved with a man who was much younger than me, she was one of the very few people in my world who passed no judgement on that - openly or otherwise. She was supportive in the beginning and she was supportive at the end. That's what a friend is about - someone who is there over the whole spectrum of experience, with nothing but positivity regardless.

Last night was Creative Sisterhood and although there were only four of us here it was a really great evening. Diana left early, leaving Teresa, Martha and me but it was an insightful time together - at least for me. We talked about many topics, including The Secret and the Law of Attraction.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dilbert isn't funny when you're living it

Today was a holiday in the states - well, for some people. I didn't get any mail today, lets put it that way. What holiday? President's Day. It was created by people trying to sell appliances as a way to "honor" Lincoln and Washington who both had birthdays in February - neither of which happened to be today, which is a Monday so therefore an extended weekend.

I, of all people, am fond of holidays, but I wish we would just be honest about them instead of hunting for some tenous reason to have a holiday. Americans are overworked in so many ways - we take less vacation than any other industrialized nation except Japan. Even those who are entitled to lots of vacation don't take it. Not this girl - I take my vacation. I would be in need of mental health services if I didn't.

However, although today was technically a holiday I have worked all day. And, wouldn't you know it, have had an incredibly productive day. I completed FOUR tasks I've been putting off and dreading. I had done some work on each of them and as of 3:02 a.m. they are all completed.

I don't intend to stay up this late, but I get into "the flow" of a project and I don't want to stop. If I keep going I can finish it in another 30 minutes. If I stop, it will take me an extra two hours to get back in the mindset where it will take those 30 minutes. Unfortunately, when that happens repeatedly, it ends up being after 3 a.m.

I had a boss years ago who would say, "it's like you do nothing for weeks, then you pull an all nighter and more is accomplished than seems humanly possible in one night." What he could never understand was that 1.  I was not just idly sitting at my desk doing nothing, despite appearances - I was THINKING about the projects all those previous weeks. 2. I got more done when no one was interrupting me so of course I could accomplish a lot of things. 3. If he would have just left me alone and let me do things my own way he would have gotten much more out of me.

My current employers are very good about letting me do my work my own way. They're getting far more than 40 hours a week from me because I devote one of the many tracks in my brain to work all the time - not just 9-5. And I'm happy to do that as long as I'm treated well. When I'm not respected by an employer I just switch that off at 5 p.m.

Having worked in broadcasting for many years I have had some funny work experiences.

At one place I worked you couldn't make any long distance phone calls without the manager's approval. He had severe back trouble and you had to go into his office and ask him if it was OK. He would be lying prone on this table built so he didn't have to bend to sit on it. So, you would bend over at a 90 degree angle so you could look him in the eye and ask if you could make a phone call.

At another place I worked, only the first few people who got their paychecks to the bank every week got paid. Everyone else's would bounce. I was working there parttime and the checks were printed at 10 a.m. Tuesdays. I would go pick up my check, that of the program director and a friend who worked nights and take them all to the bank. Depending on how much money was in the account a couple of other people might get paid. It was paycheck roulette.

That was the same place where one of the sales guys wore this powder blue leisure suit to work every day - I mean every day - for two and a half months. Finally the sales manager pulled him aside and said you've got to get another suit.

At another place I worked, the evening anchor guy was having a torrid affair with the weekend weather girl. The anchor guy's wife was the noontime anchor and knew nothing about this. Maybe because she was busy with the weekend sports guy. Kenny, the sports guy, was, meantime, hitting on every intern that went through the place - including me. While he was awfully cute, I refrained. Who wants to be in someone's love triangle, quadrangle, hexagon or whatever that is.

For the record, Dilbert isn't funny when you're living it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

An Evening of Friends

Tonight Mark and company were in Hutchinson for dinner at Skaets. Mia had to leave for Joplin but the rest of us met there and then everyone came back to my house for dessert.

It was really nice to sit and visit with them. I made brownies, coffee and tea and we all talked for 2-3 hours. They're super nice folks and I enjoy them all. I am a big believer in the importance of sharing conversation and

It was beautiful here today - 60 degrees - quite a change from a week ago when the temps were single digit and the predicted "trace" of snow amounted to about six inches over about 3 1/2 days. I think all of the snow melted today, except maybe the big piles in parking lots and such.

I snapped this photo of my neighbor's flag on Tuesday morning - less than a week ago. Of course, I was taking the photo before I realized that my car was frozen shut. I should have been devoting myself to breaking into it but I didn't know that at the time.

On the way out to lunch that day - once I was able to break into the passenger's side of the car - I took a few more pix a couple of blocks away.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Olde Towne Restaurant in Hillsboro, Kansas

Mark, his friends Carl and Chris, and Wayne, are in the area from Kansas City this weekend. Carl is notorious for planning what has now been dubbed the "food coma caravan" trips.

I'm quite impressed with what they do. They get The Kansas Guidebook by Marci Penner and plan a route, with the idea of hitting a number of local restaurants along the way. They had breakfast at the Burns Cafe, lunch at the Breadbasket in Newton and dinner at the Olde Towne Restaurant in Hillsboro.

I didn't get to join them until dinner tonight, but it was a blast. Greg and Mia had lunch with them today, too, but I was at the retreat and then Trish and I had lunch here.

On the drive to Hillsboro Greg, Mia and I were treated to a nice sunset, too.

The Olde Towne Restaurant is in a building built in 1887. Greg and Carl explored it and its multiple levels. The rest of us just ate. It's a German buffet - $11.49 for an adult - and includes a salad, dinner and dessert.

We asked one of the servers to take our photo. That's Mark in front, Mia in the orange, Chris in the green shirt, Wayne in the center, Greg in the blue jacket, me behind Greg, and Carl - the mastermind - is the tall one in the back.

It was a blast to see them. I hadn't gotten to see Wayne in a long time. The open road suits Carl and Chris. Mark is always fun. It has been a long time since I've seen Mia - that girl works hard - so it was nice. I wish I had time to see them all more.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Creativity Determines Sexual Success

The following explains a whole lot about a whole bunch of people I have known over the years. I do think the 4-10 number is a little low, unless we're assuming that the wisdom of American Pie applies and for women you multiply that by a factor of "3." Or maybe the Brits are just a bit more reserved in this area as well as others.

And before you get too excited about the sexual part, keep reading to the mental illness part. There's always a catch, huh?

I took this from the Newcastle University press release site -

How could this have escaped attention for more than a year?!?!?

Creativity determines sexual success

Date released 30 November 2005

The more creative a person is, the more sexual partners they are likely to have, according to a pioneering study which could explain the behaviour of notorious womanisers such as poets Lord Byron and Dylan Thomas.

The research, by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Open University in the UK, found that professional artists and poets have around twice as many sexual partners as those who do not indulge in these creative activities.

The authors also delved into the personalities of artists and poets and found they shared certain traits with mentally ill patients. These traits were linked with an increased sexual activity and are thought to have evolved because they contribute to the survival of the human species.

Some 425 British men and women, including a sample of visual artists and poets and schizophrenic patients, were surveyed for the report, which is published today in the academic journal, The Proceedings of the Royal Society (B). Although creative types have long been associated with increased sexual activity, this the first time that this link has been proved by research.

Study participants filled in questionnaires which asked about their degree of creative activity in poetry and visual art, their psychiatric history, and their history of sexual encounters since the age of 18. They were also required to answer questions on a "schizotypy inventory," a breakdown of characteristics linked with schizophrenic patients.

The average number of sexual partners for professional artists and poets was between four and ten, compared with a mean of three for non-creative types. Statistics also showed the number of average sexual partners rose in line with an increase in the amount of creative activity a person took part in.

The lead author of the study, Dr Daniel Nettle (pictured), lecturer in psychology with Newcastle University’s School of Biology, suggested two key reasons for the findings. He said: "Creative people are often considered to be very attractive and get lots of attention as a result. They tend to be charismatic and produce art and poetry that grabs people’s interest."

"It could also be that very creative types lead a bohemian lifestyle and tend to act on more sexual impulses and opportunities, often purely for experience’s sake, than the average person would. Moreover, it’s common to find that this sexual behaviour is tolerated in creative people. Partners, even long-term ones, are less likely to expect loyalty and fidelity from them."

Dr Nettle added that the results suggested an evolutionary reason for why certain personality traits that serious artists and poets were found to share with schizophrenic patients perpetuated in society.

He added: "These personality traits can manifest themselves in negative ways, in that a person with them is likely to be prone to the shadows of full-blown mental illness such as depression and suicidal thoughts. This research shows there are positive reasons, such as their role in mate attraction and species survival, for why these characteristics are still around."

Yet although some "schizotypal" traits are linked with high numbers of partners, schizophrenic patients do not experience this level of sexual activity. These people tend to suffer from acute social withdrawal and emotional flatness - characteristics that the researchers found were linked with a reduced number of sexual partners.

SOURCE INFORMATION: "Schizotypy, creativity and mating success in humans" Daniel Nettle and Helen Keenoo, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, November 2005. Doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3349

END OF PRESS RELEASE: Issued by Newcastle University Press Office. Contact Claire Jordan, tel. + 44 (0) 191 222 6067/7850 or email Website:

Saturday Morning

It's 28 degrees here at 8:09 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I am thankful for it. It has been frigid here and I've been getting up to single digit temps for what seems like weeks, although it has only been a week or so. But, one morning of seeing -1 at the temp seems like a week. And we are supposed to get some sun today. I'm eager for that.

We started getting snow early this week that was supposed to last a few hours. Three days later it had not stopped at all, only slowed at times. Tuesday morning I couldn't get into my car at all. Wednesday I had to take it in and get the door worked on.

I have a morning retreat for one of the boards I'm on and then I will spend the afternoon working on things around my house. I have moved my office around and still have some tidying up to do in here. It boils down to I don't really have enough space for everything I need in here. But I'm just going to make it work. I just don't quite know how yet. But I will.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Frank McGuire speaks in Hutchinson, Kansas

Monday evening I attended the Hutchinson, Kansas annual chamber dinner. Frank McGuire was the speaker and I thought he gave a great presentation.

McGuire is known for his history with corporate America - he launched the careers of Charles Osgood and Ted Koppel at ABC Radio, worked at American Airlines, was with the company when Kentucky Fried Chicken went public, and one of the founders of Federal Express. He was also involved with communications in the JFK whitehouse.

He said when he was approached about founding FedEx, he went down to talk to the gentleman who had the concept and he said to him, so you want to bring packages to Memphis in the middle of the night, sort them and fly them out the next morning. The guy said yes. McGuire said that's just a dumb idea. The guy asked him, "Any dumber than selling chicken in a cardboard box?"

Both, of course, were innovative business concepts. Selling chicken in a box was a radical idea when The Colonel pioneered the concept of fast food.

McGuire's overall message was summed up with, "The best way to predict the future of Hutchinson is to invent it."

He said business boils down to three things:
1. FEELINGS - how passionate people are about the community, project or whatever
2. ATTITUDE - how to connect the head with the heart - attitude comes from the head, but passion comes from the heart
3. RELATIONSHIPS - find the unifying things such as one problem everyone has trouble with

He spoke about attitude and communication. He said, "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. What happens to you is 10 percent, and how you deal with what happens is 90 percent."

He made some excellent points, one of which was, "I don't know what your company does, but I'll tell you one thing - you do business with people." He is so accurate in that assessment, and unfortunately our people skills are what seem to be most lacking these days.

He said there are three ingredients of creating a culture:
1. Share the vision
2. Share the information
3. Share the responsibility

He told a couple of great stories about "The Colonel" at Kentucky Fried Chicken. When the company went public and a new CEO came in, one day he asked The Colonel to bring in the secret recipe for the 11 herbs and spices. The Colonel told him that didn't matter, that it was the 12th ingredient that made the company successful. The CEO asked what that was. The Colonel's response was, "You're looking at it."

The other story was that shortly after coming in, the new CEO called management together and told them they were going to start making the gravy with water. The Colonel wasn't in the meeting but walked by the closed door. As McGuire put it, "Do you know what a closed door means to a 70 year old man?" "Nothing." So the colonel walks in and asks McGuire what's going on. McGuire tells him and the colonel says, "Don't F*** with my gravy." The CEO reminded The Colonel that he's now running the company. The Colonel starts to walk out and the CEO asks him where he's going. The Colonel said he was, "going on the Carson show to tell them that s--t is not fit to eat." Needless to say, the gravy was not f'ed with.

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life," he said. "What happens to you is 10 percent, and how you deal with what happens is 90 percent."

Near the end of his speech he sang, "This little light of mine, I'm going to make it shine," eventually getting the audience to sing and even hold hands. I found this a great exercise, particularly for a lot of the people in the audience who would never imagine doing such a thing.

McGuire spoke at length about how employees need to be validated and what an impact that can have. He used some old adages, like people will forget what you do and what you say, but not how you made them feel. He also said, "People don't leave companies, they leave supervisors."

Truer words were never spoken than those. I can't think of anyone I've known over the years that left a company because of the company - they all left because they couldn't stand a supervisor. OK, I can think of one situation - where the company was about to go belly up - because of bad management. So, I think that's all the same difference.

He said Ted Koppel told him at his 25th anniversary that when he started at ABC he never felt like he was doing a good enough job, but that when Frank would come around every day and tell him "you're the greatest," that it made him believe he could do it. As McGuire was leaving the event that night, Koppel asked him to say it one more time and McGuire obliged.

As McGuire summed up, "People who feel good about themselves produce good results."

He challenged the audience to get in touch with people who've made a difference in their lives and tell them. He said, "If you love me, tell me now. Don't wait until I'm in a box."

I encourage people to do that. Years ago I sat down at my writing desk and penned letters to two teachers who had a huge impact on my life - Mrs. Chandler in third grade and Mrs. Griffin in fifth grade at Barlow, Kentucky elementary school in the 1960s. They were both adamant about using good English and I could never have worked in broadcasting or become a writer without their guidance.

I also wrote to Dr. Birkner who had been a visiting professor at the University of Kentucky when I was there and who totally changed my perception of history. He was inspiring.

I'm so glad I wrote those letters then because Mrs. Griffin and Mrs. Chandler are both gone now. I'm happy I told them they truly made a difference in at least one life, and I daresay many lives.

Whether or not anyone in that audience the other night will heed Frank McGuire's challenge is unknown, but I hope at least one person does. The rewards from doing so are great.

I gather some in town were not impressed with what McGuire had to say. I thought he had some insightful things to say to the people of Hutchinson, things that could make a difference in this community. I hope Hutchinson is ready to listen.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Quote of the Day

Openness is our art form. Spontaneity is Genius.
--Leonard Cohen


The big news in my world today is that we got tickets to go see Bill Clinton speak in Topeka next month. I'm thrilled. He is someone I really respect.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Life Lists and The Secret

I've been thinking a lot about "life lists" these days. I can't say I've ever had a "life list" per se, but there have always been things I wanted to do. I didn't write them down and didn't necessarily share them with others, but they were there - and "real" to me.

What is amazing is that at age 45, without trying too hard, I've done a lot of those things. Opportunities I never imagined would exist opened up and all I had to do was walk through the door. That, I guess, is the trick - walking through the door.

It was a real turning point for me when I realized in my early 20s that the list I'd made for my career path had all come to pass. I had done everything on the list I made half way through college before I even graduated - be a DJ, be a TV reporter, be a radio news person. Admittedly, I was never a big dreamer career-wise. It's not my focus, and it never has been.

In the great irony of life, I was passed over for those TV "reporter" jobs at college because I was heavy and didn't fit what instructors thought would be marketable. So, instead of being on the local access cable channel with a university production, I was working as a reporter at the local ABC affiliate. While others were producing radio pieces for class I was working as a DJ at one station and a reporter at another. Was it because I was so much better? Hell no. Was it because I was so much more driven? Nope. It was just because I didn't see any reason why I couldn't. So, I did. Ah, the ignorance of youth - 'tis a beautiful thing, n'est pas?

And that leads nicely into travel. You know how most little girls dream of having babies and playing house? Well, I loved my dolls but when I played house, my favorite game was lining the dolls up on the couch, kissing them goodbye, and leaving them with the nanny while I jetted off to parts unknown.

I truly didn't know what those parts were when I was a kid - I don't think I even knew where France, or probably even Maine, was - but that was my favorite game. Nor did I know anyone who had a nanny. Did I get that idea from Mr. French? I'd never been on an airplane. Shoot, I'd never even been on a car trip. I'd probably never been even 100 miles from home.

One of my favorite gifts ever as a kid was when my Aunt Eva sent me a little train case, that was just like my Aunt Audrey's. I adored her train case. Oh my gosh, I loved it. Well, Aunt Eva sent me a child version and I would pack it and walk out the door with it in tow, leaving my dolls lined up on the couch - five of them, in case you're wondering.

No doubt this game concerned my mother greatly. It's probably why she repeatedly encouraged me to not have children unless I wanted to take care of them. That's sound advice for anyone, but she probably had some extra incentive to make it stick.

When people are telling me what a great mother I would make, which seems to happen more these days as if they want me to get on with the baby making before it's too late, I so want to tell them this story. But I generally just smile and nod, figuring there's no need to completely destroy their belief that they can judge the character of those around them.

Raising children has never been on my life list, although I love the idea of being the matriarch of a large family of grown children. I just don't want to raise them. I love little tiny babies - cannot get enough of them. I enjoy being around kids of all ages, but they just wear me out. I do not want to be responsible for another human 24/7 - that's why I love the idea of adult children who are already living their own lives - and maybe even visiting with tiny little babies. I barely have enough time to manage my own life.

About 15 years ago Greg and I were on a plane, heading home from our first trip abroad. I was sitting on the Paris runway not at all pleased to be leaving a place I had felt at home with from the first moment I saw the shores coming into view across the English channel. I turned to him and said, "I can die now and die happy." Not being a person who deals well with even the mention of death, he asked what I was talking about. "I have seen Monet's final paintings. I can die happy." I guess it's not the most pleasant thought for those who don't like to fly, but it was heartfelt. There have been many times I've felt if I died I'd feel like I'd already lived a good, full, life.

You see, Paris was on "the list," although I don't think I ever really believed I'd get there. I guess the eight year old me leaving the dolls with the pretend nanny had more faith than the 28 year old me. Thank God for that.

Egypt had been on the list of dreams I never expected to come true, but it did. From the first time I learned about mummies in second grade, I wanted to go see them there. It took 30 years, but it happened. And it was a case of just walking through the open door. I'll be forever grateful for the people who made that possible.

As I look back, I realize that college was a turning point, and a man I spent some time with in those years gave me a great gift - he encouraged me to read "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. It's all about the law of attraction, the concept that's getting so much attention these days in "The Secret." It's nothing new, but it seems to be rediscovered every few years.

This guy I worked with at a radio station in Lexington, Kentucky - that DJ job - had read this book and wanted me to read it. I read the book, and it made sense to me. So, I have Dave Gillespie to thank for planting that seed in a round about way. Although, again, I had to walk through the door and read the book.

Looking back, that book was the highlight of the few years I knew Dave and his best buddy, Devo. Devo had a real name, but it has faded now, and it's not a memory I have any reason to recall. Devo wasn't part of my life, other than hearing about his escapades from Dave.

Considering the amount of time Dave and I spent together, it's hard to imagine that was the best thing that came out of it, but there you go. The folly of youth - at least my youth. He was old enough to have known better by then, but maturity is a separate issue.

It's time for me to make some new dreams. It's time for a new "list." The world is full of possibilities, new experiences, new potential.

Come to think of it, I still haven't been to Maine.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Weekend

The weekend is almost over and I need at least two more days of weekend. I am NOT ready to start the work week. And to top it off tomorrow night is the chamber dinner so it's not even just a normal work day.

I needed some time away from the world this weekend and have largely had it. Greg has been around a lot, and we've been out to eat and such, but otherwise, I've been holed up in my house. I haven't even answered my phone this weekend. I needed time away from everyone.

It seems whenever my phone rings it's someone wanting something from me - my brain, my creativity, my energy, my time - something. Other than a few close friends and my family, it's rare someone calls just for my company - that would be a pleasant change of pace. I guess that's why I haven't answered the phone all weekend. I haven't even looked at it when it has rung. I just wanted to ignore it so I did. I figure I'm allowed every once inawhile. I can't help but notice that no one has been so concerned about me that they've shown up on my doorstep - a little something to remember for the future.

It's four minutes into the new work week and I already feel behind - that's a great way to start a Monday.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

In the Floor

I'm sitting in the floor of my office writing this on the laptop with a wireless signal. You may be wondering if this is my normal blogging posture. No, it is not.

But, I have been moving things around in the office and cleaning various things - including the floor. When I say cleaning, I mean on my hands and knees with various cleaning products. Do I know how to spend a Saturday night or what? I guess, technically, it's Sunday morning, but you get the idea.

My office is a downstairs bedroom that is really too small for my office. But, it's the logical place for it. I would just LOVE to have about another 15 feet built onto the back of my house, expanding my office and kitchen. But there are so many more urgent things to do in the house and I don't happen to have an extra $20,000 lying around either.

I am trying to figure out how to get everything in here that I need in here and have it all organized. I know part of the solution is shelving. I am a person who needs a lot of table space and shelving in my house. Everything I like to do seems to require flat spaces to work on, and shelves to hold the things to do whatever that is - geneaology, sewing, art, collage, etc. - you get the general idea.

I have a stack of stuff to go to Salvation Army - in fact my sunporch is full of stuff that needs to go. When that is gone I can move a wardrobe I have in my office out there and use it for other purposes. That will free up some space.

I have moved the wardrobe twice today and my desk three times. They are both very heavy. I have those handy little mover things, but I have a feeling in the morning I may be hunting for some ibuprofen.

I've decided one of the things I need to have somewhere in my house at all times is a big trash can with a liner in it that is for donated items. I also need one in my closet - a place where I can just automatically put things that need to go to live with someone else. It seems I have been hauling things out of here for a year now, but there are still things that need to go.

Well, I need to rest so I can get up and do more of this exciting stuff tomorrow. Yes, I know, my life is one thrill after another.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Remembering Gordon Parks

Hutchinson is participating in "Kansas Reads," where the entire state is reading Gordon Parks' book, "The Learning Tree." There will be a number of activities related to it and today was one of them.

Dr. John E. Tidwell of the University of Kansas spoke this morning at HCC about Kansas native, Gordon Parks.

Parks had a career that stretched across multiple disciplines. He was a movie maker, a photographer, a writer and more. As Tidwell said today, Gordon Parks was a man of many "firsts."

He also showed a brief interview Parks gave when the University of Kansas gave him an honorary degree. It was wonderful to hear Parks himself to speak about his life. It's obvious his mother was critical in his development.

Gordon Parks has been a "fixture" since I've lived here, although I never met him. Years ago I attended the funeral of a local woman, Barbara Pierce, who was one of the people who started the Dillon Lecture Series. Parks had spoken at one of the first lectures and they had become friends.

Saddened by her death, Parks had written a poem to be read at her funeral. I remember thinking that we should all strive to live life in a way such that Gordon Parks writes a poem for your funeral. Of course, he's gone now, too, but the sentiment remains. It's a good goal - to live in a way that a person of that stature mourns your passing from this world.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Katie Couric Face Lift?

Has Katie Couric had a face lift? I just saw her for the first time in awhile and she suddenly has very arched eyebrows - on the outside edge. Didn't she used to have eyebrows that didn't have much arch at all? (OK, yes, I have a "thing" about eyebrows. I've been trying to get a nice arch to mine for years with a variety of tweezing/makeup options. Apparently all I really needed was a surgical procedure.)

That's usually a facelift look - the odd, permanently surprised look with the eyebrow arch in the wrong place. To top it off her forehead doesn't seem to move. Botox? Maybe this is just common knowledge and I'm the only one who hadn't noticed.

She's looking OLD on the evening news. Maybe that's intentional on their part to give her more gravity. I think part of that must be makeup because when we see pix of her elsewhere she seems her normal, perky self. But the eyebrow thing looks like the leftovers of a facelift.

The facelift look is so unattractive - far worse than a few wrinkles. Who wants to go through life looking forever surprised?

Check for the blog, art, and more.


I know from a long history with computer "upgrades" that it's generally a huge mistake. How many times it will take before I accept this I don't know, but I foolishly upgraded to the new blogger a couple of weeks ago. The result was that I was no longer able to post with a little tool I've been using for a couple of years - multi-blog - to post to all my blogs at one time.

Of course, none of this was clear until many, many, many emails were exchanged. Eventually I learned that blogger has changed how their system works, which means no third party tools will work any longer. So, they all have to be updated. And the guy who wrote multi-blog is not interested in doing that.

So I found a new third party tool, hoping the long road of upgrades was about to come to an end for this go 'round. Unfortunately, there's a teensy little problem - it doesn't work with blogger either, despite what it says on their website. Add to this that blogger was having some publishing problems for about a day, and it has been a huge mess, which is why my usual regular publishing has been sporadic.

I'm at an impasse. I want to keep all the blogs up to date, but I have to have a way to do that, and by hand through the blogger system is not it. That's way too time consuming and too clunky to deal with. But, it's through the magic of blogger that things show up on

I'm hoping things are resolved shortly, but in the meantime things may be a bit off kilter here. Even when I thought I was publishing it sometimes wasn't showing up. However, livejournal is working fine so that blog will be up to date.

Whenever computer "improvements" occur, I generally spend a lot of time mopping up. This has been no exception.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Future Astronaut Training at Cosmosphere

Tonight was the Leadership Alumni Gathering. It was at the Cosmosphere and was really fun.

They had us gather up in the space camp area and let us test out the various simulators. Teresa, who was in my class last fall, was giving us a tour and also telling me they have about 40 different groups in the summer that go through the "Future Astronaut Training Program" at the Cosmosphere.

Many of their simulators are built to accurate size and specs so when the kids go to Johnson Space Center they recognize the things they see there.

There were quite a few people from my class there and it was good to reconnect with everyone. They've had a couple of gatherings but I haven't been able to go to either one.

I was surprised there weren't more people there, but it's never possible to get everyone together at any given time. And there was a good turnout.

Peggy and Gary were there, as was Trish, although I didn't get to visit with any of them very much.

Peggy was quite the trooper and crawled into one of the simulators, and then she and Curtis rode in the centrifuge that gives you the sensation of 4Gs.

It made me half sick just to watch it turn round and round, but both of them emerged with no ill effects. In fact, Peggy's first sentence after the ride was, "OK, now I need a beer!" People were advised to experience it prior to eating or drinking.

One of the things we played with quite a bit was the rescue ball. It's this widget you get in and it is then moved from one side of the room to the other and "docked." It's made to the actual size of the ones NASA uses. The idea is to train them how to get from one ship to another - obviously you can't just walk out into space to do that.

Connie was queen of the rescue ball. You have to fold yourself up inside of it. The best piece of advice Teresa had to offer was "butt first."

The Cosmosphere is a very impressive facility. Few people get to see the Space Camp area, so it was fun to get a close up experience.