Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Seeking Zathah

I spent some time today in the Wickliffe, Kentucky cemetery. I have some family buried there and went to check on the graves. After I had done that I decided I would wander around a bit and look for some names that might make good characters in a book. I started snapping photos of tombstones as reminders. I also took some photos of tombstones that were interesting for one reason or another.

As I was driving out of the cemetery I spotted another unusual tombstone and just snapped a photo from the car. Then, a few feet away, I saw the stone below. I took a photo because it was a name I had never seen before. Zathah Lee Glenn. Zathah.

So, tonight I google for Zathah. And I find a geneaology page at that says:

Dalmus Clarence Martin was born on 2 Jul 1909 in Prague, Lincoln Co. OK.  He died on 19 Jan 2004 in Salina, Saline Co. KS.  Dalmus married Zathah Glenn Overstreet, daughter of Mac D. Overstreet and Mary Jane Lipe, on 15 Oct 1939 in Hutchinson, Reno Co. KS.  Zathah was born on 14 Jun 1914 in Murphysboro, Jackson Co. IL.  She died on 6 Aug 1990.

From “Kansas Obituaries,”
~overstrt/obits/ksobits.html:  Dalmus C. Martin, 94, Salina,(Kansas) died Monday, Jan. 19. (2004) He was born July 2, 1909, in Prague, Okla. He was a chef and restaurant owner for 58 years, retiring in 1985. He and his wife managed the Wareham Coffee shop for many years. He was preceded in death by his wife, Zathah Glenn Overstreet-Martin in August, 1990. . . .”

Okay... am I the only one who thinks it is very weird that I find an odd name in a cemetery in the county I'm from in Kentucky, google for it and the first thing I look at on the web is about a person who got married in the town where I now live, some states away? How many towns are there in the US? And they happen to have a connection to the one town where I live?

There's also a myspace page of someone with that name and they live in Wichita, less than an hour from Hutchinson, where I live. The other reference to the name online is in a cell phone forum. About the phone I carry.

I'm sure there's some mysterious, deep meaning I am supposed to divine from this, but at the moment I'm just struck by the oddness of it all.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Literary Agent Hunt

I've been doing some hunting around for a literary agent. In the process I've discovered a number of agents who blog. These are sometimes quite interesting, if disheartening, to read. The numbers are not in favor of those of us who want to find an agent with whom we can build a career.

The general thrust of the blogs I've seen so far is, "I'm overworked. I'm taking on one out of every 43,012 people who approach me. I'm annoyed by your mere existence."

I can only assume that the perfect match for me is out there and that I will find them.

What do you say after 28 years?

Tonight I had dinner with a friend I haven't seen in probably 28 years, maybe more. I suppose you can rightfully question the word "friend" after this lengthy silence, but I'm not sure what other term to use.

Cathy and I were friends in high school. She was a year ahead of me and after she graduated we drifted apart a bit, and then I went away to school, and you know the story. It has been repeated millions of times and our version is no different. Except that she found me on facebook and we reconnected. Or at least we had dinner.

So, what do you say to someone over barbecued chicken breast and salmon when you haven't talked in 28 years? How exactly do you catch up? Where do you even start that process?

I was thinking on the drive there what I would ask someone that would give me insight into who they are. I ponder this occasionally and, as of yet, I've been unable to come up with the questions that are appropriate to ask in such a circumstance. What I want to know is, "who are you? what do you think about? what do you dream of? where do you want to go? what has touched you? what defines your life? how would you describe yourself without mentioning another person or a profession? how do you move in the world?" I just haven't figured out how to ask people those things. Any one of those questions tends to cause a physical recoiling. I want to know the answers to all of those plus about four dozen more. I have learned through experience that this is overwhelming to people.

I will say the conversation tonight flowed easily, and none of it was rehashing our high school glory days. (Not that I had any glory days then but it seems that "glory" is always supposed to precede "days" in such cases.) I know I've covered my dislike of that rehashing here, so I won't belabor the point.

A lot happens in a life in nearly three decades. It's more than a generation, after all.

It's not my place to tell her story, so I won't, but suffice it to say that tragedy has touched her family's life. The honesty of sharing that is astounding. Tragedy shapes who we are and to enter into a relationship with another person we have to be honest about the forces that act on us. How we react to tragedy speaks volumes about the people we are. Before she told me of this, she told me her family was happy. That is what all of us are seeking, in one way or another. I'm so glad they have found it.

When I was driving home I realized that I shared very little of myself - at least the "self" that I think is the important one. That wasn't intentional on my part, it just happened that way. Maybe the music was too loud or the temperature was too cold or my mind was too occupied with the oddness of seeing someone I hadn't seen in so long. The more obvious answer is that I was reminding myself to not launch into a recitation of the above questions.

We did cover some meaningful topics. The experience caused me to consider how we really do engage with people in different environments. Or at least how I do.

Relationship is more about how we conduct ourselves than about how we say we do. Maybe that's why it's hard to maintain relationships with people when we're not with them on a regular basis. When you interact daily with people it requires a level of honesty unlike anything else, and it's an honesty we have no choice about. What we say is not as meaningful because we're living our lives in front of them. It's impossible to hide our embarrassment, longing and foolishness from those who are witness to it. But, we can build in a buffer zone. Twenty-eight years is a serious buffer zone.

But, Cathy and I both had the courage to come forward and step across it. And it has certainly given me something to think about. The experts say we all like to talk about ourselves, but if that's true, then why do we find it difficult to talk about who we really are most of the time?

And in this sort of situation, it's hard to figure out what you want to say about yourself that is telling that they don't already know. What are the defining moments that brought you from the eighteen year old they knew to who you are today? And, is the first meeting in nearly three decades the right time to subject someone to a litany of them? The answer is "no," I believe, so tonight we covered some of the really big ones and left the lesser known, but very powerful ones, for another time.

Friendship is a dance of timing and revelation. Even reconnecting to old friends. And honesty is a big part of it all. Maybe that's why blogs where people talk honestly about their lives - warts and all - are always more interesting than those where people just recite their children's latest accomplishments. Don't we all want to think others are as uncertain as we are? Does that make us horrible people? Or is it just a bit of 'round about honesty that we feel uncertain?

Something I really appreciated about this encounter was that Cathy went to some effort to make it happen. She called and wrote. I called and wrote. And eventually we made it happen. That seems a good beginning to a reconnection. It was great to see her.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


We started Christmas morning off at Bobby and Cathy's house to see what Santa brought BC. He must have been a very good boy this year because Santa brought him a laptop and a wireless setup to go with it.

By 8:30 a.m. I was flat on the floor in their office, my head stuck under the desk, to see what we needed to do to get the wireless going. What can I say? I'm a bit of a geek. I get excited by new technology toys.

By the way, please take note of BC's new jammies. Had you heard his mom and grandma the night before, you would have thought he was 5 instead of approaching 19.

BC was so good this year that Santa also got him a wii. Christmas afternoon was spent with guitar hero...

But, illustrating one of the many ways he's so good that Santa was so nice... he shared.

There were other games too... bowling and golf and more...

Look at that form!

Somewhere along the way we opened presents...

Can you guess what it is?

Everyone likes stockings!

Today Mattie's family had their Christmas so I went out to see everyone. It's always fun to see kids enjoy Christmas.

I wanted to play with Alex's dinosaur, but it seemed rude to ask a child to share his toy.

Hannah was making a haul, too.

Johnny and Leah had three envelopes for their nieces. He said one had a lot of money, one a medium amount, and one a small amount. He didn't know which was which and let them choose. They all seemed happy at the end.

I discovered Leah is one of my own kind when it comes to wrapping presents. As she put it, "I like to make them pretty." She was modeling the ribbon from my packages.

Generally I don't exchange gifts with all of them, because we're not usually together, but I had picked up some little ornaments for each of them as a remembrance. I had expected to leave them with Mattie because I didn't expect to see everyone, but it was very nice to share that fun with them.

It was a nice day, although I wasn't my usual perky self quite yet. I am, however, feeling better. Tomorrow I'm eating real food again! It's a big day!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Round Two

I got sick overnight so couldn't go shopping this morning. I tried, but I was just too exhausted from the stomach flu, round 2. Tonight I'm feeling much better, but tired. I'm hoping the morning dawns with me feeling my usual perky self.

It has been many years since I've not gone out the day after Christmas shopping. I tried. I drove to Paducah, about 30 minutes away, and by the time I got there I was so tired I had to sit in the car for about 40 minutes before I could even go inside, where I bought nothing.

I went to another store and I bought some wrapping paper and one ornament. Not much of a haul for the day after, but it just couldn't be helped. Maybe there will be goodies left for me when I get my next chance to shop. Or maybe this is the universe's way of telling me I have too much Christmas stuff. Hmmm... nope... that can't possibly be it. However, I can only assume there was nothing there I desperately needed.

I've spent the rest of the time since I woke up trying to disinfect anything I might have touched so no one else gets sick. I hate it that I was around everyone on Christmas Day and could have given them the flu before realizing I had it. I was so hoping I would escape this, but it was not to be. Fortunately, no one else shows any symptoms yet. I hope that continues. I will feel just awful if someone else gets sick.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hutchinson News Story about my Christmas Tree

The Hutchinson News did a story about my Christmas Tree. So fun!

Check it out at:

I hope your Christmas Day has been fabulous so far and the rest of your holiday season is spectacular!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Thanks for sharing some of the holiday season with me this year.
It has been memorable. Below are some photos I've shared this month, along with a video tour of the house.

In the sunporch I have three lighted trees this year. The full size one is the Santa tree. When I sit in that chair I can see the main tree in the living room.

It was inspired by this ornament...

To the left of the santa tree in the sunporch is the red and white tree...

This Santa is on the writing desk beside the red tree.

On the other side of the sunporch, in front of the piano, is the pink and green tree.

Under the living room tree, the main tree is where I have all the presents.

There's a theme every year. This year's blue, purple, silver and white was inspired by a ribbon.

The tree looks different exposed for the lights.

Also in the living room I have the copper and gold tree.

In the dining room this year I have a white tree with blue, silver and crystal ornaments.

Beside this tree, on a chest, I have some of my Santas.

I also have this tree in the dining room...

And near it two of my favorite Santas...

This is right behind the table, where I spread out the goodies when I had my open house Saturday night. I love to bake, so I cooked up a number of sweets.

If you want to see it all in context, I took some video. Just click on the arrow and it will play automatically for you.

Greg took some photos of folks Saturday night. Some included Ace Jackalope.

Thanks for being part of my holiday season this year. Merry Christmas to you and yours. If you're enjoying a big family celebration, or gathering with friends, or appreciating the beauty of solitude this Christmas, may it be all you wish it to be and full of wonder. Happy Christmas to All.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Remembrances

Every year people in my life gift me with some wonderful treasures during the holiday season. Some come as hostess gifts at the open house and are just because gifts. Pictured are just some of the goodies that have found their way to me this season.

The doily everything is sitting on was from Pat. I have a deep affection for hand crocheted items of all sorts - from potholders to doilies to lace on linens.

Jocelyn made me those cards, and Sharon brought that "Night Before Christmas" book. I don't think she knew it is my favorite Christmas book. I have the one I've had since childhood that I put out every year.

This precious little teacup is from Barbara. It's one her mother made and she passed it on to me. She says she's not sentimental about things. I, of course, am sentimental about everything. I've already put in on the tree, so I can enjoy it every year. She brought some other goodies, too, but I simply couldn't picture everything. This little teacup is a treasure.

Of course, people know of my fondness for tea, and my friend, Jan, brought me this beautiful Lenox tea cart ornament. Isn't it amazing? I was so touched that she remembered me this way.

Mary Lou made me this amazing crocheted tea cup and saucer? Isn't it incredible? I adore the little pink touches around the edges. I wrote here some time ago that I was wanting some crocheted tea cups. Mary Lou read it and took it to heart. It was so sweet of her to do it.

This little angel came from Nancy, who has made my tree much more cosmopolitan. She got the angel in Poland. Last year she brought me an ornament from Mongolia, and the year before one from Russia. It's so kind of her to think of me when traveling.

I just love all of these, as well as other things not pictured here like a copy of Jim's book, great Christmas music (old-fashioned greats!), Santa figurines and other goodies. It's very kind of people to remember me at the holidays.
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