Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hoar Frost in Hutchinson Kansas

This morning we had a hoar frost. I'd never heard of this until earlier this month. It's somewhat unusual, and now we've had two of them in three weeks.

As soon as Greg called and told me how beautiful it was outside I threw on some shoes and went out to take photos. As you can see by the fact that my house is in the background, I didn't get any further than my front yard before I found beautiful scenery.

My neighbors, Bob and Ruth, weren't home, but I wandered over to their yard to take more photos, including this leaf.

On one of the trees in their front yard I spotted this little bit of seemingly free-standing frost. We speculate it's actually built on part of a spider web.

Greg and Sharon came over to see if I wanted to go out to Dillon Nature Center and I couldn't resist sharing my discovery with them.

Dillon Nature Center was amazingly beautiful.

I love snow and it has extra meaning for me these days. We all went our separate ways and I think everyone found some great photos.

Finding color in the landscape was a challenge.

It was a day for being thankful to be alive.

Greg has written a post with beautiful photos from the hoar frost earlier this month, and explains how it happens.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Things and Emotional Baggage

I've been working on the house all day. It seems this is how I spend my weekends these days, but I have made some progress. I'm not sure how many weekends it will take, but far more than what I've given it thus far.

I took two more bags of stuff to donate today and have another one ready to go. I have too much in this house - specifically I have too many clothes. And many of them are things other people can get some use out of so I'm sending them out into the world so someone else can give them good homes.

Thankfully I'm getting able to move things around that I haven't been able to do for awhile. I moved a couple of dressers in the bedroom today. Admittedly, they were on rollers, and didn't have much in them, but I was able to move them. I'm now cleared to do anything like that, with the admonition to always be aware of how it feels to lift and not to hurt myself. I'm still being ultra careful with everything.

I'm looking forward to having my house reclaimed. I'm not sure how long it's going to take, but it's certainly going to be a process. Things are really out of control. I'm not the sort of housekeeper where things are always going to be spotless, but liveable is good. And it isn't even livable in some places right now.

Things - whatever they are, but particularly clothes - can really carry some emotional baggage. If we get fixated on a time or style it is important to consider why - what was happening at that point in our lives. What are we trying to hold onto? I've been asking myself that a lot recently and sending things off to go to new homes.

I was also surprised today to find things that I thought I had long ago gotten rid of that were from an earlier relationship. But, there it was, staring back at me, from a stash of things in my bedroom. Not only was it still around, but in the most personal room of the house. I immediately put it in a bag to be donated, and made it a point to get it dropped off as quickly as possible just to get it out of my life. I had to chuckle at how hard it seems to be to disengage yourself from some situations - you think you've done it and yet you haven't - and there's the proof. At least it had no emotion attached to it today, other than just to get it out of my life, and marvel that it was still around.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Day Full of Perks

We awoke this morning to a beautiful snow that was still coming down. I think the final number was eight inches, but this morning it was just gorgeous. On snowy days I really miss having a window in my office. I do so love snow. And this was a beautiful snow.

Of course, that's a lovely perk in the day - to wake up to a beautiful snowy landscape, with big fluffly white flakes still coming down. But, I hadn't even left my house when I saw the next perk in my day. My sidewalk had been cleared.

I'm certain it was my next door neighbor, Bob. I heard his snowblower earlier this morning and it was so kind of him to clear more. In fact, he cleared the entire block. He is a fabulous neighbor. As we often joke, I won the "neighbor lottery" with Bob and Ruth. Such nice folks in general and then they're extra generous with things like this.

When I got home from work the walk up to my house and the steps had been cleared. I'm guessing Sharon did that. She's so very kind to do that. Shoveling snow is not a possibility for me for some time to come. Yet another perk in the day.

But that wasn't all the perks in the day.

I went to the doctor today for some antibiotics for this little cold I picked up somewhere, despite my obsessive handwashing and extensive germ-x use. When I checked in, the woman taking my information said, "I know who you are," and went on to talk about my cooking column in Kansas Country Living. It was so nice to meet Juna. She made my day much brighter. I love to have a chance to meet readers and visit with them. She also mentioned she loves my brownie recipe I put in the magazine a few months ago, which is one of my favorites. It was lovely to meet her.

When I left the doctor's office I went to get the prescription filled and did some shopping I needed to do for work while I was there. I bumped into Carlota and we had what can only be described as an enlightening conversation near the Honey Mustard Salad Dressing in Walmart. Part of our conversation was how much we both like the jobs we're in now. It was really nice to see her and I hope we can get together soon.

Otherwise in the day there was some good work news, some projects moving along, a nice conversation with someone at NASA, and the day wrapped up with a visit from Deb, who I met during the blogger tour last year. She was in Hutchinson with her parents and they visited the museum today.

All in all a nice day with lots of pleasantries.

The Day

It's a winter wonderland here. I snapped this by opening the front door and pointing the camera outside. Needless to say, it's not my best photographic work, but I do love the snow when no one has left footprints in it yet.

As of tonight, I've given in to the fact that I'm sick. I have had a sniffy nose since Monday night, but haven't felt bad at all. So I thought it was just allergies. But, late this afternoon I started feeling pretty rough. I came home and slept four hours - so of course I'm up now. I feel a bit better, but this congestion has moved into my chest so I'll be seeing my doctor tomorrow for some good, old-fashioned western medicine of drugs.

I was in Wichita today to work a conference. It was supposed to go until 2, but everyone started packing up about noon because of the impending weather and the fact that there was no traffic from the attendees. So, I got back to the office and did a few things and a little before 4 I came home. Considering we left before 6:30 I'd already had a full day of work and I was feeling rough.

I just HATE to be sick. People tease me about my obsessive handwashing and my use of purell/germx/etc., but it's all about preventing being sick. I took the H1N1 flu shot on Monday and this started Monday night. But, I took the shot, which has no live virus in it, so this is just a coincidence. Regardless, hopefully tomorrow the doctor will give me some drugs that will have me feeling better very quickly.

This is not how I wanted to spend this day. It was a year ago tonight I found out that the tumor I'd had removed the day before was benign. I like to mark time and I had hoped to do something fun tonight to commemorate the anniversary. Instead, the time came and went while I was asleep. So, it wasn't meant to be obviously. Oh well, this little cold is a much better kind of sick than being in the hospital. So, I'll just deal with it. Hopefully I'll feel good enough to have some fun this weekend.

Of course, lately "fun" has been working on my house. It is really out of control. I'm not a very good housekeeper to begin with, but not being able to do much for such a long time has left things in a desperate mess. So, I'm trying to reclaim it a little bit at a time.

I've also been getting geared up to work more on the novel. I didn't touch it all last year. I have started rereading it, to pinpoint the changes I need to make. There are some loose ends I need to tie up and some rewriting that needs to be done. Lots to juggle.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Creative Sisterhood

Last night was Creative Sisterhood and it was a nice evening. For the first time in awhile we were all here and it felt great to have the whole group gathered around.

I'm so thankful for these women and this space in which to be open-hearted. Continually I'm reminded of how rare it is to be really heard, to have people really listen to you, and interact with you with pure spirit. I am so fortunate to have these women in my world.

In January we generally celebrate birthdays since three of the five have January birthdays, with the others of us in December and November. I gave each of them one of the handpainted notebooks I had made. I love to give something personal, that I've made, when it's appropriate. And I encouraged them to use them, not to save them.

There's a propensity of humans to "save" things and what generally happens is that while it's being saved it becomes useless. Paper yellows, seams come apart and all the while this thing could be being used.

Notebooks are made to be written in and I hope each of them will do that. Writing is such an integral part of my life, and I find it so beneficial, I want to encourage others to do it whenever possible.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Charmed Life

A year ago today I was going into surgery. It started at 7:52 a.m. so I was probably in the operating room at this time, and they were talking to me. It would be almost 36 hours later that I would find out for certain the tumor was benign. Today I'm healthy, with a job I like, and knowing I'm blessed to have people in my life I can count on. As I said shortly after surgery a year ago today, I lead a "charmed life."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Quote of the Day

It is the mark of an educated mind
to be able to entertain a thought
without accepting it.


Oh that we lived in more educated times, where this could be put into practice, where we would not just blindly accept what we see/hear without examining it first.

But it's still good...

This is one of the tshirts I keep in my studio to slip on when I want to paint. Because I'm messy. Very messy. As you can see.

But I have spent a large part of the weekend going through things, cleaning out in the studio and other parts of the house. I have a big stack for Goodwill and have some other bags for the trash.

As of this morning I'm saying goodbye to this - and I'm putting in the trash, not taking it to Goodwill for them to have to throw away. Part of me is screaming, "but, it's still good..." Well, in the most technical of senses, that it is still held together as a garment, I suppose that's correct. But, it's crusted with paint to the point that it's no longer soft and it has holes in it. I think it has served me well and can go on to its great reward, whatever that is for tshirts.

But it's a symbol of my attitude toward things - if it's still good, why would you get rid of it? I finally learned that sometimes you get rid of something because you're not using it and someone else can. That's a very good reason and the only one that has kept my house from being one with only paths.

One of my difficulties is always clothes. They seem to be everywhere and yet I never feel like I have anything I want to wear. I do not keep things I don't wear regularly, other than seasonal or costume things that have limited use but that I want available. I'm pretty good at passing on things someone else can use. But there's a part of me that always wants to hold on. Maybe it's from when I was young and it was very difficult to find clothes to fit me. Whatever the reason, it's always a mental task to make the decision.

However, I made a lot of progress this weekend in clearing things out. I'm not anywhere near done, and my house looks worse now than when I started, but there is progress. I'm realizing just how little I've done for a year now. Let me tell you, things really pile up in that amount of time. I spent a third of the last year unable to lift more than a few pounds, with the majority of that time being unable to go up and down my steps, so things got very out of control. It feels good to be able to make my usual multiple daily trips up and down the stairs now. I'm still not graceful at it, but at least I can do it.

I'm feeling better all the time, and in less pain all the time, unless I do something to hurt myself. I was in a lot of pain last week after the coffee at work, when I moved a lot of things around. I didn't move anything that was above my limits but I think my poor muscles are just protesting after not doing much lifting for the past couple of months, which is to be expected. But, overall, things are getting better. I must be healing well. By the way, I hear healing is an inflammatory process.

Well, I need to get ready for work. I went to bed early last night so of course I woke up extra early. I tried to go back to sleep but finally just got up and starting doing things around the house - one of which was to let go of this poor tshirt... even though it is kind of pretty with the paint splatters... and it's still good...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Diamond W Wranglers at Pretty Prairie Civic Theatre

The Diamond W Wranglers played the Pretty Prairie Civic Theatre tonight and I was thrilled to get to see them again. It's always a treat to hear them - they produce this incredible sound together.

Stu Stewart (left) does most of the lead vocals, and Jim Farrell (right) does harmony. Jim also writes a lot of the music, including a couple of my favorites that they do.

The newest member of the group is Chip Worthington on bass.

Stu and Jim have played together a long time and have it down to a science.

Steve Crawford plays drums and is known as the "Rhythmic Cowboy."

It was a great evening of music.

If you get a chance to see the Diamond W Wranglers, take advantage of it - they're really wonderful. It's very hard for me to sit still for an extended period of time, but I have never, ever, wanted one of their shows to be over. I always want them to keep playing and singing.

They had a nearly sold out crowd tonight. I'm glad I was part of it.

Make plans to see them Friday night, Jan. 29, at Cowtown, as they celebrate Kansas Day with music, a chuckwagon supper and a special presentation by the one and only Marci Penner of the Kansas Sampler Foundation. Trust me, it will be a great way to spend a Friday night.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Peanut Butter Fudge

I've made peanut butter fudge a couple of times lately. Last night I whipped some up while I was cooking dinner so I could take it to my mechanics this morning. They checked my car over yesterday while I was in Wichita. I didn't exactly get the news I was hoping for, but the truth is good. Anyway, I wanted to thank them for taking such good care of me.

Every once in awhile I just drop in with goodies of one sort or another, but I haven't ever taken them peanut butter fudge before. I hope it was enjoyed. Here's the recipe. It's very easy and practically no-fail.

Peanut Butter Fudge

1/2 cup butter
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat, then stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a roiling boil, and let it boil for two minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and mix well. The peanut butter will melt into the hot liquid. Pour over powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Pat into an 8 by 8 pan and let cool. Then cut into squares and enjoy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Time Stretching

One year ago today Diana and I were sitting on Sharon's couch, watching Obama take the oath of office. Promise was in the air. In the words of it was a new day.

Has it really just been a year? It seems like it has been many years. It's as if time has stretched out for me. I've noted this multiple times lately.

I took this photo last summer in Arkansas. I was looking through old pix tonight and found this one. I remember that afternoon, but it seems like it was years ago, not just a few months. The memory is no more clear than one I must riffle through decades to find.

When did time begin to stretch?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Unexpected Perks

This afternoon I got the opportunity to take a couple of folks on a tour of the museum and it was a blast.

On the left is Brian, who I had spoken to on the phone and emailed back and forth with about advertising, but hadn't met until today. It was great to meet him - he's just as pleasant as I expected - very kind and generous.

On the right is Russ, who I really enjoyed meeting, too. He was funny, and we bonded over our love of math. (Did you not know I was geeky? Did you miss the post about Riverside, Iowa?)

Both of them were fun to be around and spending a little time with them this afternoon was a cool perk. You just never know what pleasant surprises life will present you with every day.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Word at this Juncture

The word at this juncture is: insomnolent.

Insomnolent means to be sleepless, which I am.

I'm not sure why, but I can't sleep. Periodically I have these nights and the next day I often don't feel much different than if I'd slept a full night. I slept about 35 minutes and then woke up.

I'm not overly worried about anything that I can pinpoint. I remembered after I woke up that I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow but considering I had forgotten that it obviously wasn't worrying me - and it's nothing major - just a check in and some blood work. There's nothing huge at work going on causing me great concern. Nothing is dramatically different at home. I guess it's just one of those nights.

But, I've been making use of the time. The dishwasher, washing machine and dryer are all going. I think at 3:49 a.m. I'm about ready to go back upstairs and see if sleep will come.

(Note: I think the "Word at this Juncture" may be an ongoing, if irregular, series on the blog. I have a friend who does a word of the day at work. I am not making another daily committment, so I'll just pop one up whenever something occurs to me. I do love words.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Harley Elliott and Harley Marshall - Born to be Mild

At the Hutchinson Arts Center Saturday night, poet Harley Elliott and actor/writer Harley Marshall entertained during a program called, "Born To Be Mild."

I don't write any poetry, but I appreciate those who can use the language so well that they can. Last night Harley Elliott used the words "retinue" and "kerfluffle" within the span of a very short time. I challenge you to do that and it make sense.


And he did it all while wearing tennis shoes.

I thought the only way to capture any essence of the evening was to share a few of the phrases. Obviously, these are out of context, but things I found compelling or interesting.

"Doesn't ask you to save the world but believes you will." Harley Elliott

"Grandmothers honored food with their tears." Harley Elliott

"Even hogs have a creation story." Harley Elliott

Harley Elliott mentioned that he didn't know how to turn on a computer and then read a poem I loved that included the following phrase:
"It is quiet back here behind the times." Harley Elliott

Harley Marshall's piece was more of a story, and I didn't get as many quotes written down because I was taking more photos. Always a choice you have to make!

"Nothing but piece of moon bouncing off the water." Harley Marshall

"What is the plot line of your life?" Harley Marshall

It was a really nice evening. I am glad to live in a community that values the arts enough to provide things like this - for free. There was a really good turn out, which was nice.

Not a Celebrity

No, it's not some celebrity avoiding the camera, it's just me saying, "you don't need to take my picture." Of course, because I've known Greg for more than two decades, I knew this lament would in no way stop him from taking my picture, which is why you're seeing this close up of my palm. His girlfriend, Mia, seems to be the only one who can actually stop him from taking photos when she doesn't want her picture taken. I do not possess this power.

However, then we thought this was kind of funny, so I thought I'd share.

Of course, it was only fair I suppose since I'd been taking Greg's picture.

We went to Roy's for the first time in awhile today. I needed some Roy's Barbecue, and it was delicious.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Spirituality is seeded, germinates, sprouts and blossoms in the mundane. It is found and nurtured in the smallest of daily activities. ...the spirituality that feeds the soul and ultimately heals our psychological wounds may be found in those sacred objects that dress themselves in the accoutrements of the ordinary."

----- Thomas Moore in "Care of the Soul"

Busy Day

Tonight we went to see a local theatre production at the Flag Family Children's Theatre. Amy was in the production of Cotton Patch Gospel and we wanted to see her. She was really good. And there was a high school student in it who was exceptional - Zach Hendrickson. He could be headed for an acting career if he wants I think.

This has been a really busy week at work. It seems I've been working at a frantic pace and yet my list has kept growing. I have accomplished a lot, but there's more to be done.

Today I left the house about 7:45 this morning and didn't get home until 10 tonight. That's just too many hours away from home for an average day. But the day had some fun. I saw Toyla for lunch and that was a blast. Then had dinner with Lori and that was fun, too. I met Greg at the theatre and we lucked into two front row seats at the play.

I'm amazed by the dedication to be in a play. I can't imagine finding all the hours for practice and the performance itself.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Apollo Command Module Trainer

This morning the Apollo Command Module Trainer that has been used by campers at the Cosmosphere was dismantled for a project. I asked Greg to come in and take some photos, and thought I'd share some with you.

This was a trainer used by NASA, but there are parts fabricated by Space Works. You can see in these struts the four on the right are original, and the two on the left are fabricated.

This has been in the education department and used by camp goers for many years now.

Some parts on the trainers were identical to those things used on missions. The biggest piece in this one that fell into that category would be the seats.

Some time ago I did a vision collage that had a part of it that said, "Escape the Ordinary." I can honestly say my work life achieves that on a regular basis.