Saturday, December 31, 2005


I'm having a very sedate New Years Eve, as I usually do. My brother and sister in law and I have been out to dinner and are back on the farm before 7 p.m. I'm not a big partier, so this day is largely lost on me. The last few years I've been with Nathan on this night - always at home, but always together - so this year is definitely different. But, change is good.

I visited the cemetaries today and put new flowers out. There's something very spiritual about connecting with one's history in that way. It's a way to honor the past and realize that our future is ultimately right beside them in that place, which means the present is all the more important.

I do not make New Year's resolutions, but I do use this time of year to think about what I want to focus on in the next year's time. I think this year will be the same as last - more serious about quiet time for prayer, meditation and thinking. That was my focus last year and it was a good one. I need to do even more of it.

It's hard to know what you think when you never take time to think.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Rainbow Beauty

This afternoon about 4 o'clock, we were treated to an amazing sight - a double rainbow. It was incredible.

It went all the way across the sky, clearly defined. I've only ever seen one or two double rainbows before. I couldn't get a shot of the whole thing because my camera doesn't have a wide enough lens.

We didn't know about it, but BC came down and told Mary Ann. She ran in to tell me. We were looking out the living room window and when I went outside to take pix I realized it was a double rainbow.

I went back in to let Mary Ann know so she could come outside and see it too.

For the briefest of moments, there was the beginning of yet another rainbow on the left. You can see it faintly in the photo below. It's just to the left of the main one, about where the trees start. It was faint, but clearly visible, but it never fully developed.

Bits of An Old Life

I hit the road today to catch bits and pieces of old lives I've lived. I guess that's as good a way as any to say it.

My destination was Murray, where I spent my first year of college and where my Aunt LaVerne is buried. I wanted to put new flowers on her grave and just see what had changed in the town since I was there a couple of years ago.

On the way I stopped in Mayfield at the Happy House Restaurant. I was just driving by and saw it and thought - hey, that looks like a place I would like - so drove around the block and visited.

It is the home of Mayfield citizen Howard Happy, who owned an office supply company. The house was built in 1937 and has been a restaurant for about 20 years.

I had the chicken with curry dressing. Dressing was Hellman's mayo with curry in it. Really, it was quite delicious. The chicken was shredded white meat, and there were grapes, almonds and other goodies there. It came with the dressing piled on top of the meat so you could mix in as much or as little as you wanted.

When I saw it on the menu I was instantly reminded of my favorite lunch at Angelina's Tea Room in Paris - the curried chicken salad. They're not the same food, but both are good.

I love the south. Other places note what sort of fine wines they have. Here they noted on the menu that they use only Hellman's Mayonnaise. So do I. Great minds think alike. I'm brand loyal to very few things, but that's one of them.

Anyway, it was a very pleasant diversion. I enjoyed the salad and finished off with a cup of chamomile tea. If I lived in Mayfield this would be a regular stop, as it was for many of the others in there. The staff knew them by name.

I give the Happy House a high rating. The food was good, the staff excellent, the service great and the surroundings charming.

I went on to Murray and did my business there. I had planned to hit the library on campus, assuming they'd have a wireless connection I could tap into. However, it's Christmas break. So, I decided to head on down/up the road to Paducah and go to the library there, where I know there's a good connection.

Unfortunately, their wireless connnection was not working. I did, however, get on another one. The signal wasn't great but I did get a few things done. I needed to upload another podcast and had not realized that I still needed to download some files for converting to mp3 format. I was able to get that done there.

Also met a gentleman there and had a pleasant chat about various computer things. I was downloading and uploading while we were talking - always in a race before the battery dies.

I was reminded of how much I do not know about computer and technology. I wish I knew more. I'm really just a geek wanna be.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Quiet Day

I have not set foot outside of the house today. I slept in, which has been a rarity for me the last few weeks. I got up, showered, and started working on Mary Ann's computer. She was infected with the lop spyware. Good grief. I didn't think I was ever going to get it off of there. I deleted and rebooted and edited the registry and rebooted and searched and rebooted in an endless cycle until the late afternoon. But, finally, success when I logged on and didn't get that infuriating little toolbar.

I spent the last couple of days in bits of time now and then getting rid of the my search bar. Yeah, you may not call it spyware/adware/malware. Sorry, if I didn't get a choice about it being put on my machine, it's not something that should be there.

Anyway, tonight her computer is loading faster and running better and I'm thriled I was able to help.

I've been working on my Art of Gracious Living podcasts tonight, as well as some other projects. I'm hoping to get answers to questions I have about this set up in the near future. I'm not in the business of generating content for people for free.

Terry reports that all is well at my house and I'm happy to hear that. Had a nice note from Jim today. It's good to be in touch with him regularly. All in all a nice day of hunting down computer bad guys and working on computer things.

Tomorrow I'm going to put flowers on my Aunt LaVerne's grave, as well as some others. It's nice and warm here, which is great. Last year we were snowed in with over two feet of snow. So, this is a pleasant change of pace. I'm trying to just ignore what it says about global warming and enjoy the fact that I'm walking around in T-shirts during the winter.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Sport Shopping

I went to shop today. I'm calling it "Sport Shopping" because I wasn't really longing for anything, but I go every year on the 26th and didn't want to miss out. Generally, I'm not much of a shopper, so for me to shop for as amusement is quite unusual.

I was in town before 6 a.m., and considering it's a 35 minute drive, you will know that I got up early.

My big finds of the day where some Martha Stewart tea ornaments at K-mart and the Hallmark Barbie ornaments. Between Greg and me we got all of them.

I got home about noon and went immediately for a long nap. I got up and showered just in time for everyone to arrive for dinner tonight. Mary Ann cooked yet another wonderful meal and we all had a good time.

Dylan's girlfriend came, and I hadn't met her before, so that was nice. Also, Dylan's best friend, Ben, who is a very smart cookie, came down. We were all playing a trivia game after dinner and he's not one to be messed with when it comes to history and politics. Very smart. I'm sure his parents are very proud of him. At one point, I answered something at the same time he did and felt better about myself because I tied him on a question.

It was also fun to see Kim's parents - Clydie and Ann. I always enjoy them so much.

One of the things I did today while in Paducah was go to the library and enjoy the wi-fi hot spot so I could upload some pix from yesterday's Christmas celebration.

I call this the "Meeting of the Minds" - That's my nephew, Bobby, who's just two years older than me, on the left; his father in law John Henry in the middle; and my brother, Jackie, on the right.

Santa was able to get the ipod to BC in time - nano, of course... but just barely - it arrived at noon on Friday. I had BC pose with it Christmas morning.

I'm not sure if he has had time to download many songs onto it yet or not. I can't imagine when he would have as he went hunting this morning and this afternoon. It's duck hunting season, and missing a morning of hunting is a near crisis. I heard shots even on Christmas morning, but none of our family was out then.

One of the things I love about the hunting is that it gives me some good gift options for them. There are about as much widgets for hunting as there are for cooking. And while I don't hunt, I certainly understand the affection for widgets of various sorts.

We had a full day - the morning at Bobby and Cathy's, then church at 10, then lunch at Mary Ann's, then opening presents with everyone, and then playing games in the afternoon.

One of the things I love about my family is there's always lots of laughter. Everyone is funny. I'm not sure how we got so lucky, but everyone is funny.

My nephew, Jackie, on the couch here, is a great story teller. I always love it when he starts a story because I know we're going to all be laughing at its conclusion. He can also enjoy someone else's story.

His brother, Bobby, is no slouch in the story telling department either. But, he's a king of one liners.

We were all getting tired by the end of the day yesterday. At one point, Jackie was reclining to read the questions from the game. It was a good Christmas Day.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

It has been a full and wonderful Christmas Day. The Ipod nano that was a must have arrived at Friday noon, the presents all got wrapped, the food all got cooked, the games all got played, the family is all worn out. So, that's a successful day I think.

I woke up a little after 4 and although I didn't get up until about 7:30, I never fully got back to sleep. BC called and we went up to see what he got, which included the Ipod his mom thought Santa wasn't going to get on the sleigh in time to get under the tree.

We then went to Christmas morning services and came home to a wonderful meal, compliments of my Sister in law, Mary Ann. We talked and laughed and joked until time to open presents and then continued throughout the opening. Kim and I gave each other the same gift. Apparently we both think the other needs to bake more bundt cakes in the shape of roses. Who would have ever guessed that? We've had more than a few laughs about that.

We then played games - Buzz word and Eat It. We're pretty lax about the rules and the teams, but much laughter ensued.

Now, it's 9 p.m. and I'm ready to hit the sack so I can go out and shop tomorrow with the other fools. Sometimes I wonder at myself. I know my Mama raised me to have good sense, it just seems to escape me every once in awhile.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve

Santa comes tonight. So much excitement in the world it's nearly palpable. I still get excited by the holidays. I'm at my brother's house and there are presents piled under their tree, and now I've added mine and tomorrow more will be layered in. I'm reminded of just how incredibly blessed we all are. Not only to have presents, but to have each other.

This past week, Peggy wrote me a nice note in which she said something that really struck me - that she always feels good for people who have family to "go home to." I'm lucky to be one of those people. Although I have no parents, husband or children, I still have family to go home to who are happy to see me as I'm happy to see them.

I'm also lucky to have my friends, who are my family away from family. The kindnesses that people extend - even the smallest of things - are beautiful grace notes in daily life. It's comforting to know Terry is at my house while I'm away, that Diana will be popping in, that Greg will be out on Dec. 26 just as I will and we'll both be excited about the next Christmas.

I love that "forward looking" part of the holiday season, where I start getting ready for the next year. The continuity of it pleases me. I love the idea that Christmas is always coming, always around the corner.

This week I've heard from old friends, former lovers and new friends who've called or written to wish me Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas. It has been a wonderful few days. I love hearing from people who've been in my world at various stages of life.

If I haven't gotten back in touch with you yet, it's not because I don't want to - it's because there's not much cell phone signal here at the end of Terrell Road, and dial up is a slow computer connection. I will be in touch. Your presence in my life is appreciated.

This is also an opportune time to thank those of you who read the blog regularly for your good wishes, written or only thought. I'm unable to respond to comments at the moment but know that I appreciate your thoughts. And, to each of you, I appreciate the fact that you read along about my little life.

May we all have some moments of childlike wonder on Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my 44th Birthday. How did this happen? I'm perpetually 28 in my mind - at times when I'm feeling especially mature I'm 34. I can't seem to make myself any older than that in my mind. It's not even a physical thing - although goodness knows I do not like to see the beginnings of crow's feet beside my eyes. It's more an attitude thing.

Of course, truth be told, I'm somewhat like a 4 year old in many ways. That's what I think every time I pack up a little bag of "toys" to take with me somewhere. OK, so my toys are paper and pens and books and watercolors and - OK, as I think about it - they're much the same things you might take for a small child.

I guess age isn't really that much of an issue as long as you feel good. I'm blessed to be healthy, have a job I really enjoy, a nice warm house to be in, grateful for wonderful family and friends, and on the right side of the dirt. What more could one ask?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Security Threats

My average phone calls go something like this:

Call Number one:
G: Hello
P: Hey, wanna go get some lunch?
G: Sure.
P: I was thinking about Roys.
G: Roy's is always good.
P: I'll call you when I'm backing out.
G: OK, bye
P: bye

Greg lives three blocks away. If I call him when I'm backing out he's out the door just as I pull into his drive way. Remember that use of the cell phone network the next time you get an "all circuits busy" signal.

Call Number two a few minutes later:
G: Hello
P: I'm on my way
P: Bye
G: Bye

I feel safer knowing the government wants to listen in on that. I nearly fell asleep writing it down. I can't imagine how the poor sap who has to listen in on it feels. And you thought your boss was wasting your talent. Of course, they don't have to actually listen, wire tapping - which really isn't wire tapping in the technical sense - is far easier these days - practically automated.

My phone calls are pretty damned bland most of the time. Pretty utilitarian. Pretty ordinary. There's no plotting, no planning, no phone sex, nothing of note. But I still just don't like the idea of the government listening in just because they can. Why? Gosh, I think it's because I was raised in the US - and made to study civics, where we learned about things like "freedom." Remember civics? Yeah, I know, you gotta be a "certain age," back when things like that were deemed important and actually taught. Now of course, the government has seen the light of what happens when the populace understands their rights. They start to expect them, dammit. So, Step One: Stop telling them they have any rights.

Do you think we're now the country the rest of the world is looking at thinking, "Geez, why is there not rioting in the streets? Why do they not rise up as a people and take back their country?"

Twas the Blog Before Christmas

Someone sent me a link to this at FeedBlitz and I thought it was just too good to not share.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005
'Twas the blog before Christmas

'Twas the blog before Christmas, when all through the house
No blogger was stirring, no hand moved the mouse.
The postings were stacked by the tag cloud with care,
In hopes that more readers soon would be there;

The users were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of updates danced in their heads;
And me with my podcast, downloaded like that,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out from my laptop there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the portal I flew like a flash,
Tore open the reader and refreshed the cache.

The enclosure attached soon gave me to know
That new entries were here, more news I should know.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a raft of new updates, eight headlines so clear,

With a quick Wiki update, who could it be?
Our investor, of course, a leading VC.
More rapid than eagles his portfolio came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Blogspot! Now Feedster! now, Movable Type!
On, FeedBurner, FeedBlitz! (On Marketing Hype!)
To the top of the feed! To the top of them all!
Now blog away! blog away! blog away all!"

As valuations that before the wild bubble do fly,
When they meet with a fund, mount up to the sky,
So up to the top of the investments they flew,
With RSS data, and named it Web 2.

And then, with a twinkling, I read in my news
Each notable posting, contrary views.
As I drew back my hand, and was turning around,
Down to my trackback he came with a bound.

His comments were brief, what was ado?
Were adwords OK? Did users click through?
A bundle of mashups he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

Our AJAX - how it twinkled! Our tagging - how merry!
We socially networked to his brand new BlackBerry!
Our RSS valid, we were well syndicated,
We subscribed to the feeds that we loved (and we hated);

The stump of our web site held tight in our teeth,
The hyperbole encircled his head like a wreath;
We tagged Technorati, we blogged with the best,
On Feedster we surged and made the A-list.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And marked us on Frappr, and Flickr he searched.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
Updated his blog, up our OPML rose;

He sprang to his feed, gave his investments a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,


With best wishes from FeedBlitz to everyone this holiday season!

(c) 2005
Full reproduction permitted only with full attribution and links intact.
Technorati: FeedBlitz RSS Bloglet

Two Surprises in Two Days

It has been a busy couple of days and I've had two surprises in two days - and both of them were firsts.

Last night was our Red Hat group and we had decided to do it at my house as a potluck. What I didn't know was that they were having a surprise birthday party for me last night, which was so sweet.

Teresa, Diana, Julie, Debbie and Susan N. all brought me gifts - Diana made cupcakes - Debbie took pix - they sang. It was really nice. And, it was a first for me. I've never had a birthday party as an adult. Actually, I've never had a birthday party at all that involved friends. When your birthday is two days before Christmas, it's a little tough to pull that off - for the obvious reasons.

Even without all of that, it was a nice evening all the way around, with special gifts shared and some wonderful memories made. I had gotten ornaments for everyone.

I was touched by the generous spirit of these friends. Debbie posted a photo of me blowing out candles on the cupcake on her blog at

Tonight I had my board over for dinner at my house - nothing fancy - just soup. We've done this every year that I've been the Executive Director and it is always fun. They surprised me with a very nice gift, and it was completely unexpected, but very generous of them.

This year we invited spouses too, and that was even neater. It was good to see everyone socialize. I didn't have time to take photos as I was busy replenishing the table and such, but it was a fun night.

I'm blessed to have a wonderful board of directors - exceptional people who are committed to our mission. I'm grateful for each of them.

I served chili and veggie soup. I had planned to also make potato soup but had a little something extra put into my day and ran out of time to get that done. I reached down to put something in the garbage disposal this afternoon and got shocked. Yes - shocked! When I hit the switchplate I got shocked again. So, I called Zenor electric and - thank heavens - Dennis was just leaving another job so could come right over. He eventually found the problem and took care of it, but it took awhile. I was just glad he could come right away and glad that I'm on longer afraid of my kitchen.

I've almost got everything cleaned up already from tonight - maybe one more load through the dishwasher. This was my last party of the season, but instead of feeling relieved, I'm a little sad that it's over for this year. I've had six gatherings in 11 days and I could do another six, but Christmas will be here quickly.

I love to entertain. It makes a house warm and inviting to have the energy of lots of people passing through the doors.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

This Day in the Life

Some time ago, I got an email, asking for contributions to a book in the making. The concept was to ask women to share their journal entries from a particular day - June 29, 2004. Those would then be compiled into a book, offering a snapshot of women's lives.

Well, the book has finally arrived. I'm sure it's going to be fabulous. There's a voyeur in all of us and getting to read other people's diaries is certainly one manifestation of that.

Publisher's Weekly had this to say: "There is not one piece in this compilation that is not captivating. Following up on the editors' first collection of journal entries published in 2003, they selected 34 diaries out of 493 submissions written by a cross-section of American women on June 29, 2004. The collection's success rests on both the astonishing variety of participants and the sincerity with which they describe an ordinary day�These women communicate bravery, compassion, humor and perseverance in this compulsively readable volume."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Open House

My Christmas open house has gotten net play on other people's blogs. I'm flattered, to say the least.

Check these out...

A Lovely Sunday

I stayed in bed until late morning, which is very unusual for me. I woke up but stayed in bed reading for awhile.

I didn't have anything time specific on my agenda today and that was a lovely feeling. Of course there were things I wanted to do and needed to do, but nothing time specific.

I spent a large part of the day puttering around the house, organizing things for Christmas, making sure I have all the gifts bought and wrapped and organized. I have not put the ornaments on the packages yet so I'm still doing that. I also got the ribbons on all of them. I've had a hard time deciding what color of ribbon to go with this year.

Greg and I went to Skaets for a burger tonight and Terry joined us to keep us company. Tonight was the first time I've been out on the roads since the snow.

I'm having the hatters over tomorrow night but I have the cooking already done for that.So, I'll just have to tidy up the house a bit when I first get up in the morning and I'll be ready.

I have a ton of work things to do tomorrow so it's going to be a busy day. Tuesday I'm cooking for my board so I have to cram a lot into tomorrow.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Cards Out - Shocks In

I'm guessing we're all busy with holiday preparations. I know I'm behind on a few things and Christmas is one week away. I did get the last of my cards out the door today. I have to get the ones out that are local, with party invites, early - and if I don't get them all done at the same time I can get lax about the others. And I sometimes do.

The past week has been busy for me. I've had something every night and just didn't get the rest of them out but fortunately, they're on their way now.

It is snowy here, with travel advisories. The TV is running constant crawls about cancelled activities. I had invited my Altrusa group over tonight but only a few showed up - for the obvious reasons. Just can't be helped. No way to know what the weather will be, but those older ladies are not going to go out and drive in this.

I cooked today and puttered around the house. I don't have a party tomorrow, and I'm glad. I think I need a day of not having a schedule. I have some writing I need to do but hopefully that will go smoothly.

The weirdest thing today was when I reached for the dryer handle and got shocked. I don't know what the deal is there, but obviously have to figure that out. I just wanted some freaking dry socks. Obviously, there's a problem. I'm not sure who to call about it since I don't know what the problem is. Seems there's always something.

Dinner With Friends

I invited Sondra and Greg over for dinner tonight. Sondra cooks for me and I wanted to return the favor, and I wanted to have her over to share the Christmas season.

Not too long before dinner Terry called to see if Greg wanted to go to Anchor. When Greg told me I suggested he invite Terry over, too. Terry and Sondra hadn't met before, but it was nice.

I made a spinach salad with toasted pine nuts and grilled portobello mushrooms. I served it with a Bertolli Balsamico dressing and it was really good.

I also made my favorite chicken breasts, cooked in soy sauce, garlic, vinegar and honey, along with green bean almondine, corn and mashed potatoes and gravy. I also served Brookville cole slaw, compliments of my friend, Molly. We had our CHICKS gathering last night and she brought it to share. I was planning to make coleslaw and that made me think about making Brookville's version. She very generously offered me what she had and that was all I needed.

After dinner we went into the living room and had tea and coffee. I made Oatmeal cake, because it's one of Sondra's favorites. I sent some home with her and with Terry.

The last few days have been full of gatherings.

On Wednesday night I had the Creative Sisterhood group over. Teresa couldn't come but everyone else was here. It was an exceptional night. Very, very cool.

I shared about my podcasting ventures. I've been picked up by Podcasters News Network, so hopefully that will work out well.

Last night was our Christmas gathering for CHICKS. That's always a fun night. There were only eight of us there last night but it was good.

It was a spur of the moment decision to cook dinner for tonight but I'm glad I did. I rarely cook "real" food - I just like to bake - but it's good to do it every once in awhile.

Tomorrow I will get up early and begin baking. My Altrusa group is coming over tomorrow evening so I will bake all day tomorrow.

Well, it's time for me to hit the sack. I've been getting up very early and going to bed very late. It seems that tonight I'm actually tired a little sooner than normal so maybe it has caught up with me a bit.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Eyes Have It

Greg took some head shots of me tonight for a project I'm working on. I couldn't resist playing with them.

We thought maybe I should make the catch light into a Christmas bulb or a bell shape.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Tonight was Altrusa and there was entertainment - six women playing Christmas carols on accordians. It may sound weird - OK, it was a bit weird - but it was fun. We also did an ornament exchange. I got a cute little snowman I really like.

Also, one of the ladies who was here Saturday night brought me an ornament she bought in Russia. I'm so thrilled with it. I tickled to have it on the tree. I so love ornaments and this is a really special one.

I spent the day working on MHA projects. I woke up really early this morning and started working on something I've put off for months. It took me a long time to get it done but it is out the door and I am tickled by that.

Tomorrow night is Creative Sisterhood. I'm not sure what I'm going to make for it yet but will probably get up early in the morning and do that before the work day starts. I've got a busy day tomorrow.

Plumbers and Friends

My day started with an early morning call from the plumber saying he could come at 10 this morning if I could be here. Fortunately, I didn't have anything time specific until 11:30 so that worked out well. The leak was a simple problem so that was a bonus.

I had lunch with Leah. It was good to see her. I don't get to see her nearly often enough.

I spent the whole work day doing paper kinds of things - it's the season for that. I can spend Dec., Jan. and Feb. on the computer it seems.

This afternoon it got up over 50 degrees so the guy came and did some touch up work on the outside of the house. It's supposed to be nice tomorrow too, so I'm hoping he can get more done. We'll see.

Tonight Trish invited Teresa and me over for dinner. It was a wonderful supper. Then we talked until after 10:30. There's something special about being in someone's home. I'm always honored by such an invitation.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Party Photos

I promised I would get more photos up and there will be yet more coming, but I wanted to get up at least a few more today.

I've had multiple requests for ornament close ups. I will take some more, but here is one that Greg took last night of a little baby Jesus that I always nestle into the tree.

It's not really an ornament, but I bought it in Rome years ago, with the idea of using it as one and it has been on every tree I've done since then.

Father Christmas even popped by. Gary is the husband of my board president and it has been a delight to get to know both of them. Peggy is just wonderful and they are both always willing to help with anything.

Gary is such a charmer - everyone who meets him falls in love with him. I'm always trying to send him baked goodies and Peggy is always telling me to stop feeding him. They're both wonderful people.

Somehow we managed to not get a good photo of Peggy last night. Of course, when Father Christmas arrived later in the evening, he was the hit of the party and we all wanted our photos taken with him. It must be hard being a celebrity.

Mia was a big help yesterday, as were Greg and Mark. Greg even vacuumed. And, if his mother happens to be reading this - yes - there is photographic evidence of it. Mark worked so hard. He was quite the trooper.

It's always more work than you expect to throw a party, but it's so worth it.

We got tickled last night and just could not stop laughing. Left to right is Andrea, Diana, me and Teresa.

I will share more photos in the coming days, but I'm ready to call it a night. I went to bed about 4 a.m. and got up about 9, so I'm ready to go to sleep.

We went to see a Christmas play this afternoon and that was a festive addition to the day. Otherwise, I've just enjoyed the day. Last night was so much fun that today has just been a lovely continuation of the event.

Tomorrow night Trish is having Teresa and me over to dinner and I'm really looking forward to that. It's so rare to be invited to someone's home for dinner, and always a treat.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas Open House

Tonight was my annual open house and it was a really fun evening. Greg took tons of pix and I'll post more but thought I'd just pop up one shot tonight.

There were about 40 people I'd guess. I served baked goods of various sorts. We laughed a lot.

It's always good to connect with people.

I will write more and post more pix, but it's almost 3 a.m. and I've been awake since about 8 a.m. so I need to get some sleep.

Father Christmas even made an appearance!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Jesse's First Time

Well, I've been fortunate a few times in my life to be someone's "first" for one thing or another. Tonight was something I never expected.

(And it couldn't have been more innocent so get your mind out of the gutter.)

Mark is down for my party tomorrow and he and Jesse went out to dinner then came by to help me with things. I was cooking and offered Jesse the spatula from the cheesecake to lick.

Much to my surprise, he told me it was the first time he had ever licked the bowl/spoon/spatula.

I was so surprised I mixed up something else, partially so Jesse could lick the bowl.

I had no idea I would ever get to be this "first" in someone's life without giving birth. Life is full of surprises.

Art of Gracious Living Podcast #4

I'm busy preparing for a holiday get together happening in about 24 hours. Always at this time in the process I start to question my own sanity at doing such a thing. But, come tomorrow night this time I'll be glad I did.

Click here to listen to the Art of Gracious Living Podcast #4

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Screenings and Magazines

We had a screening this afternoon. We had someone come in who was suicidal and we were able to get them help. I'm touched to be a tiny part of this process.

After the screening, Julie, Greg and I went to Skaets for a burger. Then they both came over to my house. Julie helped me decorate more on the tree. I think I have one more box of ornaments and then I'll do icicles and it's done. I will try to take some photos and post them.

I got the magazine today that I wrote the article on Food Traditions for. Greg's photos look nice.

I'm now trying to convince myself to drag the trash dumpster out to the back alley. It's 5 degrees here and the ground is covered with snow. I do NOT want to go outside. I was thinking about waiting until in the morning but it's going to be 3 degrees at 8 a.m. So, I either have to keep it another week or get my butt out there.

At times like this I really miss having a man in my life.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Merry Little Christmas

Today was one of those days when I'm so very thankful that I can work from home sometimes. Because today was a day when I wanted to do that. It was frigid all day. It's 4 now. It has snowed almost all day. It's just been a generally unpleasant day to be out and about.

I was supposed to go to the diversity luncheon today but didn't. I spent that time dragging up more boxes of Christmas stuff from the basement and making myself homemade pizza.

Tonight I decorated and made some real progress. I finished the lights on the tree early this morning and started decorating it. Then I did some more tonight.

At one point I snapped a photo of the various boxes of lights I had unpackaged to add to the tree. I buy a supply every year when they get cheap so I'm prepared for the next year. I have almost depleted my supply this year. I went a little crazy with the lights.

People are always asking me how many lights. A few years ago I stopped telling people because they're either one - shocked. Or, two - shocked and disapproving. I just stopped telling people how many - then I don't have to deal with it. This year is my best one ever, I think. I was glad I had a stash of lights from which to draw. I just say there are "thousands" of lights. That's accurate. And vague.

There was an accident on the corner about 5:30 tonight. I heard it and went out on the porch and looked. I'm not sure what happened but there were police vehicles there for more than an hour afterwards. I never saw an ambulance, but there were flashing red and blue lights for a long time. I walked out onto the porch, but that was as far out of the house as I got today.

I truly am thankful I can work from home. This time of year I've got a ton of paper/computer things to do and I generally do those on my home computer anyway as the work computer can't handle too many things. So, I had a productive day without having to go outside.

Greg got home tonight and I'm so glad he's back safe and sound.

It's rare I'm interested in something on television but I wanted to see the White House Christmas special on HGTV tonight. I was a little disappointed in it. The plan this year was to use all natural things - lots of fruit and fresh flowers. I guess I'm old fashioned. I like my red and green and glitter and glow. The other stuff is fine as additions, but I need my basic Santa and tree contingent covered this time of year.

I took some video of the tree with the lights on today - before I started putting ornaments on. I had planned to post it but I'm not sure what format to use and how to get the .mov file my camera took it in into whatever is useful. I found a tool to convert it into an .avi file but those seem really large. Oh well, maybe I'll figure it out.

I have done a couple more podcasts. Those are easy for me since I can just adlib them, and they seem to be striking a cord with some people, so that's good.

Well, time for bed for me. We have a screening tomorrow and I have a lot of things to do before then.

Art of Gracious Living Podcast #3

I love Christmas and one of my favorite parts of it is putting the ornaments on the tree. I have some I've picked up on trips and also ones people have given me. I treasure them as they're tangible reminders of the relationships I'm blessed to have.

Listen to Art of Gracious Living Podcast #3


It's a blamy 7 degrees at 4:06 a.m. And we have snow... not a dusting but enough to cover the ground.

I looked outside the second I woke up. I decided to just stay up. I think I'll put some pumpkin bread in the oven, turn on some Christmas carols until Morning Edition comes on, and work on the tree.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Last allied veteran of the Christmas Truce in WW1 Dead

Reuters reported on Monday, November 21, 2005
in a story by Peter Graff

The last known surviving allied veteran of the Christmas Truce that saw German and British soldiers shake hands between the trenches in World War One died Monday at 109, his parish priest said.

Alfred Anderson was the oldest man in Scotland and the last known surviving Scottish veteran of the war.

"I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence," he was quoted as saying in the Observer newspaper last year, describing the day-long Christmas Truce of 1914, which began spontaneously when German soldiers sang carols in the trenches, and British soldiers responded in English.

"All I'd heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining of bullets in flight, machinegun fire and distant German voices.

But there was a dead silence that morning across the land as far as you could see.
"We shouted 'Merry Christmas' even though nobody felt merry. The silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again."

Troops in the trenches swapped cigarettes, uniform buttons and addresses and even played football in one of the most extraordinary episodes of the war.

Parish priest Neil Gardner of Anderson's Alyth Parish Church in Scotland said he had died in his sleep and was survived by a large family, including 18 great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren.

"He was a wonderful old man: he was gracious, gentle, he had a great sense of humor and a fine sense of wisdom from his experience spanning three centuries," said Gardner, who also served as chaplain to Anderson's regiment, the Black Watch.

Anderson also served briefly as a member of the household staff of Queen Elizabeth's uncle, Fergus Bowes-Lyon.

With Anderson's death, fewer than 10 British veterans of the war remain alive, of whom only three or four were veterans of trench warfare on the Western Front.

Attention has turned to the last survivors in recent weeks, with filmmakers bringing out documentaries in time for this month's Armistice Day holiday, marking the day the guns fell silent on November 11, 1918.

Don't Get Creative With My Christmas Carols

I've been playing Christmas Carols tonight while I work on things around the house. I have a few CDs that I haven't listened to before. I popped in one and they were doing something I hate - getting creative with old standards.

People - DON'T do that. We just want to hear the pretty song, the way we remember singing it during the nativity play as a kid, we don't want your interpretation.

If you want to interpret something, write it first. Otherwise, just stick to the script. Don't go trying to get fancy. We just want to hear "Away in a Manger" just the way we sang it when we were 10, only we want you to do it pretty. That's why we bought your CD.

OK, if you're Aretha, you can get creative. Otherwise, just stick to the basics.

The Life I Want to Live

Today at lunch this came up in conversation with Trish and I hadn't thought about it in ages. It came up because I was talking about how regardless of what a mess things are in in my world, I always know where my passport is - as if I'm going to need it at the office tomorrow here in the middle of the United States.

I told Trish about reading an Alexandra Stoddard book some years ago - before I even owned a passport - and she was saying that you should never keep your passport in a safety deposit box. Instead, you should always keep it in your home because if someone invited you to leave the country over the weekend on the spur of the moment you wouldn't be able to get your passport.

That stuck with me. I think because it told me the kind of life I wanted to be living - the one where I needed to always have my passport at hand - just in case I needed it for a quick trip to a foreign land.

In the "fake it till you make it" category, I always know where my passport is. So, I'm ready when this spur of the moment invitation arrives.

Droopy Day

I've been a little droopy today. I had a little "episode" overnight so didn't get much sleep. I was exhausted when I got up.

I was thinking about what to have for lunch - thinking I needed some protein and iron - when Trish called and asked if I wanted to go to lunch. I said, "sure" and did feel better after I ate.

Fortunately, I didn't have anything critical for work today as I didn't feel very good. I slept for awhile and did feel better when I got up.

Tonight I've gotten a little bit more done on the tree. I'm approaching having it all together. Well, aside from the few thousand ornaments. But, I love that part.

I do not enjoy the assembly and lights part, but the lights are what make the tree so beautiful. I've only got two more rows and the topper and it will be all together. Then tomorrow I can start the ornaments.

I have a busy, busy, busy work day tomorrow, but hopefully I'll feel like working on it tomorrow night.

I love getting out the ornaments and remembering the stories behind each one.

I used to ask for help to get the tree assembled and lighted, but that gives people the "right" to complain about my "excessiveness" when it comes to the tree. So, I prefer to just do it myself and then I don't have to take anyone's crap.

I've thought about doing a long blog post titled, "Stupid Things People Say to Me at Christmas Time." But, I decided it wasn't a good idea.

I will offer this one tip - if you're invited to my home, don't point out that there is a light burned out on the tree. That would fall into the "oh, really, no shit" category. There are thousands of freaking lights on it - did you not notice - OF COURSE some are not working. I don't take time to replace every burned out bulb when I'm assembling the tree. I'd need to start in May if I did that.

I realize if you put two 100 strands on your tree, that's noticeable. Trust me, if you put a few dozen 100 strands on your tree, it's not that big of a deal. The only one who notices is someone who wants to "catch me" in something that's not perfect. News flash - I already know I'm a long way from perfect - I don't need you to point it out.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Love v. Attachment

I've been thinking a lot lately about my relationships with people. This ended up in my email today and it seems appropriate that it came to me at this time. I thought I'd share....


We confuse attachment with love. Attachment is concerned with my needs, my happiness, while love is an unselfish attitude, concerned with the needs and happiness of others....

A relationship free of unrealistic grasping is free of disappointment, conflict, jealousy, and other problems, and is fertile ground for the growth of love and wisdom.

-Kathleen McDonald, "How to Meditate"

Sunday, December 04, 2005


I have figured out more about podcasting today. I think I got the necessary feeds set up. I will see what develops with I've had a few emails from people who like the bread recipe I posted there. to hear the podcast

Sunday was Not for Rest

I've been going full tilt all day and here at the end of the day I've not accomplished as much as I would like. And, yet, I've done about as much as I can do in one day. At least some things have gotten done.

I'm working on the tree, and still need to get some more invitations for my Christmas party out - ones I have to look up addresses for.

It is cold here - 19 now - and it was 19 when I first looked this morning. I'm not sure how warm it got, but it was not balmy by any means.

I've been glued to the food network tonight off and on - Paula Deen's Christmas show and the gingerbread competition.

I hope by next year that my life is a bit more "normal." If so I'm going to decorate in early November and start entertaining. There just isn't enough time to entertain all in December.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Planting in the Cold

I've been outside planting spring bulbs. I did some the other day and the problem with that is that I couldn't necessarily remember exactly where I planted them and so I'm clueless what is where now. I'm just not a person who can make charts to scale and draw things out. It will be a surprise in the spring.

I'm planting daffodils and tulips mostly, but also some hyacinths and crocus.

It's cold here - 29 at the moment - but this is going to be one of the warmer days we have for the next week so I thought I'd better try to get some of it done. I still have about 40 daffodils and about 20 tulips and I think I'm out of room in the front flower bed. Well, as best I can tell, anyway.

So, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the rest of them. Maybe something will occur to me. The front is the only place that gets enough sun for them, I think. I planted some in the back a few years ago and they bloomed once or twice - kind of late - but never really took off. So, I'm not sure. Maybe I can stash the bulbs until next year so when I see where the holes are I can fill them in.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Today I have entered the world of Podcasting. OK, so, it's a timid entry since at 6:30 this morning I had no clue how to begin. Now, at 11:30 p.m. I have a podcast online.

Good thing I have a broadcasting degree or it might have taken more days.

We'll see how I enjoy doing this. It certainly plays to my skills given my background in radio.

I just adlibbed this one, but may start to actually write them out. Of course, I want it to sound conversational, so maybe not.

Maybe I'm putting too much thought into it since I'm not even sure I want to continue to do it.

I am passionate about the topic of people making connection with one another. I've written about it here at length, particularly in April when I saw Dr. Robert Putnam speech. The new website, is going to be devoted to how to help people make connection.

I am certain this is critical to our well-being and that it's a skill we've lost. My hope is to use the podcasting format, in addition to the written word, to encourage people along these lines.

Check it out at I'm open to comments, thoughts, suggestions.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Although it's not something I could have imagined myself saying a year ago, I played Bingo tonight. Two of the Compeer volunteers planned a get together tonight and bingo was a central feature. Everyone loved it.

I haven't played bingo since I was a kid. I know it's big business in churches and bingo parlors, but it's just something I haven't done since childhood. But, I did.

They did a great job of putting everything together. They had nice gifts and did snacks and everything. It was a lovely gesture on their part to do the Christmas gathering for the group.


OK... just for fun... go to and type in "failure" and hit the "I'm feeling Lucky" button. It takes you straight to George Bush's bio on the White House page.It made me laugh out loud.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kansas State Library Card

I learned about the coolest thing today - the Kansas State Library card. They probably have a version of it in your state, and maybe even in your city.

I went to the reference department at lunchtime today to get the Consumer Reports information about what kind of exterior paint to use on my house. (Pratt and Lambert Accolade Eggshell, flat finish white, btw) When I talked with the reference librarian, she gave me a Kansas Library Card and a tour of all it gives you access to.

With this handy dandy little card, which is free to Kansas residents, (thank you, legislators!) you have access to magazines, newspapers, books, audio books, and tons of other reference materials. Genealogy information, history, census records and more are as close as your keyboard.

As I understand it, different libraries have different "packages" of materials, so it could vary tremendously. But, you can search historic New York Times editions and then find the latest Consumer Reports information.

Needless to say, I'm quite infatuated with the whole concept. It's designed to give all libraries - even in rural areas - top notch research and reference capabilities.

It's a fabulous idea, well executed, and a great use of tax money. Thank you to everyone involved for doing something worthwhile in a very smart fashion.

I was just thinking I needed to spend more time online...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What Happens in Nicaragua

One of the things I love about Christmas is getting out the ornaments and remembering the people who gave them to me or the events they commemorate or whatever.

I also have a tendency to make things into Christmas ornaments that were never intended as such.

Tonight in putting up the tree, before I even got the ornaments out, an ornament that had gotten packed away with the tree fell out.

It's an umbrella that came out of a drink. I kept it because it reminds me of a very memorable night in Nicaragua. It makes me think of Matthew and the people we met along the way on that trip.

There are lots of travel trinkets on my tree. It reminds me of how much you rely on those you travel with to have your back, to keep your secrets as you keep theirs, to deal with the crises and celebrate the surprises one finds along the path.

Of course, what happens in Nicaragua stays in Nicaragua... or whatever they say...

Productive Day

I had a very productive day today. I managed to get a number of things from my desk into other people's worlds. That's pretty much my goal on a daily basis. I also got two big projects out the door.

After work I laid down for a nap - pretty rare for me, but I haven't been sleeping very well lately. I go through periods where sleep is elusive and I'm in one now. I go to bed exhausted but wake up dozens of times a night. Eventually, exhausted with the cycle, I just get up. That was the case last night. I finally just got up about 5:30, after only about 3 1/2 hours of sleep. I had a couple hours of sleep this afternoon and fortunately I am still going strong. I have a lot I want to do yet tonight.

I've been hauling things up from the basement. I'm obviously going to break my Dec. 1 rule this year. Generally I like to have all of my Christmas things done by Dec. 1 but that just won't happen this year. Oh well... there's always next year to shoot for.

The trick is going to be after taking a break for the holidays to get back on my organizing track and keep at it so by next year at this time I'll be in full swing for the holidays.

I've decided I'm inviting all of the Altrusans to my home one night in December. That will be fun.

Well, I'm going to go back to working on Christmas things. I do love getting everything out and seeing it all again. I've been collecting Christmas things for years so I have quite a bit of stuff.

I change what I put where every year. I know from talking to other people that they tend to do the same thing in the same place every year. I guess I never have things in the same place so that doesn't work for me.

I've always teased Sondra that every time I'm in her house it's different. Now I seem to be the same way.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Monday is for the Dentist

My Monday was devoted to the dentist. I have two temporary crowns and went in today to get the permanent ones. Well, to speed through a dull story, hours later with my mouth numb and one temporary having been chipped off, I got a new temporary.

I was not happy with the color of the crown. So, I'm paying more and getting an all porcelain one. My dentist is splitting the lab costs of them with me so it's only costing an extra $50 per tooth, but these will show if I smile wide and I don't want them to look like crowns.

So, poof, there goes my money. Unfortunately, this took a long time to figure out and I had not taken a book with me - expecting it would be a quick procedure. Oh well, so it goes. It was very kind of the dentist to split the costs with me because caps are expensive enough to begin with. Yikes!

I called Teresa late and asked if she wanted to have dinner. We have gotten out of the habit of spur of the moment suppers and it was good to see her and hear about her Thanksgiving break.

I shared with her the new track I'm on - to look at my skills and talents and figure out what I should be doing with my life. We'll see where that goes. When I look at what I'm good at, I see many possibilities of what one could do with those things.

However, when I look at what I'm not good at, one that I keep coming back to is a central problem. As I summed it up in my journal the other day, "the norm is a mystery to me." And it is. I don't know how I can ever address that. So, I just have to figure out how to make it a positive.

Kansas State Board of Education Prevention

You may recall that a week or two ago I mentioned I was looking for information on the Kansas State Board of Education members. I had emailed to inquire about additional information. As of yet, my email has not been answered.

However, today a friend sent this email to me about an organization that seems to want to address these issues. I'm putting it here for any of you who might also be interested in joining forces. The pertinent information is

Here's the information:

Dear Friends:

Over the last several months many Kansans have become alarmed by the actions of the six member social conservative majority on the Kansas State Board of Education. These six have been preoccupied with inappropriate science standards and unnecessary opt-in sex education guidelines. Recently they have hired a Kansas Commissioner of Education whose qualifications for the job are woefully inadequate. It is becoming increasingly apparent that they are more concerned with promoting their own narrow agenda than they are with preparing the children of Kansas to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

I want to introduce you to the Kansas Alliance for Education (KAE), a newly formed group of individuals who have come forward to say enough is enough. The KAE does not consist of professional activists or political operatives but rather citizens willing to take a leadership role to ensure high quality education for all students. The KAE is non-partisan and will be involved in all five Kansas State Board of Education races in 2006. Members of KAE come from all over the state, are from both parties, and have diverse backgrounds. Their common interest is making a change in the Kansas State BOE, and the sole focus of KAE will be working for the re-election of the one moderate and replacement of the four social conservative incumbents who are up for re-election in 2006.

The Kansas Alliance for Education has adopted the following principles:

Moderate and informed educational policy best prepares children for the 21st century

Public education must be available for all children residing in the state

Quality public education is the key to social and economic vitality

The group is organized as a Political Action Committee and will be raising money to inform the public about issues pertinent to the State Board of Education. The KAE will also stress the importance of voting in the 2006 Primary and General Elections and provide information about their endorsed candidates. This is going to be true grass roots politics.

Our common interest is to return quality as the focal point of the Kansas State Board of Education decision-making. Our goal is to retain Janet Waugh, the moderate past president of the board, and to return a common sense voice to the board by replacing the other four members up for election in 2006: John Bacon, Iris Van Meter, Ken Willard, and Connie Morris.

The KAE web site is now operational. The web site will contain information about not only the issues you are concerned about but about candidates in the five races and how to contact them. There will also be a link to Pay Pal for those who would prefer to contribute electronically. The information on the web site will change frequently so please visit often so you have the latest �scoop�.

If you share our concerns and have wondered what you can do, I have a few suggestions. The first thing you can do is to make a contribution. You can contribute through the KAE website, Second, you can share this message by adding your personal comments and forwarding it on to family and friends. If you do so, please cut and paste or use the attached documents. In this way the message stays clean and free of an ever expanding list of email addresses. Third, as the movement picks up steam you can volunteer to man booths and/or hand out literature at county fairs and other community functions. And finally, if you can do nothing else, cast an informed vote for candidates who will put quality first, not ideology, when it comes to our children�s education.

Best regards,

Don Hineman, Chairman
Kansas Alliance for Education
116 S. Longhorn Rd.
Dighton, KS 67839

620-397-2504 (home)
620-397-7552 (fax)

Ramblings on Friendship

I wrote this Saturday night...

I am content with my little life at the moment. And that is something. I have always been driven to live life BIG, soaking it up as fast as I can, and desperately searching for more of it. I have appreciated the little bits of life in the briefest of moments, but have not given them their full due.

This realization has been coming for awhile, two or three years at least.

Tonight as I languished in a tub of hot water, the smell of peppermint still on my hands from the garden, reading a book, I realized that I have arrived at this place. I'm at the point where I can enjoy a little life as much as a big life. I can be in this little moment and be content, without planning for the next big moment.

What are the ramifications of this? I'm not sure. And I certainly do not want to become someone who is complacent and going through the motions of living, without doing any real living, but I am seeing that one can lead a "little" life and be content without being routine.

Also tonight I have begun to wash away the bits of relationships - literally and figuratively. There are thoughts and dreams and people I've been holding on to that I need to let go. I periodically do a mental run through of friendships and weed out ones that are no longer valid. I'm overdue for that process.

It is easy to kid yourself into believing that because people matter to you, and you feel a loyalty to them, that they feel the same way about you. It's an intoxicating lie, and one we all indulge in at times. But, I realize I must look at the realities of all the relationships in my life, and get clear about what they are.

When one considers who you really matter to, the list grows very short. Who makes time for you in their lives? Who comes to your aid without you having to ask? Who rejoices with you when you're madly, crazy, in love and doesn't remind you of that foolishness when you're falling out of love and encourages you to do it with the same abandon the next time around? Who calls you on a Saturday and says, "drop what you're doing, lets take a drive today and have lunch at that cafe we love?" Who invites you into their world, instead of only accepting invitations into yours?

I'm wrestling with this concept these days. Who wants me in their world? Very few people is the cold, hard truth. It's not the same thing as people being willing to be in my world. Those are different. One requires keeping an appointment and one requires giving of yourself.

I have had a very concrete measure of where I stand in people's lives in the last few years as I have worked on the house. I have been overwhelmed at times, and made no secret of it, but very few in my world have offered their assistance - to help move something or paint or clean or whatever.

I can count six people who have helped, from moving to today. Meanwhile I have watched people offer themselves to others for various projects from cleaning basements to moving, but not to me. So, I must come to the logical conclusion about what that means.

Of course, I do not want people to help me out of obligation, so I do not ask. Nor will I. At this point the message is clear that I am not worthy of their time and energy. I am not that important to them. It has been almost 4 years. There has been ample opportunity for people to offer themselves and they have chosen not to.

To ignore such things is foolish. One should always know where one stands. I'm not happy with where I stand in many relationships, but nonetheless it is where I stand. I must accept it and make decisions accordingly.

In the last five years I lost my mother and one of my best friends in the span of less than a month, I left a job I'd had for a long time and started a completely new career, I bought a house for the first time and moved out of an apartment I lived in for a very long time, I fell deeply in love and had that relationship end.

My life has provided multiple opportunities for people to offer themselves willingly on many levels, to forge deeper bonds of friendship. But few have taken that path. Most have remained on the sidelines. A very select few have stepped forward and said, "yes, I want to make this friendship more than it was yesterday by engaging with you at this time." Very few.

If friendships do not have the capacity to deepen, there really isn't any point in being in them. If those major life events did not deepen friendships, there probably is not much hope they can deepen. So, they must be accepted on the level they are at or disbanded. I'm not sure there is much point in maintaining a friendship that doesn't have capacity to grow. Does anyone really need more "acquaintances?" I don't think so. I certainly don't. Unless those can grow into real friendships there is no point in investing energy in them.

So, I find myself at a crossroads of sorts. It seems my life and the relationships in it are in need of some rearranging and revamping. I believe in the spring I will engage in the Gullah tradition of "traveling" and see what emerges from that sacred time.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Christmas Preparation - Organizing

I'm taking a break from working. I woke up this morning about 5:30, four hours after I went to sleep. I tried to sleep some more but it just wasn't meant to be. So, I got up and started working on things around the house.

It's a cloudy day, with occasional sprinkles. Supposedly it's going to turn very cold and snow later today but at the moment I have my front and back doors open, airing out the house.

I just finished cleaning under the cabinets beside my fridge. It was a mess. A can of pop had leaked and made an ugly dried brown puddle that I couldn't see until I got down there to work.

I'm also putting out glue traps all over the house since it's the time of year mice want to get inside. I have a very simple theory on such things - they can be anywhere on the planet except where I live. If they get in my house they're going to die.

I realize some people like to catch them and turn them loose - there's really no point - you might as well just live with them. Taking them out to the country and turning them loose just means they'll be in someone else's house. I just cannot stand the nasty, disease carrying things. So, I try hard to make sure if one gets it he doesn't get far before he runs into a glue trap.

Anyway, I put out fresh traps all over the house every fall so I've been doing that the last couple of weeks. The one I pulled out from under the cabinet - blissfully - had nothing on it but dust. I just don't want to take a chance on having one get in and be running all over my stuff. Hate 'em, hate 'em, hate 'em.

I've got the Christmas tree bag drug into the house - as far as the kitchen. Later today I'm going to start bringing things up from the basement. I've got just a bit more tidying up of clutter to do in the living room and I'll be ready to focus my attention on Christmas.

With only a couple of closets and two wardrobes downstairs, I've got everything organized. I just want to enjoy the holidays right now and I'll get back to that afterwards. But, I'm pleased with my progress.

The upstairs is trashed, and what is up there is stuff that requires a very slow process of going through it, as well as what's left downstairs, but it can be done. It's mostly paper stuff and no one can do that except me. I am amazed when I get going on it that I can get through quite a bit of stuff. At this point just getting everything to the room where it belongs would be an accomplishment. I'm getting there. Slowly but surely.

Well... I'm off to go work some more...

Gingerbread Cake for Creative Sisterhood

This is a cake recipe I made for Creative Sisterhood the other night. I love bundt cakes. I'm not sure exactly why, other than I like not having icing interferring with the flavors of the cake itself. I did serve this with lemon curd on the side.

Gingerbread Cake

from Allrecipes, Submitted by USA WEEKEND columnist Pam Anderson

2 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup milk
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, softened until easily spreadable
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup molasses

1 Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a metal or disposable foil 9-by-13-inch pan. Whisk dry ingredients and
spices in a large bowl. Mix milk, eggs and vanilla extract in a 2-cup measuring cup.
2 Beat softened butter into dry ingredients, first on low, then medium, until mixture forms pebble-sized pieces. Add about 1/3 of the milk mixture and beat on low until smooth. Add remaining milk mixture in two stages; beat on medium speed until batter is just smooth. Add the sugar; beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Pour batter into cake pan.
3 Bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the cake's center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the pan perimeter and turn cake onto rack. Let cool.

Gardening Continues

Today I got outside and cleaned up the flower bed and planted some of the bulbs I bought recently. I planted daffodils, hyacinths and tulips. I still have tons more to plant, but got weary of doing it this afternoon. I may have over purchased. The smell of mint is strong in the flower bed. It hasn't completely died out.

It was a beautiful day today, but we're supposed to get snow tomorrow so thought I'd better take advantage of the day. I cut back some of the perennials, but left a few that haven't quite died out. I figure the snow will take care of that if we really get it.

I also got the Christmas tree base set up and got the tree out of the shed. I drug the bag up to the back door but will probably have to bring it in the house in pieces.

I took a very long bath tonight, and read and thought. I'm in a contemplative mood lately and will be posting more about that here over the next few days and/or weeks. Things are shifting in my life, that's for sure.

It has been a very quiet day for me. I went to Roy's for lunch and they were swamped with people visiting for the holidays. I popped into the hardware store briefly and got home to meet with a gentleman about doing some work on my house. Other than those interactions, I have been alone with myself and my thoughts. I don't think my phone has even rung today.

I did go get groceries after midnight. I didn't want to wait until tomorrow, when everyone realizes we might get a dusting of snow and descends on the stores as if we will never get another shipment of food. I was out of yogurt and apples. That's my signal to go to the grocery store. I bought a pomegranate tonight. For some reason they're very decadent to me, maybe because we only get them for a brief time each year.

Well, I must get some rest. I have a very full day ahead tomorrow. I want to make more progress on Christmas decorating and finish my Christmas letter.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

American Chopper

I'm not devoted to anything on television. I never want to arrange life around something being on TV.

However, there are things I like. I missed Oprah on Letterman the other night and I wanted to see that.

One thing I always stop on when I'm flipping channels is American Chopper. I'm not sure why I like it so much, but I do. I'd strangle Paul, and send Mikey to therapy, but I like the show.

I wonder why people like various shows. This has multiple appeal. For people who are in to choppers, or mechanics, it's obvious. But, for people like me who don't know squat about such things, there's the human drama.

Something else I've noticed is that everyone thinks the various characters are right or wrong and can identify with different ones.

My former bf used to say Paulie was lazy. I think Paulie is the misunderstood creative genius. It's all how you relate, I guess.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Friday

Well, I went out this morning early to shop in Joplin. It's the first time I've ever done it and it may be the last. I went with Greg to get a computer. I told him I obviously REALLY loved him to get up early and stand in the cold outside.

Because I was up, I went to Office Max and picked up some geneology software they had on sale, and to Michaels to get a great deal on this wire mesh carrier thing that holds those little bottles of paint. I have been wanting one for awhile but just wouldn't spend $25 on a wire rack. I got it for about $11 today and that seemed more reasonable.

From my one experience, I have to say that Office Max was the most organized. They had lots of help and people were assisting you in finding what you wanted. Michaels had the best checkout system going - but they also had fewer people so it may have been easier to manage.

Office Depot flat out lied to us, which I did not appreciate. They made announcements over the loud speaker that there was no rush on two computers they offered that you ordered, that you could buy them anytime today or Saturday. So, I got the form to get one for the non-profit I run but decided to wait until I was in Wichita to get it. I went in to buy it and they told me there were no more available. To top it off, the clerk was a bit rude. No doubt he was weary from a day of people being disappointed about not getting what they wanted. Had I not been specifically told otherwise, I would have accepted it gracefully, but being told something that is not true does not sit well with me. At all. Of course, there's not a thing I can do about it so no point in getting upset over it. But, I do wish they would resist telling lies.

I did not go anywhere else, but understand that Best Buy and Wal-mart were nuts. I was tucked back into bed by 9, for a little extra sleep before driving home.

I arrived home to discover my computer was nuts. I'm still not sure what its problem is, but I had to direct wire it to the cable instead of using the wireless, and make three calls to tech support. It's working at the moment, but - of course - being hard wired is not why people invest in wireless, a fact that is largely lost on tech people.

I'm rearranging things in the house. By the end of the weekend, I want my main tree underway, and it's quite a massive undertaking. Of course, having to move furniture to hardwire the computer didn't speed the process along.

I've got to get my studio somewhat back to normal because I have Christmas presents in a closet off that room that I can't get to at the moment. So, I'll have to deal with that shortly.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving, may your day be filled with plenty and your heart grateful. It's a good wish for any day, really.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


This day has zipped by. I've gotten a ton of things done today but I'm still behind. Is that everyone's story?

Of course at this time of year, it's natural to be thinking about what I'm thankful for and the list is long. I'm thankful for good health - always number one on my list because without that everything else pales.

This has been a difficult year in many ways, but certainly not the ones that are critical. All of my loved ones are well. I have a nice,warm home to be snuggled into tonight. My friends are plentiful, my comforts many.

I often think about Maslow and realize that when I have time to be thinking about the future and what I'm concerned about that life is full and rich.

I have worked more on the house tonight, going through and throwing away more things. This is going to be a very long process, but if I keep at it I can make significant progress. I can tell a difference, although I have a long way to go.

I took a big pile of boxes and such out for trash pick up. I'm not sure when they'll pick up this week since tomorrow is a holiday.

It's hard to believe in only a little over two weeks I'll have guests here. I have so much to do between now and then. Fortunately, much of it is "fun" work. But, of course, it all takes time to accomplish.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It has been a long day. I got up before 6 because the movers were coming and I had to prepare a little bit for them. Once again, I'm reminded just how tired I am of moving things around.

The piano and couch are in the sunporch and I actually have some chairs and a couch sitting in the living room again. I'm a long way from "normal" but I'm closer.

I spent the day fretting over houses for the tour. I have lost two houses for the Christmas tour set for Dec. 4 so am frantic trying to find replacements. Frantic.

I'm also working on a project for national that is taking tons of time and effort. I will be glad when it's off.

Tonight was Altrusa and we did Christmas ornaments. It was our committee's meeting and we thought making something together would be fun. Some people came up with cool trees.

Now it's 10 p.m. and I think I may turn in early tonight. I'm had a busy and very stressful day and it seems I'll have another one tomorrow.

(I realize it may not say 10 p.m. on the posting time, but I can't figure out what in the heck the system is on any of the three sites I post to regularly. I go in and change it and the next day it may be right or it may be 12 hours off or it may be 5 hours off and the next day it may be normal. I don't know what they do, but I've given up on that ever being useful.)

Monday, November 21, 2005

First Graders

This morning Peggy and I went to Avenue A School to read to first graders. Once a month Altrusa goes to read and takes books and treats for all of the kids.

The book today was Clifford's Thanksgiving Visit, and it was cute. Peggy and Gary made puppy chow and had it packaged in a red bowl. It was really cute.

My role was very minimal. All I did was take photos. Peggy read and she did a fabulous job.

Literacy is one of the big projects for Altrusa so this is a perfect thing to do.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Preparing the House for Christmas

I have had a nice weekend, even though Saturday was a work day. We had to get ready for the parade Friday night and then go Saturday morning. By the time we'd had some lunch we were all ready for a nap. I had very little sleep last week, so even I wanted a nap. We all slept and then got up for dinner before Mark had to leave.

He had to get home because he had people coming to help him do his outdoor Christmas stuff today.

On a whim, Greg and I decided to go see Harry Potter last night. It was really good. I recommend it. Obviously, there's no spoiler if you've read the book.

I've spent the day working in the house. Other than taking some morning glory seeds out and sprinkling them around, I have not been out of the house. I have some bulbs to plant when we get a nice day. We've had a bunch but I didn't want to pull out the morning glories until they were completely dead. I think we're there after a few really cold nights in a row. The lambs ear is still going strong, though. Not sure what to do about things that are still green. I've been waiting for it to all die so I could clean it out to plant the bulbs. I may have to do a little reading about that.

I've moved things around in the house today and have 98% of the dishes back on the shelves in the dining room. I'm so glad to have that task nearing completion.

I also have another box of things to go to Salvation Army and another box of things that belong to Greg. We lived together so long that our stuff got intermingled. He moved, then I moved, and things have never gotten sorted out. So, as I go through things, I'm doing that.

The moving guys are coming Tuesday morning to move my piano and my sleeper sofa. I have some things I have to get organized before then so I've been working on that today too.

When that is done I can get things where they go for Christmas and start putting up the tree. I'm eager to see it all done. It's always a surprise how it will turn out every year.

Christmas Parade

Saturday morning was the Hutchinson Christmas Parade. As we have the last couple of years, the MHA had a float in the parade.

We gave away candy canes, with flyers on them for our Christmas tour and also a free screening we have coming up in early December.

I drove the van with Clarence the dinosaur on top. Clarence is named after the angel in "It's a Wonderful Life," which is one of my very, very, very, very, very favorite movies.

Mark came down from KC to walk and help hand out candy canes. Greg, of course, helped as always. Austin helped and so did Jesse. Jesse brought along his brother, Joey, and their neice, Molly.

Terry usually helps us by walking, but couldn't this year. But, he came over and helped up get Clarence on the van last night and then helped us take him down tonight.

Molly was quite the trooper. Obviously the mile plus long parade route requires more steps when your legs are the length of hers as opposed to Austin, who's over six feet tall. We didn't get a photo of Austin, unfortunately.

Molly walked the whole parade route, handing out candy canes. She did say she thought she might like to ride next year, and who could blame her.

Unfortunately, in Hutchinson if you want to distribute candy, you have to walk along and do that. No throwing of candy is allowed because a girl got run over a few years ago when she ran out to gather up candy off the street. She wan't hurt badly, thank goodness, but it meant no more candy throwing here.

There were lots of people and organizations in the parade. In the line up near us was the local democratic party. Kathie has been so hard working in getting things like this done. Vic, our local chairman, was all decked out in his "true blue" Santa clothes today. It was a neat looking float. Of course, I'm always doing the MHA entry so never get to see the parade or participate in others. But, it looked really neat.

We were closer to the front of the parade route this year and learned that means you move even faster. Last year I stopped on occasion. This year I never stopped once.

What that means is that it's hard for the walkers to catch up to me and get resupplied with candy canes.

We gave away about 8,000 candy canes today. Less than 50,000 people live in the whole county, so I'm not sure how that's possible, but it is.

Everyone has their own method. You can see Jesse is of the "take what you'd like" mold.

Greg prefers the one to one approach.

This is Mark handing out candy canes. This is almost right in front of the building where my office is. Westphal Jewelers is what I see out my window, across the street. Dick Westphal is on my board and is a great local supporter. He does tons of things for the community.

Greg Payton owns both buildings. He has done so much to refurbish downtown Hutchinson. His business, Payton Optical, is right beside the buildling I'm in. He has really worked to improve downtown. He and Martha were the ones who spearheaded getting the Fox Theatre redone. Our downtown is so much prettier now than it was when I first moved here.

Red Hatters were out in full force. Greg snapped this photo and it turns out it's Darlene (second from the right), who's a friend of mine. She and I were on the friends of the library board together years ago. She has also been on my board. She and her sister (on her right) have also done projects for the MHA. So, it was fun that Greg ended up having a photo of them in particular.

Few things are as Americana as parades, and today was no exception. I love the little scenes you glimpse on the parade route. I missed most of it because I was driving, but Greg had some pix I could share.

After the parade, we drove to Roy's for some lunch. Ann came out to see what was pulling up in their driveway. I pulled her over to have her photo taken with the dino. She wasn't too eager so I didn't push my luck and put the Santa hat on her. Christmas is not her favorite time of year. I'm working on her. Slowly.

Of course, someone still has to be working to keep the barbecue flowing. Mike was doing just that.

Of course, no such day would be complete without a lope sighting. He actually rode in the parade route, right alongside Clarence today, and yet still had time to enjoy posing with the Bribiesca family afterwards.