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.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

How Many Cable Guys Does it Take...

How many cable guys does it take to put cable into my office?

Three, apparently.

They came last week to put in cable, but couldn't get into the room where the cable came in.

So, we rescheduled for today.

The same guy came. Getting into the closet didn't give him the answer. That's James at the top of the ladder.

The next thing I knew, cable guy number 2 was on the scene. That would be Matt - he's the one on the floor in this photo.

A while later I took the key back to my landlord next door. When I came back upstairs, cable guy number 3 - Mark - had arrived. He's the one nearer the bottom of the ladder.

Much ladder climbing, banging, rearranging, wiring, etc., ensued. Three hours after starting, my computer was connected to cable.

I sent them all away with candy canes. They really went above and beyond the call of duty.

I had volunteers in today to label candy canes for the Christmas parade Saturday. A couple of them are coming back tomorrow morning to help some more.

This is Phyllis, one of my favorite volunteers. She unpackaged all these candy canes some months ago and today I was sure glad they were ready to go.

I also have the newsletter back and need to get it folded, labeled and out the door.

I also made arrangements to day to get the piano and couch moved on Tuesday. I'll be thrilled to get that done.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

This morning I was privileged to hear Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. speak at the Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College. This series brings some amazing speakers to town and this morning was incredible.

Kennedy is a well known environmental lawyer and his speech was exceptionally well crafted. He spoke without notes, but with incredible passion.

He has supported both democrats and republicans in his 22 years as a champion of environmental concerns. He says he has always disciplined himself to be non-partisan. His cause is the environment. Unfortunately, he says the Bush administration has been the worst environmental administration we've had in history, with more than 400 environmental roll backs supported by the Bush administration.

He spoke at length about the media, which I was very interested in. He said, "The biggest lie in America is that we have a liberal press." He said 33% of Americans list their main source of news as talk radio, and 90% of that is right wing.

He talked about the loss of the Fairness Doctrine. When Reagan did this in 1988 I was horrified. I got journalism and telecommunications degrees when the Rule of 7 was gospel and I never imagined it would change. Only five years later, Reagan was butchering it.

The Fairness Doctrine concept was that the airwaves belong to the people, and that radio and TV stations can only use them for things that are good for the people. They looked at things like Hitler, who came to power by controlling the media and didn't ever want that to happen in the US.

So, the Fairness Doctrine said that there could be no corporate consolidation - one entity could own a max of seven news entities so they could not control what was published/aired. Also, it maintained that "news of public import" had to be aired. News shows were always a loss for networks, but they had to have them and they had to tell both sides of the story.

Well, I knew things were bad since Reagan gutted the Fairness Doctrine, but I didn't know it was this bad. There are now SIX corporate entities that own:
14,000 radio stations
6,000 TV stations
80% of newspapers
all billboards
and many of the internet news sources

What that means is that ONE entity can be controlling every news source in your town. You can not hear/see anything they don't want you to see. And the real upshot of this is that commercial broadcasting is only about profit.

So, what do we have? Less news and more entertainment, because that's profitable. Kennedy said, "We are the best entertained and the least informed people on the face of the Earth."

He talked about how Bush did something no other president has done. The Clinton administration was prosecuting 75 of the worst environmental offenders, and investigating another 100. They have 48 million dollars to the Bush campaign. When he got into office he dropped the suits. Kennedy said it's the only time a president has accepted money from a criminal under indictment and then dropped the suits.

He said in 19 states it's unsafe to eat any fish caught in the fresh water because of mercury poisoning. Wyoming and Alaska haven't tested theirs. One out of six women of child bearing age have so much mercury in their wombs their children are at risk for permanent IQ loss, kidney and liver damage, blindness, autism and other brain disorders. He said it could be as much as 7 IQ points. If a woman is thinking about having a child, she should not eat any fish for six months.

The real problem is that people don't connect that the fact that they can't fish or even eat fish is a direct result of the policies of the people they elect. He said this lack of regard for the things owned by the people - from the airwaves to the waterways - is "not just an attack on the environment but a subversion of our democracy."

The point he kept returning to was, "We're not doing this for the fish and the birds. We're doing it for us." He said, "I've never met a republican child or a democratic child."

He had so many wonderful things to say that I think I'll just share a few of the quotes I jotted down:

"Good environmental policy is good economic policy."
"We treat the environment like a business in liquidation."
"Environmental injury is deficit spending."

His whole concept is that we need to be doing things that sustain the environment. He says,we can enjoy the benefits of the environment,but the way we're living now, we're using it up. He used the analogy of draining the pond to get the fish. He pointed out this is not fair to future generations. "We can live off the interest, but the capital belongs to our children," meaning we need to leave something in good shape for future generations.

The idea of fish, waterways, the air and such being owned by the people goes back to Roman times. It's a concept of the magna carta that those shared assets are owned by everyone, not any one corporation.

He said, "We're living in a science fiction nightmare where corporations are stealing air from my children's lungs."

He said using the environment poorly imposes costs on the rest of us, and that's what corporations that are polluting are doing. They're passing their costs of production on to us, by using up our natural resources without having to pay for their production.

He pointed out many administration officials that are former polluters. Now they're supposedly policing the very industries that they once worked in.

He said, "Corporations should not be running our government. They don't share our values. They don't want democracy. They want profit."

Along the lines of profit, 63% of corporations paid no taxes last year. Mull that over when you get your W-2. As he said, "They should not be running our government." He said, "Big government is a threat to our democracy but it is dwarfed by the threat of corporate power."

He said we are close to fascism in this country. His definition was simple and great. Fascism is domination of government by business. Communism is domination of business by government. Our goal is to be somewhere inbetween and walk that fine line. A critical part of that equation is a press that speaks truth to power.

Kennedy also spoke about religion and the connection to nature. He made it clear he is not a nature worshipper, but he said, "We know our creator best by immersing ourselves in creation."

He went on to talk about how so many religious figures had a central epiphany when they went to the wilderness. He talked about Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha and John the Baptist specifically. He also talked about how Christ's parables come from nature - that he referred to himself as a fisherman, vineyard keeper and farmer. He also talked about how, "Christ rebuked the fundamentalists of his time."

He talked about how many in the administration and their supporters talk about their values and that love is central to their platform. Yet, they have violated every mandate of Christianity. I often think about this with regard to taking care of the poor - a central theme in most world religions, and certainly in Christianity - which is something this administration refuses to do.

He said this administration sold themselves as one of values and yet the "only value they have is corporate profits."

He closed with the Lakota proverb used often: "We do not inherit this planet from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children."


We had our first snowfall early Tuesday morning. Although I didn't see any at my house - it was only wet - I was in the north part of town and could see a bit on the signs and in the grass. Just a little here and there although they tell me it snowed hard.

Robert Kennedy, Jr.

If you have a chance to see Robert Kennedy, Jr. Do! I saw him this morning and it was spectacular. I have felt we were getting dumber as a society, and today I heard the proof. Very scary. I'll be writing more about it - I took copious notes - but I'm getting ready for Creative Sisterhood tonight.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I'd Like Some Cholesterol With That, Please

I had an early morning meeting in Wichita. After it was done I decided to visit the Beacon Cafe.

I've wanted to go there for years, but their hours are somewhat limited. They close at 3. Obviously, it's a breakfast place.

Breakfast was what I had. I always like to try biscuits and gravy if I'm somewhere new. It's my yardstick for breakfast.

Now, I'm not going to say that their gravy was homemade and not from a mix, because I'm never sure unless I see it being made. But, I will say that if it was a mix, it's not one I have had before.

I am a "supertaster," a person who has very sensitive tastebuds, and I could list a few places who claim their gravy is homemade that use the same mixes. For the record, I don't consider adding milk or water to a packaged mix to be "homemade." That seems to be many people's definition of "home cooking" these days.

I could launch into my diatribe about how we've forgotten how to feed ourselves, and what an incredibly bad thing that is, and how it indicates an end of the species, but that would make this entry far too long. So, I'll save that for another day.

The Beacon's parking lot faces the Wichita Eagle Beacon loading dock. I'm sure you get the connection there.

Just in case you didn't get the connection, a mural on the side of the Beacon Cafe is there to help you make it.

The place was full of regulars - some reading the newspaper, appropriately enough. You can always spot a regular a mile away and I think I was the only one who didn't fall into that category.

Question of the Day

What "defines you?" I'm thinking of people I know who are defined by their jobs or their illness or their role in someone else's life or something else. What defines you? If you had to describe yourself without those things that are circumstances or roles in other people's lives, what defines who you are?

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Terry came over this afternoon and helped me move some things I couldn't do by myself. I am so thankful. He has been such a trooper the whole time I've been working on this house project.

He also carried the rest of the slate tile upstairs for me. I thought I'd take a package up everytime I went upstairs but it was so heavy I couldn't carry it up. He carried it all up - one package at a time. I owe him dinner.

I sent him off with some potato soup I made earlier today, but I need to do something more than that for him. He was so very gracious in helping me with all these projects, and especially that one. I'm so, so, so, so, so happy to have it out of the living room.

I need to get the piano and the couch moved into the sunporch and then my living room can be made liveable again. I'm so very eager for that. I have some paint touchup to do in there, but I'm not repainting so it's nothing major.

I also got a corner of the library finished today. I have worn out the sponge I was using so I guess I need to buy another one. Terry brought in the shelves for me that go up there so I can start putting those together. Then they'll have to be carried upstairs but at this point getting them all put together seems overwhelming enough. One thing at a time.

It will feel so good to get books on the shelves. I haven't had all my cookbooks out for a few years. It will be like Christmas seeing them all again. The next step in that process is getting the shelves put together. It's not a job I enjoy, unfortunately. But, it's a job that has to be done nonetheless.

Kathleen Sebelius Top Five Governor

Governor Kathleen Sebelius has been named one of the Top Five Governors by Time Magazine. I can't wait to see the article.

On the other side of the coin, Bush's approval rating has dropped to 36%. The lowest one ever was Nixon at 24% right before he resigned.

It's Paula Deen's Fault

I adore Paula Deen. She is the epitome of southern grace as far as I'm concerned. And "the boys" are just too cute for words.

This morning I sat down to take a break and Paula was making potato soup with shrimp. Now I don't really care for shrimp but I sure do love potato soup. Guess what's on my stove right now?

I didn't have any leeks in the house but I did have some shallots, which I also love. And, I had both butter and cream on hand, so it will be quite the rich concoction. It's simmering now. I love to cook it a really long time so the flavors all meld together.

I called Greg's mom this morning to see how she was feeling and she's doing much better today. She had gall bladder surgery on Wednesday and is still recuperating.

Well, I'm going to go move more things. Although, I'm having a cup of constant comment before I do. I know the tea snobs look down on teabags and such, but I love the convenience and I adore constant comment. My favorite orange flavored tea is by Lipton - it's a delicate flavor - but I can rarely find it around here. I know, Lipton, lets all look down our noses. But, hey, I like it. So, there you go. Maybe my tea tastebuds just aren't sophisticated enough, but they work for me.

In Praise of Small Towns

I'm working on a freelance article about ethnic food traditions in Kansas. In the course of writing it I've had reason to talk to people in various small towns.

Yesterday was a prime example of why small towns are so wonderful. I called a cafe in Wilson to ask about Czech traditions. The woman there referred me to the lady who started the Czech festival, who gave me a wonderful interview.

When I did news, I learned to always call the grocery store, post office or bank to find things out in a small town. Whoever answered the phone knew what you wanted to know. It's a beautiful thing, really.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Moving Things Around

I've spent another day moving things around in my house. It must be my absolute favorite thing in the world to do because I continue to live my life in a way that results in doing it.

I have just some minor touch ups to do in the sun porch and it will be done. I also decided how I want to put the furniture in there but I will need help to do that. I can do lots of things, but moving a piano and a sleeper sofa by myself are not two of them.

I went out to the garage to get the Christmas tree stand out and clean it up. While I was out there I went to the shed that's attached to make sure that's where the bag 'o Christmas tree was. And, for reasons I cannot elucidate, I started cleaning. A couple of hours later, I had a pile of boxes for the trash, some Christmas dishes by the back steps to be brought in, and had located two boxes of prime Christmas ornaments.

I'm sure my garbage men are starting to wonder what in the hell I'm doing. Every week I've got a pile of boxes in addition to an overflowing dumpster. They've been very kind to take them every week. I hope that trend continues because I'll have a big pile this week. Trash day was just yesterday so I get to fight with these in the Kansas wind for a week.

The only problem with cleaning out there are the spiders. I'm not afraid of spiders. I mean, I am like 10 million times bigger than they are and can kill them with my foot. But, after my friend Diana got bitten by a brown recluse and I saw her skin turn black over the course of weeks, I've been a bit more cautious. And, naturally, brown recluse is what one finds in a shed full of stuff that's largely undisturbed. "Recluse" isn't part of their name for no reason.

So, after being out there I headed for a deep cleaning of hair and body. Terry called and we went to get some food. Well, I ate, and he was the entertainment.

As soon as I got home I started cleaning on my find of yesterday. We have a little place in town that years ago was a grocery store that people can rent out for garage sales. They had a table out front that I thought might be nice in my office so I stopped. They wanted too much for it, but I looked around and found a silver teapot for $6. It needs some cleaning so I got some silver polish and tonight started working on it a bit. I think it's going to clean up nicely. I don't generally do silver because of the whole polishing thing, but this was such a nice piece that I couldn't resist. I also got a milk glass cake plate for $2.

Since I've been on the organizing/cleaning jag I have not been going to flea markets or garage sales or anything of that nature. But, these are things I already collect so I thought I could say yes to them. But, I did not start any new collections - a very important thing for me.

Transvestites Doing Tricks

I love to watch Univision. My Spanish isn't good enough to understand any of it, but it's not like you need the language. Today it's transvestites doing tricks.

I just watched a guy with a red plaid skirt, and high riding blouse showing his tummy hair, and a fushia feather boa kick off his high heels so he could climb onto a big air mattress thing that had a hole in the middle of it from which a mechanical bull protruded. He rode the bull... for about four seconds.

Now there's a man in an impossibly bright blue dress who's working the stripper pole. The weirdest part is the hose - he has on blue hose. They make blue hose? I didn't know. At one point his skirt fell off, but this didn't slow him down.

I guess these aren't real transvestites. There's way too much facial and body hair for them to be serious transvestites. So, they're play transvestites doing tricks.

I guess they all do the stripper pole and the mechanical bull. What a bizarre combination. Of course, why should that be a surprise.

Speaking of transvestites... and weren't we just doing that... and how often can you really toss that into the conversation... so... Speaking of transvestites, I saw our local one on his bike yesterday. He was sporting a knee length black dress with sequins and his ever present cigarette.

I always find it curious that they are not interested in "normal" female clothes, which would be jeans and a t-shirt, but in things that are so over the top that no real woman would ever wear them. OK, I guess that was made for a real woman, but she was probably "working" while wearing it, if you get my drift. Either working for money or for dinner or for a date or whatever - but "working" nonetheless.

I always feel for people who are not happy with their gender, it must be very difficult to live that way. Of course, transvestites may be happy with their gender but want to dress as the other. It's a puzzle to me, but it's cool with me - as long as you're not my boyfriend. Sorry... not that liberal... my boyfriend can't be wearing my clothes. And, I'm happy to say this have never been an issue with any man in my life.

I used to work with a transvestite, although we found that out after the fact. When I imagine him dressed as a woman, he's probably like some of the guys on this show.

Did I mention the host of the show is wearing a white suit with fake fur trim? You should try to catch it. I don't know if it's always transvestites doing tricks, or if they branch out.

Running With Scissors

"Running with Scissors" is a book by Augusten Burroughs in which he details his unorthodox upbringing that had more than it's share of abuse, although he would probably not define it that way.

Throughout the book, you have to keep reminding yourself that it's not fiction. A pedophile, a crazy psychiatrist and a lesbian mother become backdrop of a most unusual childhood.

One of the things I love in a book is great character development. This has it. No question about it. On the 5 point scale, I give it a 5.

One of my new favorite fantasy dinner parties is Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris talking. I just want to listen.

Friday, November 11, 2005

On The Run

I have run like a madwoman since 7:12 this morning. And, yet, I didn't get everything done I wanted to accomplish.

I met Teresa for lunch and after that started running errands that needed to get done. At 3 I met the cable guy at the office so I could get decent internet service there. Unfortunately, as always seems to be the case with such things, it wasn't possible. So, it's rescheduled.

At 4:50 I had done everything I could do for the day and stopped by Diana's store. I had popped in at lunch yesterday but was only there for a couple of minutes. Yesterday Lily did the holding out her arms thing for the first time and then giving me a big hug when I took her. I love that stage.

This afternoon I got to talk to Diana a little bit. We never seem to have time to talk anymore.

Creative Sisterhood is next week and it will be good to get to see everyone then.

Well, I must go paint. I'd like to finish the sunporch before I go to bed tonight.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Monkeys and the Board of Education

I live in Kansas. I have lived here for 20 plus years. I still do not refer to myself as a "Kansan," and I doubt I ever will.

Why? Because "Kansans" do stupid ass things like elect board of education members who do stupid ass things like devote energy to a debate that was decided a few decades ago with the Scopes Monkey trial. I believe it was in 1925.

Mark Twain said once that when the world came to an end he wanted to be in Kentucky because everything happened 20 years later there. Obviously, he had not been to Kansas.

For the third time in six years, the Kansas board of education has spent time discussing evolution being taught in schools. Never mind that our schools are falling apart and teachers are funding their classrooms from their own meager pocketbooks, we've got time to screw with this foolishness. Evolution is science. "Intelligent Design" is a PR term to replace "Creationism," which replaced "religion."

Today at lunch I told Trish I wanted to find a list of the Kansas Board of Education members, how they voted, and when they're up for election. Six of them have gotta go. It's bad enough what that mutt, Toto, has done to Kansas' image, but must we bring more on ourselves?

Well, finding a list of Board of Education members is no easy feat. I searched, then asked for assistance from KanAnswer, where you get a live person online. About 20 minutes of time resulted in

There are some important pieces of information missing that I have emailed the board secretary asking for - how each of them voted, and when they're up for election. We know the way some voted because they've been quoted. But we don't know others.

See the board and find their addresses:

See a map of the districts from which they are elected:

I will keep you posted on the answer I get regarding election dates and votes.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Newsletters and Kilz

Today has been a very full day but at least I accomplished a lot of things. Not everything I would have liked, of course, but a lot of things.

I worked on the newsletter today during most of the workday and also made calls for our Christmas homes tour. I also did some work for our national office that needs to get out the door.

I was on my computer most of the day. I use my home computer for lots of things because the one at work just can't handle stuff. I realized that I don't think I've been out of the house today. I got up and came downstairs and started working on the newsletter.

Tonight I have cleaned and painted. I kilzed a couple of spots on the ceiling and painted some in the sun porch. I have washed out paint brushes all night it seems. Tonight I was putting some kilz on the kitchen ceiling and realized how dirty the upper part of the walls were. So, I cleaned them. It was overdue. Then I started wiping down all the cabinet doors. This cleaning thing is still with me. I hope it stays for awhile. It's amazing what I can get done in an evening when I'm actually at home.

I am going to cut back on some of the things I'm involved in. I just don't have the energy to devote to all the various projects I'm involved in where I'm not being met at least half way by other people. I often end up doing more than my half or my fourth or my tenth of a project. So, I'm going to look at things on a yearly basis and how much time/energy I can devote to any given thing. When I've given that much then I'm not going to give any more to that for that calendar year. It's the only system I can come up with, other than just removing myself from everything. I don't want to do that, but I cannot be in charge of any more things.

It's cold here tonight - 28 at the moment. It's been very mild so far but I'm guessing tonight is going to get the remaining green things in the flower bed.

I have some daffodils and tulips to plant but I left everything from the summer there so far, even though it had gotten burned with frost, because it was still blooming and I figured I'd let everything go to seed that would. The morning glories are still blooming, even though some of the leaves were burned. Once everything is dead, I'll clean it up a bit and then plant the bulbs.

Well... time for me to go to bed. I've got another very full day tomorrow. I'll get to spend at least part of it at my office, which I love, so that will be nice. I'm going to go turn on my electric blanket and snuggled under it for the night.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Bush Borrowed More Than All Previous Presidents Combined\Nation\archive\200511/NAT20051104b.html

Bush Borrowed More Than All Previous Presidents Combined, Group Says
By Melanie Hunter Senior Editor
November 04, 2005

( - President Bush and the current administration have borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks than the previous 42 presidents combined, a group of conservative to moderate Democrats said Friday.

Blue Dog Coalition, which describes itself as a group "focused on fiscal responsibility," called the administration's borrowing practices "astounding."

According to the Treasury Department, from 1776-2000, the first 224 years of U.S. history, 42 U.S. presidents borrowed a combined $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions, but in the past four years alone, the Bush administration borrowed $1.05 trillion.

"The seriousness of this rapid and increasing financial vulnerability of our country can hardly be overstated," said Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition and member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

"The financial mismanagement of our country by the Bush Administration should be of concern to all Americans, regardless of political persuasion," said Tanner in a press release.

Earlier this year, the Blue Dog Coalition unveiled a 12-step plan to "cure" the nation's "addiction to deficit spending." It included requiring all federal agencies to pass clean audits, a balanced budget, and the establishment of a rainy day fund for use in emergencies specifically a natural disaster.

"No American political leadership has ever willfully and deliberately mortgaged our country to foreign interests in the manner we have witnessed over the past four years," said Tanner. "If this recklessness is not stopped, I truly believe our economic freedom as American citizens is in great jeopardy."


I'm thinking tonight about things I want more of in my life.

I want more afternoons like yesterday, when I went to tea and was enchanted with the place, the company and the experience.

I want more time for meditation, introspection and art. So much of my life is wrapped up in house things at the moment that it there's not enough time for those other things.

I want to explore more energy healing. My healer is coming to town in February and I've already booked an appointment with her. She will be teaching a class but I'm not sure what it will be yet.

I want more travel - some alone - for thinking and exploring in my own ways.

I want more love. Doesn't everyone? I'm still not ready for another relationship, but I need more love in my life.

I want more friends. I want more time with friends in my life. Some friends I never see enough of.

I want more money. Enough that I don't have to think about it.

I want more great books. I just finished "Running with Scissors," which I highly recommend.

I want contentment. How ironic is that?

Monday, November 07, 2005

I Have Become My Mother

For reasons I cannot explain, I have become my mother. I suddenly want everything clean. Not my kind of clean where things look pretty decent, but oh my gosh do NOT move anything or the ugly truth will be revealed. OK, the ugly, dusty - perhaps gooey - truth.

A couple of days ago when wiping down the cooking stove, I had this sudden urge to scrub until things were really clean. Not just looking clean, but really, really, really clean.

The next thing I knew, the stove was pulled out, a bucket of hot water with spic and span was nearby, and scrubbing commenced. Before I went to bed, the stove was clean, as was the cabinet next to it and the floor under it.

It's not that I never clean anything, but I very rarely clean anything thoroughly. Maybe this is a new turn in my life. It would not be a bad thing, at all. Other than the part where it's exhausting. Good grief. No wonder 1950s housewives didn't work outside the home. Keeping the house clean with other people messing it up would exhaust any human.

My theory at the moment is that if I can get it clean, that with only me messing it up, maybe I can keep it clean. Please don't burst my bubble quite yet.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

More Weekend

I need more weekend. I have so much more I'd like to do on the house and at 10:30 p.m. I'm running out of weekend in which to do it.

I've been pretty devoted to working on the house this weekend, although I did have lunch with Terry and Dottie yesterday. That was fun. Then, of course there was the concert last night and the tea today. Otherwise, I've been moving things around, organizing, cleaning and throwing away.

Yesterday I did exciting things like move the cooking stove and clean under it. How do things get so nasty? I know I'm not a great housekeeper, but I always think I'm better than is demonstrated when I move the range. Yuck. But, now it's all clean.

I've also managed to get through most of the laundry piles this weekend. You know those things that just never seem to get washed, that hang out continuously in the hamper. Please tell me you have those things, too.

I always say that people do pretty much what they want to do. Regardless of what we say, we lead our lives in a way that gives us what we want. I am not sure why I keep doing things that lead to me moving things around in my house, but I do. So, I can only deduce that I'm getting some payoff from it. I've got to figure that out and stop it before I kill myself. :)

St. John Tea

This afternoon Julie and I went to the St. John's Tea. It was their 10th year, but only the third year we've been attending.

This little town does three seatings for tea, with only 30 minutes between them. In between they wash all the dishes and reset the tables.

The theme today was a Celtic Fling and we were greeted by a bagpiper at the door to the facility.

I love going and they do a beautiful job of making everything lovely. Everyone helping was dressed in appropriate costumes. After being for three years I'm starting to recognize some of the regular helpers, which is nice.

As is so often the case with teas, they're a bit stingy with the food, using salad plates instead of regular plates and all the portions are very small.

They do it as a buffet, which is not my favorite way to have tea. Today we were the last group to go through the line and the clotted cream was gone. I asked for more and the lady looked a bit annoyed and brought out just a little dollop - about enough for three people, instead of the dozen or so that were left to be served. If you're going to serve buffet, you should be prepared that people are going to take more than the little bit you might dish out on your own.

Also today, the trifle was just a watery mess in the bottom of the bowl. I love the way trifle looks on the table, but it's only pretty for the first three or four people. After that it's pretty nasty looking. That was certainly the case today.

Today they served haggis, which I did try. I am NOT an adventurous eater, so that's pretty amazing for me. If you don't know what haggis is, it's basically "parts" of the animals with spices tossed in. It wasn't bad at all, but not being a big meat eater to begin with, it didn't thrill me. I also tried mincemeat pie, which had the same effect for me.

But, as usual, I loved the cucumber sandwiches, the lemon tarts, scones and all the other little traditional tea goodies.

They had live music today, which was a nice touch. Music is always a bit distracting for me but they were very good. We were seated right next to them so it was a little overwhelming at times, but they were excellent.

We were seating with four other ladies, one of whom is from Hutchinson. They have quite the system for seating people. You can tell they've worked it all out over the previous years.

I always enjoy this afternoon. Today we were able to get into the first seating and I think I like this best. We've been to each of them now. Julie and I have gone together every year.

After tea, we went to the library where they always have an exhibit of some sort. Last year it was teapots. This year it was hats and also favors from all the previous years. I am completely in love with the one from 2001, which is the year before I started going, unfortunately. It's a hand crocheted teacup and saucer. I'm on the hunt for a pattern. I need a Christmas tree with these decorating it. I NEED it.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


I have just returned home from a performance at the Fox Theatre. Martha called this morning and asked if I could go with her tonight. I'm so tickled she called. It was a really fun evening.

Performing tonight was Sovoso, a "vocal band." It was amazing. If this group comes to your town, make it a point to go. You won't see anything else like it and you'll be bowled over by what they do.

These five performers are their own accompaniment, all with their voices, which are some of the most versatile instruments I've ever heard. I love a cappella singing, so this was a special treat. Only true artists can sing a cappella, much less for an entire performance. I kept wondering if they all have perfect pitch.

Blues, gospel, jazz and contemporary music blended into a seamless performance that had a world music feel.

Two of the group members sang with Bobby McFerrin's a cappella group, Voicestra. At times it was hard to imagine it was only three men and two women creating all that sound.

The last song they did included a local high school group and was about a topic dear to my heart - community. The song was about building a bridge. During that performance I closed my eyes at times and let the music wash over me. It was a spine-tingling experience.

I had a revelation tonight. I often comment that I don't care for live performance of any sort, or for movies, or anything that makes me sit still for an extended period of time. What I realized tonight is that I'm content to sit still for a very long time if what I'm experiencing is enthralling. That just doesn't happen often. I had no difficulties tonight. None.

Tonight also reminded me why I was a music major for only a brief time.

The Blog Answer

Just moments ago, I realized one of the really important things about blogs, and why they're so popular. They're updated regularly. It's incredibly simple and yet powerful.

The biggest complaint people have about the internet - from inception to now - is that people put up sites and then walk away and never do anything with them again. Even though we live in a world where people are supposedly technologically advanced, most people wouldn't recognize html if it bit them in the ass. So, you find really sophisticated businesses that have incorrect hours on their websites and other such foolishness, not to mention the people who have "last updated November 2003" on their pages.

But blogs have fixed that... it's easy to update. The question is why people see blogs that way, but not websites, which are also easy to update.

Occasionally I do website updating for people who just need something very basic done - a few changes here and there - but not something they want to pay their designer to do. It's not work I especially enjoy, other than the part where people are amazed by it, but it's not work I mind either. Maybe this needs to become a more formalized business.

It seems to be a largely untapped market - reasonably priced, regular updating. Not the kind that usually comes with your package - three changes for $50 over the next year. If your page only changes three times a year, no one is going to have reason to return more often than that.

Hence the blogging concept. Of course, there are tons of programs to do webpages that are as easy as blogs, but people don't see them that way. The psychology of the internet age is a continually changing, fascinating thing.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Festival of Remembrance

Tonight I went to the Festival of Remembrance put on by Hospice of Reno County. It was a nice event. It's held at Prairie Dunes, which is a very upscale golf course. Not being a golfer, it's all lost on me, but it's a big deal. We had the US Women's Open here in 2002 and the Senior Men's will be here next year. It's consistently listed as one of the best courses in the country and was designed by a very famous golf course designer. You can read more about it at if you're a golfie. (Surely that's like being a foodie. Right?)

Anyway... back to tonight. There were munchies and drinks and a silent auction. Of course, the real event at such a thing is always the people watching. I'm always interested in who's there and also who's not.

Mark Treaster was there. He's turned into quite the politician. But at least in his case he's sincere in his reasons for wanting to be in office.

There was another "unannounced politician" working the room in a major way. I've seen him doing the same at a few other events recently so I'm guessing he's planning a run for office at some point. Last time he made it a point to talk to me and I was wondering why, since I'm neither involved nor do I have a lot of money to give to a campaign. Apparently he has figured this out because tonight he ignored me completely. Ah well... at least I don't have to wonder why that happened.

I saw Pat Patucek, a local artist, there. She had donated a painting for the silent auction. I sent her some copies of photos I took of her with the governor, and she said she loved them. She said the governor sent her a nice note after that event.

I visited with Molly, who was the only other CHICK there, which surprised me. I ran into quite a few people I knew, and it was nice to visit with some folks that I don't see often. I also met some new people.

I had an opportunity to chat with the Fesler family. They were my former landlords and Virginia and her daughter are both in Altrusa. Lois and Kay were there from Altrusa, too. Virginia asked about Mark and I told her about his radio show on XM. They have XM so I've got to get them hooked up so they can listen to him.

It was a good night. I had offered to help with a volunteer project before it started, so I didn't get there until about 6 and I left about 8. Maybe next year I'll get to go for the whole event.

After I got home, Terry called and asked if Greg and I wanted to go to Applebees with him and his mom. Terry's mom is really sweet and I always enjoy seeing her. He's really good to his mom.

Well, I have a breakfast meeting, so I'd best get to bed shortly. This has been a week of early events - they seem to come in groups.

I rearranged my office today and didn't get everything finished so I have to work on that some more tomorrow. Seems I always get these urges when I've got tons of other things I need to be doing.

Royals Visit

I'm not a Royal Watcher, but even I cannot get away from the "news" about Camilla's blue velvet dress she wore in NY. Please, give it a rest. They're calling her a frump. Leave the woman alone. If all you have to do is talk about someone's choice of a dress, find yourself a more challenging profession and a couple of new hobbies. And why do you care if she brought 500 dresses, much less 50. You didn't have to carry her luggage. Hush.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Food for Thought and Diversity Lunch

This morning I went to the Food for Thought series sponsored by Prairie View. Today was Marita Littauer, the daughter of Florence Littauer who wrote the book, "Silver Boxes." Marita has been here before, as well as Florence.

Today Ms. Littauer spoke about how we should all have something more than a mission statement, we should have a "power statement." As she described it, a mission statement is for your own guidance and a power statement is how you "market" that to the world.

Her challenge was for us to think about the skills, talents and interests we have instead of what we do for a job. And to take those skills and create a job that uses them. It's something that was useful for me to hear this morning.

Today was also the diversity lunch and it was nice to gather with that group. I have really enjoyed getting to know the people in that group. Today Theda, Lovella, Julie, Carlota, Carolyn and Concha were there. It was a good gathering. I invited Trish to come but she couldn't today.

Unfortunately, we got no better service today at The Blue Duck Bistro than we have on previous visits. I always hesitate to say something negative about a restaurant, especially a locally run and unique one, but this is the fourth time I've been there for lunch and it's the fourth time there have been problems.

They have what I call the "Fazoli's Syndrome." Whenever I go to Fazoli's here, there are lots of people and they're all busy doing lots of things, but none of those things seem to be related to preparing and serving my food.

The Blue Duck is the most upscale place in town - or so they'd like us all to believe. My experience while traveling is that if you want to be "it" in town, you also have to have good service. They have some of the worst - at least at lunch.

In four trips not once have they managed to get my table served without problems. It can take so long that people have to leave because their lunch hours are over. Time before last they brought coffee to people with it slopped over the side of the cups onto the saucers. I don't mean a little bit - I mean the cup was in a puddle of coffee. Once I ordered a pasta and had a tiny bit in the bowl while the person next to me who ordered the same thing had a heaping portion. Today two of us ordered French Onion Soup and it was so salty we couldn't eat it. They never came to offer a refill on drinks to any of the seven of us today.

I'm not sure where we'll go next time but I am not the only one who thinks we need to go elsewhere. We used to go to Tiffany House and never had any problems, but of course they're closed.

I popped in to say hello to Doug yesterday but he was out. But, Josh and I had a nice chat. I sure miss going there for lunch.

Well, I'm overdue for nighty-night. I went to bed about 2:30 this morning and woke up about 5:30, only three hours later, and don't even feel tired yet. But surely I must be. I've gotten a lot done today - at work and at home - but I have much more to do both places.

I got word today that an article I'm writing has been cut from five pages to two and that's a bonus at this point as I am running out of time and energy to write it.

Amazing how the world always works out for the best.

Pictures Soon

I've had a few emails from people wanting to know where things are that I've promised but haven't yet gotten online - these include, but are not limited to: tile in the sunporch, Puerto Rico trip and Route 66 trip. They're coming... really... eventually... I'm just so occupied trying to get the house back to "normal" and ready for the holidays. Maybe I can get some of these things done over the holiday break if not before. Thanks for your patience.


I love this quote... although "plan" is not really in keeping with the concept.

"What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Mary Oliver

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Happy Halloween

We had a beautiful night for Halloween - a little nippy, but pleasant.

It was so nippy this little princess was covering up part of her beautiful dress with a coat. No wonder all the kids were attracted to the cauldron. They thought it would be putting off real heat.

We had 50-60 trick or treaters, but not a major rush at any time. It would have been nice to have more. I so enjoy the kiddies in their costumes.

Part of the problem is that the only houses on my block that have their lights on are me and my next door neighbor to the west.

The neighbors to the east have four little boys so they're out trick or treating with them. Most of the other folks in the neighborhood just don't give out candy. A few have small kids, but most are just only giving out candy to those they know who go up on their porches, even though their porch lights are not on.

Greg did the setup as usual. Mark wasn't able to come this year so we did a simpler setup. As usual, we used the fog machines, which give a nice fuzziness to everything. I usually can't wait to go get a shower after being in the midst of it all night.

Teresa is doing fundraiser at the station. Geez, I always HATED doing that on Halloween. Anyway, she stopped by on her way home. My house is right on her drive, and I was out in the yard so she stopped to say hello briefly. We tried to get her to stay, but she wanted to go home and rest.

Jesse popped by a little later. We ended up going out to get a bite with him and then Terry joined us. Terry is always so funny. He said they had about 90 trick or treaters.

Greg did a tiki mask again, with the fog machine behind it. It was a cool look. I think next year we need to do more stuff.

There's something odd about thinking you need to do more elaborate things to get people come take your free candy.