Monday, January 30, 2006

Hard Day

I had a hard day today. I won't bore you with the details but parts of my day really, really, really, really, really sucked. But, people have far worse problems, so I'll just get over it.

As soon as the work day was over I went out to get some sunshine. Blissfully, we had a beautiful day with lots of sun. Even at 5 p.m. it was still nice to be outside.

I went to Sand Hills to walk the trail. I've never done it in January because normally it would be far too cold. I walked it today without even a jacket - only a sweatshirt. It was probably 5:15 or so when I arrived, so that's pretty amazing for that time of day.

Needless to say, the trails look much different with no leaves on the trees. But there are also some vistas you wouldn't get any other time of the year so I'm glad I got to see them.

There was very little green to be found in the landscape. This lichen was about all I could locate. There were a couple of evergreen trees that still resembled some shade of green, but they were approaching a dark beige.

Kansas can be a depressing place in winter. But, I'm so thankful today was sunny, even at the end of the day. I needed some sun. I just drove for awhile, to stay out in the sunshine as long as there was some. Even the sunset was nice - not stunning - but nice.

I got to have lunch with Leah today so that was nice. I always love seeing her.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Art of Gracious Living Podcast

A new podcast is available at the following link. It is about indulging ourselves with small luxuries in daily life. Mine include perfume and stationery.

(PCN #7)

Spiritual Fair

I went to Wichita to the Spiritual Fair today. Diana was taking a group over but had a van full of people, so I decided to drive over on my own. I had a couple of errands to do anyway. Turned out I didn't get any of those done as I spent all day at the fair - 10-5.

I had seven different readings today. Each was interesting and some were "right on." What was most incredible was the overlap between them.

Dan Higgins does two kinds of readings, and I did both today. Both were right on target.

The first one I did was finding your animal spirits. It was so very "me" that it was a little hard to believe. For those who know me well, lets just say that the words, "the world is black and white - there is NO gray" came up. Other pertinent things were a sense of humor, fun, and a sense of right and wrong and exposing secrets. Can you say "journalist?"

I also had a reading from Jo Flowers, who is well known, and always recommended. Her whole reading to me was about business and making money with my blog, podcasts and other things that allow me to be me.

That was backed up by other readings I had as well.

The other thing that came up over and over was that I need to stop giving so much to other people and receive. As Dan put it in one of the readings, "you recharge yourself near rivers, but you should not give so much that you need to recharge."

I was careful today to share very little with readers, letting them just tell me what they wanted to tell me. It was amazing how on target a lot of it was - like the river comment.

I was also told by more than one reader that I was very high energy and very intuitive. I knew both of those things already, but today they talked with me about how to channel those things.

After the fair, Teresa and I went to have some dinner at Yia Yia's. We hadn't been there in awhile and it was good. We had the gnocchi and the chocolate souffle. I had pasta as an entree but brought most of it home. It will be great to have it tomorrow for lunch.

All in all it was an interesting day. I'm going to journal about it a bit tonight and see what else comes up. I'm all the more certain that my instincts to pull back from things not related to writing and recording are correct.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


I have not accomplished nearly as much today as I had hoped. But I have rested some. I don't think I've had a day all the past week when I've worked less than 16 hours. And it has been work that wears me out.

I worked quite a bit today. I printed membership letters until my printer ran out of ink. I have to go get a new cartridge. I just didn't want to go out into the world on a Saturday to do that with the other Saturday shoppers.

I also feel myself withdrawing from the world more than is probably healthy. I will have to address that. I'm bogged down with work and that is always difficult for me to slog through. But it's more than that. I'm really examining what I want to do with my life in the long run. I'm questioning everything from the town I live in to the people in my life, or - more accurately - the people who are not in my life.

The guy came today to paint where they worked on the flashing over the porch yesterday. They had to replace some of the wood shingles so he painted today. I haven't seen it in the daylight yet but hopefully it looks good.

We actually got a little bit of rain overnight but things are still very dry.

Greg and I had some Roys for lunch. I hadn't been there all week. Greg loves to tease his gf about going there since she only gets to go there when she visits town. It is amazingly good stuff!

Tomorrow I'm going to Wichita to the spiritual fair. Diana is taking a car load full over. I decided to just drive over on my own. They're going to a movie afterwards and I don't know if I'll do that or not. Will depend on how things are going. I'm also just not very good company for a big group of people at the moment. I'm not in the mood.

Well, tomorrow I must try to get myself interested in the world at large. I am in one of those I-could-just-hole-up-in-my-house-for-a-really-long-time moods.

Challenger - 20 years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today I was sick. I was in bed, exhausted, blowing my nose. Sick. I got up late that morning and padded into the living room. Idly I flipped on the TV.

I was doing news at a radio station at the time, and wanted to see the shuttle launch. My clock was a little off and I had missed the launch by a few minutes. What came on the screen was Dan Rather's very somber visage. I could feel the blood drain from my face. I knew something was very wrong. This was not the face of a man reporting that we now had the first teacher in space.

The first thing I heard him say was that the Challenger had exploded shortly after takeoff. It was reinforced by the video showing liftoff and then the explosion anyone my age has burned into their brains.

As soon as I got my wits about me, I grabbed the phone and called the station. Ordinarily, I co-hosted a 90 minute news show that came on at noon. I called my co-host and said, "I'm coming in. We're doing all Challenger. I'll call you back."

I started working the phone, calling contacts, trying to pull together a show while trying to grab a quick shower and make myself half way presentable. Nothing about me was presentable. I was sick and looked the part.

Challenger had special meaning for this area because Hutchinson hosts The Cosmosphere, a space museum with a collection second only to the Smithsonian.

These were the days before we had cordless phones so I drug the phone into the bathroom in case I got a call back while I was in the shower. I did. Thank goodness. It was a man who worked at the Cosmosphere as an educator, who was literally a walking encyclopedia of space information. I asked him if he would be live with us for the whole show and he agreed. I couldn't believe I was lucky enough to get him.

It was a typical example of treating people well. This gentleman was a quiet, unassuming man who had asked me a couple of favors over the years as I had him, and that day I was thrilled we had that kind of a relationship. Because I was asking him for a large favor - an hour and a half of his time on a day when he was being bombarded for requests. He gave me the time because we had had a pleasant, mutually beneficial working relationship over the years.

The news was still breaking as we were on the air. We were ripping AP copy and watching CNN and using every other source we could find. And we were getting insight that no other news media had.

That's one of the things I loved about public radio. I had the freedom to let this gentleman talk for 7 minutes or 15 minutes or 20 minutes. I read the copy, updated the details, recited the facts, and he explained what it all meant. He knew the equipment, the history, the plans. It was great radio. Although I've always hated the reason we were doing great radio, I've always been proud of that day's coverage.

We had grown complacent about the shuttle program then. We didn't even bother to watch them go up. The only reason for the attention was that there was going to be a teacher in space that day.

The country and the rest of the world mourned. And we still do.

Quote of the Day

In the same way that someone in the midst of a rough crowd guards a wound with great care, so in the midst of bad company should one always guard the wound that is the mind.

-Santideva, "Bodhicaryavatara"

Friday, January 27, 2006

Poof! There were Roofers!

The guy was here doing some touch up painting today and there was a knock at the door. I assumed it was him. But, it wasn't. It was the long lost roofers.

So, now I had two ladders and four guys on the roof.

Did I mention that I had planned to take a nap this afternoon because I was up until 3 and got up at 6? Well, one can't nap when one's home is being pounded on from above. Obviously. So, at 10:51 p.m. I have still have not had any rest.

By mid afternoon I sent the paint guy home. There were too many people here.

The new dishwasher was being delivered between 4 and 5. At 4:45 I called about it. The guy was at Lowes, waiting on them to load it.

Susan and I had planned to have dinner. I called to cancel when I realized the dishwasher project was running long, but she didn't get the message. But, she was very kind and just hung out while they did the dishwasher.

That turned into quite the job. Getting the old one out was not a piece of cake, but proved easier than getting the new one in. I am happy to have a new, WHITE, one in the kitchen. I'm a believer in white appliances.

This morning I did a speech on workplace stress for the Head Start program. I think it went well.

I also printed a lot this afternoon, so that's good. I have stacks of things I want to complete this weekend, but I think for the moment, sleep is high on my agenda.

Busy Thursday

I have been hunched over the computer most of the day - working on a speech I'm giving in about 7 hours and also on grants. The day was topped off by a conference call and a three and a half hour board meeting for Horizons.

I started work at about 6 this morning and it's now 2 a.m. I'm finally ready for bed. I've worked pretty much straight through. I'm not sure how many hours 6 a.m. to 2 a.m is, but it's too many. I need to go over my speech one more time but I need some sleep first. I'll get up early and do it in the morning before the speech.

They're installing my new dishwasher late tomorrow. I will be happy to have that done. I have a lot of writing to do tomorrow, but I'm going to have to have some time for sleep somewhere between speech and dishwasher.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Men and Math

Life is a continual learning experience. It has taken me some years, but I've learned that men and math don't mix. There are some numbers you should never share with a man. These include but are not limited to:

- your IQ (Trust me, regardless of what they say, they are NOT happy if your number is bigger than their number. All men have size issues, and this is one area where that's apparent.)

- your weight (an exception can be made for your physician)

- your age (I'll admit I'm still iffy on this one, but it seems best to not share it too quickly early on. They'll guess at least 10 years younger anyway, so just go with it.)

- your salary (Just don't go there - you'll engender pity or envy - neither is good for a relationship.)

- how many men you've slept with (Yeah, I know, they all say it doesn't matter. They lie. It matters. They want to believe they're only number two or three at the most, and if you can manage it, they'd just as soon believe they're your first. Just let them live in their little fantasy worlds. You'll both be happier.)

Of course, all of this comes from a woman with a string of failed relationships. I don't recall the exact number, and that's probably just as well.

Extraordinary in the Ordinary

This morning I was privileged to hear National Geographic Photographer, Jim Richardson, speak at the Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College. He was wonderfully witty and funny, as well as insightful.

Richardson grew up in Kansas and still makes his home here, about 40 miles away in Lindsborg, where he has the "Small World Gallery" on Main Street.

During this morning's lecture, which was beautifully illustrated with his photographs, Richardson focused on the theme that Kansans have a "sense of inferiority" and that they should not. He used photos to illustrate how people everywhere do the same things.

He told a story of being asked by the President of Shell Oil, "Why Kansas?" Richardson said, "I had no good answer. I balked. And I'm sorry." He said the answer he gave was that he grew up in Kansas. And he felt that was a good enough answer, but there is more. He said it was in Kansas that he learned the secret was seeing the "extraordinary in the ordinary." And that when he travels on assignment he's just looking for the "commonplace in uncommon places."

His passion has always been documentary photography. He has always wanted to capture the moments of life that tie us all together.

He showed some photos taken in the plains and pointed out that "agonies suffered in other places that are made into great novels, here are taken for granted."

He mentioned Marci's book, "The Kansas Guidebook," that I wrote about in October, and said the young lady that worked for them in the gallery had found something about her hometown in there that she didn't know. Her response was, "I didn't know it was special."

Richardson knows about how ordinary things are special. He spent many years documenting high school in Rossville, Kansas. Rossville is a town I've only been through, but it's a small town not too far from Topeka. I used to drive through there to see my last boyfriend when he lived in nearby Silver Lake.

Richardson is also known for his years of photographing Cuba,Kansas. Some of those photographs were used in National Geographic and there's also a book. Richardson has done work not only for National Geographic, but numerous other magazines such as Life and Sports Illustrated.

He told some wonderful stories about his experiences photographing all over the world. He recounted one story about telling a homeless man in Edinburgh, Scotland, about Kansas and the pioneer spirit and how Kansas was celebrating its 125th anniversary. He said the man looked at him like he was poor and the homeless man was rich. The man then said, "What's it like to be from a place that's got no history." Richardson's response was, "They're building it right now."

He talked a bit about living in the "photoshop era" and how that has changed photography. He showed a photo from Brittany of the house built between the rocks and used it to illustrate his point that while that could have been faked with photoshop, it would leave out one important point. "What would be missing is the knowledge that someone built the house in the rocks."

He said his photography is all about trying to find the right viewpoint.

At the luncheon after the lecture, he said he does only digital photography now, that he sold all his film equipment last year. Someone asked if he took fewer or more photos on digital, and he said a few more. He mentioned that during one assignment he took about 43,000 photos on digital, and would have probably done about 1000 rolls of film, which would have been about 36,000 photos. The editing is done in stages, but at the end of the photo editing process, he goes to DC and has input into the final choices.

He also said that the captions for National Geographic photos are written by someone who has not been involved in the story up to that point. It's another safeguard to the integrity of the story, and the reason their captions are so interesting.

My friend, Alan Montgomery, got to introduce him. Alan is now a journalism professor at HCC and they are lucky to have him. He is one of the best journalists this town has ever seen - an exceptional writer. We were both doing news at the same time years ago for different organizations so had reason to run into each other on stories occasionally. He was always very kind and generous. I was always impressed with his writing and his professionalism.

Also at the lecture was Larry Black, a local photographer, I've known for years. I caught this snap of them chatting afterwards. That's Alan on the left and Larry on the right.

Let me tell you, it's humbling to be running around with a digital point and shoot, and no where near a top end one, when you're in the same room as a National Geographic photographer.

It was a neat morning. I ran into tons of people I know. I got to eat with Jan, and that was fun. Jeanette was emceeing the luncheon. I got the say hello to Gayla and Eileen and some others. It was an interesting morning.

After the luncheon, I popped in to say hi to Diana and Lily was there with her mom, Taylor. I hadn't seen Lily in ages. She has grown so much.

She's very busy these days - walking everywhere. Taylor is very busy running after her and occasionally catching her. You can see Taylor's legs, following behind her, in pretty much all the photos.

Lily is examining the world at a fast pace. I was reminded of information about the brain and how at birth it weighs one pound. At one year, it weighs two pounds because we're learning so much. An adult's brain weighs only three pounds. Lily will be one year old next month.

This purse is one of her favorite things, apparently. Taylor mentioned today that she's like her Auntie Sarah, who's a very girly girl. Lily is also fond of jewelry. She must get that from her grandma because Diana is too.

Her hands are very busy in this next photo because if you look closely, you'll see that her grandma has some cookies in her hand. Lily is communicating quite well that she wants some.

It was good to see her. She's lively, and learning every moment of the day.

And... talk about the extraordinary in the ordinary - what more example could you want than a child learning. It's common - it happens all over the world in all cultures - and yet it's amazing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


The Art of Gracious Living Podcasts are now heard on The Podcaster News Network. They will eventually be posted here as well, but you can hear the most recent ones by going to:

Monday, January 23, 2006

Grant Gone

I put one of the grants in the mail this afternoon and I have another one almost ready to go.

Tonight was Chicks and it was good to reconnect with everyone. Afterwards I went with Greg for him to get something to eat at the new pizza place - Cici's. I don't like being yelled at when I walk in the door. I don't find the fake-fun atmosphere to be fun - only fake. I'm sure I'll go back because I didn't eat tonight and I'll want to try it, but the nonstop yelling and pretend fun is a little too much for me.

It's like Applebees and the stupid birthday songs, which, thankfully, they've stopped doing here. When I want music, I go to a concert. When I want dinner, I go to a restaurant. N'er the twain should meet. Houlihans has started having live music most nights of the week so I can't go there anymore for a nice evening because it's so loud you can't talk. Restaurants that excel at serving good food without annoying the customers seem few and far between. El Potrillo's is about the best in town at the moment in this regard I guess.

Tomorrow is the Dillon Lecture Series with the National Geographic Photographer. I'm going to get up extra early and write some more before then. I have a lot on the agenda this week, culminating with a speech on Friday so I need to keep on task.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Peggy's Retirement Party

Saturday I was privileged to help with Peggy's "Rewiring" Party. She retired at the beginning of this month and her hubby, Gary, threw a big party to celebrate.

Peggy and Gary are absolutely wonderful folks. Peggy is my board president and Gary is an unofficial board member too.

Peggy and Gary are one of those rare couples you see every once in a great while - happy. They seem completely thrilled to be in each other's presence and they're a joy to be with - one on one or together. I never get enough of them.

Peggy's family (that's her mom in the green) and friends gathered around to wish her well on this new chapter. There were about a hundred people attending.

Gary planned a full afternoon, with entertainment and games. There was tons of food. He has asked me about doing the food and I assumed he meant the food. Ended up that he was so organized and planned so well that I did very little. I made spinach cheese squares and helped with some minor things but that was about it.

They also made arrangements for their favorite charities to have tables and asked people to make donations to those instead of bringing gifts. In addition to the MHA and Altrusa, there was the Symphony, the Arts and Humanities Council and the Volunteer Center.

Altrusans were there in full force, some of us helping and some just joining in on the fun. We even had time for some impromptu committee meetings.

It was a very nice afternoon. We should all live our lives in a way such that this many people want to gather to wish us well as we enter a new phase of life.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

It's Friday

I love Friday nights. They're the only night of the week when I'm really relaxed. There's something about having a whole weekend ahead and a work week behind that's appealing. Unfortunately, I have to work some this weekend, too.

I spent large parts of the day running around doing errands - the bank, the post office, the accountant, etc. etc. etc. You do very much of that and the whole day is gone. Actually, it was only the whole afternoon. I wrote on grants all morning. I think with just a little work this weekend I can get one of them out the door and I want to do that so I can stop thinking about it.

Tonight I'm cooking for Peggy's party tomorrow. I'm glad to help with things. Peggy and Gary have done so much for me. I will be taking photos so hopefully I'll have some to share here tomorrow evening - at least I hope so.

I'm making Spinach Cheese Squares. This is a great recipe. I got it at

2 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pound shredded Cheddar cheese
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach
1 tablespoon minced onion

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2 Place butter or margarine in a 9x13 inch baking dish
and melt butter in oven. Remove when melted, approximately
3 minutes.
3 In large mixing bowl, beat eggs well. Mix in flour,
milk and baking powder. When the dough is well combined,
mix in cheese, spinach, and onion. Spoon mixture into the
baking dish with melted butter.
4 Bake for 35 minutes. Let cool 45 minutes then cut into
bite-size squares.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Creative Sisterhood, Grants and House Stuff

Tonight was Creative Sisterhood. It was good. Each month we write thoughts/notes and place them in a jar. Tonight we opened all of those. We fold them and put our names on the outside so they're private. Sometimes we share them and sometimes not.

Julie wanted to do the food tonight, and it was nice. She had cold cuts and a pie from the Dutch Kitchen. I hadn't had dinner, so it was good.

I have barely been out of the house today, and no further than the mailbox. I got up a little after 5 and started writing and did that all day. Unfortunately, it's not fun writing - I've been writing grants. It's not my favorite part of my job, but it's a necessity. I have two due by the end of this month and two more by mid February. I'm also working on a membership letter. I want to get those out by the end of the month. I can't print at my office at the moment, and have a computer that doesn't have word on it yet, so writing there isn't an option until I have time to deal with those things.

I have to have a chunk of time to do something like that. I know others can just flow with it, but I really need a chunk of time to focus on it when I'm not thinking about what I should be doing instead.

I called this morning to arrange for the dishwasher but was told not only could it not be installed tomorrow, but they didn't have one in stock so it would be next week before I could get one. There's one in Wichita, so I thought maybe I could get my own plumber to install it. I called him but he's booked too. So, now I'm not sure if I want to just get a different dishwasher or if I want to wait. Nothing is going to happen until Monday anyway so I figure I can sleep on it and see how I feel tomorrow.

This weekend I'm going to work on the library more. At least I hope I get these grants to a place where I can have free time this weekend. If not I'll have to work on those some more. But, hopefully, I'll be able to do my own work this weekend.

This is part of the big pile of boxes of books - mostly cookbooks. I've been trying to get shelving put together to hold them but these "quick assembly" shelves are not.

I still have more painting to do in there too. This is very time consuming but I like the finished product. It's a peachy base, then an olive green sponged over that, then five different kinds of metallics sponged over that. Needless to say, that takes some effort. Not sure why I'm doing it in a room where I'm going to cover most of the wall surface with shelves.

I have parts of the wall in all kinds of states - from needing the peachy base color to being finished. But, I have to get some shelves up and books on them to get rid of the boxes so I can get to the walls to paint. Everything in the house is a puzzle piece.

There are times I get weary of working on the house, and this is one of them. Unfortunately, I'm not at a good stopping point, so I must forge ahead.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Retail Day

Well, I've been out tonight shopping for a dishwasher. The repair person came today and said not to even try to fix this one. It's the motor. So, I've been to Home Depot, Lowes and Sears tonight shopping. I think Lowes is the winner and part of the reason is that they can probably install it on Friday.And they'll haul away the old one. That's another bonus. You'd think people would catch on to what you want when you're dealing with something like this. Of course they're going to remove it. But if they don't haul it away I still have a problem.

In addition, I need to buy a new cable modem it seems. I believe that is the problem with my computer setup. I don't understand that at all - seems like it would work or not work - not be doing something inbetween. But, that seems to be the answer anyway.

So many places for money to go.

Teresa and I went to dinner tonight at the new place downtown. It's not going to last unless they make some major changes. Namely, the food is bad. We both had a chicken dish and there was nothing about it that was appealing. The salad was not fresh. They were serving the same crappy vegetable medley that everyone does - steamed carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. We all know that it comes frozen in those combinations. Please, go buy a vegetable every once in awhile.

I hope they improve, but to say I was not impressed is a gross understatement. They're in a building where the last person did all this amazing work on these cool tin ceiling tiles - hand painted them - they're gorgeous tiles. You're greeted with stained glass in the front. It's beautiful. And then you go in and find tables with vinyl table coverings on them. Please. Make up your mind. Do you want to be an elegant place of a vinyl tablecloth place?

That place couldn't decide between being elegant or a sports bar. These people are really trying for elegant - you gotta get rid of the vinyl and spotted glasses if you're doing that. Food was bad at the last place. It's bad at this place. I've never been in the restaurant business - nor do I want to be - but I know what makes a place good and what makes it bad. I would give them the advice freely, but I've learned it's not advice anyone wants.

I hit both Westlakes today looking for candy canes. Peggy called this morning that she'd seen some at the north store. I needed to pick up a prescription at Coberly's next door anyway so got those. I checked the south store but their's weren't deeply discounted. I also popped in to Smith's Market, which I love. I've had quite the retail day.

Well, I'd best go wash the dishes I put in the dishwasher last night. That, of course, was just prior to discovering it didn't work. So, I get to handle all those dirty dishes again. Lucky me! But I don't want to leave them, even if I can get a new one installed on Friday, because I'll be cooking on Friday evening for Peggy's party on Saturday.

I think I'm also going to fix myself some tea. My voice is scratchy sounding and my throat is a little hoarse. I don't feel bad at all but it could use a little soothing. When I first wake up until mid afternoon - or until I've talked a lot - I sound pretty awful. Peggy thought she woke me up this morning at 10 or so when she called. Of course, it's impossible to wake me up with the phone because I don't take it upstairs at night. But, I do sound like I just woke up for hours every day. Maybe I need to sing to myself every morning for awhile.

Long Day

It has been a long day.

I've got some funky computer problem and it is hurting my brain. It also caused me to run back and forth between home and the office today to get things prepared for the board meeting. I thought I had all I needed and went to the office. Then I couldn't print from my laptop because the printer didn't have a USB port the the laptop didn't have a serial port. I thought - no problem - I have the external harddrive from home - I'll hook it into the office machine. Ooops... it doesn't have the software. I was worn out by the time of the board meeting.

No one can seem to figure out the computer problem. I can do everything except upload/ftp large files. Large being anything that's not tiny. If anyone has any ideas what the deal is, I'd certainly appreciate your input. The ISP is clueless. I'm clueless. I've tried everything I can think of. I've rebooted from unscrewing the cable for the wall on up to the machine. I've even changed out ethernet cables. Nothing solves the problem. An online search has not netted any answers either. So, please, share your techie wisdom with me.

In addition, I discovered tonight that my dishwasher doesn't seem to want to work. So, I've got to deal with that.

On the upside, Matthew called tonight and we chatted for about three hours. We were talking about our past travels and thinking about future ones. It's good to reconnect with him. I've also reconnected recently with Jim, who Matthew and I met in Guatemala. He lives on the west coast and we all met when we were sharing a van to the airport one morning to go hiking at Tikal. Jim and I later went on a trip through the South together. You know you're good potential travel partners when you meet while you're all boarding planes that aren't licensed to fly internationally to go hike in the Guatemalan jungle.

Well, I need to get some sleep if I can. Sleep is rather elusive for me these days but I need some.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Holed Up in My House

I have spent the day holed up in my house, not even venturing outside until about 6 tonight. I wouldn't have gone out then but it was Red Hat night.

Debbie and Susan N and I were the only ones there, but it was a nice gathering.

I wish I could say I've accomplished a lot today but I've been really laid back. I did organize a few things in the office. I still have a lot to do in here. I think it's going to become obvious that this room is too small for the amount of things I have that are "office" related.

I'm thinking about teaching another journaling class soon. We'll see if I can get that organized. It's hard to add anything else to the schedule in the first quarter.

I also have some grants that I need to write that I haven't even started on. I must, as well as the membership materials. There's so much more to do than there is time and energy to do it at the beginning of the year.

Tomorrow I must begin the work week in earnest and I know it's going to be hard to get back into the swing of things. But, I have no choice. I have a board meeting tomorrow night.

A Five Hour Lunch

I went to bed about 4 and got up about 8. I have not had the nap I thought I'd get around to taking all day. It's now almost 1. I'm on the phone with D-Link. Again. I've been on the phone with Cox. Again.

I have worked around the house today. But the highlight of the day was a very long lunch with Trish. We knew we'd been there a long time when her mom came in for dinner. It was about a five hour lunch. And every moment was delightful.

Trish is one of my favorite people on the planet. She's a steady friend and one I treasure. It's a joy to be with her.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Little Lonely

I'm feeling a little lonely tonight, which is very unusual for me. Greg was back briefly, but he went to check on his mom - she's got a respitory infection.

He's meeting up with Mark and some of Mark's friends from KC who have been on a food trip through the area, visiting cool places down there. Mark invited us to go and it did sound fun, but I didn't want to impose on Greg's mom when she wasn't feeling well. So, Greg and Mia are there with Mark and his friends and I know lots of fun is being had and I'm missing out on it. I just hate to miss out on fun.

But, I'm looking forward to a long lunch with Trish tomorrow so that will be fun. Also, the guy is coming to paint on my house tomorrow. It's going to be in the 60s so I want to take advantage of it.

Well, I think I'm going to head upstairs. I'm working on some shelves for the library and need to wrestle another one into place.

I finally called Sauder to get further instruction on how to put them together because "push" was not sufficient. They asked for the model number and when I gave it to them the woman said, "OH! Those..." I knew that wasn't good news. She suggested standing up and putting my entire weight on them to get the pegs to sink into the shelves. That sort of works. That, combined with hammering and gorilla glue seems to be doing a passable job.

I so want to have the library functional. I still have painting to do but I have to get some of the boxes of books out of the way before I can even finish painting. I think this is the next piece of the puzzle to get done in my house.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Tonight Greg and I popped into Wal-mart. As we were going in there was a couple coming out. The woman was wearing this skin tight, very low cut, complete with sequins, top that was barely containing her floppy but rather small boobs that had the distinctive look of leather from overtanning. The overtanning continued up to her face, which was set off by the extra long cigarette hanging out of her mouth. I guess she could barely wait to light up so she already had it in her mouth so she could light it as soon as she walked out the door. Charming.

We walked through the door as this couple exited. I glanced to the right and there on one of the benches were five Amish people - older folks - two men and three women - complete with traditional garb including the prayer bonnets.

It was a priceless moment of juxtaposition. Greg commented that the look on the Amish group's face was not judgemental, but much like you'd expect when one is looking at animals in the zoo.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Painting the Plane

I have returned home. I left for the Tampa airport at 12:30 this afternoon for a 3 p.m. flight. At 3 p.m. we were still sitting on the runway because, according to the pilot, "the mechanics had to paint a small area of the plane."

It was a full flight. When I say "full" I mean they came through and counted the three empty seats there were when everyone who was ticketed was on the plane - one of which was in the middle of my row - and then let three more people on. I guess so we could all experience the sardine effect for an extended period of time while they painted the plane.

Who decides once there's a completely full flight is a good time to paint? The mechanics in Tampa, apparently. They couldn't have done this at some point when there weren't people on the plane?

Then, to top it off, we waited another 40 minutes for them to do the paperwork related to the painting, and return the log book. This was after the flight attendants had rushed us all to get our luggage stored so we would have an on time departure.

I arrived at my connecting flight in Houston as they were boarding, but I did get on.

When I gave my bags to the skycap for check in outside, he weighed them and told me they were five pounds overweight. I brought back lots of paper from the conference. I smiled and said, "well, I'm only checking one bag. I have an empty one inside. I can unpack it and redistribute the weight and check two instead." At that point he said, "ah, I'm a skycap. I don't work for the airline. I'll just take care of it for you." Taking care of it meant putting a "heavy - lift with your knees" tag on it and plopping it on the carousel. I'll remember this trick in the future.

Apparently they're on a weight of bags tear because two other people on the plane were talking about it. Of course, I had plenty of time to eavesdrop while they were painting and writing about painting.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Brains and Beaches

Today was a full day of the conference. We had a couple of really great speakers, including one who spoke at length about the brain. I love those presentations. Research on the brain progresses at such a fast pace that it's always fascinating. I really missed the GAMIAN meeting this year because it was always focused on the latest research. But, today had some great information.

We finished about 4:30 and then I walked along the beach, collecting shells and sea sponges until the sun set. Unfortunately, it was cloudy so the sunset was not as spectacular as last night.

I'm not really a beach person, but I have to say the Puerto Rico beach was nicer. There's a lot of trash on this beach - they don't maintain it nearly as well as the resort in Puerto Rico did. And the water is very smelly, whereas I didn't notice that in PR. But, there are more shells on this beach, so that's a bonus.

I waded out to the water's edge but didn't go in over my ankles. It is still cool. James from national swam both days. I ran into him this afternoon and he had found a little friend - a crab.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Clearwater Beach Florida

I'm in Clearwater Beach, Florida. The heat is on in my room. I've been uncomfortably cool since I arrived. It's warmer in Kansas. That said, there are some perks to being here.

My flight from Houston to Florida was perfectly pleasant. Yes, that's right. I said it. Pleasant. Was this due to a complete turn around of the airline industry while I was en route to Houston? No. Of course not. It was due to their failure to fill the seats, which resulted in me getting to sit in the window seat of an exit row - pretty much my favorite spot. Elbow room and leg room. When I changed my seat last night, the whole row was empty. But, today there was a nice gentleman in the aisle seat and we had a lovely conversation.

He and his partner just moved to Wichita a few months ago from Mississippi where they lost all their belongings in the hurricane. It was interesting to hear his story. I invited him to come to Hutch so we can have some Roy's BBQ together. I'd like to meet his partner. Anyway, chatting with him made the long flight just zip by, and we were both comfortable with an empty seat between us and plenty of leg room.

To top it off, when I arrived, my luggage was here and intact.

The conference tonight got off to a good start with a reception on the beach, which is when I took the sunset photo. We're at the Hilton in Clearwater Beach. When I was here before, it was at a different hotel, but I can't remember which one.

MHA conferences are really great. There's so much good and interesting information. Plus, it's good to see people. I've been doing this for three years now and see people I have gotten to know whenever I get to come to one of these.

The Susan on the left in this photo is from North Dakota and was my first ever roomie at an MHA event. We really hit it off and have looked forward to seeing each other since. The other Susan in this photo is from Florida and is someone I met through her. They're both tons of fun.

We went to dinner after the reception tonight. We went to Capri, an Italian place right across the street. It was really good. We all topped off the night with some spumoni, which was quite tasty. It's good to reconnect.

"I'll take, 'Things You Don't Want to Hear Your Pilot Say,' Alex."

"OK, and the answer is, 'Whoops.'"

That's what I heard this morning in Wichita on the runway. I was in Seat 1A so I had a birdseye view of the copilot, who looked to be about 12. I could hear both to them and as soon as the plane started to move I heard the pilot say, "Whoops." The tunnel thing had not been moved back yet. I realize they didn't hire the guy for his mechanical prowess, but it is a pretty big thing.

Shortly thereafter, they closed the flight deck door and locked them inside. They say that's for security reasons. I contend there are other no less valid reasons.

On the upside - and please note how I'm finding the positive side - it was beautiful flying above the clouds with the sun rising. The only problem being that I was already inflight by the time the sun was rising.

And, yet another positive, the annoying teenagers were somewhere else in the plane and were drowned out by the noise of the airplane. It was one of those baby planes. They're noisier.

Now I'm in Houston. I cringe everytime I hear Bush International Airport, although I do like Houston. There are lots of people at the gate waiting, which isn't good. I was hoping we'd have a less full flight so I could sleep a bit. There's also a four year old screaming to amuse herself. She's probably as tired as I am. I'd scream too if I thought it would do any good.

Maybe I'll send this to Letterman... Top Ten Things You Don't Want to Hear Your Pilot Say.

It's 6:57 a.m. and I'm already in a bad mood. It's unusual for me to be in a bad mood. So, you may ask, how can it possibly have already occured before 7 a.m.?

I'm in the airport. I've had dealings with airline employees. I have interacted with TSA officials. What more needs be said?

To top it off, I got up at 4:30 this morning. I don't like getting up long before the crack of dawn. Well, unless I just happen to be.

I'm in Wichita - little airport - never any big lines. I spent 20 minutes in the screening line, with less than 10 people in front of me. I thought surely someone must be on the terrorist list. No. That wasn't the problem.

The problem was the TSA official who looked at my boarding pass for a good two minutes. There's not that much information on one. She acted like she'd never seen one before, that it was the first one she'd ever held in her hands. I would think in her line of work they'd come along pretty regularly.

By the time she was done, my various belongings had been through the xray machine and were sitting there for anyone to take. Of course, everyone else was busy redressing themselves - like we all want to take our shoes off and walk on your nasty carpet while we hop along trying to get our laptops out and lay our bags flat and hand you pieces of paper that will mystify you.

On the positive side - because I always like to find a positive side - there's free wireless.

Well, I should go use the ladies room before being herded on board. Besides, it will give me a chance to move away from the idiot teenagers sitting behind me. He's talking continually about living in NY and she's doing that stupid giggly thing like he's the most fascinating thing she's ever seen or heard. He thinks he's entertaining all of us. She thinks we're impressed that she knows him.I hope to goodness they're in the back of the plane, away from me. They should give you an "annoyance factor" when you're choosing your seats.

I'm reminded of the nine hour flight from Paris next to the French skateboarder. But, that's another story...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Busy Sunday

It has been a busy day. But, here at 10 p.m. I'm completely packed, I did laundry, I rearranged some computer files, have gotten some things in the mail that needed to go out, and even had time for dinner with friends.

Diana called yesterday and asked if I wanted to go to dinner. It was Jocelyn, Teresa, Andrea, Diana and me. It was fun. I haven't actually seen Jocelyn in forever. She has been working retail for awhile now and needless to say the Christmas season was busy. I have really missed her.

I also tried to put together some of the bookshelves for the library upstairs today. I've written to them for further instruction because "push" is not sufficient. No matter how hard I push, the things to not go in. I've also tried hammering and that has proved unsuccessful as well. "Push" is a bit too vague for me, I'm afraid.

I'm hoping I have some time to write at the hotel. I have some things I'm turning over in my brain and I really need time to write about them. I'm taking a couple of journals - in anticipation that I will have time to work on them.

I am also starting to think about where I want to go in May. At this point Savannah seems like a good option. I have a travel voucher I have to use before July, so I want to make use of that. We'll see how things look as time gets closer. If I could find a cheap lodging option there that would probably be the answer.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Working Outside in January

It was 73 degrees today. In January. In Kansas. Last year at this time we were buried under one of the worst ice storms ever. I was blessed to have power during the whole thing but didn't leave my house for three days.

I took advantage of the weather to do some outdoor things. I moved a cabinet out of the shed to the backyard and washed it off. I'm going to put it in the basement to hold the gallons of paint and such. I had them stored in the closet in the dining room that I ripped out.

I also watered the lawn more. It's still not even what I would call "moist" and I've had water running on it for hours now.

I talked to both neighbors today. I'm sorry to say that Alex and Nicole are moving soon. They have four little boys under 9 in a two bedroom house. Obviously, they need more space, but I'm really sorry to see them go. They're great neighbors. And their boys are so sweet. Justin and Tyler, the two older ones, always talk to me if I'm outside when they are. I'll miss them. Hopefully I'll get new neighbors that are great.

Well, I'm headed upstairs to work for awhile before going to bed. I have a couple of Christmas presents I want to wrap. Yes, that's right, Christmas presents for 2006.

Sig line

"Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand - and melting like a snowflake."
~ Marie Beyon Ray

Thank Heaven It's Friday

I was awake until almost 5 a.m. and got up before 8. Here it is midnight and I haven't stopped all day. I did computer stuff all morning and then started watering the lawn. It's very dry here and they're suggesting people water lawns to cut down on fire danger. Considering I live on a pretty busy street with lots of cars - many of them being driven by idiots as best I can tell - it seemed like a good idea.

Right after lunch I took off for the office and a list of errands. I popped in to wish Diana a Happy Birthday and take her present in.

I had a dentist's appointment at 4 to get my two new caps. I'm still not completely satisfied with the color, but it's more natural looking and I'm not sure what else to do. I miss Jeff Rayl - he was an exceptional dentist. Thank goodness he did all the work in my mouth that's highly visible. It took about an hour to get the two caps on and I did not enjoy the experience.

Afterwards I went to dinner with Teresa and Julie. We went to Houlihans. I like the food, but they have no sense of timing. I told the waitress tonight - give me time to eat the salad - don't put my order in right away. That worked well. But before I had half the soup eaten, my pasta had arrived and was getting cold. Must we all shove the food down our gullets as quickly as possible, without bothering to chew, or heaven forbid actually enjoy the meal?

Friday, January 06, 2006


I can't sleep... you'd know that if the time stamps on blogs ever worked properly but since they just randomly reset themselves I've given up on them ever being right. It's 4:32 a.m. I've been up nearly 24 hours and I'm not even especially tired yet.

I've been working on a ton of MHA things all day. The first of the year is a busy time for me and there is more to do than I have time to get done. To top it off, I have a conference next week and will be out of the office Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

I also spent about an hour on the phone with D-Link Support. Let me just say - do not purchase a 624M wireless router. I'm on my second one in less than 90 days. And, apparently, I'm about to be on my third one. Needless to say, at this point I'd like to get a different model as this one has some obvious problems.

I will say, however, that you get to talk to a real, live native English speaker when you call, which is a huge bonus. I don't care if you label me as politically incorrect, I freaking despise getting "Jason" in India (like I believe that's the name his mama gave him) who wants me to do very complex things to my computer and its various components when I'm spending 80% of my energy trying to figure out what in the hell he's saying. Just because you can say the words doesn't mean you can communicate.

Trust me, no one appreciates the difficulty of learning a second language more than me. But I don't want you practising it on me while we're talking about complex technical problems. If it were a simple problem I would have already figured it out. Duh. Chatting about the weather... the museum... where you live... great. Wiping my hard drive... no.

Well, it's time for me to head upstairs and go to bed. Even if I don't sleep, I need to rest. Fortunately, I've gotten a large amount of what was on tomorrow's to-do list accomplished already. But, there are still plenty of things that have to be done in the work day hours.

Games People Play

I have this little game I play when I'm driving long distances. I will flip through radio stations with a question in my mind - maybe about a situation or a person or whatever. I make this little deal with myself that the second or the third or whatever number song will have some significance for me with regard to this question.

On the recent drive, I was doing this as I was driving on Highway 60 across southern Missouri. Twice I asked the same question and had the same song come up three songs later in answer to it. The question was about a relationship in my life. The song was "When I Get Where I'm Going."

I just went and got the lyrics online to consider them more carefully. It came up twice on different stations, in response to the same question, within an hour.

Why don't I ever get the simple answers like, "Here's a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares," "He ain't worth missing," or "Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys?" Those are all much clearer directives. Regardless, none of those happened to be the song that came up...

Maybe this is why I rarely listen to the radio except when I'm driving.

When I Get Where I'm Going
Artist/Band: Brad Paisley - with Dolly Parton

When I get where I'm going
On the far side of the sky
The first thing that I'm gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly

I'm gonna land beside a lion
And run my fingers through his mane
Or I might find out what it's like
To ride a drop of rain

Yeah when I get where I'm going
There'll be only happy tears
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years
And I'll leave my heart wide open
I will love and have no fear
Yeah when I get where I'm going
Don't cry for me down here

I'm gonna walk with my grand daddy
And he'll match me step for step
And I'll tell him how I missed him
Every minute since he left
Then I'll hug his neck


So much pain and so much darkness
In this world we stumble through
All these questions I can't answer
So much work to do

But when I get where I'm going
And I see my maker's face
I'll stand forever in the light
Of his amazing grace
Yeah when I get where I'm going
There'll be only happy tears
I will love and have no fear
When I get where I'm going
Yeah when I get where I'm going

Thursday, January 05, 2006


When I was 36, fathers came up in casual conversation. Someone asked how long my father had been dead. I did the math and said "25 years."

In that very moment I thought... "wow... a quarter of a century... I've been an idiot for holding onto the pain I have about this relationship... it's stupid. Who do I think I'm hurting? He has rotted in the ground and I'm walking around every day pissed at him? How freaking stupid is that?" So, I stopped. Right then and there. I put an immediate end to that foolishness.

And you know what, in a few months I started to appreciate that some of the things I like about myself - like my sense of humor and the fact that I'm very sociable - are traits my father had. I started to appreciate the fact that he had a multi-racial crew at his sawmill in the 50s when, as one of the men who worked for him told me just a few months ago, "Jack Terrell was the only white man in the county then who'd hire a black man and pay him a decent wage."

Yeah, you know what, he was a crappy father in many ways. He had some issues and problems and loads of stuff I'm not going to go into in this public forum. But, hey, he was human. And he was funny and witty and when he died people missed him. The funeral home was overflowing with flowers - some from people my family didn't even know.

I'm convinced parents do the best they can every day with who they are at the time. They may not love us the way we want to be loved, but they love us the best way they know now. I can accept the good and let go of the bad or I can continue to carry around the weight of what he "did to me." He didn't do anything to me. He was just going through life being the broken person he was, like we all are. "Give it a rest" and "Let it Lie" was some of the best advice I've ever given myself.

I see people who want to define themselves as victims and survivors and from dysfunctional families and dozens of other labels. We're all bigger than any of those things - if we let ourselves be.

There's the old joke about wanting to get a support group of people from dysfunctional families together and the answer is - there already is one - it's the people on the freeway in the morning. Who didn't grow up in a dysfunctional family? I don't know a single person. Yes, some is more severe than others, but moving every few years, or having a father who was homebound from a car accident, or a mother who was running rum when it was illegal, or a father who was an alcoholic, or a dozen other things I can count among my friends, is all dysfunction. As I'm so fond of telling people, "ain't nobody living in a Norman Rockwell painting."

I'm not sure why we want to carry this pain around, but it seems to be something we get a benefit from. I certainly carried it around for years. I'm fundamentally different because I moved beyond that limiting view.

Is it all tidied up with a neat bow tied around it? Hell no. I'm 44 and I've never been married. Do the math on that one. Commitment is difficult for me. Life seems very temporary. Think maybe my father's absence and early death has anything to do with that? Probably. But I'm an adult and I have to take responsibility for my own life. I've had long term relationships and I've loved fully - with abandon - and I will again. Do I have issues with men? Hell yes. Does every other woman I know? Pretty much.

Men and women are different creatures and to consider that the bad relationship you had with your father is the only reason you're not completely in sync with a man is insane. I'm not saying it helps anything - but hey, we can't all live Jessica Simpson's perfect life with her daddy giving her a ring to be the man in her life until she got married with her virginity in tact. Oh, wait, her life with men isn't perfect either - she's getting divorced - and she lost the ring daddy gave her. I mean, really, it's great that her father was that kind of man. I'm just saying it's rare. And, in the end, it doesn't seem to equal happiness in relationships.

I'm not a parent, but really think most of them are just doing the best the can. It may not be what we hope for, but it's what we have, and we just have to work with it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I got home this afternoon about 5:00. All was well at home and at the office. I went straight to the office and worked until about 6:30. I haven't done much around the house tonight and haven't even unloaded the car. I'm weary.

I think mostly I'm weary about the idea of getting back to "normal life." I love my life, but it can wear a person out at times. The first of the year is a very busy time for me with work. I'm looking at the month of January and have only three free nights.

One of the things I'm going to be doing in this coming year is pulling back from some of the things I'm involved with. I must focus more energies on my writing and recording. I only have so much time that is not rented by my employer and I must use it judiciously.

Overall it is good to be home. It was very relaxing at Mary Ann and Jackie's house - I slept late and piddled around - but I do have a life going that requires some attention.

When I go to Kentucky, I often think about moving back there. I love some of the wonderful old homes in downtown Paducah. I think I've got one more house redo in me. Of course, that's said with more confidence than I might feel if I ever get this one done. All I need is a bunch of money - then it would be much easier.

But, as much as I identify with Kentucky and as much as I am a southerner at my core, I cannot find a place I belong in the area where I grew up. My views are so very different than many in my family that it's probably easier for them to not have my views "in their faces" all the time.

We never have any difficulties - I am very respectful - but that is "their territory," if you will. It's not appropriate for me to live in their territory and profess completely different views. It was their territory long before I came along. It's almost incumbent on the ones who are different to leave, so the family can preserve what it is about. Communities are small, close knit, and when someone in a family stands out as a "sore thumb" it's hard on everyone else. Maybe that's why I never returned there. Small communities are a prime example of "no man is an island."

I am blessed that I adore my family. I would never want to hurt them in any way. And if I lived there, it would be a constant "threat" to them because they would not know what I might say or do publicly that they would disagree with and then they'd have to deal with that with their friends. It would make them live "on edge" a bit, wondering what I might say or do. That would be a rude thing to do on my part. And I would not presume to do such a thing.

I don't agree with the majority of people in Kansas, either, but it doesn't hurt my family when my letters to the editor are published. It doesn't hurt them when I'm speaking at some event, putting forth views that would force them to "explain"it to their friends.

I am a person who seems to continually find myself in jobs - paid or voluntary - that lead to a public life on a small scale. And I have no reason to believe that that would be any different if I lived there.

But, it's wonderful I can go and visit and renew myself at the river. The confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers is a place I return to repeatedly. Standing on the bank, looking at the ripple in the water where the rivers join forces, is restorative to me.

I took this photo yesterday. I am standing in Illinois. Across the water on the left is Kentucky. Across the water on the right is Missouri. You can see the ripple in the water, and the color difference between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

This is at Cairo, Illinois. When I was young, this was where we went to shop. The town has really deteriorated in the last few years. It's a pity. You may recognize the name of the town from Mark Twain's writing. And, yes, it is named for the Egyptian town, although it's pronounced differently.

In November of 1803, Lewis and Clark spent five days here with their men, learning to use celestial navigational as well as other tools. They made their first latitude and longitude measurements at the confluence of the rivers. All maps made from their data began at this point. At the time of their expedition the confluence was in what is now Cairo, north of where it is today. Rivers are a living thing and their courses change. And, of course, the Lewis and Clark expedition was before the earthquake of 1811 that caused the Mississippi to run backwards for three days.

In 2001, I gave pieces of driftwood I gathered at the river to some friends with the following piece I wrote.

I am a person of rivers.

For those of us born to rivers, they are life itself. We speak of them reverently. We fear them. We cherish them. We are drawn to them by a force we cannot comprehend but have no choice but to obey. They flow through our souls. They define us.

We go to the river for strength, for guidance, for solace. We cannot possibly find our way in the world without returning to the river periodically. It beckons to us. We cannot deny its call. We learn at a young age that there's no point in even trying. Not that we want to anyway. The river knows when we are away from it too long. It summons us home.

We gather at the riverside for family celebrations, baptisms, and catharsis. We have rituals, public and private, that are carried out only on those banks.

The confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers is a place I return to when I've lost my way in the world. I have said prayers of thanksgiving and prayers of entreatment from the same spot. I have sought direction and consolation. I will do both again as long as I walk upon this Earth.

I gathered this driftwood on an April Day of 2001 with the idea of sharing it with a few special friends at Christmastime. I had no idea then how profoundly changed I would be by the end of this year. My life will never be the same as it was that day.

I can't give you the river. I can't even explain its attraction for those of us born to it. But I want to share with you a small token of it. May this driftwood encourage you to visit what restores you.

I hope the holidays are a time of joy for you and yours this Christmas.

Christmas 2001


While I was driving, I heard this song on the radio for the first time. The line regarding "muddy water" makes it appropriate to share here. This song definitely sums up my feelings about my place of birth.

Karen Fairchild/Kimberly Roads/Phillip Sweet/Jimi Westbrook/Wayne Kirkpatrick)

I feel no shame
I'm proud of where I came from
I was born and raised in the boondocks
One thing I know
No matter where I go
I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks

And I can feel that
Muddy water running through my veins
And I can hear that
Lullaby of a midnight train
It sings to me and
It sounds familiar

I feel no shame
I'm proud of where I came from
I was born and raised in the boondocks
One thing I know
No matter where I go
I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks

And I can taste that
Honeysuckle and it's still so sweet
When it grows wild
On the banks down an old camp creek
Yeah, and it calls to me like a warm wind blowing

I feel no shame
I'm proud of where I came from
I was born and raised in the boondocks
One thing I know
No matter where I go
I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks

It's where I learned about living
It's where I learned about love
It's where I learned about working hard
And having a little was just enough

It's where I learned about Jesus
And knowing where I stand
You can take it or leave it
This is me
This is who I am

Give me a tin roof
A front porch and a
Gravel road
And that's home to me
It feels like home to me

I feel no shame
I'm proud of where I came from
I was born and raised in the boondocks
One thing I know
No matter where I go
I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks

I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks

You get a line
I'll get a pole
We'll go fishing in the
Crawfish hole
Five-card poker on a Saturday night
Church on Sunday morning

You get a line
I'll get a pole
We'll go fishing in the
Crawfish hole
(Down in the boondocks)
Five-card poker on a Saturday night
Church on Sunday morning

You get a line
I'll get a pole
We'll go fishing in the
Crawfish hole
(Down in the boondocks)
Five-card poker on a Saturday night
Church on Sunday morning
(Say a little prayer for me)

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Joplin Visit

I'm in Joplin tonight at Greg's mom's house. I adore Miss Joy. She's been a big part of my life for a very long time and I never get enough of her.

The drive was uneventful - thankfully - my favorite kind of utlitarian trip.

Tomorrow I head home where my house is still in major Christmas mode. It will be some weeks before I have a weekend in which to denude the tree and convert my home to a non-yuletide spot. But, it will happen when it happens.

I hope your 2006 is off to a good start.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2006 Has Arrived

It is officially 2006. I went outside a little before midnight and looked at the stars as the new year arrived. I said silent prayers for those I love and for those I don't. I said prayers of thanksgiving for graces received and prayers of entreaty for graces needed.