Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Big News about Big Love

I have Big News about "Big Love," the new HBO series coming March 12 - they're advertising on the "Art of Gracious Living" podcast. I'm very excited about this. It's a cool thing for me, especially since my podcast is so new. www.artofgraciousliving.com or http://www.podcasternews.com/details.php?N=792 to listen on your computer or portable device.

I haven't gotten to see the show yet, but have watched a trailer. You can see it by going to www.hbo.com/biglove. Time magazine says Big Love "may prove to be... the next cool thing on TV." It's certainly an interesting concept - a man with three wives who live in adjoining houses. It sounds like "Desperate Housewives," but with fewer husbands. Of course, HBO gave us "The Sopranos" so they obviously know a thing or two about interesting concepts.

I'm thrilled to have one of the podcasts they're advertising on. Podcasting is one of the parts in my plan to make a living being me, so I'm tickled to have an advertiser so early in the show's history, and really excited it's a well known company. Obviously, my show is far too new for this to generate tons of money for me, but it's a big step in the right direction.

It's also exciting that a company of HBO's stature understands the value of podcasting. Podtrac and PodcasterNews have been instrumental in making this deal happen. Podcasting is going to be a driving force in the advertising market, and it's gratifying to see that some companies are already grasping that.

That has been my big news for a few days but I couldn't announce it until this week. Needless to say, I'm tickled pink.


I have spent a large part my free time the last 24 hours at the computer. I've been working on websites I already have and also getting some new domains I'm interested in. I'm also trying to move one of my sites to a new server and that's not going as smoothly as I'd hoped.

I'm contemplating a couple of new podcasts and decided I should go ahead and see what domains were available before I picked a name. That's getting to be a necessity these days.

It was gorgeous here today. My neighbors were barbecueing when I got home from the office tonight. That may seem odd in February in Kansas but it was in the 70s today. It's supposed to be 80 tomorrow. I have more flowers blooming.

I took advantage of the weather to hang out clothes early this morning. It was a bit cloudy but already warm. I also got the numbers on the mailbox this afternoon. I don't suppose it's really necessary as I've never had them before, but I bought some small ones and put them on anyway.

I went up to see Terry's mom again tonight. She was sitting up and had been up for about an hour. They moved her out of intensive care today. I'm so tickled she's doing so well.

I'm thinking about scheduling another journalling class. The last one I taught went pretty well. I think there might be interest in another one - maybe with a different bent.

I'm trying to get motivated to work more on the house. But I just don't seem to have enough hours in the day to get everything done I need and want to get done.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I'm getting a lot of questions about podcasting these days. So, I'm going to attempt to answer the basics about doing a podcast.

One really important thing from a listening standpoint - anyone can listen to a podcast. You don't need an iPod. You can listen on your computer.

Podcasts are sort of like TIVO or VCRs for audio.

Please realize I'm a novice at this, so if you're really interested in getting into the podcasting business, it might be wise to invest in a book that gives you some details. Todd Cochrane is the head of the network I podcast with now and he wrote one of the first books about this format.

Here's what you need to do a podcast:
*computer that has a place to hook up a microphone - anything produced in the last few years will have that
*software to record with - I use audacity - it's free - and it will convert to mp3 files, which you can use online
*somewhere to store your files - I used my own webspace until I started with the network, now they handle that - libsyn is a popular place for doing that - you upload your files just like you'd upload a photo or anything else
*if you want to take it a step further you'll need an rss feed - google for instructions on how to do that - I did it and I'm no technical whiz - but you don't have to have that

The other thing you need is a topic. There are lots of podcasts, and more every day, so spend some time listening to what's out there. Decide how much time you want to invest in this, and schedule yourself accordingly.

Art of Gracious Living is only five minutes long, but it certainly takes me more than five minutes to do it every week. I update every Friday but I think I'll move to Saturday because in my category on the network almost everyone updates on Friday and its too much content all at once in that category. So I'm going to move mine, I think.

There are lots of people who are doing this for "the fun." I am not. I'm doing this as part of my long term plan to make a living being me. The idea of doing it for fun is the same as people who get radio jobs because it's fun. It is fun, but I've never had any job that wasn't fun on some level. I've been paid for my voice work, producing and writing since I was in college - so more than half my life now - and I don't intend to start giving it away.

What many people who don't have a broadcasting background are going to find out a few weeks or months from now is that this is work. There are already podcasts that have mysteriously disappeared after a few episodes. So, be prepared that this is an extra job you're taking on. There's a reason people get paid to do radio - it's work - fun work, yes, but work.

I have a couple of other podcasts I'm considering, and bought the domains just today. But, at the moment, I have very exciting news about Art of Gracious Living. HBO has purchased some advertising on about 30 podcasts and Art of Gracious Living is one of them. I will be sharing more details in the near future, but it's for their new show, "Big Love." I could not publish this information until midnight EST on Feb. 27, but it's now officially public. Needless to say, I'm very excited about this development.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ruth is Better

Ruth, Terry's mom, had surgery this morning. She is doing so much better it's amazing. She had a bowel obstruction in the small intestine, which I guess isn't uncommon - especially in older people.

She was awake only a couple of hours after surgery, lucid, talking and joking. I popped in to see her for a few minutes tonight and she looks so much better than she did yesterday.

I'm so relieved for everyone - especially for her. I hope she continues to feel better with each passing day and can come home soon.

It's amazing that an 87 year old woman kicked pnuemonia in about a week. Now she has been through surgery and seems to be doing quite well. It's good news all around.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Art of Gracious Living #11

Click here for the Art of Gracious Living PCN #11
When Diana, Jocelyn and I "played beads" this past week it made me think about resources.

I noticed each of us did the same thing - we got out the beads we had so we could examine everything at once. It was only when we had everything out that we could consider different combinations.

I was struck that this is something we must do in all areas of life - understand our resources, talents and energies - know what we have to work with.

Click here for the Art of Gracious Living PCN #11

Mailboxes and Beads

I went to the post office this morning for the MHA and also picked up my own mail. Now, you might be asking yourself, why would that be? Well, because since my mailbox disintegrated a few weeks ago, I have had my mail held and picked it up at the post office. You'd think this is a great solution. And it would be if the postal service cared about customer service at all.

They will hold your mail for only 30 days. After that, they will return it to the sender. If you're having your mail held, they will delight in pointing out the power that they have to return it after 30 days each time you pick up your mail.

I love the postal employees here who work at the counter - well, with one exception - but overall they're great. Friendly, charming, pleasant - I love to visit with them when I pop in. They're really nice. The carriers have become another story. Their favorite pasttime seems to be putting slips in the mailbox saying to not park on front of the box. Do I look like a person who controls public parking? What leads you to believe that I possess this power? Do I have rights of which I'm unaware? It's an old neighborhood. Lots of people don't have driveways. Of course they're going to park on the street. Where else would they park? I have graciously offered to put my mailbox back on the porch, where no one is EVER parked. But, they're already so lazy they don't want to walk up to the porch, which is why they want to be able to ride along and stick the mail in the boxes. My neighbors have never put theirs out at the street and I remind them to not do it. Once you do, you're screwed.

I purchased a new mailbox just a day or two after mine fell apart under suspicious circumstances related to the people working at my house. I wasn't there when whatever it was happened, but came home to the handyman announcing that it had "fallen over." That may be true, but it seems odd that gravity suddenly overtook it with no provocation. The fact that people were parked near it was probably more related to its demise.

I wasn't too upset because it needed to be replaced anyway. The wooden post had split and been repaired, the box had been banged, etc. etc. etc. If I'd had ANY idea what an ordeal this would turn into, I would have raised hell when I found it on the ground when I got home.

This is the fourth time I've had to do something to the mailbox since I've moved in. Ask me if I enjoy it? OK, don't. It will just remind me of how pissed off I am at the whole process.

The new post I purchased - plastic, which supposedly lasts longer than anything else - was impossible to assemble. Three of us tried at various times. Yesterday I took it back to Lowes and told them it was not possible to assemble this. To top it off, its design flaws were so numerous I don't have the fingertip power to type them all. Lets just say it must have been designed by people at Rubbermaid who have never been in the wind - much less Kansas wind.

Lowes took it back without blinking an eye, as if they'd done this very thing a few times. I went back to purchase something else that was more durable. I didn't want another wood one - they rot - in a pretty short amount of time. This left me with one option - a metal post. So, that's what I got. At least it has some materials in it that seem a bit sturdier. Greg helped assemble it and pound it into the ground. Yes, pounding. Lots of pounding was involved.

What I've learned is that all mailbox posts readily available on the market in Hutchinson, Kansas are crap. They're poorly designed and complete crap. Crap. I have NO experience designing such things and I'm certain I could do better. Parts that fit and are made of sturdy materials would be a good start - not to be too obvious.

Finally, before 6 p.m., the new mailbox was in place. I was so relieved. I had told them today when I picked up the mail to resume delivery, so I had to have a box to put the mail in tomorrow. I'm sure my carrier has been counting the days until she could send my mail back.

When I picked up my mail today, I had two wonderful surprises in it. It was just as well I got it at the postoffice because one of them was something that couldn't be bent. Well, shouldn't have been bent. Although, for all my complaining about my carrier, she is good about that sort of thing. She has never bent anything that shouldn't be.

Anyway, it was this big envelope - more than a foot square. I had no idea what was inside.

When I opened it up, it was a beautiful Scotland calendar from my friend, Trevis. It's gorgeous and I now want to visit Scotland - if only the exchange rate weren't so awful between the dollar and the pound.

Trevis and I met through GAMIAN conferences and we just bonded immediately. I really adore her. We didn't get to see each other this past year and I really missed her.

This was completely unexpected and just made me smile.

Looking at the photos of Scotland make me really want to visit there. I'm sure the photos are "the best" of course, but there are 12 gorgeous views. Plus, if I were in Scotland I'd get to see Trevis, which would be a huge bonus.

I had another surprise in the mail, too. It was a package from Chacra Music. I wrote on here a few days ago that Chacra music had given me permission to use Tino Izzo's music in my podcasts. Today was the first one I did with music at the end of the show and it really adds to it.

Many podcasters just use music without permission, but I wanted to make sure I had permission so there was never a problem. They were very generous in letting me use the music. I'm using "Elusive Memories" from the Foreign Skies CD. I have had that CD for many years and loved it from the first time I heard it. When I was looking for music for The Art of Gracious Living, I knew it would be on that CD. I'm so tickled they gave me permission to use it.

The owner told me he wanted to send me Tino Izzo's other CDs in case there was something on them I wanted to use in the future. That's what arrived today. It was so very kind of him to do that. I haven't had a chance to listen to all of them yet, but "Four September Suns" is in my laptop right now.
I always enjoy seeing French, and being able to read a bit here and there so the packaging was an additional treat for me.

After getting the mailbox up this afternoon, Greg and I went out to get something to eat and then went to the hospital to see Terry's mom. They had just given her some pain medication so we didn't see her but did visit with Terry and his sister and brother in law.

Diana and Jocelyn were coming over tonight to play beads again. We had a nice evening and actually accomplished something tonight. I made three pair of earrings. Jocelyn did about seven pair, although she still has to put the wires on them. Diana made a couple of necklaces, including the one she's wearing in this photo.

Mia, Greg's girlfriend, who is a beader extraordinaire, emailed tonight that she thinks the rocks I showed the other day that Diana has are turquoise. I told her they're not heavy, but apparently the density of turquoise can vary depending on where it's from.

Jocelyn is making things for an upcoming show in mid March. She's taking stock of what she has as far as paintings, jewelry, etc.

I made brownies tonight and we had some tea. We have gotten out of the habit of gathering for creative nights and we need to get back into it. We learn from each other and it also helps all of us to get started on new things.

I was thinking tonight that I didn't even know how to make jewelry until Jocelyn taught me a year or two ago. I bought some lapis a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure what to do with it but I've always loved it - it's very Egyptian - so I need to think about that.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Leah Organizes Me

I've had a really long day today. It was a rewarding day and a trying day. I'm exhausted and after I finish this and get my next podcast done I'm going to bed.

Leah came up to my office tonight and helped me organize some MHA things. She's a GREAT paper organizer and she generously gave me some of her time to work on things.

I'm great with the computer, but not so good with hard copy. She worked on things for a few hours and it was also just nice because we could chat while we worked. She made some great progress.

I had a speech earlier today and then after lunch with Teresa and Jocelyn, went to the hospital to see Terry's mom. Jocelyn went with me and did some Reiki on her. She's doing better tonight.

On the way back to the office, I noticed a buggy going down 17th street. Although the Amish do not like to have their photos taken, there are no issues with taking photos of the buggies as far as I know. I thought you might enjoy seeing the scene.

It's one of the things I love about living here. It's not uncommon to see a horse and buggy tied up at Walmart. Today was Aldi's but the same principle is at work. I'm not sure why I enjoy it so much, but I do.

I guess we're drawn to anything that's out of our normal every day activities.

Yesterday I noticed I have another flower blooming. At the same time, the daffodils that were a few inches tall and now bent over, having frozen in the single digit temperatures we had last week. The weather is very odd. It was in the 60s today - very nice.

Playing Beads

Last night Jocelyn, Diana and I got together to "play beads." It had been a long time since we had gathered to make jewelry - so long that in fact all we really did was look at our things.

Jocelyn had these really cool beads that were Hawaiian Pussywillow beads. Diana and I couldn't stop feeling them - there were fuzzy and very soft.

Jocelyn had thought we were going to meet at the store and had made arrangements to give Andrea a Reiki treatment there. But, eventually we all made it to my house and Andrea had her Reiki treatment on my couch instead of the massage table at the store. Diana and I played beads while they were doing that. We tried to get Andrea to stay, but she had some work to do.

Jocelyn also had some very cool African beads. I love the bright, clear colors of African beads. I bought some when I was in Egypt that had been brought up to Cairo from the Sudan. Very interesting.

Someone had come into Diana's store with lots of interesting beads, including these blue ones that have that Betty Rubble look to them. Such interesting shapes and color combinations. I'm eager to see what she comes up with.

It had been so long since we'd gotten together that we had to reacquaint ourselves with all the things we had.

I couldn't even find all of my things. My studio is still not back to normal and they're in there somewhere.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Busy, Busy Day

I got up about 6 this morning and at midnight I'm still not done.

Tonight was my first board meeting of the new year. It's always an important one to get ready for. I was running around all day gathering things - no matter how organized I think I am, I can always find more to do.

I got to have lunch with Julie on the spur of the moment. After lunch it was so beautiful and sunny that I took a little drive outside of town. I only drove about 10 minutes out of town, but it was nice to see the bright sunshine.

I also ran across this very cool structure. At the top it says Thos Rayl 1919. I'm not sure if it was built originally as a grain bin or a barn but it's very cool. I've driven by it dozens of times, but for some reason today it struck me that it would be cool to share it here so I snapped a photo.

After the board meeting tonight, Jane Holzrichter of Horizons did a presentation for us on Bullying Prevention. It was really good. Jane is the local expert and had some suggestions to share with us.

It was about 8:30 when we left and I still hadn't had dinner so met Greg out and we had a quick bite.

Afterwards, we went over to visit Terry and his sister. Their mom is still in the hospital and we wanted to check on things at the hospital. I've been trying to do a little online research since I got home but haven't been successful.

I'm just about worn out. I don't have anything time specific tomorrow until 2 and I'm going to sleep until I wake up in the morning. I've had a whole bunch of 12 and 16 hour days lately. I think a morning of comp time will do me some good. I also need to do a couple of things around the house that are becoming urgent - like get my mailbox replaced. It has been a long time now.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Beautiful Morning

The rising sun is bright this morning, although it's still chilly. But, it's early yet, maybe it will warm up as the day goes on. It looks like we'll have sunshine and plenty of it, which makes me feel good.

I'm up early to prepare for my board meeting tonight. Always seem to be more details to take care of than I can juggle in my brain. And, much paper to generate. It will be a busy tree-killing day.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Relaxed Weekend, Frantic Monday

I had a very relaxed weekend. Last night Greg and I had a three hour plus dinner and it was nice to visit with him. That was after a very laid back day.

However, today that had to come to a crashing halt with a Monday looming. I did have lunch with Andrea and that was good. We don't do that often enough.

Tonight was Red Hat, although we've pretty much given up on the hats - none of us were wearing the "appropriate" clothing or hats. We just have dinner. It was good.

Since dinner I've been working on things for tomorrow's board meeting. This meeting will be the first one for new board members and this time of year there's a lot to deal with. So, it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for it.

I'm exhausted and headed up to bed. I just can't seem to get enough rest these days, which is very unlike me.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo on Route 66 Trip

Here are some more photos from my Route 66 Trip last summer.

The Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo is a beacon to art and kitsch lovers everywhere. You can easily pass by it on I-40 if you're not paying attention, but if you're on the lookout, you can't miss it.

I've made a trip - or shall we say pilgrimmage - to the Cadillac Ranch before. When Greg and Mark and I went this summer it was HOT. Who would have guessed? Late July in Texas... hot... what a shock.

I must admit I do like Amarillo. It's a cool town.

When we went through, on the way to California, we added our own bits and piece to America's great collaborative art project.

When I came back through alone a couple of weeks later I had not planned to stop but the ladies at the MidPoint Cafe in Adrian (a must stop with cobbler made with fresh peaches) told me the Cadillac Ranch had been painted Pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness so I had to make another stop.

This young man was part of a family of dad, an older brother, and grandma and grandpa. Mother was ominously missing.

I left a message honoring another mother, who would have been about my age, who lost her fight with breast cancer more than a decade ago.


I had planned to take down my Christmas tree today but that didn't happen. I didn't even leave my bedroom until 1:30. Yes, in the afternoon. I lounged and slept and lounged some more. It's really unlike me but it was so very cozy under the electric blanket. The last time I looked at the temperature last night it was 3.8 degrees.

Jocelyn was doing massages today. She wanted to practice for the class she's taking. So, I went down to Diana's to be a willing participant. Her granddaughter, Lauren, was there. I also got to see Lily for a little bit. She was there with Taylor and Tom. Austin and Amy came in after a bit and so I got to see them too.

Lily had wallowed her ponytail out and was having a bad hair day.

Taylor managed to tame it, but had to do it on the run.

Of course, then she was looking just as adorable as could be.

I don't think Lauren stopped for a second. She played with Tom until they left, then Amy and then Austin.

I call this "gymnast Austin." Lauren just looked puzzled. He couldn't get her to try it.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I'm watching yet another story about how insurance companies are refusing to pay for losses as a result of Katrina and Rita. What in the hell? Storm surge my ass.

Yeah, there was a storm surge. Yeah, it did a lot of damage. It also washed away some of the evidence of what the 120 plus MPH winds did before then. Do they really think we're all stupid enough to believe that 100 MPH winds did NO damage and all of that is from the flooding?

We all pay our insurance premiums, assuming we're "covered." I have State Farm and I have always been very pleased with them personally. But, the horror stories I'm hearing out of the Gulf Coast with a variety of companies are terrible. As if people have not suffered enough, there is this indignity to add to it. Pay the damned claims. Charge each of us an extra few dollars next year to make up for it if you have to, but pay the damned claims. Because it's what we're all banking on when we pay our premiums - that you'll pay the claims. And next time it could be me or my neighbor, or my brother or his neighbor, and the people who've rebuilt on the gulf coast by then will pay an extra couple of dollars so our claims can be paid.

Don't be assholes about it. You're spending enough time and energy to get out of paying it, it would just be cheaper to pay the claims.

And don't think we're too stupid to figure out that it's been a very long time since we've heard of an insurance company going out of business. We know you're being tight asses to line your pockets, not to protect your other customers. And, hey, just like you always tell us to buy more "just in case," this time you got caught holding the bag - you were betting on not having a disaster this big - you lost this time. Pay the damned claims.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Winter Has Arrived

Well, winter has arrived in central Kansas. It's currently a balmy 5 degrees. The air literally feels like it's freezing your skin the second you step outside.

It seems so much colder because just last week it was nearly 70. I'm always saying I like the changing of the seasons, and I do, I just don't expect them all in the span of a week.

I had a speech tonight at Head Start. I have a soft place in my heart for that program. I attended the first year it was offered. It's one of those programs that has a tremendous success rate. If you want to change a society, start with kids 0-6. It's when so much is set into motion.

Afterwards, Greg and I went to the hospital to see Terry's mom. We just found out yesterday that she has been in since Monday with pneumonia. She's 87, so this isn't ever good news. But, she is doing better today. She has turned the corner and is on the road to recovery. Greg and I both wore masks to go into her room. I also stopped in the ladies room on the way and washed my hands thoroughly since I'd just been with a bunch of kids, who are just little germ factories.

I'm glad it's Friday. It has been a long work week and I'm tired. I hope to tackle the Christmas tree this weekend. I swore I was not going to touch it until I had a whole weekend to focus on it. This weekend is going to be the closest I have in awhile so I guess I'd better get to it if at all possible.

But, number one on my agenda tomorrow is sleep. I'm going to stay in bed until the urge strikes me to get up. I will be warm under the electric blanket and it will probably be the only time tomorrow I'm warm - when I first wake up - so I'm going to enjoy it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Honda Ad

Mia sent this... it's worth the two minutes you'll invest in it... See "Cog"...


Defending Dick

Well, it doesn't seem like the end times, but here I go about to defend Dick Cheney, so the end must be near.

I can't stand the administration - Cheney included - but this was an accident. There was nothing extraordinary about it and if he were not the VP we would never even have heard about it. Give the man a break.

These sorts of minor injuries occur all the time and are not reported. All gun shots are reported to the police as a matter of course. Reporters look at the police blotter every day. When it's a major incident or the person is of note, it's reported, but most are ignored. Otherwise, the news would be filled with such incidents every night during hunting season.

While I realize the late night comedians are going to have a field day with this - lets leave it where it belongs, with the comedians, not the news people. There's no reason the American public needs to know this much about the incident.

If it weren't a slow news time, or if Americans could stomach looking at real news issues, this would have been gone in a day. But, people would rather think about this than about real issues - like the fact that China pretty much owns the US, and that we haven't gotten "Bin Laden's head on a platter" as was the stated goal of these wars that are going on and on and on. Not to mention, if you want to focus on Cheney, there's the whole Scooter Libby issue.

The man had an accident while hunting. Having been around lots of hunters, I can tell you that everyone becomes lax about safety rules. Just as we all become lax about safety in every aspect of our lives. Yeah, we shouldn't. We also shouldn't drive over the speed limit, but most people do at times. As far as accidents go, cars are far more dangerous than guns.

People have said in the last couple of days that they find hunting barbaric and would rather get their meat at the grocery store. Obviously, if you feel that way, you need to go hunting once and go to a packing plant once and you'll discover hunting is the far kinder of the two. I've seen both up close. Hunting is the gentler, kinder, more humane, fill in the adjective of your choice, by far.

Hunting is part of the natural order of nature. It's how birds eat snakes that eat mice that eat insects. All animals hunt - including man. The reason we control what/when man can hunt is that we have tools other animals don't have that give us a huge advantage. And because man has gotten so far removed from the natural order of things that we don't understand the basics of how things are supposed to work.

But, of course, it was not always that way. Man hunted for his food just like every other animal. Some animals are omnivores and some are herbavores. Man is an omnivore, as are many other animals. I don't eat a lot of meat myself, but for many meat is a big part of the diet.

Some people do eat their kill, but for some it's just sport. However, if people do not want to eat it, the kill is generally passed on to someone else who does. I do not care for any sort of game, nor does anyone in my family, but some of the people in my family still like to hunt. It's never hard to find someone who wants the deer, goose or whatever. I don't get the thrill of sitting in the wet, freezing cold at dark :30 in a blind, waiting for something to fly. But there are things I enjoy that others don't get the thrill of so it's not mine to judge.

People have strong views about things like hunting. While I'm not a hunter, and do not have any guns in my home, I'm very familiar with it and realize it's not about a "power" thing for people who hunt. It's the same rush I get in hunting out a bargain on a pair of shoes or something of that nature. The "hunting" aspect remains the same, regardless of the desired target.

Although I don't agree with the Vice President's politics, I feel for him as a human in this circumstance. I can only imagine how bad he feels. And I suppose in such circumstances there's always the idea in the back of my mind of "but for the grace of God, there go I..." I grew up with guns and hunting and only by the grace of God did we all get to adulthood without any major gun incidents.

We had plenty of other injuries, and they were the result of accidents. I grew up on a farm and it was a rough and tumble existence in many ways - not that I would trade it at all. But, for those of us with that sort of background, we have more of a sense of how an accident can happen at any time. Most of us have a very limited amount of "accident potential" in our daily work lives. When you're a farmer, that is tremendously increased.

I never thought I'd find myself speaking on behalf of Dick Cheney, but here goes. Back off and give the man a break. He was involved in a hunting accident. It was an accident. He didn't intentionally try to shoot and kill someone.

To people who don't have the background, hearing that someone has been SHOT seems major. To those of us who have that background, we realize there are "degrees" of being shot, and it's all too common. Many people who have no rural background would be shocked by that. It's just a difference in how people perceive the world and the history we bring with us to today.

It's always those sorts of things that are of greater interest to me in the long run. I think the fact that so few people have a rural upbringing anymore will have dramatic effects on our country and how we perceive the world and our place in it.

Although I do not care for Mr. Cheney's politics, I do not think he's an unfeeling man with regard to his friends. I'm sure he is feeling tremendous remorse for the incident as anyone would. Maybe, just this once, we should delay the blaming and let he and his friend get past this in their own way.

Lets all just hope that Mr. Whittington does well and recovers fully.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Creative Sisterhood

Tonight was Creative Sisterhood and it was a great evening. My topic for the night was about my session with the energy healer and how positive the experience was.

Martha was telling us that she recently had the opportunity to hear Newt Gingrich speak and was impressed with his theme regarding "Real change requires real change." It seems so straightforward and yet it does seem to be a concept that's difficult for people to grasp. That if we want to really change our society, we have to be willing to change what we're already doing.

She and Diana had both been to see the energy healer so we had some conversation about those things, too.

It was a really good night. They're always good, but some nights are just really exceptional and tonight was a really positive evening. It seems hard to imagine that my life did not include these monthly gatherings until a couple of years ago. I'm so very glad to have these women in my life.

Teresa mentioned the photos from the Petrified Forest tonight. I'll try to post some more photos from the Route 66 trip soon.

I made brownies again tonight. I was just really in the mood for some chocolate, and everyone else seemed to be too, so it was a good choice. I've posted the recipe here before but in case you missed it, it's below. It's one of my favorite recipes. It can be mixed up quickly when you're having unexpected company.

Brownies (Patsy)

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup flour
4 T cocoa
2/3 cup pecans

Bake in 8 by 8 pan at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

No Longer Natural to be Happy

I've been thinking lately about being happy. I'm blessed to be a pretty happy person, but I've also realized that I do a lot of things that are proven to make us happier. Many of these are just natural for me, but they're things that anyone can learn.

We know that meditation and journaling are two things that make us happier. I spend some time each day with both of those. Having sunshine and getting exercise also increase our happiness level.

I was thinking about how these things used to be a natural part of our lives. Most people worked outside, getting daylight. Even on a cloudy day, you're getting 90% more sun than you are in a well light room. Most people were working physically hard, so getting exercise was not difficult for them.

To top it off, most people went to church. While they were not engaged in meditation as we think of it today, they were having some quiet, reflective time - at least on Sunday - when they were not working. And that's another thing - everyone had one day a week when they did not work.

Although not everyone kept a journal, many people wrote letters, which serves some of the same purposes.

So, when you consider how much our lives have changed in these ways it seems obvious that we would be less happy. We've stopped doing so many of the things that naturally make us happier.

I'm sure it's not wise to get so far removed from what is "natural" to us.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

He is a Lope of Romance, as one would expect. Read more about his adventures at www.thelope.blogspot.com.

Petrified Forest

In early August, Greg, Mark and I visited the Petrified Forest. I liked it so much that I made another stop on my drive back toward Kansas.

On both trips, we stayed at the Route 66 institution, The Wigwam Motel, in Holbrook, Arizona. I will be posting some pix of the Wigwam eventually, but I have to tell you that I agree with the slogan that you should "Sleep in a Wigwam."

I hadn't gotten around to sharing pix of the Petrified Forest, but they're just too cool to keep to myself.

I've always loved rocks.