Thursday, March 30, 2006

Tornadoes, Wind and Fire

Hutchinson has had wind, tornado and fire today. My home is fine and suffered no damage of any sort, but others were not so lucky.

As of a few minutes ago, the fire has been declared under control. About 5,000 acres on the east/north side of town burned.

The wind snapped a light pole in half, leaving some businesses without power including Wal-mart and Applebees at times.

The Kwik Shop Headquarters on 4th street had windows blown out. Conklin cars lost a sign and some car windows. At the hospital about 150 cars had windows blown out.

The sirens went off a bit after 1 p.m. There didn't seem to be much to worry about, and there wasn't downtown where I was. However, other parts of town were having some difficulty.

Fortunately, there was no loss of human life.

Memories Blurred

"Memories become blurred by time and the overwhelming number of life-changing events we encounter." Myrlie Evers-Williams

My NAACP magazine, "The Crisis," arrived today. The issue is largely devoted to Coretta Scott King, as one would expect. The backstory section was written by Myrile Evers-Williams and begins with that sentence.

Both of those women lost husbands to assassins - certainly a life-changing event.

But it made me think about the life-changing events we all experience. They're not a purview of the well-known by any means. We are all touched by events that completely change our lives and how we function in the world.

I had not thought about how those events blur our memories, but they do. Over time it all becomes a bit fuzzy about what happened when and how it all came to pass. Maybe for those who have experienced a large number of life changing events it becomes difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. I have certainly felt that at times. Interesting thought.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Scent of Cover Girl Blush

Scent is the most evocative of all the senses - at least that's what the experts tell us. I believe it.

Tonight I bought some new blush - mainly because what I've been using I dropped and it started to crumble and I hate the mess of that. So, I'm tossing it out. It's old anyway.

You know you should replace makeup regularly because it's a breeding ground for bacteria... particularly eye makeup. OK, there's the public service tip of the day.

Anyway, I just opened the new blush and it has that same smell I remember from my teen years. It's almost antiseptic - very clean smelling. It reminds me of Noxzema. Do they still make Noxzema? I must have used gallons of that stuff when I was a teenager. And perhaps I still should as I have a hideous zit on my face at the moment. When does that stop? Never, apparently.

Anyway, I'm thrilled Cover Girl hasn't changed that wonderful fresh scent. I still get the same thrill out of new makeup that I got when I was 14, and I'm sure part of it is that scent.

Man Jobs

My clothes are hanging on the line, flapping in the breeze. Well, I guess "breeze" is one way to define it when you have a wind advisory.

I came home for lunch. Early this morning I tossed in a load of clothes that would need to be hung out. It's rare I can plan ahead for even a few hours, but -hey- every once in a while I manage.

I'm also taking the opportunity to take care of a few other household chores - like dealing with the trash. Taking out the trash is what I call a "man job," but since I don't have a man in my life at the moment, I have to fill in. So it goes...

I've had a couple of people try to fix me up, but I'm just not interested quite yet. I will be, but just not yet.

But, for future reference, in case you're someone who reads this blog and you know someone you want to fix me up with - there are some requirements I'm not willing to compromise on.

- he can't be living with his mama... or his daddy... or both

I realize there are sometimes good reasons for this - like health issues - but if that is the case it's probably not a good time for him to be in a relationship. Have him call me when everything is resolved. I don't need to be involved in anyone's crisis.

- he has to have some passion about something

It doesn't have to be something I'm passionate about, but I find that people who don't have some passion about something are just really dull.

- he has to be funny

Yeah, I know, but I just don't have anyone in my world who's not funny.

- no moody man

I know we all have moods at one time or another, and that's understandable, but I just cannot deal with a man who has more PMS than I do.

- no drama

Life comes with enough drama. I don't want anyone in my life who creates it just for the fun of it.

- no mid-life crisis

Regardless of the age at which it occurs - sometimes in the 20s, 30s, 40s, etc. - I don't want to be involved. I've already been down this road with two men and I've done my time on this one. I had a mid-life crisis, too. I went and bought some new shoes, gave myself a talking-to, and got over it. I highly recommend it. Of course, if you can afford the sports car - or want the psuedo sports car if you can't afford the real one - go for it. But, you're still going to be living the same life you were the day before. It won't fix it, any more than new shoes will. Shoes are just cheaper.

Am I picky? Hell, yes. There's a reason I have nothing bad to say about anyone I've been involved with in the past - I've always been picky. They are all great guys. I don't intend for that to change.

I'd rather be alone than wish I were.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Surgery and Searching for Answers

The big news of my day is that my brother, Jim, came through his surgery just fine. It's always major when any of your loved ones are having surgery, and this was no exception. Fortunately, all went well.

Otherwise, I managed to push a lot of things out the door today, which is good since they needed to be places before April 1. It's hard to believe April is just a few days away.

Tonight I called Susan about dinner but she was busy. I had a lot of things I needed to get done at home, but I didn't really want to do any of them. I went grocery shopping and did some computer projects and some writing - all things that needed to be done. Keeping all my little side businesses going is requiring a lot of time and attention.

However, more good news with podcasting - I have a new ad contract for Art of Gracious Living. It's for a USA Network show, Show Us Your Character. It's a neat concept - they are looking for ordinary people to tell their interesting stories. I know from years as a journalist, that everyone has a story to tell.

Tonight was Altrusa, but I just wasn't in the mood. I'm contemplating some things with regard to that group and I'm not sure I like all the conclusions I've come to so far. I have committed to doing some work on the district level over the next two years. When that is completed, it will be time for me to seriously consider what my future is with that group, if I have a future. We'll see what happens in the next two years and I'll make a decision using that information.

I did my taxes last night and got them in the mail today. I'm glad to have that off my mind. I'm also setting up my mortgage payment to be an auto deduct thing - that's about enough financial stuff for me in a 24 hour period. I think that's the only bill I have that isn't set up that way so that will mean I have no checks I have to write every month.

Well, it's time for me to go do some "real" writing, with pen to paper. It is on those pages where I really figure things out and I still have a lot of things I need to figure out. My life seems to be constantly changing these days - shifting so quickly I can barely keep up. I did some really important journalling when I was at Susan's farm and I need to continue in that vein. I finished two journals while there. I have another one that's nearing the end so maybe I'll finish it up tonight.

When I'm really troubled I drink kaluha and cream while I write. I'm not feeling the need for that these days so that's a good sign. Of course, I do have milk and kaluha in the fridge... and I think both are still good... but not tonight... tomorrow is a busy work day and it must start early... so I don't need to be drinking at almost midnight.

Wheat Weaving

Cynthia made this cool bracelet and gave it to me at the tea. It's a wheat weaving. I haven't ever attempted wheat weaving. I don't think I should start another hobby!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Tea in Hiawatha, Kansas

Sunday afternoon I was in Hiawatha for tea. It was a benefit for the library there. My friend, Cynthia, who I've known from journaling lists for years, tipped me off that it was happening.

This is the 4th year they've done it and it was perfectly lovely. To top it off, I got to meet Cynthia in person, instead of only on the phone or in writing. That was an added treat. Cynthia is on the left here and I'm on the right.

My friend, Susan, who has a farm in Valley Falls, less than an hour away, invited me to spend the night there and then she and her friend, Kathleen, and I met Cynthia for tea. That's Kathleen on the left and Susan on the right.

We were all able to sit together, which was really fun. Our table was the "Genteel Lady of the Antebellum South." Each table had favors that were in keeping with the theme. Ours were soy candles.

The setting was beautiful. This was my place setting.

They sold out. The tickets were lovely, with different tea cup designs on them. The booklets for the evening had the same designs, all done by local school children, from grades 1-4. You could also buy notecards with the designs. They were $5 for 10 and you could pick the designs you wanted. I loved the cards.

There was a silent auction and table viewing an hour before tea started. The tables were extraordinary.

They were done by different people locally, each with its own theme. Businesses sponsored them and there was a wide variety of designs. Everything was beautiful.

The food was OK, but not extraordinary. But, the setting was wonderful. The entertainment was a bit different, but did not detract from the experience.

I can't wait to go again. I couldn't decide which tables to show, so I'm including pix of lots of them. I missed a few, but this is a large sampling of what was there.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

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Closure and New Beginnings

I seem to be getting so much closure these days that it's almost more than I can handle. But that's just the short term. It's good in the long run. By missing a turn today, I ended up driving by Nathan's old apartment for the second time in less than a month. I hadn't been there since the last time I was there with him and now, twice in three weeks. I was also in his town today. Odd how these things work out. But, so they are.

I had a great time at Susan's farm. There will be photos coming... It was a great weekend. I did some really important writing and came away with some great insights.

I've returned home safe and sound. We seem to be getting our first spring thunderstorm. At least we have thunder, and we've had a bit of rain, so I'm optimistic. Rain always reminds me of new beginnings... washing away the old... inviting the new... how appropriate.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Valley Falls

I'm spending the night in Valley Falls tonight at Susan's house. Susan is the most gracious host I can imagine. She met me outside, cooked a lovely dinner, and we've had a very nice evening chatting. Tomorrow we will go to tea in Hiawatha and I'll get to meet Cynthia, who I've talked with for years on journaling lists, but have never met.

I'm not very far from my old bf's place. It's kind of odd to be in "his teritory" but it's just one of those things. I can't swear off a whole section of the state because someone I once loved lives here. He has moved on to someone else and I'm sure I will too eventually. I'm just not back to being completely me yet and therefore it's not time for another relationship yet.

Every relationship requires some compromise and after one ends you have to have time to get back to being "you" again or you start a new one in a bad way. So much happened in my life over the time Nathan and I were together that it is going to take me awhile yet to get back to "normal" for me. I have realized recently that I haven't been normal since my mom died. It's only in the last few weeks, as the fog has lifted because of any number of things, that I've seen that.

Life moves in cycles and sometimes I'm just caught in the wake, and that's how I've been for awhile. I'm starting to feel like I'm getting on the crest of the wave again. That will be a pleasant change.

I'm sure no one in my world, other than Nathan, has had any idea of how weirded out I've been. I put on a very good front to the world. But I let my guard down with him and it was obviously too much for the relationship to handle. He didn't have the life experience to handle death of a parent and all that that entailed. It's not his fault. He gave it a valiant try. I expected too much of him and I have apologized for that. It's not my fault that losing my mother brought out tons of associated childhood issues I hadn't dealt with, but it is my fault for sharing those. We live and learn. That's a lesson I've been taught more than once - maybe I'll finally learn it this time - there are things that NO one wants to share with you. They're too ugly, too raw, too personal and too intense. It's a pity I haven't learned that lesson previously, but so it goes.

I'm entering a new phase now, feeling better than I have in a long time. So, it's just as well I face being in this area, where I've been only with him, and move past that. In the last few weeks I've done two similar things so this must be the season of closure for me.

That's always followed by a season of new beginnings. It all just takes time.

But for tonight I'm going to go out and look at the stars for a bit, think over some things, put pen to paper for awhile, and look forward to tea tomorrow.

The week in Review

This has been a really full week, aside from the scare on Thursday night. The same day that happened I had a really important meeting and a dental appointment. To top it off, this week I had a board meeting, got some closure on an old relationship, had Chicks, produced a newsletter and had volunteers mail it, dealt with a board crisis (fortunately not my board), got the car worked on and started a new project.

It seems like I'm always overloaded. You know when you look forward to getting your teeth cleaned because you cannot multi-task while you're doing it, that your life is out of control. Fortunately, I love my dental hygenist - Kathy. I've stayed with her through two dentists. I like my dentist, too - he's a big believer in lots of drugs - but if Kathy left the office I'd be hard pressed to know what to do. She's a jewel.

I say I can't multi task while there, but I did spend the time planning out my next couple of months.

Last night Teresa and I had a really nice long dinner. We're going to Kansas City next month for a wellness event. It will be good to be away. And I'm looking forward to the speakers.

Tomorrow I'm going to tea with my friend, Susan, and I'll get to meet Cynthia. So, it will be a full weekend.

Art of Gracious Living PCN #15

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A creative mind gives us the opportunity to look at life in different ways.

In this Art of Gracious Living program, learn ways to increase your creativity. Apply the principles to every aspect of your life.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

A Wild Thursday

Let me start this story with EVERYONE IS OK... Now... the story...

Yesterday afternoon, a bit before 5 p.m., Martha called on my cell phone and asked if I was near a computer and if I'd seen the email from Julie. I started to pull it up but before I did, Martha said the email was very odd and said Julie had written that life wasn't worth living, she had a gun to her head and... At that point I interrupted her and said, "Oh my God, call 911. I'm going over there."

I live across town, with many stop lights in-between. While I was going over there, my cell phone continued to ring from others who had gotten the email. I, of course, called Julie's house, but got no answer.

By the time I got to her house, some other people were there and the police. Julie's daughter was there with her babies - 1 and 4 years old. The police went to look for Julie's car. Sarah called her husband home to stay with the babies - I had offered but the older one was sleeping and she didn't want her to wake up and be with someone she had only met a few times.

As soon as he arrived, Sarah went to look for Julie. She called in just a little bit and said she had found her mom shopping at Dillon's. Julie was freaked out when she saw her daughter, assuming something was wrong. She had no idea she was the star of this drama.

Apparently, Julie checked her yahoo email at HCC around 4 and it didn't log out completely. So, at 4:49 someone thought it would be humorous to send this email to everyone in Julie's address book.

It was terrifying, of course. None of us thought there was any reason Julie would have wanted to kill herself, but, of course, you cannot ignore something like that.

I hadn't seen the email until after it was all over, but it had many hallmarks of being written by a teenager or early twenty-something. However, I would have said to call 911 anyway because you have to take that seriously.

Five people called 911. Julie is obviously very cared about, and that's wonderful, but we have better ways to express it.

Police are investigating and hopefully will be able to hold someone responsible for their actions. This is the internet version of crying fire in a crowded theatre.

Approval Ratings Map

Approval Ratings Map

This is a very cool US map that shows Bush's approval ratings by months. It's very interesting, regardless of your political views.

Do Tulips Love Snow?

Well, since spring arrived a few days ago, it has snowed every day. This after a winter where we had very little snow. But, not to worry, we haven't done anything to the weather because of global warming.

When I went outside this morning my flower bed was covered with snow. I had a dentist's appointment but stopped for a minute to take some photos of the little grape hyacinths and daffodils in the snow.

I have some tulips up, but not blooming yet. Do tulips like snow?

It all melted pretty quickly.

It has been a full and very odd day. I'm going to call it a night/morning/whatever you say when you're going to bed at 1 a.m.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Tonight was Chicks and it was good to see everyone.

My topic for the night was how we all lead incredibly extravagant lives and don't even realize it. I gave numerous examples, including that my water is filtered in my home. Water here is very bad because of the salt deposits we have, but it's nonetheless extravagant to be filtering one's water.

Molly told us about her China trip, so it was all the more appropriate in a global context.

As always, it was enlightening to be with these women.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My favorite word lately is Poof

Merriam-Webster recently asked on its Web site, "What are your favorite words?" Below are the top ten submissions:


This seems like it might be a sort of an intelligence test. How many of these words can you define? I got 9 out of 10 - callipygian stumped me - it means, "having shapely buttocks."
Fortunately, offers a way to quickly get a definition, which is where I found that one.

I feel so simplistic... my favorite word I like to work into conversation is "poof." I've used it on the blog before in the entry titled "And Poof! There were roofers!" Which, of course, could be followed shortly by, "And Poof! There goes your money." (Credit to Greg on that last one.)

Tis the season for old lovers

My post last night about old lovers generated some email. So, let me clarify... I was happy to hear from each of them. They were/are all important men in my life. I was just trying to be funny because it all happened in the span of one day.

I've only had three serious relationships and I heard from each of them in one day. Of course, Greg and I talk almost every day. The other two were surprises - one initiated by me with an email gone astray that he responded to, and the other with a card I wasn't expecting.

So, it was lovely to hear from each of them, as well as another old friend.

I've always had exceptional taste in men.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Some Days are Odd

Some days are odd and this has been one. It's apparently a day for hearing from old lovers - through any variety of methods. The tally is at four for the day. I've got a few more minutes before midnight. There's still time for another one.

Email, snail mail and phone... too bad Western Union is no longer delivering telegrams.

I never got a telegram... from anyone... kinda sad, really... guess I never will now.

First Day of Spring

First Day of Spring

5:01 a.m. - awakened by ice pellets hitting bedroom window

6:12 a.m. - give up trying to sleep because of the sounds of ice pellets on window and sunroom doors creaking open in wind

7:04 a.m. - work day is well under way

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Spring brings snow

Today is the first day of spring. We're supposed to get eight inches of snow.

This after a winter where there were numerous 70+ degree days.

But, there's no global warming. All is well.

Social Skills

Greg and I were having an interesting conversation tonight about how many problems we can trace to people lacking social skills. MIT has "charm school" to teach social skills to all undergraduates.

I'm wondering why some people don't grasp these things easily and for some others they're natural. It's not a matter of personality and things we do and do not like to do. I do not *like* to do a number of things I do, they're simply necessary and expected, so I do them. Being able to function socially is also necessary and expected, but some do not participate in this way. For some, they need to be taught the skills. It seems something we're lacking. I guess we still need charm school.

Greg and I were talking about people we know casually and realizing that with more social skills some of them are people we'd like to be better friends with. Interesting thoughts...

Snow on the Way

We are supposed to get snow starting tonight. We haven't had hardly any snow this winter so I'm not unhappy about having some, although I'm not sure my blooming flowers will enjoy it too much. They're saying 8 inches. But, of course, the weather people say a lot of things. We'll see what reality holds.

I'm going to my office to pick up a few things in case it gets really bad and I can't get there tomorrow. I doubt that will be the case, but I have some things I must do and if I get the materials I can work on them at home. I hadn't anticipated I'd be thinking about snow, so didn't prepare Friday.

I'm also going to go to the grocery store. I'm out of yogurt, which is a reason I have to go. Unfortunately, I'm sure about half the population of town will be there, too. Whenever there's any danger of snow, everyone prepares like the town is going to be paralyzed for weeks.

Then when I get home I'm picking the flowers I have blooming and covering up the rest in hopes I can save them from the cold.

I can certainly keep myself occupied doing things around the house the rest of the day. It seems I can't get a handle on the state of my house and keep it under control.

Also, I wanted wood floors so I could see how much dirt I'm living with. Well, I can see it. I have to clean some of it up. I'm not a great housekeeper, but there is a limit and I'm over it.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


I'm so glad it's a Saturday. I didn't have to get up for anything today and so slept until about 8:30. I have worked on the tree and the big wad of lights that were left after taking the tree down. I get all I can off as I go, but I always end up with a big wad at the end.

Julie called this morning. It was really, really good to talk to her. I worked on lights while we chatted.

Greg and I have made a trip out to Roys and then took a little drive. It's a somewhat dreary day with mist in the air and it's colder than it has been in awhile, but it's also kind of moody. Frankly I kind of like it. And I'm thrilled for the moisture.

We're supposed to get snow on Monday. We've had so little snow this winter - only twice I can think of and neither was much snow. I don't know that we'll get any significant accumulation - it's been so warm I can't think we will - but I'll be happy for the moisture.

I have lots of flowers blooming - daffodils and hyacinths and crocus. I know some don't mind cold and snow, but I'm not sure the hyacinths are going to enjoy it. I may go out and pick them tomorrow. At this point in the cycle I'm always so glad I planted them. I never enjoy the planting part, but I sure enjoy the having flowers in my house part.

Well, I've got piles of stuff to carry to the basement so I'd better get to it. I also want to carry the Christmas tree base out to the shed. It's going to get colder the next few days so I might as well do it now and be done with it.

Art of Gracious Living PCN #14

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Life long learning allows us to examine topics that resonate with our spirits. Things that have withstood the test of time - like art and music - make our lives richer.

Learning about things that are outside our immediate comfort zones gives us a new perspective, and helps us lead a more gracious life.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Creative Sisterhood

Tonight was Creative Sisterhood. It was good. Julie decided she didn't feel up to coming and we did miss her. But, we had a good conversation.

I made brownies again tonight. I love that recipe.

I went to Diana's today to pick up Jocelyn, who was there giving massages, to go to Roy's for lunch. But, she didn't want to go, but wanted to just bring it back there. I like to eat in so I can refill my pop and also because Roy's is a little messy. But, Jocelyn was working on a big card order and didn't want to leave the store.

So, I ended up just getting a salad at Dillons instead. I hadn't done that for a long time. The Dillons that I live close to now doesn't have a salad bar. But, I went to my old store, which is still my favorite store.

Tonight I was rushing around getting ready for Creative Sisterhood. Tomorrow night Teresa and some others are coming over for a "play group." Teresa is doing a landmark wisdom course and we're going to be part of her play group and do some of the same activities. One is to take photos of everyone in our world - that is going to take some serious effort on my part. You're supposed to take pix of anyone you talk to. Well, good grief, I talk to practically everyone I meet. Also, we're supposed to write an autobiography with major events in our lives. I'm not sure how I'm going to manage that since childhood is largely a blur, with one year blending into another, but I'll just do what I can and go with it.

Well, it's 2:15 a.m. and I've been up since 6 a.m. yesterday so I need to get some rest. I've got a full day tomorrow.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Random Thoughts

Life seems to be in overdrive all the time. How can that be? I swear I have gotten rid of all the things I don't truly enjoy in my life and it's still overflowing.

I went nomail on all my art and journaling lists because I was becoming a lurker, not a participant.

I'm developing a couple of new podcasts and that's taking some time and energy. Also, keeping up with the Art of Gracious Living cast. However, I really enjoy doing that and will keep at it.

I learned some really interesting things about podcasting in the last week. Only about 10% of internet users listen, and only about 2% of them are women. That's not good news for Art of Gracious Living at this point, but I figure it's good news down the road. Podcasting will either become the new blogging or it will disappear. Right now it's largely a geek thing - there are lots of podcasts about gaming and computers and technology and such. I think it will become far more mainstream. I'll either be very right, or very wrong, and only time will tell.

HBO extended the deal another week for "Big Love" so that's good. Trish looked over the contract with Podcaster News Network for me, so I need to get that returned to them.

Tonight is Creative Sisterhood so it will be good to see everyone. I'm working at home today for the first day in awhile, but I am working on the newsletter and need my home computer for that. It's nice to be able to do that on occasion. It's also a perfect day for hanging out clothes as it's windy. So, I put more in the washer this morning and got the ones I did last night out on the line. I love days like this.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Anniversary Date and Altrusa Tea

Today is the four year anniversary of me being in the job I'm in now. It was a very good change for me. It's a privilege to be involved in people's lives in a meaningful way. I'm humbled by the trust people put in me when they contribute to the cause. Greg and I went out to dinner in Wichita to celebrate.

Last night was our Tribute Tea for Altrusa. It was a nice event. We honored seven ladies who have been in about 30 years each. I think it all went well. It was my committee doing it so I was very involved with all the details. I'm glad it's over and went well.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Catching up with Monday

It has been a Monday. Wow. I've been running all day from one thing to another. But, I accomplished a lot at the office. I went to see Julie at lunchtime and had a productive afternoon at work.

Tonight I went to see a presentation on Laura Ingalls Wilder by Dr. Sara Jane Richter. It was part of the Arts and Humanities Council's Women's History Month programming.

This was very different than the Emily Dickinson thing a couple of weeks ago. She just read a presentation about her, didn't play her, but it was good.

I needed to be home working on things, but I really wanted to go to that.

I've been going every minute since I got home, too. I had to make lemon curd for the Altrusa tea tomorrow, as well as gather up some more things for the event. I'm so glad this is my last event to be in charge of for Altrusa. I always seem to end up doing what seems like more than my fair share of things. Maybe it only seems that way to me. Regardless, this is my last event as a committee chair and I'm glad.

I feel like I've contributed to some really successful events, but I'm very happy to step aside and let someone else make them their own in the coming years. We agree to do a two year term and this is the last thing I have in my two years. We have some great people on our committee, but it just seems there are some things that fall into my area of expertise and so I end up with a lot on my schedule - from making lemon curd to creating books. Overall I have failed miserably in my number one task, which is to encourage others in leadership. My style just doesn't work well in this particular structure. So, I'm going to just enjoy the group and not take on any more projects. It will no doubt make us all happier.

It has been a wild few days.

Friday morning I learned that my friend, Julie, was in the hospital. Her daughter had called me the night before but I missed the call and didn't get the message until the next day. Julie had a stroke at work on Thursday. She is fine, and we are all so thankful for that. She went home today.

She was rushed to the ER by ambulance and given the clot busting drug and it worked perfectly for her. Amazingly, she has suffered no long term effects from the stroke. They say she is "fully recovered." She has normal speech, brain function and no paralysis. That drug is a miracle. She has been on my mind constantly.

Greg's girlfriend Mia was here this weekend and so while she was beading in the living room Saturday night I worked on the tree. Greg helped me with the tree and we made some major progress on getting it down. I realize most people get their Christmas trees down long before now. I swore I was not going to work on it until I had a full weekend with nothing else on the agenda. In mid March that had not yet happened, so I decided to just go ahead and do it. Now my living room is trashed, as is part of the kitchen where the tree bag is, and I'm not done. I worked on it a bit tonight. But another couple of hours and I will be done. The ornaments are packed away, some of the lights are off and some of the tree is dismantled. So, progress has been made.

I did get a lot accomplished around the house this weekend - lots of little jobs. And getting started on the tree was huge.

I also went out and picked most of my hyacinths and daffodils. It's supposed to get down to 22 tonight so I don't think they'll survive that. There have been lots of bad storms in Kansas, but we've been fine here.

Well, I have an early meeting and it's already 1:30 a.m. I was going to be in bed by 11 tonight. But, I wasn't done making lemon curd by then, much less other things. But I do need to go get some sleep. Tomorrow will be a very long day with a busy work day and then going straight to the tea at 5 and I'll be there until 9 or so. Then I have a 7:15 meeting on Wednesday morning. Why does there never seem to be enough time for me to sleep?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Flowers, Food, Fun

Mia is out this weekend, so she and Greg and I had lunch at Roy's. I hadn't been there in about a month. They had been gone on vacation and then I was sick so I've missed my Roy's fix.

Before then I got some things done around the house. Chores I'd been putting off - finishing washing a window in the sunporch, some laundry, just miscellaneous things that can all add up to a lot of work if you let them go too long.

My daffodils and hyacinths are blooming now. I picked a bouquet to bring in this morning. I love fresh flowers.

The big project of the day for me has been working on the Christmas tree. Yes, I know, everyone should have theirs down by now. I decided I wasn't going to start on it until I had a full weekend to devote to it. Well, it's the middle of March and that hasn't happened so I decided I needed to just get started on it.

Mia is beading and Greg has been helping me with the tree. The company has been nice to keep me motivated to work on the tree.

Maybe by the end of the weekend I can at least have it almost down. The ornaments are all off and I'm working on the lights. But, there's still a lot of work to do on it. It's a major project. Sometimes I wish I didn't like a big tree full of stuff so darned much.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Art of Gracious Living #13

Click here for the Art of Gracious Living PCN #13

Our culture is changing. We now want more time at home, which means it's all the more important that our homes reflect who we are.

Since 9-11 researchers have seen a trend of more interest in home. In this podcast, we consider why that is, and ways to make home what we want it to be.

Whatever your definition of home, it's right for you.

Click here for the Art of Gracious Living PCN #13

Friday, March 10, 2006

Thoughts of South Dakota, Abortion, Boycotts and Russ Feingold

This is a rare guest column on the blog. It comes to you from Steve Holmes, a very thoughtful video producer, who seems to think I am given to the occasional "godless communist rant" on here. I can't imagine where he gets those ideas when I'm just writing about visits to bakeries in small Kansas towns. OK, so, he's obviously a long time reader and knows this is just a temporary lull in my ranting.

With his permission, I am sharing his latest email that was appropriately titled "Lefist Hippie Liberal Trash" - what some might call "fodder" - as a guest column here.


Interested in boycotting South Dakota over its abortion ban? Here are some links you might want to put in your next godless communist rant:

Beef comes from South Dakota. Also, Gateway computers and, I believe, Iams pet food. Corn. Ethanol. Lots to boycott. In case
anyone's interested:

Ideas for a South Dakota boycott

Son of Ideas for a boycott

Governor Dumbass

SD Office of Economic Development (if the businessmen bleed, the GOP listens)

SD Cattlemen (if the cattlemen bleed...)

SD Dep't of Tourism (if Wall Drug bleeds...)

SD newspapers (for letters to the editor)

As I understand it, Mississippi plans a similar ban, but I've concluded Mississippi is beyond hope and not a desirable place to visit anyway. I could see myself living in South Dakota and was looking forward to a trip to Wall Drug.

Also, we're trying to get Russ Feingold to run for President. His stances on the Patriot Act, the Iraq mess and campaign finance reform mark him as a man who stands up for what he believes, is not afraid to zig where others zag, and is almost always right. Links: (anyone, anywhere, can sign these)

I Lied About Church Today

I lied about church today. Is that a definite trip to hell?

I walked into the post office today with an older lady. We shared some pleasantries and I went to drop my mail in the slot. I realized she was behind me and hurried because I thought she wanted to drop in some mail.

When I turned around she said with the most pleasant smile, "I'd like to invite you to my church, Apostolic Faith, on 17th."

Even while she was saying the words, I was forming my response. "I already have a church, but thank you" tumbled out of my mouth. It wasn't a complete lie, but it was a lie in spirit because what I think of when I say "church" is not what she thinks of. I hurried off before she could ask any questions.

But, truth be told - now, hours later, here comes the truth - I didn't want to talk to her about it. I didn't want to be in the position of defending - or even discussing - my views on religion, church, spirituality or other private matters. Because for me they are just that - private. I rarely discuss such things with even my closest friends, much less am I going to engage a stranger at the Hutchinson, Kansas post office in a discussion about my faith. And part of me resented being put in the position of telling that lie.

Of course, no one forced me to lie. I made that choice on my own.

And, I am impressed by people who believe in their church so much that they invite people they've shared a dozen words with to attend. That is an incredibly welcoming attitude. Now, of course, if I had actually shown up it might have taken them no time at all to determine they had made a huge mistake and the minister could implore the congregation to never invite another person. Or, they could have changed my attitude. Or, it could have just been a non-event for all of us. Who knows? But I do know it's impressive that their congregation is extending itself to others. I've known a couple of people over the years who've visited there because they had been asked.

Of course, I could have been more gracious. I wasn't prepared for the question and don't have a ready answer for it. I'm glad I ended with a "thank you" but I wish I had taken time to say something like, "but it's kind of you to ask." But, I didn't. Maybe next time I'll remember. Maybe I'll not be invited again. Maybe I'll remember and still not do it because I don't want to take a chance on having more of a conversation about religion.

Why am I not comfortable discussing my faith, you may be asking yourself? I would contend it's not "uncomfortable," as much as it is "invasive." Religion is private to me. It's another reason I don't care for the administration. I want my politics and my religion separate. I want to make judgements about each, without them being clouded by the other. I don't need a church body to define how I feel about certain topics. I do not need a government to chime in on it, involving itself in these incredibly private matters. I was blessed by God with a brain, and trained in public schools supported by the government to use it. Therefore I can make decisions on my own.

She was a very nice lady from what I could tell. But I was neither interested in attending her church, nor in discussing the reasons why. I'm just not a "putting a sign in my front yard to proclaim my allegiance to a church" sort of person. You see those signs all over town and more power to people who feel that strongly about their church, but it's not for me.

I'd rather people judge who I am based on my actions, not on my alliance with a particular group. Of course, given the fact that I lied about church today, maybe I should reconsider that position.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Gordon Parks Coming Home to Kansas

Gordon Parks will be buried in Fort Scott, Kansas, next week. He will be laid to rest beside his parents.

Parks is well known for his photographs and his books. But he was also a poet, musician, composer and film maker.

Some years ago he spoke at the Dillon Lecture Series. Unfortunately, it was before I was here, so I didn't get to see that.

But he became friends with a woman, Barbara Peirce, who was instrumental in starting that series. I interviewed her many times and she was a dynamo. She died some years ago, long before her years would indicate it was "her time."

When I went to her funeral, they read a poem that Gordon Parks had written for her, remembering their friendship. At the time I thought, "wow, it's good to live your life in such a way that Gordon Parks writes a poem for your memorial service." Barbara was that kind of person.

It's odd how our brains file things. I never hear Gordon Parks' name without thinking of Barbara.

Now they're both gone.

Big Love Deal Makes Mediaweek

The "Big Love" deal from HBO that my podcast, Art of Gracious Living, was included in, is generating lots of interest among media types.

New Fun Survey Thing

Birthday:Dec. 23
Current Location:Kansas
Eye Color:blue
Hair Color:brown
Right Handed or Left Handed:both
Your Heritage:French, English, German and a few other things
The Shoes You Wore Today:crocs
Your Weakness:perfume
Your Fears:not living fully
Your Perfect Pizza:pepperoni
Goal You Would Like To Achieve This Year:
Your Most Overused Phrase On an instant messenger:I don't use IM so I have no idea... but "I'm a model..." might be it
Thoughts First Waking Up:"Wow! Great! I woke up! Thank you for another day."
Your Best Physical Feature:hair
Your Bedtime:varies tremendously
Your Most Missed Memory:
Pepsi or Coke:diet sprite
MacDonalds or Burger King:neither
Single or Group Dates:
Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea:neither
Chocolate or Vanilla:either
Cappuccino or Coffee:neither
Do you Smoke:no way
Do you Swear:on occasion
Do you Sing:yes
Do you Shower Daily:I prefer baths.
Have you Been in Love:yes
Do you want to go to College:already have
Do you want to get Married:maybe - who knows what the future holds
Do you belive in yourself:yes
Do you get Motion Sickness:yes
Do you think you are Attractive:sometimes
Are you a Health Freak:no
Do you get along with your Parents:my parents are gone but I did
Do you like Thunderstorms:yes
Do you play an Instrument:yes
In the past month have you Drank Alcohol:no
In the past month have you Smoked:never have - never will
In the past month have you been on Drugs:no
In the past month have you gone on a Date:no
In the past month have you gone to a Mall:no
In the past month have you eaten a box of Oreos:no
In the past month have you eaten Sushi:no
In the past month have you been on Stage:yes
In the past month have you been Dumped:no
In the past month have you gone Skinny Dipping:no
In the past month have you Stolen Anything:no
Ever been Drunk:yes
Ever been called a Tease:no
Ever been Beaten up:no
Ever Shoplifted:no
How do you want to Die:doing something I love
What do you want to be when you Grow Up:me
What country would you most like to Visit:long list of them
In a Boy/Girl..
Favourite Eye Color:doesn't matter
Favourite Hair Color:doesn't matter as long as it's not red
Short or Long Hair:doesn't matter as long as it's clean
Height:doesn't matter
Weight:doesn't matter
Best Clothing Style:doesn't matter as long as it's clean
Number of Drugs I have taken:I refuse to answer on the grounds it may incriminate me - or more likely - others.
Number of CDs I own:have no idea
Number of Piercings:one hole in each ear - that's all for me
Number of Tattoos:none - not letting anyone other than a medical professional with multi years of training stick needles into me
Number of things in my Past I Regret:I don't believe in regret.


Today was Mental Health Advocacy day at the capitol. It's also the day that we did the Compeer Legislative Breakfast. There were lots of activities on the first floor, but we were up on the third floor, where most of the legislators and staff were. It was good. The only down side was we started at 6 a.m.

Wichita brought up their mascot, IC Hope. He's a trademarked character used by MHAs around the country to spread the message of "Don't Duck Mental Health." He was very popular - the governor had her photo taken with him, along with the Executive Director in Wichita and the Director of the Compeer Program there. They were on the Topeka local TV news today, too.

Compeer is a great program. We match community volunteers with people who are recovering from a mental illness. The program has tremendous impact on people's lives.

I didn't get a chance to leave our area much, so only got to see a little bit of the capitol. But, I was struck by just how many kinds of marble one can get into one small area.

Over the years, I've been drawn to Topeka for multiple reasons, the most recent of which was the last boyfriend, who lived north of here. When I spent time at his apartment we were in Topeka a lot, and just tonight they were talking about the place he used to live, which is not a major area, and yet there it is on the news. Seems like there are always reminders of him, regardless of where I go and what I do. Oh well... such is life. In December I realized one day that I had stopped missing him every day. But reminders of him seem to continually pop up nonetheless.

Monday, March 06, 2006

This was the sign that greeted me today when I went into the bakery in Alma, Kansas. At first I assumed the proprietor was in the back, but then I spotted this sign on the counter. In case it's not clear in the photo, it says, "Please use the honor system. Thanks." And the plastic tub next to it was filled with money. I was more charmed than words can say.

Of course, I did leave some cash for the two items I took. I got a dozen "Monster Cookies," you know those things that have oatmeal and peanut butter and a little bit of everything in them.

I also got some white chocolate pecan toffee. Oh my goodness. Let me just say... I'm from the south... we know our toffees, pralines and caramels. This is exceptional. It was cooked to the perfect temperature. It was cooked to just barely past the caramel stage, which means it's the perfect consistency for toffee. If you think a Heath bar is what toffee is supposed to be like, you need to have some that's homemade. That stuff is far too hard. Perfect toffee, like this, offers the slightest resistance, but as soon as bitten into begins to melt - filling your mouth with sweetness.

To top it off, the building is also historic - an 1886 bank building - which fits in beautifully with the rest of this small town (population - 760). I decided to visit the bakery because of Marci's book, "The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers."

Before visiting the bakery, I had already paid a visit to the Alma Cheese Factory. I couldn't get any cheese today because I was on my way to Topeka and had no way to keep it, but I did enjoy the visit.

This area is known for its stone and there are some amazing examples of stone houses here. I saw two, almost across the street from each other, as I was headed to the cheese factory. The pictures don't do justice to some of the intricate work on both of these. I also spotted an amazing church.

After leaving the town, I took a scenic drive and enjoyed the prairie. I could see this from some distance away. I don't know what it is. I dubbed it the big giant ball. I'm sure it serves some real purpose. Maybe it's weather related. I have no idea.

There is a sound that's distinctive to the prairie, that I've only ever heard here. It's the sound of the wind, but it's more than that. To really hear it you have to get far away from humans and their trappings. The last time I heard it was about a year ago at Maxwell Game Reserve. The time before that was at the wagon tracks outside of Dodge City. The very first time I ever heard it was years ago in Gove County at Monument Rock. I don't know if Kansans realize this sound is unique to the prairie, but I've never heard it anywhere else. It's easy to assume something is "normal" when it has always been part of our world.