Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hose and Heels

I am back home after a few days in Salina at the Altrusa District conference. I'm going to be doing the district's newsletter for the next two years and Peggy, who got me involved, was installed as governor last night. That means she's the head honcho of the district.

So, I spent the weekend trying to be where I was supposed to be, when I was supposed to be there, and dressed appropriately so I didn't embarrass her. I even wore hose and heels last night!!!!! This is no small feat for me. I gave away all my high heels a few years ago. But, decided I really needed some for this occasion. This $8 pair of shoes will probably last me for another decade because I certainly don't plan to wear them too often.

But, geez, high heels do make legs look so good. Why must that be? What can't flat sandals make legs look good? But, I was a good girl. I took off my toe rings and put on hose and heels instead. Quite the departure for me. But I survived. I probably won't do it again until next year's conference.

Trish drove up to Salina and met me for brunch at Capers. We had a nice long chat. I got home in the late afternoon and had to unload the car, which took a long time because - of course - I overpacked. I always do when I travel by car.

Steam Engine

This afternoon, I hung out at an overpass on the interstate and waited for this. "This" is 844, an old steam engine, that is making an excursion across Kansas and other parts in the next few days.

It was a cloudy day here, and not the best train watching weather, but I'm so glad I didn't miss seeing it moving along.

Years ago I did a story on this same engine when it was named 8444, but I've never gotten to see it moving. It was magnificent.

It is in Salina tonight and tomorrow. On Monday it will be in Hutchinson. So, I'm sure I will see it yet again on this trip.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Tonight I was at the Rolling Hills Refuge near Salina. We only got to enjoy the museum tonight but I want to come back and attend the zoo portion too.

The museum is filled with taxidermed animals. I'm not generally a big fan of stuffed critters, but this is well done.

This was part of the Altrusa District Conference. This is my third conference and it's really nice to see people I've met in previous years and really enjoy.

I wonder if any of these relationships could develop into real friendships. That has happened with some of the people in my local group, but it's harder with people from other clubs that I only see once every year.

Speaking of friendships, Trish and I had an incredible lunch the other day - not the food, the conversation. I connect with her in ways I don't connect with anyone else. I've thought a lot about why that is in the last few days. It's that she has no pretense. I figured that out only today. Trish has absolutely no pretense about her - none - she just is who she is. She's very kind and very generous, and beyond that she is completely accepting of people from all walks of life. I will try to learn more from her about being without pretense. It's good to have such a model in my life.

I'm thinking a lot about different friendships these days - what restores me and what taxes me. I have to say all of my friendships are very, very, very positive. We all go through times when we are more "needy," me included. But, overall, my friends are a real joy to me. I am blessed.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Julie's Retirement

Yesterday afternoon I attended Julie's retirement reception. She had a very good turnout, including Leah and Lauren, her granddaughters. Leah is the older one.

She had lots of friends who came to wish her well. I missed Diana by a few minutes I guess. Jan was there, as well as Frances - our former mayor and now a county commissioner. Julie is loved by many in the community.

One of her coworkers made a wall hanging for her. I guess this lady does this for anyone who retires. Getting a handmade gift is so special.

Becky was there, of course, since it's her workplace too.

Julie had worked there almost 20 years so I know this is a big change, but she has a lot on her plate. And this is a good time to retire for her.

Julie's Mom and Dad and her mother in law were there, as well as her daugher and grandchildren, and four of her sisters. It's good to have family that appreciates you. I like all of Julie's sisters that I've met - very nice - very fun. They invited me to join them for coffee afterwards but I had to get ready for the cooking show.

Virginia was there, too. That's her on the left.

Taste of Home

It has been a busy couple of days - so busy I haven't been able to find time to write about it here!

Yesterday I helped with the Taste of Home Cooking Show. This is always fun to do. This was my fourth year to do it. We go in the morning and prep things - chop, dice, etc.

This year the recipes were more complex than last year so it took us longer to prepare. Then we have a break and come back and help on stage during the show.

It's a fun group to work with. The local newspaper sponsors it and Joyce Hall organizes this part of it. Her sister, Jackie, helped and Gayla - who I just adore. She's someone I've run into for years off and on but until I started doing this I didn't work closely with her. But, this is a good group - everyone works hard.

The trickiest thing for us is that we do this in the sports arena so we don't have running water where we're working. We have to haul water in from the concession stand area, half an arena away. It's the hardest part.

They really have a system. Everything is very organized. We get to keep the aprons, which I love. It's always a fun day.

I'm amazed at how excited people get to watch someone cook. Makes me think I should invite people into my kitchen for a fee.

Kristi - the new home economist - was a dream to work with and did a great job.


The news here is filled with stories about the mumps. Kansas is one of the nine states where the person who was infected flew to during her contagious stage. So, we are having quite the outbreak. I'm not sure what the fuss is about - it's not like mumps is something people don't survive. I had them when I was five, complete with a setback, and I'm still alive and well nearly 40 years later.

The way people are acting, you'd think it was some horrible thing. They're referring to it as a "dreaded disease" on CNN,while they're saying it's not really that serious. Please, make up your mind.

In actuality, it's very rare for anyone to have any serious problems, including sterility for men. It's inconvenient and unpleasant and that's about it.

I don't remember anyone being that concerned about me when I had the mumps. Nor do I recall anyone bothering to keep their kids away - better to let them get it and be over it.

If you've had the mumps, you're protected from it in the future. You can check your immunizations - you should have had TWO shots to be protected. Or, you can just assume your chances are very slim - which they are - and that it's nothing more than an inconvenience if you get them - and go on living your life normally. This, of course, would be my method.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Rain, Rain, Rain

It has rained here today. I mean... RAINED... this morning and again this evening.

But, we were lucky in Hutchinson. Wichita, and other towns nearby, had horrendous hail. Bigger than golf ball sized, some tennis ball sized. It came in three different waves this morning and did a ton of damage to buildings and cars in Wichita - even denting people's aluminum siding.

It also damaged the wheat crop. Although I've lived in Kansas a long time, I've never quite gotten the hang of the planting cycle here. But, in short, they grow "winter wheat," meaning that it grows over the winter so by now it has heads on it - that's the part that you sell. This is very bad news when hail hits.

Much of the crop is ruined. Some farmers will just cut their losses and plow it under and plant milo, trying to salvage something from the field. Even if they have federal crop insurance and they pay, that combined with the milo sale will not equal what a wheat crop would. It's the difficult life of a farmer summed up.

It has been so very dry here, but the wheat was not looking too bad considering that. And we so needed the rain, but not the hail.

We went out to Dutch Kitchen tonight for dinner and stopped to take some photos of the sunset on the way. Greg took the cool one above when we came out of the restaurant. I snapped this one of the train tracks.

We were paralleling the tracks, anticipating the arrival in a week of an old steam engine that will be on an excursion through here.

One of the last pieces I did for radio was on 8444 and now I'll get to see it again. I got one of the best quotes I ever got - this lady said, "Oh, these old steam engines just have a soul." Just as she finished, the whistle blew. The timing couldn't have been more perfect.

It will be good to see it again.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Roger Landes and Chipper Thompson

I spent an absolutely delightful afternoon listening to the music of Roger Landes and Chipper Thompson. If you have an opportunity to see them in your area, do not miss it. and for more info on each of them.

They played at the Civic Center. It was a bit warm in there - it got up to 96 this afternoon but it wasn't too bad. Well, it wasn't for us - but of course they were the ones working.

That's Landes on the left and Thompson on the right.

They were playing bouzoukis, which I was not familiar with. It was many years ago that I was a music major and I was never very good at it, which is why it was also brief. Oh, gosh, that was a former life... Although I do miss singing... but I digress. Apparently if I'd only paid more attention during The Thistle and Shamrock during my public radio career I would have known.

If you google bouzouki, you'll find many references (and spellings). It has its own wiki page, so what more needs be said. I'm just out of the loop, obviously, not that that's anything new.

The bouzouki is mainly associated with Celtic music now, but its roots are in Greece.

They had four different bouzoukis and two other stringed instruments as well as a few pieces for percussion. I'm always amazed at what gifted musicians can do with just a few pieces of equipment.

Chipper Thompson also sang on a few numbers, which was fun. To top it off, these guys were both really pleasant, and willing to chat with everyone. And they were funny, which is always a plus. I love funny.

We learned that Chipper Thompson is very fond of snakes, and they even did a song they had written together called Whippersnapper Snake, which I really liked (the song, not the reptile). I'm not going to hold his snake fascination against him. I do wish he had dropped by and taken my little visitor from last night with him.

The civic center was overflowing with music. There were about 50 people there, including Trish, Martha and Jim, and Becky. Jim had a chance to talk with them briefly about his recent trip to China with the Prairie Rose Wranglers to perform on the Great Wall.

I think the guys sold a number of CDs, which I'm happy about. I know making a living as a musician is no easy feat.

The music was a mix of tunes from various cultures including Armenian, Irish, Spanish and a host of others, as well as lots of original pieces. Many of the influences were from the Mediterranean region, which I love. It was a great afternoon.
Some of the music reminded me of things I heard in Egypt. There was a particular piece of music the taxi driver I used in Maadi played a lot in the car that I thought of today. All the Mediterranean influence had me enjoying a trip down memory lane at times.

Sometimes when you're traveling you have one of those "moments" where everything is crystal clear in your memory - the sound, the smell, the feeling - one of those for me is being in Alexandria, Egypt, and walking out to look at the Mediterranean Sea. I remember standing there, the wind blowing so hard I could barely hear my companion's words, and knowing that I was a different person than I had been before setting off on that trip.

The stars aligned for me to go to Egypt at a critical time. I needed to move past a really long-term relationship that had ended abruptly and I'm a big believer in what I call "geographic therapy." Some American expats, family of someone I knew here, graciously welcomed me into their home, and made a dream I'd had for 30 years come true. I soaked up everything in Egypt - and came back changed.

Of course, the thing about changes is that you can't ever go back. I'll never again be that woman who got on a plane alone, bound for Cairo, not knowing a word of Arabic, not having the necessary visa, never having met the people I was staying with, and figured all would work out.

I left Egypt almost a month later with a very different concept of the world and my place in it. No one in my world here has ever understood how I changed. I guess it's not of interest to anyone, as no one has ever asked. Being in that very foreign place, the first time I'd ever traveled abroad alone, I learned how to come home to me.

It was in Egypt where I accepted that I live by a different code than most. Life for me is all about this moment - only this moment.

It's why I've made big decisions in ways that seem "casual" to others. Nothing is casual to me - nothing at all. It's all intense - if I'm having a sip of ice cold freshly squeezed lemonade on a scorching hot day, or being kissed gently while the Nile river rushes by below, or sitting on a bench in Monet's garden at Giverny speaking in my halting French to a young child who approached me - it's all intense. And when I fall in love - oh my gosh - intense can't even begin to describe it. I live my life at 110 mph all the time. When you hit a wall going that speed it really hurts. But the ride is amazing. And I'm not willing to give up the ride. Never. I'll take my lumps at the end of it, but I'm not giving it up.

Most of my life people have been admonishing me to "think things through" and "be careful" and "think about what you're doing." What I realized in Egypt was that while they were thinking things through I was living and that one can't really do both. You're either living the moment or spending it thinking about another one in the future; then not living that one while you're planning for yet another one. It's not the life for me.

While others were considering their options, I was going to an Egyptian wedding and crawling around in the Tomb of Ti and climbing the red pyramid. To each his own, but I don't want to think things through. I can't waste the time. We're not here forever. Who knows what the next world will be like, I want to enjoy this one because it's all I have right now.

Thinking things through is not how one ends up inside the Step Pyramid, even though it's closed to the public. It's not how one gets the chance to be alone inside the pyramid of Unas, even though it's closed. Those were two things I desperately wanted to see. Fortunately, an educator I met at Sakkara made those dreams come true for me, as well as that trip to Alexandria.

I wanted to see the spot in Alexandria where Eratosthenes had measured the shadow that gave him a nearly accurate measurement of the Earth's circumference in the third century BC. As my trip was going so quickly, I thought I might not make it to Alexandria, and then this young man offered to go with me and negotiate all the Arabic that would be necessary for me if I wanted. I did.

I realized the day I bought the tickets to Alexandria that the Egyptian way of life really suited me in the context of "whatever will be, will be." They say, "inshallah" - meaning if Allah is willing then it will happen.

Having grown up in the American culture, I guess I never knew there were others like me out there - people who don't care to claw their way to the top of some infamous ladder that no one can even see - but who just want to live and love and laugh and feel and experience. I found, instead, that there are entire nations filled with such people. There just aren't very many of them in the United States or Europe where I had traveled previously.

I no longer belabor giving in to my whims. It may not suit everyone, but it's my way. I'll take my chances it's going to end badly, but I'm not willing to give up the chance it could be amazing.

Some people keep schedules and like it. I keep a schedule because I have to. I'd much rather live by the moment, not by the hour.

Wild Violets

Today is the first time I've seen wild violets blooming in my back yard. It's officially spring. My mom loved wild violets and I never had them in Kansas until the first year I lived i my house, the spring after my mom died. I love their delicate little blooms. They are plentiful in my backyard and I love that. If I knew how to get more of them, I would.

Women's Show

Today was the Fifth Annual Soroptimist's Women's Show at the fairgrounds. They are very generous in giving free space to non profits and the MHA is one of them.

There were lots of people there I knew. Kathie was at the Democratic Women's Club Booth and I also saw Leah working the RSVP booth. That's Leah on the left and Cindy on the right. Cindy is a Soroptimist, so she was very busy today.

I started at 9 this morning and ended at 4. Trish came out and gave me a break and I went and got lunch. That was wonderful to have a break in the day.

I talked to lots of people. I'm still amazed at the education we need to do about mental health issues.

I had a great spot today. Right next to me was the La Leche league and the lady working this morning had her two month old with her. She let me hold the baby for a long time, which was lovely.

Brandi is the baby's name. She was a little doll - just sleeping away. Mom positioned her so I could get a photo. She was a sweetie. And I think maybe she is used to having her photo taken. She seems to be posing, even at 2 months old.

On the other side, with just one table inbetween us, was Burdette's Birdies. Peaches was entertaining numerous people. She was a cool bird. It doesn't show up well in my photos, but she was a beautiful peach color.

Cockatoos live to be 60-70 years old and Peaches is only 8. Her owner has made arrangements for her neice to take Peaches if something happens to her.

At one point, Peaches was resting her head on her owner's shoulder and it was just adorable. She went to a number of different people today at various times. I'm not generally a big fan of birds, but I'm making an exception for Peaches.

This afternoon Terry's Tai Chi class was doing a demonstration. His teacher, Joya, is just marvelous. I've gotten to know her a little bit and really like her. Today is the first time I've seen her do Tai Chi and it was incredible - she is so graceful.

After the show, I headed home to do some things around the house. Late tonight I went out for some groceries. When I'm out of yogurt, apples or pop I have to shop. I was out of yogurt and down to one apple so it was definitely time.

I ran into Terry out there and chatted with him a while. When I got home and was bringing my groceries in, I saw something that I did NOT enjoy.

Yes, that's right, a tiny little snake. I HATE snakes. Hate 'em, hate 'em, hate 'em. And yes, I know all the reasons they're wonderful. I just want them to be wonderful somewhere other than around me. And here this one was right by my front porch. I don't like it all. Not at all... and my ankle hurts now where I got bitten by one last year. Apparently they don't like me much, either.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Podcasting Growing

Libsyn, which hosts many podcasts, announced today that in the first quarter of 2006, there has been a 200% increase in listeners compared to last quarter. They say more than 45 million people listened/viewed podcasts off the Libsyn network in this quarter.

Most people are getting their podcasts from iTunes. I wish they had a category that was more in line with my Art of Gracious Living podcast.

You can read more of the whole report at

Art of Gracious Living #19

Click here for show #19 and it will automatically download for you. You can listen to podcasts on your computer. You don't need an iPod or any additional software.

This past week I had an opportunity to see former Polish President Lech Walesa at a lecture. I was reminded that just a few months ago I was listening to former Russian President Gorbachev.

I do not live in a major city where such things happen regularly. I just try to take advantage of whatever is offered in my area - a small midwestern town. Hearing the perspective of different people causes us to consider our own lives in a new light.

It's natural for humans to take things for granted in our communities, but breaking that habit can help us all lead more gracious lives.

Click here for the Art of Gracious Living page at the Podcaster News Network

Click here for the Art of Gracious Living RSS feed

Internet Threat

Congress is considering a bill to make the internet less available to all of us.

This is from MoveOn, a reputable organization. I am on their mailing list but had overlooked this. Martha sent it this morning. I have signed the petition and urge you to do so as well. Surely we can keep ONE thing free in this country.


Congress is now pushing a law that would end the free and open Internet as we know it. Internet providers like AT&T and Verizon are lobbying Congress hard to gut Network Neutrality, the Internet's First Amendment. Net Neutrality prevents AT&T from choosing which websites open most easily for you based on which site pays AT&T more. So Amazon doesn't have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to work more properly on your computer.

Many members of Congress take campaign contributions from these companies, and they don't think the public are paying attention to this issue. Let's show them we care - please sign this petition today.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tech Support

I should start every single phone call to Cox Tech Support by telling them, "please, do not at any time during this call use the phrase, 'we do not support...'" It must be their most often used phrase and it ticks me off every time I hear it. You'd think they might make the connection that people who are high speed customers might be more heavy duty computer users and therefore might have ventured beyond Outlook.

"Is there a router hooked up" would be a close second as to their most often used phrase. In all the times I've called them - once it was the router.

After a while, I start to believe they cannot diagnose or fix any problems so it's easier to just hope there's a router they can blame for the problem. If that doesn't work, they just don't support whatever program you're using that you happen to have a problem with.

I will say for them, however, that I always get a native English speaker, which I appreciate.

And, in reality, this problem will probably self correct. Someone will discover there's a problem after a few hundred more people call and complain. So, I guess I'll just wait.

Unknown Traumas

I've been hunched over the computer all day today. I'm getting weary of that. But, one more day and I think I'll have this project done. I have to have it done by Friday so I only have tomorrow to do it. The next few weeks are overflowing with projects and I'm worn out already. Today I was just exhausted, even though I had a lot of sleep for me.

Yesterday I had lunch with Virginia and it was really nice to visit with her. Today I lunched with Trish and - as always - it was insightful.

Tonight Greg and I had a conversation with a gentleman at a restaurant who happened to mention in passing that he had lost a child a couple of years ago. It struck me that you just never know what trauma people have suffered. You never, ever, know. It was a reminder to me to be kind to people, because you never know what they're going through or coming through.

Art of Gracious Living #18

Click here for show #18 and it will automatically download for you. You can listen to podcasts on your computer. You don't need any additional software.

Watching a sunset recently made me consider why I always try to burn such a memory into my brain. It's because there is never a tomorrow for me - only this moment.

Appreciating every experience is part of leading a more gracious life. Take time this week to fully "be" in at least one moment. Soak it up with every sense.

Click here for show #18 and it will automatically download for you. You can listen to podcasts on your computer. You don't need any additional software.

Click here for the Art of Gracious Living page at the Podcaster News Network

Click here for the Art of Gracious Living RSS feed

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Scenes from My World

I took this photo late this afternoon. I'm very pleased with how it turned out. The white tulips are so delicate looking. I may have to print a copy of this.

I have other things starting to bloom, but still have empty spaces in the flower bed. I'm trying to take some pix as the spring progresses so next fall I'll know where I need to plant more bulbs.

I went to Lowes tonight to see what they had and although the store here didn't have as much selection as the one in Joplin did, they were selling beautiful Easter Lillies on clearance for $1. I brought three of those home. I got some raspberry bushes at the Joplin store on clearance - for $2 each. Hard to believe it's already clearance time for plants.

I'm not sure if you can plant Easter Lillies outdoors, but I'm betting you can. At only $3 for all of them, I'll just enjoy them inside if not. I need to do a little research on it yet.

I cannot resist having bouquets at home and at the office. This one I have on my desk at home has mint in it. I pulled up a lot today - not all of it, but a lot of it. More will grow. And that's what I love about mint. People say it's "invasive." I just say it's "hardy," and I like hardy. It grows easily, it smells good and it lasts a long time in water - seems like a nearly perfect plant to me. My office smells wonderful and so do my hands from when I picked it.

On the way back from Joplin, Greg and I stopped and ate at Mrs. C's in Fredonia. We found it through the Kansas Guidebook (of course!). The food wasn't spectacular, but it was OK and it was plentiful.

I snapped this photo as we came out of the restaurant. It's pretty much small town Kansas courthouse square. If you look closely, you can see the flag flying in the distance. Fredonia sports a very large flag. Very large.

Easter was nice with Miss Joy. Greg made baskets for all of us, which was cool. Can one ever have too much chocolate?

Monday, April 17, 2006


I am sad tonight. Profoundly, deeply, sad.

It will pass...

It has been a quiet Easter for me. We went to lunch and then I've worked on projects most of the afternoon and evening.

I had a lot of MHA things I wanted to get done and have managed to get a lot of things out the door, so that's good. I love the idea that at 8 a.m. numerous people will find things in their email from me!

I've also been working on the podcasts for the press packet for Art of Gracious Living. I'm hoping to finish that up this week if at all possible. Frankly, it seems I'm working on something every moment of every bit of free time away from work and I still can't get everything done I want to do.

I emailed the materials I had done already to a few people late last week, and got some great suggestions from people of things I could do differently. I'm going to work on those tomorrow night I hope. I try to schedule things into my world and when something changes, it can really throw things out of whack.

I found out earlier this week that I've been accepted to an artist's retreat next month so I have to get a lot done so I can go to that. I've never had a whole week to devote to nothing but creating, so it will be interesting I'm sure.

I had my last coaching session last week and I'm missing the idea of it, but am so incredibly thankful for the experience. She really did me a world of good in so many ways. (

Just found out that the Hutchinson News did quote me in their piece on Lech Walesa. I'll copy it over at the end of this post, but it's at However, they don't keep things online very long.

Well, I'm going to set the computer to do a couple of things that are rather resource consuming while I sleep. So, I'd best get it going.

Hope your Easter was lovely.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Today is Miss Joy's birthday. It's always so good to see her. We've had a very laid back day, but I hope it was a good one for her.

LV stopped by with roses and candy. He is the sweetest man. I told him today he needs to train all men.

Greg wanted to get a photo of them kissing but the darn delay on the digital camera meant it took a couple of tries.

At the end of the day she was cuddling with Miss Kitty.

Last night on the way here we were treated to a lovely sunset. We were not where we had a nice foreground for a photo but didn't want to miss capturing the moment nonetheless.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Lech Walesa at Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College

Friday morning I went to hear Lech Walesa speak at the Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College. This was the 25th anniversary lecture. It was an incredible morning.

He spoke through his interpreter, who was charming in her own right. But, that is to say that when I quote things here, they are the words of his interpreter.

The thing that really struck me about him was his humor. He made many jokes during the presentation and also at the lecture. It's not something you expect from a world leader. I'm afraid I have not captured his humor here, as it does not translate well to the written word, but he was funny.

Walesa became the first democratically elected president of Poland in 1990, with a 74% majority. Ten years earlier, he had climbed a bulldozer and given a rousing speech during a worker's strike in the Lenin shipyard. The strike spread to other places and the Solidarity movement was born.

Walesa stated that he had been a dissident for 20 years and had found about 10 people who agreed with him. After the Pope's visit it was a change overnight to thousands of people who were willing to speak out against communism.

He said the Soviets developed a plan to reform Communism and put Gorbachev in place to "save it." Walesa said, "we knew it was impossible... And that reformer failed in every attempt... we expected total failure, and that is his success... so do not feel discouraged if you fail. You might end up with another prize. That man was awarded another Peace Prize."

Walesa talked about how things are different today than when there were two superpowers. "That era is over. Now we have another one... we must adopt a global apporach or we will not survive the 21st Century."

He said we must enlarge our views. He said ecology and the environment are areas that we must look at globally and that others we need to determine if we should approach them locally or globally.

He said one of America's greatest assets is that we have demonstrated to the world that peaceful coexistence is possible, that Jews live next door to Christains and Russians live next door to Germans and everyone gets along. He implored us to, "please, do all you can to not waste the opportunity. The world is beautiful and can be secure. We have to be prepared for the world to be peaceful. We need structure. When we think together we have the best opportunity to find answers." He went on to say later, "This is an important time. In a few years your children and grandchildren will ask, 'where were you?'"

At the luncheon he made some more remarks, and also took questions, just as he did at the speech.

He spoke more at length about Gorbachev at the luncheon. That was very interesting for me since I saw Gorbachev in October in Lindsborg. Walesa said, "Gorbachev played the role he was forced to play - not out of his own desire." He said the last time he saw Gorbachev he told him, "You are a hero, but by accident."

When asked about Putin he said he wasn't sure yet, that he saw two sides of the man. One was very much about rebuilding and the other was about regaining power. He said the economic sitution was hard on Soveit block countries because Russia had set it up so Poland would build half of a machine, but the other half was built in Russia. The same with other countries. But, after the breakup, Russia was left with lots of halves of machines. He cautioned that, "The greater the progress, the greater the danger. The more we need values. Only values can help us survive."

He said that all experts said there was no way Poland could break away and that it was only values that made it possible.

He ended his comments at the luncheon by saying that for 25 years he has wanted the "United States of Europe," a gathering of leaders of Europe and he joked that he was sure they would vote for him for President. Then he said his next mission would be to work to get that organization with the United States of America and he hoped we would vote for him for president of that group. Then he said there would be the United States of Asia and of course he would want to be president of that as well. He had everyone laughing and greatly enjoying his visit.

He said the US must either reform the UN or establish another entity like it for a global parliment. That the US must develop something like the security council for a global government. And something like NATO for global forces. He said the US must take the lead, as they are the only superpower.

He said no one would give up their individual freedoms, but we would allow these entities to deal with awkward situations. He said there were three spheres of problems these organizations would handle. 1. border conflicts. 2. Anti-semitism, racism, ethic cleansing, etc. 3. Terrorists.

He said, "We cannot have a world where the US starts all conflicts. The rest of the world needs the US even more than you who are living here do. Otherwise, the rest of the world is deprived of hope."

We are priviledged to have this Lecture Series, named for Ray and Stella Dillon, who started the Dillon grocery chain, now part of Kroger. The series was started by Jeanette Mull, who you can see in the luncheon photos, directly to Walesa's right, and by Barbara Peirce, who I've written about on the blog recently when Gorden Parks died. Barbara died a few years ago and she is greatly missed in this community. To Walesa's left is Ken, who was Barbara's husband.

The lecture series is hosted by Hutchinson Community College. President Ed Berger presented Walesa with a logo shirt from the college. Dr. Berger is a really nice guy. He and his wife, Carol, are wonderful folks. That is Walesa's interpreter off to the right in the photo.

Good Friday

It has been a wonderful Good Friday. I went to hear Lech Walesa this morning. It was inspiring. I'm too tired to really do it justice tonight, but tomorrow I'll try to write a more detailed account of what he had to say.

Friday, April 14, 2006


At this time of year, I'm always glad that I invested energy in planting flowers last fall.

I have more things coming up still. I don't think all the tulips and daffodils I planted bloomed, but maybe they did. I know I've really enjoyed the hyacinths and tulips. I do have some other things coming up that I'm not sure yet what they are.

I bought a clematis last year at the end of the season, on clearance for about fifty cents if I remember correctly. I stuck it in the ground and figured I'd see what happened. Well, the little thing is only about two inches tall, but it's blooming. Now I call that hardy!

I love having flowers inside. That's the whole reason I want to plant is so I can cut them and bring them inside. I took these to my office yesterday. I love the combo of them.

The only trick I have now is to figure out how to kill the weeds in the flower bed without hurting the flowers. Seems there's always something!

Thursday, April 13, 2006


For today and its blessings, I owe the world an attitude of gratitude.
Clarence E. Hodges

Creative Sisterhood

Tonight was Creative Sisterhood and it was a really good evening. Of course, maybe I'm saying that because I talked so much tonight. I try to not talk so much, but tonight I was a chatter box. Everyone was generous in letting me do that.

Diana forgot and didn't see my email until after it was over and Virginia had a work commitment. For awhile it was just Teresa, Martha and me, but Julie came after taking her son and his family to the airport. I'm sorry I didn't get Diana called - I thought about it this afternoon but just didn't get it done.

I tried a new recipe tonight that I found on I made it in a 9 by 13 pan and it wasn't very pretty, but it was good. I'm sharing it here in case you'd like to try it yourself. Of course, everything is good with cream cheese frosting. I didn't put the pecans in the frosting, but put them in the cake. I think I'd leave them out next time.

Tonight was good. I'm restored by friendships.

Precious Pineapple Cake

1/2 cup margarine, softened
3 eggs
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 3 - 8 inch round pans.
2. In a large bowl cream 1/2 cup margarine until smooth. Blend in the eggs. Add the cake mix and crushed pineapple with juice and mix until smooth. Stir in the 1/2 cup chopped pecans.
3. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers of the cakes comes out clean. Allow to cool.
4. To make the frosting: In a medium bowl cream 1/2 cup softened margarine and the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually blend in the confectioners' sugar and 1/2 cup chopped pecans.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tea and Nuns

Today was a really full day - seems like I've been going for more than just one day and I have to get an early start tomorrow, too.

This afternoon I was so frazzled that I just couldn't think anymore. So, I got out my tea tray - something I've kept at every workplace for the past few years. Mine is simple - an old tray, a tea pot and a pretty cup and saucer. I took about 15 minutes and did nothing but drink a cup of tea. It was restorative. I went back to the task at hand with more energy.

I worked until almost 7, when I went to The Dancing Grouse for tonight's teaching from the Buddist nun who comes each week. This is the first time I've been able to go. It's on Tuesday and I have something more Tuesdays. Tonight I skipped something else to go to that. It was good.

The topic tonight was about anger and how it's a negative in our lives, but gives us an opportunity to practice patience. I took some notes that I will examine when I'm a little fresher.

Jennifer was there tonight. I haven't seen her in ages. She came with Debbie. Get out your score card. Jennifer is Leah's mom, and Leah works with Debbie. I used to work in the same building with them, at the same place where Teresa works. Teresa used to work with Debbie years ago. I know - we need a diagram. It's a small town, what can I say?

Also there tonight was Vicki, who I hadn't seen in ages. It was good to visit with her a little bit.

I had a nice lunch with Trish today and noticed on my way back to the office how spring-y things are looking. When I got back to the office, Peggy was coming in the door so I got to visit with her a little bit.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Toes Know

Does this picture say:
A. I should have someone else paint my toenails because I'm too messy.
B. It's sandal weather.
C. The technology of digital cameras could be put to much better use than taking pictures of feet.

OK, it's all of them. But I took the photo for reason "B." Today is the first day this spring I've worn sandals.

I had a busy day and did some running around in between working on the computer. I squeezed in a hair cut. My hair was getting scraggly looking and I had a $10 off coupon for Regis. So, ding, ding, ding, we have a winner. I also got a little sample bag of some shampoo and conditioner so that was a good visit.

While I was at the mall - not a place I go often - I popped in to see Jocelyn at Dillards. I sniffed my way around the perfume counter and left with two dozen little cards of various sorts. I think I'm in love with Burberry London, Ralph Lauren Hot, and Blue Turquoise. I'll have to smell them on me, instead of just on the card, but I like the scents.

The afternoon was spent hunched over the computer screen again. Then there was an AHC board meeting and then dinner with Peggy to go over some Altrusa things.

Since getting home I've been working on tons of things but I'm tuckered out. Time for beddy bye for me.


We are witnessing a very important time in our country's history. The demonstrations about immigration reform are democracy in action. We so rarely note these things when they're happening, but - heads up - this is one of them - don't miss it.

It's simple to me. Of course I want to offer education to the children of immigrants, regardless of the status of their parents. Of course I want everyone - including immigrants, regardless of their status - to have health care. Of course I want people to feel secure in their lives and not be constantly looking over their shoulders, worried about being deported.

Naturally, there are some "bad seeds" in any group you can imagine - from religious leaders to mothers. But, the vast majority of immigrants are here because they want a better life. They're not here to break the law. They just want to live a life with some basic needs met. While I'm thinking about what "perks" I have, many of these people are just trying to cover their needs and that of their loved ones.

People are just people - all over the world. We're really rather simple creatures. Maslow had us all figured out. Maslow's most basic need is safety and it's something someone who's constantly worrying about deportation does not have.It's at the bottom of the pyramid. How sad that those of us higher up on the pyramid - who have our basic needs met - want to keep others from reaching up to us, and beyond us.

If you've ever eaten chicken that's mass produced, or smoked a cigarette, or had your roof repaired, or eaten out, or had your shirt cleaned, or eaten food grown on a US corporate farm, then you've probably benefited from illegal workers. So don't go getting all uppity about how awful it is that "those people" are taking over the country. You're a hypocrite. "Those people" have made it possible for you to reach a higher rung on Maslow's pyramid. You're standing on their shoulders. If you're not willing to stretch out your hand to offer them a hand up to a level where they're not worried about their basic safety, at least try not to step on their heads while you're standing above them.

For a nation that was founded by immigrants, it's astonishing we're so hateful toward them. I'm a mixed bag of French, English, German, and who knows what else. Mix it all together and it's just "American." That story, with modifications, can be repeated by almost everyone in this country. And at one time or another in our nation's history, almost every immigrant group was hated. It was said they were going to ruin the nation. People changed their last names so as not to show their nationality. My German ancestors were "Kruse" but changed it to "Crews" to be more American.

Why do we want to deny a life in the US to others who want it? What is it that we're protecting? Our American way of life? There is no such thing that is defined and static. It's fluid. The American way of life is different now than it was 50 years ago, even 5 years ago, and it will be different 10 years from now. Why can we not define that with additional citizens in our mix?

I hear the argument that people are a drain on the system. Well, of course they are. The majority of them are not paying taxes, and employers are not paying taxes on them. Is that their fault? No. It's our fault for demanding cheap goods and services. Technically, people can get a tax ID number and pay their taxes, even if they're illegal, but I can imagine that that would set off alarms if I were in their situation. I don't think I'd march into an office and send the government something with my address on it, stating that I'm illegal.

It all boils down to that we want to hold onto everything we have, and we want more. We're the bully on the playground who wants to gather all the toys up and keep them all for ourselves, even though we can only play with one of them at a time. We want to have a whole class of people who will work for less because they have to, and because employers can then avoid paying them what they're worth, so we all get products and services for less, so we can all climb a little higher on the pyramid. There's a name for that class of people. We call them slaves. We've just dressed it up a little differently, but that's what it is - not paying people what they're worth and having a whole class devoted to serving the rich (and trust me, all middle class people are rich by the general living standard in Mexico). It's called slavery. Let us not forget it.

Of course, you can argue that people are doing it willingly. Well, when you have no other choice, it's not the same as being willing. I am reminded of the words written by Maya Angelou, "At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice." I, unfortunately, know exactly what that sentence means, and I bet everyone on those marches does too. Ah, but, resistance is coming - in fact it has arrived. And it's a healthy thing for us as a nation to experience.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Art of Gracious Living Logo and Cleaning Binge

Heaven help us all, I'm on a cleaning binge. Not just my usual - make it look better than it really is - kind of cleaning. Oh no, I've made a HUGE mess today, dragging things out of closets. Piles everywhere. I don't know any other way to do these things. But it sure makes a mess in the process.

Wednesday night is Creative Sisterhood and I'm sure it's still going to be a mess by then. But, so it goes. My house is always a work in progress.

Last night I started cleaning off my desk. That always turns into a major problem because my desk is sort of my "control center" at home. I spend the majority of my time at the desk, working on various projects. So, it gets very messy. But I can actually see some wood on it tonight.

Less than I could this afternoon because there are tons of linens on the corner now. Why? Well, reference cleaning binge - I took them out of the linen closet in the hallway because it's what I'm working on now. And, I used them for a project tonight. I've been working on a logo for the Art of Gracious Living Podcast. So, I used some as background for the photo. Here's where I'm at on that at the moment. But for tonight, I'm done. No more projects. Sleep is next on the agenda.