Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Art of Gracious Living #24

Art of Gracious Living #24

Click here for show #24 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.

I gathered with some friends recently that I see each month. We take turns going around the circle and discussing what is on our mind.

When it was my turn I was talking about the recent artist's retreat I went on and other tidbits about my life. There was nothing extraordinary in what I was saying, and yet I noticed that everyone in the room was giving me their rapt attention.

I was struck by what an incredible gift it is when people truly listen to what you're saying. It also gave me reason to consider if I extend myself to others in that fashion.

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, May 30, 2006

Communication style

Communication is just an interesting phenomenon.

Communication theory indicates that "male style" communication is generally more matter of fact, and people who are more emotionally based when it comes to communication find that difficult. I see this all the time. People get bent out of shape when someone is just direct. Of course, I like it when people are direct - I like to know where I stand.

Women tend to talk more in terms of "I think we should," or "I feel it would be best..." Men tend to talk more in terms of "I decided..." or "We are going to..." Of course, there are people of both genders who cross beyond those specifics.

I had to teach myself the more female style of communication because I grew up with lots of boys and men, and very strong willed women, and didn't develop that naturally. Once I entered the business world, I learned it was very difficult for people to accept a male style of communication out of a female - oddly enough it was never men who had an issue with it in my case, but other women. Men liked the fact that I could just say what I meant/wanted/needed. But the other women I worked with did not like it that I didn't use the "softer" way of communicating. It took me years to remind myself to say, "I think we should..." instead of just saying "I want this to be..."

I've learned to fake it enough to get by, but it is still not natural for me to talk in those ways. If you already know you want to print the project on green paper, I can't imagine why you want to spend 20 minutes talking about why you should print it on green paper, and soliciting other people's opinions about the green paper. I'd rather take thirty seconds to call the printer with the decision and spend the other 19 1/2 minutes doing something productive or relaxing.

I've noticed the same thing on discussion lists. There's a situation now on a list where a gentleman who is very polite, but very "no frills" in communicating, has been chastised by someone for his "terse" emails. He's not terse - he's just matter of fact. I feel for him so much because I've been told similar things just because I'm definitive. It gets old. Really old. And it makes you just not want to communicate with anyone who doesn't respect people who can just say what they mean.

It's probably why I've not been reading any of my former discussion list email for many months now.
It's been a very nice Memorial Day. Greg and I took Mia and Mark out to lunch to thank them for their generous help to us yesterday in chauffering us to and from the train. It's good to have such great friends who will come to your aid for things that might not seem like the most necessary and logical ways you could spend your time.

I've been working on the Union Pacific No. 844 story, which I'll be posting here as soon as it's ready. It's quite an amazing tale with many facets. I know some of you are very eager to see it and I promise we will post it as soon as possible, but tomorrow I must get back to that regular job of mine and it does take some time and energy. I've been reading over my notes tonight and also did a couple of phone interviews to flesh things out. Greg is working on his photos and some of them are spectacular.

Mark had to leave town early today, right after lunch. But later in the afternoon Greg, his mom, Mia and I went over to LV's pool and swam for a couple of hours. We then chowed down on BBQ and topped it off with watermelon.

I think we hit all the typical summer things - swimming, BBQ and watermelon - in the space of a few hours. That seems fitting for the traditional start of the summer season. I spent a large part of the time floating, as is evidenced by the photo. I'm not sure how many more things we could have worked in that typically scream "summer." None of us are beer drinkers - that's about the only additional thing I can think of. Fortunately, Mia had a better idea - she made coconut pie tonight. It might not be traditionally summer-y, but it was fabulous pie.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Today I have had an extraordinary experience - being transported back to the days of the steam engines. Greg and I were priviledged to be aboard Union Pacific 844 as it went from Claremore, OK to Kansas City's Union Station. Expect a lengthy story here, with many photos, as soon as I have a chance to write it. I talked to numerous other passengers today, as well as Union Pacific employees, about the event.

We left at 5:30 this morning and returned after 11 p.m. I haven't even had a chance to download the photos yet, but rest assured this wlll happen shortly.

I think you, like me, will be surprised at some of the details I picked up today - not the least of which is that Union Pacific has more business than they can handle. It's so refreshing to hear a company talk about being in a growth mode instead of downsizing.

For the moment, i must sleep in order to be coherent. Tomorrow, we will take Mia and Mark out to a nice lunch because they were kind enough to drive us to OK and from KC. It's good to have really good friends.

Well, I'm off to slumber land where I'll no doubt dream about puffs of steam and train whistles tonight.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I'm feeling like my life has gotten a bit dull and ordinary. I think I'm in need of an adventure very soon - something unusual - something I've never done - something fun. I'm not sure what it is yet, but I know I need it.

I've gotten too entrenched in daily life. There's the house and garden, volunteer work, organizations, gatherings, details, board meetings, events to plan, projects to do, and work. I've become the soccer mom without the kids or the soccer. I have to break that mold and fast. I do not want to live a life stuck in routine. I realize some people love life to be that way, and more power to them - goodness knows I envy them sometimes because that would be so much easier to achieve.

But that is not how I want my life to be. I want my life to be filled with newness and exciting things and adventure. I want every day to have something in it that makes me say, "hmmm... I've never done that before." It doesn't have to be anything major, but every day should offer some opportunity for something new and different - a new restaurant, a town you've not been to, a person you've not met, a pie you've not tasted, a flower you've not smelled, a rock you've not seen - something. We live in an amazing world - everyday should have something new in it.

This begs the question of when was the last time I did something I've never done before. Hmmm... I'll have to think about that. But it wasn't today. Yet. But it's only 4 p.m. - I still have time. I'll report back.

Friday, May 26, 2006

I have a number of flowers blooming in the front flowerbed now. This lily plant has looked like it was ready to bloom for about three weeks. Finally a couple of days ago one popped open. By the end of the day another was open. Now a half dozen are open. I hope they last for awhile. They're very pretty. I think I'll plant some more things like this.

Last year I invested in a lot of perennials. And "invested" is the correct term. Gardening is not for those who hesitate to whip out the Visa card. It can get quite pricey. But this year when things started coming up on their own, it seemed like it was a good thing to spend time and money on last year

I lost three coneflower plants. I didn't even know you could kill those things - they're suppposed to be very prolific - but I lost all of mine.

One of the garden tour folks told me the other day that although this was a mild winter, the two cold snaps took a lot of things because the plants had not hardened off. My lambs ear stayed green all winter. I have vinca blooming in the snow. So, I'm not sure how weirded out all the plants are.

The mint is doing well. I know some call it "invasive," I just call it "hardy." And I have quite a few morning glories coming up already. I did the string for them last weekend. I always think I'm incredibly optimistic that I'm putting up 12 feet of string when the plants are an inch tall. But, once they start growing, they can really grow fast.

I love viney things that give that wild, overgrown look. My honeysuckle bloomed ever so briefly but I missed getting a photo of it. Hopefully it will bloom yet more.

This year I have also planted a few tomato plants, a cucumber, a pepper, some shallots, and basil. I'm hoping all those things do well. I so desperately want to enjoy home grown tomatoes with fresh mozzarella with basil flavored olive oil this summer. We'll see if that can happen. I hope so.

Unfortunately, it went from days of temps around 70 to days of temps in the 90s. I need to harden off just like plants, but didn't get the chance this summer. Summer just arrived with a vengence.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Your Good Thoughts Requested

About three weeks ago, my brother, Jim, was diagnosed with lung cancer, the same disease that took our father 33 years ago. On May 11, the 5 year anniversary of our mother's death, they gave him 6 months to live. Monday he had a bone scan and today called to tell me it has not spread to his bones. So, he may now be able to have chemotherapy, which may well save his life.

Needless to say, this has been uppermost in my mind. My brother just turned 65 at the end of last month. He has been doing so much better since some unrelated surgery a few weeks ago. He has sounded lots better and said he has been feeling better. I was hoping he would be able to enjoy life a bit, with good health, and then they found this.

I firmly believe in the power of prayer and positive thought. So, I ask you to remember Jim in your prayers, or whatever thought process you practice.

I've had a number of emails from readers, asking why I've been spotty in posting and that is why. I will continue to write here about my daily life with its ups and downs, but felt I owed you an explanation of why I have been absent so much lately. This is all I've been able to think about since Jim called me two weeks ago.

Thank you for your prayers and good wishes.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Art of Gracious Living #23

Click here for show #23 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.

Julia Cameron talks about �filling the well� in her book, �The Artist's Way.� It's a concept that can be applied to all aspects of our lives. She suggests weekly artist's dates to restore the creative energy we all need.

I recently spent a week alone in a small cabin in the woods at an artist's retreat. I was reminded how important it is to have time to be in our own company. When we are alone, we have the opportunity to ask the questions, and also to hear the answers.

It was also enlightening to get together with the other artists in the evenings and share our work. Artists and writers have been doing this for centuries. It obviously fills a need. But, most people create alone.

Humans are social creatures, we do need time to spend with ourselves.

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, May 23, 2006

Busy Days and Nights

I've had a few busy days. The garden tour that we do as a fundraiser has sort of fallen apart and I've been patching it back together. But, it's going to be one of the best ones we've ever had. We're ending up with some great sites. So, things work out the way they're supposed to I suppose.

Tonight was Altrusa's installation of new officers for the coming year. I haven't been in a while - I've been out of town or had a conflict all but one meeting night in the last few months. And that night I was working on things, trying to get ready to be gone. So, I'm glad I made it tonight.

I have managed to get some plants in the ground in the last few days. I planted about 50 lily of the valley very early this morning. I'm hoping they all come up in the spring. I adore Lily of the Valley and have never had any. Hopefully next year I'll have lots. They are the best smelling flower ever, I think. By noon it was very hot so I was glad I made that an early morning project.

I also planted a few tomato plants, one pepper and one cucumber plant. We'll see how that goes. I've not planted veggies in many years. Of course, they're saying we may get storms with hail tonight, so I may be buying new plants and planting them in the next couple of days. We do have some thunder and lightning. Just a few hours ago, this was all north of us and we weren't expecting anything. I'm continually amazed at how weather forecasters are clueless. I know about the butterfly effect but - good grief - it would seem surely we could manage a few hours in advance these days.

When I got in about 9:30 tonight I flipped on the TV and Travis Barker was playing in a tribute to Buck Owens on the Country Music Awards. I do have to admit that I love the way music has gone the last few years - particularly country music - where genres have blended together. It's fun to see Loretta Lynn and Jack White together. It's fun to see Dwight Yoakum, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top, Brad Paisley and Travis Barker play together. I wonder what that rehearsal was like.

Well, I need to go make a new to do list. I have a ton of things I need to accomplish in the next two days and they won't happen without a list from which to work. And I need to sleep at some point. Seems so hard to find time for that.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The weekend

It's nearly 10:30 on Sunday night and I haven't gotten nearly as much done this weekend as I'd hoped. I could use another weekend day.

Yesterday I did a lot of work outside. It was cloudy and cool. I got the strings up for the morning glories to climb on and I did some other gardening things. This morning was much the same way so I took advantage of the cool weather then too. Unfortunately, this afternoon it got hot and apparently it's going to be that way all week. I still have more gardening things to get done. I guess I'll try to get up extra early and do it before work. It is just too miserable when it's 94 degrees to be doing much outdoors. At least for me.

This afternoon Terry and I went to the Fox to see Napoleon Dynamite. I hadn't seen it before. I rarely go to movies, but I'd heard so much about the need to Vote for Pedro that I wanted to see it. I'm glad I did. It was fun.
My weekend was capped off with a home cooked meal, which was nice. Sondra invited me over for dinner tonight. She cooked green beans and potatoes and corn on the cob, as well as salad. It was great.

I have been getting up really early lately. For some reason I just keep waking up early - not sure why - but I do. Of course, if I want to get some gardening done early that's just as well.

The Party Guys

I like smart guys. Guys who are thinkers. Guys who are responsible. Guys who's idea of a hot time on the old town tonight is dinner out at a restaurant where my food is being served to me on an actual plate, but where my jeans are appropriate attire. And, no, I don't want to go to a movie. I'd rather just go home after dinner.

So, given this, why is it that for 25 years it has been the party guys that are attracted to me? I don't even know how I meet party guys. I haven't been in a bar in... well... I can't recall when I was last in a bar... probably before I was old enough to be in a bar. But the party guys find me. They find me at the local deli, in airports, and at the grocery store. They approach me on the Paris subway, the Paducah library, at the local greenhouse, and at the carwash. They talk to me in museums, Wal-mart parking lots, on the streets of Luxor and in downtown Hutchinson. How can this possibly be?

As I was being hit on today while washing my car I was thinking about the various places party guys have found me. I'm sure I'll think of others - these were just some of the more memorable ones off the top of my head. Speaking the same language isn't even necessary - maybe "party" is the same in any language.

What is it about me that attracts party guys? With smart guys I almost always have to make the first move, or give them lots of encouragement. And at some point in the relationship we generally have a conversation about how they were afraid of approaching me. What is it about me that is so off-putting? It's not in effect with the party guys. They're not afraid. They think I'm one of their kind - ready to party.

Why is that? I'm really rather conservative in my dress. I don't go around talking about partying, because I don't. Admittedly, there have been times in my life when I was "with the band" - let me clarify - not the ENTIRE band, just one guy in the band. OK, there was a time when I was IN the band, but that was a long time ago. I had my younger and wilder days but they were so long ago surely I'm not giving off those signals anymore. And, even then I didn't really find it the most fun thing. It was just "the season" for it. I kept thinking I'd figure out the fun part of it but I never did.

I'm a homebody - content to be in my studio painting or at the computer writing. I like to go out to eat with friends, have people over, bake, work on my house, have good conversation, garden - all very mundane. But somewhere in this there is something screaming, "Hey, party guy, lets have some fun." I cannot imagine what that is.

When I ask the party guys the response is always something along the lines of, "oh, you just exude fun." OK, party guys don't generally know words like "exude," because words like that went the way of various mind altering substances long ago, but, that's the sentiment.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Amazing Week

I have just returned from an extraordinary week in Ohio.

For the last year or so I have been thinking I needed to go away to a cabin in the woods somewhere and write for about a week. I was wondering how I would be able to afford it. Well, in a great example of how the universe provides what you ask for, I was given the opportunity to do this for free, other than my transportation there.

This cabin was my home for the past week. I had power, but not running water. However, it was only a block or so walk to the main house where there was water.

The ladies who offered this retreat paid great attention to detail. Each cabin had a small bouquet of flowers that included mint and lambs ear.

I was one of three artists who were there. The others were an artist/writer from Ohio and a Dominican nun from Wisconsin. There were others who were supposed to come but cancelled at the last minute. It's a shame they missed out. It was an exceptional experience.

There were four ladies who were there every day, making sure everything we needed was available. Sue and Marcia run the retreat center. And Diann is the one who started this week to honor her former partner, Marnee, who died a few years ago. Diann cooked for us all week - wonderful vegetarian meals with lots of organic food. Birch was her "sous chef." Peaches is the resident kitty.

Birch and I really connected because we're both southern girls. She's from Tennessee and I'm from Kentucky so we had the opportunity to talk about "our people."

There were other ladies in and out all week that I got to know just a bit. It was a very interesting time.

Right outside my cabin door was a lilac bush that was in bloom. When it was warm enough I kept the door open and could smell the lilacs.

I spent the week writing on my novel, journalling, painting and thinking. And also remembering my mom. May 11 was the five year anniversary of her death.

I wrote a great deal on my novel while I was there - about 25,000 words - and also did a lot of editing.

My cabin had a nice little table where I set up my writing area. It was incredible the amount of writing I was able to get done by just having that focus. When I'm on the computer at home there are so many things I can be doing. There I had only the book to work on. Batya, one of the other artists, edits a literary journal and asked me to submit some of my writing so I'll be doing that, too.

Batya got so much done while we were there. She did paintings and wrote and worked on her play and did some organizing and was just a flurry of activity. It was inspiring.

Lucy was the other writer there. She is 83, although you would never guess it from looking at her. She was working on a lecture about the female mystics.

We shared some of our work a couple of times over the week and it was interesting to hear what people were working on. These were some very intelligent women I was with all week. I often felt like the dumb one, and I love being around people who make me stay on my toes conversationally.
I did do a little bit of painting and journalling, but mostly I worked on my novel. I'm pretty pleased with how it's going overall.

This was a gorgeous place to be. I feel so lucky to have been invited to share it. I'm thankful that Mary, from my journalling list, told me about the application process and thankful I was chosen. It was a great opportunity.

Big News from the Big Apple

Terry popped over tonight and asked if I wanted to go to Anchor. I was just thinking about what to have for dinner, so it was the perfect answer. And it had been awhile since we'd had a chance to chat for a long time so it was good to see him.

When I went to get dessert, I heard my name being called and it was Trish. She and Jim have been in New York and just got home. Well, they have big news - they got engaged while in NY. I haven't heard the whole story yet, but I understand it's very romantic.

I asked if it was OK if I put it on the blog, and she said yes. So, I had them pose for a photo. I do so love having the camera with me at all times. We're having lunch on Monday so I can hear all the details then.

I, of course, did stake my claim on throwing the bridal shower.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Save the Internet

Save the Internet: Click here

The fight over net-neutrality is getting stronger - this is a really important issue. You have an opportunity to let your voice be heard. If you don't it's possible you'll soon be finding some of your favorite internet sites have slowed to a crawl. Big companies want to put those who pay ransom into the fast lane, and relegate the rest of us to a slow crawl. Moby, R.E.M. and dozens of other artists have joined the fight.

This issue affects all of us, and has become something that illustrates the "politics makes strange bedfellows" adage. Whenever Gun Owners of America, the ACLU, AARP and the Christian Coalition are working together, you know it's something that affects a broad spectrum of Americans.

This is an opportunity for you - the average American - to stand up to the big companies. AT&T and similar companies are spending millions lobbying congress, because they aren't making enough money from us. We already ARE paying for this service - now they want to charge us and the content providers too.

Don't wait another second - take action and let your voice be heard. If you don't it could soon be too late for your voice to be heard - at least in a timely manner.

MoveOn petition on Internet freedom:

Video of Moby:

Audio clip of Moby:

Air America interview with Moby:

CNN highlights Moby:

AP story on Moby:

REM's announcement:


Grammy-nominated musician Moby joined today with Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, to demand that Congress reject upcoming legislation that would allow AT&T, Verizon, and other telecommunications giants to take over the Internet.

The growing list of major artists and musicians who have joined the Coalition's Artists and Musicians for Internet Freedom includes Moby, R.E.M., Q-Tip, the Indigo Girls, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, the Roots, the Dixie Chicks, Jill Sobule, and Wilco. These artists join Internet advocates, Civic Action, Gun Owners of America, the Christian Coalition, consumer groups, and more than 600 diverse organizations in the fighting back against a congressional proposal to gut Network Neutrality�the Internet's First Amendment.

"If Congress guts Net Neutrality, independent music and news sites would be choked off, consumer choice would be limited, and the Internet will be become a private toll road auctioned off by companies like AT&T," Moby warned. "We need to stand up for Internet freedom now. Congress must uphold Network Neutrality."

Net Neutrality is the long-held principle that ensures small music blogs and independent news sites open just as easily on people's computers as large corporate sites. Companies like AT&T are spending millions lobbying Congress to pass legislation that critics charge would set up a discriminatory tollbooth system on the information superhighway. The proposed legislation would allow Internet providers to decide which Web sites work best on people's computers based on who pays them the most, favoring large corporations with deep coffers while marginalizing everyday people, community groups and small businesses.

"The legislation in the House of Representatives threatens the Internet as we know it," said Rep. Markey, author of H.R 5273 "Save the Internet Act of 2006" which would preserve the open architecture of the Internet and prevent companies from downgrading and discriminating regarding Internet access and services."Right now we are heading down a dangerous road that will stifle the openness of the Internet, endanger our global competitiveness, and warp the web into a tiered Internet of bandwidth haves and have-nots. This coalition is the beginning of a nationwide effort to stop creeping Internet protectionism into the free and open World Wide Web. This is the time for Internet users to express themselves to rise up and save the Internet," said Markey, Congressional leader of the movement to prevent the COPE Act (HR 5252) from passing without a strong net neutrality provision.

Thousands watched the Moby event online at, which posted a Congressional call-in number on the screen encouraging viewers to call their representatives to demand they protect Net Neutrality.

"We are seeing a massive public outcry�the people are joining together to save the Internet. Artists and musicians are part of this vast movement, as are the nearly 700,000 people who signed a petition, and the thousands calling Congress every day," said Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press, which is coordinating the Coalition. "The American public won't allow the Internet to be turned into just another cash cow for greedy corporations. Americans will be watching how their representatives vote on Internet freedom."

The Save the Coalition�an alliance of organizations from across the political spectrum, consumer groups, educators, small businesses and bloggers that have come together to protect Internet freedom�has galvanized support for Network Neutrality from artists, musicians and hundreds of thousands of average citizens. In less than a month, almost 700,000 people have signed an Internet Freedom petition to Congress, more than 7,000 friends have joined's MySpace, and thousands of blogs have linked to the coalition Web site. Also supporting Network Neutrality are companies such as Google and eBay and groups such as AARP, the ACLU and the Christian Coalition.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Creative Sisterhood

Tonight was Creative Sisterhood. Everyone was here but Virginia who had a conflict. It was good.

I shared about my recent retreat week, which I'll be writing more about here, once I get the photos organized. It was amazing, to sum it up.

I haven't had much time to reconnect with people here since I returned. Julie and I did have a nice long dinner last night. That was fun. We ran into Matt and Michelle Decker and it was fun to see them. I'm hoping to get to see Jocelyn tomorrow.

This weekend I'm hoping to get caught up on blogging. I have a lot of photos from the retreat to share.

Also, for those of you who have expressed interest in the Union Pacific Steam Engine 844, I've asked permission to ride it later this month to do a large story about it here. We'll see if that's possible.

Art of Gracious Living #21

Click here for show #21 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.

When we say we'll do something, we owe it to ourselves, and the person to whom we made that promise, to follow through to the best of our abilities.

It is imperative that we learn to be direct and carefully select only what we can accomplish. It's not fair to anyone, including ourselves, when we don't honor our commitments. We cannot lead a gracious life when we are not living with integrity.

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

Click here for the Art of Gracious Living RSS feed

The Da Vinci Code

I've been listening to all this talk about "debunking" The DaVinci Code. Did everyone but me miss that this book was sold as a novel? The religious leaders are up in arms about it, as if they're not always up in arms about something, but this is the latest thing.

First we have a guy who purports to be writing the truth, who was really making it up, and we were upset about that. Now we have a guy who says he's making it up, using some facts, and we're upset because we want him to say it's all true so we can debunk it as false. The public truly is fickle.

I doubt I'll see the movie, but I really enjoyed the book. The FICTION book.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Mommy Club

Recently I was near a group of women I dubbed "The Mommy Club." They were all very, very, very into their kids. In fact, they seemed unable to see anyone or anything beyond how it related to their children. They were very disdainful to any mother who didn't demonstrate the same level of complete devotion to their children, and obviously thought there was something horribly wrong with me that I had not seen fit to use the perfectly good ovaries and uterus I'd been given.

One of the members of the mommy club was asked by someone she's just run into that she used to work with, "what are you doing now?" She chirped -and that is the only way to describe it - "I'm a mom!" She said it as if she had accomplished the most amazing thing imaginable. I'm sure it's an incredible thing to have a child - I have no doubt of it - but it is something that billions of women have done. But billions of women were certainly not welcome in their club. The woman she was talking to who was asking what she was doing obviously didn't quite know what to say to that. But, no problem, the mommy club member went on to tell her in great detail about her two children. As well as the husband who was supporting all of them, while arguing with his two ex-wives about supporting the children from those marriages.

It, obviously, had never occurred to her that she is just the ex-wife to be that he'll be arguing with about supporting their kids. Statistically speaking, she will not have the earning power to support them without his financial assistance because she's "being a mom!" instead of building a career or in some other way asserting her own financial rights.

Don't get me wrong - I WANT people to be into their kids. I desperately want people to like being a mom. And I love it when people can stay home and raise their children. If I had had children, I would have wanted to be home with them. But, I could never figure out how to accomplish that and not be putting me and those children at great risk.

I want women to be realistic about their lives, and that of their children. If you put all your financial eggs in one basket - in this case a husband who obviously has some difficulty with relationships - the liklihood you're going to end up in a world of hurt is huge. When you end up hurt, so do your children.

The 2004 per capita divorce rate was 37% - that means that 74% of the US population, since a divorce involves two people, gets divorced every year. Nearly 3/4 of people in the US. The odds of living happily ever after are not in your favor. And the stats are per capita, not by who is married, so the numbers are actually significantly higher than that.

The notion about how you can't go into something expecting it to not last is cute and all, but that's not really for adults. If you're not past that, you're really not mature enough to be considering marriage. Adults come to a marriage with a string of failed relationships behind them. You know from experience your own track record isn't that great. And you're marrying someone with their own history of failure at relationships. Leave the romance for candy and flowers, but be realistic about the finances. What are you going to do if you get divorced? Child support? That's all formulaic in most places and it's not generally enough to really support a child. It will be a supplement but that's it. So, what is it going to supplement?

I realize some people married young and are still with the same person. Both of my brothers fall into that category and they all seem happy and I'm happy for them. If I had married the boy I was interested in when I was 16 I would have been miserable the last few years.

And if you're going to be a card carrying member of the mommy club, try to learn to contain your dislike of the rest of the world. Some of us have chosen to not have children because we didn't think we'd make very good parents. It's not because we don't like children - just the opposite - we like them so much we didn't want to screw them up. Some of us couldn't figure out a way to create a secure, loving environment for a child with some safeguards in case the relationship we had with their father fell apart, and we were realistic enough to know that was likely to happen. Some of us thought being a mom was just more responsibility than we could handle well.

I couldn't help but wonder what the Mommy Club members were teaching their children about acceptance. The only message I could see was "people who don't think like mommy are bad." No wonder we're self destructing from the inside out.

Friday, May 12, 2006

OK... you just gotta go see "Lord of the Peeps" at It's an epic destined to become a cult classic.

A few weeks ago I was passing through Horton, Kansas. On the edge of town was this house that was very bright - bright orange - like a big construction cone. I wondered what the story was and later found out from a local resident that the city code officer had told the owner the house was getting a little bad looking and that he "needed to get some paint on it."

The resident apparently wasn't that keen on the city interferring in his business, so he put some paint on it alright - this paint.

A block or so away they apparently told the gas station owner he needed to remove the old tires he had because they were a breeding ground for mosquitoes. This was January, I guess.

I'm told the gas station owner ran an ad telling people he'd give a free oil change to anyone who got bitten by one of the mosquitoes that were bred at his station in January or February.

You just gotta love democracy in action.

What strikes me about this so much is that you'd think city code officers might feel the need to lay low, particularly in Kansas, given Dennis Rader. But, I guess a serial killer is no reason to stop telling people to mow their lawns.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

May 11

Today is the five year anniversary of my mother's death. It is still fresh in many ways, although I have grown to accept this reality. We have no other choice, of course. We simply must accept and go on. Life is for the living, as she was fond of saying.

I was blessed to have a mother who always acted as if I were the most important thing in her world. What an incredible gift of love and security.

There have been a few occasions since she died when I have smelled flowers in my home when none were present, and felt her nearby. The first time was in my bedroom, near the foot of my bed, not too long after she died. It was the scent of wild violets, which she loved. I have wild violets in my back yard and adore them.

Most recently, near her birthday on April 24, I smelled flowers in my dining room. The scent was strongest near the doorway where her photo hangs on one wall beside it. But it wasn't wild violets this time, it was the scent of roses.

This night, as I was going to the kitchen for a glass of water before I went to bed, I smelled the scent very strongly as I went through the door of the dining room. I was sure I had forgotten a candle or some potpourri or something. But, I searched the room to find nothing that was scenting the room.

When I got closer to the photo, I could smell it more strongly. It happened three nights over the course of a week, always at night. It took me by surprise every time as they were not times I was intensely thinking about my mom.

We always wore roses on mother's day. It's a southern tradition - you wear red if your mother is living and white if your mother is dead. We buried her on Mother's Day and I wanted her to have a corsage in the casket. I don't know why I wanted that, but I did. My brothers were fine with it and if they thought it odd they didn't say anything. Thank God the three of us moved through that time as a family in agreement, without fighting or arguing.

When you're in the midst of all that grief you don't know why some things matter, but they matter more than you can imagine. My nephew, Johnny, wanted he and the other grandsons to carry the casket. They did. It was important to him in the same way the corsage was important to me. I doubt he can explain that any more than I can explain the corsage of white roses. You just have to hope that the things you're doing to help you don't disturb anyone else and that everyone can have what they need to process the grief.

The white rose bush I planted last year is doing well.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

If you've read here for any amount of time, you know that I'm a fan of the open road. I was thinking yesterday about things I've seen along the road that were surprises, to say the least. I do so love surprises.

Probably the first such thing was the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile some years ago travelling on I-44 between Springfield and Joplin, Missouri.

Another time we spotted the big bears that are part of a fair ride being moved in the back of a pickup truck. You just don't expect to see giant pink bears on the interstate, moving at an 80 mph clip.

There are photos of both of those things somewhere, but that was before the days of digital so I have no idea where.

More recently I saw big bottles of budweiser on a trailer, accompanied by big whales on each end. I have no idea what whales have to do with beer, but mine is not to question why. Mine is only to enjoy the open road.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Where I'm at in Life

I come to this point in life with joy. I have loved and been loved. I have laughed and cried. I've given in to my whims. I've experienced passion that takes your breath away, and faced what I thought would be my death with my breath caught in my throat.

I've been kissed while standing on the bank of the Nile River and mourned the death of my mother at the Ohio Riverside. I've given thanks inside Stonehenge, marveled at Giverny, hiked the Guatemalan jungle and sang "Amazing Grace" in Muir Woods. I've lived some dreams, put some aside, and made some new ones.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Greg and I went out Wednesday morning to see Union Pacific's 844 Steam engine. It was magnicient. There was a large crowd in Hutchinson - bigger than in Salina, I think. We then went to the edge of town to catch it over this trestle. What a treat!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

In Praise of Water

A few months ago I had to stop drinking caffeine. I didn't drink a lot of it to begin with, but I stopped drinking any at all.

Well, while diet sprite is my soft drink of choice, it's not readily available at most restaurants. So, I started drinking water. Lots of water. Water with most meals.

You know how they're always telling you that you should drink water and you go, "yeah, uh huh..." Well, I started drinking lots of water from necessity. Then I started to *want* water.

I've been drinking lots of water since last fall. In the last month or so I've had this following conversation 4 or 5 times...

"Patsy, your skin is looking really good... what are you doing?"

"Nothing... just drinking a lot of water."

It's really embarrassing to admit that I've finally started doing what is obvious and it has had the effect all those experts told you it would. Come to think of it, I believe everyone's mother and grandmother told them this.

Why do we humans ignore the obvious?