Monday, April 30, 2007

Victoria Magazine

"Victoria" was my favorite magazine until its demise in 2003. I subscribed from day one and still have every issue.

You can imagine my delight to learn it will reappear on news stands in October of this year. I hope, hope, hope it's the same wonderful publication we loved for so long.

Mediaweek has the following story at the link below:

Hearst, Hoffman to Relaunch Victoria

Lucia Moses
APRIL 26, 2007 -

Hearst Magazines is partnering with Hoffman Media, publisher of the 655,980-circulation Cooking with Paula Dean, to reintroduce Victoria, the women’s home and lifestyle magazine Hearst folded in 2003.

Under a joint venture formed by the two companies, Birmingham, Ala.-based Hoffman will handle all editorial, production, distribution and advertising for the magazine, while Hearst will contribute the Victoria trademark, copyright, URL, subscription database, and access to historical editorial and art content.

Victoria will launch with a November/December issue and a heavy newsstand and online presence. It will publish bimonthly and carry a $4.99 cover price. The goal is to reach a distribution of 250,000 paid copies after two issues.

Launched in 1987, Victoria folded with the June 2003 issue, Hearst citing its "economic uncertainty." Ad pages through April of that year had declined 10.8 percent to 106, according to the Mediaweek Monitor. Paid circulation had been flat at 969,180 in the second half of the year prior, per the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Female Quilters and Male Mechanics

While visiting family in Kentucky, I took time to visit the 23rd annual American Quilter's Society Quilt Show in Paducah. I've been twice before, once many years ago, and once about five years ago.

I'm not a quilter - just an appreciator. But, this show is pretty amazing. Top prize is $20,000 and went to the same woman who won last year. Be watching this space for more info on her, as well as other quilters, who agreed to be interviewed for the blog.

One of my favorite pieces was called La Belle Rouge by Mary Chester of Rantoul, Illinois. It won an honorable mention. I loved all the different motifs she included.

I took many, many, many photos and will be sharing more as I go through them.

After the quilt show I came back to Jim's where he, Jackie, and Mattie's brother, James, were standing around the open hood of Jim's car. It was such a contrast to the very feminine world of quilting, although there are some men who are well-known in that world. But, I left the world of women to go to three guys standing around an open hood.

We were all teasing James, but he was the one who had offered to help in the first place. I just thought it was so typical and humorous to see three guys peering into an engine.

Jim was pointing out things he had replaced last winter...

And James and Jackie were nodding in approval.

It was a very male moment, although, frankly, Chrissy is a good mechanic... but she was working today so wasn't there for this.

Movies on the Barn

Tonight Mary Ann and Jackie hosted a movie night for everyone in their church. Probably about 50 people came. It was the brain child of their youth minister, Scott. I met him and his wife, Stacey, today. They're really nice folks. Scott did the setup, with a little help from Jackie, but it was really Scott's baby.

The backdrop for the movie screen was the barn.

Scott came out earlier in the day and set it up. It worked out really well. They had a great sound system and everyone brought their own lawn chairs.

Mary Ann popped three bags of popcorn.

Zona (in the white) and Janice (in the colorful sweater) helped bag it up as Mary Ann dumped out one panful after another. More than a couple of people had never seen popcorn popped in a pan.

I think everyone had a great time. The movie was good and it was a neat way to see it. Oddly enough, I had been out earlier in the day to take pictures of some old barns around. I'm glad I got a photo of this one before it had a movie screen attached.

Jackie, of course, was ready to supervise the popcorn making.

I may have mentioned here before that Mary Ann has tons of hummingbirds in the summer. They are just starting to arrive. The first part of the week there was one, the next day two, and now there's a small group of them.

At the height of the season, Mary Ann uses about 25 pounds of sugar a week to make hummingbird feed. They will empty all the feeders multiple times a day.

It was a little late in the day, and digital cameras are not quick enough to really capture them, but I did get a quick snap of a couple of them.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Years ago I remember my friend, Mark, telling me, "Home is where the Mommy is." Mark's parents moved a lot in his early years and he did not grow attached to a particular place until his parents settled in Lee's Summit, MO, in his early teen years.

By comparison, I only ever knew one home. My parents bought the house in the late forties, long before I was born, and my mother lived in it until her death. I lived there until I was 17 and went away to college. The house still stands, and I drive by it to go to Jackie and Mary Ann's, but it is not in the family anymore. And, although it's bittersweet, it pains me less than I expected it to.

Jackie and Mary Ann's house has become "home" now. They made it clear to me after Mama died that I would always have a place there and I was grateful for it.

My friend, Jocelyn, once said that she always thinks of Hutchinson as home although she only lived there until she was 13. But it's where her family is and it's where she spent her early formative years, so it's home. That's how Ballard County, Kentucky is ot me. It's home and always will be, even though I own a home a few states away.

It's curious how we think about home and houses and what that means. I love my house (the one I own) and it is home to me, not in the same way that Kentucky is home. Kentcuky is an emotional home, I guess.

Mattie and Jim just bought a house in LaCenter. That's the town where Mattie grew up and of course it's the county where Jim grew up, too. They have lived in multiple places and I'm betting they have much the same feeling that Mark does - home is where the people you care about are.

One of the things I love about Mattie and Jim's house is the front porch. It's great to sit out there and watch the world go by. That feels like home no matter where you do it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I could not stay asleep last night. This isn't unusual for me, but it has been awhile since I've had a night as restless as last night. I went to bed about 12:30 and was awake in less than two hours, then again and again and again. At 5:35 I decided to get up and watch the sunrise. We didn't really have a sunrise - it just got daylight. But I sat on my brother's front porch and watched the pink creep into the sky while I journalled and snapped a couple of pix.

I had lunch with Cathy and Kim and then spent the afternoon and early evening with Jim and Mattie. Mattie's brother, James, is in. Also, our cousin, Jerry, came from St. Louis today to see Jim. I hadn't seen Jerry in a few years so it was good to visit with him.

Jerry is a real family oriented guy. He is one of the few cousins who makes an effort to be involved with the extended family, and I appreciate that about him. To top it off, now in his mid sixties, he has a new baby with his wife, Heather. There's a little over twenty years difference between me and my brothers. There's almost 50 years difference between this baby and his oldest sibling.

You gotta love Jerry's enthusiasm for life.

Monday, April 23, 2007


The other day I did something I haven't done in a long time. I sat down and played the piano.

I haven't had my piano tuned since I moved it to Kansas five years ago. You're supposed to let them sit for a year after moving them before tuning. I kept having it moved around in the house but I think it has a permanent home in the sunporch now so it's time to get it tuned.

And it needs to be tuned. It's not like I'm an expert pianist but I am better than it sounds at the moment. It seems like I'm hitting more wrong notes than is possible. So, the next time I'm at that passage I'm trying to remember which key is closer to tune. Needless to day, it's not always pretty.

It was good to play again. I used to play almost every day. I was reminded the other day what a great stress reliever it is.

There's nothing like banging out some hymns written with shape notes to relieve one's stress.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fresh Eyes

I spent the day with my brother, Jim. We had some a really good conversation.

Jim and I haven't had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together because we have never lived in the same place since I've been an adult. We still don't but now that he's in Kentucky where everyone else is, I get to see him much more.

After visiting with him I came back to Jackie and Mary Ann's and spent some time in their backyard journaling. I sat where I could look out at the sunset. They have most of the chairs oriented the other way because they are early risers and are much more likely to see the sunrise.

And I had this lovely view...

It's sometimes difficult to see places you're used to with fresh eyes, but when you give it a go, you're likely to find things that seem new to you again. Jackie has always had  real appreciation of history.

Jackie and Mary Ann love birds of all sorts. In the summer she has hundreds of hummingbirds, but it's still early for them. There was one yesterday and two today. However, there are houses for other birds, too.

Last Sunday while they were gone to church, a large tree at the back of the yard fell over. It was probably rotten for some time and finally fell.

It's just a few yards from this tree, which I think has a cool shape. It's also where some of the tools make their home.

There's a great view of the tobacco barn from there. No tobacco has been in it for many years, but barns are incredibly useful things. It's a pity we don't have them in town - we'd probably all be able to get our cars in the garages if we did.

I guess  in most families, a birthday celebration is straight-forward - there's cake, there's ice cream, there's singing - people go home.

Well, in my family a birthday celebration includes all of the above, but also has some worms, crocheting, porch painting and mulch mixed in.

Wednesday is Jim's 66th birthday but we all gathered today to celebrate. There were people there I haven't seen in a long, long time.

April is a big birthday month for us. Jim and BC are on the 25th, Jackie is the 22nd, and my mom's was the 24th.

We took lots of pix, including some of those family group things that everyone always intends to do but we never get around to.

 I have a few pix over the years of my with both my brothers, including one we took last year, but they are few and far between. There's so much age difference in us that they were grown, married and out of the house before I was born. Obviously, that doesn't offer the normal amount of opportunity for pix.

There was much outdoor work going on today - the porch was painted and Wayne, his daughter, Chrissy, and her boyfriend, Joe, were working hard. They planted, put down black cloth and mulched.

 I think I'd like Chrissy and Joe to come stay with me for awhile - they're both hard workers - my house could dramatically improve in a short amount of time.

Chrissy is a hard worker...

The little guy there with Joe is Alex, Angie's son. Angie is Wayne's oldest daughter. Yeah, I know, you need a scorecard.

Alex found a a little friend...

He wanted to share with his mom, and his grandpa, Wayne...

Meanwhile, indoors, Mary Ann was helping Joyce with some crochet questions. Does this look like the student at the feet of the master? It kinda is... Mary Ann is a crocheter extraordinaire.

Leah, however, is having none of it and looks on from afar...

Overall people seemed to be having fun...

Johnny and I would like to make it very clear that we did the dishes!

Hopefully Jim had a good time. The rest of us did, I'm sure.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I am weary tonight. It has been a difficult week professionally. I had two big projects to complete this week and am not sure I was coherent enough to do them well, but I did get them done.

I went to bed last night about 3 a.m. and woke up this morning before 6:30. I got up and wrote for a couple of hours before I started my work day.

My writing desk is now downstairs in the sunporch, looking out onto the front yard. I like to sit there in the early morning and write while having a cup of tea. It's a lovely way to start the day.

There's something I should figure out about myself that I like to be awake when the rest of the world is sleeping - either late at night or early in the morning. Probably something inherently messed up about it, but who knows what.

OK, I'll admit it, I cannot resist tests that are supposedly going to give you some insight in to who you are. I've lived with myself for 45 years, who could possibly know more about me than I do. But, nonetheless, I am always drawn to these things.

Tonight in my e-miles from NWA was a test to take called "Jasper." It's all about your work approach. I missed some of the questions because I couldn't figure out their system for answering them online, but the results seem to be pretty accurate - at least based on what the person who's been living with me since birth - me - believes.

I'm not sure what it is I'm searching for in these tests, but I guess there's something. So far I haven't been surprised by anything, which I suppose is good. And I'm not sure there's much point in them keeping it "confidential" when I'm posting it on the world wide web, but there you go.

I'm a "3" - Visionary - on this test. I'm not sure what that means, and the description included a quote by Donald Trump, so I'm not sure this is necessarily good company.

I think "visionary" is the nice way people say that you don't play well with others, that you have to question everything - including your supervisors - and don't follow directions well. But, shoot, "visionary" sounds so much better than "potential disciple problem." No doubt it was a "visionary" who created this test while they were supposed to be making widgets.

Here are my results:

What you want out of work:
To dream big and to foster your creativity and knack for innovation.

Your colleagues think of you as:
A creative, abstract thinker who is fun to watch in action.

What you have to offer:
Not only new and better ideas for how things can be improved, but also the courage to pursue them.

My Unique Strengths are:
I - Innovative
S - Spontaneous
C - Communication
I - Independent

Leadership Style
Innovative. Your leadership style can be characterized as Innovative. You tend to be inventive and proactive in creating new ways to get things done, bringing a sense of confidence to most things you do. You aren't afraid to take risks if it means finding a new, better way.

Work Personality
Spontaneous.You are more Spontaneous than Deliberate when it comes to your work personality. You are comfortable pushing the envelope and suggesting new ways of doing things. Your spontaneity and ability to break out of the mold can also help others think outside the box.

Universal Skills
Communication skills. You likely are an articulate person, and you probably have received positive feedback on your writing ability or your skill speaking to groups. Even if you don't regularly use this skill, you nevertheless have confidence in your communication abilities.

Work Style
Independent. You show strength in your ability to be an Independent worker. While you no doubt can be quite effective working on a team, you feel much more productive when you have the freedom to do things on your own. You simply enjoy the autonomy that independent work entails.

So... hmmmm.... I wonder what this means I should be doing with my life... I just want to make a living being me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ten Zen Seconds

Dr. Eric Maisel is a well-known creativity coach and author. Those of us in the art world are familiar with his work. He has written more than 30 books, been interviewed in numerous magazines and newspapers, and is an expert on creativity.

I have more than a couple of his books on my shelves, and also read his newsletter regularly. I just added his latest book, "Ten Zen Seconds" to my collection. This book provides a technique to help you get the most out of your life. Maisel refers to the simple technique as "dropping a useful thought into a deep breath.”

He says, "You use a deep breath, five seconds on the inhale and five seconds on the exhale, as a container for important thoughts that aim you in the right direction in life — I describe twelve of these thoughts in the book — and you begin to employ this breathing-and-thinking technique that I call incanting as the primary way to keep yourself on track."

Maisel is on a "blog tour" to promote the book, and I'm pleased that my blog is his third stop. I jumped at the chance to host him here, even without seeing the book first, because I knew it would be a quality product with useful information. I was correct in that assumption.

Dr. Maisel is generously sharing the 12 phrases on this blog. He selected these because he believes they go to the core of helping us all make the most of life.  The book, of course, gives much greater detail on each one, and is well worth your time to read it.

Here are the twelve phrases (the parentheses show how the phrase gets “divided up” between the inhale and the exhale):
1. (I am completely) (stopping)
2. (I expect) (nothing)
3. (I am) (doing my work)*
4. (I trust) (my resources)
5. (I feel) (supported)
6. (I embrace) (this moment)
7. (I am free) (of the past)
8. (I make) (my meaning)
9. (I am open) (to joy)
10. (I am equal) (to this challenge)
11. (I am) (taking action)
12. (I return) (with strength)
*The third incantation functions differently from the other eleven, in that you name something specific each time you use it, for example “I am writing my novel” or “I am paying the bills.” Maisel says, "This helps you bring mindful awareness to each of your activities throughout the day."

The idea of mindful awareness is central to zen practice. Regular readers here know I am passionate about the idea of living in the moment and soaking up every bit of life from every event, no matter how seemingly insignificant. I am not a practicing buddhist, but see the beauty of this approach to life.

I firmly believe that living in the moment, expecting joy, remaining thankful and realizing that everyday life - the little moments - are keys to happiness. As you know, how to increase our happiness level is something I study regularly. I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Maisel how "Ten Zen Seconds" could be used for the purpose of making us happier.

Dr. Maisel  responded:
Each of  the twelve incantations serves a different though related purpose, and together the twelve “hit the highlights” in terms of the kinds of cognitions that support mental and emotional health and increased productivity.

Happiness per se is not the goal of many of them, but it is the specific goal of incantation 9, “I am open to joy.” Many people do not remember that joy and happiness are available to them and even suspect that they aren’t any longer available, that those feelings “went away” in childhood and, with lost innocence and the realities of adulthood, can’t really be recaptured except by putting on blinders and a smiley face.

At the same time, and despite the fact that they doubt that joy and happiness are available to them, they nevertheless do experience fleeting moments of both — proof positive that joy and happiness are not gone forever.

When you use incantation 9, “I am open to joy,” you are in effect making a new bargain with the world and announcing that you no longer want to act as if joy is unavailable — instead you intend to consider it available, nearby, and maybe even abundant. This “cognitive shift” then allows joy and happiness to enter — to reenter — your life.

The 12 phrases, which are at the heart of this book, were things Dr. Maisel put considerable effort into selecting. He gave a bit of insight into how the process worked:

First, I tried to figure out what are the most important tasks that we face as human beings, then I came up with what I hoped were resonant phrases, each of which needed to fit well into a deep breath, then, most importantly — which moved this from the theoretical to the empirical. I tested the phrases out on hundreds of folks who agreed to use them and report back on their experiences. That was great fun and eye-opening!

People used these phrases to center themselves before a dental appointment or surgery, to get ready to have a difficult conversation with a teenage child, to bring joy back to their performing career, to carve out time for creative work in an over-busy day — in hundreds of ways that I couldn’t have anticipated.

I think that’s what makes the book rich and special: that, as useful as the method and the incantations are, hearing from real people about how they’ve used them “seals the deal.” I’m not much of a fan of self-help books that come entirely from the author’s head; this one has been tested in the crucible of reality.

Maisel has the credentials and the experience to put forth a well thought out plan for self help. He has a doctorate in psychology and has spent decades helping people reach their full potential. He says "Ten Zen Seconds" is, "actually a very simple but powerful technique for reducing your stress, getting yourself centered, and reminding yourself about how you want to live your life. It can even serve as a complete cognitive, emotional, and existential self-help program."

When contemplating the book, he considered two primary sources -  cognitive and positive psychology from the West and breath awareness and mindfulness techniques from the East.

He said, "I’d been working with creative and performing artists for more than twenty years as a therapist and creativity coach and wanted to find a quick, simple technique that would help them deal with the challenges they regularly face - resistance to creating, performance anxiety, negative self-talk about a lack of talent or a lack of connections, stress over a boring day job or competing in the art marketplace, and so on.

Because I have a background in both Western and Eastern ideas, it began to dawn on me that deep breathing, which is one of the best ways to reduce stress and alter thinking, could be used as a cognitive tool if I found just the right phrases to accompany the deep breathing. This started me on a hunt for the most effective phrases, each of which serves a different and important purpose."

Maisel says people have used people for all kinds of purposes he didn't imagine:
"One that I especially like is the idea of “book-ending” a period of work, say your morning writing stint or painting stint, by using “I am completely stopping” to ready yourself, center yourself, and stop your mind chatter, and then using “I return with strength” when you’re done so that you return to “the rest of life” with energy and power. Usually we aren’t this mindful in demarcating our activities - and life feels very different when we do.

If you want to experience some of what "Ten Zen Seconds" offers, go to and use the slide show there to move through all the incantations, practicing your breathing. It's accompanied by artwork from Ruth Yasharpour. Each slide stays in place for ten seconds, so you can try the technique in real time. Take a few minutes and try it out. It's pretty cool.


I've realized lately that I'm really missing singing. Long ago in a far away life I was really into performing.

I was a music major in college, until I realized there were people far more talented and far more dedicated than me. Fortunately, I discovered this on about day two in the program at a university known for its arts programs. I decided I probably wasn't destined to have a career in music.

Of course, a lack of talent has not stood in the way of many of today's stars. Maybe I was a bit hasty when I left the program about halfway through the second semester. (Yeah, I knew early on, but I just didn't want to give up easily. I'm still studying French 20 plus years after I started but je ne parle pas francais.)

I was an OK singer - not great - but OK - sometimes decent, occasionally good.

After I left the music program at my first university and transferred to the University of Kentucky I sang in a band for awhile. There were five of us and two of us were really great. I wasn't one of them. I was OK. One of the other guys was good. The other guy was passable. The other two were really talented. We were holding them back. One went on to have a career in music. The other got married and settled down with his wife raising babies.

I quickly learned that being "with" the band was more fun than being "in" the band. You got the perks of it without the stress of performing. However, you also lost that rush that you get from performing.

Lately I've been thinking about how I'm missing singing. Some years ago I did a version of "Christmas for Cowboys" with Andrea for a radio Christmas program. Again, I was the weak link in that performance, but we sounded good. Really good. There's something magical about harmony and a guitar. I can't provide either of them - like Tim McGraw says about himself, I don't sing harmony - at least not well. But Andrea made it really good, and carried me along.

Maybe life will provide an opportunity for singing again soon. Life seems to work that way. It would be fun to sing again. I'm not giving up the day job to prepare for my music career or anything, but it would be nice to just sing some. It would be best with people - like Andrea - who are very talented and will let me come along for the ride - doing no damage and adding at least a little bit.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I promised photos of my new acquisitions this past weekend at the MCC sale. My favorite part of it is the "Quilter's Corner," where they have not only quilts and things to make quilts, but also other kinds of needlework too, including vintage linens.

I am absolutely in love with hand crocheted lace and fine embroidery. This is part of a dresser scarf that I loved. The embroidery is delicate with perfect tiny stitches and the lace was crocheted seperately and then sewn on with the same verigated thread.

This scarf had such a sweet design. Magazines used to include patterns with each publication. Businesses would give them away and books were readily available for a few pennies. Everyone did handwork, generally more than one kind of handwork.

I bought a number of things with hand crocheted lace on them, including a set of pillowcases I'm planning to use on the bed. They're in great shape and are embroidered with morning glories, one of my favorite flowers. After a washing they'll be on my bed. The pair of them was $3 and there's nothing wrong with them.

I couldn't resist a closeup showing the tiny stitches in these pillowcases. I wonder when ladies had the time to do this work. It's funny how we talk about how we have no time and these ladies were working much harder than we are today just to handle basic life chores, and yet they found time to create these beautiful things to enhance their lives.

I often say life is in the details and these things are such a prime example of that. They could have just embroidered the pillowcase, but they went a step further and crocheted lace to go around the bottom of it, too.

I also bought this scarf that had these beautiful large pineapples on three sides. I wonder if it was meant to go on a piano or a fireplace.

The single most striking piece I bought was another pillow case with an unusual decoration.

This is all beautiful crochet. It has one little broken edge and I'm going to sew it back together and use the case. I just adore this and I've never seen anything like it.

I also bought a number of doilies - something else I love. I have them all over the house. I guess that might seem weird for someone my age, but I have always loved this sort of thing - even when I was a kid.

The yellow one below is now on my coffee table. My living room walls are a pale yellow so it's a perfect match.

Pineapples, as you see in this and also in the scarf edging above, were a Victorian symbol of hospitality, and they remained a popular motif well into the 20th century. If you notice when you visit Victorian homes, you'll often see the pineapple in stained glass or in carved woods. I find such things quite charming.

I also purchased two very old quilts at the sale. They are too worn to be of interest to serious collectors, but I adore them. They were $5 each.

The mere fact that they're hand stitched is sufficient for me to buy them at that price. Hand pieced and hand quilted items are rarely made these days.

I'm often surprised by how much creativity people showed when doing their handwork. This red polka dot material was the backing on one of the quilts and it was also used as the center for every star on the front of the quilt.

The other places where you see the polka dots are where the top has worn away, but each star has a centered dot. Lovely.

I also picked up what was once a Sunbonnet Sue quilt.

I also couldn't resist this piece of what was going to be a double wedding ring quilt. I love it because you can see the pieces are made from fabric that is already worn. Quilts were not always made by starting with new material - quite the opposite - quilts were made from the fabric that had become too worn out to be used as clothing anymore.

Although I bought many other goodies, I'll share just one more - this little scrap that was meant to be embroidered.