Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Glenn Beck and Arms Deals

As you might well guess if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time - like oh, say, around the time Katrina hit, or the last presidential "election" - I'm sure you know my political leanings are definitely to the left. I would say I'm a moderate liberal - not a conservative liberal, but I'm still shopping at Walmart and I'm making no apologies for it, so I'm not a far left liberal either. So, I'm a moderate. Although, let me say, I wear the title "LIBERAL" proudly. There is nothing to be ashamed of in wanting the world to be fair for everyone - rich or poor. In fact, it's something to be proud of. And I am.

All of that said, imagine my continual surprise when I'm in agreement with Glenn Beck. I've caught his show before and there's always something I agree with him about. Today after work I was flipping past CNN and he was on and I stopped and... oh my gosh... I have agreed with almost everything he has said tonight.

He has been talking about the arms deal with the Saudi's. OK, just in case you've forgotten, those high-jackers that took down the twin towers in NY - the infamous 911 that still has enough Americans terrified six years later that it affects their votes  - all from Saudi Arabia - yes, the same Saudi Arabia we're selling arms to.

And speaking of "arms deals," shouldn't we stop speaking of them? Why are we Americans so freaking stupid we never learn from our mistakes? Just because Russia has made an arms deal with India doesn't mean we have to do the same thing with someone else. Didn't Barbara ever give George that little spiel about, "so if your friends all jumped off a bridge..." Until the Bush administration got into office we weren't in desperate financial straits like Russia, who needs the hard cash. Is the US so broke that we have to make these kind of deals, too?

Everytime the words "arms deals" are used in conjunction something very, very, very bad happens. Can you say "Sandinista?" Glenn Beck summed it up today by repeating the movie line, "I see dead people." Well, so do I. More accurately, I see MORE dead people.

Tom Snyder

Tom Snyder died Sunday at age 71. He will be missed.

In fact, I have been missing him for years since he left TV.

I grew up watching Tom Snyder on the Tomorrow Show. It started in 1972, so I would have been 10 or 11, and I watched it from its inception. I was never a good sleeper - even as a kid - and my mom gave up long before I was 10. She just let me stay up as late as I wanted, as long as I got up for school the next morning.

Johnny Carson and then Tom Snyder kept me company as I sat up late, having time to think, and time to be alone, which I never got during the daylight hours. In retrospect, I think that was probably part of the deal for me - I have always needed alone time. That was the only way to get it.

When I grew up and became an interviewer myself, I remembered that it's OK to ask the question that seems a bit rude, because it's what everyone really wants to know. I remembered Tom Snyder's easy manner and modeled it whenever it was appropriate.

Of course, I never interviewed the sort of people he did - from John Lennon to Charles Manson.

I was thrilled when Snyder came back to television in the mid nineties on the Late, Late Show that aired after Letterman. When Craig Kilborn took over the show it was a huge disappointment for me. I watch Craig Ferguson now, and love him, but it's a completely different show than what Tom Snyder did.

Snyder always looked like he had just heard the filthiest joke ever and was debating whether or not to share it with you. You always wanted in on it and he never failed to bring you along.

He died from complications of leukemia.

His sign off was my bedtime story for many years - "...sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air.''

The pictures won't ever be the same without him.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Jocelyn is Even More Famous

My artist friend, Jocelyn, is featured on a website done by Reno County, Kansas, where I live. This is a project to profile some of the people in the community and why they choose to live here. I love the name of the site - We Could Live Anywhere.

You can read more about Jocelyn, who is a very interesting person. There are also photos of some of her artwork.

And... another secret... look for me there soon. I've agreed to do it, they're interviewing me Wednesday afternoon, but it will be awhile before it's online.

Needless to say, I'll let you know when it's up. (Like there could possibly be anything else about me that hasn't already been revealed here on the blog! Well, anything I'm willing to reveal, anyway.)

I'm thinking about what I'm going to say about living here. Obviously, what keeps me here are people I have built relationships with - I think that's what keeps almost anyone where they live. But I like the fact that Hutchinson has some distinctiveness. I never want to live in the sameness of suburbia - in one of those houses that looks like all the other houses in the neighborhood, where everything smells "new." I want to live where there's some history.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Weekend With Matthew

I returned tonight from a weekend with my friend, Matthew. Matthew lives in Oklahoma and has a boat on Grand Lake. It's a classic 1960 Chris Craft wooden boat, and Matthew is completely in love with it.

We spent Friday at his house and then left for the lake Saturday morning. We spent the night on the boat after cruising all day, meeting some of his lake friends and enjoying the lake.

Of course, I couldn't resist taking many photos of Matthew. It was hot. We were sweaty. It's not anyone's best look. But, hey, it can't be helped when you're on a boat in a 90 degree plus day. I'm sure you understand.

The boat's name is "Three Wishes." I learned this weekend that it's considered bad luck to change the name of a boat, and a whole process is involved. There's lore and tradition about almost everything connected with a boat, it seems.

Another bit I learned is that the yachting flag, which you see displayed prominently all over the lake, was designed with 13 stars around an anchor because when America was being settled, the sailors would come back after being gone and realize they now had the wrong number of stars on the flag. What we see today is a variant of what the Navy came up with many years ago.

Generally, you fly it on the boat only when someone is on board. That way, people can tell at a glance if the boat is occupied.

Matthew just graduated from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa. His goal is to work in a capacity where he would be educating chaplains for hospital work. He worked as a Chaplain at Wesley in Wichita for quite some time and really liked it.

He is very happy in his current avocation as Captain of the Three Wishes.

Matthew is very smart and very kind. He's gracious to a fault and someone I truly adore. We haven't seen each other much lately, and I have missed him.

Matthew and I have traveled many, many miles together.

We've walked the streets of Brussels late at night, hunting for our hotel room that seemed to have vanished. And we've marveled at the "moving arch" in Antigua, Guatemala, near our hotel. We both SWEAR the hotel entrance was on one side of the arch when we first arrived and on the other side when we came back later that day. Even years later we are still certain it moved.

We have wandered the red light district in Amsterdam and been changed by going to the Anne Frank House the next day, which is infinitely more interesting. We have sat on the tarmac in San Salvador watching a flight attendant balancing on a seat banging the overhead compartment closed, and we spent hours talking to a gentleman from Poland talk about his bad experience on the "chicken bus" in Honduras.

Matthew is responsible for one of my most vivid travel memories, and he wasn't even with me - a pre-dawn walk in Paris snow. I was already there and headed out to meet him at the airport. His flight didn't arrive until much later, sans baggage. We've had many adventures and misadventures with airlines and flights.

A Patsy and Matthew travel tip - laugh when they ask you to give up your seat on an overbooked flight until they give you at least what you paid for the tickets. They'll try to get it out of you for dinner. We scoff! Literally.

Only when traveling with Matthew have I gotten on a flight and had the flight attendant look at us and squeal (and it was a squeal), "OH! I remember you!," while brandishing his pointer finger at us. We had ended up in the same hotel bar the night before - it was just us and flight crew pretty much - not that we knew we'd be seeing them at the Managua airport the next morning. That flight from Nicaragua is one of the most comfortable I've ever been on - few people and great service from the crew we'd seen the night before. And, this would be an opportune time to mention that the pilots were NOT drinking the night before.

Matthew and I have shared things we probably never would have done if we hadn't traveled in some unusual circumstances.

Some are funny - he reminded me this weekend that I dyed his hair in Paris once. After he told me it started to sound familiar. I had dyed his hair once before, so that would have been my second time ever. And I was doing it with only French instructions. I speak some French, and read more, but I'm about a million miles from anything resembling fluency. I can only assume he had had far too much wine with dinner to allow that.

Other things are more insightful than funny. Others are more embarrassing than flattering. But travel rule number one is you keep each other's secrets. Neither Matthew nor I have ever broken that rule. Thank goodness. And I certainly don't intend to.

Matthew isn't really interested in traveling much anymore and I'm sorry to lose him as a travel partner. He has always been one of my favorite people to travel with. I will miss sharing time with him in distant lands.


This is a formal plea for everyone I know to please get an account on Facebook. If you're reading this, please go get an account. It's free and I think it may finally be the answer to keeping up with friends and acquaintances when we're not in regular contact, and even when we are.

It's like grown up myspace, but still fun, if that makes sense.

I'm not getting a cut or anything - I just think it's cool. Frankly, I'm only starting to use it, and only know the barest of facts about it so far, but I can tell it has potential. So... time's a wastin' - go get an account http://www.facebook.com.

And, you'll know at least one person on there to start with - me. My name on facebook is patsyterrell - the same as it is everywhere. I just can't do all that fake identity stuff - reality is complex enough for me - I can barely keep that straight.

Anyway, I'll add you as a friend as soon as you get an account. So... get crackin'! It would be such a great way to reconnect with people I knew in college and from old jobs and other "old lives" where we aren't really in close touch, but would like to keep up on the basics.

Howard Owens wrote a nice piece about it on his blog... http://www.howardowens.com/2007/friendships-in-the-networked-age/

Saturday, July 28, 2007

SPIN Farming

Lately I've been writing here about local produce and growing herbs. After one of my posts, someone emailed and suggested I look at the website for SPIN farming. It's very interesting.

The idea is that people can make a living - a good living - from growing in their own backyards, and maybe those of a few friends if they want to rent more space. These folks have worked out a plan for how you can do this and make money at it.

The following if from their press materials:

SPIN-Farming is a proven organic-based growing technique that adapts commercial farming techniques to sub-acre land masses. S-mall P-lot IN-tensive Farming can be practiced in rural or urban locations on as little as 1,000 square feet; on a half-acre of
city-owned land; or it can be multi-sited on several residential back yards. It makes it possible to produce $50,000+ from a half-acre.

SPIN was developed by Wally Satzewich, a Canadian farmer whose operation is dispersed over 25 residential backyard plots in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan that are rented from homeowners. The sites range in size from 500 sq. ft. to 3,000 sq. ft., and the
growing area totals a half-acre. His produce is sold at The Saskatoon Farmers Market.

Wally Satzewich and his partner/wife Gail Vandersteen initially started farming on an acre-sized plot outside of Saskatoon 20 years ago. Thinking that expanding acreage was critical to their success, they bought farmland adjacent to the South Saskatchewan River
where they eventually grew vegetables on 20 acres of irrigated land. After six years farming their rural site, they realized more money could be made growing multiple crops intensively in the city, so they sold their acreage and became urban growers.

"People dont believe you can grow three crops a year in Saskatoon," observes Vandersteen. "They think its too much work, but the truth is, this is much less work than mechanized, large-scale farming. We used to have a tractor to hill potatoes and cultivate, but we find its more efficient to do things by hand. Other than a rototiller, all we need is a push-type seeder and a few hand tools."

"We are producing 10-15 different crops and sell thousands of bunches of radishes and green onions, and thousands of bags of salad greens and carrots each season. Our volumes are low compared to conventional farming, but we sell high-quality organic
products at high-end prices," says Wally. The SPIN method is based on Wallys and Gails successful downsizing experiment which emphasizes minimal mechanization and maximum fiscal discipline and planning.

The SPIN-Farming is a method uniquely suited to entrepreneurs, and it provides a new career path for those who have a calling to farm.

An important aspect of the SPINFarming method is adhering to a highly regimented work flow that Wally calls the Five Day Work Week. He allows plenty of time each day for farming tasks such as
harvesting, planting, and weeding. Evenings are work-free, except perhaps for something easy and relaxing, such as watering. Wally and Gail also enjoy an off-season in the winter when they indulge their wanderlust. They travel to warmer climes where they help
out farming friends in places like Costa Rica.

If you grew up on a farm like I did, I'm sure you can't imagine a regular work week farming either. But, Wally says it's possible.

I was very interested in this concept because I know a couple of people who would really like to farm, but they can't afford the initial investment in land and equipment. This seems like a great way to become a farmer.

I am not interested in becoming a farmer, but I am thinking about getting a spot at the local farmer's market to sell my excess herbs. Apparently I over-planted when I replanted after the hail storm destroyed - or so I thought - the first bunch. I cannot make enough pesto to justify four basil plants. And only so many people will take some off your hands.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Life is a Creative Adventure

I couldn't get a blog to post last night, so I'm a bit behind. I did nothing particularly interesting yesterday except work in the studio.

I mentioned I've been doing a new technique I think I'll dub lava color flow. You can see it on the front of this journal. It's a cross between marbling and something else, but I'm not sure what. But, I love the effect. It's tricky. This is my favorite journal I've done with this technique so far.

Otherwise, I was just doing the normal stuff that almost everyone does in their workday - email, phone calls, projects. I finished the MHA newsletter last night and will be glad to deliver it to the printer today. I'm always thrilled to get a project off my desk and into someone else's hands. Of course, this one will be back on Tuesday for mailing. But, nonetheless, at least this part of it is gone.

I'm reminded of just how much I blend my work and home life when I want to have a full weekend of doing no work, as I want to this weekend. I swear, it's like I'm preparing to be gone for a month just to have a couple of days of not doing anything for work. I was at my office at 1 a.m. doing some things just so they would be finished.

Although, I must admit, it's kind of cool being at my office late at night. I have three huge windows that look out onto Main Street and at night I can open the blinds because there's no sun pouring in heating things up. So, I can watch the traffic go by and it's kind of cool. I'm only on the second floor - we don't have a lot of skyscrapers in Hutchinson - but it's neat nonetheless. I move my desk around in there pretty often. At the moment I don't have it right by the window, but I have in the past. That's better in the winter, when heat isn't an issue.

Part of the problem was I went upstairs to the studio about 5:30 yesterday to just do a couple of quick things. When I came back downstairs it was 8:33. Honestly, I thought I'd be up there about 20 minutes - maybe 30. Instead it had been three hours. I just totally lose track of time in there.

Plus, at the moment I'm working on something I love doing, so that makes it go all the faster. I'm doing Christmas ornaments. That's one of the things I will be selling at the Hillsboro Arts and Crafts Festival on September 15. Greg suggested I put a note up about the fair on the blog and I think he's right - I should do that. It would be cool to run into blog readers while I'm out there. I'll add that to the list of things to think about this weekend.

I'm putting myself in the frame of mind for September and realizing that we will be thinking about cold weather and Christmas and fall. That gives a different slant to the things people are interested in so I'm trying to plan accordingly. I hope it's not freezing cold that day, but of course, we have no way of controlling the weather.

I came up with a new idea last night of something I want to make for the show. I've got more paper dyeing in the sink - you don't think that beautiful mottled orange is something you can just BUY, do you - and I need some boards to paint on. I'm not sure exactly what I want, but hopefully a trip to Home Depot will show me something that will work.

I love it when life is a creative adventure. I'm not sure the folks at the local Home Depot share my enthusiasm, but so it goes.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I've been busy all day, running from one thing to another. One of the bright spots in my day was lunch with Ray. He and I serve on a board together and we've never gotten much of a chance to really chat. He's funny, and that's always delightful to be around. It was a great way to spend an hour. And, we didn't say a word about the board we're both on, which is nice - it means we had plenty of other things to talk about.

Early this morning I baked brownies to take to the mechanics who did me such a big favor last week. I had hoped to get it done before now, but that just didn't happen. I dropped them off this afternoon and also popped in to Diana's.

Diana is closing her store, The Dancing Grouse. She decided a few weeks ago and is selling what's left. I bought a folding screen to go in my downstairs sun porch. I was just thinking a few days ago that I needed one and she had one for sale, so it all worked out.

I'm looking forward to a really fun weekend. I'll be seeing a friend I haven't gotten to see in a long time. We have a lot of catching up to do. We have a lot of shared history and that's always good. And he's one of those friends like I wrote about a few weeks ago. Hopefully we'll have a chance to really reconnect.

There's a lot of uncertainty in my work life at the moment. Running a non profit basically means you're a professional fundraiser. The only problem with that is that I don't want to be a professional fundraiser. If I'm going to be a professional fundraiser I might as well go to work for someone doing that and make a whole lot more money.

There are forces at work beyond my control and I have to jump through some hoops in the next couple of months that I hope I can successfully negotiate. It seems there's always something to be worrying about and it always seems to involve funding. I just don't care for that at all.

I want to do the actual work of my organization, but you have to do the fundraising piece in order to be able to do that. The balance is the trick - how much fundraising versus how much actual work you're doing. It's a continual struggle and I'm about to get worn out. I just don't do "worry" well, and it seems a necessity in this line of work.

It's time for me to be making my living writing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More art and more conversation

Things are really starting to come into their own in the garden. In the next few days I'll have my first crop of regular sized tomatoes. I've been enjoying watching the cherry ones turning from top to bottom. I've had a couple of handfuls off them, but will start getting lots more shortly.

I had a lovely lunch today with a nice gentleman I've known casually for years. When we were working on things for the garden tour we had a chance to talk just a bit this year and decided we might enjoy getting to know each other. So, we talked about getting together for lunch. A month later, we finally got around to doing that and it was a nice lunch.

We spent most of the lunch talking about quantum physics, which was quite interesting. It's always good to find more of "my kind" in town, and he's definitely one of them.

It at least satisfied my craving for some deep conversation today.

After work I painted for a couple of hours. I'm doing some new journals for the art show I'm doing in September. I have developed a new technique I think I'm going to dub color lava flow. I am strategically placing the paint and moving it over the journal covers without ever using a utensil of any sort. It gives some very interesting effects. And I love the texture. Anyone who has seen my work knows I'm all about the texture.

I'm discovering there are some tricks to it - aren't there always. The consistency of the paint, the placement and the combinations are all important components. But it's really interesting to see the finished products.

I've also been working on Christmas ornaments for the show. I really love doing those. I'm doing some in the traditional colors and also some red and purple ones for red hatters and pink and purple ones for pink hatters. I've also made a couple of blue ones that I really love. I'll try to get some photos to share in the next few days.

It is so nice to have my studio functional again. There is still a lot of tidying to do in there but at least I can use it again. I do have a lot to figure out as far as furniture in the bedroom. And I have a lot of stuff in the sunporch up there that needs to live somewhere else - I just don't know where that is, yet. But, I'm going to put my sewing stuff out there. I love having my writing desk downstairs in the sunporch so I think I'll enjoy the sewing stuff upstairs on that one.

Before that happens there's a lot of "stuff" I have to sort through and decide what to do with. Much of the stuff in that room is things I want to keep, but don't know where they go. Here's an example - the reels of tape of stories I did when I worked in radio. Where do those goes? I want to keep them. There's some good stuff in there - the audio of the show we did the day Challenger exploded, interviews with people who are no longer with us, a story I did that's in a local time capsule, etc. etc. etc. I want to keep that stuff, but I don't know where it belongs. I guess I'll figure it out eventually.

Well, I'm off to go paint a bit more before bed. I already have paint all over my hands so I might as well do more tonight. I had to paint my nails this morning because I couldn't get all the paint out from under them and they just looked nasty. Now that polish is covered with more paint. Maybe this is why people wear gloves. But, then you can't feel the paint and I like to feel the paint. It's essential as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Art and Conversation

I've been working in the studio the last few days - reclaiming it, in a way. I moved some things out of there that go into other rooms, and made room to actually work on my art in the studio. It has been far too long since I've been able to do that. It feels good to be able to create in there again.

When I bought my house, one of the "must haves" on my list was room for a studio. I was really fortunate to buy a house where the upper floor, at one time, was a separate apartment. Of course, this meant there was a kitchen up there and fortunately, it was still extant. So, it was the obvious room for a studio - running water, cabinets, and a nasty old tile floor I can slop paint onto without worrying.

It has been a real joy to be able to work in there and I get so much more done. But since I got the floors refinished a couple of summers ago, I have never fully reclaimed the studio space. It was one of the places I stuck furniture because I didn't have the floors in that room done.

But it is great to have access to my "toys" again. I love these little bottles of paint. They're cheap - about fifty cents each when on sale - and you can have tons of colors on hand. I use them for any number of things. I have "real" paint tubes, too, and use it as well - but these little bottles are so nice to grab and try out on various things.

Tonight was Creative Sisterhood and it was a really nice evening. We will soon celebrate our fourth year together as a group. It's hard to believe it has been that long, but it has. I was thinking the other day it was three years, but it's not - it will be four years on September 3.

We have gathered every month except one since then, for the purpose of sharing our lives. We have experienced some major milestones in that time.

One of my topics for tonight is that I am craving "real" conversation. I mentioned to Martha how much I enjoyed talking with her nephew, Michael, at the wedding. We talked for probably 30-40 minutes and covered a ton of different topics - interesting topics. We talked about travel and science research and math theory and  religion and philosophy in that time.

I was struck, once again, that my conversation with twenty-something men is often more interesting than my conversation with men closer to my own age. There are certainly exceptions to that, but they are rare. Conversation with forty-something men generally centers on things like children's soccer games. As I put it to a girlfriend, there's too much soccer and too little substance.

Do people just stop thinking/pondering/questioning when they get over 40? Surely not. I haven't. But it is becoming more and more difficult to find someone near my age that can talk about something abstract. I can find it in people older and people younger. But in people my age it seems nearly invisible.

Martha mentioned being in a conversation with someone once she had just been introduced to. They asked if she had children or grandchildren. When she said no the person asked, earnestly, "what do you talk about?" I would like to know what this person talked about before they had children and/or grandchildren. Surely they had conversation prior to that. Surely they had interests.

I know other people my age care about things like travel and math and philosophy - surely they do - I just don't know how to find them. The only times lately I've been able to have these conversations is when I've been with someone who's much younger than me. Is that just coincidence? Maybe. I don't know. I just know that I haven't ever had a conversation with anyone over 30 about theoretical math. Probably no one over 25. Is that something we "mature" out of?

I am really trying to figure this out. Partially I simply don't meet many people my own age. I don't know where they are, but not where I go - and I'm not talking about meeting men - I mean I rarely meet anyone my own age. People older and people younger, but not my age. Aside from Greg, I can think of two people I know who are within five years of my age. Two.

Where are the rest of them? What are they doing? Probably at soccer games.

And if I could find them, would we be able to have a real conversation? I guess that remains to be seen.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Weekend

I spent most of Saturday in this chair in my downstairs sun porch, curled up with the Harry Potter book. I love this chair - $12.50 at a junk store some years ago - and it's the most comfortable thing in my entire house. I'm not sure if that's a compliment or an indictment. But, it's true nonetheless.

Sunday was spent working around the house and taking care of some basic life needs. Even when there is a new Harry Potter book, we still need to wash dishes and do laundry and feed ourselves - inconvenient though it may be.

Speaking of feeding one's self, this was a delicious spinach salad.

Spinach leaves, feta cheese, pine nuts (toasted for a few minutes), fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden. The dressing was simple - these are the rough measurements:

Herb Vinaigrette Dressing
1 teaspoon fresh chives, minced
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

I just whisked it all together and poured over. It was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.

I'm really glad everything is coming into season now. I didn't get a chance to go to the farmer's market Saturday so until Wednesday I'll have to make do with what I have in the backyard.

I have a long list of things I need to accomplish tomorrow. I'm doing a Victorian Tea for the MHA on August 11 so that will take tremendous energy from me on multiple levels. The planning is fun and I've been looking at some recipes and thinking about how things will work. We're taking a different approach this year - local businesses and organizations will decorate tables, so I won't have to do that, but this setup will bring with it a new set of things to be decided. However, I won't be hauling the hundreds of pieces of dishware I generally do. That will be a pleasant change of pace. I hate the hauling. If it weren't for the hauling I wouldn't mind doing catering - but the hauling - ooooh I hate it so much.

Well... time for me to get some rest so I can do more tea things tomorrow. Always something to do.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Finished (No Spoilers)

I have finished the new Harry Potter book (no spoilers). I realized it was just about 24 hours ago that I started. And I've even done some other things today, including going to the grocery and cooking a real dinner tonight. Greg and I went to Roy's for lunch but we were afraid to go out to dinner - afraid we'd overhear something we didn't want to hear about the book.

I was too tired last night when I stopped reading to share pix Greg took (www.thelope.com). We were not the only ones out at 12:01 a.m. to get a copy.

We ran into Jesse and Joey who were out to acquire books and other goodies.

Jesse and Joey have helped out with the Christmas parade before, and Jesse's pic has been on the blog at Halloween, too. When I left, clutching my book, I spotted their niece, Molly, (in the pink) outside reading. She has done the parade with us too. And, in an odd coincidence, I worked with her mom when she was pregnant with Molly. For a town of 50,000, Hutchinson seems smaller sometimes!

I'm glad it can't be spoiled for me now, but I'll be glad when I can talk about it with other people, too. In a few days everyone who's that interested will have read it and we "talk amongst ourselves" as the old SNL sketch used to say.

I even managed to get some basic things done around the house in the last 24 hours, when I wasn't reading 700 plus pages. That should not imply the house is clean, or anything, but I did manage to do a little laundry and some dishes and some basic necessities. And I want extra points for cooking real food instead of ordering pizza.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Muggle Seclusion (No Spoilers)

I am largely in seclusion this weekend, reading the new Harry Potter book. I am trying to make myself take care of basic life needs as well, but I want to read it before some fool spoils it for me. I'm barely checking in online because I don't want to run across a headline that says, "Potter Dead, Fans Devastated" or anything like that. I want to find out what happens and be surprised.

We went to lunch at Roys but I'm cooking at home tonight. I'm not risking being out in the world where I might hear something I don't want to hear. The TV is off. The Radio is off  I'm not surfing. I'm barely reading email.

Well... I left off at Chapter 13 I believe... I must get back to my book... I'm not a particularly fast reader, and I'd really like to savor the book, but I don't want to risk it being spoiled for me. At some point I think it would be fun to reread all of them in order again over a short time period. I forget so many details that that would be good for me to get the nuances.

I'm thrilled that children - and adults - have had a reason to read the last few years.

What's a Muggle to Do?

What is a muggle to do on the night when the final book in the Harry Potter series is being released? Well, any self respecting muggle is out with their kind picking up a copy at 12:01 a.m., and reading by 12:32 in my case. At 3:36 I really must stop at Chapter 10 and get some sleep.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Choosing Battles

It seems life continually presents me with occasions in which I need to "choose my battles."

In any situation, there are at least two sides, and more likely there are many more than that. In the midst of trying to figure out what's what, people can get the idea that you've chosen "their" side, whatever that is. And they want you to fight, tooth and nail, for their position - in every single way - from the most minor decisions to the big picture.

I consider myself to be a fair-minded individual, willing to gather the facts and sort through the fiction, and arrive - hopefully - at a reasonable solution for any situation. In the process, it's not uncommon for feathers to be ruffled and hackles to be raised (whatever hackles are). In the midst of that, it seems no one can accept that you cannot fight every battle - that you have to choose which ones you're going to take on.

Who can fight every battle that crosses their path?

I choose my battles - not only for myself, but for others involved, too. If you make an issue of every single tiny detail it's easy for people to blow you off - you're a trouble maker and not worth their time. If you make careful decisions about what really matters and keep the big picture in mind, it's better for everyone. At least that's what I think.

I have to choose my battles.
1. I have limited time.
2. I have limited energy.
3. It's the only smart thing to do.

Over the years I've had multiple opportunities to choose my battles. They seem to crop up when you least expect them and they keep on giving. At the end of the day someone's always unhappy, and you're left to figure out how you might have handled things differently. Sometimes there just isn't a win-win situation, but you owe it to everyone to search for it nonetheless.

Little Things and New Eyes

One of the many things I've rediscovered as I've been arranging things in the house is this jar filled with "little things" from my childhood.

If you look closely you can see a little troll in there, some cracker jack prizes, some doll furniture and an ear from Mr. Potato Head. I think the jar is an old glass tums jar. Remember when things were made of glass, before we decided to see how many petroleum products we could use up and made our society a totally plastic one?

I don't recall putting all these assembled things together - my mom probably did it as she ran across bits and pieces in the cabinet where this was. In my bedroom at home she built cabinets all along one wall and when I moved away from home I left tons of stuff there - naturally. Unlike many mothers, though, my mom just left them alone. She would organize things occasionally but she never threw anything away. When she died we found numerous boxes labeled, "Pat's stuff," and they were filled with things like this. That's one of the benefits of living in one place for many years, I suppose. Whatever the reason, I'm thankful to have these little bits of childhood. I guess if you don't have the benefit of that, in some ways that's freeing, because you're not burdened by "stuff." But, I'm very fond of things.

When I was young I can remember going to Mary Ann's mom's house and she brought out a jar of "little things" that had been Mary Ann's. I played with them at the dining room table for an afternoon. I can't imagine why I was there without my mom, but I was. There were some very cool things in that jar - little tiny scissors as I recall.

My jar of "little things" might hold the same fascination for a kid today. I guess we are always interested in things that are new to us.

I am a person who needs a lot of "new" in my life. I like to meet new people, go new places, see new things. There's something exhilerating about newness.

Part of the trick is to find - or at least recognize - the unusual in our daily lives. Even if it's not new, we can look at it with fresh eyes and see something new in it.

Tonight Greg and I went to the Airport Steakhouse. It's, as you might guess, a restaurant at the airport. The back of the restaurant is all windows, looking out onto the airstrip. Hutchinson is a small airport, but is used a lot by small, private aircraft.

As you eat you can watch the planes land and take off. Tonight a couple landed and came in and ate and then took off again. There's also a restaurant in Beaumont where you can do the same thing, although it's not as convenient as it is in Hutchinson.

Anyway, as we were looking at the plane out the window, I realized this was one of those moments. Sitting in a comfortable restaurant, eating a delicious cobb salad, and looking out the window at planes landing and taking off is not "the norm" for most people. So, I took the opportunity to see that with new eyes. And thought I'd share with you. This was taken from our table. I didn't even stand up to take it.

The walk from their plane to the restaurant door was maybe two blocks long. I must admit, it seems like a fun excursion for an afternoon. But I'm not sure how many places you can go where you can land and walk to a restaurant.

You see lots of people getting out of private planes with brief cases and/or with golf clubs. We have the famous Prairie Dunes golf course, and it attracts many golfers. I don't know squat about golf, but I know Prairie Dunes is a big deal.

Seeing with new eyes is my challenge for the moment.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sign of the Times

Lets hope this is not a sign of the times.

I was getting gas this afternoon and they were messing with the sign. Being an optimist, I was hoping gas was going down from the $3.05 per gallon I was paying.

However, I didn't have time for them to finish doing whatever they were doing. So, I went ahead and pumped the gas.  Tonight I see it's still $3.05 so I guess they were just playing with the sign. For a few minutes I thought maybe it was going down to $2.99 but I didn't have the time to wait and see. But, I guess not.

Still related to cars...

Have I ever mentioned I love my mechanics? Well, today I do.

Today on my way to meet Trish - at noon - in the 90 degree plus heat - my car's fan decided it wasn't really interested in disbursing the cool air from the AC throughout the car, or even the few inches to me. Of course, I discovered this after the car had been superheated by sitting in the sun for hours.

A few weeks ago it stopped when I turned a corner and then was back to normal when I next started the car.

So, today I called them from the restaurant and asked if they could look at it and any chance they could replace it by 3 when I had to leave for a meeting in a neighboring town. Did I mention it was over 90 degrees?

They very kindly told me to come in and they'd try, although they had a very busy afternoon. Well, the phone was just ringing off the hook when I walked in and Jason told me he'd have Steve look at it between appointments. He came up front and pulled it in and looked at it - it was nothing! Just a loose connection. He fixed it in less than five minutes.

I was so glad I had waited instead of taking off as I had thought about doing when they were so busy. They didn't even charge me. Jason said the paperwork would take longer than it was worth.

I was sooooo happy when I was cool while driving to Kingman an hour away this afternoon, directly into the baking hot sun.

I promised the guys more baked goods. I take them goodies every now and then, and they definitely deserve some more. Jason requested no peanut butter - other than that I think they're open.

Thank goodness Mama taught me to cook. It's amazing how much goodwill a bundt cake can buy. Of course, only homemade will do - not cake mix - from scratch. After all, these guys did me a big favor - they deserve something better than a boxed cake mix.

Maybe I'll make brownies... I do have the absolute best brownie recipe... it cooks up quickly. It's what I make when I have unexpected company.

Brownies (Patsy)

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

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

I double the recipe often and cook in a 9 by 13 pan. Don't overcook them. My mom was a fabulous cook but could not make cookies because she wanted them "done!" and "done!" with anything cookie-like means it's overdone. You'll have to cook them a little longer in a double batch but keep your eye on them.

In other news of the day - very important news - almost as important as me not roasting while driving to Kingman - Greg and I reserved a copy of the new Harry Potter Book. We will pick it up at midnight Friday and immediately begin reading. Greg is a night owl so the plan is he'll read at night and I'll read during the day. We'll have to work out how to get the book between his house and my house unless he just sleeps on my couch during the day. Then if he falls asleep reading it I can wrest it from him as soon as I wake up and come downstairs. We both want to get it read as soon as possible before some fool tells us something we don't want to know.


There will not be any spoilers here. I want to enjoy every last word of it and I won't deprive anyone else of that joy, either.

I guess my weekend is pretty much set.

Speaking of upstairs... I've decided I want to rearrange my bedroom - and I want to get a new mattress set. Of course, this is my life, so it's not simple.

1. will a queen sized mattress go up my stairs?
2. how do I convert my antique headboard and footrest to accommodate a queen? - it probably involves a frame, which I also don't have
3. oh... and they need some minor repairs, too
4. then there's getting the old ones out
5. and I want to rearrange how the bedroom is set up - orienting the bed a different way

At the moment I wouldn't let anyone see my bedroom - it looks more like a storage facility since I moved things around the last couple of days. I was thinking I'd address it this weekend, but... of course... there's Harry. Ah, Harry...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


"Everything's a cycle,
you've gotta let it come to you,
when it does you'll know what to do."

Those are the lyrics from Bright Eyes' song, Classic Cars. It really struck me tonight when I heard them performing it on the Late, Late Show repeat. I saw the show when it first aired. I can only hope what they say is true... that I'll know what to do. The other stuff is a cinch, but knowing what to do isn't always easy.

We all make decisions every day that affect other people's lives - sometimes in very major ways. Even when we don't realize we're doing that, we are.

Doctors tell people bad news every day. Stockbrokers give people bad advice every day. Mothers hurt their children without intending to every day. Do those people know what to do? I don't know. I've never been a doctor, stockbroker or mother. Maybe they possess some secret knowledge the rest of us don't have. But, my guess is they're no better prepared than the rest of us for the cycle that has come around again.

One thing is true - everything is a cycle. That's for sure. After awhile, the cycles are obvious, but they keep coming nonetheless. It's as if the gods of the universe don't even have the common decency to disguise cycles so we're the least bit surprised.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Logic and Appropriateness

What is appropriate? That is a question I ask myself every day, multiple times a day, about a multitude of situations.

I have a reputation of being very decisive, and I am. And yet, I find myself asking that question repeatedly. How those two things can coexist, I'm not sure, but they do. I often find I'm a study in contrasts. When people talk about wanting to find someone who can understand them I'm awed by that. I don't even understand myself a huge amount of the time so how can I expect someone else to understand me.

I am a person who hates rules and yet I have my own set of ten "Patsy's Rules for Living." I guess what that says is that I only like my own rules. I'm a person who's incredibly spontaneous, but I have things on my calendar into 2009. I am an incredibly loyal person, but I periodically go through my address file and delete people I no longer have a connection with.

The appropriateness question comes up all the time. Is it appropriate to call this person for lunch? Is it appropriate to say what I really think in this situation or do I need to play politics? Is it appropriate to ask the drywall guy hired by the contractor about a side job? Is it appropriate to send email about this topic? Is it appropriate to blog about this thing or that, or is it too personal? Is it appropriate to display this artwork in public areas of my home or is it best kept private? Is it appropriate to ask the question I really want answered? The "Is it appropriate..." questions seem to have no end.

What I've learned as I ponder that question each time is that I have absolutely no idea what "the norm" is. I've known this about myself for awhile, but it continues to crop up. If you know what "the norm" is, then you know when you're outside it. I have never had an idea of what the norm is, and I'm guessing I never will. I am probably well into the latter half of my life, and I don't know what the norm is now so I'm not likely to figure it out.

The first time I realized I had no concept of the norm was when I was telling my friend, Leah, about going with this man I met in Egypt to meet his aunt and her family outside of Luxor. I thought it was a great travel story of spontaneity and what wonderful things can happen when you leave yourself open to experience. As I watched Leah's mouth drop open I understood, for the first time, that "the norm" and I are not really acquainted. The norm is that you don't go off with someone you just met in a country where you don't speak or read the language to his relative's house on a dirt road where not even taxis can run. The norm tells you that very bad things could happen to you. Honest to goodness, it never occurred to me until I saw her face. The real kicker is that I'd do it again in a second, even if I now know it's not the norm, because I'm not going to live my life being afraid of what "might" happen. If I die doing something like that, I'll accept the risk - I'd rather live fewer days fully than live more days going through the motions.

I've always been more of the creative, somewhat flakey, type. But, I also live with a lot of logic ruling my daily life. And it puzzles me greatly when people who claim to be logical do things that make no logical sense at all. It's this sort of conundrum that causes me to have to ask if something is appropriate.

If you are a guy who wants a family, at some point you have to walk up to a girl and introduce yourself. Nothing else is logical to me. If you want a new job, you have to apply for it. It's not logical to just talk about how much you hate the current job and expect it to change. I don't understand how people benefiting from social service programs can ever vote for people who would discontinue them. If you're living in a house you got through a government loan, voting Republican is like shooting yourself in the face. I don't understand why people can't say what they think - kindly. I believe the truth can always be spoken. It can be spoken without harshness, but it can be spoken. If you don't say what you think/feel/believe, how can you expect others to know it? There is no logic in assuming people will divine that information.

In the news now is a prime example of something I cannot grasp the logic of. The Los Angeles Archdiocese will pay out $660 Million to victims in child abuse cases. This will bring the total the church has paid in such cases since 1950 to $2 Billion. Why is anyone still giving money to the Catholic Church? There is no logic in that to me. For years they have been shunting "problem" priests away, without dealing with the problem, and using contributions given to the church to do the church's work to pay off victims. It's not logical to me that you would give your money to do the church's work to a church who has determined that a large part of their work is paying off sexual abuse victims. Why would you not give your money to an organization like Habitat for Humanity that is truly doing the work that has been defined for almost every religion in the world - service to the poor? Logic says to me that giving your money to an organization that has been paying off child abuse victims for 57 years is giving tacit approval to that practice. Your money says you think this is all OK. I cannot believe that most people think it's OK for priests to abuse children. But, logically, if people did not approve of it, they would not support an organization that makes it possible for it to continue. But it's been going on for hundreds of years. The church first acknowledged the problem in 1741 when the pope published the four page long Sacramentum Poenitentiae. Of course, the Catholic church is not hurting. At all. That $2 billion dollars could do amazing things. Logic says to me that people would not support an organization that has this kind of a problem. But, that is not true.

Religions of all sorts do many things I can't see the logic of. And I'm not speaking about belief systems at all. That is about faith, and that has nothing to do with logic and I understand that. But it's not logical to me that if you are a gay man you would choose to be part of a congregation that preaches against homosexuality. I don't get that. If you want to do "God's work," you can certainly do it outside the structure of a church.

I don't understand why if you want to end abortion you don't want to end unwanted pregnancy. I'm not saying you should or should not want to end abortion. I'm saying if you do, then logically, what you really want to stop is unwanted pregnancy. No unwanted pregnancy = no abortion. Why focus on a consequence of the problem instead of the problem? The problem is unwanted pregnancy.

People often say they want honesty, and yet I find that's not really true. That's fine - but why say it's what you want if it's not? That's not logical to me. Women say they want to settle down with a nice guy and yet pick another "bad boy." That's not logical - if you want a nice guy you've got to pick a nice guy.

The world is a mystery to me in many ways. I guess that's part of the reason I find myself continually asking, "Is this appropriate."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Congratulations Jim and Martha

Today I was one of the honored guests at Jim and Martha's wedding.

Martha walked in with her brother, Doug. She and Jim asked everyone gathered there to give her away and Jim as well.

Martha's dress was just as beautiful from the back - just perfect.

Martha's brother, Rob, did a lot of the ceremony, with his son Ryan performing the actual marriage.

Rob told some marvelous stories, eliciting tears...

... and outbursts of laughter within the same few minutes.

Rob's wife, Shirley, was the matron of honor.

Rob mentioned their 31 year marriage during the ceremony. You may recall Rob and Shirley being on the blog a few weeks ago when I saw them in DC, where they now live.

The wedding was held at the historic home built by Martha's grandparents. It's the same house where we hold Chicks. Doug, the current owner, is most generous with his home.

The marriage was performed in front of the same fireplace where Martha's parents were married. Her mother was there today, too. She was ushered in by her grandson, Michael, the son of Martha's sister, Marilyn.

After the wedding I had a chance to chat with Michael quite a bit and he was delightful fun.

Jim's best man was Stu, who is another one of the Prairie Rose Wranglers. Stu is responsible for Jim being in Kansas, where he and Martha met, so it seemed appropriate he be the best man.

Being a musician, Jim wrote a song for the wedding day. But, he recorded it instead of doing it live, which I think is wise because weddings are very emotional. He was going over details with John Eberly before the ceremony.

Music was a really important part of the ceremony and dramatically added to the event.

As you can tell, this was a real family affair. I loved getting this snapshot of Shirley and their son, Ryan, eating cake and talking quietly in the corner after the ceremony.

And speaking of cake... it was beautiful...

I helped a bit with the food, but Teresa and Andrea did the majority of it. It was lovely.

I think everyone had a wonderful time.

I know everyone there felt honored to be included. It felt wonderful to be in the presence of such genuine affection. Everyone in that room had love for Jim and Martha. I've become a huge fan today of smaller weddings, where everyone there has a real connection to the couple. It was a sacred experience.

Related Posts: Martha's Bridal Shower

6:03 a.m.

It's 6:03 a.m. and I have not been asleep. I guess this is why I don't sleep during the day very often.

I stayed in bed, trying to get myself to sleep. But, I couldn't. At various times I played solitaire on the phone, watched a show on serial killers on TV, and tried calling Greg who was in the car. Somehow, none of those things helped me sleep.

Finally, at 5:45, I got back up. Almost four hours of trying to sleep is agonizing in its own way.

I'm going to fix some breakfast, journal a bit and take a nice bath. Maybe I can at least sleep a couple of hours before Martha's wedding this afternoon. We'll see.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Not a Typical Saturday

This is one of my latest Goodwill purchases. It's not old and it's not nearly as cool or delicate as the older ones with the same sort of design, but it was cool enough for 79 cents. Yeah, I'm a big spender, what can I say?

I try to hit Goodwill every few days. I just picked up some Haviland china there a week or two again that matches some cups I got at a yard sale a few years ago. It's really beautiful. Of course, it can't go in the microwave because of the silver band around it. But it's so pretty I don't care. Today my take was a couple of trays - one wood and one metal.

I had a health fair this morning, so had to start the weekend working. That's not my favorite way to start a weekend, but it was valuable. I screened one person who thanked me profusely for being there and who needed treatment. It's rare anyone thanks you for doing your job - at least in my world - and it is always good to know you made a difference in someone's life. I realize it's an honor to do the work I do. But, of course, that comes with some responsibility, too.

Recently, someone I serve on a board with mentioned that I must answer my phone all the time. I assured him I did. I generally transfer the work phone to my cell phone when I'm out of the office. So, unless I'm in a meeting or otherwise engaged, I answer the phone - nights and weekend included. I don't answer it if it rings when I'm asleep but I keep odd hours so people sometimes get me when they don't expect to. Of course, I can turn it off if I choose, but I generally answer it. Most often it's just someone wanting some sort of information I know off the top of my head. But on rare occasions it's someone who's contemplating taking their life. I've had some training in how to handle such situations, but at three in the morning when you're in the midst of such a call, that training seems lacking. Fortunately, thankfully, blissfully, whenever it has happened, it has had a happy conclusion.

After the health fair this morning/afternoon, and a quick trip to Roy's, I went upstairs for a nap. I haven't been sleeping well at all lately. I've had a lot on my mind - working very, very hard to, "let it go, let it be, and let it lie." Unfortunately, that tends to make one's sleep fitful and one's waking hours pensive - neither of which is conducive to rest.

I got to bed about 3 this morning and got up before 7, after being awake multiple times, so I was tired. I slept about four hours this afternoon, but I obviously needed it. And it was good, deep sleep, which is difficult for me to get. So when I can sleep, I let myself - even if it's not a "normal" time to be asleep. I just can't sleep on some arbitrary schedule the world wants to run on.

However, one doesn't accomplish much when you're piled up in the bed napping, so I didn't get much done today. And tomorrow is a busy day, so I won't get to do much then, either. At some point I need to have time to concentrate for an extended period of time - to think, to listen, to ask, to hear.

Harry Potter

Greg and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie tonight. It was a spur of the moment decision. I have to say this is a dark one. It's not like there's a spoiler since the movies so closely follow the books, but this one was different than the others.

In all the others I think even if you hadn't read the books you could just drop into the movies and enjoy them. That's not true this time. You need some background to understand the story. Because I don't retain details of books or movies, I was on the verge of being lost a few times myself.

I have read all the books but I haven't seen all the movies. I saw the first one and it was so close to the book there wasn't much point in it. I didn't read any of them until I think the third book was out, then I read them in a nonstop orgy of late nights of being unable to put the book down. If you haven't read them, you're so lucky - you've got six great books waiting for you - soon to be seven.

I will want to read the new one as soon as it comes out. I don't want anyone to tell me something pivotal about it before I have a chance to read it for myself. And all I can say regarding the ending of the last one is, "no way... it can't be true... I simply will not accept it." I'm assuming book seven will resolve that ugliness and put all to right.

Well, I'm off to bed. I have to work Saturday at a health fair so I do need to get some sleep. Considering I need to be there in less than seven hours I guess it will be a short night. Again. Those seem to be my standard.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Guard Toad

Tonight I went out to mail the tea postcards and discovered my "guard toad" at the front door. I hadn't seen him in a few days. Greg took this photo in early June while I was in DC. I had seen him before that.

He appears to have taken up permanent residence in and around my front flower bed, on the porch and sidewalk. As you can tell from this photo, he is completely unconcerned with the annoying habits of humans.

When I opened the front door tonight he hopped onto the step below the surface of the porch. When I returned from the PO he was still there, in the place I would normally walk to enter my home. Of course, I used the other side of the steps so as not to disturb him, although that seems unlikely given his general disinterest in people.

I've decided I like Mr. Toad (or Ms. Toad - I'm afraid I don't know how to tell the difference). I believe my affection for him started to grow about the time Greg told me he probably eats his weight in bugs every couple of days.

I've seen toads in the backyard this year, too - little ones, big ones and medium ones. Maybe because we've had so much rain they are plentiful. Hopefully it's not because there are more bugs.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Fresh Produce

In my quest to buy locally grown food, I went to the farmer's market today. Here's what my $7 got me - two huge, juicy tomatoes ripened on the vine instead of in a truck travelling across country, new potatoes dug yesterday, a sweet onion and three squash.

Lunch tomorrow is going to be quite wonderful. Early in the morning I'm going to go pick some basil and pour some olive oil over it and let it sit for a bit. Then I'll fix myself a salad of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes with that drizzled over it to start lunch off.

At our farmer's market there is one gentleman who always has truly fresh veggies that his family grows on their farm near Partridge. Partridge has a large Amish contingent, as does Yoder. We're fortunate to have people growing food who haven't forgotten how to do it.

I wish there had been some fresh green beans to go with the new potatoes, but it was not to be today. I'm not sure how I'm going to cook the potatoes yet, but I'm sure something wonderful will occur to me.

I'm so glad I can cook. I don't know how people manage that can't fend for themselves in the kitchen. One of my former boyfriends was amazed that I could take some flour, shortening, fruit and a few other things and come out with a homemade pie.

And speaking of fruit - did you like that segue? Later in the day I went to Smith's Market and bought some Rainer cherries. I am not a big fan of cherries - the flavor reminds me of the gallons of cough syrup poured down me in my childhood. But, I make an exception for Rainer cherries, which are so sweet they don't even seem like cherries to me.

Of course, these were not grown locally. I'm sure they were grown in Washington, where this cherry was developed a few decades ago, and which still produces the majority of Rainer cherries. Regardless, they were mighty tasty.

We were at Smith's at closing time and they were packing away all the soft fruit, storing it in the cooler overnight to help keep it fresh. They've also expanded the store, taking over what used to be an antique store next door. It's even cooler now, with the tin ceiling and the wood floor in that section.

They've also added bins of all sorts of things - from flax seed to rolled oats to some delicious blueberry granola I've already fallen in love with. I also bought some Crimson Jewel popcorn and some other goodies.

I have had Ropps Sandhill Plum Jelly before and it's delicious. I went and picked Sandhill Plums with Teresa once and she brought me some jelly when it was made. To tell you the truth, I still don't really know what Sandhill Plums are, but they're very good as jelly. I'm going to hazard a guess they're some sort of plum. (See, college wasn't wasted on me.) They grow in the Sandhills (not suprising), on bushes, and they're good for jelly - that's all I know. I guess after 20 years in Kansas I should try to learn something more about them, but what's more important than they make good jelly?

I should try to pick some again this year - maybe even make jelly myself. That would be major. We'll see how things develop.

I've not tried Tuckerbee's Honey before, but thought I'd try it out. I have never heard of Niotaze, Kansas, but discovered it's near the Oklahoma border, in the eastern third of Kansas. I figured it was a good chance to try something sort of local. I'm sure it's more than 100 miles the locavores encourage, but in Kansas we drive 50 miles to go to dinner sometimes, so you gotta cut us a little slack.

Well, I'm off to bed. No doubt I'll be dreaming of fresh produce all night.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Get Your Magazines

A Magazine Rebate is being offered by Amazon. Order during July and get $5 off any of the magazines listed. You can see what's available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000101891. I got another two years on one of my favorites... so check it out. And, this is not one of those deals where I'm getting a cut - this is just a link to the spot on Amazon where you can see what's offered.

Locally Grown

Today I've had my first "harvest" from the garden - two grape tomatoes. They were tasty.

I've been gone a week and my eggplants have gone from being about 10 inches tall to over two and a half feet. The same with the cucumber. That doesn't seem possible and yet it is. I'm not sure what happened while I was gone, but they suddenly got very happy.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the "locally grown food" concept and how important that is. It stands to reason that something grown down the road from you, or in your backyard like these tomatoes,  is likely to be fresher and better-tasting than something grown 3000 miles away, picked green, and shipped to your grocery store.

Estimates are that our food now travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets to the dinner table. The benefit to this is that we enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables year round because they can be grown in places with temperate climates and shipped to us. The downside of this is that we're not getting the freshest things and that there are some costs to this that we're not paying for at the register - namely we're adding to air pollution with all that shipping, which is not helping the global warming issue any. It's ironic that even in places where food is grown, it's often shipped to distribution centers, then back to the area where it was grown in the first place.

Another issue is that we've lost family farms and have moved more toward a corporate farming culture. Those family farms not only provided a livelihood for the farmers, but they also kept money local, whereas that may no longer be true with corporate farming.

For me, the big issue is that we have lost touch with how food is "manufactured." I think many kids - and adults - have no sense of how food is actually grown. The more distance is involved in delivering our food, the more distance there is between us and the knowledge of how it comes to be. Do kids know what pigs eat? Do they know how we get milk? Do they know potatoes grow under the ground? I won't even ask if they know things that grow underground need to be planted in the dark of the moon and those above ground should be planted in the light of the moon.

Some have suggested we should all try to eat locally grown food. I think that's more of a challenge for some than others. If you limit "local" to 100 miles, as some have done, that's a very different thing in Kansas than it is in California.

However, I think we can all try to be aware of where our food is coming from. Is it coming from a place within a hundred miles? From within your state? From within your country? We can all try to be aware of this, even if we're not at the point where we can make significant changes. I think it's valid to consider the sources of our food nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I am home safely, after some harrowing moments on the road.

Greg wasn't feeling well today so we delayed our start from Joplin. We stopped in Fredonia to get gas, only to discover they didn't have any due to last week's flooding. Well, we needed gas and found some at the other station in town. They were out of regular, but had some premium at Casey's General Store. I have to give them credit - they were charging the same price for both although they could have been gouging customers. As we were turning the corner leaving town, we saw the Casey's gas truck turning toward the station.

We could tell we were driving into a storm by the look of the sky. Eventually the rain started but it wasn't too heavy.

Then, somewhere along the way we spotted emergency vehicles ahead. While we were trying to figure out why they had traffic stopped on the other side of the road, but not on our side we found ourselves approaching a low place covered with water - lots of water. I was going highway speeds - too fast to slow down by that point - so I plowed through it. Fortunately, no harm done.

I stopped to ask the patrol woman if it was safe ahead. She asked how we got through the water. I told her I didn't see it in time. She asked how deep it was and I had no idea - it had been a bit of a surprise - obviously. If you're going to stop traffic, you need to do it BOTH directions.

So, we kept going and a few miles down the road saw an even larger amount of water across the road. There were no emergency vehicles - we noticed it when we saw the wall of water being thrown up on either side by the oncoming traffic that also wasn't expecting it.

I got stopped before we got to it and watched a couple more vehicles come through. There was an SUV on the shoulder on our side across the water. We watched a big truck come through throwing water 20-30 feet in the air.

I said to Greg, "I'm scared." We were discussing what to do when I looked over to the left and saw the water literally rising by the moment. I mean it was barely at the edge of the road and in the blink of an eye a foot of the roadway was covered and in another blink it was three feet over it.

We saw the guy on the other side turn around and head our way so we watched his approach and then another car coming from the other direction.

I looked to the edge again and realized the water was now over more than half the road. We certainly couldn't stay where we were. So, without waiting for the ripples to subside from the last vehicle we went through.

Fortunately, we were OK. But the experience took a little bit off my life. It was scary. But I didn't know what else to do. We couldn't stay where we were and I knew that a short way behind us it was already impassable - and we had watched people go through this, so we did. And we were OK. But it was not a fun experience.

If we had delayed another 10 minutes anywhere we'd be sitting on the highway now, or washed off into the field or creek.

By the way... it's NOT normal for it to be flooding in Kansas in July.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Kitty With No Name

I'm in Joplin tonight and Miss Joy has a new kitty, which we've been playing with. The kitty does not yet have a name. I have suggested Cleopatra, a nod to the Egyptians who first domesticated cats and honored them in multiple ways, including mummifying them. While being killed and mummified might not seem like an honor, lets remember they did it to their beloved leaders. And their cats. Of course, "Cleo" would be the name used on a daily basis, which I think has some possibilities.

I've also suggested Toffee, given her coloring. Mia pointed out she is a calico but with tabby striping in the calico. She suggested Callie, which I also like.

The Kitty With No Name is a big hit. She likes to play, so we have played with her until she literally had to lay down and rest. She has a variety of toys, but my hair proved to be a favorite.

I will return home in the morning and go back to my daily working life. I want to continue to be on vacation. I guess everyone feels that way.

However, it seems very weird to be living a life that I want to escape from by going on vacation. Shouldn't we all be living a life we are thrilled to be living, instead of one we want to get away from?

Saturday, July 07, 2007


This morning was the parade in Barlow, Kentucky for Vacation Bible School at First Baptist Church where Jackie and Mary Ann go. Jackie drove the tractor and wagon he made in this morning's parade. His passengers are Lori Ann Oldham and daughter, Jenna.

This was the tractor's fourth appearance in parades. During LaCenter's Do Wop days a few weeks ago, my other brother, Jim drove it. Passengers that day were Jackie and Jim's grandson, Alex.

This morning Mary Ann rode in the parade, too. That's her friend, Janice in the back.

No parade is complete without a firetruck, and today's was no exception.

I may not have ever mentioned before, but my brother, Jackie, is very handy. He invents many things. He builds many things. He has lots of cool toys.

Today I got to experiment with a nail gun - actually, two nail guns. I didn't let them take photos because my glee was unearthly. I love power tools of all sorts.