Friday, August 31, 2007

Why You Should Google Yourself

Periodically, I google myself. I suggest it. It's how you find things like this - buried on the 5th page of entries about yourself. This is from the Kansas Health Institute and relates to the listening tour I participated in last Friday.


Listening tour wraps up this week

By Mike Shields
KHI News Service

HUTCHINSON, Aug. 27 — State officials stopped in three cities Friday and will hit three more Tuesday as they wrap up a 20-city tour designed to hear what Kansans would like to see in a health reform plan to be considered by the 2008 Legislature.

Two members of the Kansas Health Policy Authority board and the agency’s executive director Marcia Nielsen were among an agency delegation of seven people that met Friday with groups in Hutchinson, Dodge City and Garden City.

The tour’s last day is Tuesday, starting in Topeka with a meeting with independent insurance agents. Later in the day the listening tour will be in Manhattan were officials will meet with Farm Bureau representatives and then with administrators and board members of the Flint Hills Community Clinic. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to take part in that meeting. The tour will wrap up late afternoon in Salina with members of that city’s Chamber of Commerce.

In a conference room of the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, the health policy authority officials met with a group of about 20 people, many of whom offered personal stories about their problems with health and health insurance.

The first woman to speak burst into tears describing her difficulties after a car accident. She asked that any reform focus on better education for primary care doctors and better coordination among providers when patients rely on more than one.

Others complained about the high cost of health insurance, particularly for small-business employees.

“Health care is going higher, but my paycheck isn’t. We’re kind of stuck,” said Kim Waybright, a young mother who works at the Reno County Historical Society, a small non-profit agency.

“Small business is really suffering,” responded health policy authority executive director Marcia Nielsen. “Somewhere between 260,000 and 300,000 Kansans are uninsured and many, many work for small businesses.”

Waybright said her lower-income friends qualify for more assistance and better medical coverage.

“But there is a middle class that also is suffering,” she said.

“One of the most productive things the state could do is create a simple, standard plan that anyone could get…because we don’t even understand health insurance,” said Patsy Terrell, director of the Mental Health Association of Reno County, complaining of the complications resulting from arcane plan provisions and small print. “We’ve got to have something basic we can understand, that anybody can buy into. It also doesn’t make any sense that health insurance is tied to employment. It’s ridiculous. How many people do you know who are working just to have insurance?”

“The medical bills come from all over the country,” said Mary Hemmings, director of the Fox Theatre, a small Hutchinson non-profit that oversees the historic, renovated moviehouse. Hemming is a breast cancer survivor.

“I got a $1,000 bill for lab work from California,” she said. “I called to see what it was. They said: We can’t tell you over the phone. I’m still paying hundreds and hundreds a month in drug costs.”

Kim Moore, director of the United Methodist Health Ministries Fund, which hosted the meeting, urged changes in the law so that young adults could find affordable insurance or be allowed to stay on their parent’s health plans longer, up to age 25.

He said he had two children who were young adults and a third approaching young adulthood and it had been a problem finding affordable coverage for each of them.

“Our third daughter, we don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said. “I’m tired of this lore that young people don’t want health insurance.”

“Last year, there was a bill to mandate that,” Nielsen said. “And one thing you hear from insurance companies is that would drive up premiums for everyone.”

“Insurance companies say a lot of things that aren’t true,” Terrell responded. “Let’s just be honest about that. The system we have right now makes no logical sense. We need to throw out the system and start over.”

Sharon Hixson, a member of the Kansas Health Institute board of directors, attended that session. She urged attention to prevention and wellness programs.

“I think there have to be built-in incentives for staying healthy,” she said.

She also described a child-care worker who was leaving the business because she couldn’t do without health insurance.

“We have to make sure that not only our children have health care but also child care,’ she said.

The health policy authority officials also met separately with members of the Reno County Farm Bureau.

 “I feel like a own a suite at Wesley (hospital) in Wichita,” said Gayla Moeckel, who farms near Plevna, explaining that her daughter had cardiomyopathy and that her late husband had been in a spray plane crash in 1988. “I got one bill for $47,000. I have it framed at home. Instead of buying ground that year, we paid the bill.”

Her husband is now dead and she’s running the farm herself. Her brother who lives outside the area won’t come back to help because he cannot afford to give up the health insurance with the job he’s got.

“I’m still trying to keep the farm going and paying half (the health insurance costs) for the kids working for me,” she said. “I’ve got breast cancer in my family like you would not believe. I do go for an exam once a year, but I can’t afford a colonoscopy because it would not be covered. Not only are we paying more, but we’re getting less for our bucks.”

“How much sense does it make that they won’t pay for a colonoscopy, but will pay for you when you get colon cancer,” Nielsen responded rhetorically.

Our overriding concern is just buying (health insurance) and figuring out how to afford it,” said Brad Harrelson, a lobbyist for Farm Bureau. “Our industry is older and aging. Our demographics are going to skew us to that higher risk” and therefore higher cost insurance.

“Affordability is the biggest factor,” agreed Brad Blank. “My wife works off the farm. Her take-home pay is decreasing because her health care is going up faster than her raises.”

His mother, Sharon Blank, told the officials she was paying $1,650 a month for a health insurance policy that had a $3,000 deductible.

“It really, really hurts me to pay that much,” she said. “I just turned 64 and I can’t wait to turn 65 so I can go on Medicare. I never thought I’d say that.”

“I’m on Medicare. I got no complaint. They pay everything,” said Eldon Bontrager, who was sitting at her elbow.

That prompted Nielsen to ask the farmers what they would think of a state health plan that anyone could buy into, as was suggested by a woman at the earlier listening tour stop.

“You say you don’t want government getting more into health care but then you hear people saying they can’t wait to get Medicare,” she said. “That’s a government program.”

“I don’t know if we as an organization are sophisticated or smart enough to come up with solutions. We would go along with that mantra: No more government. But unfortunately we don’t have any solutions,” Harrelson replied.

“I’m not as convinced its going to be a major reform in the short-term,” said health policy authority board chairman Connie Hubbell, describing the plan likely to be delivered to lawmakers Nov. 1. “It’s going to be incremental. I don’t think we’re up for socialized medicine in Kansas.”

Dodge City
In Dodge City, at the Chamber of Commerce office, the visiting officials from Topeka outnumbered the locals, including House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, a Republican from nearby Ingalls.

“I don’t want anyone to think that we have to pass something this year,” Neufeld told the group. “We don’t want to pass something that helps a few people short term and then turns out to be disastrous long term.”

Most of the conversation at the conference room table focused on prevention and improving unhealthy lifestyles and the difficulties facing small businesses.

“When we talk about the cost of health care, how much of that cost is smokers, the obese? Something should be built in…so that those with riskier lifestyles pay higher premiums,” said Raymond Stroud, CEO of the Credit Union of Dodge City, which has 31 employees.

Stroud said his family is covered through Medi-Share, technically not an insurance company but a mutual aid organization of 50,000 Christians who share medical costs through a program the organization calls “Biblical Healthcare Solutions.”

Stroud said it was a non-denominational program offered through his church. Members must pledge not to drink, smoke or engage in “some other activities,” he said.

There is a $1,000 deductible for each medical event, Stroud said, but the monthly costs of the service are relatively cheap.

“It’s a big pool in Kansas,” Neufeld said, referring to Medi-Share and similar organizations that serve Mennonites and Lutherans and other faiths. “And they count as uninsured.”

Jeff Hiers of Brooke Insurance said the reform should address the problem of too few medical care providers in rural areas.

“There are not enough nurses or doctors,” he said. “We have to tackle helping kids pay for medical school.”

Garden City
At United Methodist Mexican American Ministries, the Topeka delegation heard from a crowd of about a dozen including dentist Grant Larkin.

“We need a dental school in Kansas,” Larkin said. “Not only are we underserved out here, but the dentists who are here are getting so far booked out that it’s out of control. We’re tired.”

“We’re trying to open a dental clinic but we’ll probably be up against a H-1B waiver cap,” said Penney Schwab, director of United Methodist Mexican American Ministries.

A H-1B visa allows employers to temporarily hire skilled foreigners in specialty occupations. But there are federal limits on the numbers of H-1B visas allowed. So, the new clinic may have trouble finding dentists to man it.

Others said there needed to be more state support for school nurses and that physical education should be required in schools.

-Mike Shields is a staff writer for KHI News Service, which specializes in coverage of health issues facing Kansans. He can be reached at or at 785-233-5443, ext. 123.

What Your Internet Presence Says About You

Time magazine reported in the Aug. 20 issue that 12% of employers admit to consulting social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace for help with their hiring practices. Of those, 63% declined to hire someone because of what they found. The major deal breakers were criminal activity and faked qualifications.

This caused me to think about what my online presence says about me. Obviously, I'm not given to a lot of criminal activity, so that's not an issue. As for my qualifications, they're easily checked out so there's no need for untruths there. I'd love to say I have a doctorate in some complex field, but that's not the case and I just don't think I could pull it off. What if someone asked me to actually explain relativity beyond, "time isn't linear." I'd be in big trouble. I understand it, but I can't explain it and I certainly can't do the math.

I don't think my Facebook or MySpace pages say much of anything about me, but the blog tells everything about my life that I'm willing to share, which is what I consider to be a "normal" amount of things you would share with people you're having conversation with. I have finally learned that there's a reason they call it a "private" life, and try to keep some parts of my life private. Besides, I've also realized that no one really wants to hear about your personal life. If you're happy, most people don't want to hear about it. If you're not happy, people really don't want to hear about it.

Last night at the United Way event, I had two people I don't know mention they read my blog. It's always fun to meet readers. One of these shocked me - I would never have expected this person to read my blog, but he seems to read regularly. People are full of surprises.

Seventeen Things

Today was a day in which I had seventeen things to do - appointments, meetings, commitments, etc. I managed to complete them all and get home by 10:07 p.m. The day ended with the United Way kickoff dinner, at which Bush impersonator, John Morgan, performed. Morgan was one of the runner ups on "The Next Best Thing" show. I didn't see the show, but Morgan was funny.

He was also incredibly pleasant afterwards, chatting with anyone who wanted to talk with him and posing for photos. Although I'm certain he would have kindly done it, I didn't stop him to get a photo for the blog because he is leaving the hotel at 4 a.m. to catch his flight. But I noticed he was talking to lots of people at the front of the room, including hotel staff. As he walked toward the back where I was helping pick things up I did tell him I enjoyed his show, but he was a little too realistic, which was true.

I like it when celebrities are gracious - some are, some aren't - and it often has nothing to do with their popularity. My very limited experience has been that it's the people who have a little bit of fame suddenly - i.e. they're starring in a TV show after struggling for years and don't know how to handle their sudden popularity - that are the most obnoxious.

I won't be specific about who it was, but a certain actor from LA Law when it was at its height is the most obnoxious celebrity I've ever had occasion to interview/meet/be around. He had signed on to do an event before he got famous. He wasn't happy about being held to his contract and sitting in the back room of a mall talking to a bunch of reporters was not his idea of fun. You'd be hard pressed to think of his name now, so you know it wasn't Harry Hamlin or Jimmy Smits. It was one of those other guys. Frankly, I'd have to look up the show to find his name.

This is in contrast to The Judds, who performed on the Kansas State Fair free stage in the hot sun years ago, even though they had the number one song at the time. I don't know how gracious they were behind the scenes, but they were giving people a good show. They had been booked a year or two earlier and in the meantime had had two big hits. It's what you dream of when you're a promoter. We left the free show they were doing to get to the show Loretta Lynn was doing at the grandstand. We had been given tickets and I figured one should always take advantage of seeing a legend.

That was years ago, of course, Oddly enough, I ran into Bob Gottschalk, the former director of the state fair, tonight. He would have been the one who booked the Judds all those years ago. I haven't seen him in ages. I interviewed him many times when he was with the fair and I was a reporter. He was always very pleasant and helpful. His daughter was in my leadership class last fall, and she did the Coming Home table for the tea. Yes, it is a small town!

That was the end of the day, and it was a pleasant end to the day. The United Way campaign is officially kicked off. I run a United Way agency and we could not survive without them. When you work for an agency that can't show what they do because of privacy, it's difficult to illustrate what you do.

I'm glad I have a little calmer day tomorrow. I have a list of things to accomplish but I can do them on my time table, which will be a lovely change from today when I was on a tight schedule.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lunch with Trish

I had lunch with Trish for the second time this week - we need some catch up time because we've missed some weeks. It was a really wonderful conversation today.

A couple of months ago, Teresa posed a question to Trish and me when we were talking about how much we like new and different. Teresa's question was WHY was that important. This launched into a tangent conversation about memorable moments in our lives - times that we felt very in tune with the world, very happy, etc.

Trish and I both related events about specific places/times, but the people we were with - if anyone - were not the major attraction. For example, I mentioned being underground in the tomb of Unas at Sakkara, Egypt, alone, for quite some time. I will never forget those moments - they were incredible. For Teresa, the things she recalled were about the people she was with - not the place or the activity.

I have devoted considerable thought to this since that conversation. It has been one of the trains of thought going in my brain since then. Today I shared my theory with Trish. I have "a Patsy Theory" about a zillion different things, and this is the latest one.

It boils down to where one's focus is. My focus is largely internal. That's not to say I'm an introvert - I'm not. But where my energy is devoted is largely internal. The amount of time I spend thinking versus sharing my thinking with others is very lopsided. I spend far more time engaged in the internal. I like people, and enjoy conversation immensely, but the I don't want to do that to the exclusion of alone time.

When your focus is internal, you're more moved by your internal reaction to things, places, events. Because you're processing it, you're not likely to want to be engaged with other people at the time. I would have considered it a real incovenience to have to talk with someone when I was in the tomb. I wanted to experience it - ie have an internal experience. If you're externally oriented, you want to share it with someone - the experience is in the sharing of it.

I am still working on the details of my theory, but that is the basic concept. That those of us who are internally focused are more about the experience (and therefore the places/events) than we are about the people we're sharing the experience with. Neither is better than the other - just a different way of looking at the world.

Obviously, I am not done working on this theory yet...

Quote of the Day

"Back of the problem of race and color lies a greater problem and that is the fact that so many civilized person's are willing to live in comfort even if the price of this is poverty, ignorance, and disease of the majority of their fellowmen, [and] that to maintain this privilege men have waged war until today war tends to become universal and continuous." W.E.B. DuBois (writer, civil rights spokesman)

Diana Held Hostage

My friend, Diana, was held hostage yesterday when a bomb threat was called into the 30th Avenue Dillons Store. She had gone in to send flowers and was caught, along with about 100 other people, in the store while a man on the phone made demands to have money wired to a European bank account. There were no injuries during the episode.

Police believe someone may have tapped into the store's security system. Diana said it was obvious the caller knew what was happening in the store. He said if anyone left the store he would blow it up.

The caller demanded people take their clothes off, and that the manager's fingers be chopped off for every hour his demands for money were not met. She said the employees were behind the service desk area and the men turned their backs when the women took their clothes off. Some customers disrobed and some didn't. Diana did not. She said she was on the east end of the store, near the office, and not as close to the service desk as some of them. She was originally sitting on a chair, but they forcefully demanded everyone get on the floor, which was difficult for some of the customers.

Diana said some of the older people in the store were complaining they couldn't breathe and that they were having chest pains. She said one gentleman with Parkinson's was tremoring very badly.

When they decided to start letting people leave, two at a time, Diana said some people didn't want to leave without their cell phones, which had been collected from all of them. Diana couldn't believe people were worried about their phones, but they were.

They were taken to the liquor store next door, that's part of the complex, where there were counselors available. All the customers and employees were also suspects because they were trying to determine if it was someone in the store who was in on it.

No bombs were found. No one was injured.

I called Diana this morning just to say hello. I had no idea she had been in Dillons. Needless to say, it's quite the developing story.

In fact, there is a current bomb scare at the Main Street Dillons. They had one yesterday as well, but it was quickly determined to be false. I guess this is the latest trend across the country. Seems like people could find better things to do than call in bomb threats.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I got up this morning before 6 and went out to watch the end of the lunar eclipse. I tried to go back to sleep afterwards, but couldn't. So, it has been a long, long day.

Greg was out in my front yard taking photos. I am, once again, reminded of how lovely it is to have your own personal professional photographer. You can see a whole series of eclipse photos on Greg's blog - I just stole one to put here (with his permission, of course). Check out the whole eclipse in sequence at

A little before 8 this morning the roofers next door insisted I move the van and the car from the driveway because they were afraid they would drop shingles on them while working on the house. Had I known they were coming, I would have charged the van battery. I don't drive it very often so always have to charge the battery before driving it. I'm not sure how they expect to find the neighbors at home whenever they happen to show up. Regardless, they pushed the van down the driveway so it was out of the way and I dug out the battery charger so I could move it back. All of this hoopla and they pulled off about a half dozen shingles and then left, not to seen the rest of the day. It's at least good to know that other people have no better luck with people who work on their homes than I do. On other home fronts, I called the lawn guy tonight and it will be next Wednesday before he can do my yard. Apparently lawn guys are in great demand.

I got some MHA projects completed today that I have been putting off and then spent a few hours in the studio tonight. I've been painting some backgrounds and have black paint under my fingernails - it looks really awful but I can't get it out. I've cut my nails to the point that they're as short as possible. It will wear off eventually, but it's not very attractive in the meantime. I have noticed people looking askance more than once - as if I'm a person who hasn't washed her hands in some weeks. Anyone who knows me knows this is not likely. I wash my hands many times each day. No, I'm not obsessive. I just like my hands clean. And, I rarely get sick. So there.

This is nothing new. My mother had the bathroom redone in her house when I was about three and had the sink installed at a level I could easily reach without her assistance. My father was saying, exasperatedly, "Mary Lea, she's going to grow!" To which my mother replied, "You don't know how many times a day I wash this child's hands." She had me come in and reach as far as I could and told the workman, "That's where I want the sink." And that's where the sink remains decades later.

I also have a thing about brushing my teeth. I remember on a trip once telling Matthew I needed to buy some toothpaste that day because I was out. He said, "Well, that's no wonder. You brush your teeth 20 times a day." For the record, I do not brush my teeth that much. At the time we were staying in a hotel room where we were sleeping about four inches from each other, waking up practically nose to nose every morning. You know Europeans love that coziness. I pointed out to Matthew that a person you're waking up only centimeters from could have worse habits than brushing their teeth multiple times a day. He conceded this was definitely true.

OK... moving on to other topics... time for a confession... My latest guilty pleasure - watching  "Rob and Big."  I'm not a huge reality show fan, but there's something funny about these guys and their friendship.And, shoot, they probably have a better chance of staying together than the Barkers did.

Homemade Granola

Teresa made homemade granola for Kansas Dialogue and people were asking for the recipe. I told them I would ask and if she agreed to give it, I would post it on the blog. Well... here it is...

It's Alton Brown's recipe from "Good Eats" on the Food Network. It's mighty yummy!

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashews
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.
Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Beauty of Rainbows and Other Water

I need more beauty in my life. This may seem odd to people who know me well, and would say that I have a lot of beauty in my life. I do, but I need more. I have been thinking about this off and on for months. It is time I do something about it. And it has occurred to me that I have an opportunity to gather beauty from images right here on the blog.

Reading another blog tonight caused me to consider thinking about this in terms of different kinds of beauty. I think I'll start with rainbows. Maybe they're on my mind because I just saw one Friday night.

You can click on the text above each photo to see the context and more photos.

Susan's Farm in March of this year

Kentucky in December 2005

August 2007 in Inman

Thinking about rainbows made me think more about water, which led me to sort out some other photos. I know I have a lot of pix of water. One of the ones I thought of immediately was the pond at the artist's retreat I went to last year. A quick google search found the blog entry about my little cabin in the woods where I spent a week without running water - something my brother, Jim, still can't believe.

But, the photo I was thinking of from the pond there isn't on the blog. So, I went into my photo archives and pulled it out. I have even used this as a background on some business cards.

There are other water related photos to share. I can think of river ones right off the top of my head, and I know there are others. I also have tons of pix - like these pond ones - that never make it onto the blog. I have the best of intentions, but life keeps moving at a pace that means there is something new to blog every day so they never get used. I have a lot of water photos taken at the Portland Chinese Garden that would be perfect to illustrate the beauty of water, too.

Maybe I need to make this a regular feature on the blog. It's kind of nice to have a reason to look back at older posts.

One of the things on my continual to-do list is to make a "favorite posts" list so people could easily go to them. There are some things that continually show up in the stats as posts that get a lot of hits. Maybe one of these days I'll finally get that done.

Kansas Dialogue is Over

Kansas Dialogue ended about noon today, with what has become our traditional conclusion - a take off on the "This I Believe" show. You can hear "This I Believe" on NPR, or through their podcasts. We follow the same basic format, and it's done as if it's a live radio show. I don't care so much about that, but I LOVE ending the weekend by hearing something really meaningful. The structured format does make people focus.

Last year was the first time we did "This I Believe," and I was one of the panelists. This year I was the "host" - introducing people and bridging between them. It went very smoothly.

It's always fascinating to hear people's core beliefs, which is what the show is about. My introduction today summed the premise.

Welcome to the second annual Kansas Dialogue edition of "This I Believe.” I’m
Patsy Terrell. This morning five people will share statements of belief detailing the core values that guide their daily lives.

“This I Believe” is modeled after the Edward R. Murrow show of the same name that premiered in 1951. In introducing "This I Believe," Murrow said , “we present the personal philosophies of thoughtful men and women in all walks of life. In this brief space, a banker or a butcher, a painter or a social worker, people of all kinds who need have nothing more in common than integrity, a real honesty, will write about the rules they live by, the things they have found to be the basic values in their lives.”

Murrow recognized what he was asking of people was significant. He even said it was an invasion of privacy, but people of all walks of life, including Helen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt, participated. More than 50 years later, hearing people discuss their closely held beliefs has the same attraction now as it did then.

All five people who shared this morning did a really good job, with a couple being standouts. It's always emotional when people are sharing their true selves - it's an intimate experience in a large group of people. Some people are more willing to "go there" than others.

The other thing we do on Sunday morning is roundtable discussions from topics people suggest on Friday and Saturday. I really enjoy those, as they're more timely and cover a broad range of areas. Because we had a record turn out this year they were encouraging us to add topics so I put down a bunch. A few of them made it onto the final list, but I couldn't go to but two of them because they were concurrent sessions.

Anyway... here's part of my list. Some of these maybe topics I explore here at a later time. I have misplaced my actual list, so can't remember all of them now.

What "double lives" do you lead? (This one made it and I went to it and it was very cool. One of the most thoughtful people I've met at dialogue said he had never heard it phrased that way - he really loved it.)
How does the lack of high speed internet and good cell phone coverage in rural parts of the state affect Kansas? (This is a HUGE issue - well, to Sean and me, anyway - but it didn't make the cut. C'est la vie!)
What alternative health therapies to you participate in? (I hear this one was really interesting but I didn't get to go.)
What are your "defining moments?"
Why is conversation important?
Do you like "new and different" or "constant and stable?"
What motto do you live by?
What renews you? (This one made the list and I went to it. Unfortunately, I left about 5 minutes early - after everyone had said what renewed them - to get ready for This I Believe. Three people told me it got really interesting after I posed the question of WHY do those things renew you - people were even in tears. But, I missed that part. Pity!)
How does social networking affect us?

I'm sorry I didn't get more of a chance to enjoy dialogue - especially since there were lots of new people there this year. But, so it goes.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Kansas Dialogue

We did breakfast and lunch for Kansas Dialogue today. It was a ton of work, but it really came off well. The only real problem with it is that we are essentially missing Dialogue.

But, tonight we went to the Underground Salt Museum for our program and dinner.

You can see the salt behind Julie. It's been mined since the twenties and the museum is open now for preview tours but they're still building facilities.

Kris and I had to take our usual photo together. I think this got started at my Christmas open house. Then there was the one at Andrea's birthday party. Of course, tonight we had the added benefit of the hardhats, which are quite the fashion accessory. They're one of the safety precautions you have to follow when you go underground - nothing major.

It was a nice evening and I was really ready to enjoy spending time with folks instead of being occupied with food preparation and cleaning up. I got to go to two breakout sessions today, and one general session, but other than that I was occupied. And that was true for a whole group of us - I think I went to more than anyone else did. Lynette, Sean, Andrea, the Hixsons, Julie, WenDee, Marci and I were all working frantically to make everything happen. But, it worked out great. I think people loved the food and we accomplished our goal to make it really good. But, as with everything, you either have to have lots of money or lots of effort. We used lots of effort.

I am looking forward to some studio time tomorrow night. That's what is getting me through at this point.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Kansas Dialogue Underway

Kansas Dialogue got off to a good start tonight. Those of us involved with food prep were chopping and dicing and mixing and on and on and on. But, people LOVED the food.

You know how some people are just natural workers? Man, I love those people. Well, here are two of them - Warren and WenDee. Warren and his wife, Sharon, helped last night and did a ton of stuff today too. Warren is a great chopper/dicer. I mean, he's GREAT! Today I discovered WenDee is also fabulous at it. I just LOVE workers. I don't think WenDee stopped all day long.

And it was a good thing none of us stopped because we did all this stuff...

All of my cakes were eaten, I think. There may have been a few pieces left, but not much. All of the Heavenly Hash was gone. I think people didn't realize the other was made from scratch because it didn't look like it. Anyway, it was eaten up, along with dozens of cookies people brought. And the watermelon was fabulous.

Julie made a ton of things and brought them along. Andrea, Lynette and Sean were working hard too. Julie, WenDee, Sean and I were a little slap happy by the end of the night when we were cleaning.

These sorts of things always bring out the workers and the ones who want to be included in the idea of working, but don't really want to do much. Fortunately, everyone on the kitchen crew tonight was working hard - we couldn't have pulled it off otherwise. But, it came off beautifully. And people were appreciative of the food, which was nice.

It's always good to see the people who come to Dialogue every year. Last year we were in Colby where Lon Frahm was our host. Some of these folks I don't see any other time, and then I can bump into them somewhere else throughout the year. When I was in Topeka for a Compeer event in February I bumped in to some folks from dialogue, which is always fun.

Tonight at the Sampler Foundation facility near Inman, our host for the evening, we were favored with a bonus - a beautiful rainbow.

I'm headed to bed very shortly. I went to bed after 3 and got up before 7 for a meeting this morning. The Kansas Health Policy Advisory board was in town and a couple dozen people were invited to attend their "listening session" to discuss health care in the state. I would love to think it will make a big difference. We can only hope.

Kansas Dialogue Preparation

This weekend is Kansas Dialogue. I always enjoy it, but I wish I could just paint this weekend. But, alas, 'tis not to be.

Tonight a bunch of us gathered at Lynette's house to prepare goodies for the weekend. The food at Kansas dialogue is often a real issue - it's either not very good or not very plentiful.

Last year when we knew we were going to host it in Hutchinson Teresa and I started talking about how we could make the food really good. I haven't done anything after the initial conversations, but Teresa has really masterminded the weekend and came up with wonderful ideas. Unfortunately, she had a family emergency and won't even get to come to dialogue this weekend, much less see her plans come to fruition. I'm going to take lots of pix so she can at least see how things looked.

She did such an amazing job of getting everything organized that we just had to do some of the chopping, organizing, etc. And this was all planned from the start, that we would help with this part of the process, so even though she had an emergency, she followed through on everything.

Needless to say, preparing three meals and snacks for 140 people is no easy feat. It requires a tremendous amount of organizing and planning and shopping and cooking and on and on. Lynette's front room was covered with bags and coolers and "stuff," but we still needed a few things at the grocery store.

Lynette's son, Sean, made three trips to the grocery store for us - and I think maybe that was after one before we got there.

He said people at Dillons were starting to laugh at him. Poor guy - the last time he went it was shift change, but both shifts saw him coming in. He said his high school friends were leaving and his college friends were coming on. He was a very good sport about it.

Sean always comes to dialogue and he's always fun to be around. He's a really good guy.

After I left there about 9:30 tonight I came home and made chocolate cakes - one of my tasks for the weekend.

I made two different recipes - one tried and true and one new one. You know, I strongly urge people not to try new recipes when cooking for a crowd, but I don't always take my own advice.

One of my most favorite cooking tips - invest in a Wilton 12 by 18 cake pan. You can then double any recipe that calls for a 9 by 12 pan and cook two at once. I have two of those pans and LOVE them. I seem to often find myself cooking for a large number of people and those pans really simplify the process. I had one pan from when I took cake decorating classes, and asked for an additional one at Christmas one year. I often have both of them full, as I do right now You'll have to increase the cooking time a bit, but not double it.

The recipe below has the measurements for a regular 9 by 12 pan. This is the new recipe. I just topped it with a chocolate buttercream recipe.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

1/2 cup butter

2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

1 cup sour cream

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup boiling water

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and melted chocolate. Then alternate mixing in the sour cream and flour and soda until it's all incorporated. Add boiling water and mix.

The mixture will look runny - don't worry - it will firm up in the oven.

Pour into a 9 by 12 pan and bake for about 35 minutes in 350 degree oven.

The other recipe is one I've made many, many, many times and I always get requests for the recipe.

Heavenly Hash Brownies

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup margarine, melted

1/3 cup cocoa

1 1/2 cups pecans (optional - I leave out when cooking for a crowd)

1 1/2 cups  mini marshmallows

Combine eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla. Melt margarine and add cocoa. Add that mixture to the flour mixture and beat well. Add nuts. Bake in a 9 by 13 pan at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

When out of the oven, cover with marshmallows and return to oven briefly to melt. Pour over frosting. Let cool before cutting.


1/2 cup margarine, melted

1/3 cup milk

3 T cocoa

1 pound powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix and pour over cake while warm.

These are very messy to eat, but people never seem to mind. You can cut them in very small squares - they're very rich.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

We Could Live Anywhere

Well... it's live... My little profile is on This is one of the pix Greg took that they used in it. See more of Greg's pix at

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quote about Creativity

"I have long considered
the creative impulse to be a visit -
a thing of grace, perhaps,
not commanded or owned
as much as awaited, prepared for. 
A thing, also, of mystery."
- Loreena McKennitt - The Visit

For many, many, many years - as far back as childhood, I have been collecting quotes that appealed to me. I'm not sure what the attraction is, but it's significant. I have notebooks filled with quotes I like. Now the computer makes it much easier. I have a folder called - not surprisingly - "Quotes," where I stash anything that appeals to me.

This quote by Loreena McKennitt is one that has been in my files for awhile and I recently used it on a journal I created.

It has really struck me anew since I've been spending so much time in the studio lately. It's amazing to me how so many things come together to create something new.

One of my favorite things I've made recently are these wall plaques designed for meditation areas. I love the simplicity of them. The wheat design is a spin off of doodles I've been doing for years. The quotes were all in my files already. The paper tearing I learned from doing collage. The color blending is something I've been playing with for a long time. Somehow all of these come together to make something new. It's why I love making things - from art to cooking to graphic design - you can pull from a million different fields and thoughts and create something new.

I have some other designs I want to experiment with. I've decided that after labor day weekend, I have to focus on the finish work for the things I have done. Finishing is not my favorite thing, but it's necessary. So, that's my plan. No more playing with paint until everything already done is actually ready for sale.

Technology Fun

I just bought a new external. This is a 500 gb to go with the 250 and 160 I already have. I remember - far less than 10 years ago - when I got a 1 gb machine at the radio station where I worked and it was such a big deal that all the men gathered around to watch the unpacking. It was exciting. And, lest I be giving the impression that I was not excited, I insisted on unpacking and setting it up myself - a task generally reserved for the IT person. But, he graciously allowed me to do it - knowing of my interest in such things.

Tonight when I unpacked the drive I was amused that we've moved from the days of thick manuals that were packed with various cords and multiple "easy guides" and reams of information that demonstrated how to connect and operate whatever we had bought.

This came with one small flyer, and had less than 100 words of instruction on it. It was plenty. And the inside has more detailed info if you want it, but I like this simplistic approach. There's no CD. There's no manual. There's no filmy packing stuff I could never figure out the purpose of.

And, their attempts at humor are not bad. The only small print on this flyer says at the end page titled "Please Enjoy," "Note: Times may vary depending on how excited you are about using your new FreeAgent desktop drive." I like this new friendlier approach. Of course, if I hadn't set up multiple computer things by now I might want more detailed information. But it's available online or inside the little flyer.

This is a Seagate FreeAgent drive. I have another Seagate and have been very pleased with it. I also have a SimpleTech, which I've been pleased with. They've had IO Magic onsale, but I've had very unpleasant experiences with other products they make, so I won't buy one of theirs. Western Digital is supposed to be the "standard," but an ex-bf had really bad luck with them. Companies would do well to understand the impression that gives. Obviously, you can't always control it, but you can control how you handle the problem. Western Digital jerked him around so much that I decided I'd never buy one of their products. The IO Magic products I've had have been so low quality that I just don't want to trust my data to them.

The reason I need so many drives is my penchant for digital pix. I take some almost every day. The blog has encouraged that, of course. I'd love to think my prose commands your undivided attention, but I'm no Wendell Berry, and graphic design demands some color now and then. Hence the photos, hence the external. My laptop is so full I can't accomplish anything on it for the constant "low on disk space" warnings. It will be pure luxury to have it running again without those pesky boxes popping up.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What We Need is Here

You know how sometimes you don't think about something for forever, and then suddenly it crops up repeatedly. That has happened with me lately regarding the writer, Wendell Berry.

Berry is from Kentucky, my home state. He graduated from UK many years before I did, and returned there to teach a few years after I left. He farms and writes in north-central Kentucky, near the Ohio River.

He recently celebrated his 73rd birthday and was in the news - maybe the Writer's Almanac. Then tonight I ran across one of his poems on a blog I read. This prompted me to look him up online where I discovered he's friends with Wes Jackson at the Land Institute, about an hour from here. I interviewed Jackson a few times. I wish I could say the same about Berry.

It made me go in search of one of his poems I like. I'm ready for fall, which this poem reminds me of with the idea of harvest being over. I'm not a big poetry person - don't know much about it at all - but what always gets to me is a turn of phrase that's so powerful. In this one I love the ideas of "abandon as in love or sleep,"  of "ancient faith" and that "what we need is here."

The Wild Geese

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze
over the fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

(from A Timbered Choir; the Sabbath Poems)

Berry is devoted to the idea that we must live in harmony with nature and we have to find a way to make peace.

In his work, "The Failure of War," he wrote, "How many deaths of other people’s children are we willing to accept in order that we may be free, affluent and (supposedly) at peace? To that question I answer: None . . . Don’t kill any children for my benefit.”

He is included in the Americans Who Tell the Truth project.
Read an interview with him at Sojourners Magazine from July 2004.
Read an interview with him at New Southerner from early 2006.

Monday, August 20, 2007


The number of times I an on the receiving end of kindnesses is astronomical. It says something good about the human race when you think about it, and heaven knows we sometimes need to find something good about our fellow man and ourselves.

An example is tonight. I went to Home Depot to get some boards cut for an art project I'm working on. The gentleman who was cutting it for me explained everything might not come out exactly as I had written down - they weren't precise. I assured him that was OK - I'm just going to paint on these and they'll be individual pieces so they don't need to be exact. When I went to pay he didn't charge me for the cutting - only the piece. It was just a little kindness. I said something to him and he just smiled and said, "you're OK, don't worry about it." It was just a little kindness in exchange for my little kindness.

I was reminded of an experience years ago at the State Farm Claims office after my car was hit in a little fender bender. I was waiting my turn and watching the person before me being obnoxious to the claims person, for no reason other than they just could. The claims officer told them they would mail the check and the person left in a huff. It was my turn and I went out where the car was to explain what happened. The claims officer was a pleasant as could be, we chatted about nothing in particular, and he said, "OK, take your paperwork to the desk and they'll write you a check." I was a bit puzzled, but then realized it was just a little kindness for my kindness. Admittedly, the person before me probably made me seem like quite the charmer.

A couple of months ago, Greg and I drove outside of town a few miles after a late night snack, to see if we could find a darker area from which to see meteor showers. We headed back into town in just a few minutes, realizing there was nowhere near town without light pollution anymore. We were talking and I wasn't paying much attention, and after stopping at an intersection, turned back toward town. I had barely turned when I saw flashing lights behind me. A sheriff's officer pulled me over for not using my blinker. Internally I was thinking - "good grief, it's almost midnight and there's not a soul anywhere around." Externally I just politely got out my insurance and license and smiled nicely. He came back in a few minutes and said he wasn't going to give me a ticket and that it would have been $135 if he had. I thanked him profusely. He said, "no problem. I appreciate you being so polite." The lesson? Politeness pays. To the tune of $135 in this case.

Kindness is one of those chicken and egg things - which kindness comes first? Does the world treat me kindly because I expect the world to treat me kindly? That's what "The Secret" and all the similar books that came before it would say. I don't know. I just know that kindness begets kindness.

In the interest of being completely truthful, I am not always kind - not by a long shot. I get frustrated. I get overwhelmed. I get bitchy. I like to think I have learned to control it much better than I used to. My impulsiveness that can take many forms - from saying things you should have thought about first to doing things others might consider idiotic. I believe it was just in the last few days I was talking about how that impulsiveness can be a problem at times. Fortunately, I've learned to control it a bit more than I used to.

A few years ago, the RAK movement was started - Random Act of Kindness. It's the idea that we should make a point of doing random acts of kindness every day - not expecting anything in return - but just because it makes the world better for all of us. I can't say that I make a point to do that every day, but I have learned that a little kindness can go a long way. And kindness is often repaid with kindness.

It's easy to take these kindnesses for granted because they happen so regularly. But, for today, I'm making an effort to recognize them and realize there may indeed be hope for us - the human race.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Clean This Morning, I Swear

I swear it was clean this morning when I started. It doesn't matter how much I try to keep it tidy, stuff just keeps encroaching on the space in which I'm working until there's no where for me to work. I finally just decided it was time to call it a day tonight when I, literally, had no where to work anymore.

Maybe I've breathed too many paint, varnish and other fumes.

I haven't been out of the house except to go pick some tomatoes for dinner. Tomatoes. Oh my. Tomatoes. I have lots. Why must they all arrive at about the same time? Why can't I have one fully laden plant every couple of weeks instead of six that can't stand upright from all the fruit on them at one time?

Last night I had eggplant parmesan. At lunch I had spaghetti with the left over sauce. Tonight I had cherry tomatoes with dinner. I don't know how many more tomatoes I can eat in how many more ways. It seems everyone I know is overloaded with them too. I handed a pile over the fence to the new neighbor yesterday. I even tried to get the roofer and the State Farm guy to eat some at 9 a.m. Friday. I'm a desperate woman.

Tea Photos

Here are the photos from our tea last weekend. We asked local businesses and organizations to decorate tables and provide favors. It was something I had seen done elsewhere and liked the idea.

Dr. Susan Evans' table had a really elaborate centerpiece with lots of detail. I'm including two photos of it to give a better view of what it was like. Her favors were bath and body products.

This was the Altrusa Table. Altrusa uses blue as a signature color. Their favors were antique china cups and saucers - really beautiful.

First National Bank was using Nancy Shears' mother's china. It was stunning.

Hospice of Reno County had a really beautiful centerpiece that was flowers in a teapot. The picture doesn't do it justice.

Friendship Force - this was Nancy Murry's china - it's over 100 years old. Their favors were all different - things from different parts of the world where their members have traveled. There was a wonderful teapot pin from England and a tea towel from France and some goodies from Mongolia. I don't remember all the others, but it was really cool.

Advanced Chiropractic Care - Dr. Renee Hurst

Elm Grove Estates

Coming Home's table was done by Maribeth Reimer, who was in my leadership class.

Hutch High Counseling Center - Andrea bought hand made candles as favors for everyone. She even put eight people at her table at the last minute. The others all had six.

All That Jazz (a hair salon) did a take off on Alice in Wonderland and the "Mad Hair." They had a really creative approach and some great coupons for people who sat at their table. Everyone got to take their teacup and saucer, filled with nail polish and other goodies, with them. Then one lucky person got everything else on the table - the flowers, china, clock, everything. It was really neat.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Productive Day

I've had a very productive day, but it is drawing to a close before I'm ready for it to. I could use a few more hours in each day.

Blissfully, it was much cooler today. It looked like it was going to rain all day, but it never did. I brought some things out of the garage that need to be washed off - I was hoping the rain would do that for me, but it looks like I may have to do it myself. But it was nice to actually go outdoors and still be able to draw breath that didn't feel like it was scorching your lungs.

I met my new neighbor today. Alex and Nicole and their family moved out and sold a couple of months ago to a gentleman a few houses down, who turned their house a rental. Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled about that. But, the lady who just moved in seems really nice. Hopefully all will go well. We chatted over the fence today - the same way I met Alex when I moved in 5 years ago. I had gone out to the garden to pick something for lunch and met her. I gave her some tomatoes and herbs and we talked a bit. All seems good, which is a relief.

Since I've been painting so much lately I've noticed something very interesting - it's one of the few times when my brain can focus. I have ADD - in a major way - I don't consider it a negative, however. I've never taken any medication, and don't intend to. I function quite well, although the impulsiveness is an issue for me. It has gotten me into some trouble of various sorts over the years. But, it has also led to some great adventures and a lot of life experience for someone my age. But, I digress...

I always describe my brain as being like a wheel. The front of it is like the hub of the wheel and the thoughts are all spokes off the wheel. Each of those thoughts may spark another thought process at any time. Then it continues on it's natural path, as well as the original one, etc. etc. etc. I can literally have hundreds of thoughts going on at a time. When something occurs to me that I need to deal with or remember, it jumps up to the front part of my brain - I write it down - and then the thoughts can continue. I'm quite happy this way most of the time.

However, one of the things that just irritates me to no end is loud noise - particularly unexpected noise. It makes every one of those thoughts come to a crashing halt. I physically jump when there's a loud noise. It takes me a long time to get all those thoughts going again. It's incredibly disruptive to me.

So, all of that said, painting is one of the few things I do when more of my thought process is focused on the task at hand. It's one of the few times I can actually get lost in something. That just doesn't happen for me.

I think the way my brain works is why sleep has always been so difficult for me. I have to get down to about 12-20 major thought processes going on before I can relax. It's why I don't go to bed until I am absolutely exhausted - so I can go right to sleep. It's also why it's easier to sleep in - getting sleep on the other side of the sleep process - my brain has to wake up, so as long as it's still a little sleepy, it's easier for me to drift back to sleep than it is to actually get to sleep.

In my younger and wilder days I did some "self-medicating" that worked amazingly well to help me focus. I know because I've kept journals most of my life and in the last few years ran across an entry written the day after being with my friend, Brian, and engaging in some of that self-medicating. I wrote about how I could focus. Interestingly enough, medical science - 25 years later - has come to realize this is true.

But, on an average day, I like being able to think about a lot of things at one time. Frankly, I'm not sure how people who think about only one thing at a time ever get anything done.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah... that's another ADD thing... and an ENFP thing... so... what was I talking about????

Oh yeah... painting... and how it stills my brain. I'm not sure how that happens or why it happens, but it does. In some ways I find it refreshing and in others at the end of the day I feel like I haven't had accomplished much planning during the day.

All of life is a trade off, huh?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Show Setup

I've been gathering things for the art show. At the moment they're on the desk in my downstairs sunporch. I've decided I need a "staging area" in my house - a place to put whatever I'm preparing for at the moment. But, I don't have that yet, so this is what I'm using.

These are some of the journals I've been working on and one of the craft aprons.

Mia and I haven't even had a chance to talk about setup yet. Greg suggested a "broken u" design - with long tables on each side of the booth, then small ones at the back with space for us to walk between those and the long ones. That seems like a decent setup.

On one of my art lists this has been a big topic of conversation lately. Some valuable information has been shared about art show setup on there. Of course, I guess you can make an argument for almost any approach.

Since I've not done this particular sort of thing before, I'm starting from scratch, with basics like do you have a way to protect your stuff in case of rain. I do as of tonight - big plastic drop cloths - but it had not really occurred to me until someone mentioned on my art list.

Mia makes jewelry, which isn't as much of a problem. Pretty rocks hold up nicely in rain. Paper journals not so much. Obviously, it's not ideal for any kind of material, but for paper it's disasterous. So, I'm trying to think of those sorts of things.

I'm sure it will be an interesting experiment.

New Roof

I'm getting a new roof. Again.

The roofer and the State Farm guy just left. This is the second go 'round this time. First State Farm guy said he couldn't see any damage on the main part but it's hard to see on dark shingles. Roofer said he could see damage. I called State Farm back and they sent another guy out. He found damage on parts of it but not other parts. So... upshot is that I'm getting a new roof - at least a partial new roof - maybe a whole new roof. We'll see what the estimates are.

Did I mention this roof is only five years old in October?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Photo Favorite

Early this morning, before the heat arrived, Greg took a photo of me in the garden to be used on with my profile. He took 40 pix. I have a favorite. He has a favorite. We can't decide which is best. I sent both to the ad agency so they can decide. However, I thought I'd ask others opinions, too. I'm not telling which is whose favorite. Let me know which one you like. Thanks!

This is number 12:

This is number 35:

A Day Off

I took a day off today. A whole day. Well, aside from phone calls, which I still answered... and email. But I didn't do anything other than essentials. Well, not anything for work. I worked on personal stuff all day.

I slept late, worked in the studio, went to Roy's for lunch, worked more in the studio, fixed myself a sandwich for dinner, and worked more in the studio.

Last night Greg came upstairs to the studio and looked at it in prep for taking some photos for They interviewed me a couple of weeks ago but I was so swamped with tea stuff that I haven't followed up. They want three photos - something art related, home related and garden related. Greg will do them for me, which is great, because I wouldn't let someone I don't know well into my studio.

Everything in there is pretty messy. Last night Greg suggested I "embrace the clutter," that it just looked like a creative person lived and worked in that space. He snapped this pic last night.

You can see there's lots of stuff junked on the shelves and the table. But, I work on that table, so it's understandable it would be full of stuff.

All day I was mentally prepared to "embrace the clutter," figuring the pic would run small enough it wouldn't be too much of a problem. And, besides, I thought Greg was right - it just looks like a space that someone actually uses.

Well, tonight I was looking for something. And looking. And looking. As I continued to look and put things where they "belong," as much as anything has a place in that room, I realized I was cleaning up in there. It was an accident, really, but then I was so close to having the shelves organized I wanted to finish it.

So, it's not as messy now, but it still isn't exactly "tidy," - just better.

It gave me something to do when the painting wasn't going so well, too. Apparently I exceeded the amount of paint fumes I should inhale because I lost all ability to make wise color choices and draw lines this evening. Oh well, I'm sure I will be back to normal tomorrow. It would be even better if I had improved, but I'm not optimistic about that.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Creative Sisterhood

Tonight was Creative Sisterhood. I made Lemon Curd Tarts and iced tea. Generally we have hot tea but it has been over 100 here so many days in a row I've lost track and anything hot did not sound appetizing.

I'm one of those people who's always cold and even I am hot. So, I can't imagine how miserable everyone else is. It's supposed to cool off to the 90s in a few days and that sounds like relief.

Of course, I had a ton of running around to do today so was in and out of the car a bazillion times. But, I got a lot of things done. Enough that I am hoping tomorrow is a day when I get to relax a little bit. I want to paint. And relax.

At Creative Sisterhood tonight my topic was that my life seems really dull these days - a lot of sameness - a lack of fun, unique, interesting things going on. I'm not sure how to address that, but I need to.

Kansas Dialogue is a little over a week away and I haven't done any of the things I'm going to do for it yet. So, I need to spend some time working on that. Seems there's always something on the horizon that I am about to miss a deadline on.

Well, time for me to rest. I am weary tonight for some reason. Of course, it is 1:23 a.m. so I suppose it is time to be tired.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I live in a house with two computers and I have been checking email on my phone most of the day. Nothing like reading a lengthy email on a two inch square screen - much less trying to respond with thumb typing.

To top it off, I've had over 1000 messages in my work account today that are spam bounces - someone is using the domain to send spam. Not understanding the ways of spammers I'm not sure what to do about it, but I'm pretty close to simply not allowing any email to come in on that account and having essential email sent to a different address.

I think here at almost midnight I've figured out the program with the computer was Norton and its overzealous firewall. I shouldn't even get started on Norton because I'm more than a little PO'ed at them. It seems every single time I have to load a new Norton disk my computer is screwed up for a couple of days. This was no exception. And, to top it off, I still had another 125 days left on my old subscription - but gave up trying to get that to work and loaded a new disk. One year I bought a subscription online and never figured out how to get that to work so I haven't done that again. Unfortunately, I need something to protect me from the viruses that the spammers send in their spare time, when they're not busy trying to convince me of my need for Viagra or penis enlargement or millions in a Nigerian bank.

The laptop has the exact same problem the desktop did with Norton not recognizing that the version I have still has 271 days on it. I'm five layers deep into their "fixes" and it still isn't working. Just what I need - more Norton crap to deal with. Surely there is something that actually works well, but I swear I don't know what it is. Can you say "void in the marketplace?"

The bonus computer wise, of course, is that I got to spend time on the phone with my ISP's support. Frankly, they were helpful. But, the condescending tone they use is something I could do without. Today it was all about the splitter that runs the TV and the computer in my office. She decided the splitter was the problem - it's not. Never mind that if it's a problem to have two things on one freaking outlet that when they have been out here THREE times in the last year and a half, they could have put another one in.

Needless to say, I did not get to relax today as I had hoped. I worked all day. Sometime this week I am going to take some time off. My house is full of stuff from the tea that needs to be washed and put away. Tomorrow night is Creative Sisterhood and I'm sure it will not be done by then. But, so it goes. They'll just have to walk around the things like I'm doing. There's a limit to how many things I can do and I've exceeded it.

Tomorrow is going to be a very busy day but I get to have lunch with Trish, which will be fun. Teresa and I had a wonderful lunch last week. I want more good conversation like I have with them.

However, there is one thing today that is making me do the happy dance - Karl Rove resigned. I'm not sure why I'm happy about it - the damage is done now - but I'm happy nonetheless. I am wondering what the point is. I guess to "turn over a new leaf," which could be worse. As a wise woman once told me - sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don't.

Karl Rove is obviously a very, very shrewd man - and a very smart one. I'm certain he has a very bright future ahead in whatever he chooses to do. Lets just hope he doesn't bring another Bush to the national political stage.

Did you hear Mitt Romney "won" the Iowa caucus? Yup. It helped that none of the front runners were there. Even Sam Brownback made a showing - and this is a man who even people who voted for him as senator in Kansas are afraid for him to be president. Bush is far too liberal for Sam.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Restful Sunday

I had a very restful Sunday, which I needed, although I did do quite a bit of work today. I have a ton of stuff to do to wrap up the tea so I did some of it today and will finish up tomorrow. I made a dent in the kitchen, which I'm very glad about. And I started unloading the car, which is filled to the gills with tea stuff. I have to wash all 10 of the table cloths and they're huge. That will take a few days to get them all done. Only one or two will fit in the machine at one time.

I also painted today. It was good to paint some more. I called Jocelyn - she was painting too. We have about 30 days until the show, so I need to be painting every available moment. I have a couple of things I've made that I want to create in different sizes, but with the same basic concept. That way if you like the look you can buy it at $15 or $35 or $85 - whatever you prefer. I don't know that those will be the prices, but that's the basic idea.

I did some more ornies today. I love those. I'm going to call an acquaintance who has an electrical background. I want to know if I can run some Christmas lights off a car battery in the booth. There is no power at this show but I'd so love to have some lights on the tree I use to display ornies. I have a power inverter. So, I'm wondering if he can tell me how to rig up something to run Christmas lights off a battery - they shouldn't pull much juice - we'll see what he says.

Tonight Greg and I went out to Sandhills and hiked out to the big hill to watch the meteor shower. It was good. Not the best shower I've ever seen, but the best viewing conditions I've had since I was in Utilla, off the northern coast of Honduras. There's no power there after midnight so it was quite dark, which was lovely - and we were there during a meteor shower. Matthew didn't stay up with me, but I stayed out on the dock all night watching meteors.

We saw a couple of really spectacular ones tonight. It was worth the effort expended - the dark of the moon and no clouds - optimal conditions for meteor viewing.

When I get some of the tea wrap up done, I'm going to take some time off this week and catch up on my life. I definitely need to catch up on my life - and get it back in some sort of order. Whenever I'm doing a big event my personal world gets neglected - and that means it becomes messier than usual. So, I have to get it back into shape - as much as it ever is.

I also have some big MHA things on the horizon to handle. And at some point I need to have time to do the things I actually ENJOY in life, instead of the things I HAVE to do.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


This is why I'm tired. I made all of this - 64 plates full. I'm going to bed. Maybe for days.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tea Over

Tea is over. It was a huge success. I'm exhausted.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tea is My Life

My life these days is getting ready for the tea tomorrow. This afternoon volunteers are coming to make the tea sandwiches so I've been getting all the stuff ready.

Yesterday we sold the last tickets. Today and yesterday I have people wanting more tickets. I've been promoting this for two months.

I feel really bad that some people are going to miss out - especially our regulars. I think this is going to be our best tea so far. But, we have x amount of seats and they're all spoken for.

Of course, there will be some people who won't show up - probably people who haven't paid for their tickets. So, we won't get the money and we'll have empty seats. Some people pay anyway but some will simply call to hold a seat and then not show. Unfortunately, right before the event I can't juggle all that too, so I have to let people make reservations without payment when we get close to the day. Maybe this will be the year when that doesn't happen. We can only hope!

Well... I'm off to do more prep. It's my life!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Art All Around

As you know, I've been painting every spare moment lately, getting ready for the art show in September. Well... I'm not the only one... art is in the air.  Check out Artsy Mama's blog to see a whole slew of links to other artsy things going on in the blogosphere.

Meanwhile, I've had some questions about the art things I've posted in the last few days, so this is an opportune time to answer them.

1. The ornaments were bought clear at the local hobby lobby. However, if you want to use ones that are scratched or otherwise no longer appropriate for display I understand you can soak them in a strong beach solution and it will remove the color. Then you can add your own. However, I have NOT tried this. I just buy the clear ones to begin with. But it seems like a good way to recycle ornies that have lost some of their luster.

2. The paper used for the quote on this journal is not something you can buy. It's a standard paper that I've added to. I use stamps I've carved to give some "texture" to the background on this particular one. I also added a little gold highlighting on it - very delicately. Each one is different - some are on paper I've dyed - but that was what I used on this.

3. The paint is acrylic and I use different techniques to get the different looks. Just play! I've been doing this for a few years now so I've learned what's going to happen depending on the thickness of the paint and the various tools used. But just play and you'll come up with cool things on your own. I sometimes add glitter or beads or other embellishments - the one on the right has some glitter and beads if you look closely.

OK... I'll answer more questions as they pop up! In the meantime, check out other artsy things going on by checking the links at Artsy Mama's blog.

Cooking and Painting

I spent the day cooking and the evening painting - like every day lately. All I really want to do is paint - all day, every day. But, unfortunately, no one is paying me to paint. Yet.

Tonight I was leaving the studio to come downstairs and fix some dinner when I decided to paint just a couple of the ornaments I bought the other day. Well, 24 ornaments later, I came downstairs. I like the look of these smaller ones even more than the larger ones I was doing earlier.

I made a couple of other things tonight that I really, really liked. Unfortunately, my camera battery died before I got a good photo. Maybe in the next few days I'll share.

Jocelyn gave me some good advice the other day - to think about how many people you want to sell something to at the show and then make sure you have that many whatevers to sell. I am getting a pretty nice little stash of journals, and I'll have a nice mix of ornaments once I finish all I've got started. And I'm working on some other things.

I don't think I'll have anything large done for this show, but that's OK. I like to do the smaller things, anyway. I am always drawn to the detail in things.

I first recognized this about myself when I was hiking in Muir Woods near San Francisco a couple of years ago. It was an amazing morning - I arrived before they were open, but they allow you to go on into the park. It was many hours before I heard or saw another person. It was very close to paradise on Earth.

I realized that morning as I was taking photos that I was always wanting the detail - the fern on the log instead of the log in the water. I wanted the moss on the tree instead of the overview of the trees. Unfortunately, the camera I was using couldn't capture those details. It was one of the reasons I got the camera I use now - it does a much better job of close ups.

Of course, I will need to figure out what to put in the background of the booth - that will be a trick. But I'm sure I'll think of something appropriate.

My fun part of the day was seeing Trish for lunch. She was on a tight time table after the city council meeting and before an appointment, but we managed to get lunch in, which was great. Trish and I always connect with on a very deep level. She and I are both feeling the urge to GO somewhere.

Well, the only place I'm going tonight is upstairs. And I'm going to try to stay out of the studio so I'm not up for an extra two hours.