Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Your Opinion Sought

I rarely write about work here. In fact, people who don't know me in real life sometimes ask me if I have a job. I assure you I do - a full time one. I run a Mental Health America affiliate in my county. It's a job that offers tremendous potential to be involved in people's lives in a meaningful way. I like it on many different levels.

There are more than 300 affiliates around the country and at the moment we're all engaged in a research project that's pretty interesting. Anyone can participate in it and it's pretty quick - about 10 minutes. No personal information is gathered - they're not even asking for your name.

We're surveying people to find out attitudes about mental wellness throughout the nation. What we learn will help shape our messages and determine our focus as we encourage people to be mentally well.

You can participate and help us out by taking the survey at the link below. Feel free to forward it to family, friends, coworkers, or anyone else you can think of.



I am weary. I think I've just been on the go too much this month. And, of course, I've been worried about my brother, Jackie. However, he seems to be progressing well. They moved him into cardiac rehab late Sunday so things are moving in the right direction. Tonight they're checking him for sleep apnea, so we'll see how that goes. Overall, it seems positive.

I realized today I was just moving through my tasks rather zombie like. I got quite a few things accomplished, but I'm moving slowly and not exactly at top speed.

Tonight Teresa and I went out to dinner and it was nice to chat with her. It seems like it has been forever since we've had time to talk.She has been occupied with things and I've been gone so much.

This weekend I have a tea to attend on Sunday but otherwise I'm free so I think I'll try to rest. I say that, knowing that I'll probably be working on Christmas things. There's always something to do.

I did go haul the tree out of the shed tonight. It's laying in the back yard in it's big "body bag." I want to give all the brown recluse spiders time to find other places to live before I bring it in.

I now know two people who've been bitten by those things - Diana and Angie. Diana was sick for months and Angie ended up having to have surgery. So, I've started taking them a bit more seriously and put a little extra effort into avoiding them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Salt Lake City

In my continual quest to appreciate the beauty of daily life, I snapped this photo Thursday morning as we were flying out of Wichita on my trip to Salt Lake City. By the way, this photo was taken on the Palm Treo 755 phone. My camera was not accessible in my bag and I didn't want to miss the shot so took it with the phone.

One of my seat mates on the Denver to Salt Lake leg of the trip mentioned what a pretty flight this was, and I was glad she reminded me of that. I took the opportunity to take some photos of the mountains I'd seen from a different perspective on my last trip to Salt Lake some years ago.

In some ways, it seems that trip was a lifetime ago. I was naive about so many things then. But I guess that is always how you feel when you look back. I'll probably feel I'm naive today when I look back on it with a few years more life experience. Before I digress into my life at the time of that trip, I'm going to get back to this one.

I was in Salt Lake for a conference that was one of the most interesting I've ever been to. It was very nontraditional and I loved that for a change. The gentleman who organized it included many Native American speakers, who gave a very different perspective on things.

Lacee Harris of the Ute Tribe was one of my favorite presenters. He spoke a great deal about the medicine wheel, the Mayan prophesies, and many other things. It was refreshing to hear a different perspective.

He was really expressive.

He was only one of the Native Americans who spoke to our small group. We also had a local Reiki practitioner - Lilli DeCair - come in, who brought along a couple of her students (Kent and John) who did Reiki on those of us who were interested.

I volunteered immediately, as I love having Reiki. I've had three different people do it on me now, and it has been different every time. Jocelyn, of course, is a Reiki practitioner, as is Andrea's friend, Marti. They have both done me a world of good on various occasions.

When we had this done the other day I was suffering from a tinge of altitude sickness - just a little bit. My only real symptom was that I couldn't breathe deeply and was getting winded with the least bit of exertion. "Exertion" in this instance being defined as walking across the room - a small room. That's a typical altitude sickness thing. Anyway, shortly after the Reiki, the feeling went away. It may have been that I just acclimated at that point and it was coincidence. Regardless, I was thankful.

One of the other things we did was make life maps. It was an interesting process. The final question on the list was to define your personal symbol. Well, it was easy for me to know what mine is - a star. I love stars. I have star shaped earrings with ankhs I bought in Egypt hanging from them. One of my favorite pins is a star shape. I have star shapes hanging in my house. Well, you get the idea.

But, the interesting thing about this process was that it caused me to consider why that is my symbol. I came up with two reasons.
1. I like it that the points of a star go in every direction - much like my mind goes every which way. I like it the idea of not having to pick a certain thing and stay with it.
2. I thought about how when you look at a map and there's a star marking, "You are here," and it occurred to me that that's a metaphor for always living in the moment. - you are here right now so make the most of it.

At our final lunch together on Saturday I asked everyone if they lived in the past, present or future. For me there is always only this moment - there's no tomorrow - just today - just this second.

We didn't get a chance to really talk about life maps, but it was a cool experience to do them.

The woman in the pink below is the very first MHA person I met. We shared a room in Denver at a training about a month after I started my job. We had a great time together and have enjoyed running into each other at various events since then.

Sometimes in life you meet someone you just know you're meant to meet. I had that spine-tingling feeling when I met Susan more than five years ago. Over the traditional fare at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans a couple of years after our initial meeting, I knew why Susan and I were supposed to know each other. In that one lengthy conversation, we finished our "business" together, but it's still delightful to see her whenever our paths cross. Oddly enough, they crossed in an airport once when we were both surprised to see the other. We have met up in DC, Florida, Louisiana, Utah, Colorado and California now, but not in North Dakota where she lives or Kansas where I live. I've never been to North Dakota, and she tells me she has a guest room, so who knows...

I had that same spine-tingling sensation this weekend when I met someone new - that it was a person I'm meant to connect with. It doesn't happen on every trip, but it is something I often feel while traveling.

I've thought before that those of us who like to travel probably do so to connect with people we are supposed to meet in this lifetime - for whatever reason. In order to facilitate that, we have to move around to different locales. I get, literally, a spine-tingling moment when I meet someone I know I'm meant to encounter. I had that feeling this weekend, although what "business" we have remains a mystery as of yet. Hopefully that will be revealed eventually, and it's always an interesting ride.

To top it off, one of the other attendees at the conference revealed that she used to read palms. She quit because it was eerie how often it was true. So, she quit. But, she came out of her self-imposed 20 year long exile and read my palms at dinner Saturday night. I've had it done a couple of times before, but this was the most interesting one. Although she doesn't know me well, she pegged me as an "adventure junkie," which, of course, is true.

All in all, it was a great couple of days, with some new concepts and interesting experiences, including that spine-tingling feeling of connecting with someone you're supposed to meet with. Life is always interesting.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Tea in Sterling

A few weeks ago, Julie and I found out about a tea in Sterling. It was the very next day, but we made arrangements to go.

Well, the tea itself was rather disappointing. I probably won't go back to this one again. It bore very little resemblance to anything that would really be called "tea." But, they did have some displays that were nice.

They also had lovely bouquets donated by a lady who attends the MHA teas.

Dinner with Friends

Before I went to Kentucky, I got a little behind on my blogging. I've been remiss in not sharing that Andrea had John, Kris and me over for homemade pizza one night. It was amazing!

Andrea is an exceptional cook anyway, and to have those skills applied to something you rarely get made from scratch, well... it was good stuff, let me tell you.

Of course, Kris and I had to take another pic together. Although, I'm not looking very cute in this one. All the more reason to take another one soon.

I really enjoy John and Kris. I'm so glad Andrea introduced us. They are my kind of people - open to exploring and interested in a wide variety of things.

Andrea also served this amazing drink that night - it was a lemon-basil-vodka concoction that was really refreshing. I only drank a little bit but it was really good. Andrea said it was made with some basil from my garden and that was definitely a worthwhile use of it.

It was a lovely evening, complete with games as the evening wore on. Fun, fun, fun.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Henna in the Fridge

So what's in your butter keeper in the fridge? Mine is holding Kone Henna Paste as the moment.


Because my dear friend, Jan, gave it to me and I'm supposed to keep it in the fridge until I have time to play with it.

You may recall that during the fair in September of 2006 I got a henna tattoo on my hand and tracked its demise over the next few days.

Getting the tattoo - http://www.patsyterrell.com/2006/09/henna-tattoo.html

Four Days Old 
Six Days Old
Eight Days Old
Ten Days Old

Well, Jan and I went to tea together over the time I had the tattoo and I told her I wanted to get some henna to experiment with. She manages an apartment complex and has some tenants who are from India. They were kind enough to bring some henna back from India for me. Is that not cool?

Jan has had it for awhile but we just hadn't connected when she and I and the henna were in the same place. I picked it up right before going to KY so haven't had time to play with it yet. But I will. Of course I'll take photos of my efforts to share here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Polk's Market in Medora

Polk's Market in Medora, Kansas, is an old fashioned fruit and vegetable market. It's run by Pam and Earl, who met 44 years ago while working in the Dillon's Apple Packing Department.

Earl said Ray Dillon taught him a lot about merchandising and groomed him to work at Dillons. But, Earl couldn't stand being inside so he followed in his grandfather's footsteps. His grandfather ran "River Banks" market on 30th Street in Hutchinson for many years.

Polk's has fresh fruit and vegetables - mostly from Kansas. They also sell some nuts and candies. And... one of my favorite things... apple cider slushies.

Earl says they sell more apples in slushies than any other way these days. He said 50 years ago his grandfather would sell tons more apples than he does today - partly that's because he is competing with the big stores, but it's also because people just don't eat as much fresh produce as they once did.

This time of year, Polk's is well stocked with pumpkins and gourds, of course. And he says those sell much better than they used to. He said 25 years ago he would sell about 100 pumpkins during the season, now he sells close to 4,000.

Polk's is a great little place. Earl says they try to give you the feeling of going back in time 50 years - much like his grandfather's place was.

Occasionally you find a pumpkin that has a little something extra - a little bit of wisdom tossed in.

In case you can't make it all out, it says "Life is like a Pumpkin Patch. You never know what you'll get."

I guess that would fall into the category of life truths.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Victoria Magazine

I went to pick up my mail today that I'd had held while I was in Kentucky. It wasn't a very big stack for over a week, but it had something exciting in it. Isn't that always the best part of mail?

Deep in this stack was my copy of the new Victoria Magazine.

As soon as I found it I began planning a long bubble bath, which is one of my favorite places to read. I keep a magazine rack by the tub and read a great deal while soaking.

A new Victoria also required a cup of tea - blackberry-sage flavored.

I subscribed to Victoria from its inception until its demise. I grieved for it and have missed it ever since it went away. When I learned it was being resurrected by a different publisher, I was excited, but also holding my breath. I couldn't imagine they could really recapture the magic of the original Victoria. I feared it would be a movie sequel that doesn't quite do justice to the name.

Well, my review is positive, but with reservations.

This is NOT the old Victoria. It doesn't have the amazing, soft focus photos that draw you in. It does not have the layout and design that transports you to another world. It does not even have the high quality paper the original Victoria was printed on.

BUT, it is worthwhile in its own right. It's a new Victoria, and it has potential. I loved the piece with Alexandra Stoddard. It is a magazine I will look forward to each month.

Maybe you can't ever really recapture something that once was. It doesn't work with lost loves and it doesn't work with old magazines either. But, you can fall in love again - with men and with magazines. I think maybe I might just fall in love with this new Victoria eventually. They have my attention. And the fact that the first issue has a Christmas tree on it just adds luster to its image as far as I'm concerned.

I Can Never Be An Old Lady

Yesterday as I was walking into the Sports Arena for the lecture by Bob Woodward it was drizzling. I was watching all the little old ladies get dropped off at the front door or making their way through the parking lot under their umbrellas. All of them were messing with their hair, fearful the rain would do whatever it is that rain does to your hair when you have a style. Frankly, I can never tell the difference in how people's hair looks unless it's dripping, but I seem to be the only woman on the planet who can't discern this.

Anyway, at that moment I thought... "Wow, I can't ever be a little old lady. That just isn't going to work for me."

After the lecture Greg told me he had a photo of Woodward that had me in it. For some reason, it just struck me as hilarious that I look like Cousin It compared to everyone around me. Naturally, I'm posting it so you can chuckle as well.

Everytime I see a photo showing the back of my head I'm reminded of this funky cowlick thing I have that makes it look like the part in my hair goes halfway down my head. I'm just going to blame it on the rain.

I think the next time I need a quick Halloween costume I'm just going to add some goggley eyes to the back of my head.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward spoke at the Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas, this morning. Woodward and his colleague, Carl Bernstein, wrote a series of articles for the Washington Post about the Watergate break in that ultimately led to the resignation of President Nixon. For those of us who are journalists - past, present or future - Bob Woodward is huge. As my friend, Alan Montgomery, who introduced Woodward this morning, told me when I asked if he was having a fun day said, "If I were a minister this would be like Billy Graham being here." I understood perfectly. Perfectly.

I've never met anyone who went into journalism who didn't want to right wrongs through a "robust, free press," as Alan put it this morning. We become journalists because we want to give voice to important things in the world. We want to expose corruption and fight injustice through the media. If investigative journalism had a face, it would be Bob Woodward.

Woodward spoke about interviewing President Bush for his recent books. Bush spent more time with Woodward than any sitting president has ever spent with a reporter. Over the course of those seven hours, Woodward asked 500 questions.

At one point while talking about the war, Bush said, "I believe we have a duty to free and liberate people." Woodward related this to us today and said, "'Duty' is the biggest word in the English language for a president."

Another time Bush was talking about how he and other leaders wanted to spread freedom and said, "We have a zeal to free and liberate people." Woodward said today, "'Zeal' is the second biggest word in the English language for a president."

Woodward said he would like to hear from all the candidates what they saw as their duty and what they felt zeal for. I had to agree that those were two excellent questions. At the luncheon for patrons following the lecture, someone asked if he was going to pose those questions to candidates and he said he would like to, and that he would probably send them in advance because those were questions you wanted people to have time to ponder.

He said Bush is idealistic, without a doubt - that idealism is "at the spine of George W. Bush." But, he said, "I am sincere in my view that it accents the reluctance, the outright stubbornness, to adjust the war strategy, and that rests on him alone."

Woodward also talked about doubt. He said, "doubt is an important quality. You have to be skeptical. You have to have doubt." But he said the president told him he had no doubt going to war was the right thing to do.

Woodward asked Bush what his father said when he talked to him about going to war. Eventually, after dodging the question in multiple ways, Bush said he didn't talk to his dad about it. He also didn't ask Donald Rumsfeld or Colin Powell what they thought about the idea of going to war - not in the sense of going to them for input. He talked about this at the luncheon - how Bush didn't do what most leaders would do - ask their team for their input. To me, this speaks of an incredible arrogance, but that is only my view and not the view Woodward put forth. He was just reporting.

In the introduction at the luncheon, Richard Shank mentioned that when Ben Bradlee spoke at a Dillon Lecture a couple of years ago he said Bob Woodward was the best reporter of our time, maybe of all time. I didn't get to see Bradlee when he was here, unfortunately. Alan mentioned in his intro that Woodward is "relentless," and Woodward alluded to that as well. He said he was calling Mark Felt, "Deep Throat," all the time when they were writing the Watergate stories.

Woodward related a story about Al Gore. He said he saw Gore at a dinner and asked him how much the public knew about things of consequence that happened in the eight years he was Vice President. He asked what percentage people knew from the various articles, books, memoirs and interviews. Gore responded about 1%. Woodward then asked how much they would know if Gore wrote a tell-all book. Gore said 2%. Woodward thinks Gore was being provocative, and that we probably know 50 - 60 - 70%.

This is of concern to Woodward because he believes the number one thing to worry about is "Secret Government." He said, "Democracies die in darkness." You can tell from his passion that he probably loses sleep thinking about what we don't know.

The other thing he said we should worry about is hate. He referenced the televised meeting Nixon held with his staff the day after he resigned in which he said, "Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself." Woodward said he saw at that moment that the teary-eyed Nixon, who had been the "hater in chief," realized that "hate was the poison that did him in."

At the luncheon he went into more detail about the Nixon resignation and what followed. He said when Ford went on TV Sunday morning and gave Nixon a full pardon that he was in a hotel room and knew nothing about it. He said the phone rang and it was Bernstein who said, "The son of a bitch pardoned the son of a bitch." Woodward said he instantly knew what had happened.

He said there was much talk at the time that a deal had been struck, that it was fishy. Many years later he asked Ford about it and Ford took out his wallet and pulled out a piece of paper that had written on it part of the supreme court statement that accepting a pardon was admitting guilt. Ford said, "that was good enough for me."

Woodward said that experience taught him that sometimes a decision may seem one way, but years later may look different. Ford said he pardoned Nixon so the country could move on. In retrospect, it seems it was the right decision, but at the time it was very unpopular. Woodward summed it up by saying, "You take snapshots." That what appears one way today may look very different 25 years later.

He said journalists need to give us more in-depth pieces about candidates, that too much of campaigning is an endurance contest. We have quick bits on cable news and what we need are details to get to know these people. As he said, "Anyone who has hair and teeth - or once did - is a mixed bag."

I was really struck by how personable Woodward was. After the luncheon I was walking out and passed by him and he said, "Are you a reporter?" I said, "No... used to be." He said, "well, you were taking lots of notes." I told him I was a blogger - that it was writing without an editor, which of course also means there's no one to keep me from making a fool of myself. It just told me he still has a great curiousity about the world around him.

They also mentioned in the luncheon introduction that he does not have an unlisted phone number because he never wants a source to be unable to reach him. I love that openness to the world that is a hallmark of any journalist.

Back in Kansas

I am back in Kansas. Jackie is doing fine except he had a temperature for a little while this afternoon. They're not sure, but think it may have just been a normal fluctuation.

There was some beautiful color in the sky this morning when I walked out of Mary Ann and Jackie's house to load the car. It was weird staying in their house by myself. I've never done that before, until this trip.

I drove all day, today. But, I did take a quick walk along the river this morning. Usually I pick up some driftwood, but today I snapped some pix and gathered these three brightly colored leaves. 
I was expecting more color in the leaves across Missouri, they are still largely green. There is some color here and there, but it's not near its peak yet.

I stopped and spent about an hour with Greg's mom in Joplin. I so enjoy her. I need to see her more often. Otherwise, I just drove all day.

It was good to be with my family, even though it was under difficult circumstances. Nonetheless it was good to be with them and to have an opportunity to help out a bit. Of course, there was nothing I could do for Jackie, and nothing he needed me to do. But, hopefully I gave an opportunity for Mary Ann to get a little rest before Jackie comes home.

I'm ready for a little rest myself.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Jackie was moved out into a regular room today and seems to be doing very well. They say he will come home on Monday or Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Jim has been asked by Hospice to be interviewed for a feature they're doing. He hasn't decided if he's going to do it or not, but I encouraged him to go ahead if it appealed to him at all.

Both my brothers are involved with Lourdes Hospital these days.

I'm at Mary Ann and Jackie's tonight. She's staying at the hospital with Jackie.

On the drive home I was thinking about mistakes everyone makes. I've certainly made more than a couple. I spend a considerable amount of energy every day trying to not repeat them but in the process others seem to find their way to the surface. Maybe this is what life is about - trying to deal with mistakes and potential mistakes.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Thanks to everyone for the emails, comments, good thoughts and prayers. Jackie is doing well. He's still in ICU because they don't have a regular room for him, but things look good.

I know he's probably going to get very bored before he feels like doing his normal stuff, but I feel he will make a complete recovery. If you scroll down a few entries you'll see him working on my Christmas Tree stand just three weeks ago. We had no idea then he was a ticking time bomb, with a 100% and a 65% blockage in his heart. It was one of those "silver lining" things that he fell at the construction site because that's how they found those. Had the heart attack happened somewhere other than the hospital he probably wouldn't have survived.

I haven't been posting, other than to the updates on him page, because that is what I've been doing. I've been staying at the hospital at night when there wasn't a reason that Mary Ann wanted to be there. She wanted to stay the night before and immediately following surgery, of course. But, otherwise, I've stayed every night since I got here until tonight. Tonight her friend, Janice, is staying, and I'm going to rest a bit. Needless to say, the amount of good, solid sleep you get in a hospital waiting room is not great.But I've been very glad I could help out by staying some. This is one of those times when it feels good to be part of a family that pulls together. I've been coming home in the afternoon and napping a bit and going back to stay at night and I've made it fine, but I do need to rest a bit before I start the 12 hour drive home.

I am headed back to Kansas this weekend. Obviously, I have things I need to take care of there and I think things here are going well. Also, I think it will be easier for Mary Ann and Jackie if I'm not here when Jackie comes home. Having someone else in your house requires some adjustment, regardless of how "normal" it is to have them around. I think it will be easier for them to come home and get into a routine without me being part of it and then them having to readjust when I leave. But, it doesn't look like he's going to be coming home before I go back anyway - but probably soon after - so that will all work out.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Jackie Info

If you want to see what's happening with Jackie tomorrow during the surgery, you can check www.patsyterrell.com. There will be a link there for updates. Thanks for your concerns, comments, and emails.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I am in Kentucky to see Jackie. I have very little net access because I'm at the hospital or sleeping. Any posting I do will likely be from my phone, with the abbreviations and misspellings intact, so bear with me. I can't recall where I last picked up the story...

Jackie fell a week ago Wednesday when a board he was standing on at a construction site broke. He fell about 10 feet and had surgery on Friday to do a full hip replacement because it broke the ball off his left hip. The surgery went very well. But, he had a massive heart attack in recovery. He coded and they had to shock him multiple times. They weren't sure he would live through the night. But, he did and continued to improve. Until they tried to get him off the oxygen.

On Wednesday - I think - my days are confused - they discovered he has a leaky valve and will need open heart surgery. That is tentatively scheduled for Monday, depending on if the Plavix in his system is at a low enough level. They will remove the stent they put in last week for the 100% blockage and do a bypass there and also where he has the 60% blockage, in addition to fixing the leaky valve.

Amazingly, he says his hip doesn't even hurt. He has an incision about 4 inches long on the front of his hip and it's healing nicely. It's incredible they can cut us open, rearrange a major support structure of our bodies and we not be in pain five days later. But, so it is.

I came to KY late this week to be with him and help out - someone has stayed at the hospital around the clock since this happened. I've been staying at the hospital at night so Mary Ann can get rested up because I know she will want to be with him after he has the heart surgery.

I came home to shower today and sleep a bit and I'm headed back to the hospital (about 30 minutes away). He's in CCU, so we can only visit for brief times throughout the day, two at a time.

I was hoping to have wireless access in the waiting room, since a lot of what we do is wait, but no such luck. So, I have no real computer time. However, I may post from my phone with updates.

I was planning to be here Friday-Monday anyway because their 50th anniversary is on Monday and we had a party planned for Sunday afternoon. Now they'll be doing surgery on Monday instead of celebrating their anniversary.

If you're someone in my real life world, please refer people to the blog for updates or have people call my cell. I do not have everyone's emails with me and just don't have the energy to do a lot of texting. I'll try to update here whenever possible.

Your good thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Alcohol Consumption

Recently I was at a gathering where by the time I arrived, one person was already feeling the alcohol they had consumed and was no longer very articulate, and another one had a head start down that path.

I'm not sure why adults don't understand that they're not at their best when they're a little tipsy. I see why 20 year olds don't get it - they don't have the life experience - but for those of us over, say, 25, it seems we should understand it.

One tipsy person in a group starts to overwhelm the whole dynamic, much less two - it's just not worth the effort to me. People were not drunk - just tipsy - but getting less able to communicate well with each passing moment.

Generally people just get more boisterous and less intelligent with each ounce that's consumed. It becomes more and more of a struggle to have interesting conversation, and it's just not worth the effort to me. I have a large group of friends who never drink, but in this sort of a group, I'm usually one of only one or two not drinking. As a result, I'm one of the few who grasps how much the general level of conversation has deteriorated - and it's significant - quickly.

Trish and I have talked about this before when we're around a group that's having some "drinks," that the level goes down quickly. It's quite obvious in most people after the first glass and a half of wine that they're no longer at their best. They think they are, but they're not. I know because I see them at their best and I see them after a couple of drinks and the difference is far more startling than they realize.

This is not to say that people can't "handle" it - they can in the sense that they're still functional. But, their level of interesting conversation diminishes pretty quickly. You can quickly get a whole group that is suddenly fascinated with rather meaningless prattle and it's just not interesting for those of us who are not impaired. For those who are drinking, it works fine, it even seems fun. For the rest of us, the level of interesting conversation and people has just gone downhill. Back in my partying days a friend used to say alcohol was a way to make boring people fun. I think the truth is more that it made him less able to distinguish boring and fun.

Of course, there are exceptions. There are some people I'm around who drink regularly that I have never seen the least bit impaired. But, they're rare.

There's a group I gather with regularly where the wine flows freely and sometimes I just cannot wait to extricate myself because the level of conversation has really gone downhill and no one but me realizes it. They're all laughing at nothing and I'm bored silly. So, I find a way to leave so I can go do something interesting. It's a shame because they're cool people, but they don't even realize how uncool they get with just a couple of glasses. They're not obnoxious - well, a couple of them can border on it - but they're just not as interesting. They can't think about complex things. They can't engage in meaningful conversation.

I went through my partying days in college. I was done with it long before I was 25. I found alcohol quite dull - never liked my brain not firing on all cylinders and can't understand why anyone would want that. People always say it relaxes them - well, so does meditation or deep breathing or a dozen other things. People say it releases their inhibitions - well, maybe you should actually address those instead of just masking them. We have inhibitions for a reason - they keep us from doing things like jump off cliffs. If your inhibitions don't make sense deal with that.

I like to have a drink now and then of something that tastes good - Andrea served something fabulous at a dinner she had recently. I drank a little bit - maybe an ounce total - it tasted great, but I didn't want to feel the effects of the alcohol. I want to have all my wits about me. And that was a prime example of how it can be fine. Everyone was having drinks - everyone else a "normal" amount - but no one was impaired at all. It's possible, but it's rare.

The lure of getting tipsy is a mystery to me, like so many things... But it's one of the reasons I don't serve alcohol at events at my house. I want everyone to fully participate and in a group of 10 people, there will be at least one who gets a little too loud and a little too dense in no time at all. And then everyone has to lower their expectations. So, I just avoid the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Christmas Preparations and More

Last night I brought the Christmas tree stand parts in and set them up in the corner where the tree goes. This may be the earliest I've ever started putting the tree up, although nothing is done but this. I've started other decorating before, but I don't think I've ever started on the tree this early.

It seemed ridiculous to put this away only to get it out in a few weeks. This year I'm going to wire it to the wall before I start assembling it instead of trying to do it afterwards. Greg suggested this placement since this is the direction it wants to lean - into the room - because I put more stuff on the sides that are visible. I'm excited to try out the new stand Jackie built.

And speaking of Jackie - he is doing well. Their 50th Anniversary notice was in the paper so people have been bringing it in to him. Obviously, we've had to postpone the party that was set for Sunday, but we've got a whole year to work it in, so we've got plenty of time.

I have spent today running from one thing to another. There always seem to be more projects than there is energy and time to do them. I want to change that dynamic.

Tonight Andrea hosted the gathering for our committee locally that put on dialogue. I went for a little bit and it was nice. But I had to come home to work on a couple of projects. I had a freelance graphics project to complete tonight and a number of other things so I couldn't stay very long. It was good to see everyone, but conversation was getting very intense about what to do in the future and I just didn't have the brain cells for that. I needed to save my brain cells for other things tonight.


Share my daily life by reading along at Patsy's Ponderings.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Mike Armstrong Remembered

I went to the memorial service today for Mike Armstrong of Roy's Barbecue. I went hunting tonight for the photos of Mike I'd put on the blog. It made me chuckle that they're basically the same photo taken at different times, because Mike was always hard at work, and always smiling. I'm certain Mike would like the fact that he gave me a chuckle, even on the day of his memorial service.

This one is from June 25, 2006, which included this excerpt, "We did go to lunch at Roy's. When I was outside the door I could hear Mike chopping inside and it occurred to me that that is one of the "sounds of Roy's." I'm always into sound - I guess it comes from all those years in radio."

This one is from November of 2005, when we stopped by after the Christmas parade, with Clarence the dino still on top of the van. It included this excerpt, "After the parade, we drove to Roy's for some lunch. Anne came out to see what was pulling up in their driveway. I pulled her over to have her photo taken with the dino. She wasn't too eager so I didn't push my luck and put the Santa hat on her. Christmas is not her favorite time of year. I'm working on her. Slowly.Of course, someone still has to be working to keep the barbecue flowing. Mike was doing just that."

This one is from September of 2005, when we were taking some friends out to one of our favorite spots, which inluded this excerpt, "I snapped a pic of Mike working hard at Roy's. They have the best barbecue I've ever eaten, and I've eaten some barbecue."

I only knew Mike from Roy's, but people become a part of your lives when you are a regular customer - especially in that kind of a circumstance where it's a small, intimate place. I think that's especially true when it's a place you're eating, too. Food is so primal - the very sustenance of life - and Mike prepared it so well. Son, Ryan, has been cooking and chopping for awhile now, and he's doing a great job. I'm glad Mike had some time to do things he enjoyed the last few months.

When I went to the service today I wasn't sure if it was really appropriate for me to be there. I was not a close friend of Mike's, but when a friend called to tell me the notice was in the paper, I had a desire to pay my respects. There were a few other regular customers there today, but not as many as I expected. I'm not sure what is appropriate in this circumstance - you don't want to feel you're intruding on a private occasion for family and close friends - but you don't want the family to feel you don't care either.

It was a beautiful service. I was impressed with it. Anne and I spoke just briefly and she told me she planned it. It was lovely - personal and moving, with moments of humor as well. The recessional was "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," because Mike was a big Yankees fan and even played college baseball at Pittsburg State. After the service, there was a balloon launch in front of the church, to release Mike's spirit. Blue and white balloons were handed out to each of us and after a brief reading, we all let them go. I wanted to take a photo because it was such a beautiful sight, but that didn't seem appropriate so I didn't.

I just know I'm glad I went. It was an honor to be witness to the memory of such a fun-loving man. My heartfelt sympathies to Anne, their children, and the rest of the family. I know Mike will be missed by all who had the good fortune to cross his path in this lifetime.


Tonight I was looking for a particular blog entry I had written about Roy's and in the process, discovered that in the last two and a half years on the blog I've mentioned Roy's more than 80 times.

The entry I was looking for was from live journal, which, unfortunately, isn't as searchable, so I'm going to repost it here.

This was written June 12, 2004............................

I consider myself somewhat of a barbecue aficionado. It's one of the things I check out whenever I travel. Stephenson's in North Carolina - spectacular. Corky's in Memphis and Nashville - good stuff. Shemwells in Cairo, Illinois - not to be missed. Starnes in Paducah, Kentucky - tasty. Voodoo in New Orleans - yum. Bryant's in Kansas City - an experience. Shorty Small's in Little Rock - mmm, mmm good. Well, I could go on and on about BBQ, but this is about one of the best of the best.

I'm lucky to live in the same town - Hutchinson, Kansas - as one of the absolute best BBQ joints in the country. Roy's. It's wonderful. A rich, sweet, smoky sauce that permeates the meat to perfection. I always eat the beef at Roy's, although I can also vouch for the turkey and ham, which I've partaken of when the beef is gone by the time I get there. The meat itself is wonderful - it's really smoked - not psuedo-smoked out of a bottle.

Mike gets there very early every morning. He makes a certain amount. When it's gone, it's gone. So, go early or accept you may not be able to get your favorite meat. If you wait too long, you won't be able to get anything. This is good stuff - made fresh - smoked with hickory - like BBQ is supposed to be. You serve up the coleslaw, potato salad, beans and other goodies yourself off the salad bar.

Anne and Mike are the proprietors at Roy's. They've been in business 23 years so they know what they're doing. It's a small building, with one large round table in the front, and then an annex with other tables. If it's your first time, don't miss the communal experience of sitting at the round table.

You may notice the painted window pictured above says 11-4 or until the food is gone. Heads up here - they're always closed by 2 - so don't dally. They're open Tuesday through Saturday. I know... hours are limited... doesn't matter - plan your trip around it - you won't be disappointed.

Going to Roy's means heading down Hutchinson's main street, turning onto 5th, toward Nickerson to the west. Continue on 5th - you'll think you're out of town. Keep going. And then you'll see the cars parked all around a yellow building on the right, and sometimes in the grass across the highway. You're there. Even if the line is out the door, as it often is - wait - things move along at a good clip.

Settle in and get ready for a treat. Meat is always perfect. Anne and Mike are always friendly. Experience is always ideal. If you become a regular they'll know your name and your favorite in no time.

Even if you're just passing through, you'll be treated kindly. They're used to out of towners because they're listed in some of those books about great BBQ places. You'll be happy to leave a few well-spent tourist dollars here. It's also a bargain - in case I didn't mention that. I eat a half sandwich, and it's less than $6, including the all-you-can-eat fixin's.

There are some other BBQ places in Hutchinson, including one that continues to buy a billboard near Roy's - somehow thinking we'll be fooled by marketing. Don't bother with them. They may win contests with ballot box stuffing and such, but locals know for the real stuff you gotta head to Roy's. Do you want BBQ or do you want meat with some liquid smoke poured over it?

Roy's is one of the places people can't wait to return to if they move out of town and come back for a visit. As I tell Anne occasionally, "If I can't have Roy's, I'll do without." You'll feel the same once you've had it.

You can see more pix and get more info on the official site at http://www.roysbbq.com. You can even see the menu or order some sauce. The sauce is adored - a staple in Hutchinson kitchens. I even took some as a "thank you" gift to some folks I was staying with in Cairo, Egypt. They were thrilled and you will be too.

Jackie Doing Well

Jackie is doing well.

He has the clicker to watch TV. He wants to go home. He ordered everyone else to go home and stop staying at the hospital. It seems he's getting back to normal.

He will be moved out to a regular room tomorrow.

Thank you for your good thoughts!

Monday, October 08, 2007

More Good News

My brother, Jackie, has continued to improve. I'm so thankful he's doing well. He is still in CCU, but he is improving. Obviously, it's all I've been able to think about the last couple of days. He has had a lot of visitors today and recognizes everyone. He's had some soft foods and they have him sitting up in bed a bit. They're reducing his sedation and he's no longer restrained. So, things are moving in the right direction.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Jackie Update

Thank you to everyone who has commented on the blogs and also emailed. I genuinely appreciate knowing people are thinking about my brother and our family at this time.

Here's the update...

Short version - it's good news so far.

Long version:
They have him on some medication to make his heart contract and they are weaning him off that and his heart is contracting on its own.
Neither the heart pump nor the temp pacemaker have had to kick in - his heart has been working on its won.
He responds to verbal commands - move leg, twitch toe, etc.
This afternoon he wrote a note to communicate. This really made me feel good - his brain was working well enough to form thoughts and he could write - that all seemed like great news to me.
He had a tube down his throat so couldn't talk. They've had him restrained because he kept trying to take it out whenever he would rouse from the sedation at all. They planned to take it out tomorrow. Tonight about 7:30 one of his hands was free by accident and he pulled the tube out. His blood oxygen level has been good so they haven't put it back down. Hopefully that will continue.
The nurse said she wasn't sure about it yesterday - if he would make it through the night - but that today he is on track for how people recovery from a stent surgery.
He has a little bit of pneumonia in one lung but that's not abnormal in such a circumstance and they're giving him some antibiotics for that.
He recognizes all the family and has talked to them, as much as he can. Obviously, his throat is very sore from the tube being down it.

I felt better about things this morning when Jim (my other brother) went to see him and told me that Jackie didn't look too bad. Jim has had a heart attack and knows what people look like in such a circumstance, so I found that comforting.

Cathy has done a great job calling me everytime they've heard even a little bit of news. I am so thankful for that. I was planning to go to KY this coming weekend for Mary Ann and Jackie's 50th Anniversary Party - obviously, we're going to postpone that for a little bit. Now I'm not sure when I'm going. There are lots of people there at the moment so I can probably be more useful later during the recovery phase. We'll see. I'm just so relieved things are going as well as they are.

Overall, things seem to be going pretty well at the moment. The 48 hour mark will pass early tomorrow afternoon. We are all eager to get past that milestone.

Thank you, again, for all your good thoughts and prayers for Jackie and my family. Please continue to remember us. I will update things here. Thank you.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Your Prayers and Good Energy Requested

I'm asking for your good thoughts and prayers for my brother, Jackie.

Jackie fell the other day when he was working on a construction job and broke his leg. He fell about 10 feet when a board he was standing on broke. It broke the ball off his hip and he had surgery this morning.

They did a full hip replacement and it went very smoothly.

But, while he was in recovery he had a heart attack. They took him into surgery and had to shock him 8-10 times to restart his heart. The next 24-48 hours are critical,  but his vitals are good. My big worry is about how long he was without oxygen. Obviously, we're all very concerned.

So, your good energy would be appreciated. Thanks.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Christmas Cards

I got started on my Christmas cards tonight. Well, I've already been thinking about the letter, but tonight I signed the cards, so they'll be ready to insert.

OK, close your gaping mouth and stop pretending like I'm off my rocker for doing this in October. I'm a little late for my tastes. Do you think of the Christmas season as starting the day after Thanksgiving? Well, lots of folks do. And... news flash... Thanksgiving is SEVEN WEEKS FROM TODAY.

Yes, Thanksgiving is seven weeks from today. That's seven Saturdays, four of which are already committed to other things in my little world. So, it's time for me to be preparing for Christmas.

I don't like rushing around during the holiday season. I like to just enjoy the holidays. I don't want to be trying to get the decorating, shopping, cards, entertaining, cooking, cleaning and calling all done in December. So, I start early. Last year I did a lot of shopping in December and it was kind of fun to be in the rush - and I may do some of that this year, too - but I don't want to be doing everything last minute.

And we have the Christmas homes tour this year, so I'll be doing that the first weekend, and my open house will be the second weekend. Then there will just be one more until right before Christmas. It zips by quickly.

I am on a mission to move Thanksgiving to the end of September, which is really harvest anyway. Then we'd have Thanksgiving in September, Halloween in October and we'd start the Christmas season on November 1. I think it has great potential. And lots of people I mention it to like the idea. Of course, not everyone. Some people hate the holiday season, regardless of how long it it, and want nothing to do with extending it.

In other news today, I had lunch with Dorothy and it was a great talk. I agreed to be on the committee to consider developing wind energy here. And we had some fascinating conversation. I'm still mulling it over, but I will share more here soon.

Well, I'd best start going through the blog to amass the dreaded Christmas letter. Not sure there's much point these days when people could just read the blog, but I guess I'm in a transition phase.

Accidents and Nature

My brother, Jackie, recently featured here building an industrial strength Christmas tree stand for me, is in the hospital. He was helping with a construction job today and walked out on a board that broke, and he fell about 10 feet. The ball of his hip broke completely off, but he's expected to make a full recovery, with no loss of mobility. They will do surgery on Friday and on Saturday he will be walking. Wow.

Obviously, we'll all concerned about him, but thankful it wasn't worse and glad they can do something for him and that he will make a full recovery. Of course, in the meantime, he needs some serious pain killers and has to lay on one side in the bed.

Everyone has done a great job of keeping me informed. Cathy, Jim and Mary Ann all called me at various times today for updates, which I appreciated.

Before I knew all of this today, I took a few minutes for a nice walk at Dillon Nature Center. It was a lovely day, although it was NOT fall-like, as I mentioned I was looking forward to after yesterday's weather forecast. Weather people lie constantly. I swear, they must devote training to that.

It was supposed to be autumnal today. It was not. I know, because people were wearing shorts, no sweaters were in evidence, and I took a long walk outdoors in sandals. Not autumn.

On the upside, there were tons of bees and butterflies on these flowers they tell me are a kind of aster. They also tell me they multiply easily - that they planted about three of them. I think I need some. I like hardy plants.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Autumn and Honor

There is a harmony
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky,
Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been!

                    Percy Bysshe Shelley

I snapped this photo of a spider web with leaves stuck in it at Quivira. I spotted two different webs built like this - rather hammock-like - in the crook of trees.

I picked an autumn quote because the weather people tell us that tomorrow is going to be a truly fall-like day. It's about darned time. I opened the windows a few days ago and decided now that it's officially fall surely I didn't need the AC anymore. There have been a couple of times I've almost broken down and turned it back on. It's time for fall now. I'm ready. I'm not a summer person. I want some autumn. Especially now that it IS autumn.

Global warming is starting to mess with my four distinct seasons and that ticks me off even more than future generations not having a planet left. OK, I'm exaggerating. A little. But I want my four seasons. Dammit.

But, they say tomorrow will be autumnal, before heat the rest of the week. Of course, these are the same weather people who predicted "brief showers in the morning, seventy degrees by noon" on the day I spent in pouring rain for 11 hours at Hillsboro when the temperature didn't get above 48. So, the fact that I believe them indicates incredible optimism or stupidity on my part.

I had lunch with Leah today and it was really, really nice to connect with her. She just lost her dad recently and we had not had a chance to talk, other than briefly. Some of Mark's friends have a morbid joke that I understand about "the club" and the club is made up of people who've lost a parent. It's called a coping mechanism. And, it highlights an important consideration - those who haven't been through it can't relate. They can try. But they can't.

I'm not sure, but I don't think anyone Leah works directly with has lost a parent. I know I've heard at least two of them refer to their parents so I don't think she has anyone in her direct world that can really empathize. And people who haven't been through it expect you to bounce back and get on with things very quickly.

Hello? Wake up call. It doesn't work like that. It was about five years after my mother's death that I came "out of the fog." I was functioning, and doing so very well by many standards, but internally I was a mess. No one knew that - not even me, really. God knows no one asked. People never want to ask. You might tell them and they don't want to hear. And it's largely a waste of your breath, anyway, because people cannot listen - it's too horrific for them.

So, today, Leah and I talked about those things that people not in the club don't/can't talk about. It was good for me. I hope it was good for her.

I've known that it's an honor to attend the dying. I'm not very good at that, and I'm thankful some people are. I'm blessed that my brother, Jim, was with our mom when she died, and he did all the things that needed to be done in those moments.

Today I realized it's also an honor to be with those on the other side of that process, who are experiencing the loss. I'm a little better at this part. A little better.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Go where love has not yet arrived." Father Gregory Boyle

Father Boyle runs Home Boy Industries, which was created to hire people who are trying to get out of the gang lifestyle. It's controversial. And it's working.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorite places around here. It was established in 1955 and now has more than 22,000 acres.

There are 21 canals and other structures that divert water to 34 different wetlands - ranging in size from 10 to 1500 acres each - making  a total of more than 6000 acres of marshland, some of which I examined  on a previous trip. 

It's a big bird area. I've heard estimates that as many as 90% of migratory birds go through here over the course of a year. The bird pictured here is a very common one you see there.

Apparently, you can even see Whooping Cranes at Quivira - about 75% of the sighting in Kansas have been at Quivira or at Cheyenne Bottoms - as they migrate. Whooping cranes are endangered and the penalties are severe for killing one - a fine of up to $100,000 and up to one year in jail. There have been only five killed in hunting accidents since 1950.

However, considering how rare they are, five is substantial. Experts think that at one time there may have been as many 10,000 whopping cranes but in the winter of 1941-42 they were at an all time low of only 15-16. In 2005 they were up to 215. I think this year I'm going to try to see one. I've never been bird watching in my life, so I guess I might as well start with an endangered species there are fewer than 300 of.

Some things are plentiful - like ducks and geese...

There's plenty of other wildlife too. The other day I saw two different kinds of turtles - red eared sliders and this guy, which I don't recognize. I also saw snakes two different times from the car, a squirrel, deer, grouse and wild turkeys.

I like the opportunity to be surrounded by a different environment than what's right around Hutchinson, where I live. Quivira is only about a 30-40 minute drive away so it's easy to get to. I go down there a few times a year just to look around.

With all the wetlands, it's very different than right here.

I also walked the "Migrant Mile" trail I'd walked before, which is where I snapped this photo.

On the wildlife scenic drive, I spotted this tree, which I thought so perfectly illustrated the power of the Kansas wind for those of you who haven't experienced it. I've grown used to the look of trees that are growing bent because they've been bombarded by the wind from a young age. If you look closely, you'll see the horizon is straight - the tree really is that bent and it wasn't that windy of a day.

I saw this mix of plants on the hike over the migrant mile trail. I don't know what the puffy red stuff is and I couldn't get close enough to touch it. After getting bitten by a snake a couple of years ago, I don't wander out into such areas.

If you missed the snake bite saga of March 2005, go to http://patsyterrell.livejournal.com/2005/03/04/ and scroll down to the fence posts, then to http://patsyterrell.livejournal.com/2005/03/05/ to read all about it. Suffice it to say, I still have a little scar on my right ankle where fang marks once were.

So, I tend to stay on the trails now - you know, like all the signs tell you to do in the first place. And I watch where I walk much more carefully. I was very lucky in 2005 to have nothing more than some swelling, fever and tenderness at the location, and I think one snakebite gimme is probably all anyone is entitled to in a lifetime and I've already had mine.

I've talked before about the sound of the prairie. I took some video at Quivira the other day. I haven't had a chance to look at it yet, but when I do I may post some at you tube so everyone can hear the sound of the prairie. We'll see if it worked.