Friday, November 30, 2007

This is now assembled into the blue and silver tree. I snapped this photo a few days ago when I had the ornaments for it gathered onto a tray.

I have LOTS to do in the next 36 hours. I have to get some clutter removed and some cleaning done and some decorating finished.

Perhaps I should be doing that instead of blogging. Hmmmm... there's an idea...

Check for the blog, art, and more.

Ben Kweller

I'm on a Ben Kweller listening fest today while I work.

I was reminded of him by last night's Carson Daly rerun. I had forgotten just how much I like his music.

How can you not like a guy who has lyrics in his songs like, "Butterflies are passive aggressive and put their problems on the shelf, but they're beautiful anyway?"

Check for the blog, art, and more.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Three Days

I have three days before the MHA home tour. I have to get everything done for the tour, including having my house completely ready since I'm doing refreshments here. I have a busy few days ahead. Oh my gosh, do I have a busy three days ahead.

The up side of it is that everything will be done for my open house on the 8th.

This is an opportune time to say - if you've been to my Christmas Open Houses before or ever been invited before or were expecting to be invited this year - and haven't yet gotten an invitation this year - it's not because you're being slighted - it's because I'm still working on getting things mailed. And because I have three days before the MHA tour (see paragraph one!). So, consider this your official invitation, with your other official invitation to follow at some point, hopefully before the actual event. Anyway... I hope to see you on Dec. 8, 6:30 to whenever. I'm mailing things as fast as I can but things that need corrections in the database for some reason seem to not be getting done in a timely manner.

Well, I must go and do more things to get me and my house ready for upcoming events! And, sleep... I must sleep... at least some... some time...

Monday, November 26, 2007

First Volley

I've sent the first volley of Christmas letters. I'm not doing it in the usual way this year and I can already see the error of my way, but - too late now - I'll just have to make do because I'm not going to reprint the envelopes.

Yes, I print the envelopes. I know - it's not as personal. But I send about 300 cards each year and stopped hand addressing them some years ago. I just can't quite work that into my world anymore.

Well, I suppose I could, but I run my life with a constant ROI assessment going, and that is just not something I'm getting a good return on investment with. Investment can be time or energy or money - and in this case it's time. Although when I'm fighting with the printer I'm not sure that's exactly true. I desperately want a printer that will actually print a stack of envelopes without jamming constantly. I've never seen one. My $80 printer does as good a job of it as the $1800 one I used to use at work.  They both suck at it.

Julie is coming over tomorrow night to work on cards so hopefully I'll finish the majority of them then. Of course, there will be a few dozen more that I need to update addresses for, or that got eaten in the printer and I need to redo, or that I had the wrong code in the computer for and will only catch when I go through it again. I try desperately to not miss someone and sometimes do. It's never intentional - just an accident that happens when someone who's not good with details is juggling this much detail.

End of the Weekend

Well, the weekend has ended - it's now officially Monday. I could use one more weekend day. My tree is almost finished. I've got maybe another hour on it and it will be done. I think this is becoming a bit ridiculous - the number of hours I spend on the tree. So, who knows, maybe this will be the last mega-tree I do for awhile. Of course, it's entirely possible that next year I'll be just as enthused about it as usual and do it all over again. It does take many, many. many hours to assemble it. But it's so darned pretty and sparkly when it's done.

Tomorrow I will finish the tree and start doing some of the other decorating - and the cleaning. By this time next week the homes tour will be over. Obviously, getting the house done is a necessity. I also need to bake for the refreshments. It will be a busy week.

I have so enjoyed the last few days of just being still. I have barely left the house for the last four days. Yesterday I went to Roys and did a couple of errands. Friday I did the early morning shopping and then ran to the post office to ask a question in the afternoon. Today I went out on the porch and hung a wreath on the door. I haven't even been in the yard. I needed some days like that.

But, I'm ready to rejoin the world tomorrow. I'm starting to want to see friends for lunch and dinner again. And I've eaten most of the leftovers from the cooking I've done the last few days, so the timing on that works out well. By and large I think I still need some quiet time, but some excursions to interact with the world will be good.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'm working on the Christmas tree and I'm down to one of the things I love - putting on the ornaments. Many of my ornaments have special memories associated with them - that people have given me, I've bought them while traveling, someone has made them for me, or I've bought them to commemorate an occasion in my life.

I took a few snapshots to share some with you.

The blue and white tree in this one is an ornament I bought in Amsterdam. The painted ornament was from one of my Chick friends last year. We do an ornament exchange each year and that was the one I got. Oddly enough another year I got an ornament from Amsterdam from someone else. It was identical to one I bought while there, but I treasure them both. Also in this photo, in the middle, is an Easy Bake Oven ornament I bought a few years ago. I absolutely loved that toy. The elongated snowman is one Greg and I both bought some of one year. To the right of him is a non-ornament that I've made into an ornament that I bought in Egypt. It has a prayer in Arabic on it.The little stuffed cow is from the State Fair - Mark bought it for some friends and I just adored it. Next to that is the Grinch - I love that show. I spend large parts of the holiday season saying, "Little Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two." And the Grinch is looking up at a London phone booth ornament I got there one year. The clear glass bell with the white and silver on it is one of the very first ornaments I bought. I have some bells and some balls that are the same design. I still love them as much as I did more than 20 years ago when I bought them.

The stuffed Pere Noel here came from Paris. The pink and purple ornaments were a gift many, many years ago from David Naylor, who I used to work with. There's a blue one in the same design. A bit behind them in the upper right corner is a clay tree I bought in Honduras. There's a London bus and at the bottom a beautiful hand painted ornament that Chris Baird, a former board member, gave me. You can see just a glimpse of an ornament Trish gave me with the white bow on it, and above that, a peek at the Amsterdam ornament I got at Chicks another year. I try to label all my special ornaments with the date and who gave them to me or where I bought them.

The brightly colored ball is an ornament I picked up in Virginia and to the right side is one of the counted cross stitch ornaments Leah made for me over the years. Behind that is a little woven bell I got in Guatemala. You can also see just a little bit of a baby Jesus ornament that nestles into the tree branches to the far right. I bought a couple of those in Rome and love to just have them placed in the tree. In the far left corner is a little alien guy toy - he's not really an ornament, but I love that movie and I needed an ornament. Needed.

I also buy ornaments to remember events that aren't necessarily happy, but are important nonetheless. I bought this little teapot ornament one day when I was on a day trip.

I had taken a day off from the radio station to hit the road, to do some driving so I could think. There's something about driving that helps me engage a different part of my brain and figure things out.

Even though that was some years ago I remember the day very clearly and the decisions I made as the miles zipped away. I remember stopping in a shop and seeing this ornament and buying it as a symbol of a new kind of life I wanted to make. It took more than five years for all the things I decided that day to come to pass, but that teapot was a symbol of what I wanted - a different kind of life where I could feel safe and secure - cozy - just like the teapot makes you think about.

I knew that would entail many changes - a different job, a different lifestyle, a different residence, and even some different friends. It all worked out well, but it it was tumultuous at times, as change often is.

Well, I must get back to decorating. One month from now it will be Christmas eve night!

Friday, November 23, 2007


Do you ever feel like the world is conspiring to make you happy?

Well, I do.

And the last couple of days are a prime example. Admittedly, there have been a couple of little snags - from the post office deciding the little cards I wanted to put in with my Christmas letter were "non-machineable" to dropping the 3/4 of a pumpkin pie I had left from yesterday and not only losing the pie, but also breaking the pie plate, which was one of my favorites. Oops. Oh well... I guess I didn't need to eat more pie. It was good, too. And the crust was good - I tried a new recipe. I'm always hunting for the perfect pie crust. And, yes, I know, my pie crusts are ugly. I can make them pretty or good - but not both simultaneously. This one was good.

Last night Terry dropped by and brought me some turkey and dressing his sister had made. I had finished my take out turkey from Roy's, so that was a nice treat. And, he's just such a nice guy to be thinking of such things.

This morning I woke up very early but there were no sales for me to hit until 7 a.m. when Office Max opened. It was 10 degrees, so I wasn't about to stand outside for a few hours.

I got to Office Max at 6:55 and waited in my car with the heater on until 6:58. By 7:05 I had purchased the three things I came for - all at great prices - and was back in the car. How could that be when there are huge lines all over the country?

Well, because corporate decided that our Office Max was not going to participate in the ad for black Friday. Of course, all of us had done just as the ads have been telling us to do and seen the deals online, so we expected to get the deals at our local store. People also had the ad from other newspapers. The local manager, fortunately, was smart enough to realize this and was prepared to let us have whatever they had in stock at the ad prices. I bought a Zune and a mini sd card for my cell phone. I also picked up an external hard drive for Greg.

So corporate's foolishness worked in my favor. I'm not complaining a bit.

I came home and crawled back under the electric blanket, napped for a bit, then got up and have had a lovely day of working on Christmas things and puttering around the house.

Then, tonight, the capper of the day...

Yes! It's snowing! I love snow!

I didn't even know it until I heard the weather. I couldn't resist going outside to snap a couple of pix, although since it was dark they're not the best.

The welcome mat was just starting to get covered.

And my little tree Bob planted in 2005 had a blanket of snow at its feet.

This would be one of those times that would seem perfect for the pajamas I wrote about recently. But, I'm in a sweatshirt instead, and intend to spend the rest of the night working on the tree and doing other Christmas-related things.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am looking forward to a full day of puttering around my house, working on Christmas things, and enjoying the day. I went to bed really early last night (10) so I woke up a little before 3. After trying to get back to sleep I just decided to get up and start the day.

I've already had a lovely breakfast of Roy's Turkey and Dillon's cranberry relish. I'm going to cook some of the traditional things later in the day, but I'm not a big turkey eater so I just got a take out order yesterday. Generally I don't eat any turkey on Thanksgiving Day - I fill up on the other goodies. So, by 3:30 a.m. I'd already had a much more traditional day than usual.

Greg's mom invited me to come to Joplin and I considered going to Kentucky, but I just desperately needed to have some time in my house. This is the first time all year I've had a few days off when I've stayed home. I really needed to be able to just enjoy being - without having a schedule or agenda. It's going to be a wonderful day.

I try to be thankful every day - I am a big believer in gratitude - but it's a lovely tradition to have a day set aside to remind us all to be thankful. I hope you have many, many things to count as blessings.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Starting Fresh

I recently read a number of books by Elizabeth Berg. A friend told me I would like her writing and I do. I think my favorite of the five I read was "The Year of Pleasures." It's about a woman who leaves behind her old life and starts a new one.

Those sorts of stories always appeal to me - maybe because I've done that a few times. It is a heady experience. I haven't done it in a long time and  part of me wants to again. Maybe it's a bigger part than I want to admit.

A few years ago I met a man on a trip who felt much more for me than I felt for him. He wanted me to marry him and move to his home country. Part of me just wanted to come home, put my stuff in storage, pack my essentials, quit my job, and move  to another country and another life. I never told anyone just how seriously I considered it. I thought about it. A lot. For a long time.

Unfortunately, the thrill of thinking about it was not in the man, but in the starting fresh and the newness of what that experience would offer. How would I work when I didn't speak the language? I couldn't just go and live there - I would have to get married - how difficult would that be to get out of? (And, ultimately, there's the problem - that you're thinking about getting out of something before you even get into it.) What kind of job would I find when I came back to the states? Now, with a bit more life experience, some of those wouldn't hinder me. Logic prevailed. Sometimes I think logic is what keeps us mired in the ordinary.

One of the questions I always ask myself when I'm tempted to do such things is, are you running to something or from something. It's often a mixture. And for me it's a conundrum because part of what keeps me from running at all is that I don't want to leave some aspects of my current life.

Obviously, leaving the life you know and going into a completely different culture is a pretty big change. Not to mention that there would be another person involved.

That, ultimately, is what caused me to stop considering it. I didn't love him. I wasn't going to love him. And what he thought was love was probably just intense fascination with someone very exotic by his standards. The problem with exotic is that it doesn't work well for every day life.

Daily life requires a lot of the ordinary, and that's the life he envisioned and wanted.  It was not then, nor is it now, the life I want. He didn't know me well enough to know those things aren't really my forte. Daily living requires a lot of attention to details like grocery shopping and laundry and sweeping the floor. Those are the very things I want to run from. But they follow one into any culture, anywhere in the world.

And, actually, that's not even really true. What I want to run from is the mundane. - in any form - from what the carpet nap is so I can set the vacuum correctly to the mindless prattle of small talk, which I abhor. Chores can be mundane, but they're not necessarily in that category. There are times I enjoy the satisfaction of neatly folded clean towels and my part in that. What I want is to have thoughtful discourse in daily life - it simply seems to be constantly shunted away because of all the attention one must devote to the "chores" of living.

The trick is that one must have the time, space and environment to have insight. And insight comes as a result of thinking about experiences. I view experiences - from travel to reading to conversation - as fodder for future insight. Fodder  + Thought = Insight.

Another important component of insight for me is to discuss it with others. It's there that it can expand into something more meaningful. I long for this sort of connection and conversation. I think it's what people mean when they say they want to be around smart people. "Smart" isn't about knowing facts - we can look up any fact relatively quickly - "smart" is about people's thoughts about those facts. I have very few people in my life who want to engage in this sort of conversation on a regular basis. It's something people always say they long for, but it's not something they make time for.

Ordinary life is filled with extraordinary moments. And I work at appreciating them - from a yellow butterfly flitting over the remains of my garden yesterday to the sparkle of a tray of blue, silver and white ornaments waiting to be hung on a tree. Those moments are experiences - and valuable ones. It's worthwhile to be in the moment - whether you're up to your elbows in dishwater or up to your eyeballs in laundry - be thankful you have food that messes up dishes and clothes that need to be washed.

The trick, as with so many things, seems to be in the balance. To balance being grounded by the mundane and having time and space to mentally and emotionally soar beyond it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Things No Man Has Said to Me Before

I have been working on the Christmas tree. I have all the lights on and have just started putting the ornaments on. Tonight was the night for Greg to wire the tree to the wall. Why? Well, because I put so many ornaments and lights on it - more on the sides facing into the room, of course - that the weight makes it lean into the room.

Last year Greg wired it to the wall for me. Tonight he did it again - although before I had it fully decorated this year.

In the process of doing it, shortly after this photo was taken, Greg said something to me that no man has ever said to me before - "Hold my left foot." I did.

As Greg leaned further down to the eyelets in the baseboard to secure the multi strand picture wire that was wrapped about the tree pole, he couldn't balance himself on only one foot and use both hands.

Frankly, we needed someone to take a photo of the two of us - me pulling as hard as I could on his foot so he wouldn't topple head first into the little triangular space in the corner of the room behind the tree. And then when he was trying to stand upright to try and pull his foot toward the floor. All we needed to complete the Lucy and Ethel effect was a conveyor belt with chocolates whipping by at warp speed. Although in this case maybe it would be Christmas ornaments.

He started out trying to work from the bottom, turning the screws to secure it in the industrial strength base...

But he couldn't really get a grip on it that way... so he tried another method...

But, when he couldn't get any leverage with his arm extended to the center of the tree like that, we progressed straight to the wiring part.

True to form, Greg remained in a good mood. Or, it's just the blood rushing to his head making him smile like that.

This would be reason number 447 that you should stay on good terms with your ex - so he will still wire your Christmas tree to the wall for you.

'Tis the Season for Consumerism

The Black Friday ads are out in full force. I've generally avoided the day after Thanksgiving shopping frenzy. I think I've been one or two years to get particular things, but I'm finished by 8 or 9 a.m., and away from the crowds. From the few ads I've seen so far, I don't see anything that's such a great deal that I want to be standing outside a store at 4 a.m. in the pre-dawn cold with a few hundred other people so we can all grab at the same item they have three of in stock.

I heard an analyst say a few weeks ago that this year was going to be one where consumers wait until the last minute to see what deals the retailers offer. I have to say I'm likely to be in that category this year. There are always some computer peripherals I want, but they're going to have to be really good deals to make it worth getting out of bed at dark-thirty to go stand in the cold.

I need a new digital camera, but no one seems to have any spectacular deals on those either. It would seem the days of really stunning deals are gone. That makes no sense to me since it would seem that consumers are less likely to spend money these days with gas prices rising, but what do I know.

Generally by now I have all my Christmas shopping done because I do it all year long. This year I don't think I have one single gift purchased yet. I haven't had much time for shopping this year and haven't traveled anywhere exotic to pick up something unusual for people.  But, sometimes it's fun to shop as part of the season, so this will be a year to enjoy that.

My big Christmas purchase so far was more lights for the tree. I have all the lights on and have started putting ornaments on. Hopefully I'll finish by this weekend. Then I'll have a whole month to enjoy it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Quote of the Day - Silence

"Be silent, or say something better than silence." - Pythagoras

I was doing a little reading today and ran across this quote, which I thought was important for me to remember. That "taming of the tongue" has always been a struggle for me. I'm much better now than I was years ago, but I haven't mastered it yet. Perhaps this will help me - if you don't have something better than silence to contribute, be quiet.

Considering how important silence is, this is a tall order. I'll try to keep it in mind.

And, yes, this is the same Pythagoras of the famous Pythagoras's theorem you studied in geometry class. Never mind that was known by the Babylonians and Egyptians hundreds of years before, it is Pythagoras has gets the credit for proving it. We don't really know if that's true, but it very well may be.

Pythagoras led his own secret society - it was half scientific and half religious - although the religious part was more spiritual than a specific faith. His followers lived a monastic-like life - they had no possessions and were vegetarians. He and his followers were responsible for many other theories - but, as if so often the case, one is more famous than the others.

Pythagoras believed numbers had personality - including gender, appearance, etc. He believed everything was related to numbers - that numbers could explain much about the universe. He was one of the first to connect math and music, and was a good musician himself. He was a self-described philosopher, dabbled in astronomy, and was very forward thinking. Women were also allowed to be in his secret society - and afforded the same rights as men.

Well, what started out as a simple quote of the day has turned into a lengthy post about an ancient mathematician. OK, so, the secret it out... I have a fascination with ancient mathematicians - it's one of the many things I like to read about at times. Please don't write your term paper on Pythagoras without doing some real research instead of relying on my memory for the details.

In fact, when I went to Egypt I had to go to the spot in Alexandria from where Eratosthenes first measured the circumference of the Earth. The taxi driver thought I was a little nuts, as did the young man acting as my tour guide, but by this point in life I've grown somewhat used to people thinking I'm a little weird. Or a lot weird. I will refrain from launching into a bio of Eratosthenes, other than one little tidbit, which I find fascinating - he was the third librarian at the famous Library of Alexandria.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christmas Parade

Clarence the dinosaur made his annual appearance in the Hutchinson Christmas parade this morning. All went well. We had two HCC students who volunteered to walk, as did Greg, and Jesse and his nephew, Chris. It's kind of fun to do - no one is sorry to see you coming with free candy canes.

We handed out about 5000 candy canes. We have nothing but crumbs left. We could have done more if we'd had more walkers and more candy.

This year Joey was about half way through the parade route and I gave him some bags to resupply the walkers with. The parade moves so fast the walkers can't keep up to get more candy. I also ran into a couple of Altrusans - Eileen and Joan - and gave them each a bag of candy to hand out. They graciously did, so that was a bonus.

It was a fun morning.

Otherwise, I've taken it easy today and rested a little bit. I've been working on the tree some, and doing a few things around the house, but have had a slower day than normal. Another dozen or so of those and I might feel normal again.

I took some more pix of the parade, but I'm going to get back to tree decorating at the moment. Maybe I'll post more in the next day or two.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Saturday morning we will give out candy cane in the Hutchinson Christmas Parade. Both Wednesday and Friday afternoons I had volunteers helping me attach little tags to the candy canes promoting the Christmas Homes Tour.

The dinosaur has been washed. The signs have been printed. The candy canes are tagged. It's sort of like Santa making a list and checking it twice, but he's got all those little elves to help out.

In my case,  I have volunteers who help with the candy canes. I have Greg who ties the dino to the top of the van. I have friends who walk along and hand out candy to the kiddies and their parents. This year we also have some HCC students who are helping with candy cane dispersal.

It should be a fun morning.

After the parade I'm going to rest. It feels like I've not had a moment to stop for many months. I rarely feel tired, but I am exhausted. I think tired was happening in about May or June and it has progressed to exhausted, without me realizing it. I need to just be still. Just be still. Have some days off from work when I can just be still. Do things I want to do without any things I need to do. And rest.

I'm so overwhelmed with things I need/want to do that I can't sleep at night - even by my standards. Last night I went to sleep finally about 2:30 and woke up about 5:30. I kept trying to get back to sleep - and I did nap a bit - but I couldn't really sleep soundly. I haven't slept more than five hours a night in more weeks than I can count and often much less. My need for rest is becoming serious. Hopefully I will sleep tonight. I hope.

Window Display

This is what I did today. I created a window display. Downtown is hosting a Tablescape contest and I was asked to do a window for the MHA Homes Tour coming up on Dec. 2. Although it's hard to see in this photo, there is a table there, with two place settings on it. There are snowmen on the plates - hence the snow man theme.

Greg loaned me a couple of his snowmen, including one you can't see in this photo that is hanging. Also, the far one is an old window display one who has made a full circle now - once again gracing a window display. And the 7-up Snowman close to the sign is his, too. The others are ones I already had.

Hopefully I will get some better pix that show everything in the window, but the windows are very dirty and I'm waiting for them to clean them before trying to get some photos.

They had the blue panels and the window/shutter thing lying around in the store so I just used them for a backdrop, hanging a snowflake in the "window."

I added a few more smaller snowmen and some other finishing touches after I took the photo, but this is the basic look. Hopefully Greg will get some good pix of it all finished that I can share.

I've done a few window displays before, and the windows are always bigger than you think they are when you're planning what to do. In this case I just had to do half the window. The Art Association will do the other half. This took half a day to put together, but it's great publicity for us, and it is good for us to be involved in downtown events. My office is downtown, which I love, and I like being part of what's going on. I don't have the time to participate fully in everything the downtown group does, but I'm tickled to be able to do things like this.

I've been working hard on the MHA Christmas homes tour. It's set for Dec. 2 and it's going to be really nice. There are four homes and then I'm having refreshments at my house. Details are at This is the third Mental Health Association tour we've done and they're always good. This is the first time I've opened my home for refreshments, but it will be fun. I've been thinking about what to cook and experimenting with a few things.

I made caramel for the first time last night or the night before - I've lost track, now. It tastes great, but I made a little boo boo.

Do you see those darker flecks here and there? Yeah... those aren't supposed to be there. I didn't get the pan to pour it into out of the cabinet and ready before I started cooking. Ooops. While I was doing that, and therefore not stirring the caramel, it "burned" a bit. It's not really burned, but it caramelized in a clump instead of being very smooth - and the way you avoid that is constant stirring. Oh well - live and learn. But, it tastes very good - you can't even taste those bits. But, I think I'd like to perfect it a bit more before sharing it with people. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pushing Daisies

I am completely enchanted with Pushing Daisies on ABC. There's love, drama, humor and pie. What more could you ask for in a show?

It's unique, quirky and surreal - in every way. And it's worth every second of time you invest in it.

I am not a big TV watcher, so when I told friends how much I loved this show, they  noticed. I've heard from three people who caught it for the first time tonight. If you haven't watched it yet, put it on your calendar for Wednesday nights. You won't be sorry.

And, when you realize how you hate it that you've missed the earlier episodes, don't despair. You can watch them online. Isn't technology cool?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Long Hair

Greg took this photo at the Kansas Underground Salt Museum the other day. My point of showing it here has nothing to do with the museum, but with the hair.

I'm thinking about getting a few inches cut off my hair and donating it to one of those places that makes wigs for cancer patients. The Pantene one only requires 8 inches. I need a serious trim and would probably cut about four inches off anyway, so I'm thinking about cutting eight and donating it. I have before cut six inches off at once and - honest to goodness - no one even noticed. But I did. I keep brushing when I'm out of hair. It's weird.

My hair comes down past my waist, about half way between my waist and my legs when it's down my back. Eight inches will bring it up above my waist, which would be the shortest it has been in many years.

I started letting it grow, and only getting it trimmed, more than 20 years ago. For reasons I cannot explain, I'm very emotionally attached to my hair. When you see those people on TV getting lots of hair chopped off and they're crying and you think they're nuts because they're going to look so "updated" when it's cut. Well, I'd be one of those people. I know that doesn't really make any sense, but it's true.

Hair for me is part of my identity - a serious part. Is that weird? I think it is. Other women change their hairstyle, length and color casually but I'm stuck in this place where I just don't know that I would feel "myself" with something else.

Now that I'm getting gray here and there I'm thinking about coloring and it just seems overwhelming to me. I will never be able to sit still in a chair for the hours it takes while someone does it for me so I'll have to figure out how to do it myself. Plus, I don't want striped hair. I just want my hair to look like my hair, without the stripes hairdressers put in it. I guess that's the "in" thing, but I just want my hair to look like it does now. I don't want it to be striped. I don't want it to be blonde. I just want it to be not gray.

But, I've digressed...

My hair is a big part of my identity, but I do very little to it. Wash, condition, comb when wet, brush when dry, and that's it. No color, no perms, no straighteners, no blow dryers, no curling irons, no hot rollers, no other devices - some of which I didn't even know existed until educated by friends.

So, there's this big soup of "stuff" connected with hair for me. I feel compelled to whack some of it off and donate it. At the same time I'm horrified at the thought of someone chopping on it that severely. I guess time will tell. What it will really probably boil down to is if the urge strikes me one day when I can actually get someone to do it right then.

I did a quick and dirty simulation of what it might look like:

Does it seem ridiculous to you that I would be agonizing over such a thing? I know both photos probably just read  - "long hair" - but for me it seems like a huge difference. We'll see if I get the guts.

Humans are weird, and I'm no exception...

Productive Day

It's nearly 4 a.m. and I have been working steadily since early this morning - well, yesterday morning. I did take time for Chicks, dinner and some camera shopping, but otherwise, I've been working on things for the Homes Tour on Dec. 2. I've also finished the newsletter and gotten things ready for the Christmas parade this weekend.

Sometimes I have these days when I can just accomplish so much in a relatively short amount of time. Of course, that's because I've been working on them all along and am just finishing them all at once.

I'm going to have the refreshments at my house for the homes tour. I won't have my whole house open for the tour, but people will be able to see the living room, dining room and downstairs sunporch. Regardless, some decorating, cleaning and cooking must occur between now and then.

I mentioned camera shopping. The reason is that my Olympus c-60 zoom is about to bite the dust. The door on the front doesn't want to stay on. It's secured with a hair elastic at the moment because it's integral to the lens operation. I've been very happy with this camera, but I think I'm going to have to get something new. I'm holding out to see if there's a great deal for the holiday season. I can still use this one, but its days are definitely limited. And you know how much I love a good deal, so I'm content to wait for one for a little bit. Of course, Thanksgiving is next week so it's not too far from now.

I've been looking at a Kodak and there's an HP Photosmart camera I like. Sony has some with great specs, but considering Greg's experience with them, I don't think I'll probably ever buy another Sony product of any sort. It's a pity - I've always been a big proponent of Sony - but, they've refused to stand behind their product and that makes me steer clear. Some years ago, an old boyfriend had a problem with a Western Digital hard drive he had just bought and they refused to make good on it. I don't own any Western Digital products, either. Things like that really leave an impression on me.

Well, it's time for some sleep. I have a busy day tomorrow/today and it's starting in just a few hours.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Salt Mining in Hutchinson

I had the opportunity to go to the Kansas Underground Salt Museum last week for the express purpose of sharing the visit with you here. This new museum in Hutchinson is quite astounding. I am hoping to have the story ready next week. Greg went with me and took a lot of photographs, so you'll be able to share our visit until you can make your own trip.

In the meantime, it made me go back and look at my photographs from a year ago when our leadership class went underground. There is a real mining operation for salt, and Underground Vaults and Storage, which is fascinating in its own right.

Of course, a live mine site is not exactly a place that can welcome the public, nor is a business designed to provide secure storage. But, the museum does an amazing job of giving you a true experience of what it's like.

Following are some photos I took a year ago, before the museum was open, on the private tour for the leadership group. When you see the others, you'll realize how true to life the museum is.

The sign says, "Welcome to The Carey Salt Mine
You are now 645 feet below the Earth's surface
surrounded on all sides by a vein of solid rock salt."

Until the 1960s they gave tours of the mining operation. The vehicle they're driving in is just one of the ones the mine crew uses to move around down there. They are old cars and trucks that were brought down in pieces and reassembled. The one I rode in is shown below.

The day we were there they were getting ready to blast, but they were not setting off explosives. But, this is the wall they were preparing. You'll see one just like it in the museum.

They have these massive machines there that do a variety of chores in the mining operation. Considering they all had to be brought down in a small elevator, it's rather amazing they're there.

These machines break up the salt once it's blasted out

and then it's run by conveyor.

This vein of salt is huge, extending over multiple states.

And, no, that's not a ghostly orb - it's salt dust caught in the flash light.

They let us all choose a piece of salt to take with us. You'll get to do the same thing on your museum tour.

Underground Vaults and Storage rents space from Carey Salt for a storage facility. I did a story on it many years ago and it's quite interesting. They are used a great deal by Hollywood, as well as many, many companies. The museum has a fabulous exhibit on it.

You'll see the names of lots of things you recognize...

On the day I was there I spotted episodes of Tom and Jerry, LA Law and Mama's Family. You might question why some of those things were being saved, but there they were nonetheless.

I'm eager to share the museum with you. It's something anyone can come visit and is a truly wonderful experience. Look for it on Monday the 19th.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I know I have mentioned here before. I can't encourage you strongly enough to check it out. You can make a loan - starting at $25 - entrepreneurs around the world. I just made three new loans - two in Nigeria and one in Ecuador.

This is a very reputable way to make a real difference in the world.

I made two loans about a year ago and both are almost completely repaid. When they are, I will just reinvest that money into another person.

It's a great way to do something significant and meaningful to improve someone's life.

A Greensburg Movie Don't

Friday night Greg and I went to the Fox to see a film by Eric Hyde and Oliver Hall called, "A Community of Hope Rebuilds - The Green Rebuilding of Greensburg." The film makers were there to answer questions afterwards.

It was bad in ways I can't even begin to describe with only words. And had absolutely nothing to do with building green, as the title might lead you to believe.

Greensburg Kansas was devastated by an F5 tornado in May of this year. I covered it extensively on the blog, concluding with photos from the freelance work I did there.

These filmmakers had some political agenda, but the film was so poorly done I couldn't even figure out what their agenda was. It seems rather ridiculous to make an hour long film and never make your point, whatever your point is.

I got out of it that they are unhappy with FEMA, although I can't tell you exactly why. I got that they thought Dave Strano of the Kansas Mutual Aid Society, a self-described "Lawrence based anarchist collective," needed to talk endlessly about his group being asked to leave Greensburg because officials considered the group would be a drain on security resources. I got that they don't know how to spell.

They cobbled together some bad, blurry, shot from a car, black and white video with talking head video of people like Strano and others who had very little to do with the actual event, and put some music behind it that - while pleasant enough - was incredibly tiring for nearly an hour. Interspersed here and there were screens of white lettering on black backgrounds that helped tell the story - provided you could overlook the misspellings, which I could not.

This film has absolutely no integrity. If you're going to tell a story like this, you need to try to tell the whole story, not just some part of it. If you are going to focus on only a part, try to find the interesting part.

A situation like Greensburg has a thousand interesting stories - actually, 1500 people lived there so there were at least 1500 interesting stories. They didn't tell any of them. The few residents they spoke with were good - one of them was a gentleman I interviewed when we were there - but those were just brief moments of hope in an otherwise dismal experience. They spoke to few officials, other than filming one meeting where a number of them discussed federal funding. There was no video of then mayor, Lonnie McCollum, who is one of the most interesting public officials I've ever met. You simply cannot tell the Greensburg tornado story without including him.

Another tip would be to be truthful. At one point they are overheard telling someone in the film they're making a documentary for PBS. Now, I don't know that that's untrue, but I am dubious about it. They say that the Kansas City station has agreed to air the film, which astonishes me, but I'm very doubtful that was already worked out when they were shooting. But, I don't know that. I just suspect that.

Finally, the self-importance of the film makers was embarrassing. They told various stories about talking to elected officials and gave the impression they were forcing them to make changes because they were there filming. Please. Give me a break. I've been dealing with elected officials in journalism and other venues for all of my career and it's pretty rare they're afraid of anything you're doing. I happen to know some of the officials they were talking about, and I am certain they were not afraid of these two guys.

In the film they have a screen that indicates "this is what FEMA doesn't want you to see" when showing the trailers there. The reality is that FEMA asks people to sign in before entering the area. I, of all people, am pretty liberal and generally eschew any rules, but sometimes they serve a real purpose.

All of that said, I genuinely appreciate the effort necessary to get anything from conception to completion. Creating anything requires time, attention and devotion. I think their motives are decent, but they're misdirected and way too uninformed. I'm also not sure that filmmaking is their forte.

The redeeming part of the evening was that there were lots of people there I knew so I got to talk to them. And, a gentleman from Greensburg got up and mentioned the movement to build Greensburg back green. He was instrumental in pushing that agenda and suggested those interested check the website He would have been an interesting interview. But, true to form, the filmmakers, who stated they were interested in rebuilding green and included that in the title of the film, didn't know anything about this organization.

I feel bad whenever I give something a negative review, because I know a lot of effort has gone into it. But, this is just so bad on so many levels it's embarrassing. It is unfair to the residents of Greensburg - past, present and future - to have this representing them in any way.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Edgewalkers by Judi Neal

Thursday morning I went to see Judi Neal speak at a Prarie View Food for Thought event. Neal is author of the book, "Edgewalkers." This is the term she uses to define people who help bridge different worlds by being on the edges of them.

On her website,, she says, "they are often people who have pursued unusual educational and career paths... these unconventional people often clash with more traditional, rule-bound colleagues, and they are often frustrated by organizational systems that emphasize quantitative results over creative impulses. And yet in today's fast-changing, globalized business environment, organizations must recruit and support these people in order to stay competitive." One of the other books she referenced this morning was Megatrends 2010, which I read earlier this year.

She started and ended her speech this morning by singing. She has a lovely voice, and plays guitar quite well. She seems to be a woman of many talents.

She said she first came up with the phrase "Edgewalker" when she was reading an article and Malcolm Gladwell was quoted in it as saying that most people who cause positive social change live on the edge of town. They don't want the judgment of people who are interested in maintaining the status quo. He was talking about it in the context of quantum physics and the idea that the edge is where creativity happens. Neal thought that was interesting and she came up with the word, "Edgewalker," to describe people who are the ones who live on the edge where this new thinking can occur.

She listed three things that are hallmarks of Edgewalkers.

1. Self-awareness
Awareness of your thoughts, values and behavior and if you're living that way now, and a commitment to spend time in self-reflection.

2. Passion
Edgewalkers have an intense focus on purpose and the use of gifts in a way that adds value to their life and work.
*Nothing is half-hearted about Edgewalkers
*Commitment to something bigger than themselves
*No tolerance for small talk
*Life histories often include traumas or life threatening events; near-death experiences; alcoholic, abusive or mentally ill parents; being inspired by a saint-like person

3. Playful
Joyful sense of fun and creativity. An ability to keep everything in perspective.

Obviously, as you know if you're a regular reader here, those things describe me. The question, as always, is what to do with that information. It is much like reading "The Creative Class" by Richard Florida. It's interesting. I can identify myself. But what do you do with that information? The difficulty is getting "the establishment" to appreciate those of us who are "different."

She had a little test for us to take to see if we were Edgewalkers. There were 20 questions. I said yes to 19 of them. Her cut off was if you answered yes to 12 or more you were an Edgewalker. There were a couple of them that really, really resonated with me.
I frequently feel different from most people.
People often see me as a risk-taker, but the things I do don't seem risky to me. Somehow I just know they will work out.

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know both of those are things I've talked about here multiple times. The archives of this blog would illustrate all of these 20 questions, actually.

The one question I didn't choose was, "People often see me as a leader, even though I am different from most of the people who have been leaders in that organization." I guess that would also be true if I consider my current job. I am very, very different than the people before me. They were trained clinicians and I'm not is an obvious difference. So, maybe I had 20 out of 20.

I have often described my life as living in two different worlds. That was even one of the questions I posed for the Sunday morning dialogue sessions in August - what double lives do you lead. It's something that I have pinpointed as a difficulty for me when relating to other people. I will always be a farm girl at heart and am so thankful for that background, but I spend more time these days doing things like serving on boards and going to chamber breakfasts - neither of which I ever did in the farm world. I like having both perspectives, but I don't really, fully, fit into either one. And it's difficult for people to relate to me as well.

Of course, the chamber breakfast involves something I despise - chit chat. Peggy was sitting with me this morning and looked over at me and laughed when that one came up because she has heard me say dozens of times that I hate chit chat. I just see no point in it. It's a waste of time. I'm not going to find out anything about you and you're not going to find out anything about me while we're engaged in mindless prattle about the weather. So, why bother? Idle chatter is boring and I'd much rather be by myself and quiet than listening to it. I can meditate, read, think or create in that time that would otherwise be wasted with small talk.

My favorite questions to ask people are, "What are you afraid of?" and "What have you always wanted more of?" because those two questions give you a sense of who a person is at their core level right away. And if we aren't people who are going to bond, then why waste our time? We'll both be better served by finding different people who are on the same wavelength.

I had to learn that you just couldn't ask people things like that the first conversation you have with them. It took me a long time to learn it. I'm still known as "the question person" among my friends. I have always thought it's a leftover from my days as a journalist. One of my best talents as a journalist was interviewing people. I was always good at that. You have carte blanche to ask almost any question you wish.

You may remember I mentioned recently that in Salt Lake I met someone I knew I was supposed to meet. One of the reasons I knew that - other than I just knew it the second we exchanged hellos - was that I knew I could ask him those questions in our first conversation and that he would have an answer. I did. And he did. Just as I expected. So, instead of having chit chat, we had real conversation - such a pleasant change of pace from the normal experience of someone you meet by happenstance.

I really enjoyed Judi Neal and her lecture about "Edgewalkers." It would be wonderful if the corporate world would listen to her, but it's hard for me to imagine such a thing. The mere structure of the business world is designed to crush creative souls - rigid hours, bare cubicles and white walls with mission statements posted on every available surface should keep everyone from having an innovative thought. Should one occur, however, there's always a middle manager nearby to contain it before it infects anyone else. OK, I'm being overly dramatic for effect, but only by a little bit, and bear in mind I've spent most of my career in "creative" fields.
As I used to joke with coworkers, "Dilbert isn't funny when you're living it." And there's a  reason so many people can relate to Dilbert.

I don't know this to be true, but I'm guessing that expanding new media companies don't demand that people punch a time clock, keep their work areas pristine white, and spend endless hours in meetings where they watch powerpoints of the company handbook.

I'm really fortunate in my current job that I get to do things on my own schedule, in my own way, but that's because I don't have any coworkers, so I don't have to conform to anyone's standards. And, my board is very supportive - as long as the work is getting done they don't care how it happens. I'm blessed. And I'm thankful for it everyday.

My dream remains to make my living being me.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

More Leaves

I couldn't resist snapping this photo on 11th street of two beautiful trees. The leaves are starting to fall off so I want to appreciate them while I can.

This morning I went to see Judi Neal, the author of "Edgewalkers," and it was an enlightening morning. I will be sharing more about it soon, but it's after 2 a.m. now so some sleep is in order.

Some have asked how my brother is doing and things are moving along. He came home on Saturday - a full month in the hospital. But, he's recuperating at home and seems to be doing well.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Brittle Kind of Day

Tonight was Creative Sisterhood. It was the first night in ages that all six of us have been here. I didn't really have a topic tonight. There were a lot of things on my mind, but I just didn't feel much like sharing. My life is going in so many different directions these days that it's a struggle for me to focus enough to verbalize even a fraction of what's going on in my head and heart.

I made peanut brittle tonight. It's odd how that came to be...

I went to Roy's today for lunch and while I was there a gentleman came in and gave Anne some cashew brittle. She generously shared some with me. I had thought last night about making peanut brittle for tonight so that seemed to be a sign for me.

Anne was talking about what a pain it is to make, and I told her it didn't seem bad to me. Bear in mind that last Christmas was the first time I'd ever made any, so it's not like I'm too experienced. After a quick lunch I went to buy some raw peanuts - the one thing I didn't have in the house - so I'd be prepared to cook at 5.

As if this isn't enough peanut brittle talk for one day, I have the food network on right now and Alton Brown is talking about - guess what? - making brittle. He makes it sound somewhat complex. Maybe I've just been having beginner's luck. And, I have a candy thermometer and I'm not afraid to use it. I know it's kind of cheating, but I'm not my Mama, and when I make candy without a thermometer it can just be an ugly experience. No one needs that.

Alton says there are times you're supposed to stir and not supposed to stir, but I can't tell you that. I guess I've been lucky because I haven't had any problems, even without this knowledge.

Here's the recipe I used. I don't recall where I got it but probably from as that's one of my favorite spots online for recipes.

Peanut Brittle
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
2 cups raw peanuts
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. baking soda

Heat and stir sugar, syrup and water in a heavy 3-quart saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Add salt. Cook over medium heat to soft ball stage (234 degrees). Add peanuts at 250 degrees. Cook to hard crack stage (290 degrees), stirring often. Remove from heat.

Quickly, stir in butter and soda. Beat to a froth for a few seconds. Pour at once onto 2 well-buttered cookie sheets, spreading with spatula. Break up when cold.

When you add the butter and soda it gets all frothy for a few seconds. For reasons I don't fully understand, I particularly like this part. Maybe it's the cooking as chemistry part of it all.

Then you just pour it out to cool.

When it's cool just twist the pan and it cracks. Alton Brown held another pan over it and shook them to break. He also used a cookie sheet the same size and "stacked" them when he first poured it out. He smashed on the top pan  to make sure there was only one layer of peanuts. That's a good trick to remember.

It's weird that three times brittle would come up in one day - but today was the day.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Monday, November 05, 2007


It's chilly here tonight, and it makes me want to buy pajamas, just like every year. I don't wear pajamas, but when the weather gets cool, I suddenly want some. I don't want the last ones I bought, of course, but some new ones - fleecy, cozy, comfy, soft, cuddly pajamas. Maybe with snowflakes or some other motif that's much more appealing in the abstract than it is in reality.

I have this recurring fantasy about padding around my house in these perfect pajamas, complete with the matching slippers, looking as cute as the models, drinking tea in the early morning hours while I lounge in the sun porch, thoughtfully watching the world go by - toasty warm, snuggled under a down comforter that's making me just a tad too warm with those jammies. It's a fantasy. Bringing this fantasy into reality requires more than just whipping out my debit card to get some cute new pajamas.

1. I'd have to put them on when I got up in the morning and why would I do that instead of just putting on whatever I'm going to wear? Much like Martha Stewart, I'm into the idea of just getting ready to meet the day once you're out of bed. I put my robe on when I get out of the shower - it's like a big terry cloth towel - and once I'm dry I get dressed. I'm just not a run around in my robe/pajamas all day kind of gal.

2. I don't "lounge." Maybe once a year when we get a big snow I sit in the sun porch with a cup of tea and watch the snow fall. But, you can do that for - what? - 10 minutes, maybe? I just don't lounge. It's boring. What do you do while you're lounging? I get the idea of letting your mind wander, but my mind does that while I'm engaged in something productive. I can't just sit there for very long before the urge to get up and do something strikes.

3. No doubt, as soon as I got the pajamas on and the tea made and was ready to lounge I'd realize I needed to go outside for something. Can you go outside in your pajamas? I don't know the answer to this. I grew up in the country - we could have run around in our birthday suits and no one would have seen us. But this is the city - a street goes by my house. A street other people drive on. Regularly. I don't know the rules on this. But, it seems kind of weird to be trotting around in your pajamas and robe outside. Plus, it's no doubt going to be frigid outside when this snow-filled fantasy takes place, and I'm not dressed for the weather in pajamas. So, now on top of everything else, I'm essentially a prisoner in my own home. Of course, I'm quite happy to stay in my home for days, but once I *have* to, it's a whole different thing.

4. I won't even bother to go into the whole deal about looking as cute as the models. Why distress myself?

But, still, those pajamas... they feel so nice... I can just imagine how wonderful it's going to be to be enveloped in that cuddly stuff. Just looking at them makes me feel cozy - imagine what the real thing would do.

Of course, what I should buy are some men's long underwear if I really want to stay warm. Why are men's long underwear meant to keep you warm and women's are meant to look cute? Can't we have cute and warm? Of course, if I spent this much time worrying about how cute my outerwear was I'd be much better dressed than I am on the average day.

Maybe the cute and warm thing goes to the heart of the pajama question. It's all part of the same package.

No doubt when the weather gets really cold I'll be sleeping in the same patched 15 year old sweatshirt I sleep in every year. That's how you keep pajamas cute for that special day when I want to lounge with a cup of tea.

Still Time

There's still time for you to participate in this survey. It will only be up a couple of more days and your opinion would be helpful if you're willing to share.

This is the survey I mentioned a few days ago about attitudes toward mental health. 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. What we learn will help shape our messages and determine our focus as we encourage people to be mentally well.

You can still participate. Feel free to forward the link to family, friends, coworkers, or others. Thanks.

St. John Kansas Tea

Sunday afternoon Julie, Susan, Jan and I went to tea in St. John, Kansas. It's about an hour from Hutchinson. Julie and I have been two previous years. It's a nice event.

This year it was held for the first time in their museum, for which the previous 10 teas they've done have been raising funds.

This year the theme was a pioneer one, with the tea pourers wearing prairie bonnets and such. I have to confess that when I first read about it, I couldn't quite imagine what that would be like, but it was lovely.

Each of the tables was covered with a quilt. I could not imagine anyone letting their quilts be used this way. I would never be willing to do that. Fortunately, at our table, there were no mishaps.

We had three young sisters sitting at our table who were just delightful. They were all dressed in costumes and while I was taking pictures of the entertainment I happened to capture this photo by accident. I love it. The young lady looks so happy.

They were beautifully mannered young ladies and a delight to be with today.

Of course, I was tickled to get to see Susan. I miss her living in Hutchinson, but she has settled into life in Valley Falls quite nicely it seems.

There were displays in the museum of everything from clothes and hats to toys, and some extra displays around town to see.

My one complaint about St. John's tea is that it's a buffet and I don't like that when I'm going to tea. It's far easier, of course, but it just doesn't feel right to get up from the table and take my plate to the serving tables and serve myself. Others do it that way, too, for the ease. And they're very successful - they sell out three different seatings every year on this one day - and I always want to go, so it's not enough to keep me away.

I was more than a little sugar logged - as I often seem to be when leaving tea. When I started doing teas as a fundraiser for the MHA I realized why tea is always heavy on the sweets and short on the savories - the savories are much more work.

It's far easier to make more sweets, so that's why you get tons of them wherever you go to tea - from the Empress in Canada (the place to have tea), to the average tea room anywhere, to the fundraiser teas. I am proud to say that when I do tea I make an effort to have enough savories and sandwiches compared to the sweets. The tea I do is the only one where I think there's the right proportion of sweets to savories.

But, I expect that wherever I go to tea. And this was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

The entertainment today was Barry Ward, who was fabulous. He and Tony McGee performed some original songs and they were really wonderful. I was sorry we didn't have more time to hear more from them.

That's Barry on the right.

I am always impressed with people who write their own music. It's not as easy as it seems. Long, long ago - in what seems like it was another life - I wrote songs and sang them with friends in front of people none of us knew. Trust me, it's a terrifying proposition.

I spoke with Barry briefly afterwards and discovered he has recorded some music with Jim of the Prairie Wranglers and had just met Martha a few days ago. You may remember Jim and Martha's wedding this summer. He had also met Andrea at Winfield. It really is a small world.
After the tea, we went to see the antique toy display at the bank about a half block away.  I absolutely loved these little cookie cutters. I have a couple of these little pans, but I've never seen the cookie cookers. I covet them. I know that's not flattering, but it's true.

Another favorite were these paper horses cut out by a mother to amuse her children. The tag says "Animals made by Anna Minnis' mother for her children to play with. Note pattern and carbon paper."

There were some really interesting antique toys, and this lady demonstrating one of them. There was a ball on a string on the bottom - you bounced it and the chickens appeared to be pecking at their food.

I think some of these toys belonged to her. What really struck me was that kids today wouldn't get this toy on many levels - not the least of which is that most people wouldn't know how chickens peck at their food. It's sad, but true.

I was amazed at this toy cast iron stove and all the little parts that were still on top of it all these years later.

They had many cool things...

There was another collection displayed at the library - old fashioned irons. They were incredibly heavy. Some had numbers on them that indicated the weight of them - one was 18 pounds and belonged to the owner's mother. I don't like to iron with today's irons, so I know I wouldn't have wanted to use one of those things. Our foremothers had great upper body strength is all I can say.

Of course, you know I couldn't go to any tea without sharing photos of the table settings with you. I loved, loved, loved the quilts.

And, a bonus in the day - blog reader Deb Thomas, who I first met in Hillsboro, came over and chatted with me today and even brought me a Christmas ornament. I'm working on the tree so I'll soon be able to press that into service. It was fun to chat with her again. I also ran into some ladies from Pratt who've been to the MHA tea and also a couple that I've seen at many teas in the area. It was a fun day.