Saturday, February 28, 2009


Greg took this photo of me today, walking the trail at Wildcat Glades in Joplin. We were here last weekend and it was cold but dry. Today it has snowed almost all day. And it has been a beautiful snow - big, wet, fluffy flakes coming down at a fast pace. I love snow.

However, today was brrrrrr cold. We went over to the Redings Mill Bridge again to see it in the snow, too.

I have been trying to walk some everyday because "people who are ambulatory after surgery are far less likely to develop blood clots." Nothing like that as a little incentive to be "ambulatory."

It was beautiful today, although so cold it was hard to stay out very long, even being bundled up. I did snap this photo off the bridge, looking down to where snow had gathered at the edge of the water.

The walk at Wildcat Glades offered some beautiful vistas. Greg's mom has declared all of them as "cold" and I can't disagree. It was cold.


After a snowy walk, it was time for cozy time with the kitty. Mia snapped this photo. As you can see, it's not my best look, but as we all know, it's far more important how the cat looks.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Rocky Mountain News Couldn't Weather Rocky Economy

It's a sad day for those who appreciate journalism. The Rocky Mountain News has published its last edition.

For the last decade or so we've been hearing about newspapers folding. It has been easy to write that off as "bad management" and "being unwilling to move with the times" and other such things. Unfortunately, that trend has now reached the newspapers that are the bastions of all that is right about journalism. The Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Boston Sun and the Chicago Tribune are just some of the major papers in bankruptcy. The reason we recognize the names of those papers is not just because they're from big cities, it's because they have done stellar work over the years.

Read the story about the Rocky Mountain News. (Online, of course.)

Obviously, the times have changed. We get much of our news online these days. And I'm one of those people. I haven't subscribed to a newspaper for decades. Yet, if something is happening in town that I want to know about I go online to the newspaper's website. Where would I go if that weren't there?

I realize I'm part of the problem, but so far no one has created a way for me to be part of the solution. If they charged me a few pennies every time I wanted to read a story I'd be happy to pay it. But you're going to have to make the search function really good so I'm getting what I really want. And I'm not going to pay a buck for one story, when a subscription only costs $10 for a month - it's not like music that has repeat value. It's that whole fairness issue of how much is any one story worth compared to how much is in the paper as a whole. It then becomes an issue of how many things are you covering that people want to read about. Charge me more for huge, massive pieces - maybe as I read, so I know if it's worth continuing to pay for.

But I don't want a subscription. I don't want the physical paper in my space. I don't want to create that much environmental waste. I'm not at all interested in huge parts of what the newspaper prints, and I'm unwilling to pay for that. A prime example is that there is an entire section devoted to sports. I don't care about sports. Automatically I'm tossing 1/2 to 1/3 of a product I've just bought. What kind of sense does that make? None. You wouldn't accept it with any other product. I think this is why niche publications are not suffering while general products are.

Make it simple - you know how many words are in any given edition because computers will tell us that now. If a newspaper costs fifty cents, charge me a fraction of that based on how many words I want to read. If the newspaper really costs far more than that (which it does in reality) then come up with what it really costs and start charging people a fair and accurate amount. But don't punish me for reading online by wanting me pay a greater percentage of the costs.

And... hey... free advice for newspapers who are trying to do the charging online thing. Those of us who read online do not want a subscription. If we did we'd get the paper delivered. That is making it easy for you, not for us. You really, honestly, have to think differently. You've just moved your antiquated idea from the real world to the online world. It's not working in the real world - consider why that is instead of just importing it into another format. You need a new idea. I'm giving you one above. I'm not saying it's the best one, but it's one.

The ugly truth that newspapers haven't wanted people to know for a very long time is that subscriptions don't support the paper - they just provide a way to count readers. The money comes from advertisers. And, the really ugly truth is that newspapers put down the ads they have and fill in the rest of the space with news. But, much of that advertising money isn't coming in now. It's going to other things - like online sources.

A free press is essential to a free country. I'm sure of that. "Free press" doesn't necessarily mean newspapers of course, but other forms of the press are going to have to step up their game to fill in for newspapers. I've been a journalist for radio stations, TV stations and newspapers - they are different animals with different approaches. That's not to say radio and TV stations are not doing "real" journalism, but the way stories are covered is different in each medium because each has different limitations.

I'm a huge fan of the internet, but I'm careful about where I get my "news" from. Any bozo can write anything they want on the internet. I know. I'm one of those bozos doing that every day. Of course, what I'm writing is opinion and it's obvious because of the format. And when I do venture into something resembling "news" I follow standard journalistic practices. But, I'm not sure everyone is as selective in what they consider "truth." Of course, people read "The Enquirer," too. So, there you go.

We're making a new world. We just don't know what it looks like yet.

However, I feel certain that at some point in my lifetime the pendulum will swing back and it will be cool to subscribe to an ink on paper newspaper again.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Your Mama was Right...

Remember when your Mama told you that if you couldn't say something nice about someone to just say nothing at all. Well, once again, mothers everywhere have been proven right.

There's this thing called Spontaneous Trait Transference, which is a fancy way of saying that when you say Aunt Bertha is a lazy bum, on some level people are thinking that YOU are the lazy bum. It doesn't matter if Bertha is, indeed, sponging off the relatives for a living and has never worked a day in her life while you are an overachiever. The idea is still planted that you must be more than a little familiar with the concept of being a lazy bum if you are spouting off that way.

I know. I'm the bearer of bad news. Sorry. But in light of this information I had to write about something other than what I had originally considered. I'm sure you understand.
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Spring is Here

I don't care what the calendar says, spring has arrived. Today my first daffodils opened. Actually, it happened this evening. I went to the post office around 7:30 p.m. and they were still buds. I did some running around and when I came home at 11:30 there were three that were open.

As always, I couldn't resist picking one to bring in to put in one of my vases that sit on the shelf above my kitchen sink. I'm infatuated with these little vases, almost all of which have pink on them. But tonight I chose to use one of the clear ones I picked up recently.

I love daffodils. They spell spring to me like nothing else. And they are the precursors to one of my very, very, very favorite flowers - hyacinths. I love, love, love, love hyacinths - the purple ones are my favorites.

My mother had some planted when I was a little girl and she would always pick them and put them in a fruit jar in the middle of the table. The smell was so sweet and would permeate the whole house. I can close my eyes and be right back there, elbows propped on that table, looking at those flowers and drinking in that smell. That table is now in my dining room and I have my own purple hyacinths planted, but it's never the same of course.

My mom also grew peonies, roses, pinks and other things in her flower bed. At one time or another almost all of them found their way into a vase in the middle of the table. Thinking back, I realize she was seeking a kind of beauty in her life that we all need. And what better way to capture a bit of it than with a bouquet of flowers? You don't need to be rich to have some beauty in your life.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To Twitter or Not To Twitter

Okay, I'm a twitter fan. I've been doing it for awhile now. If you don't know what twitter is, it's a "mini-blog" site, where you say what you're doing in 140 characters or less. It's social networking at its most elemental. It's facebook status stripped bare. In fact, you can push your tweets (what you call twitter updates) to your facebook account as status updates. Go get yourself a free account at and/or You'll find me both places under my own name.

Well, apparently I'm not the only one who sends tweets regularly. And, to tell you the truth, lately I haven't been on much. But, last night during Obama's speech numerous members of congress were sending tweets about their reactions to the speech. I'm just not sure that's the appropriate place for tweets. I mean, really, if you're in the same room with the president, and he's speaking, even if you have met the president before and it's kind of old hat to you, shouldn't you be paying close attention. To, you know, what the president is saying?

Now, this brings up an interesting point - yes, I can twitter AND pay attention at the same time. However, I'm guessing I might be a bit more tech-savvy than some of those who were supposedly sending messages. I believe it may well be staffers who are doing a lot of that. In fact, one rep got caught by that very thing.

The Washington Post has a great article about all the twittering from the floor last night. Check it out.
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Quote of the Day

“It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible.”
                                                        Samuel Johnson
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

To Do

Greg and I went to Carey Park for a walk late today. I had intended to go in the afternoon for a few minutes, but it was after five by the time we went. I'm trying to walk every day for a bit to stay active and avoid blood clots. They're a danger for six weeks after surgery - today is four weeks - but generally only for people who are not ambulatory. So, I'm making sure I'm ambulatory.

I'm starting to feel like getting quite a bit done each day, which is nice. I have a to-do list for tomorrow that I think I can get all the way through. In addition to MHA things, I have some personal projects I want to get finished. Always more to do than I have time and energy for it seems.

I'm hoping I sleep well tonight. I haven't the last two nights and am starting to really need a good night's sleep. Maybe tonight is the magic night.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

A Charmed Life

Four weeks ago tonight I was preparing to have surgery the next morning. I was optimistic all would be well, but also aware I might not come home. Or, that I might come home facing chemo, maybe losing my hair, maybe having years of treatment stretching out in front of me with no end in sight, maybe looking at the beginning of the end.

When I was first told I had a tumor, Kim sent me a Bible verse that had been a comfort to her during her cancer treatment. It was, "I am the Lord that healeth thee." from Exodus 15:26. That night I was looking that up online and ran across another verse that I loved from Psalm 50:15, "And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." I had that in my mind as they put me under in the operating room.

A couple of people have asked me about faith/religion/spirituality since all of this happened. I rarely discuss my beliefs, because I view it as very personal. I also doubt anyone shares my views so I don't try to explain them because it makes people uncomfortable. Suffice it to say I believe God is involved in my daily life and I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe energy never dissipates and that includes the life energy in each of us. I believe the way we think affects the way we live. I believe in miracles. I believe there is a reason for everything. I believe each of us is the teacher and the student. I believe we keep getting the lessons until we handle them well regardless of our role.

Faith has been part of my life since I was a teenager, I just choose to keep this part of my life largely private. When this happened, I knew if I wrote about it on the blog there would be times when my belief system would be evident because it was a traumatic event. And I knew there would be questions. This is my clumsy attempt to answer those questions, while keeping my beliefs as private as possible.

I find comfort in Bible verses, as well as quotes from great thinkers throughout history and of different faiths. I am not, nor do I ever want to be seen as, a model of any sort of faith practice. There are three things I do every day. I pray. I meditate. I write. Those three things keep me grounded.

I feel as if I have received a miracle of healing. All the medical people in my world now tell me they thought it was cancer and were surprised to learn it was benign. Thank goodness they didn't tell me that in advance.

The night before surgery neither Greg nor I slept much at all. He had lain down on the couch and I sat in a chair talking to him for a long time. Finally I went upstairs to bed and dozed off and on for a couple of hours, but never really went to sleep. I couldn't help but think that it could be the last night I ever spent in my home.

Greg said the hospital bed set up in the dining room was a real marker for him. He knew that we would come home and that would either be a place of just recovery or it would be a place where I was recovering enough to start chemo or it would be a place that was the beginning of the end that would lead to him sitting in a room somewhere increasing my morphine until I passed. When we came home and it was just a temporary place to recuperate it was a relief.

I'm so incredibly grateful and so relieved. I was very optimistic, but I was also realistic. The vast majority of the time, surgery goes very smoothly, but things can also go wrong and one has to be prepared for that.

A friend called the other day just to visit and she didn't know about the surgery. When I was given the news I just didn't have the energy to call people. I wrote on the blog and left it up to fate of who read it. I just couldn't tell the story over and over and keep myself positive and I needed to be positive. With a good dose of realism. But positive.

She asked what I did in the nearly three weeks from the time I found out about the tumor until I had surgery. I said, "I got my affairs in order." She laughed and said, "of course you did. That's what you would do." I assumed that's what everyone would do given the situation, but she laughed and told me I was always practical. I suppose I am to some degree, but I didn't know what else to do. And that was something I could do that was proactive. And there was very little I could do in those days that had any effect on the diagnosis.

It's hard to believe it has been four weeks. In some ways it seems like it was a year ago and in others it seems like it was just last week. I remain incredibly grateful, knowing that I got the news hundreds - maybe thousands - of people are praying for every day.

Physically, I'm doing very well. Mentally and emotionally, I'm still adjusting. I think it's part of the reason I can't sleep these days, even with the pain pills. Every day still feels like I'm walking on a tight rope. I'm trying to juggle all these different feelings and emotions, which demand processing, while dealing with the world that allows no time for such introspection. As is so often the case, everyone understands the physical, but it's difficult for them to understand how delicate but demanding the rest of it is.

I remember a few months before my brother Jim died I was sitting on his front porch with him and he remarked his death was not far off. He then went on to say, "No one wants to talk about it, but it's coming. And it's not going to be long." I said, "Well, I can talk about it." And we did. And I'm so glad I had that time with him. It was poignant and bittersweet and an honor to be included in his life in that way. For the first time I understood what a gift it was to glimpse this part of life.

When I was facing my own mortality I quickly saw what he meant. I've written here many times over the last five years about my desire to live fully, which I summed up during this time by saying, "I'm not afraid to die, but I'm very afraid to not live." However, when people are thinking - even though they may not be saying it - that you really could die, they are very uncomfortable with that conversation.

From my perspective, nothing had changed regarding my feelings on the matter. Ultimately, we're all dying. It's just that sometimes we are faced with a situation where we have a sense it could be more eminent than we had thought the day before. As I've written here before, I've always known death is very close and it's very easy to cross over. But I quickly learned what Jim had said was true. No one wants to have that conversation - not even in the abstract - not even when you have reason to believe this isn't your time.

I am so fortunate to be looking at normalcy, being able to go back to living life not worrying about death. I'm sure in time this will all fade into the background and I'll think no more about it than I did six months ago or six years ago. When I came out of recovery and saw Greg I asked him if the tumor was gone. He said "yes, and it was not cancer," although we didn't know exactly what it was then. Later when he repeated that information I mumbled to him, "charmed life." I often say I lead a charmed life in response to any number of pleasant experiences. A charmed life, indeed, is what I've been given, and I want to remain in a grateful frame of mind for such blessings.
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Caution Tape In Place

When I went to my office building today I was surprised to see caution tape still surrounding the steps going into the entrance where the elevator is. There was a hostage situation there Thursday at a lawyer's office. I missed the whole thing because I was in Wichita at a doctor's appointment.

I'm not sure what all transpired, but tear gas was used and there are still broken windows visible in two places.

My office is upstairs and in the front of the building, so as far away from this area as possible. There's no smell lingering upstairs, but you can smell something faint downstairs. I'm not sure what it is, as I don't have any experience with tear gas.

The doors downstairs, into the law office and the back of the quilt store, are all taped off. I guess to seal out the smell.

It was quiet today. There's a beauty salon upstairs but they're closed on Monday.

I'm glad I missed all the excitement on Thursday. I just don't need any extra stress in my life.
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Sunday, February 22, 2009


I read something today that I've been thinking about since. It was an offhand comment in a book. The author was talking about how different colors have different effects and mentioned that blue is very calming. I knew this already. But, what the author mentioned that shocked me is that even blind children are calmed when in a blue room. Now, why would that be? Is it because others are calmer and conveying that in some way? I don't know, but I find it very interesting. I'd like to find out more about the study because I think it's very curious.

Greg and I got home tonight about 10 from a visit to his mom in Joplin. It was wonderful to be there - very relaxing. I'm tired after the trip. It's time for bed for me, for sure.
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wildcat Glades Visit in Joplin

This afternoon Greg and I hiked at The Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center in Wildcat Park in Joplin. I did a little bit of the trail never the center, but it was a little rough and I decided I didn't need to be walking on anything that wasn't paved. So, I looked at the map and found an area that was paved for wheelchair accessability and walked there while Greg did the more rugged areas. But, I snapped this photo of a leaf in water on my little walk, as well as the one below of grass near the same place.

It was a pretty walk with some massive rocks.

This park includes one of the last remaining chert glades. Their website says it's a unique habitat.

Greg walked the trail to a place called Redings Mill, where there is an old bridge, and a new bridge.

And there are rapids...

Before our visit there Greg, his mom and I went to Sandstone Gardens for lunch, which was yummy.

Tonight all of us and LV went over to Baxter Springs to Cafe on the Route. And, in between, there was much kitty play, of course. It has been a nice, relaxing Saturday.


This is Greg's mom's kitty, affectionately known as Weaselhead, asleep on my lap in the morning light. She was tuckered out from kitty play. It's hard work amusing a whole group of adults.

We're enjoying a relaxing weekend full of kitty play and Miss Joy visiting. I needed to be away for a little bit. It feels amazingly good to sleep in a real bed, which I haven't done since Jan. 26. Only hospital beds for me since then at Via Christi and then at home.

The surgeon told me Thursday that I can do steps as long as I do them one at a time, so I'll get to start sleeping in my own bed upstairs soon. I just don't want to do anything to prolong my healing time. He said six weeks - not a minute sooner - for full healing. But the motion he said he wanted me to avoid was side to side. And he admonished me to remember, "It's only been three weeks." It will be four on Tuesday, so I'm getting closer to the magic six week mark.

While here I've been reading "The Geography of Bliss" that Trish gave me before surgery. I had taken it to the hospital but couldn't focus much there so I read the first of the Twilight series then. This is a great book. He travels to various places around the world, seeking information about where the people are happiest. It's incredibly well written. The first page hooks you immediately.

Well, I'm off for more kitty play and other important activities. Aren't Saturdays wonderful?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Missed the Excitement. Thank Goodness.

I had a follow up with my surgeon in Wichita today and got a good report. He said everything seems to be going well. I am to make an appointment for four weeks from now and if I'm feeling fabulous by then to cancel it. He spoke like he didn't expect to see me again.

While I was on the way to Wichita, there was much excitement at my office building. My office is on the second floor and on the first floor is an attorney's office. Apparently early this afternoon a gentleman came into the office there and took five people hostage. He released them pretty quickly from what I understand, but an hours long standoff ensued, ending when law enforcement used tear gas.

Fortunately, it's the weekend tomorrow and I'm guessing any residual smell will be gone by Monday. I have no experience with tear gas but I'm guessing a smell is involved.

I'm not sorry I missed the excitement. I don't think the stress of a hostage situation is something I need to add into my life at the moment.

This is a prime example of you just never know what to expect any day when you wake up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I noticed a few days ago that crocus were popping their little heads up in my front flower bed. Unfortunately, because I had never taken the time to clean it out, you couldn't see them.

Yesterday while I was at the doctor's office in Wichita, Sharon and crew came to the house and cleaned out my front flowerbed and put down mulch and just generally tidied it all up. It's such a huge difference. It's amazing what people who know what they're doing can accomplish. I appreciate it so much.

I've had a hard day today. My heart was beating weird - it started in the middle of the night and lasted until early afternoon. I'm not sure it was in a-fib or not, but it was certainly unpleasant. Thankfully, it went back to normal this afternoon. Ironic that this happened just hours after seeing the cardiologist.

I have a follow up with the surgeon Thursday. I have a list of questions for him. Hopefully all will go well.

I am tired tonight. I didn't get much good sleep last night. I think I'll take a pain pill tonight and see if I can go to sleep and stay asleep for an extended period of time. That would be wonderful. I need some sleep - good, solid sleep. That's next on my agenda.
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Questions to Ask Grown Ups

Barbara sent this to me and I thought it worthy of sharing here. It's a list of questions to help kids talk to grown ups. I hunted around online to find the person to credit it to, but was unsuccessful. If this is your list, please let me know and I'll give you credit. Very insightful.

I was thinking about how I would answer some of these myself, and also how interesting it would be to hear the answers from some of my long gone relatives.

1. Tell me what you believe to be the greatest invention so far in your lifetime.

 2. Tell me what scared you when you were little.

 3. Tell me the best way to spend Sundays

 4. Tell me about someone you always had fun with.

 5. Tell me the wish you have for your children

 6. Tell me about something you broke.

 7. Tell me a vivid memory you have of a sister or brother or best friend.

 8. Tell me about your favorite book or author.

 9. Tell me one place you would still like to visit.

 10. Tell me one day you wish you could do over.

 11. Tell me the best way to determine a person's charactar.

 12. Tell me what your parents did for a living

 13. Tell me what you wish someone would invent and why.

 14. Tell me something you wished you had learned earlier in life.

 15. Tell me what it is like to be married.

 16. Tell me a secret of lasting love.

 17. Tell me a tragedy you have known and survived.

 18. Tell me one possession you always dreamed of having.

 19. Tell me if you could have one luxury every single week for the rest of your life, what would it be?

 20. Tell me a story about your mom.

 21. Tell me something you got away with when you were little.

 22. Tell me what makes you feel special when you wear it.

 23. Tell me someone who helped make your life better.

 24. Tell me the most memorable school day you can recall

 25. Tell me about your favorite relative growing up

 26. Tell me what, if anything, you would trade all your possessions for.

 27. Tell me one famous and one not famous person that you would like to change places with for a day or two.

 28. Tell me about a moment of certainty in your life.

 29. Tell me someone who inspired you while you were growing up.

 30. Tell me about the teacher that made the biggest difference in your life.

 31. Tell me about the nicest things people ever did for you

 32. Tell me a dream you remember.

 33. Tell me a story about when you were a teenager.

 34. Tell me if the weather ever scared you.

 35. Tell me about your very first best friend.

 36. Tell me about God

 37. Tell me about your first job.

 38. Tell me bout the first house you remember living in.

 39. Tell me about the town or towns you lived in growing up.

 40. Tell me about your rings.

 41. Tell me what things were like for your parents.

 42. Tell me about your first love.

 43. Tell me how to stay strong when the going gets tough.

 44. Tell me about your first car

 45. Tell me the first time you felt grown up.

 46. Tell me a story about a pet you had.

 47. Tell me about a hero in your family.

 48. Tell me about someone you love with all your heart.

 49. Tell m e how you felt the day I was born

 50. Tell me about your favorite toy when you were little.

 51. Tell me someone who you felt always had your best interest in mind.

 52. Tell me one of your first happy memories.

 53. tell me one thing you like to do that makes you feel comforted.

 54. Tell me what you loved to do when you were little.

 55. Tell me about a poem, song, or letter that you wrote.

 56. Tell me a regret that you have.

 57. Tell me a wish you have for your country.

 58. Tell me about a moment you thought was magnificent.

 59. Tell me one rule you think is silly.

 60. Tell me about your absolute favorite childhood possession.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Good News

I snapped this photo of the sunset tonight as we were coming home from Wichita where I had a follow up with the cardiologist. I have been dreading this appointment, but I got good news. This morning when I took my blood pressure it was the first time since surgery that my heart has been beating regular, with no pauses.

The doctor today told me not to worry about pauses, as long as I felt okay when it was happening. I had read pauses and skipped beats were considered something that didn't require treatment and I guess that's his assessment too.

I have a slow pulse rate, as did my mom, and both my brothers. This seems to me to indicate it's genetic. Normally, they consider a slow pulse rate a good thing. But when I was in the hospital, everyone kept questioning it. I kept saying it was always low. They kept ignoring me. Finally, today, he asked about the readings of 48 for pulse rate and how I felt when it was like that. I assured him I felt perfectly normal when my heart rate is in the 40s and 50s. When it's in the 70s it feels fast to me. Finally, he listened and said, "well, as long as you feel normal, that's fine. You might have to have a pacemaker later, when you get older." Like a person who had surgery three weeks ago today wants to hear anything about surgery. But, at least it was surgery in the nebulous "later."

Overall it went well and I don't have to dread it anymore, which is nice. I have a follow up with the surgeon on Thursday. Hopefully that will go smoothly too. I anticipate he will release me then.

I'm too tired to write about much else tonight. It's beddy bye time for me. I am exhausted after today. It's the first time I've had this long of a stretch out and about since surgery. Time to rest.
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Dinner at Linda's and Great Conversation

Linda invited the Chicks and friends over for dinner tonight and it was so much fun. We never have an opportunity to engage in casual conversation like we did tonight and it was really interesting.

This is a small group of very intelligent women and the topics were wide ranging. We had some thought provoking conversation and some big laughs.

Of course, one of the main topics of conversation was Rebecca Ryan's speech at the chamber dinner last week. I think everyone around the table was there that night and it was great to hear people's observations. I am always curious to hear what these women think. They are great thinkers and give me a different viewpoint.

In many different circumstances I am often the odd person out, with completely different views, but in this group people don't necessarily take that to be a negative thing, which is nice.

We had a lovely time. Linda had gone the extra mile with everything and it was a great night.

I was struck again tonight that I wish I knew how to fit in better. This isn't about tonight specifically, but just in general. I don't seem to know how to think the "right" way. Things that are obvious to other people make no sense to me and vice versa.

This isn't anything new. I've never been able to fit into group situations very well because once I say what I think about almost any situation, people  get uncomfortable, because I am rarely in sync with the majority. I try to ask questions to understand others viewpoints, but that seems to just make people defensive. I don't know how to explain my viewpoints because they're often "intuitive" to me. My brain just doesn't seem to come to the same conclusions other people's do.

We were talking tonight about how much we identify with where we live, as in what town or county or state you're from. I think of myself as "living in the midwest" because I view the boundaries of states and counties and towns as largely arbitrary. I was the only one in the group for whom this was true.

Boundaries for such things were once determined by how long it took to ride a horse from one place to another. To me that has no bearing on our world today and therefore should be reexamined. Why do we still want to live with these archaic divisions when we could be living as a group that is all working together for the good of everyone instead of competing with each other for limited resources in this arbitrary system?

I understand the "normal" way to think of this is that it's a system that has worked for a long time and is a huge economic factor because government is a big employer in many places. But in Patsy-world we could just rethink the whole situation and the money that's being put into communities through government could be coming in a different way, bringing with it different services or products. I don't understand why we don't want to expand our worlds.

Of course, I have absolutely NO idea how to affect that change. And maybe that's the problem - others are just more accepting of the fact that change is very complex. I always believe in my la-la-happy-world that everyone will see the wisdom of rethinking something and jump on board. Of course, this is not true. But, I just can't let go of it because to do so means to accept that possibility is lacking. And I want to live in a world full of possibility. 

I have a whole long list of things that make no sense to me - from athletics being tied to schools to health insurance being tied to employment. But, as usual, I seem to be the only one who sees these things as illogical and therefore worthy of rethinking.

Sometimes I wish I could just think through something and come to the conclusion everyone else comes to. I might not necessarily want to accept that as the gospel truth, but maybe I would at least understand the world around me then. Because, frankly, the world makes little to no sense to me most of the time. I am out here, floundering around, trying to not make a fool of myself, with no understanding whatsoever of what "the norm" is. But at least there is always something interesting to think about.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

This was sunset at Quiviria National Wildlife Refuge Sunday afternoon. I love going down there and it's only about a thirty minute drive from Hutchinson, where I live. In these days when eco-tourism is of such great interest, I wish we promoted this facility more. It's an amazing place to be, but it's hard to express to people how cool it is without them actually going.

I think you also just have to be a person who appreciates nature in all its forms. Quivira is a huge bird watching area. The birds were settled down by the time I took this photo, but you can see them dotting the sky above the horizon. I don't think I've ever been to Quivira when the sunset wasn't gorgeous.

We saw three otters yesterday. At least we think they were otters. This one and another swimming, and then one on land as we were leaving.

I loved the ripples this guy was making in the placid waters. It seems appropriate for a calm afternoon that he would have the place to himself as he glided through the water.

All of these photos were taken on the last mile and a half of the Wildlife Drive at Quivira. I am enchanted with this photo of the three birds silhouetted on the grasses. It was rare to see only a few of them at a time.

Something like 95% of migratory birds in the US move through Quivira at some point during the year. I'm not a bird watcher, but I appreciate the diversity that offers. In the autumn even Whooping Cranes become temporary residents.

I don't know my birds, but I'm guessing these are a very common variety considering how plentiful they are. I love this photo where you can see the blur of some flying while others are settling in for the night.

Earlier, they were swarming every which way. The sky was just black at times.

I don't know that I've ever shot so many photos directly into the sun before, but I wanted to capture that moment. The beginning of sunset, when twilight is coming, is my favorite time of day when I'm in nature. I love that beautiful pastel you only see at sunset.
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A day with friends at Quivira

Greg, Mia and I drove down to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge this afternoon. It was a gorgeous day - sunny, although the wind was chilly - and we were there until sunset.

Quivira has a huge bird population passing through at any given time, and they were swarming at sunset. I took a ton of photos and will be sharing more, but love this one of the three birds silhouetted in the marsh grass, while the sky is speckled with hundreds of others.

This is the longest amount of time I've spent in a car since surgery and I had no problems, I'm happy to say. Greg drove all the way so all I had to do was take photos.

After Quivira we went to Wichita for dinner together before Mia headed on to Joplin. I'm feeling much perkier the last couple of days. About a week ago I had a couple of days of just needing to sleep almost all day and night. Then I seemed to take a leap in healing and just feel much more normal since then.
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Glenn Miller Orchestra

The Glenn Miller Orchestra played in Hutchinson tonight. It was part of the Fox series, although it was held at Memorial Hall. Andrea called a couple of days ago and asked if I wanted to go with her to use Martha's tickets. Although I don't really know the music, I said "yes" because I try to always be open to fun.

Indeed, it was fun.

Most of the people attending were, like us, there to hear the music. But, a good portion of people took advantage of the dance floor that was set up. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed. It's a pity, because there was some great dancing going on. I did sneak some photos of my friends.

Andrea and I were talking about how we saw some of these same people at the chamber dinner last week and would never have imagined they could dance like they do. It was fun to watch people. Most of them were older, but there were a few younger couples, too. I'm amazed at the moves people had - very impressive.

Mia is out for Valentine's Day and she and Greg decided at the last minute to go to see the Glenn Miller Orchestra, too. At one point she leaned over and said, "If you squint a little you can imagine it's 1942." And it was true. It was cool to see people enjoying music from their youth.

I noticed as various songs were announced or started, the audience would "ooh" in unison. I chuckled thinking about it being 30 years from now and wondered if people my age would be having that reaction when things like  "Do you think I'm Sexy" by Rod Stewart or "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" by Meatloaf was announced. Those were the only two songs I could think of from my senior year in high school, which I assume is the correct time frame to elicit that reaction. Unfortunately, neither of those has the same ring as "Stardust." Maybe we'll be too embarrassed to react that way. I can only hope.
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Seeing Ourselves in Another Life

I've discovered that being largely housebound can be dangerous for the pocketbook. Unfortunately, the internet makes it easy to shop, without setting foot outside the house.

I am not prone to excessive spending, thank goodness. I have limited myself to some clothes I actually needed and some Avon that I will use. Tonight a package arrived that included a couple of more pair of thermals. And, just in time, because it's cold here tonight.

But I can see the danger if one were looking at a prolonged period of being alone with the net and a credit card for amusement.

I'm watching Diane Sawyer's "Hidden America" and it's bringing back so many memories of covering stories in Eastern Kentucky. When I lived in Lexington and worked for a TV station there we would occasionally go into Eastern Kentucky for stories.

Before that job I knew some fellow college students who were from the region, and I didn't understand their lives, although they were not all that different from my own in many ways. I could have been much kinder than I was. Don't we all feel that way at some point? That we could have done better. Maybe it's only me, but I can pinpoint dozens of times in my life when I had the opportunity to be kinder, gentler, more gracious, and failed.

While I had that job I spent a lot of time at the home of a man who had "escaped" a few miles toward the west and would only occasionally talk about his past. He was the best friend of my boyfriend and we would spend weekends together at his home. Forest was forever kind and generous with what he had and you could tell he had worked hard to get it. He never took it for granted, and I understood why. I still take nothing for granted and I bet he doesn't either.

When we would be in the region, I could easily spot the similarities to where I had grown up in Western Kentucky. There were places, homes, and families, that were the same as what we saw in Eastern Kentucky. But it wasn't as pervasive and there wasn't coal mining to fuel the ongoing cycle. But there were plenty of similarities to give the feeling of "but by the grace of God, there go I." I still have that sense whenever I see these sorts of stories.

I was blessed to grow up with a mother who valued education. She wanted me to get an education and did everything she could to facilitate it. I got a college degree and a job as a result. And I found a way to make a life for myself. And I'm grateful. Every day.

But I never forget how precarious such things are. I know people who are smarter than me who didn't find a way to make a life for themselves. It was not because of a lack of desire on their parts, but because they didn't have a support system of family and friends, or because they zigged when they should have zagged, or because they made a seemingly insignificant decision that had serious repercussions and they never recovered. And they weren't blessed with someone like Greg in their lives who has always been a tremendously positive force in my life - always supportive and kind and encouraging - who daily brings a different perspective to life and how it can be lived.

I'm always mindful that if being unable to make a decent life happened to others it could happen to me. After all, none of us is all that different from another. I go through my days feeling like I lead a charmed life because I have all I need and some of what I want. It's not that I don't want more security, but I know how precious any semblance of normalcy is.

Maybe if you've never witnessed such things, or known people who are fighting to hold on to the most basic of necessities, you don't think about these things. I can remember the bathroom being installed in the home where I grew up. I can remember bringing in coal for the heating stove that warmed the whole house. I can remember listening to stories of hard times, and knowing that despite what people would have you believe, hard work did not always keep those at bay.

I was very lucky - we were never hungry, and we were never living in squalor - but others were. However, there was alcoholism and abuse in my world, as there were in many people's. If you haven't lived with it, you can't understand it. Sorry, but you just can't. And no matter how it's explained to you you just won't get it. Not because you don't want to understand, but because words cannot describe it sufficiently.

It breaks my heart to see people struggling with such basic needs like food. It is a disgrace that anyone in this country is hungry. Ever. Maybe if you've never seen people hungry, through no fault of their own, it's easy to say they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. When you've seen it's not that people choose those lives, but that those lives happen to them, it becomes a different story.

Maybe only when you realize it could be your story do you feel any compassion. Maybe that, in a nutshell, is the distinction between the liberal mindset and the conservative one. Maybe those of us who can see ourselves in that place, with those difficulties, feel a need to fix it. It's not altruistic, it's self-protection. We're frightened of what it means for us if that exists for anyone. Maybe conservatives can't imagine themselves in those circumstances and it's easy to point out the trail of bad decisions, not understanding that sometimes there isn't a good decision to be made.

I think I'll go say another prayer of Thanksgiving now, followed by one of entreatment.
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Free Advertising Advice

You know what they say about free advice - it's worth every penny you paid for it. That said, I'm going to dispense some free advertising advice, which you can choose to ignore or heed. I do have some training and experience with advertising so I'm not just blathering with no background.

Here's the advice. Do NOT make your children or grandchildren the stars of your commercials if you really want to get across some message. And, by the way, getting across a message is generally the reason for advertising.

I just watched a TV commercial for something - I can't recall what, which is a big problem - where two girls were singing some unintelligible song that had nothing to do with anything as far as I could tell. They were cute, but they were not star singers. Unless you're raising the next LeAnn Rimes, please, resist.

If you feel a need to include your children and grandchildren, question that. If you just can't stop yourself, make them extras in the commercial. If you just cannot control your urge to have them front and center, try to have them doing or saying something that is central to the product or service you're trying to sell.

Okay, that's it. Do as you wish, of course. But consider why you're spending that advertising money - is it to increase sales/awareness or to give a perk to the children in your life? They are not necessarily compatible.
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Thursday, February 12, 2009


The other night at the chamber dinner Rebecca Ryan asked a very thought-provoking question.

"What do you want to be homesick for?"

She said it was a question asked of her by someone designing a home for her. She struggled with the question.

I have to admit I've been struggling with it too. I think part of the reason is that it forces me to choose ONE thing, or at least a small collection of things, and that's always difficult for me.

But it's a very interesting thing to ponder - what do you want to be homesick for.
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Medical Update

A few folks have emailed to ask how I'm feeling. I've been trying to not overload the blog with medical stuff, but I appreciate your concern.

Overall - I'm great. I can't believe surgery was only two weeks ago yesterday. I am moving around with no significant pain at all. I feel like doing some basic work. I'm very bored with TV.

I got the staples pulled yesterday. Dr. Wesley did it for me here instead of driving to Wichita, and he was very gentle, thank goodness. A few of them were a little painful but just a little bit. Mostly it was completely painless. He said the incision looks really good. He has been my doctor for a long time and it was good to check in with him after having such a major medical issue. I am comforted by him and by his nurse, Judy.

I haven't started driving, but feel like I could at any time. It's just a little uncomfortable to sit in the car seat because of the way I have to bend, so I haven't. And, I've been fortunate that friends have been willing to cart me around. Trish took me to the chamber dinner. Barbara took me to get my staples out yesterday. Greg has been my chauffeur since I left the hospital.

I am still having some atrial fibrulation issues and that is really a problem for me. My heart has not been beating really fast, but it is skipping a beat now and then. It makes me feel "not normal."

Feeling normal is what I so desperately want. I know. It has only been two weeks. I'm not good with being sick. I'm sure you've known people like I have who seem to thrive on medical care. They like to go to the doctor, hospital stays are something they don't question, etc. All I can say is they are made of much stronger stuff than me. I am a total wimp.

I just want to be normal. Physically I feel pretty good, other than the a-fib, but I still get very tired. I find myself napping multiple times during the day. I am not on a normal schedule. I sleep for a few hours, then get up for awhile, then go back to sleep, etc. Part of that may well be the a-fib.

Mentally I feel a little out of sorts still. I hadn't taken any pain pills for a couple of days but they encouraged me to take one at night to sleep so I did that Monday. Then I took one before getting my staples pulled, and another one last night. They do help me sleep for longer hours at a time, and that's good I suppose. I have to sleep in order to heal. The mental loopiness isn't related to the pills I don't think. I think it's just a matter of the brain and body saying, "Hey, what the heck, what did you just do to me?" I'm not sure how to describe it other than to say I can focus, but focusing for any amount of time wears me out.

I have been working some from home, easing back into things. There are things that just have to be taken care of. I'm fortunate I had plenty of sick time banked, but as long as I feel like doing things I'm going to.

The bills have started arriving, and it's ugly. But, I'm not sure what options I had other than to get this taken care of. I couldn't ignore it. So, I'll just have to figure that out. I don't know how that's going to work out yet, but I'm just trusting it will become obvious what I need to do.

I'm walking around in the house every day. I walk the circle through my hallway, living room and dining room over and over again. They tell me I did myself a world of good by walking so much in the hospital. So, remember this in case you have to have surgery - apparently walking in the days after surgery dramatically impacts your recovery and recuperation. Everyone seems amazed at how I look and how I'm moving. I still get tired, but am so thankful to have the benign diagnosis and to feel as good as I do. I feel like being up most of the day every day, with just brief naps and rests.

I'm not walking upstairs to go to bed yet. I'm still sleeping in the dining room on the hospital bed. But, I think I could start going upstairs almost anytime. Maybe this weekend I'll start doing that. I have a few steps coming into my house and I haven't had any problem with those. The first day I was very careful to hold the handrail and put both feet on a step before taking the next one. The following day I walked down them going somewhere and then realized I was supposed to hold the rail. But, I was in the yard by then so it was a little late.

I've been able to take a shower by just stepping into my tub. I was worried about that because I have an old tub that's tall. But I haven't had any problem with it. The difficulty is that I can't put the abdominal binder back on by myself so it requires someone to help me. This binder is a big rectangle with velcro on it - essentially a girdle. It holds everything tight so you don't feel like grabbing for a pillow if you start to cough or something. It's a wonderful thing although I sometimes feel like it's squeezing the life out of me. But, it's looser now.

When they weighed me yesterday I had lost 30 pounds. Of course, some of that was tumor and other things they removed, but there were also quite a few days when I just couldn't eat anything. Regardless, I'm not sorry to be rid of those pounds.

I am glad I had the chance to take care of my personal business before surgery - getting Greg set up with power of attorney and getting beneficiaries changed and doing the living will. I also took the opportunity to say something to someone I thought might feel bad if something happened to me. It was good for my own peace of mind that I took care of that, although they didn't respond to my note.

When Steve was out he asked if I went into surgery thinking that could be the end. I was very optimistic that it would be benign and all would be okay, but I was aware that any surgery is dangerous and that that could have been the end for me. I wanted to be prepared just in case. I think I've done everything along those lines I need to do, other than get my house in order, and the chance of that happening is so slim it's not worth worrying about.

Dr. Wesley told me yesterday that if he had had to say he would have guessed this was cancer. Obviously, that's what others thought, too. I feel like I can't really celebrate yet. I still want more confirmation. I am going to get a copy of the lab report and maybe that will make me feel satisfied. I think it's just that it was a few weeks of thinking about what it might be and I have to "come down" from that a bit I think. I was optimistic about the outcome before surgery, but I just need some extra confirmation now after thinking about it so much beforehand.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Details and Tiny Moments

The details make life holy.

If you want a little happiness in life don’t forget to look at the little things.

It is a poet’s work to see the incidental, pluck it, place an appropriate silence around both sides and see the profound in what passes for a passing moment.

It is an artist’s job to as much discover art as create it.

Prayer is a way of making the common profound by pausing, tying knots around a moment, turning our life into a string of pearls.     
                                                                                    --- Noah Ben Shea

I ran across this quote today and it so perfectly sums up my approach to life that I can't believe I've never seen it before. It's just beautiful.

The first sentence alone explains why this blog exists. I started writing a blog in part to remind myself to appreciate the small events in daily life.

I believe it is in those tiny bits of life where the sacred resides. It is there, in the briefest of moments, that could slip by unnoticed, where we get a glimpse of who we truly are and how we fit in the world.

Only by seeing the detail can we appreciate the fullness of life. Happiness comes through small kindnesses and slices of life captured in crystal clear remembrances.

The ordinary is holy. It is our responsibility to recognize and appreciate it whenever given the opportunity. And the opportunities are endless.

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