Friday, December 31, 2010

The End of the Year and the Beginning of the Year

On the last day of the year, it seems I should have something insightful and thought provoking to share. Unfortunately, I fear I'm not up to the challenge.

A new year is a time for a fresh start, and tomorrow will be 1-1-11. If there were ever a time for a new beginning, that would be it.

I'm always in a pensive mood as the calendar turns, contemplating what was good about the past year, and what I want to see in the coming year. As I was trying to sum up 2010 in my mind I realized it was a year of regrouping. The entire year of 2009 was about my health - literally January to December was focused on getting better. Then 2010 was about regrouping from that - paying off medical bills and getting myself back on an even keel. Although I don't have everything paid off, I've made lots of progress on it, and I'm feeling much more "myself" as 2011 approaches. A year like 2009 takes a lot out of a person. It takes some time to recover, not just physically, but psychically. I'm looking forward to 2011.

Things are shifting in a very positive way in my life. A number of talents I've developed over the years are in demand from various sectors these days, which is wonderful. I anticipate a year from now I'll be feeling even more blessed than I do today, and I'm incredibly grateful for all the wonderful things in my life right now.

It's a rainy end to 2010 here, washing away anything negative that's hanging around, making for a bright, fresh start to 2011. What more could we ask for?


I am really invigorated by talking with other creative people. Today I was on a conference call with people who are doing interesting things. I think we can all help each other do more cool things. That feels good. I love synergy.

Not sure how it will all end up working, but I know there's potential there. We shall see how it all works out.

On another topic, I want to state for the record I made another batch of divinity tonight. This is five in a row that have worked. I think - maybe - I'm getting the hang of it. Of course, the next one could end up running all over the counter. I'm not getting cocky... not even confident yet.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tribal Like Us

Sociologists have been noting that Americans are becoming more tribal all the time. We gather in groups that are "like us," and even adorn ourselves with jewelry and other markings that indicate our tribes. We seem to feel a need to distinguish ourselves with our clothing, hair styles, etc.

If you have any doubt tribes exist, ask any 12 year old girl and she will gladly point them out at her school. If you spend a few minutes thinking about it, you'll know you have tribes at your work place, church, or other gathering place, too. This is not the purview solely of teenagers.

This separateness is antithetical to the idea of America as the great melting pot. Bob Edwards interviewed John Mellencamp recently and in the course of conversation, Mellencamp said something that spoke to this idea. He said, "We became more tribal as we tried to take democracy everywhere."

I had never thought about the idea of tribal in this context, but he's absolutely correct. I can't say it's a true statistical correlation, but the idea is sound. As we have tried to spread democracy (for reasons I don't fully understand, but that's another discussion), our own society seems to become more segmented - more tribal.

It's a conundrum.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Zina and The Mysteries of Life

My grandfather's name was Zina Myatt. He had a twin sister named Tina. It was pronouced "Ziny" and "Tiny." Do not ask me why - I do not know.

I never met my grandfather. He died a few years before I was born.

In all the people I've met, all the genealogy research I've done, and all the times I've asked, I have never seen another reference to the name, "Zina." I wonder where it came from when he was born in 1895.

Tonight I was working, and looked down at a book central to the project, and noticed on the cover, "Foreward by Hal Zina Bennett." I've looked at this book hundreds of times, and never noticed that.

I searched him out online and he has written dozens of books, including many on Native American topics, holistic health, creativity, etc. How could I not have run across his work before? Or have I and just not noticed the name?

It's an odd coincidence at any time. But all the more interesting when I'm on land my grandfather would have visited, sitting in a house built in the same place where the house his widow lived in used to stand.

If you're a person who believes everything has a meaning - and I am - this bears notice. What the meaning is eludes me, however. Life is full of mysteries.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I'm working on some freelance jobs tonight and in the process have run across a note I wrote to myself at some point. It says, "What is the business of your life? What is your purpose?"

Unlike I usually do, I didn't date this or note what prompted the question. But it's still worthy of an answer. I don't have one, but it's worthy of one. Or more.

"What is the business of your life?" That's a weighty question. I wonder how many of us are engaged in the business that is the business of our lives. Most of us have jobs, but they are not necessarily what we are meant to do.

The experts always tell us to do what we love and the money will follow. Perhaps they have husbands or wivess willing to pay their bills or independent wealth, but I'm certain my mortgage holder does not espouse this mindset - quite the opposite,in fact.

My dream is to spend my days and nights entertaining friends and family, engaging in conversation, writing, painting, speaking, reading, travelling, teaching and thinking - on my own timetable. If you know how to make that lucrative, please let me know. I'm ready.

Of course, the question I noted, "What is the business of your life? What is your purpose?" is much broader than that. But it seems a struggle to focus on the true purpose of one's life when so much of it is devoted to maintaining an existence. Surely that can't be the purpose of life, and yet that's what most of us do.

Interesting questions to ponder. If only I had time for that...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Perfect Moments

Our Christmas snow dissipated somewhat overnight. But, just as I was about to lament its passing, the heavens opened with more beautiful, puffy white flakes.

Jackie and Mary Ann are gone to church and I'm alone in a quiet, warm house surrounded by a gorgeous snowy landscape. Snowflakes are dancing outside the windows. It's a perfect moment.

I'm not sure how many perfect moments we're all allotted in life, but I know I've been blessed to have been given more than a few. I'm grateful.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

It is a stunningly beautiful Christmas Day at my brother and sister-in-law's house. It simply could not be more perfect. Snow is falling softly on a snow covered landscape, but it's not terribly cold, and the roads are clear for travellers still making their ways. Mary Ann is bustling around in the kitchen, the tree is glowing, presents are wrapped and loved ones are on their way soon. We are blessed.

I hope you are feeling the same today, whether you're celebrating with family and friends, or enjoying quiet time alone. May the day hold some Christmas magic for you.

Thank you for sharing my life the past year - in person, through the website, Facebook and Twitter. I'm a very lucky girl for millions of reasons and I count having you involved in my life as one of those reasons.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Luminarias in Hutchinson

We got to enjoy Hutchinson's luminarias last weekend. They're always the weekend before Christmas, in the Hyde Park area of town. Always beautiful.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me and Happy Festivus to You

Today is my birthday. I feel perpetually 27, and yet that is not my actual age.

A friend pointed out today that my birthday falls on Festivus, the holiday created by the Seinfeld show. I told him I think it's the other way around - Festivus falls on my birthday. After all, I've been having birthdays longer than Festivus has existed, so I'm claiming December 23.

But, I'll share. And however you choose to celebrate Festivus is cool. If it happens to be with a cake with my name on it, be sure and save me a piece.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all around jolly time!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Happiness

Everyone, including me, is a flurry of activity, getting ready for Christmas.

This morning as I was walking into the building, the church bells a block away were playing, "I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day." I looked up and could see "Greetings" written on the HCC electronic sign, with their "Merry Christmas and star" mounted on the building. It was a lovely way to start the day.

I get a tremendous amount of joy from simple things like that, which is one of the keys to happiness. I'm very fortunate that it's natural for me to find happiness in small things. But, of course, anyone can learn it.

What a lovely gift that would be to give people, but happiness isn't something one can tie a ribbon on.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

I didn't get up to see the Lunar Eclipse last night, but Greg did and got some magnificent photographs. Take a look at
Greg is so incredibly talented - and the best friend a person could have. I'm blessed to have him in my world.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yes, Virginia...

The editorial that says, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus..." is the most reprinted editorial in the English language, and with good reason.

One of my favorite lines is:
Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the worl

A few years ago, the letter was appraised on Antiques Road Show. You can see that here:

It's one of those stories that resonates with us, because we can all put ourselves in the place of the eight-year-old or the editor.

Read more about it and see the original letter and editorial on Letters of Note.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mama's Divinity

My mom was a championship divinity maker. People would ask her to make it for them and it was a much coveted gift. A few years ago I decided I would just make it until I could turn it out with no problem. I managed a few perfect batches.

This year I wanted to make some for my next door neighbors who have been so helpful to me. It took me a couple of batches to remember what I had learned, but I turned out a couple of nice ones - one with nuts, and one without, and took them over this afternoon.

My mom, Mary Lea Myatt Terrell, heard this recipe on the radio in about 1934 and wrote it down. She made it many times. Being able to turn it out perfectly is not genetic, and even though I have the pan she always used, I'm still learning.

If you want to give it a go, here's the recipe:

Mary Lea's Divinity

2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup white syrup
1/2 cup water
2 eggs whites, beaten to soft peaks
1 cup pecans

Mix sugar, syrup and water, and cook on top of the stove over medium heat until it spins a nice thread. Pour into beaten egg whites and continue to beat until it will hold its shape when spooned out. Add pecans at the last, mix, and then dip quickly.

Today is my nephew, Bobby's, birthday and Mama always made him some divinity for his birthday. He prefers it without nuts. Mama just couldn't understand anyone wanting candy without nuts, but of course made it for him like he liked it.

UPDATE: I asked Bobby about the nut question at Christmas and my memory is faulty. He loves it with nuts. So, I'll have to figure out who it was that wanted it without nuts. But, not Bobby!

UPDATE: I won second place in the Kansas State Fair with this recipe in 2012. Story here:


Hope your Christmas season is going well. It's going by too quickly for me. I always want more Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

How Do You Remember

I've been thinking a lot lately about memories, how we make them, how we store them and how we recall them. The things we choose to commit to memory are interesting - it's not necessarily what the logical mind would say is most "important." But, of course, there's not much logical about memories, or even most of the brain, as far as I can tell. At least not my brain.

There are moments from 40 years ago I remember with clarity, that were seemingly insignificant events. At the same time there are "big picture" things I have only a vague sense of.

Does it really make sense that I can remember a moment with a classmate when I was in second grade, and who I haven't seen in decades, more clearly than I remember signing the papers to buy my house? No. But, I can put myself back in that gymnasium playing dodge ball much easier than I can seat myself at the table in the title office. 

Experts tell us that emotion attached to memory is part of what makes them stay with us. And, the unpleasantness of being in a gym with screaming kids had more negative emotion attached than being in an office. Yet, the drama of committing myself to a home for the first time should have been a significant event.

Maybe it's that there were other difficulties going on when I was signing for the house and they "diluted" the emotion of it all. Maybe I had simply experienced enough emotional events by then that it was more easily kept in perspective than the child's moment.

Maybe it's that when I was signing for my house I knew I was changing lots of things in my life and that all were improving, and as a child I felt stuck - that I would have to be confined in gyms with yelling kids for years to come.

While I was thinking about this, I ran across this blog post from Stefani Twyford, and found her comments fascinating. I'm still contemplating how I process memories. It's worthy of some thought.

Colbert says Jesus is a Liberal Democrat

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I've been getting multiple messages lately to find time for quiet.

The other night a friend said, "There is a sound to silence." I have been thinking about that since she said it. It's profound.

Last night I went to see the movie, "Happy," at KUSM. In the course of the movie, they were talking to a gentleman from the deep south and he was talking about coming out to the bayou to, "Listen to the stillness."

It wouldn't seem that stillness would have a sound, but I believe it does. By the same token, "silence" would seem to not offer much to hear, but I believe it does.

Perhaps what we hear in those moments is absence. The absence of demands from other parts of our world. Maybe that absence is what we're listening for - holding our breath, edging closer, standing still, straining to hear.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I don't mean "fungus" in a bad way...

Greg and I went to Moundridge, Kansas tonight to eat at a restaurant called Block 32. I had bought a discount certificate (kind of like a Groupon, but a local deal) and it needed to be used by the end of the year. So, we decided we'd go give it a try.

Afterwards we drove around looking at lights in Moundridge and then went on up to McPherson to do the same.

I have to explain that Greg and I are experienced light observers, and we have entire categories of decorations. There's "anal," which is the style where every light is perfectly oriented, cut to precisely fit the structure. It seems only an engineering type brain could make it work.

At the other end of the spectrum is "slathered," which means applying lights to every surface that can support them. This style has little regard for how "tidy" they are. Excess lights are left dangling after windows are outlined, or trail off into a nearby bush.

We like both categories, and everything in between. It's all festive. We love the effort put forth. We also love to see people putting up more lights when we drive around. Not sure why, but we do.

Tonight we drove by a house that had one strand of lights woven around parts of their porch banister in a totally random way. I pointed it out and said, "I love it." Greg said, "Me too." As we drove on I joked, "They let their kid do it." Greg said, "And it's probably a wonderful memory for the kid."

A few houses down there was one that was a little more neat but not much. Greg looked over and said, "Their kid is older. That's the only difference here." We laughed and drove around the block to see them again. All Christmas lights are wonderful.

Later in the night we drove by a house with icicle lights where some were hanging from the eaves and some were more horizontal on the roof. I referred to the "haphazard application of lights" and Greg said, "yes, the icicle lights look more like the house has fungus growing on it."

I was chuckling and said, "fungus... that's the quote of the night... not a word you associate with looking at Christmas lights... fungus..." Then, as if I needed to explain myself I said, "But I don't mean fungus in a bad way." We enjoyed it enough we had to drive around the block and look at it again.

We had a great time looking at lights - of all varieties. I lean more toward the slathering end of things when doing my own Christmas decorating, but I enjoy all kinds of decorations. I appreciate all efforts to make the world pretty and sparkly. I think we should do it more than just a few weeks at Christmas.

Why can't we have more pretty and sparkly? Fungus-like or otherwise.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I was reading something recently that asked the question, "What are you willing to suffer for?"

It's an intriguing question. And one I'm not sure I have the answers for yet.

It's easy to start creating a list of things you're willing to suffer for. I'm guessing it might be a little more difficult to be faced with the actual suffering.

Much to think about.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cookbooks Find Their Way To Me

Lately I've been picking up old cookbooks from the 30s - 70s. They keep presenting themselves to me for a quarter here or there.

I love the illustrations in some of them. I haven't cooked a lot of things out of them yet, but I love looking at them. Don't you love how the edge of this page is made to look like a piece of bread?

They're really little time capsules. And who knows what might come out of the kitchen from one of these in the near future?

I'm pretty sure there won't be much "jellied consomme" coming out of my kitchen, however. "Jellied" is not something I'm too interested in unless it involves fruit and large quantities of sugar.
I saw a reference to aspic as "edible Saran-wrap" once, and that seems an apt description of this general class of food. Truthfully, I've never eaten aspic, but I'm sure I don't want to. I know - that whole idea of trying things - but there are some things I just know I don't like.

These pictures remind me of this post.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Greg and I went to lunch this week at a particular restaurant because they have a vintage Santa. We have our priorities in order.

The Day

This morning I taught a blogging class at the library. It went well, I think. We had computers for 12 people but ended up having 14. It all worked out.

It's always a struggle to know what to spend the majority of the time on - explanation or hands-on or what. Ultimately, most of these sorts of things require just sitting down and working with them until you understand how they work. I gave everyone my card so they can call if they run into problems. I hope it was really useful for people.

Afterwards Peggy, Brian and I went to lunch and chatted for a very long time, which was fun. Gary came and joined us for awhile and it was great to see him. Other than that, and one brief trip to the grocery, I've been indoors.

It's cold here today - intense winds. As my windows are rattling and my feet are cold I'm reminded of why I always intend to get all the storm windows in tip-top shape when it's warm. Of course, in the multiple years I've lived here that hasn't happened and it looks like 2010 isn't the year for it either. Maybe I'm wrong about that, and it will happen before the end of the year. That would be fabulous.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Quiet and Meditation

For the last few months I've been feeling a lack in my life. It took me some time to figure out I needed more time for stilling the mind and meditation. Even after I figured it out, it took awhile to make the space in my life for it.

In just the last couple of weeks I've been working meditation back into my life, and the change is already noticeable. I feel more "on track," more focused, more prepared to meet the days.

For years I have done three things each day: pray, meditate and write. As I have been so focused on making money the last few months I've slipped out of the habit of meditating every day. Obviously, it's something I need to make time for, or everything else suffers.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Blogging Class

Given my general lack of acting ability, this may be the closest thing I ever get to my name in lights. I think there are two spots left in the Saturday blogging class. So, I'd love to see you if you have interest. It's going to be fun. Call the library to register at 663-5441 - it's free.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Tonight was Creative Sisterhood and the topic of connecting people came up again in my conversation. Connecting people with each other, and with events, is something I am driven to do. And, it's something I'm good at.

It occurred to me that maybe this is part of the reason I continually want more people in my world - to have the possibility of creating more connections. The simple math of it is that increasing your circle by one person creates a multitude of new possibilities.

Interesting that "connecting" and "possibilities" seem to always be peppered in my conversation.

If this is truly my calling - my raison d'etre - perhaps the idea I've been kicking around of having retreats is a good one to pursue. Maybe I need to get back to contemplating that. I let it fall by the wayside when other things were pressing. I think I need to revisit it.

Always so much to consider.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Back to Normal

Until tonight I had not been out of my house in two days. Saturday night I slept 14 hours - more than double my normal night's sleep - and still felt tired. Sunday I went to bed early and was more tired when I woke up Monday than when I'd gone to bed.

I didn't go to work Monday or Tuesday. I slept many, many hours, and by late afternoon today I started feeling a bit more normal. I can't say I was sick in the traditional sense that I had a cold or flu or anything - but my body was definitely fighting something. Whatever it was, my immune system seems to have kicked it and I'm grateful to be feeling normal again.

Greg and I went out to dinner tonight and drove around looking at lights. I see the world managed to function just fine without me for a couple of days.

I was supposed to teach a blogging class tonight but they cancelled it because most of the interest was in the Saturday class. As it turned out, it was just as well since I wasn't at my best tonight.

I've barely been online the last couple of days. If I owe you email or some other kind of communication, I'll catch up soon.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

O Christmas Tree

I finished my Christmas Tree this weekend. I decided since I couldn't do my big Christmas extravaganza this year I was going to do something different. So, I got a real tree to go on a tabletop, and decorated it with all vintage ornaments.

I've been buying ornaments at flea markets for a couple of years. I need more variety, but I have picked up a few things I like.

This beautiful one below was at the flea market today. I passed it up, but Greg went back and bought it for me. Pink was a much more popular color for ornaments at one time. I love, love, love this one.

I also have some ornaments my mom gave me, some of which belonged to my Great Aunt Ann. I'm not sure about the one below. I think it was one my mom bought. But I remember it being on the tree every year.

I think the one below was one from Ann. Regardless, I love them all.

Overall, I think I'm going to enjoy the tree. I do wonder how many Christmases some of these have seen. It's nice they're still being used and loved.

Dreams and Dreamers

"Transplant yourself into a dreambuilding environment as often as possible. Gather with others who are motivated and proactive."

This was in Barbara Winter's newsletter recently. She has summed up why I'm driven to connect with people who live in this dreambuilding space.

I think my friend, Martha, is the true expert at this. Maybe it's one of the reasons I am never ready for our time together to end. Having people like that in your life, who dream and encourage dreams, is a blessing.

Winters' newsletter also said, "Make idea gathering your favorite hobby. Listen to inspiring speakers and read eloquent authors who have taken a higher path."

I, of course, saw myself in that statement. I'm always looking for interesting tidbits and ideas. They help me see the world in new ways, which I like.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Catching Up with Thanksgiving Photos

I never got around to posting photos from Thanksgiving, so thought I'd share.

Greg and Mia


Mia and me right before dinner

The day after Thanksgiving, after some shopping, Greg and I started getting out his mom's Christmas stuff. Miss Joy seemed excited. At least that's how I'm reading this photo.

Some holiday items require some setup.

Not to worry, we got the singing and dancing Santa fully functional. In plenty of time for Steve to see him as soon as he awoke. Did I mention that Steve doesn't care for Christmas?

So, it was ironic that he went with us later that weekend to see the Christmas lights in Carthage. They have a drive through light display with many Biblical scenes.

By late Friday, Miss Joy's house was decorated and she was putting the snow on the tree. I've never used snow - I'm an icicle girl - but I see the beauty of it.

It was a really, really nice Thanksgiving, and a wonderful kick off to the Christmas season.

Hutchinson Zoo Holiday Train

Tonight Greg and I went to the Hutchinson Zoo to ride the train through their holiday display. They have trees decorated by local organizations, you can ride the train, and also get a cookie and cider. It's a little fundraiser for them and great fun for us.

So far I'm having quite a wonderful holiday season. Because I'm not doing my usual big Christmas decorating at home, I'm taking advantage of other cool displays.

I have to confess I'm starting to like the shorter hair. I'll still let it grow back out, and donate again, but I'm enjoying the fact that it's so healthy now. Maybe I'll be inspired to curl it. Maybe. We'll see.

I'm so happy it's the weekend. This has been a really tiring week. It was busy at work and with freelance jobs.

When I downloaded the photos from tonight I realized I hadn't even looked at the ones from Thanksgiving, and even before that. Maybe I'll get some of those posted this weekend. We'll see.

My list of things to accomplish this weekend has already grown unmanageable and the weekend has barely begun. Tonight I played. The rest of the weekend I must work on things.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Circling The Wagons

At times I have an urge to pull inward, and surround myself with those dearest to me. I refer to it as "circling the wagons." I do it in times of distress, and although I'm not particularly distressed about anything these days, I am experiencing a desire for the drawing inward.

I spend a tremendous amount of time alone. At work, even though I'm surrounded by people and work with others on various things, I spend a lot of time alone in my office working on projects. Then I come home and work alone in my home office on more projects.

Even many of my chosen recreational activities are solitary. I like to paint, write, contemplate, journal and read. I love to travel, and often even do that alone. I really value people and think of myself as very open and social, but the fact remains that I continually choose solitary activities.

These days when I do allow myself time to interact with others, I find myself gravitating to those I'm especially close to - circling the wagons. Maybe it's just that there's always limited time and I need a certain amount of interaction with those I'm closest to.

Or maybe it's just the time of year. When the weather gets chillier I'm loathe to go out much, and therefore less likely to interact with others. I'm one of those people who's always cold, and when I get home to my warm house I'm likely to remain there.

I'm still very open to connecting with people who approach me. I just don't find myself eager to initiate these days. The circling of the wagons is a time of passivity, I suppose.

Perhaps it will become clear what the reasons for it are. And maybe it's just as it is meant to be and no reason is needed.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dour Kitties for Vapid People

This is Dour Kitty, who made his first appearance over a year ago. I give one to five Dour Kitty Points to things I find unpleasant.

Today I'm giving FIVE Dour Kitties to Vapid People. I'm not specifying who they are, but I'm sure you know some. Fortunately, I have no Vapid People in my immediate world, but they do creep in on the fringes.

Vapid People frequent gyms, hair colorists, and tanning salons where their brains have been jiggled and fried until they no longer function properly. They are focused on GTL to the exclusion of everything else. Their royalty includes Snooki and the Situation, Paris, Kardashians and other celebrities who's only discernable talent is being a celebrity.

Vapid people "read" magazines that are full of pictures of these celebrities so they can go buy the clothes, handbags and jewelry they can't afford in order to emulate the celebrities. They go into debt for these things so they can take pouty photos of themselves wearing them in the mirror to post on Facebook.

Their conversation is about how they look, how other people look, and how they think people should look. People famous for being famous are used as the yardstick by which this should be measured.

The remainder of their time is spent in clubs, where they try to drown any brain cells that might still be functioning on some level, in a sea of alcohol. This, of course, is after the spray-on tan is dry.

You can read the story of Dour Kitty.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Simple Pleasures

I love the feeling of fresh sheets. It takes only a few minutes to change the sheets... I could do it every day... but I don't. I don't even do it as often as my mom did. Why do I deny myself this basic good feeling?

No doubt there are other simple pleasures I could easily indulge regularly. Would that make me happier? I'm guessing it would. Why do we not seek more happiness? That seems as though it would be a basic drive.

Another simple pleasure tonight is these pillowcases with hand crocheted lace. I don't know who's hands made this lace but I'm going to appreciate them tonight as I drift off to sleep.

Monday, November 29, 2010


A few months ago, a friend said she realized she had been limiting herself - in words, feelings and mobility. It made me stop and think about what limits I am imposing on myself.

Some limits are healthy, of course. Over-drinking, spending or otherwise indulging is not wise.

But, some limits exist only because we lack knowledge, motivation or inspiration. Some exist because we're afraid.

I've been thinking about this for a few weeks, asking myself what limits I've put on myself, and what is at the root of them. There's much to think about.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Soldier's Story from PFC Logan Gates

I have had this ready to post for a few weeks, but was waiting for the perfect time. This seems like it. I didn't want to post it at Veteran's Day, or on Thanksgiving, or at Christmas, because this story is about an average day of being a soldier. But, now, as we've just celebrated Thanksgiving - and before we get caught up in the Christmas rush - seems like the right time. It seems we may not even realize all we have to be thankful for.

This is a soldier's story - from PFC Logan Gates, serving in the US Army.

He is 19 years old, and has been in the Army since June 2009. He has been serving in Afghanistan since June of 2010. His squadron works directly with the Afghan National Police (ANP), patrolling and doing missions with them. Usually, two or three American officers are stationed with an ANP squad, but this is the first time the two governments have paired entire squads to work side by side.

He shared this with his mom, Kelly Hutchinson, and said she could share it with some friends. When I read it I asked permission to share it here because I think it's such a wonderful insight into what a soldier's life is like.

He graciously agreed, even though he is not seeking publicity. It's hard to imagine being under the kind of stress described here. I don't know Logan, but he is obviously an extraordinary young man.

The words of PFC Logan Gates:

October 23, 2010 at 8:44am Report

It has been a very busy week. A lot of walking, a lot of sitting around, and not much sleep. I have to say, my opinion on the people here has been changing a lot lately. I put aside my original assumptions and generalizations and started listening to them more, and with my Lieutenient I've been working with the police (Afghan National Police) more now and that helps.

I used to watch the police more than I looked ahead, trying to spot enemies. That lack of trust is gone for the most part, and I see them as equals - allies. They want the same thing we want they just don't have the tools or the knowledge, and I see that now.

There's so many things that happen here on a day to day basis that I will never remember, or be able to tell you about, that change my opinion, attitude, and whole perspective on life. I'll give an example that happened earlier this week.

I was up on a second story building, on a narrow ledge, providing security for our guys down below who were searching a building. I was standing in front of a door that seemed to be abandoned so I was surprised when a man (civilian Afghani) came up behind me and started opening the door.

He obviously had my attention and it would be a mistake on my part not to keep an eye on him, so I did. He stayed in my view but it was dark in the room, I saw him bend over and pick something up. I had to obey the rules so I didn't blow him away right at first, although it's what I wanted to do.

He stayed in the shadow as he worked his way back towards the door. By this time, my heart was pounding out of my chest and I expected the worst. I couldn't see him and by this time I had a fellow soldier paying attention to the situation too.

When he got to the door he had a couple pomegranates, some bread, and a big smile on his face. It's hard to explain the relief at the end of a situation like that.

I'm sorry I had to tell the story like that but you have to understand that in a situation like that, it seems to go in slow motion. Point of the story is, my initial thought was not only wrong, but quite the opposite, of the man's intention. He was more than happy to see American soldiers outside of his house and wanted to show his appreciation.

Last night I spent the night on a hilltop in the middle of the freezing desert. Most everyone near me had gone to sleep and I was staring at the sky. In the distance I heard a loud boom, like thunder. It was artillery - 155 mm's. I heard it ripping through the sky. It exploded over my head and was an illumination round, a round with the whole purpose of lighting up the sky. They were shot for us, to protect us from anything that might be moving through the night to raise hell against us.

Two more of these came and then a third. It sounded different and I knew it was. Illumination rounds stop in midair and explode, lighting up the sky. This one didn't. It continued to scream over my head and into a mountain nearby where it exploded with a loud thud. The whole point of this show was to flex our arm and let them know that we were there, and not to be messed with.

I went to sleep shortly after, and slept well all night. The feeling of getting into a warm bed is a good feeling, but the feeling of getting into a safe 'bed' is a much better feeling that many take for granted.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Decking the Halls

Miss Joy's house is all decked out for the holidays.

For reasons we can't explain, the cat is exhausted, even though Greg and I did the work.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet Potatoes have started to push beyond the boundaries of Thanksgiving and make their way onto plates throughout the year. But even those who don't have them any other time, generally want a little dollop of them next to the Thanksgiving turkey.

Yesterday I decided to look for a recipe for a sweet potato casserole. I found one online, and fortunately wrote down the majority of it, because it seems to have vanished into thin air. But, no matter, even on my first time making it I made a couple of modifications I think make it better.

It was a big hit at Miss Joy's house. She, Greg, Mia and I ate a whole pan of it in a little over 12 hours. So, today I went and bought some more sweet potatoes so we could have some more. I thought I'd share the recipe. It's sweet and yummy.

Sweet Potato Casserole

4-5 small/medium sized sweet potatoes - cooked and mashed
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4-1/2 cup orange juice
pecans and marshmallows

Mix all ingredients together except pecans and marshmallows.  I like to taste the mixture and make sure it's as sweet and cinnamon-y as I like it. Put in casserole dish and put pecans and marshmallows on top. Sprinkle with more brown sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees until done. It will depend on how big your potatoes are and what size dish you use. Could take 30 minutes - could take an hour. All you really need to cook are the eggs. I like to let the marshmallows melt into the top of it, too.

We declared it a big success. Miss Joy says you're crazy if you don't give it a try!


Most Americans just engaged in the Thanksgiving ritual of turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce. Most of us don't cook those things on a regular basis, even though they're readily available. We may eat a turkey sandwich, but we all know lunch meat is a far cry from a turkey right out of the oven.

Maybe part of the reason is that the ritual of Thanksgiving - of pausing to give thanks with family and friends, taking time off from work, travelling to be with loved ones, preparing a feast for those we love - is connected with those particular foods. They're associated, and we don't want to diminish the impact of the Thanksgiving ritual by serving cranberry relish on an idle Tuesday.

Food  has meaning far beyond the nourishment it provides. It is wrapped in tradition and few people turn down Grandma's special cake on their birthday, Mama's fried chicken at Sunday dinner, or a heaping plate of turkey on Thanksgiving. We connect with each other when our feet are under the same table.

My friend, Greg, coined the phrase a few years ago that a pie his mom made, "had love in it." He summed it up beautifully. Food made with the intention to provide sustenance and pleasure for those we care about always has the extra ingredient of love added in. No deli, bakery or grocery store is ever going to be able to provide the love. It can only be added to the food in one way - by the hand of someone who cares for you.

This Thanksgiving I was honored to be able to cook some of the Thanksgiving meal at Miss Joy's house (Greg's mom). It was really nice to participate in this time honored ritual. A day to pause, for national Thanksgiving, and to gather around our tables together, is an opportunity to share some love.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Mindfullness helps you go home to the present."
Thich Nhat Hahn

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hair Donation

This is the third time I've cut my hair to donate. This is a larger cut than I've done in the past. My hair is a little below shoulder length now - the shortest it has been in at least two decades. It's a little shorter than I would like it - I probably shouldn't have had it cut while it was still wet - but it is what it is. There must be a reason it was meant to be this way.

When I was unsure if I might have to have chemo, the idea of losing my hair preoccupied me. I knew it was a ridiculous thing to be concerned about when I could be facing death, but nonetheless I couldn't stop thinking about it. I was blessed to have good news, so maybe I'm just feeling especially glad to have hair to spare these days.

I donated in July of 2009 for the second time, after all of that, but I was still feeling "unsure" then. These days I'm confident of good health and that it will be ready to donate again in a year or two.

Monday, November 22, 2010


A few days ago Greg and I were headed out to dinner and stopped to take photos of this beautiful sunset.

It occurred to me that there will come a time when we'll think of light poles as nostalgic. It's funny how things like that slip away, without us barely noticing, until we look up one day and realize we can only see them in memories.

Whoever said the one thing you can count on is change was absolutely correct. When I look at any period of my life and compare it to five years earlier, there's tremendous change to be noted.

Because I've grown to expect change it doesn't hold the same power over me that is has over some. It's just part of the landscape. That's not to say I like it all, but it will come anyway. So, we might as well welcome it and assume the universe has good in store for us as change comes to us.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not the Weekend I Had Planned

This weekend wasn't exactly the one I had planned on having, but all is well, other than I think I'm more tired now than I was when the weekend started. I spent part of Saturday in the ER with a friend who was diagnosed with a kidney stone. Today Greg and I were occupied with getting materials for a roofing job, relying on Sharon for translation services via long distance. I'm incredibly thankful for the kindness of friends.

All in all a productive weekend, just not the one I'd had planned. I'd intended to see the Christmas parade and the new Harry Potter movie this weekend. I made it to the parade, but Harry will have to wait. Of course, it's not like I'm in terrible suspense about what happens.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gift From Hollie

This afternoon I went to the mailbox and found an envelope with this beauty tucked inside. It was sent by Hollie, who I've never met in person, but have connected with on various journaling lists over the years. She's someone I definitely would like to meet.

Anyway, she sent this with a note, saying she'd had it for a couple of years but had thought it was meant for me.

Aside from the joy of getting something fun in the mail, a little gift like this is a physical reminder that someone has been thinking about you. It's such a nice feeling to have that sense that someone is remembering you kindly.

I think that's why we all like to get gifts. It's not about "the stuff" of the gift, but about the idea that the person thought about us when selecting it. Or, like this, that something reminded them of you.

It was a beautiful part of my day. Thank you, Hollie.

Quote of the Day

If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.
---Hazel Henderson

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Busy Days

The days have been busy lately, but manageable. Tonight was Third Thursday and we did a Twitter event. Some of us were out taking photos and posting to Twitter as the event was going on. I ended up spending the whole evening at Gallery 7, managing the computer setup, because it was not as simple as it should have been. Thanks to Darren, we had this amazing setup with TV screens inside and out showing the tweets. Very cool.

This weekend I will try to post some photos, but tonight I'm a tired pup. I think I need to watch less Craig Ferguson. Of course, what is on, even as I type this... but I'm headed upstairs... right now... really...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happiness and Commitment

In "Geography of Bliss," author Eric Weiner writes about a woman who refers to where she lives as home "for now."

He writes, "And that, I realize, is the problem with hedonic floaters like Cynthia and with many of us Americans and our perpetual pursuit of happiness. We may be fairly happy now, but there's always tomorrow and the prospect of a happier place, a happier life. So all options are left on the table. We never fully commit. That is, I think, a dangerous thing. We can't love a place, or a person, if we always have one foot out the door."

My friend, Sondra, once said about me with regard to a relationship I was in, "Girl, you always have your bags packed." I think that's another way of saying, "one foot out the door."

What neither of these statements addresses is that sometimes we don't know any other way. We are on a search for happiness - where we live, travel and work; who we friend, live near and love; and what we do, think, and seek. That search spills into every area of our lives. Good, bad or indifferent, it's just the way it is.

Commitment. Happiness. They seem intertwined, but we all know commitment doesn't equal happiness. People make public commitments every day, but the divorce rate is high.

Sometimes commitments are unspoken, but understood nonetheless. I'm mulling over commitment these days. Commitments made by me and to me. Much to think about.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm Teaching Blogging

A couple of years ago, I met my friend, Kristine, when she invited me to come and speak to a class she was teaching about blogging. Unbeknownst to me, she had been using my blog as an example in her classes. I also met Barbara that day. Very cool!

Well... fast-forward a couple of years... and I'm going to be teaching a whole blogging class in December at the Hutchinson Public Library. How cool is that? Exactly! And, to top it off, you can come to the class, which would just be oodles of fun on top of all this other cool stuff.

Introduction to Blogging with Patsy Terrell
Tuesday, December 7 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 11 from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
(It's the same class - just two options for when you come)

This is a hands-on class, so there are only 12 slots. Register by calling the library at 620-663-5441, ext. 163.

So, if you want to find out more about blogging, and why you might want to do it, and how to do it, call and sign up. You will leave that day with a blog of your very own, if you wish. It's going to be an adventure!

Besides, don't leave me sitting there by myself, all sad and pathetic.

Devil's Food Cake

A couple of weekends ago, I bought an old cookbook at the flea market for a quarter. Last night was Creative Sisterhood and I decided I'd make something from that book. Devil's Food cake was the winner.

I followed the instructions - even frothing the eggs with a fork.

I whipped the egg whites and folded them in as it suggested, although I confess I used the Kitchen Aid. Lets do keep up with modern conveniences.

And I melted the chocolate in the microwave to add into the batter.

I was very impressed that the cake baked perfectly level with the pan - not that big poof on top (like Snooki) that you often get when you bake, that has to be trimmed off.

Just in case you want to give it a go yourself, here's the recipe.

Everyone loved it at Creative Sisterhood. I'm not completely sold on it myself. I wasn't fond of the texture - a bit too crumbly for my tastes. I'm sure that was from folding in the egg whites, but it's just not my favorite.

However, I do appreciate opening a cookbook and not finding references to cake mixes in it.


What does it mean to be a leader? I don't mean the definition we learn in leadership classes, but the real meaning of being a leader. I think it has to mean getting something done, either by yourself or with help, but something is changed. Some recite the definition of a leader and some act as a leader.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Johnny Mathis Heralds Christmas Season

This weekend Greg treated me to the Johnny Mathis Christmas show in Branson as an early birthday present. I love Christmas and no one sings a Christmas carol like Johnny Mathis. I love, love, love classic Christmas carols - and the way he sings them is fabulous.

So, this weekend I made my second trip to Branson. The first one was two years ago to see the Andy Williams Christmas show. You might notice a theme developing.

It was such a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season. The main attraction was getting to be with Miss Joy (Greg's mom) and Greg. Johnny Mathis was a huge, added bonus.

I loved every minute of it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Writing by Hand

There's magic in using a pen and paper to record thoughts as opposed to a keyboard. I still write by longhand, particularly when I'm thinking something through.

I like to always have a writing desk setup somewhere in my home that is devoted to writing in journals by hand. This one is in my downstairs sunporch. At various times it have been in my bedroom and other locations, but I like it there - especially in the early mornings.

Now that I write online almost everyday, I sometimes neglect my handwritten work. When I do make time for it it's like slipping back into a familiar, comforting rhythm I've been missing without realizing it.

I was recently flipping through my gratitude journal I've been writing in for a decade. Obviously, I don't write every day. I realized one year I had not made a single entry. That doesn't mean I wasn't finding anything to be grateful for, I just wasn't recording it. Another year I had only one entry.

I guess like most things, this goes in cycles.