Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Work Spaces and Art Spaces

When I got up to go to lunch today and realized I needed to get my phone I was struck by all the various projects spread out over my desk. Everyone one of those little pink pieces of paper has a task written on it that needs my attention. I wish I could report that by the end of the day those were all dispensed with, but, alas, that is not the case. In fact, I think I added a few more as the day went on.

Tonight I've been working in the studio and could only chuckle when I looked at the work space there. I keep letting things migrate toward the area I'm working in until there's barely enough room for me to work. Then I tidy everything up and start the process over again. I guess the phone is the one consistent thing.

I did two new pieces tonight and finished off a couple of others that needed to be varnished.

This is one I did the other day. Don't you love that photo? It's out of an old magazine ad.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Quote of the Day

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy.

Marcel Proust

All I can say to this is a rousing "Amen," and that I'm blessed to have people like this in my life.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fred Kaplan at Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College

Author Fred Kaplan spoke at the Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College this morning. Originally from Hutchinson, Kaplan joked as soon as he got to the microphone, "I don't think I was ever this popular in high school."

Kaplan is an MIT graduate and has written a number of books, most recently, "1959: The Year Everything Changed," and is a Slate columnist. He is an expert on politics.

He spoke this morning about how the cold war caused history to pause. He said, "The cold war was a deep freeze of regional interests. Now history has resumed." The cold war caused countries to align with the US or Russia because they were the super powers. But, he said, "the thing about the cold war is that one side dissappeared overnight."

That freed countries to pursue their own interests, which he said had always been the norm, and that makes it important for the US to find places where we have common interests with others. "It's the way international relations has been conducted for centuries with the exception of the 50 year period of the cold war."

He said we must make alliances and let go of a seperatist philosophy. "If the Bush Doctrine had been in place in WW2 we wouldn't have joined forces with Stalin to defeat Hitler. The results would have been catastrophic."

Since the fall of the USSR, he said, "the rest of the world realizes they can go their own way, regardless of what Washington says." He said the US should have "reached out and formed alliances" when communism fell because, "after the cold war was over, we're playing a different game." He said, "We were left with instruments of power, tokens of power, that didn't have much meaning in this new world."

Bush missed that opportunity, and when Obama came along and wanted to sit down and talk, it didn't change the fact that others had their own interests. Kaplan says sometimes we have to admit there is no deal to be made, nothing to be worked out, so we may just have to deal with facts we don't like - such as Iran having nuclear weapons. Another issue is that Iran has wanted to be a regional power and the containment that was once there no longer exists, i.e. that Iraq is not a threat to them like it once was.

Kaplan says, "The world has a different structure than we had 20 years ago and the things we've built our strength on are not relevant." He says telling countries that nuclear weapons don't matter, doesn't align with the facts. "The only reason anyone pays attention to Pakistan or North Korea is that they have nuclear weapons," he said. "Nukes are great equalizers," he said, "and you only need a few of them... you automatically become a regional super power the second you get nuclear weapons."

He spoke at the luncheon about how Iran has had difficulty building nuclear weapons and that, "even if you know how to make a bomb it doesn't mean you can." He said he thought the danger was not nearly as much as people often think, because when a country gets nuclear weapons they get very protective. And he said in the lecture, "The mullahs of Iran are not suicide bombers. They hire suicide bombers. But they are not suicidal themselves."

He touched on the recent health care debate and said at the luncheon that the Republicans decided, "our strategy is 'no' and once you go that far it's hard to back peddle... you don't negotiate with Hitler" and they referred to Obama as the devil, making it hard to work backwards. He said, "Republicans have wrapped themselves in a trap where they can't agree with Obama that the sun sets in the west." He said it was "pretty astounding that in this environment they were able to pass the bill."

During the lecture Kaplan pointed out that this health care reform was far less sweeping than medicare and while people were upset over that at the time, no one today wants to get rid of medicare or social security or the civil rights act. He said, "I think our system is much more resilent" than people give it credit for and we can handle this change.

Kaplan got a round of applause at the lecture when someone asked about Palin and he said, "I don't want to see a nominee who never had a thought about policy just because John McCain plucked her from obscurity. I don't want that."

Kaplan was in Hutchinson a couple of years ago at the Art Center. You can read about that visit here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Saturday was the Hutchinson Women's Fair. I think it was the first time I've been able to just go to the show. I've always been working a booth. I have to say, it was much more fun to just be there.

I visited the Cause for Paws booth, where Pam and her best canine friend, Maile, were in attendance.

If Maile looks familiar, you might remember her from when she was crowned Queen of the Doggie Easter Parade last year.

There was no crown yesterday, but she nonetheless accomodated by meeting her subjects.

This year's doggie Easter Egg Hunt and Parade is Saturday, April 3, so mark your calendars.

Trish had a booth at the Women's Fair, too.

We went to dinner Saturday night, after she was done. We've missed our usual lunches a couple of weeks in a row and we needed to catch up. We got a start on it, but just a start.

Sunday I worked in the studio and on things like laundry. Unfortuantely, there's much more to be done. I had hoped to get more done on my taxes this weekend, but that didn't happen. Along with a long list of other things I had hoped to get done.

One thing I'm doing yet before I go to bed is making another batch of lemon curd. I bought some farm fresh eggs from Kate and Tracy on Friday and went to get some fresh lemons yesterday. It won't take long to whip it up. I make a lemon cake today so I'm having a little treat before bed tonight.

In other news, I'm reading two books at the moment, both of which I recommend. "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell and "Drive" by Daniel Pink. You may recall my thrill at meeting Daniel Pink last fall. I loved his book, "A Whole New Mind," which I have - literally - at my fingertips. "Drive" is also wonderful. Expect to see more about it here in the near future.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chinese Caravan

Tonight I went with a group to Lyons, about 30 minutes away, to eat Chinese food at the restaurant now in the Ly-Kan hotel. It was organized by Amy, who's in the middle in the white t-shirt. It was a good time.

Interestingly enough, I've been in the very room we were seated in many times to give speeches. It had a sign above the door that said, "Petroleum Room," which Greg pointed out harkened back to another time.

Of course, I insisted everyone pose for a photo so I could share it with you. It was great to be going to an event that someone else organized. What a treat!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Something For Everyone and a Lesson in Design

Tonight at Skaets I noticed these two flyers posted on the window. I thought it was an interesting bit of irony - "Boxing" in big letters on one positioned right next to one with lots of pink on it.

But, then I realized it offered something for everyone this weekend. Not that a person interested in going to the Women's Show might not also like to watch boxing, but I'm guessing it's probably different audiences.

My second thought was that they're an interesting lesson in design. There's more design with the one on the right, but you have to admit that the one on the left tells you exactly what it's about.

At one point Greg went out to the car for something and bent over to jokingly be in my picture, so I took it. I didn't notice until after I downloaded them that my reflection is in it too.

And if you're looking for something to do in Hutchinson this weekend, I undertand there's boxing and the Women's Show.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Creative Cities Speech in McPherson Kansas

Peter Kageyama spoke in McPherson, Kansas, about Creative Cities this morning. He has been there consulting and they had a meeting this morning and invited anyone to come, which I really appreciated.

In a nutshell, as he put it, "Creativity and Innovation are the natural resources of the 21st century." At other times it has been arable land, navigable waterways and oil but now it's creativity and innovation.

He encouraged people to, "think about where economies are being created," and that creativity is not a natural resource you have by luck or geography. He said the individual, the human capital, is an even stronger resource. "Your most important resource walks out the door every day and you hope they come back," he said.

Creativity and innovation are two words we hear a lot and often thing of them as the same thing, but they're different. Kageyama says he defines them as creativity being a divergent process, a shot gun approach, the brainstorming. Innovation, on the other hand, is a convergent process where you strip away ideas and focus with a laser-like intensity.

One of the great challenges is that he says, "People think of creativity and innovation as someone else's job." Everyone agrees they're important but no one feels a responsiblity to them. He said, "let us be the geniuses in our own communities" and that "someone should be leading the charge on this because talent is too important to leave to happenstance."

He said, "Talent is not just young people. Talent exists in every age group." He cited some research that young professionals wanted affordable housing, transportation options other than cars, interesting places to live and a sense of community. Other research indicates empty nesters and retirees want the same things.

He addressed the issue of brain drain, which is of great concern to cities - young people moving away. Richard Florida pointed out, "Brains don't drain, they circulate," meaning people often move "back home."

Kageyama talked about how the tools we use to attract people are outdated. Traditionally, companies would be courted. But what you really need now is to target the influencers within a company and the rest will follow.

He talked about young people and notes three things about them:
1. They're tribal
2. They don't believe advertising, although it does build awareness
3. They do believe each other and that's why social media is so important

Later someone asked him how to reach people who don't believe in advertising. Kageyama suggested using radio to build awareness and understanding that people will then go to google and figure it out on their own. So, put money toward awareness and what supports that when you catch their attention.

He said he thinks social media may be even more important than a traditional webpage. Although, of course, you must have a webpage. He referred to twitter as an "evolving artform" and told people they at least need to be playing with it. He said, "you've got to be part of the conversation."

Kageyama said, "Green is the new black," and that while it "used to be nice to have, it's now a must have."

He said cities should make their values "visible and persistent." He used Chicago's motto to be the greenest city in the US as an example and said when they planted a half million trees downtown alone, as well as flowers, they were making that idea very visible.

One of the comments I highlighted in my notes was when he quoted Pier Giorgio Dicicco who is the Poet Laureate for the city of Toronto and said, "Arts and culture are what make a city fall in love with itself." Kageyama talked about having a mix of arts opportunities, not just the traditional SOB - symphony, orchestra and ballet.

Another of my favorite parts was when he discussed a pyramid about building a creative city. It was similar to Maslow's hierarchy. If you've read here for any amount of time, you know I think Maslow had us all figured out in the 50s with his hiearchy of needs. At the bottom of this pyramid for cities is "functional," and above that "safe." Kageyama said many leaders think that's enough. But he said we need to demand more. Above "safe" is "comfortable." Above that "convivial," and at the top, "interesting."

The Mayor of McPherson has agreed to start tweeting by July. He said, "We need to refresh our vision." I was impressed with his willingness to jump in.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Creative Sisterhood

Tonight was Creative Sisterhood. I had picked the daffodils the other day when snow was predicted and once I put them on the table, it seemed I should go with a yellow theme - all spring-like.

That train of thought led to lemon curd, which I knew would be so pretty in a white dish. As Teresa said tonight, once you start imagining how it's going to look in a particular dish you might as well go to the kitchen, because you're making whatever it is. And I could see that lemon curd in that bright white dish on that deep green tablecloth. It looked just like I thought it would.

Creative Sisterhood was great. We laughed heartily tonight. I think some of it might have been at my expense, but all in good fun.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cool... again

Greg and I have been to the new sandwich shop in the local train station a couple of times. It's called, "Cool Beans," and has a retro look.

It has caused us both to ponder the question of when does something become cool again. Is there a particular time frame? Who decides these things?

Maybe it means I'm getting old that I'm starting to see things come around for the second time.

I, however, have not felt the urge to take up latch hook rug making or terrariums - just in case you were wondering.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Historic Health Care Reform

Health Care Reform passed a few minutes ago. It looks like we will have some version of health care. This isn't all I wanted, but I'm thankful to see some movement to helping people

Most people who have relied on health insurance from their employer have no concept of how difficult it is to get insurance if you go to buy it on your own. A large part of the American public would be classifed as "uninsurable" and would have no where to turn if they lost their jobs. Most don't even know that because they've never had to buy their own insurance.

If you've ever said, or if you've ever heard anyone say, "I keep this job for the insurance," it should be a clue there's a problem. This is one step to solving the problem.

I realize some people are vehemently opposed, but I hope this plan serves a need for you and your loved ones, too.

I wrote in September of 2009 about my own reasons for wanting health care reform. It's still available if you want to read it. Just in case you're wondering, yes, I'm still paying medical bills. And I'm very thankful I am alive to do it and have a job that makes it possible for me to do it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Art and Music and Snow

I spent a little time in the studio tonight. That wasn't exactly what I had planned to do, but it seemed the best option because it's snowing here. Yes. Snowing. On my freshly bloomed daffodils. I doubt they will approve.

This morning I went to work with a long sleeved shirt and no coat. I didn't leave the building until about 5:30 and it was a shock to my system when I walked out into the cold wind.

Greg and I went to The W downtown for dinner, and were treated to music by Jon Dennis. Jon is an amazing guitarist.

At some point during dinner, Greg peeked out a window and noticed it was snowing. As it continued at a significant rate, we decided we'd best take off. I went to Sharon's to help her with a computer issue and then home, where I anticipate I may be staying most of the weekend. Fortunately, I have everything I need to hole up in my house and amuse myself.

Being able to amuse oneself is a terrific life skill. Thank goodness I learned it at a young age.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'm Tired of the Whining

I live in a town in the middle of Kansas with about 50,000 other people. It's a nice enough town - has some good stuff, has some bad stuff, has some average stuff. Probably much like the town where you live.

But Hutchinson, Kansas, has some unusual things, too. We have two world class attractions in this burg that people come from all over the world - literally - to visit - and for good reason.

Something else unusual is that Hutchinson has a very active arts community, that continues to grow. It seems a good percentage of the people I know have an artistic bent - music, art or other endeavors. Every third Thursday of the month there's a downtown gathering with live music and art - all free - and you'd be amazed at what you see and hear.

Hutchinson boasts a world-class golf course, Prairie Dunes. I don't play golf, and don't care much about golf, but people come from all over to play the course. People also come to play softball. Every summer thousands play at the Fun Valley facility. In addition to various sporting events, the annual state fair brings many visitors for the fair and the big name entertainment.

Throughout the year you can attend any number of free arts events, courtesy of the Hutchinson/Reno Arts and Humanities Council. These might include lectures, art exhibits, theatre, concerts, festivals or any number of other things. There's a symphony orchestra, a Theatre Guild, and an art center. There's the state movie palace, the beautifully restored art deco Fox Theatre, which brings in a lot of entertainment, too. The Dillon Lecture series hosts speakers like author Daniel Pink and actor Henry Winkler - the cost is $5.

Recently, a new place opened downtown called "The W." It's an intimate venue with entertainment. You can eat dinner and watch great performers - music and comedy. Also downtown, a local businessman is trying to bring entertainment to Memorial Hall, a venue that hasn't been used extensively in recent years.

In the past eight days I've seen Emmy-award winning comedian Bob Nelson along with comedian Longhorn, who was great; a concert featuring Uncle Kracker, with opening act Rehab, with Scott Allan Knost from Wichita prior to them; seen artwork from six different artists; listened to Raging Sea, a Celtic Band and the Gazaway Mountain Boys, a bluegrass band; and attended a lecture by a doctor who just returned from helping victims in Haiti. This list doesn't include the lecture by the NBC News Space Consultant I heard this morning in my own workplace, but which was open to the public for free. The grand total for all of this entertainment was $15.

If I were a sports fan I could be taking advantage of the National Junior College Athletic Association basketball tournament being played in town. Or I could have visited our zoo with a nice collection of native animals - it's free. If I were a golfer I could have played the public course in Carey Park, or just enjoyed it or one of the other parks in town during this first taste of spring. I might have also walked or biked one of the trails, or hiked at Dillon Nature Center, which is a treasure. Those are free, too, in case you were wondering.

Many times I have to decide what I'm going to do on any given evening because there are at least a couple of things happening I'd like to attend. So, you'd think that would be the case for everyone in town, right?

Well, unfortunately, you'd be wrong. Because while some of us are out doing, others are sitting around complaining there's nothing to do. I am continually shocked how we can all be living in the same town and perceive it so differently. What is it that people want?

Admittedly, a community of 50,000 is not likely to attract entertainment like Billy Joel/Elton John's Face to Face Tour. Friends and I drove the 45 minutes to Wichita to see them a couple of weeks ago. Even if you lived in a major city, you could easily spend more time than that getting to a concert venue. So, there's access to that, even though it's not in our town.

I am growing suspicious that people simply want to complain. It's easy to sit back and whine after the fact that things weren't exactly as you wanted them to be. Why not, just this once, participate in something and maybe get a feel for how complex it is to create such events? Consider that someone is taking a risk to give you the option of seeing art or hearing a lecture or listening to music - it may be financial or time or energy or pride they're risking - and it's most likely all of them.

I'm not a native, I'm not a member of the chamber of commerce, I'm not even a "booster" of the community. I'm just putting out the facts. I'm fed up with the whining and complaining that there's nothing to do in Hutchinson. There's more to do than I can manage to do in the average week. Even though we may not have the same tastes, I think my fellow residents, with the slightest bit of effort on their parts, could find things that appeal to them.

And effort is the key. Do people knock on my door to tell me about cool things I might want to attend? No. They do not. I regularly check online calendars and sign up for newsletters that tell me what's happening. I connect with people and organizations through Facebook and other sources that let me know what's going on. None of these things costs anything, and they're available to most folks. If you don't have a computer at home the local library has free computers you can use - and free classes to teach you how to use them if you don't know.

I'm tired of the whining. Devote that energy to participating in the community - maybe even creating something yourself. You might see it differently from the other side.


I've lived in Kansas more years than Kentucky, where I spent my first couple of decades. But it's still Kentucky that I consider home. I own a house in Kansas, but Kentucky is "home." Kansas is where I live, but if someone asks me where I'm from, I answer, "Kentucky." I will always be a southern girl. Always.

Rebecca Ryan asked the question of our group last year - "What do you long to come home to?" I've been thinking about that ever since and I still don't have an answer. Or, maybe I do have an answer, and it's just too inconvenient to accept, so I'm unwilling to give it voice. Regardless, I'm still pondering that question.

Maybe "home" is always where we spend our formative years because we understand they impact our entire lives, shape who we are at our cores, and influence every decision we make long after those years are over. Perhaps designating that place, that space, as "home" is our way of giving due to how critical those years are.

Regardless of the reason, I know Kentucky will always be "home," regardless of where I live.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Things are Hopping

Things are hopping our little burg. The NJCAA tournament is held in Hutchinson each year and teams come to Kansas from all over the place to vie for the title. It's just as exciting for those in the National JUNIOR College Athletic Association tournament as it is for those in the NCAA.

Speaking of that, I don't really keep up on basketball since I left college, but I did catch the last few moments when my beloved Kentucky Wildcats won their game Sunday afternooon. I'd love to see them win the tournament, and will be rooting for them, even though I've lived in Kansas longer than Kentucky. But UK is my alma mater and that's where my loyalty lies. If, heaven forbid, they are out of it, then I'll root for Kansas - whichever team it is.

At work we're very busy, preparing for a big event in April, and also because this week we have many visitors. Some are folks who are here for the tournament and others who are out of school because it is Wichita's spring break. It's very fun to have the whole place full of people.

Thursday morning is our monthly "Coffee at the Cosmo" and we have a guest speaker this month - James Oberg who's the NBC News Space Consultant and formerly worked with NASA. We have a different topic each month, and serve coffee and pastries to those who come - all free. I think it's such a cool thing. I always enjoy them.

I decided this month I was going to bake a coffee cake to share. We'll still have donuts and the usual goodies but I wanted to add some extras. I tried a new recipe and tested it out. I definitely recommend it.

Coffee Cake

3/4 white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg plus enough milk to make 1 cup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup flour
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup butter

Cream sugar and butter. Add dry ingredients alternately with egg and milk mixture. Mix well. Pour into greased 9 by 13 pan. The batter will not be thick in the pan, but will rise as it bakes.

Mix topping by cutting butter into dry ingredients. Spread on top of cake mixture and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes... of time

Today was the first work day after daylight savings time. I just don't care for this foolishness at all. I want it to be whatever time it really is - you know, when the sun is directly overhead at noon. Why can't it just be the right time?

When you think about it, it's all rather foolish. We're so tied to the clock that we can collectively decide to "change the clocks" but we're still slaves to them.

It's laughable to me that only Americans would think we're so important that we can change the time. The time. But, we do it every year.

I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Benjamin Franklin, but I don't think this is one of his better ideas. Maybe I'll feel differently when I've had a full night's sleep.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pi Day Pie

This is my pi day pie. It's coconut. Just like Mama made. Well, at least it's her recipe. I can't say it tastes the same.

Happy Pi Day... it comes around every year on 3.14... make a note for next year!

Things I Learned Today

Every day is a learning experience and today was no execption.

Today I learned:
1. if you suddenly get the urge to see how calligrapher's ink works on tissue paper, it's best to use disposable gloves - I'm not telling you how to live your life, and you certainly don't have to use gloves, but I plan to make use of them during this process in the future
2. if your calligrapher's ink is too thick to give the desired effect, a small glass jar that pimento came in is perfect for thinning the ink with some with water
3. this will likely make you want pimento cheese sandwiches for lunch
4. if you don't have any pimento in the house, or even if you do and don't want to mix it up, a grilled cheese sandwich is a fine substitute

Happy Pi Day

It's 3.14 - Pi Day. I may have to bake a pie. Happy Pi Day!

Comedy at The W in Downtown Hutchinson Kansas

Commedian Bob Nelson played at The W in downtown Hutchinson Kansas tonight. He is from New York, but now works in Branson. He did some of his famous bits tonight.

Nelson has worked with many names you'd recognize - Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser, Eddie Murphy and more. He won an Emmy and has appeared in movies like, "Kindergarten Cop."

Opening for him was Longhorn the Commedian, who I really enjoyed too.

The W is bringing in some great acts. Between them, the ongoing Third Thursday art events, the Hutch Hall productions and all the Arts and Humanities Council does, Hutchinson is becoming quite an active arts community. Very cool.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jon Bon Jovi in Wichita

Greg and I went to see Bon Jovi in Wichita Thursday night.

The stage was crescent shaped, and he played to the whole audience, which was great for us because we were sitting behind the stage.

Of course, as I mentioned to Greg, some would argue that gave us a great view of Jon Bon Jovi's best side.

I was not unhappy with the seats.

He was totally into it the whole show - very energetic - definitely giving people their money's worth.

I guess that might depend on how much you paid, but I can't think of anything else he, or the other guys, could have done to give a better show.

He knows his audience. At one point he was talking and said, "Well, I'm going to stop talking. You didn't pay to hear me talk. You paid to hear music and watch me shake my ass."

And shake it he did.

And Richie Sambora played guitar like only he can do.

I was really struck by how they were all very much a "band," instead of Jon Bon Jovi's backup group. Credit all around for that. It's amazing for any group to stay together like they have - largely the same group for more than 25 years.