Friday, April 30, 2010

A Little Americana in Leavenworth Kansas and the Sampler Festival

I knew you needed a little bit of Americana in your day, so here it is. Can you get much more Americana than Dad with his two sons at an old fashioned soda fountain? No, I don't think so.

This is at The Corner Pharmacy in Leavenworth, Kansas - in business since 1871. Yes, 1871. In this really cool building on, as you might guess from the name, a corner.

There are, needless to say, some wonderful scenes inside.

And they make their own pies. From scratch. Which is really the only way anyone "makes their own pies," but people have odd ideas about this concept sometimes - believing that thawing a pie, or heating a ready-made pie, is the same as making a pie - so I feel the need to say they're from scratch. This coconut cream was a little heavy on the almond extract for my tastes, but I know lots of folks love that taste. (By the way, free cooking tip of the day - many people's "secret" family recipe is to put almond extract in instead of vanilla extract - I'm not a huge fan of either, but less of almond, myself. But I digress...)

There were special guests wandering around downtown this evening. I caught them at the Queen's Pantry Shop.

I'm in Leavenworth for the Kansas Sampler Festival this weekend. You should be, too, if at all possible. Come visit me at the Cosmosphere and Salt Museum booth.

Bring Norman Rockwell's ghost along with you, if you can... he's got work to do in Leavenworth.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chris Brogran at Free State Social

I spent the day at Free State Social in Lawrence, Kansas, listening to people like Chris Brogan talk about social media. It was cool to get to meet other people who are interested in these tools, and hear some of the well known folks in the field share their thoughts.

Chris Brogan started off the day. As you might expect if you read his blog or follow him on Twitter, it was fun and insightful. He made a number of cultural references that only geeks would know. I resisted the urge to give him the "Live Long and Prosper" sign during his speech. I saved it until later.

There are only three folks here from Hutchinson, I think - Jill, Jessica and me. Jill and I oculdn't resist asking Chris to take a photo with us. And, yes, we know it's cheesy, but it's fun. Fortunately, he gets the fun aspect of it.

Once I have time to go over my notes I'll share something more substantive about the day. But you know I can't resist sharing fun with you nearly as soon as it happens so had to post our photo.

Ironically, I didn't post much to Twitter or Facebook today as the conference about using things like Twitter and Facebook was going on. I wanted to focus on my note taking. I was even doing that the old fashioned way - and I don't mean on a laptop instead of an iPad - I was using pen and paper.

Although I'm a huge fan of new media, it's hard to beat the simplicity of pen and paper. Chris Brogan referred to his notes today as his "personal analog device." I like that.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I was treated to this gorgeous sunset this afternoon and reminded once again how much beauty exists in our daily lives that we take for granted. While I was pulled over taking pictures, cars were zipping by me very fast, taking no note of the sunset. I always want to marvel at such beauty.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Amy and Chocolate

This is Amy. Amy is a cook extraordinaire. Today she posted on Facebook her latest experiment in the kitchen - pots de creme.

Just seeing the photo reminded me of my long time desire to be one of Martha Stewart's friends that show up to eat for the television cameras. I'm starting to think Amy is our local equivelant. She needs a cooking show. And I need to be a regular guest showing up to eat the goodies.

Just as I got in the car to come home from work she texted inviting me over for "dessert before dinner." I'm never one to turn down dessert at any time. Conveniently, Amy's house is between my office and my house. Of course, I would have driven to a neighboring town, much less a few blocks.

It was delicious. Incredible. Melt in your mouth yumminess.

Thank you, Amy.

For those of you who are feeling like experimenting, Amy used this recipe.

And... for the record... I'm delighted to come over and provide a taste comparison for you. Just call me. Or text me. Or facebook me. Or email me. Or use smoke signals - whatever works - I'm there for you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lunch With Andrea

This is the lovely Andrea. She invited me over for lunch today. Lunch she was cooking. Real cooking. From scratch cooking. And it was delicious, as you might expect.

On the menu was tomato mushroom soup with grilled cheese, and apples with caramel sauce. She's stirring the caramel sauce - yes, real caramel sauce.

Needless to say, lunch was delicious!

We had much to talk about today. We were both in Pittsburg, Kansas, Thursday night to see Frank Warren of PostSecret. We've both been fans for a long time so it was great to see his live presentation. Of course, other topics were on the agenda, too, but that's one that just keeps coming up.

Andrea is someone who really thinks, so conversation with her is always interesting. It would have been a delightful lunch if we'd just gone to a restaurant, but I felt very honored that she cooked for me.

Andrea lives in this ultra cool loft apartment, complete with kitty. I love kitties so getting to pet Timi was just an added bonus.

Someone providing food, the basic necessity of life, that they have prepared themselves, is an incredibly generous act. It's something we undervalue, that we take for granted, when it's really quite extraordinary. I feel so blessed to have been the recipient of such generousity today. Thank you, Andrea.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Testing Things

I'm testing things on the blog... there may be some downtime in the next week or two... please let me know of anything that looks odd on your end. Thanks!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blog Changes

I'm working to make some changes to the blog behind the scenes. You shouldn't see much difference, but if something is in the middle of being worked on it might be temporarily unavailable for some reason. Also, if something just isn't working for awhile, please let me know. It may mean I've messed up some setting I don't really understand!

I am building in much redundancy so I can fix anything I mess up! Blogger is requiring these changes and I didn't want to wait until the last minute to do it so I'm starting six days before the deadline. Yes, they announced it in February. I'm getting to it now that May 1 is looming.

It shouldn't make any difference to readers in the long run, but they're sure making those of us who availed ourselves of some of their tools jump through hoops.

Thursday night I had a wonderful lecture experience and I have photos to share with you, but I want to make sure everything is functional before doing that post. Hopefully tomorrow! Thanks for letting me know of any weirdness - you can always email me - Thanks!


This is the latest piece I've finished for the Art Show. May 8 will be here before I know it so I'm trying to focus on not just making art, but getting everything ready for sale.

I love this process. This piece includes pieces with paint, dye, calligrapher's ink and pastels. I've used pages from old books, postcards that were going to be recycled, freezer paper, and vintage papers, as well as traditional art papers. Each kind of paper takes the color differently and they all add to the texture of the finished piece.

I love color. I love texture. I love pattern. No wonder I love this process.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Apollo 13 Astronauts

That's Apollo 13 astronauts, Jim Lovell on the left and Fred Haise on the right. Sue sent this photo she snapped of us during the Apollo 13 celebration this past weekend. It's the only photo I have of myself with any of the VIPs from the weekend, and I'm glad to have it.

Free Will?

Do you know what you'll be doing in two minutes from now? Even if you don't, your brain may. Is that cool? Or is that scary?

Researchers in Berlin have learned that the brain subconsciously makes decisions before we are consciously aware of them.

They hooked people up to equipment that shows brain function - particularly decision making areas - and asked them to perform a simple task of pushing a button held in each hand - their choice of button, whenever they felt like it. The scans show the brain already knew which hand/button they were going to push before the subjects themselves knew.

I find this a fascinating look into the way we function. There have been tests before that showed motor skills activity in the brain showed up a second before the activity, but this is the first time it has been illustrated on decision making.

I'm still thinking about what this means. But I know it's interesting.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Days Off

I had the day off today and didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped. I guess that's always the way it goes. It seems I work constantly, and never seem to get "done." I'm not sure what "done" is, but I haven't achieved it.

I did spend a couple of hours in the studio, which was nice. Never enough time for that either.

How do I find more hours in the day?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Saying Thank You

"Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone."
G.B. Stern

I'm trying to remind myself to say "thank you." How many times a day do I let an opportunity slip by? So easy but so meaningful. I will do better.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cosmosphere's 40th Anniversary Celebration for Apollo 13

Saturday was our celebration to honor the Apollo 13 mission. It was 40 years to the day since Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swiggert returned to Earth after an oxygen tank ruptured on their way to the Moon and they had to abort their mission to be the third lunar landing.

The two surviving astronauts, Lovell (left) and Haise, peered inside Odyssesy, the Apollo 13 Command Module housed at the Cosmosphere. It was the first time Haise had seen it since he got out of it in 1970.

Earlier in the day, eight mission controllers from Apollo 13, along with pad leader Guenter Wendt and author Andrew Chaikin, had a panel discussion.

It was one of the highlights of the day as far as I was concerned. One of the really interesting things said was when they were asked if they were wondering if they could get the men home. The answer was, "No, our training didn't allow for that kind of thinking." One of them mentioned that early in his career at NASA he said that he couldn't do something. A co-worker pulled him aside and told him not to say that again, that that kind of attitude was not allowed at NASA.

Saturday kicked off with a rocket launch, where I met this lovely family from Kansas City.

I asked Flight Director, Milt Windler, to pose with them, which he graciously did.

It was an amazing day. I was very busy and didn't get a chance to take many photos. It was incredible just to be in the same room with these gentleman. I felt lucky to be there.

Tired and Sore

Saturday was our big 40th anniversary celebration for Apollo 13. All went well, but I'm sore in places I didn't even know could be sore. I'm hoping to wake up feeling better in the morning. I didn't have a chance to take many photos because I was literally running from one place to another most of the day, but I did get some that I'll share here later.

I woke up at 5:15 this morning. I guess my body thought since I'd been getting up around 5:00 the last few days that that was the new time to wake up. Blissfully it was not necessary today. Thank goodness. It will be awhile before I catch up on sleep.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

10,000 Hours

It takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at anything. This has been proven over and over again - sports, music, whatever - the 10,000 hour figure remains constant.

For some perspective on 10,000 hours, one year, around the clock, 24 hours a day for 365 days is 8,760 hours. So, obviously, you're not likely to become an expert in a year. So, if you want to go for something more reasonable, and become an expert in five years, you'll need to practice more than five hours a day, every day. You don't get weekends or holidays off. If you want to stretch it out for a decade, you'll need to practice about 19 hours a week - essentially a parttime job for ten years.

Obviously, becoming an expert in not easy. I guess that's why there aren't a lot of prodigys and experts in any field.

I've been thinking if there's anything I've spent 10,000 hours on this far into my life. The only thing I can come up with is writing. Working in my favor on that one is that I started keeping a journal when I was very young, so I got a head start.

What have you spent 10,000 hours practicing?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Killing Time

Whenever I hear someone refer to "killing time," I'm shocked. Just recently someone said they liked to "go shopping to kill time" and I was nearly speechless.

Time is a very precious commodity to me so I can't imagine purposefully trying to waste it, or "kill" it. How is it that people have, or at least think they have, so much time they are looking to fritter it away? Maybe I am just jealous that I haven't found those hours in the day, or feel that security, but the idea of "killing time" seems barbaric to me.

I've always had a sense that there are more things I want to do than I'll ever have time to get done in a lifetime - even a long lifetime. So I've always been going and doing to get to as many of them as possible. The idea that you'd have time to spare, time to waste, time to kill, is completely foreign to me.

I'm not sure which of us is sadder - people who take their time on Earth so for granted that they want to "kill" it, or people like me who try to cram so much into their time that nothing gets its full due.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dusting the SR-71 Blackbird

Dustin is stretching to reach a spot on the SR-71 Blackbird as they dusted it this afternoon in preparation for this weekend's Apollo 13 events.

While you might not think about it, it does need to be dusted on occasion. Dante is working on it, too.

When you walk in the door at the Cosmosphere, the Blackbird is hanging overhead. It was America's first "stealth" plane, although its greatest defensive technique was its speed - literally faster than a speeding bullet.

Dante and Dustin were working on the main body and Bill was working on one side.

Bill also worked on the T-38 to get it ready for this weekend.

It's interesting to walk under these every day at work. I was thinking today that it's really nice to be in a job where I can talk about what happens at the office. When I worked in the mental health field I could never say much about my work to anyone for privacy reasons. And I was ultra conscientious about privacy issues.

Now I don't have to edit what I say about work. And cool things happen in my work day - like people dusting blackbirds - so it's fun to share it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Making a Wine Run to Eudora, Kansas

It was a gorgeous day for a drive, and I got to take a long one today. Everything is starting to bloom, and for those of us who are not allergy sufferers, it's lovely.

I drove to Eudora, Kansas, near Kansas City, to Davenport Winery to pick up wine for the Cosmosphere's Apollo 13 event this coming weekend.

The back of the van was full of wine. It's ironic that I don't drink wine, but I volunteered for the wine-run.

This is Greg, from the winery, with some of the vines. These vines are 20 years old and being phased out.

The grapes are picked in August and September, so they're just starting to bud now.

The newer method for growing grapes is to keep them more vertical to cut down on the heat and humidity. Greg says they pick them when they're very ripe and sweet, so they couldn't travel at that point.

All in all it was a lovely day. I enjoyed meeting Greg at the winery and getting the tiniest lesson in wine making. It would be really cool to be there when they actually make the wine.

I was struck today by how many fields had been burned off. This is the season for controlled burns in Kansas. Although I've lived here a long time, I'm still not used to seeing this. It still smells burned, but amazingly enough in a short time it will be green again. The prairie is an interesting thing.

It's becoming rare to see cows grazing in fields, so I always take note when I see it. Today had the added bonus of the blooming trees.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Don't Acquire More Demons

At lunch today Greg and I were talking about anniversaries, brought on by a discussion about the Cosmosphere's Apollo 13 celebration this coming weekend. I'm devoted to marking time, always taking note of the dates of events. Greg rarely does that.

As we were discussing our different approaches, Greg said he thought if you didn't remember a date something negative happened in your life, there was no point in trying to. "Don't acquire more demons," he said.

I was struck by the wisdom of that statement. It's brilliant. Simple, but brilliant. "Don't acquire more demons"

It made me think about how often we all "acquire more demons," and that it's sometimes a conscious decision. I am certainly guilty of this myself, although I note happy occasions as well as sad ones. I'm not sure it's a part of my personality I can change, but I will certainly question if I'm acquiring more demons the next time I mark a date.

After all, who among us needs more demons?

Earlier this week I went to see Karl Casell in Wichita. KMUW brought him to town. I met him years ago at a public radio conference, and he was very funny. Now he's the score keeper on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell me," and adds to the humor on that show.

He told a few stories, and talked a bit about the history of NPR News. I was shocked at the behavior of some in the audience. There were people who were yelling while he was talking. Not heckling, because that would be negative, but chiming in to back up what he was saying. I didn't appreciate the additions.

I had hoped to write a full report about his visit, but there isn't much to say. He didn't talk about much that isn't available on google. I'm always a bit disappointed when I go to the trouble to go see someone and don't get something unique out of the experience.

This past week was very busy at work and with after work activities, so it was unfortuante I didn't feel that was the best use of my time. The same night there was a gentleman speaking in Wichita about the Hubble. That would have been interesting I think but I couldn't be in two places at once.

That is one thing I've not yet mastered. Yet.

Work is very busy as we prepare for the Apollo 13 celebration. Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the day the mission blasted off. The 17th the anniversary of when they returned to Earth after a mid-flight explosion on their way to the Moon.

Of course, just because we're busy getting ready for an event doesn't mean everything else stops. Other things still have to get done. One part of my job I enjoy is creating gift baskets for various auctions and such. This one is going to an Air Force Base and has some goodies from us and the salt museum. Fortunately, we partner on projects, which makes so much sense for all of us.

I have spent most of the day working on my taxes. Don't worry - I won't bore you with the details. I did have a nice long lunch with Rita and dinner with Greg and Sharon. I also found time to do multiple loads of laundry and work in the yard a little bit. Amazing the things I will find to do to avoid working on taxes.

Unfortunately, when I do much physical work I feel it later and that's certainly true tonight. There are still areas that get sore if I am bending very much. Otherwise, I'm feeling great, but I'm obviously still healing in places. No doubt I'll wake up feeling normal in the morning, which is good because I need to complete the taxes and get them on their way. I will be glad to be finished with that.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Plants I Forgot

A week or so ago I planted some seeds. Then I promptly forgot about planting seeds. Today I remembered and checked on them to find the tender green shoots pushing on the plastic cover.

You're supposed to get them under lights the second they poke their little heads up. I'm guessing since these were a few inches tall when I remembered them that it's a little late for that. I put them under lights at noon today. By tonight they were already orienting themselves to stretch for the lights.

How could a person forget they planted seeds? I don't know, and I'm that person. I do know I fear for the long term health of these little plants.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A Night At Home

Tonight was my first night this week to be home and it has been very nice. I've had some alone time, some studio time, some writing time, and some thinking time.

I made this bracelet tonight. It's one of the things I'll have at the Hutchinson Art Show on May 8. I've really been enjoying taking paintings and turning them into jewelry.

Last night at Creative Sisterhood I was wearing a pendant I made recently and it was well received by the others in the group. I'm excited to send them off to new homes where they will be loved.

Breathing the Same Air

I'm thinking tonight of people who have passed through my life for one reason or another. Some were family who are gone, some were friends and loves who were in my world for a while, and some were casual acquaintances who moved on.

I believe everything has a purpose, and there was a reason for all of those interactions. It is no accident we breathed the same air for a time.

The people in my world now are the same - there is a reason. The same for events. Today included some events and some people I don't yet understand. But I can only assume there's a reason and work to learn the lesson so I don't have to walk this path again.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Trees and People and Contradictions

Trees are much like human beings and enjoy each other's company. Only a few love to be alone.
---Jens Jensen, Siftings, 1939

When I took this photo a month or so ago I was struck by how the tree stood alone. This quote seems to fit the scene perfectly.

I've come to realize I need more alone time than most people. Ironically, I really enjoy being with people and most folks would say I have a large circle of acquaintances and friends, and I'm blessed to have fabulous close friends. But I do need a lot of alone time. I need to think, write, create, decompress, contemplate, plan, and just gather my thoughts. For reasons even I don't fully understand, it's hard for me to do any of that with other people around.

We humans are infinitely interesting creatures, full of contradictions.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Ten Ways to Be Happier

It was a beautiful day on the Prairie today. I hung clothes outside for the first time this year.

Watching these hand embroidered pillowcases flap in the breeze gave me a real feeling of happiness. So much was right with that... beautiful handwork on linens, a lovely day that I could enjoy because I was off work, the feeling of accomplishment of a task completed.

Recently my friend, Mark, mentioned he keeps a list nearby I published in the fall of 2004 about ways to be happier. One of my keys to happiness is definitely to find joy in the simple things - like pillowcases flapping in a spring breeze. I'm blessed my mother taught me to be happy.

I went and looked up that piece I'd written about happiness. It's all still true. These tips are based on various happiness research. Dr. Seligman is the most famous of the researchers if you want to read more on your own.

How to be Happier
We are all born with a "set point" of happiness, but we now know that it is also a learned behavior and just because someone isn't born that way, they can be that way if they chose to be. Genetics determines about 50%.

Important in learning to be happy:
1. Meditation
2. Journaling (esp. gratitude)
3. Fake it till you make it. Faking happiness causes the same chemical reactions as BEING happy and eventually will create the happiness. Actions matter - act happy.
4. Surrounding yourself with friends and family is a huge factor in increasing happiness.
5. Having your own sense of self and no interest in keeping up with the Joneses is helpful.
6. Doing activities that put you in the "flow" where you lose sense of time and enjoy it, increases overall happiness. The more of those you have, the better off you are. Doing what you're best at.
7. Must have a capacity to love and be loved.
8. Altruism
9. Spirituality
10. Creativity

Damaging to happiness:
1. not forgiving - huge - the biggest stumbling block - the single biggest determining factor in someone's happiness level
2. materialism

1. Major health problems, such as loss of mobility, have no long term effect on people's general happiness. After about 90-180 days they return to their pre-incident level of daily happiness.
2. People are very bad at predicting what will make them happy. Better to trust human resilence than human prediction.
3. More choices you have the more likely you are to be unhappy. People feel with so many choices, there's no excuse for failure. Choices also make people question every decision.
4. Happiness comes mostly in daily little bits. People get thrills out of finding a quarter or getting an unexpected gift. The emotion actually makes them more generous, friendlier, flexible, creative and better at solving problems. Small bursts of this feeling caused radiologists to make more accurate diagnoses in one study.

It was good for me to be reminded of that piece. And I'm flattered that Mark keeps it nearby and has shared it with friends.

Well, time for me to get some rest. I was up until nearly 6 a.m. this morning, working on things all night long. I slept about four hours and got up and started again. I wanted to make good use of the day off today. I finished reupholstering a stool, and got some other things organized for the art show next month. The one thing I'm not finding much time to do is create, although I did spend a little time in the studio this morning.

I realized today how much I'm going to miss being able to work from home this spring. It was awfully nice to be able to have the washer running during the day and pop out to hang up clothes.

Well, it's half past midnight now and time for me to get some rest before my shortened work week starts. If only I didn't need sleep I could get even more done. But, alas, my body demands some rest. And it's going to be a busy couple of weeks as we prepare for the Apollo 13 anniversary events at the Cosmosphere. Hard to believe that was 40 years ago. Time does go by quickly.

Friends, Bunnies and Art

This is one of my latest creations - a painting made into a necklace. I took the painting and secured it into the finding, then coated it with a concoction I made to glaze over it. I added some vintage ribbon made in England to finish it off. I wore it Saturday and got multiple compliments on it.

Saturday afternoon I had a long lunch with Kristine and we covered many topics. It was great to connect with her. It had been awhile since we'd had the opportunity to talk.

I must have been being good lately, because the Easter Bunny visited me. Actually, does the Easter Bunny leave treats based on your behavior or is that only Santa? I lose track. Lets just say I've been being good anyway, okay? Regardless, I was happy to find The Bunny's goodies and indulge in them.

I had lunch at Sharon's today. She is temporarily hosting this automated bunny Greg recently bought. For reasons I don't fully understand, I let myself be photographed without makeup yet again. I guess the bunny's presence, or the chocolate I had consumed, made me take leave of my senses. That's me next to the bunny, Greg and Sharon.

Sharon had me decorate her tree for Easter while she was fixing a scrumptious lunch. I've never done an Easter Egg Tree, but was able to apply my Christmas decorating skills to this holiday.

I have tomorrow off from the Cosmosphere and I'm so glad to have an extra day to work around the house. I'm spending most of my free time creating these days, preparing for the Hutchinson Art Show on May 8.

I went into the studio as soon as I got up this morning. I couldn't resist a photo of my hand at one point. I'm a bit messy, which is why I needed a studio space when I bought my house.

As you might guess from my hand, my studio gets messy when I work in there. I took this a few days ago. I have since tidied up just a little bit. But, it's a cycle and it's already getting messy again.

One of these days I'll get a real system for drying things, but for the moment these shelves have to suffice.

I'm still working on the same sort of pieces I've been doing for the last few months. I will try to get some more photos soon. I realize I have neglected to share very many photos of the finished products here, but I will try to rectify that.

Well, it's almost 4 a.m. and I should get some rest. I have a very full day tomorrow and will need to get a relatively early start to it. There just never seems to be enough time to sleep. Before I go back to work on Tuesday I want to have my taxes done and a magazine article I committed to finished. I'm also trying to figure out my display items for the art show and doing a little plotting for the novel while I'm working.

Some friends and I are going away for a retreat weekend in May and I think it's going to be a great time for me to refocus my energies. I seem to be scattered in many different directions all the time, but I like to have my fingers in lots of pies.

Oh... gosh... now I want to bake a pie...


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If you've landed here as a result of the Hutchinson Public Library's 2010 project, Welcome! So glad to have you along. You can read anything from the last few years by clicking the archive list of months to the left. Below is a list of a few of my popular posts. Welcome!

This I Believe

Person of rivers


Bits and Pieces of Life

Old Friends


I am No One's Daughter

Poking at old lives

The Last Time

Ramona Retreat

Letters from 1982

Easter Sunday Thoughts


Not Natural to Be Happy

Journal Writing

Dr. Robert Putnam