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.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What are you building?

One of the reasons I seek out things like lectures is because sometimes there's a little something that sparks a question for me, or a new thought.

The other day when I was listening to ethicist Michael Josephson I wrote down the above question. What are you building?

He had told the old story about men cutting bricks from stone. When asked what they're making, one says he's making bricks by cutting the stone. One says he's making a foundation. The last one says he's making a cathedral. The point was it's all a matter of how you see your role in the process. They're all doing the same task, but they see it differently.
I can't say I have a good answer for this question yet, but I think it's a worthy question nonetheless.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Michael Josephson speaks in Hutchinson Kansas about Character Counts

Ethicist Michael Josephson spoke at the Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas on November 9. He founded "Character Counts" in 1993 to teach students and others integrity. More than 7,000,000 students have been involved with the program based on six pillars of character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.

He offered many summations I thought were worthy of note. Some were funny and some more thoughtful. I jotted down some of them to share here.
We are all building our own houses.
If you keep doing what you're doing, you're going to get what you're getting.
I want to be thin... when I'm not hungry.
You don't have to be sick to get better.
When you really believe something you want to share it.
Kids don't care what you know until they know you care.
Everyone has a label that says, "Make me feel important."
Someone who lies for you will lie to you.
First and foremost you're an individual responsible for your own actions.

He spoke about rational decisions and rationalization. He said the rational decision process is that you reason first and come to the conclusion. Rationalization is when we reach the decision then come up with the reasons for it. He said, "Rationalization is an anesthetic to the conscience."

He shared numbers from a  recently released report on values and conduct of American Youth that included 43,000 students.
55% of boys and 33% of girls had been bullied in the past 12 months
53% of students said they have hit someone because they were angry
28% of Seniors had five or more drinks in the past two weeks
26% of Seniors have used illegal drugs at least once in the past month
18% of boys and 12% of girls have had sex with at least four different partners
11% of girls have been forced to have intercourse at least once in her life
14% of girls have been pregnant at least once
64% have cheated on an exam in the last year (67% of athletes)

He said the true test of integrity is, "my willingness to do the right thing even when it costs more than I want to pay."

Some schools in the area participate in the program, and one of them mentioned at the luncheon that they just started the program last year, but a disciplinary standard they're tracking went from more than 300 last year, to 13 so far this year. Josephson says the idea is to make character part of the DNA of a community or school.

At the luncheon, someone asked if this program could work without the parents being involved and Josephson said it certainly did. Sometimes parents are part of the problem, he said, "Parents are a mixed bag," and represent all the behaviors possible. He said sometimes they're, "reprogramming kids from some of the problems."

Someone asked if this was a religion-based program. Of course, it's not, since it's used in public schools. When he was questioned more about religion in schools, he gave a great answer that it was best to keep them separate, because not everyone shared the same faith - he is Jewish for example, and he wanted the program to be able to reach the most people. He went on to say that character and religion were not tied together, saying, "There are people of character who have no religion."

Another question was about what is legal. He said legal is the bare minimum and "ethics is much broader than the law."

He spoke about politics saying "I think most people in politics are much better than their campaigns indicate." He asked an important question, "Why did compromise become such an ugly word? Democracy requires compromise." He said he wants people who can change their minds. That means you can receive new information. He said, "Thinking people disagree."

The Character Counts program is about starting with a notion of core values and a common language. He said we need to institutionalize continuity so regardless of who the mayor or superintendant is the program continues.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Author Friends

Today was a nice day - busy, but not frantic. It seems so many of my days in the last couple of months have been frantic. I don't care for that. At all. I don't mind it on occasion, but it's my choice of a lifestyle.

I had lunch today with Judith, who I'm really enjoying getting to know. Her first book, "As Grandma Says," is coming out in February from Harvest House Publishers. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. You can read more about it on her blog.

We were brainstorming some ideas today for publicizing the book. Every once in awhile my background in public relations and marketing is really useful. Most of the time it's something I, and most of those around me, take for granted. Being a PR person is a pretty thankless job most of the time. When it's working well, it seems like it's just happening by magic. (FYI - it's never just happening. Okay, maybe 1% of the time it's just happening - maybe not even that much. And even then it's because somebody like me layed the groundwork.)

I was happy to help with some ideas. I wish I had time to enact all the ideas I have, but unfortunately that's not the case. But, at least I can help with plans, thoughts and ideas. It was a productive time together.

From what I understand, publicity of books these days is pretty much the author's job. It seems I'm uniquely qualified to work in this arena.

Question Quote

The other day I wrote about questions and how important they are. Last night someone posted the following quote on Twitter.

A single question can be more influential than a thousand statements.
Bo Bennett

Isn't it interesting how that happens? You're thinking about something and then the universe reinforces it.

Tweet at 650 Feet Down

Saturday night something cool is happening in Hutchinson. The first-ever underground Tweetup. A tweetup is just an in-person gathering of people who use twitter.com.

It will be from 5-8 p.m., Saturday, November 13. Tickets are $20. That includes a t-shirt, the gallery and dark ride tours, and refreshments. Reservations can be made, and tickets purchased, online at www.undergroundmuseum.org.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Your Presence

"When you love someone, the best you can offer is your presence."
-Thich Nhat Hahn

This thought, in one way or another, keeps coming up in my life. It can be interpreted in multiple ways, but for the moment I'm choosing to be present for those I love, who love me.

I'm looking forward to being with Greg and his mom this weekend, and to seeing my family over the Christmas holidays. "Love" can be a bit hard to define with some relationships in my life, but those are straightforward. So, that's where I want to be. Fully present.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Messages Arrive about a Lasting Loss

I've been thinking a lot these days about various relationships in my life. This morning I went to a lecture by ethicist Michaal Josephson. He included a poem he wrote called, "What Will Matter."

It's a poem about what will matter once we're no longer alive. He asks, "How will the value of your days be measured?"

It has a few stanzas, but one small part jumped out at me when I read it, and again when he recited it.
"What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone."

How many people have passed through your life that you still think of every day? Other than the obvious family members, there are quite a few for me - some who are dead, and some who are just missing from my world by choice.

I can honestly say I've never ended any relationship of friends, lovers or others without making intense efforts to maintain it. But it becomes ridiculous to continue to put energy into something when its glory days, if there ever were any, are long past.

I've never understood the idea of falling out of love with someone, or just not feeling a fondness for a friend that existed earlier. I don't understand it. I don't think I ever will. If I loved you at one time in my life, I still do. If we were ever friends, I still want to be friends. I feel a loss that you are not in my life.

In many ways, I'm very childlike in that I initially think others experience the world in the same way I do. But, logically I know from observing the actions of others is that this is not true for them. They do not feel the same loss I do at friendships lost or relationships gone. Regardless, sometimes life insists I let go, and make room for new relationships, even though I feel the loss.

So, how many will feel a lasting loss when I am gone? Or when you are gone? I guess that's the billion dollar question.

I know I feel a loss for some people who are absent from my life, but it seems there is nothing to do but accept that. Maybe for me the lesson is to be smarter and not put so much energy into obviously waning relationships. I never want to let go. I always think there's possibility. And I want to continue to build relationship.

Sometimes I feel as though I must be the only person on the planet who holds onto a 40 year old postcard, written by an elderly neighbor lady to a young girl. But, those few lines, no doubt written in haste, capture a moment. There's a wedding - I hope they're still happy; a note that she hopes Johnny is okay - a reference to a young man's health issue that was a tremendous concern; a card from Niagra Falls that reminds me of a trip with people I love that I had no idea would happen when that card was received.

I remember visiting Mrs. Wildharber. Hers was one of the two houses close enough to walk to when I was a kid. It was her husband, Clyde, who drove my mother to the hospital in the middle of a blizzard when she went into labor with me and my parents' vehicle wouldn't start.

She was so very kind to me. At various times she arranged for a state legislator to write me a letter, gifted me with knick knacks I was drawn to, and she talked to me - in person and on a postcard.

Was Mrs. Wildharber someone I was really close to? No. But she was someone who mattered in my life. I wanted to be with her more than Mama allowed. I guess even as a child I was seeking relationships with people, wanting conversation, a different world view.

I still want those things, but they seem harder to find. Thankfully, I have room to carry memories of Mrs. Wildharber and many other important people who've played on the stage of my life. And I do feel the loss, but it seems there's no other option.

Monday, November 08, 2010


I am going through a period of looking inward. I'm contemplating many things, none of which is a cohesive enough thought to share yet. I have a blog post I've been working on for the past few weeks now and then, but it isn't ready yet. It may never be ready.

Suffice it to say that I haven't been able to muster much energy for recording my daily life here as I've been occupied with these thoughts. I realize I've been a fool for some time, and I'm considering how best to rectify that situation. I'm sure it will become obvious.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Quote of the Day

It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.
Eugene Ionesco

A few years ago in Honduras I was introduced to a brilliant Dutch man named Jacob. He was in San Pedro Sula for only a few days, but we were fortunate enough to visit with him just one day when our paths crossed

He told us a story of helping negotiate a treaty with a native group and a government. What I remembered most from his story was how he learned from the leaders of the native group that the questions asked were far more important than the answers. It was in the questions they found wisdom.

That stayed with me and I thought about it many times. A couple of years later, when we connected with Jacob in an Amsterdam coffee shop, again as our paths crossed in a place where none of us lived, he shared more stories. But all had this theme of asking questions.

I started to realize this tall, lanky man had made a life of asking questions - and carefully listening to the answers.

It gives a person reason to pause. And consider. What the questions can reveal, even without answers.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Buz Carpenter and Ribbit the Frog

After the presentation today, SR-71 pilot, Buz Carpenter, told Greg and me this funny story about taking a stuffed frog on a mission. Of course, Ace Jackalope inspired the story.

Buz Carpenter at Cosmosphere Nov. 6, 2010

Buz Carpenter, a former SR-71 pilot, who flew the plane housed at the Cosmosphere, will speak at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, November 6. The presentations are free to the public and he will sign autographs afterwards.

I got an opportunity to have dinner with Buz and Nancy, his wife, tonight. They're delightful and Buz gives a fabulous talk about the SR-71.

See more details and photos at The Lope. Be sure and come out to see him Saturday at 1 or 3. I promise you'll enjoy it, and it's yet another cool thing you can do for free in Hutchinson.

Friday, November 05, 2010


I'm in a pensive mood the last couple of days.

Thinking. Pondering.

Maybe I've been listening to too much Paul Thorn.

Maybe I haven't been listening to enough Paul Thorn.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Demint says Tea Party candidates will end earmarks. Although I'm a liberal, I don't think that's a bad idea. I do think it's a very naive idea. Time will tell how that works out.

It seems no one in politics - of any persuasion - can get done what they say they want to do. I think that's because the system is designed to prevent any one person from doing what they want to do. We just don't seem to understand this.

I no longer get too worked up about politics because I've realized in our current system it doesn't really matter much. I vote in every election, and I always will. But our system is designed to be totally reactive to the whims of the moment at election time, only to have those folks realize the people they backed can't really do what they said they would do because the system prevents it.

People want whatever their immediate concern is addressed. Government isn't designed to address anything quickly. By the time government reacts to whatever the immediate concern is, the immediate concern has changed.

Two years from now people will be ticked off at the people who just got elected and they'll be ousted too. I'm just not going to invest my own energy in this dance, other than to vote or speak out when it's something really major.

Anyone who really wants to effect any kind of change - on either side - needs to hire public relations professionals to change the minds of the people. Then government has to react to that. It's designed to be that way, and it seems to work quite well, but it's not the way to accomplish much in a proactive manner.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Seaons Changing

The seasons are definitely changing. I needed a jacket this morning. Of course, it is November 2. This morning I needed a jacket. This afternoon I picked four ripe tomatoes. That pretty much doubled my garden yield for the year, I'm sorry to say.

I took them over to Bob and Ruth. I didn't have anything on hand worthy of enjoying them with and it was the least I could do considering that they've been taking care of my lawn all year long. I don't know what I ever did to deserve them as neighbors, but I'm thankful. They're great.

Yesterday at the 140 Character Conference I completed the last big project I had hanging over me for a couple of weeks. I have a few days now to just focus on the tasks at hand, but nothing is critical. So, it's time to put out some feelers for other freelance jobs, and tidy up a few little things that are hanging out there undone, and get myself organized.

This coming weekend we have an event at the Cosmosphere so I'll be working. Buz Carpenter, who flew the SR-71 Blackbird that's in our lobby, will be here to speak. He was here last year and was very popular so he's coming back again. Should be good. He and his wife are really pleasant people. It will be good to see them again. He's speaking at 1 and 3 on Saturday, for free, and signing autographs afterwards, so I expect we'll have good crowds.

I'm really having the urge to work on the novel again, but that's not writing that will pay me right away, so I'm just churning thoughts away in my brain. When I do get a chance to write maybe the remaining bits will just pour out of me with little effort. Wouldn't that be great?

I spent part of the morning with a gentleman I met at the conference yesterday, giving him a tour. I do love showing off the musuem. I'm very excited the 140conf is coming back to Hutchinson next year. Quite amazing. We have work to do before then.

This afternoon I had to take some materials to Wichita to the school system. It was a beautiful afternoon and kind of nice to let my brain be in neutral while I drove. Usually I have a long list of things to accomplish when I go over so it was nice to have a simpler agenda.

A few projects I've wanted to happen for 3-4 years seem like they may come to fruition soon. That would be wonderful. I can only hope it works out.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Twitter is Today's Civic Club - #140conf Speech in Hutchinson Kansas.

Today was the 140conf in Hutchinson, Kansas. It's the first ever smalltown one, and they're making plans to return next year - tentatively on Sept. 20, so make your plans now.

I was thrilled to be invited to speak, and despite last minute editing and rewriting of my speech it went well, I think.

We each had 10 minutes, so I knew I needed a script. Generally when I speak I just use bullet points, but if you ramble when you have 30 minutes it's no big deal - there's plenty of time to get back on track. If you ramble in 10 minutes, it's bad. So, I wrote a script. And stuck to it.

I thought I'd share it with you here....

In May of 2001, I sat in Kentucky with my best friends on either side of
me. Their arms were draped over my shoulders, literally and figuratively holding me together, through my mother’s funeral. If I’d had any doubt about the importance of friends, it would have been quelled that Mother’s Day.

Humans are instinctively drawn to form bonds. Building connection made sense as a way to share the chores of hunting and gathering, and it still makes sense regardless of where we are on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

When we connect with people amazing things happen in our bodies. Our stress levels plummet, we are less likely to be depressed and we can even fight infection more effectively. Connection is a magical thing – for our physical and mental health.

Developing friendship requires two things:
1. an opportunity to meet and
2. a willingness to engage.

Opportunities often arrive through a connection – we go to the same school, live in the same neighborhood, work at the same company, believe the same things, or know the same people.

Throughout our history, we have created these opportunities. After the industrial revolution took people from rural areas to more urban ones, they created civic clubs as a way to connect. All of the major ones were formed within a few years during that time period.

They gave people an opportunity to organize around a cause, and to have a chance to interact with people they might not otherwise have met. Within that structure some meaningful friendships were formed. Not psuedo friendships that didn’t exist outside of the club, but real friendships.

Real friendships are never formed over Roberts Rules of Order, just like they’re not made because you happen to work down the hall, go to the same church, or both tweet about marketing. They’re created through repeated interactions that deal with life. And not all of life is about major events, much of it is about the daily bits - Those seemingly insignificant occurrences of day to day living are what end up creating a lifetime.

Membership in civic clubs has steadily declined since the mid 1960s. We haven’t lost the interest in bonding, but that model isn’t serving our lives well anymore. One of the new ways we’ve found to meet and connect is through social media. We don’t have to live on the same street now to have a chance to meet each other, we can search out those with similar interests and even eavesdrop on their recent conversations to see if our initial instincts about them were right. Wouldn’t that be convenient in real life, too?

We share the happenings in our daily world with hundreds of people at a time through status updates. We connect with a whole twitterverse of people and our relationships get the Facebook Official stamp of approval.

Social media allows the conversation to continue even if geography prevents a face to face interaction. It helps us stay connected to people we have a history with and to develop new potential friendships.

But, there’s a second part of friendship, beyond the opportunity to meet - the willingness to engage.

Unless both parties are willing to engage in meaningful interaction, the relationship never goes beyond the “hi, how are you?” or the “oh, you should read this” stage. Just like people who met every Thursday at noon for a civic club, friendships only deepen if we go beyond the superficial. The same skill set is required online or off. Friendships require constant care and feedingThey demand that we put forth effort to connect, engage and repeat. And some risk is involved.

And we still seek that face to face interaction. We have tweetups and social media clubs and 140confs. When we do meet, our interaction online allows our real life conversation to start in a different place. Part of the reason we are driven to meet in person is that it’s easier to engage that way, no emoticons necessary. How many times have we read or written, “things don’t always come across the right way online.”

The friendships that support you at your mother’s funeral don’t come from casual conversation about a shared interest or because you work down the hall from each other. But they may start that way. They grow through repeated, meaningful interaction.

Every friendship starts somewhere - maybe at a club meeting or maybe through a tweet. That’s the opportunity to connect. The challenge is to have the willingness to engage.