Friday, December 31, 2010

The End of the Year and the Beginning of the Year

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tribal Like Us

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

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

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

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

It's a conundrum.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Zina and The Mysteries of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 27, 2010


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Perfect Moments

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

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

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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

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

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

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

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Luminarias in Hutchinson

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me and Happy Festivus to You

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Happiness

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yes, Virginia...

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mama's Divinity

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

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

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

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

Mary Lea's Divinity

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, December 17, 2010

How Do You Remember

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, December 16, 2010


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 13, 2010


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

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

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

Much to think about.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cookbooks Find Their Way To Me

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

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

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

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

These pictures remind me of this post.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


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

The Day

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 10, 2010

Quiet and Meditation

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

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

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

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Blogging Class

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

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


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

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

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

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

Always so much to consider.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Back to Normal

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 05, 2010

O Christmas Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreams and Dreamers

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Catching Up with Thanksgiving Photos

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

Greg and Mia


Mia and me right before dinner

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

Some holiday items require some setup.

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

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

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

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

Hutchinson Zoo Holiday Train

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Circling The Wagons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dour Kitties for Vapid People

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the story of Dour Kitty.