Monday, January 31, 2011

Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet at Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas

Jeff Corwin spoke at the Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College on Monday, January 31, 2011. Born in Massachusetts, the 43 year old Corwin, is most famous for his television work with Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, MSNBC and CNN. He has also addressed the United Nations and worked in the tropical rain forests of Belize. He has been on expeditions to six of the seven continents. Only Antarctica remains. He lectures on wildlife, ecology and conservation to audiences throughout the United States.

At this lecture he provided some startling statistics. At the current trend, within 20 years, one out of five species will be lost. Every 20 minutes, something disappears.

He said, "The biggest problem we face is that we are not connected to nature." With 392 National Parks, twice that many National Refuges, and four times that many State Parks each of us co-owns about four acres of land, and "we never see it."

He spoke about the moment he became a naturalist. He grew up in the city but said, "nature was my sanctuary. I hungered for the time we'd go to my grandparent's home." It was there, at age six, when he first saw a snake on the log pile. He said, "I thought I had discovered something new." He caught the snake, and it bit him. He ran into the house where the adults said, "Get rid of it." He replied, "No, I love it." He said, "That was the moment I became a naturalist."

He said, "In my heart I'm a naturalist - someone excited by nature, who wants to share the natural world. That moment was the lightning bolt." He wondered aloud what would have been different if it had been something other than a snake. But, because it was he says, "I love snakes. I have always loved snakes."

For the next two years he observed the snake, taking photos and sketching it. He witnessed shedding, defense, predation and reproduction. "The day I became a conservationist was the last day I saw that snake," he said.

He was watching the snake, sketching it and in a moment everything changed. The snake was biting at something that wasn't there with the front third of its body. He widened his view and saw that a neighbor had killed the snake with a shovel. He said he realized, "Good people make bad decisions because they lack information. That was the moment I became a conservationist."

But he said it's elephants, not snakes, that have been the most present during his career. He told three different elephant stories that illustrated how elephants "live in long-term, multi-generational units."

He spoke about spending the night sleeping with a three month old orphan elephant in Africa - a technique they discovered raised the survival rate to 95%. He said he viewed it as the "ultimate slumber party experience." At one point in the night he realized the elephant was having a nightmare. Although he wasn't yet a father, he found a soothing touch calmed the elephant and as the elephant was going back to sleep, its trunk was twisting his hair into a lock.

Elephant's trunks are articulated by 40,000 muscles. They are so strong they can knock down a tree, but also able to pick up something five times smaller than a grain of rice.

Ten years later, when his first daughter was an infant, and he was left alone with her, he was comforting her as he had the elephant a decade earlier. He started to rock her and as she started to go back to sleep she began to twist his hair into a lock.

He said, "Something fundamental changed in me as a conservationist in that moment.  I had been a conservationist for the animals. I became a conservationist for the children." Every twenty minutes something disappears from the Earth. He said he wants it to be possible for "every generation to have access to a biologically rich planet."

He spoke about frogs as being in particular danger. He said frogs are a keystone species that has survived five extinctions and been on the planet for 350,000,000 years. He said we will lose half of them in the next 7-12 years. There are 12,000 species of frogs. He says, "Frogs are the ultimate canaries in the coal mine. They are nature's barometer to tell us something is wrong."

A fungus is the main reason frogs are dying. The concern is not only for the species, but humans use frogs for medications for many things including Parkinson's, cancer and AIDS.

He showed video of a particular frog that turned out to be the last known male of that species. The females need a male to help them push the eggs out. The pregnant females were dying without giving birth. But from that one male frog there are now 5000 tadpoles that may well save the species.

Bats are also being affected by another fungus. The common brown bat, which we have in Kansas, was once the most abundant mammal species on the planet. It will be extinct in a short time on the current track we're on.

One bat eats 1,400 mosquitoes a night. One colony consumes 450 tons of mosquitoes a year.

He spoke about a particular cave in Vermont he visited in 2008 that had 365,000 bats. Two years later they found only two dozen bats there and a carpet of bat bones.

But, he said, "it's not too late." He used the example of the bald eagle. In 1970 there was one pair of bald eagles in the entire state of New York. There were 450 pair in the entire lower 48, and it was rare to see one. Now there are 10,000 pair. Ironically, just yesterday, Greg and I had gone outside of town to see one that is here.

"Who are we to decide what the next generation gets for resources. We have a duty to protect them so our children will have a beautiful world to inherit."

He said the prairie is one of the habitats most in peril, and that prairie dogs are another keystone species. He elaborated at the luncheon, saying that the prairie looks very simple but is surprisingly complex, much of that underground. He said, "Iconic species used to roam these lands. Prairie habitat is very endangered. There's something magical about a prairie."

At the luncheon he spoke about the Deep Water Horizon oil spill and pointed out our technology to harvest oil is at a Star Trek level, but our ability to manage a spill is at a Wright Brothers level. He said, "We made so many small errors that it added up to the worst hornets nest you ever ran over with a lawn mower."

He said he rarely gets to talk about the spill the way he would like, and that we don't fully comprehend how damaging it was to the marshes because there's no way to clean the oil from them. He said we are losing the equivalent of one football field of wetland every 45 minutes in that area.

In the lecture he said the spill, "Reminded us all how fragile our planet is." He covered it for four months and said it, "dramatically and radically changed my view of the world."

He said of all the species, that conservatively we've identified about 10% of them, and only 1% have been scientifically explored. He said a significant amount of things we discover are small, but not all. A new species of buffalo has been found in Vietnam. Madagascar has found 11 new species of lemurs in the last three years.

He said, "99.99% of anything that has lived on our planet is gone. A formula of life comes about and stays until something happens." He said that doesn't compare to what we're doing because we're not allowing them to follow their own natural path. "We pay a price when we lose this life," he said.

Ice worms may hold the secret to long life for humans. Although we're very different, their genome is similar to ours and the telemeters adjustments scientists have made to them have extended their lives from two weeks to two months.

On a lighter note, I was watching to see if Corwin ate the chicken salad sandwich prepared for us. In passing he commented that people were often surprised he was a deer hunter, but he viewed using a renewable resource for food as okay. He said he doesn't eat protein from a super market. He wants to know the quality of the animal's life experience, what it ate and how it lived. He said, "I do believe nature is beautiful, but we are also part of it."

Life Lessons

One of the thoughts with reincarnation is that you have lessons to learn in each lifetime. Of course, this concept exists outside of the belief in reincarnation, too.  This morning I was thinking about this and realized it was a good exercise to consider what one has learned in a lifetime, regardless of if you believe in reincarnation or not. 
What have you learned in this lifetime? What are you better at now than you were when you were a teenager? What parts of your personality are different? How have you changed on this life path?It's logical to assume that things we're "better" at are things we've learned in this lifetime. It seems worthy to make note of those.

I'm definitely more gracious than I used to be. I have the capacity to be quite unpleasant. I apologize if you were ever in the path of that. I'm kinder now.

I used to be somewhat "dismissive" of people who had problems I thought were of their own making. Now I've learned that our "own making" is pretty nebulous - either for the obvious reasons or more obscure ones like we just don't have the skills or opportunities to make different decisions. The idea of "pulling ourselves up by our boot straps" or  "making good decisions" or "working hard" or whatever other euphemism we use to congratulate ourselves is all an illusion. Those of us who have lives that are going pretty smoothly should be thankful for that, and realize the phrase, "But by the Grace of God, there go I," is true wisdom.

I'll be thinking more about this in the coming weeks. I'm sure I've learned other lessons in this lifetime. There's a related train of thought that we come into the world with some knowledge gained in our previous lives.

Unfounded fears are said to point to causes of deaths in previous lives. And things we seem to "just know" may be lessons learned in previous lives. Regardless of the belief system involved, I think it's worthwhile to consider all of these things.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Newspaper Rack Art

I went to Gallery 7 today to work on painting the newspaper rack I agreed to turn into a work of art before the next Third Thursday. I've had multiple ideas, but what I decided on was to do stars. Unfortunately, what I realized today is that I'm not going to have enough time to do what I wanted to do. 

I couldn't bring this home to my studio, which is upstairs, so I'm working at the gallery, which is a cool space to be in. But the only time it's open when I'm not at work is 10-3 on Saturdays, so I've been counting the Saturdays . Last Saturday I couldn't work so that left me with three Saturdays. But, one of those I have to work at the Cosmosphere, so that means only two Saturdays for me - including today. Yikes!

I managed to get it all painted, which was great. But with only five more hours to work on it before the deadline, I have to adjust my plans. So, I'll do something else cool.

I may have to have implied stars. It's very galaxy looking at the moment and I like that. I just wanted it to be better. But, we can only do what we can do. And I can't manufacture more hours in the days. Thank goodness we were able to work on Third Thursday - I would have really been in trouble finding time to get it done.

At one point today I realized I had stuff spread out in every direction around it.  I've never worked in an open space like this and I'm not sure I'm well suited to it. I tidied everything up before I left but I can make a mess.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Adrienne Beasley on American Idol

I have seen a little bit of American Idol this year, but not much. Overall, I'm loving Steven Tyler.

I missed it, but last night one of the contestants was Adrienne Beasley - the daughter of my high school algebra teacher. And she was fabulous - Steven Tyler said so - and I heard it on youtube today.

I don't know Adrienne, and haven't seen her dad since I graduated school many years ago, but it was really neat to hear her say she was from Wickliffe, Kentucky - the county seat of the place where I grew up. They did a profile on her, showing scenes of the farm and interviewing her parents. They adopted her when she was two - she's 22 now. She was moved talking about all they've done for her. A great story.

I'll be rooting for her. Very cool. She made western Kentucky proud! Even for those of us who haven't lived in Western Kentucky for a very long time.

And what Freddie Simmons doesn't know, but I should probably write him a note and tell him, is that I still use algebra. Whenever I have to figure out anything mathematical I put it in an algebraic form. Music and math do go together.

Congratulations, Adrienne!

A Love Affair With Words

I've had a long term love affair with words. Before I could write them, I liked to listen to them. Conversation wafting through the open window of my bedroom lulled me to sleep many nights when I was a child.

Even after I could write words I still liked to listen to them. Still, nothing is more enticing then a real conversation with someone.

I've always made my living with words. I've earned my keep by speaking them on the radio and writing them on the page. When I wasn't saying or writing the words, I was listening to other people using them.

Along the way I've collected words from dictionaries, books, and conversations. One of the reasons I love the written word so much is that it can be enjoyed over and over again.

I don't see this love affair ever ending. It seems detined to continue to grow.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Had lunch today in Wichita with some fun women. Gigi, seated on the right, organized the gathering. I met her at the 140conf.

This is a great example of how online opportunities impact our IRL (in real life) worlds. Seated next to Gigi is Naomi, who I met at a blogger's conference in 2009. Behind Gigi and next to me is Lori - she and I were on the same Artist's Way list many years ago. I mean a lot of years ago - maybe 10 - maybe more - it was a yahoo group, if that gives you any idea - and they were popular then. The woman on the other side of me is Jennifer, who was at the 140conf, but who I just got to meet today for the first time, although I do follow her on Twitter. Meredith is a friend of Lori's and was the only person there today that I didn't have an online connection to - but hopefully will soon!

A few years ago I told my friend, Mark, that my online life facilitated my real life. That was before I was using Twitter and Facebook like I do now. But even then it was a way to connect with people and maintain a friendship to some degree. Now these tools enable us to extend our circles easily.

At Creative Sisterhood recently we were talking about how connecting people is a drive for me, and because of that I always want new people coming into my world. I love to connect people who share an interest or something. These tools make that even easier, which I love.

Plus, it's great to have a fun lunch breaking up a work day in Wichita!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Neptune and Its Life Lessons

Corey S. Powell, the editor of Discover magazine, wrote recently about having to write a report on Neptune when he was a kid. He wasn't excited about being assigned Neptune, a much less interesting planet than the more vibrant Saturn and its fancy rings.

But young Corey was a good student and dutifully began his research into this planet hovering on the outskirts of our solar system. And once he did, he found Neptune was not the ugly step-sister after all, but had its own charms.

With a flash of understanding Powell realized that if he'd thought Neptune were dull and had discovered otherwise, the other planets might have secrets to be revealed too. It was a moment he could pinpoint in which his perspective changed.

When I read this I thought how perfectly it sums my approach to the world. It's incredibly rare for me to be bored. I can generally find something interesting about almost any topic. When I hear someone talk about their passion - even if its not a passion I share - it's almost always interesting. I love to pick up a little tidbit here or there.

One of my favorite areas in the library is the new books section. It's a mini-library and I can browse a wide variety of topics in just a few shelves - peeking into one world or another very easily.

Somewhere along the way I discovered what young Corey did - that even though it may not be obvious at first blush, almost everything has some secrets to delight. They're just waiting to be discovered.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pike's Peak Update

A few days ago I wrote on Facebook about wanting to attend the Pike's Peak Writer's Conference in Colorado Springs. I jokingly asked if someone wanted to underwrite my trip. My friend, Kate, jumped in encouraging people to contribute to sending me. A few folks have asked for an update of how it's going. Money has arrived every day since Kate's note, and I'm thinking it's going to happen, which excites me a great deal. Not there yet, but it's moving in the right direction.

The Pike's Peak Writer's Conference is one of the top ten writer's conferences in the nation, and in Colorado Springs, which isn't a huge distance from me. I've wanted to go for years, but it has never worked out. When I worked in radio it always conflicted with a fundraiser when I could never be gone. In my next job it always conflicted with a big event. Since I've been in this job I've been focused on paying off medical bills and just could not justify the expense.

I've only been to one writer's conference - The Tallgrass - and it has been amazing. I've been three times now. It's inspiring to be around other writers, and very educational to be with professionals who are making their livings writing. I have blogged about the Tallgrass Writing Workshop each time I've gone . Here's the one from the first year I went in 2008. Fortunately, it's very reasonably priced and close by.

Although I write every day here, as well as do other writing daily, I'm still learning about fiction writing. I've completed one book, and another one is 85% done. The first one is not very good. The one I'm working on now is much, much better - it's this one I've focused my energies on in the last few years. I have been stalled for awhile - due to a variety of things. But as I got materials on the Pike's Peak Conference this year, it seemed like just the thing to push me over the finish line on this book. All of that was in the back of my mind when I put that flippant note on Facebook the other day.

But my friend, Kate, saw the post and asked how much it would take. I responded about $1,000 and she jumped in saying if everyone chipped in it would work. Kate, in case you're wondering, works for a foundation. It seems fund raising is a good job for her to be in.

Well, in no time at all a few contributions had arrived, and a few more were promised, including one from Kate's mom - who I've never even met - who added a benefit by decorating her envelope with the above message. I'm so touched by people's willingness to participate in my dreams. Thank you, everyone.

If you want to invest in this project with a dollar or two, that's fabulous. If all you can afford right now are good wishes, that's great, too. 

The mailing address is:
Patsy Terrell
906 E Ave A
Hutchinson KS 67501

paypal is - the button below will take you there

I'm humbled by the generosity of folks - friends I know and friends I haven't yet met. Thank you, everyone.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Catching Up

The last few days were a whirlwind of various activity...

Thursday night I worked on the newspaper rack I'm turning into art. It was Third Thursday downtown so the gallery was open and I could paint. These are just too heavy for me to bring home to my upstairs studio so I have to work on it there.

Friday night I went directly to the Fairgrounds after work to the Mission of Mercy free dental clinic for a job. I wrote about that the other day so you have the details on that. But it was an interesting experience and I'm glad I got to do that. I updated the blog post with the totals from the two days - they were astonishing.

Saturday morning I taught a Social Networking for Business seminar at the library. 

That afternoon I started working on the material from the night before. Then went to Wichita to visit with friends who traveled there for the weekend. It was wonderful to see everyone.

People continue to contribute to the "Send Patsy to the Pike's Peak Writer's Conference" fund. I'm incredibly touched to have heard from multiple blog readers I didn't even know were out there. It's also really cool to hear from friends. Thank you to everyone who has jumped in. I am humbled by your willingness and by the kind things you've shared with me in your notes and emails.

I would never have started anything like that, but Kate just jumped right in. Very sweet. 

Well... I think that's the short version of the last few days. I realized from Thursday evening to Saturday at noon I worked in some art, some writing, and some social networking training. Now, if I could just figure out how to work in some sleep!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Blogger keeps logging me out everytime I try to post anything here. All is well with me. Hopefully blogger will be better tomorrow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mission Of Mercy

Tonight I went directly to the fairgrounds after work to interview some people who were waiting in line at the Mission of Mercy. They were lining up for free dental care.

The Mission of Mercy has been held in different places around the state. This is the first time it has been in Hutchinson. It's quite amazing. And very humbling.

I heard some incredible stories from people who can't afford care for one reason or another. The first woman in line got there at 7 a.m. this morning, hoping to get care today, but they were already full.

They take 1000 patients each day, and they had those 1000 before she arrived this morning. She was in tremendous pain, with four shattered teeth from falling on the ice a couple of days ago. She is disabled and lives on about $700 a month.

It was cold today and people were outdoors until 8:15 p.m. when they let people into a building instead of having to be out in the cold all night. But, there was no food for people as they waited.

There were young families on up through older people. I didn't see any truly elderly folks there - I think they just couldn't handle the cold.

Obviously, there's tremendous need. Almost everyone I talked to was working, most of them insured, and they still couldn't afford care.


  • The Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation, who was at the event, logs what procedures were done and each one is given a set cost that is the average charged by dentists across the state. Following are the totals.
    Overall, they treated a total of 1638 patients for a record $1,248,344.90 in free dental care. This included 4389 extactions. These are the total for the whole 2 day event.
    On the first day alone the totals were 902 people treated, and the value of services was $744,252.70.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quote of the Day

Anger is the energy that people use in order to act. But when you are angry, you are not lucid, and you might do wrong things. - Thich Nhat Hahn

The Universe Provides

You know that idea that you need to put what you want out into the universe and the universe responds. Well, I'm watching it happen before my own eyes...

This afternoon I put a status update on Facebook saying:
"I'd like to attend the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference. Anyone feeling inspired to be my benefactor? It never hurts to ask, I suppose..."

It was a somewhat typical Facebook post for me - what I was thinking about and somewhat flippant - and I went on to other projects, not giving it much thought.

Last night I was figuring out how much it would cost to go to this conference, always listed as one of the top ten in the nation. I've wanted to go for years. At lunch I was talking about it and thinking about it, but that was as far as it went.

About an hour after I posted, my friend, Kate, asked how much it would cost. Having just figured it up, I knew it would be about $1,000 for registration, hotel and travel. Kate, who works for a foundation, said she thought people would chip in to send me. Within a few minutes her mom and another friend had offered and $50 was on the table. A couple of hours later another friend chimed in.

I deferred to Kate's judgement and she created a note explaining the situation, giving people my paypal and address, and telling people how to contribute to the cause of sending me to the Pike's Peak Writer's Conference.

Here's what it says:

Help Patsy get to the Pike's Peak Writer's Conference

by Kate Van Cantfort on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:30pm.

So earlier this evening my friend Patsy posted a little status wishing she could one day attend the Pike's Peak Writer's Conference. On a whim I chimed in wondering what it would take for her friends to chip in and help her get there. I was willing to give her the $5 in my pocket. Before Patsy could respond a couple of friends jumped in and we had $50 raised before she knew it.

So, it will take $1000 to get Patsy to this writer's conference. That's $10 apiece for 100 people - a little less like my $5 will take a few more people and a little more like the $20 from Mary and from my mom and it will take a few less folks.

My mom doesn't even know Patsy but she had a great status post about how Mom thinks writing is an art we are losing and thinks it's important to support writers. Way to go, Mom!

So take a few minutes, drop a little contribution to Patsy and let's see if we can get this done in the next few days. I will work with Patsy to post updates everyday.

If you want to send a check, here's the pertinent info:
Patsy Terrell
906 E Ave A
Hutchinson KS 67501-3007

or paypal is


This is going to be interesting. And I'm further convinced I have the best, innovative friends! If you have a dollar or two to spare, that's great. If you don't, your good wishes are more than enough!

1/20/2011 @ 1:47 p.m.
$65.53 in paypal from five people - no time yet for checks to have arrived since we're not 24 hours in yet --- THANKS... off to a good start!

1/21/2011 @ 10:19 p.m.
$95.53 total now - from a couple of people - one pay pal and one check... Thanks!

1/24/2011 @11:13 p.m.
$145.53 total now

1/25/2011 @10:34 p.m.
$205.53 total now

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I'm in an organizing mood lately - at home and at work. I'm certain it will dissipate, just like all the previous organizing moods have, before I get things organized.

Whenever I'm in an organizing mood I eventually stop because I reach the same conclusion every time - I don't have enough room to organize my things. I can hear those of you who are organized folks getting ready to hit those keys to tell me to throw things away.

Yes, I have not used my large stock pot to make soup in the past year. However, I don't want to have to go buy another one when I do want to use it. I don't understand that at all. It seems ridiculous to me - wasteful of money, resources, etc.

I know the one year rule. I just don't agree with it. In fact, I think it's insane to keep discarding things and then repurchasing them because of some arbitrary flip of the calendar.

So, here I sit with too much stuff in too little space. I wish I had a solution, but I don't. Other than I need a bigger house.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Word at This Juncture is Reverence

"Reverence" is the word for the day.

It is Martin Luther King Jr. day and I'm sure you've read all the eloquent quotes by him you need to see today. He did have a way with words.

He was not a perfect man - just a man. But he was a man who rose to the challenge of his time, changed our minds, and inspired our souls.

The world is a better place because he lived. For that I hold him in reverence.


Quote of the Day

At the heart of racism is the religious assertion that God made a creative mistake when He brought some people into being.
                            ---Friedrich Otto Hertz

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pictures and 1000 Words and All of That

This weekend I was working on some things in my home office and noticed this. I think it sums up one of the things I'm most dissatisfied with in my life. The question is what to do about it. That I still haven't worked out yet. But, obviously, I must do something.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Newspaper Racks Become Artwork

They may look like innocent newspaper boxes, but soon they'll be pieces of art. Local artists have been invited by Gallery 7 to paint them. They'll then go back on the street. So, you'll be able to buy your Hutchinson News from something a bit more interesting.

I'm lucky to live in a town where cool things like this are happening. And doubly lucky that I've been invited to paint one.

I'm still mulling over ideas. I have many rattling around in my brain, but only one box. I'm leaning toward something with stars. You know I love stars.

When I look at these, they scream to be robots. But, I'll probably go with something involving stars. Maybe someone else will make a robot. Or maybe I'll make a robot with stars. I guess there's another option there. I have about a dozen workable ideas - not sure what it will end up being.

Needless to say, you'll be subjected to photographs along the way.

These are too heavy for me to move to my studio, which is upstairs. So, I'll be working at the gallery. I went down today and cleaned mine and prepped it by sanding. Hopefully next Saturday I'll get to start painting.

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's Here

My replacement EVO arrived today. It was here when I got home and I'll be so glad to be back in the smart-phone world tomorrow once the battery has been fully charged. I am going to do my best to not destroy this one.

I guess, technically, the old phone I've been using is a smart phone, but with all it's difficulties it hasn't seemed very "smart." The "w" not working has been particularly difficult - what with living near "Wichita" and all. Most of the buttons only respond periodically, which is another challenge. But I've been thankful to have it nonetheless.

However, first on my agenda tomorrow is to get the new phone activated. Although I'm supposed to be able to do it online that process does not work. I'm sure the folks at the store will make it go. And I will love them for it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Note to Self - Evolution and Revolution

Recently I picked up an "idea" notebook. I have a ton of these things. There's always one with me when I'm driving, always at any desk, almost always in my purse. When I'm listening to a podcast or reading or just thinking and something occurs to me I jot it down in case I want to revisit that thought.

Truth be told, I rarely even read them, much less do anything more with them. But, once I write down the thought I know it's there if I want to go back to it. For some reason that's comforting to me.

Yesterday I ran across this one that seems quite profound, and I do remember revisiting some of this thought, but I have never done anything more with it.

It's dated, as most things are, and then some writing on the page. From the look of the handwriting I'm guessing I was in a car - it's pretty messy - or I could have just been writing really fast.

"August 5, 2009
I believe in evolution - I believe in revolution. Rarely is revolution sought - it simply arrives. Unannounced. Unbidden."

I faintly remember writing this. I don't recall the train of thought, but I'm glad I made this note. It's an interesting little peek into my brain. Yes, it's still surprising for me sometimes, too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Franklin Flyer Ramblings

I just finished a book called, "Franklin Flyer," which I recommend. The title refers to the name of the main person in the book and he is a fascinating character. A couple of times there were things attributed to him that made me stop and think.

One of them was a reference to a person who had not followed through on a promise. The Franklin Flyer character says by way of explanation that it was because this man, "thought that by keeping people in his mind ... he was actually keeping them in his life."

I've witnessed this phenomenon before. It seems Facebook is perfectly designed to encourage it, too. Sometimes when I say that I need interaction with people, I can tell it's a foreign concept to people. I think maybe the writer, Nicholas Christopher, has pinpointed the reason.

Whereas I want interaction, some feel "connected" by the mere fact that they know my name and a few facts about me and we were at one time connected. That is enough. They feel as though I'm still in their lives.

It does give reason to consider what we added to a person's life if they are content without it being an ongoing presence, but this is a fascinating way to think about it. It's not good or bad, it just is.

In another passage, he writes, "... he had no choice but to look inward." Although it's almost an aside in the book, it jumped out at me. I think looking inward is something some of us do only when we have no choice. I wonder why that is. What are we afraid we are going to find there that keeps us from looking. Or is it that we think there's nothing to be learned by doing so?

At another moment in the book, a character's mother dies, and he cuts school and takes the bus to various places in the area. Christopher writes, "He felt that if he allowed the rhythms of his daily life to flow unimpeded, it would finalize the fact of his mothers' death; if he broke them he could put that moment off. Later, he would understand that wandering was also his way of mourning."

Wandering is a concept that continues to emerge in my life - either by the drive to do it, or references to it like this. For this character, wandering was mourning. For others I think it's a way to prevent mourning.

I made it a point on the first anniversary of my mother's death to be in Paris, half a world away. Part of me wanted to be with those who had been at my side during that time. Another part of me wanted to be somewhere very different. The latter won out. I wasn't sure I could face being in my "normal" surroundings because nothing seemed normal yet.

Although I was travelling with a friend, I spent that day alone, except for the interaction of strangers I had never seen before and will never see again. But I was not wandering, I had a mission. I went to Notre Dame and sat there at the exact moment of her death a year earlier, and sobbed. Strangers offered assistance, but it felt more of an intrusion than a comfort. I grieved more in an hour than I had in the previous few months.

I returned to the hotel room my friend and I were sharing and didn't want to talk with him, either. The night before had been fueled with too much wine and too many demons. While I was mourning this tremendous loss of my mother I knew on some level that I was mourning a loss between us, too. Timing is everything in life, and ours was not good those 24 hours.

But we kept each other in our minds and pretended we were in each other's lives. There's always that possibility as long as someone is on your mind, regardless of how remote it is. We looked inward when we couldn't avoid it, we wandered and we mourned.

Now he is gone and I've mourned him too, but without wandering. One day soon, I will wander again - and grieve many things that are waiting their turns.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Congratulations to Judge Trish Rose

My dear friend, Trish Rose, was sworn in today as District Judge. Her swearing in was at noon and she heard her first case at 1:30.

She was sworn in by Patty Macke Dick, a long-time friend and chief judge. It was a historic moment - first time a woman has sworn in a woman judge here.

I couldn't resist a photo of Trish sitting in her chair right after swearing in - officially a judge. She filled in a week or two ago, and of course went up the night she won, but this was her first time sitting there after being official. Her husband, Jim, was there of course - he has been a real jewel in supporting Trish in her campaigns.

This is Trish's courtroom. Isn't it beautiful? Our courthouse was built in 1930 and is an art deco marvel. 

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Quote of the Day

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who are alive.
– Howard Thurman

I'm in a pensive mood these days. Perhaps it's the beginning of the new year and all the freshness that brings. Regardless, it's good to contemplate the stream of life and our place in it. Hopefully, we conclude we're more than just a place-holder.

One of the things I'm certain of is that this year I must find a way to have more balance in my life. Last year was devoted to working and making money. While I still need to make money, I must invest in myself more.

I must find a way to do things that restore me. By the end of last year I was very depleted, but some time off to be with people I love and their kindnesses gave me some much needed energy.

One of my challenges now is to find a way to invest in myself.

Thoughts on Today's Shooting

Today's shooting of Congresswoman Giffords is a senseless act, perhaps incited by the rabid hatred bandied about in politics these days. I wish we could move past hate. But, since that seems impossible, I wish people who support the thinking that we can address our problems by shooting people would own their responsibility for creating an environment where someone takes things to this extreme.

I'm not suggesting that every politically conservative person thinks this is a good thing. I am saying that continual references to shooting people, which is the purview of the ultra right-wing as best I can tell, encourages a more violent society.

Talking about "targeting" people in political campaigns can be taken literally by some mentally unstable people. If you're talking that way you must accept some responsibility for an environment that encourages the thought that it's appropriate to shoot those we disagree with. It does nothing to add to civility and discourse in government.

Lest you think I'm just making it up, this was on Sarah Palin's website, supporting the Tea Party candidate, while putting gun sights on Giffords. Of course it has now been removed.

You cannot support people who put gun sight targets over candidates they don't agree with, and pretend like you're not involved. You're involved. When you publicly support any individual or group where things like this are deemed appropriate, you're giving tacit approval of the mentality that if someone disagrees with you it's okay to "target" them with a gun.

Did Palin pull the trigger? Of course not. Did the average Tea Party person pull the trigger? No. But, is the metaphor of shooting people an appropriate one in politics? No, absolutely not. And you shouldn't support anyone who uses it. Period.

I was shocked when I saw this graphic used months ago. This isn't about issues or conservative/liberal, and it's not about guns and the right to own them. I probably have more experience with guns than 90% of the people who blather on incessantly about how important it is that they have the right to own guns. This is about not shooting people - or encouraging others to shoot people - you don't happen to agree with.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Weather Whining

For days I've been hearing the weekend weather forecast of snow, cold, and - in general - the sky is falling. So this morning I bundle up and do things I just have to do - like wrestle the recycling bin up to the house. Outside things. Cold things. I shop. I run errands.

At my last stop I come out to discover the sun is shining, the wind has died and it's quite pleasant. I didn't even wear a coat while unloading the car.

Would have been nice for someone to mention this afternoon was going to be early spring-like. I would have waited to do those unpleasant outdoor tasks, instead of rushing to get them done this morning.

I'm not sure if my fingers will ever be warm again. Perhaps I should go put them in a patch of sunshine. The sunshine I'm not supposed to be seeing. That sunshine.

Friday, January 07, 2011


Yesterday when I got the mail as soon as I got home I found my $100 rebate check from Sprint for the EVO I bought in November. I came in and proceeded to do some things around the house. One of the things I did was put some laundry in to wash. Unfortunately, I did that without taking said EVO out of the pocket.

So, when I realize this - after it has gone through a full wash cycle - it is too late to salvage it. It's dead. Very dead.

This morning I called Sprint and spoke to the manager locally to ask if he had any advice for me. He suggested putting it in rice, which I had already done. He asked what happened and I said, "uhhh... is this the part where I'm supposed to lie to you about what I did?" We both laughed and then I told him the story.

Fortunately, I have insurance on the phone and I'll have a new one in a few days. Deductible on the insurance? $100. How can you not love the irony of that?

I'm very displeased with myself. In all the years I've had a cell phone I've never had to use the insurance. But, fortunately, I had it on this phone because it would cost a lot more to replace without it.

They very kindly helped me get an old phone operating. I sold them my last phone in November when I got the EVO. So, I had to go back to the phone I had before that. I feel like I'm in the dark ages, although when I got it, it was quite wonderful. But, I can talk on the phone and read email (with effort) but answering is not easily done. Some letters on this keyboard don't work - like "w," which made telling people I was in Wichita this afternoon somewhat difficult.

Overall, it's a blip. People have far, far, far worse problems. I was just stupid and it is costing me $100. Being stupid sometimes costs us far more than that so I'll just be thankful I squeaked by with nothing more than an outlay of cash.

But, with that in mind, I'd best go write something someone will pay me for!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Choices and Happiness

I've been unable to get into blogger for awhile. But, I haven't had anything earth shattering to write about anyway, so I suppose it's no great loss. I'm guessing you're not sitting by your computer waiting for my blog posts to pop up anyway.

The year is off to a busy start. I've got three freelance articles due in the next couple of weeks, and a new social media client. That's all good news. If I could just find a few more hours in every day that would be incredibly helpful. Work is also fun right now because I'm planning a neat event for the opening of a Snoopy exhibit on February 12.

I've been doing some after-Christmas shopping. You probably know I'm being very frugal these days, but I so so so so so love after-Christmas shopping. I set aside a sum of money to "play" with in that regard. Not as much as I usually have, but enough to enjoy.

Everyone cares about different things when it comes to money and this is something that gives me a tremendous amount of joy. I need more joy in my life - if it comes in the form of glitter-covered ornaments or nice perfume or great stationery. Some people care about designer clothes and some about fancy cars. I'd rather buy my clothes on clearance and be able to have Christmas ornaments.

I realize that makes sense to very few people. After all, one of those things is a daily need and one a yearly desire. And it's not as if I'm lacking in Christmas ornaments. I have thousands. But, nonetheless, it's what makes me happy.

One of my mother's greatest gifts to me was teaching me to be happy. Talk about something that's a daily thing - that's it. Being happy. We now know that people have a "set point" of happiness but it accounts for only about half of their happiness level. People can, indeed, choose their happiness level. The trick is that for some people happiness is natural and for others it's a learned behavior.

I don't know which it is for me, but my mother was insistent that I should do the things that made me happy as long as they weren't hurting anyone else. That is excellent training for life. And part of the reason I own a few hundred more Christmas ornaments today than I did a week ago. It doesn't hurt anyone for me to have ornaments, and I'd rather give up something else.

All of life is about choices, it seems. I decided  to give up other delights to have a snowman, Santa, and pretty, sparkly things. It's not the choice I would urge for everyone, and I will have to turn down other fun for this, but it's a good choice for me.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Quote of the Day

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.
Edith Sitwell

We've been having some unseasonably warm days. I feel as though spring is right around the corner, although winter is barely begun. However, the forecast for the weekend predicts I may be quickly cured of that misconception.

I have a number of projects due in the next week and a half and need to devote myself to completing them this weekend. So, I suppose the weather should not be of much concern to me, other than having all supplies on hand I might require for a couple of days at home.

I do like the coziness of being tucked in at home when the weather outside rages. We'll see if I still have this romantic notion after a cold snap. We just had some intense weather, but I was out of town and missed it. It seems I will get to experience this one.

Perhaps the next couple of days should be devoted to hunting and gathering the necessities of life.

Monday, January 03, 2011


I want to cook. I need to write. I must sleep.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Coffee Cake

This is a morning that called for coffee cake. Or so we decided. So, I got online and found a couple of recipes and then created our own version.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup pecans (optional)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix topping ingredients into a crumbly mixture and set aside.

For cake, mix dry ingredients togther and then add remaining and mix well. Sprinkle pecans on top of batter or mix in as you prefer.

Pour cake batter into 8 by 8 pan and sprinkle crumb topping mix over top of it. Cook at 375 degrees for 25-20 minutes until done. You can cut while still warm.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year's Day

This morning I was greeted to a beautiful sight of my brother's barn with the moon above it as well as a planet shining far above. I'm sorry the photo isn't better. I guess it was a "you had to be there" kind of moment.

Then I took to the open road and am spending time now with more people I enjoy. All in all an excellent start to the year.