Friday, April 29, 2011

Writing The Novel

I've been working on this southern fiction book longer than I want to admit. But, it's so much better than the first book I wrote, which will forever languish in a drawer somewhere. Part of the reason this book is better has to do with all the editing I've done, hence the red pen.

I'm still working on the book. I need some stretches of uninterrupted time to focus on it.

I'm sure other people have a better system than I do, but my process to get to the typed sheets with the red pen is messy.

Frankly, it's messy even when it's in the typed form.

Sometimes I wish I weren't compelled to write. But I am. I always have been. I'm sure I always will be.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Newspaper Rack I Painted is at Post Office

Earlier this year I was invited to paint a newspaper rack. There were about 15 artists who did them and it was a fun project.
We were allowed to choose our theme. I love stars, so I decided to use that.

They were unveiled a couple of months ago, but had to be coated so they could be outdoors. Just recently someone told me mine was at the Post Office. So, I went down to get a photo of it in place.

If I'd known how it was going to be displayed I would have done it a little differently. But, overall, I'm pleased with it. It's also in the sun so the sparkly bits I went to the trouble to include are visible up close.

Thanks to the Hutchinson News and Gallery 7 for making this project happen!

The beginning of the project:

In the middle of the project:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Corn and Bean Salad Recipe from Matthew

My house is always cluttered. There are things scattered about that I've picked up at a flea market somewhere, or a note someone has sent me, or a piece of something I intend to add to some artwork. Although I love to be in a very clean house, that's never my house. My house is overflowing with things I love.

There are things that remind me of people and moments. Not that I wouldn't remember them anyway, but a little something can take me back to the exact minute and it's alive again in all my senses.

Such is the case with this recipe I have had on my fridge for a long time. It was written by my friend, Matthew, in July of 2007 when we spent the weekend on his boat. He made this to share with some friends that weekend and he wrote down the recipe for me before I left - just on a notepad that was lying around.

Little did I know when I pulled out of the driveway that Sunday afternoon that it would be the last significant time Matthew and I would spend together. Less than two years later, he was dead at only age 34.

Recently I pulled everything off the fridge. I'll add the recipe to one of my books. But recently when I started to put it aside I wanted to go reread what I'd written about Matthew when he died.

I can honestly say the friendship I had with Matthew was unique. I've never had that kind of relationship with anyone. I valued it then, and I miss it now.

And while it might be adding to the "clutter" in my house, I'm glad I have a little something Matthew wrote that reminds me of our last time together. Because, as I am always mindful of, we never know when "the last time" will be.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Art Jewelry

People are always after me to put some of my artwork on Etsy. I'll admit, even though I've had an account there for five years or so I've never done much with it.
Finally, I've put up a few necklaces I made from paintings.
I'm using vintage sewing materials these days as ribbon on some, which I do like.

You can take a look at

Monday, April 25, 2011


I write in journals regularly - the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. It is on those pages where I soul search, make discoveries, ask questions and sometimes get answers. Frankly, there are fewer answers than I'd like.

Some themes continue to resurface in my life, and - as of yet - I've been unable to sufficiently answer them. There's a theory we all have lessons to learn in a lifetime and until we do, they keep repeating. That definitely seems to be the case for me.

I don't even know how many journal pages I've filled over the years. Many, many thousands, I'm sure. I've been journaling almost since I could write. It seems like in all that time I would have figured out more than I have.

This weekend I was in the studio and felt an overwhelming urge to write about this time in my life. This is always a particularly difficult time of year, for reasons I've written about recently, and I know I'm not exactly "normal" because of it. So, I try to sort things out on the page. That is where I always go to seek answers.

Maybe there's another avenue, and maybe I should find it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fresh Starts

I miss my Mama. I don't know any other way to put it. I miss her. Every day. Every night. Every morning. Every milestone. Every defeat. Every victory.

Today, April 24, was her birthday. Ten years ago on the morning of her birthday I called a nursing home to inquire about admitting her. We thought she was having a reaction to medication after surgery and that while we were maintaining things, we weren't helping her. We hoped monitoring would help us find an answer we couldn't spot. It didn't because she had suffered a small stroke and was to soon suffer a bigger one.

Nonetheless, I will always feel like a traitor for making the call to the nursing home. On her 82nd birthday, no less. Even though it was the best solution we could find at the time, and we all agreed, it was me who made the call, who set things into motion. It was me. I did it. And no one made me do it. I offered to do it. I knew whoever made the call would never get over it, and it was my turn.

I did it by long distance, while on the road, traveling back to Kansas for my job. I didn't even have the decency to turn around and go back to Kentucky and take her myself. I was a coward. I offered, but my brother, Jim, spared me, and I was quick to let him do so.

A traitor and a coward. Not the best of a person.

So, as this time of year approaches, I desperately seek happiness, to try and forget that I'm a traitor and a coward. But, there is no escape from time. And as the calendar dates loom, I become more eager to find joy. I look for it around every corner. I try to grab onto it whenever I see a glimmer of it. I hope for experiences that will make me forget my failings for a little while.

Life is full of the "what ifs," and if we'd known how close the end was we wouldn't have made that call. She died May 11, so there wasn't much time left. When we laid her to rest two days later on that Mother's Day afternoon I knew I would never again feel the same and I knew this time of year would be even more of a struggle than it already was for other reasons.

On her birthday the first year after she died I sobbed for hours. I cried until, literally, my pillow was wet through. I don't know that I've ever cried so much before or since. At one point I said aloud, alone in my bed, "I can't keep living this way."

Quickly the answer came to me that I had only two choices. I either had to kill myself or I had to go on. I went on. Sometimes grace is only to be found in surrendering. The circumstances in which we find ourselves sometimes offer no other choice. We must proceed.

Ten years later, that's what I'm still doing - moving ahead. This year Easter, a time of renewal, fell on the same day as her birthday. It seems a good season for a fresh start.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cathedrals on the Plains

I took this photo in Concordia, Kansas. Cathedrals come in all shapes and sizes, I suppose.

There was a church spire in the distance, but it couldn't compete with these buildings rising from the ground.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Some days what I most need is a little tenderness in my life - a little extra kindness - not because anything startling is wrong, but because nothing is quite right, either. Today was one of those days.

This time of year, as my mother's birthday approaches, followed quickly by the date of her death, I'm always a little off kilter, a little out of step, a little unsure of myself. There is nothing for anyone to say that will change it. It can't be "fixed." It just is. It can only be lived with.

But if I've been short with you, or out of sorts, or distant, or anything else that seems amiss, just know I'm struggling with my own demons this time of year. I crumble and I reassemble, and just like anything that's put back together I'm a little stronger every time.

When one is in this state of teetering on the edge, the simplest thing can push you one way or the other. I'm blessed that most of the time I'm incredibly happy. I go through my days knowing I lead a charmed existence, blessed by family and friends, with more good fortune than the average person has a right to. And I am grateful. Oh so very grateful for this state of grace, for I know how precarious it is. One small decision here or there could have created a different outcome.

Some people can look pain in the heart and some can only look away. I've done both. I understand both. I'm not asking you to look at it with me. If you can, that's fabulous. But I don't expect that of anyone. I'm just asking you to accept me while I look at it, as best I can, with the hope of diminishing it.

So, I beg from you a little extra kindness, understanding even if you don't, some gentle words, forgiveness, and - if you can spare it - a little tenderness.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

David Vidal at Third Thursday Art Walk in Hutchinson Kansas

Tonight was the Third Thursday art and music walk downtown. I was working on projects but thought I'd pop down for a bit. Then I kept seeing so many posts on Facebook about David Vidal, the musician playing at Smith's Market, that I decided I had to go down and hear him. I'm so glad I did.

David Vidal lives in California, but made a stop in Hutchinson tonight to play at Third Thursday. He was amazing! He plays his own style of blues/Americana in a unique way. Yes, that is a shot glass in his hand.

I can't say enough wonderful things about him. If you want to hear music that tells the truth of pain and of joy, you want to hear David Vidal. His voice, guitar, and style transport you to another place. Don't miss him if he's anywhere in your area.

Ordinarily on Third Thursday I end up visiting with people and never leave the first place I go. Generally, that's Gallery 7, but I'm glad I varied the pattern tonight and went to Smith's. I could not tear myself away from Mr. Vidal. Really wonderful music.

He's playing Friday night at Jillian's Italian Restaurant before he leaves for other engagements. I'm sure it will be wonderful.

One of the things I love about Third Thursday is this sort of thing - David Vidal, formerly at the Viper Room in Hollywood, now in downtown Hutchinson. Thank you, Jennifer Randall, for making such wonderful things happen.

Going to Third Thursday always makes me want to be in my art studio. Wish I could find more hours in the days and nights.

You Just Have To...

You just have to like a guy who automatically flops down on the garage floor to play with the cat. And has a system for retrieving toys the cats have knocked under one thing or another.

Talbot the kitty is a love. He plays and purrs. What more can you ask from a kitty?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Welcome Burden

I was listening to a podcast today and heard James Johnson talking about his father carrying him to a duck blind when he couldn't walk because of a cast on his leg. He said he learned he was a "welcome burden" that day.

That phrase just struck me - "welcome burden." Isn't that what we all want in our lives - people who will welcome us, even when we are a burden?

At times each of us, for one reason or another, often beyond our control, is a burden. We all need to know there are some people in our worlds who will accept us and our burdens without hesitation. That they're ready to be at our sides, regardless of the difficulty involved, helping to carry our burdens.

By the same token, there are times we are willing - even eager - to help others carry their burdens. It doesn't feel like a burden, but an opportunity.

Those relationships are rare. If you have one or two of them in your life, be grateful and go to sleep tonight knowing you are blessed.

Hear the original recording at:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Day

Today was the first day I've spent much time in the office in a few days and it was a bit wild. But, we all survived it and I think nothing bad happened to anyone. So, all in all a good day, but a busy one.

I got my pitch assignment for the writer's conference today. Essentially, I get a few minutes with a New York editor, to "pitch" them a book. The goal is for them to say, "send it." It has to be something that's complete, so I'm pitching a small gift book I've written. Even if they aren't interested in this book, I figure it will be good experience for the future.

Of course, all of this as it seems self-publishing is gaining in popularity all the time. But, I feel the need to explore options. I'm incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity, and I want to make the most of it.

I'm considering making my Kansas Country Living columns available through Kindle, year by year. I've been intending to make a book for years now, and got their permission, but have never done it.

It seems this might be a good option since Kindle books are available on Kindles, computers and smart phones. Then when people ask me about something they could simply go buy the book and have their own copy. If I ever get a little time, I'm going to experiment with one year and see how it goes.

That's one of those projects that would be perfect to do on a weekend away. When I was in Ramona I was struck by how much focus one can achieve when removed from all the trappings of daily life. Whatever needs doing in your house is not available for you to do so there's no point thinking about it. That frees you up to think about other projects. Of course, there are always so many projects on my plate it's hard to focus on just one of them. But, finding those blocks of time is something I must do.

I'm thankful I have so many ideas I want to bring to fruition. But, I also know I need to have time to let my brain rest a bit. It's restorative to have time when I'm not working on any of my various projects. It's just hard for me to be in my house and not be doing something. But I also need to find blocks of time for relaxing.

I'm sure it will all work out nicely. It always does.

Many interesting things are going on in my life. It's a fun time, waiting to see what happens next.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lovely, Dark and Deep

Last night we were treated to a beautiful orange moon - full, or nearly full. I was fortunate enough to be out in the country, so had a lovely view. It was a memorable evening.

As we were walking in this area I couldn't help but be reminded of the Robert Frost poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," that includes the lines:

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Frost said he wrote the entire poem in one evening. I read that Frost was asked what he meant by repeating the last line. He replied he just couldn't think of anything else to put there. I don't know if that's true, but it seems plausible.

Life is like that sometimes. You just can't think of anything else to do so you repeat what you've done before. Of course, if that didn't end well, it's best to work harder to come up with a different idea.

This seems like valuable advice in my life at the moment. I'm going to try and heed it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

You've Always Had It

I am feeling more myself these days. My true self. I have been a shadow of myself for a few years now. There were glimmers of "me," but they would quickly disappear into the background again, swallowed by difficulties of one sort or another.

Life piled onto me, with more than I could juggle. I have been buried in things, confusion, disorientation, and sameness - in avalanches, as one after another, rolled over me. As soon as I dug myself out of one, something else would occur. Because I had let "me" go I didn't have the right coping mechanisms.

Grief overtook my life, and colored every moment of it. I was grieving for lost loved ones and friends, and also for a life I was leaving behind, an innocence that could never be recaptured, for losses no one could understand except me. And I wasn't examining them enough to understand them. But, finally, just like the witch told Dorothy - I now realize I've had the secret all the time - I always had the power.

It was me who left that life where I gave into my whims, took leaps of faith and jumped without a net. I left, seeking a safer existence. My life has been waiting for me to come back. Finally I have beaten back the tidal waves of sadness and am finding "me" again. It has been a long time coming.

It's hard to look for yourself when you know the person you're trying to recapture had some less than savory characteristics. But, eventually, not being who you are is more difficult than dealing with the realities of you. And, you realize that only when you're fully living your own truth can you withstand the buffeting that life brings.

It's not like this is news to me. I've always known it. But, I could see that others do not suffer the same difficulties being "them" as I do being "me" and thought I'd try to mold myself into something different. Somewhere along the way, I realized that is not the life I want.

It is not for everyone the existence I crave, to have experiences sometimes for the sheer enjoyment of having been there and done that, of having met someone along the way, of changing my perspective in some way. And while it is not for everyone, it is for me. I want every moment to be alive with the possibilites of life.

I have always lived life fully, head on, at 110 mph. When you hit a brick wall at that speed it really hurts. So I decided I would give it a go at a more moderate pace. What I've discovered is that while it hurts less when you hit the brick wall that there's no intensity to offset it. So you just go from "blah" in your daily life to "ow." I'd rather have "oh my!" in my daily life and accept the "ouch!" when it happens. Moderation doesn't seem to be my speed.

Finally, I'm finding the "me" who welcomes the world, soaks it up, revels in it, and gives my own energy back to it. I have been stingy with myself the last few years. I always felt the need to pull back, to not overwhelm those around me, to not be "too much."

But, you know what, I just am "too much." It's who I am. And to not be who I am is harming me. So, people will just have to take me or leave me.

If you have to leave me, I wish you nothing but the best. I thank you for sharing the path with me. I understand if you can't be in my world that spins at a different rate. I get it. I really do. It's disorienting when the world isn't moving at your speed. But I have to live in this world. Fully. No holds barred. I'm an "all in" kind of girl. And I just can't make it work for me any other way. I know that's not for everyone. And I respect your path. But, for my sanity, it has to be all the way for me. I'll take my lumps full force. And I'll take my pleasures the same way. I'm just praying for more of the latter than the former.

I'm reminded of a conversation with my dear friend, Fran, on the back porch of her garage apartment in Lexington when I was telling her she had to be careful of her own power. She was not existing fully in the world and as a result that power was being turned on herself and it was destroying her from the inside out.

I've been doing the same thing for awhile, not with power, but with control. For the comfort of others, who I so desperately needed, I have limited myself in some ways. Others, who know me so well, have been wondering where I've been. I am trusting the people I need will be with me as I go forward. Trust is all one can have at this stage.

I'm back. Full force, full on. Finally. I'm back.

No apologies for who I've been and where I've come from. Have I made some unwise choices? You bet. Do I regret them? Hell no.

I have fought hard in this lifetime for sanity. It has been a slippery slope at times, but the way I always made it through was just to keep on going, no stops, no faltering, just keep moving. I walked upright, head held high, through some things that have brought others to their knees. I'm grateful for it. So grateful.

But other things have made me crumble. In the last few years I have been crawling. Still moving, but crawling. I've had my head tucked down, dodging what might come next. It's no way to live. So, arms wide, I'm taking life in again. Hopefully I can keep the best of all these modes.

I almost gave up on myself. But just in the nick of time I'm reentering my own life. You would have been hard pressed to find the woman who went to Egypt by herself in the person I've been recently. I've been too afraid for years. Afraid of everything.

Living to avoid what you fear instead of seeking what you want is a pathetic way to live. And it's the place I find myself. Or did until recently, anyway.

I'm the girl who collects antique linens and treasures her mother's dining room table. I'm also the girl who has dressed in red and taken the stage. I know I'm a study in contrasts but I cannot suppress the parts of me that aren't necessarily "appropriate" in all circumstances. So, I'm saying now, just look away - or drift away if you must - but I cannot be this shell of myself anymore.

Finally I'm feeling more normal. And my normal is intense. I know some feel I am "too intense" and that it "takes a lot of energy to be around me." I get it. I really do. And if you can't stand to be with me anymore, I understand. But, I cannot suppress my true nature. It is killing the real me.

There's a reason one of my favorite quotes is by Zola - "I am here to live outloud." And I am.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Quote of the Day

Live all you can; it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven't had that what have you had?
Henry James

Thursday, April 14, 2011


When I was on retreat I took time to sit on the porch and sip tea. I gave myself one full day off - to just relax. It's the first day off I've given myself in over a year, when I wasn't thinking about things I had to do or needed to do.

But, even on retreat, I spent the day working on my novel. Of course, I really love having time to write and that has been in very short supply. But I still wasn't relaxing in the traditional sense of doing nothing.

I wonder how people "relax." I guess I don't fully understand the concept. I want to accomplish something with my time on Earth, so I feel the need to be doing something all the time in order to make the most of my time here.

I've always felt time is limited. There isn't enough of it for me to create everything I want to make. If I lived to be 400 there wouldn't be enough time and that's not likely to happen. So, I feel compelled to do as much as possible with the time I do have.

That said, I realize there's wisdom to be found in stillness. I meditate regularly. I think. I ponder. I listen.

As with everything, it's finding the balance.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Retreat Collage

When we were on retreat recently one of the things we did was a collage. I decided I'd share mine, as I have in the past.

This is much smaller - it was made with a file folder as a backing, although I obviously went beyond those borders. Once you get the knack of reading these, they're quite amazing in what they reveal.

They're yet another example of what people say when they don't know they're saying anything. But if you're willing to open yourself to the process it can be enlightening.

A few days ago I showed it to some friends and they pointed out things that hadn't come up before. Always interesting.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Life is about the Details

I'm reminded again and again that life is all about the details. Walking into a B and B and finding a miniature covered pedestal plate with cookies stacked inside gave me an instant homey feel.

Maybe it was the cookies, maybe the miniature container, or maybe it was the care.

Knowing that someone did a little something extra, something they didn't have to do, that no one would have missed, always makes a person feel loved. It's that little extra, the thing most people wouldn't think about, that makes all the difference.

I discovered this many years ago, through observation and reading books by authors like Alexandra Stoddard. I try to find ways to give this little something extra to those I interact with. I'm more successful some days than others. I guess we all are.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A New Home for Beautiful Vintage Things

I came home from a very, very, very long day to discover a box tucked between my storm door and regular door. Inside was a treasure trove of wonderful linens from LeeAnn. They're beautiful!

Some embroidered pieces,vintage tablecloths with incredible designs, some terrific hankies and a crocheted doily with a pineapple pattern - one of my very favorites.

Thank you, LeeAnn... I appreciate you thinking of me when you wanted to find a new home for these wonderful things. I will love them heartily for years to come!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

TIV at Cosmosphere

The TIV will be at the Cosmosphere Monday from 10-7 with Marcus and Brandon from the show, Storm Chasers. They're in the movie, "Tornado Alley," we're showing at the moment.

This afternoon we connected with them to get some photos for publicity use tomorrow. The final thing we did was apply these signs.

Yes, I do have a cool job.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Serving Our Purpose

My friend, Hollie, sent me a note in Facebook the other day and asked if I'd like these cards. They're ones her parents received when she was born. She is in a process of clearing out and decided to let go of some of the cards her mom had kept from that time.

Of course, I was delighted to get them. I love the typefaces, the paper and the colors. The one on the right with the gold is felted.
They're a definite time capsule and something I love having around. Maybe some will find their way into artwork. Maybe they'll just be admired on occasion.
But they're a reminder that Hollie was thinking of me - just as the friends of her parents were thinking of them when she was born. It's as if these cards have gotten to serve their purpose twice in this lifetime already. Who knows, maybe they'll get yet another opportunity.

Imagine if we all got the chance to do that? To serve our purpose at multiple times.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Taste of Home Show

I helped with the Taste of Home show today. I've done it a few times before and it's always interesting.
This year our culinary expert was Guy, and he was fabulous. He was so fun and funny.

He made the day fun. We go in the morning and prep everything, then help during the show. It's quite an amazing process to see it all come together. There's a system for everything, but he was really easy going and everything worked perfectly.


Everything gets measured and prepped in the morning so the show is just like TV food shows where things magically seem to happen quickly.

The reason it happens quickly during the show is that six people spent four hours each prepping. So, lest you thought chefs had some secrets they weren't sharing, rest assured, it's much the same as it is for you and me.

I was glad I got to go. I'm a tired, tired, tired girl, but it was fun.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Every once in awhile, in a conversation with a friend, I get some insight into myself I didn't have before. That happened tonight with Teresa. We talked for hours and at one point she said, "You are very awake."

She said it in the context of it being a natural state for me - to be up, wide-awake, energetic, enthused. I had been telling her that I'm starting to feel much more myself these days - more than I have since 2008. I'm feeling perkier and more intense - that is my normal self.

I've never thought of it in this context, but she's right. I'm very "awake," and as she put it, "living fully."

These insights are always welcome.

Monday, April 04, 2011


I spent the last few days on retreat. The first couple of days and nights I was alone, then friends joined me Friday night.

I'm still processing all that happened. I'll have more to say about it, but at this point I'm still mulling it over.

Teresa and I talked for about three more hours after everyone else left and there were some amazing insights that came up in that time. I stayed another couple of hours after she left, just to contemplate while still in that space.

The weekend left me with many things to ponder. Some questions to ask and some answers to find.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Famous Cornbread

I recently bought an old recipe card file box. I love these things - the recipes, the handwriting, the weathered cards.
This was one I noted right away - "Dad's Famous Cornbread." I haven't had a chance to make it, but I love the fact that it looks well-worn. No doubt it was really meaningful to whoever took the time to write it off.
It's now safe with me, even if I never actually cook Dad's Famous Cornbread.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Quote of the Day

"I have long considered the creative impulse to be a visit - a thing of grace, perhaps, not commanded or owned as much as awaited, prepared for. A thing, also, of mystery."

- Loreena McKennitt - The Visit