Friday, May 27, 2011

Brilliance From Artist Robert Genn

"Serious artists have an obligation to themselves to secure a strong cash flow so money worries are left behind. Travel, study, challenge, exploration and even down-time can be expensive, but they are the life blood of creativity."
---- Robert Genn

I've been reading artist Robert Genn's newsletter for years. It's because of this sort of wisdom. No wonder I want to travel, study, explore and have quiet time.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


In the studio recently I was thinking about how I used to resist using a lot of white. I wanted the boldness of pure colors. White seemed so blah. I know many artists will find that a really odd approach, but I wanted the intensity.

Then, as I developed some new techniques, I started to reach for the white more and more often. I began to like how it set off some of the bright colors, and the soft tones when I used it for blending.

At first glance white may seem so "absent." In reality, of course, white is a mix of all colors while black is the absence of any.

I've been thinking about that more and more - how things are often not what they seem at first glance. And how something that seems to be "nothing" can be a critical part of a process.

White brings all the colors to bear. It can provide a luminosity no other color can. It can make other colors blend in different ways, leaving their hues intact.

I'm guessing the lesson for me is to remember things are not always what they seem, and to be open to rethinking.

Cookie Book Now Available

This little book has 13 of my favorite cookie recipes - all from my personal files.

It's a Kindle book and priced at 99 cents.

If you don't own a Kindle you can get a free app for the computer or phone.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quote of the Day

Choices are the hinges of destiny.

I've been reminded a lot lately just how fragile life is, in all its forms. Whether we're talking about those we love, a friendship, a business or anything else, they all have a life. And they're all fragile.

We make choices every day that affect us in the short and long term. We do it without even thinking about it and yet the results are profound.

I've come to the conclusion that one of the hardest things for people to grasp is that not everyone else has the same choices. We can't all chose from the same set of possibilities for ourselves. That seems so obvious and simple, and yet it's something I've only come to see recently.

We can only make a decision - good or bad - from the options we see. If we don't have the luxury of a full roster of choices, our decisions are limited to begin with, and so is the likelihood of a positive outcome.

Joplin Tornado Update

Greg and his mom are both fine in Joplin. I'm so thankful.

When I look at the rubble of the Walmart where Greg's mom was when the tornado hit, I'm amazed anyone got out alive. Of course, not everyone did. She escaped with some cuts and bruises, but nothing major.

They have electricty and phone service at the house, as well as running water. The water isn't safe to drink, but they can shower and such. They are very fortunate the house is functional, although it's damanged.

Within a couple of blocks of his mom's house there are lots of houses without roofs. Within another block there are houses that are rubble.

He has internet, although it's intermittent. There is no cable so they haven't seen nearly as much of the damage as the rest of us have.

Greg's phone service is also intermittent. He can text sometimes when he can't call.

I know many of his friends are checking this blog to see what's going on. That's the wrap up. They are both alive and well and waiting out tonight's storms at a friend's shelter.

Monday, May 23, 2011


A few weeks ago I had the most extraordinary lunch with a friend. It was like six months of therapy over a lunch hour. We both cried, we both laughed, we both left changed.

We started by discussing respect. She asked how I came to have so much self-respect. I had never thought about it before but after considering it for a moment I boiled it down to self-talk. I'm always thinking I have as much right to be wherever, and doing whatever, as anyone else.

But, of course, I had to remind her there is a dark side to that as well. Whenever anyone does anything I feel is disrespectful, I just snap. It's an immediate reaction, with no "stop and think about this" mode, and the aftermath can be messy. People can be shocked by the vehement reaction that seems to be coming out of nowhere.

Since we had that conversation I've been mulling it over in the back of my mind, considering respect and how I came to be this person. What I've uncovered is yet another thing in a long list that I can trace to specific events in childhood.

It seems no matter what we do or say or accomplish or learn or achieve, we never "get above our raisin'." I am so weary of repeating these lessons. I wish I would learn whatever I need to learn so I could move on with regard to this.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Joplin has been hit hard by a tornado. It's hard to get information in or out, but I do know that Greg, his mom, and Mia are all okay.

Greg's mom was at Wal-mart when it hit, and the store was essentially destroyed. Her car was not driveable I gather, but someone brought her home. Her home has some damage, but they are all okay.

I've talked to Greg briefly a couple of times, but it's hard to keep a signal for any amount of time. I was very, very, very happy to hear his voice.

Thanks to my sister in law, Mattie, who told me about it. I was driving and didn't know it had happened. Also thanks to Mark and Sharon who were helping keep me informed.

Obviously, as I write this, information is sketchy. But the most important thing is that they are okay.

The Prairie in the Spring

Driving home from the Sampler Festival I snapped this photo of cows grazing along the road. It's such a rarity to see cows wandering on the prairie anymore. They're generally penned up in dirt lots and the stench reaches you before you can see them.

These bucolic scenes of cattle grazing are yet another disappearing sight. It's one I will miss.

In fact, I already do.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


What are you missing out on because of fear?

Most of us will work harder to avoid something we fear than we will to seek something we desire. That's staggering to think about, really. Ultimately, what we most desire is to avoid what we fear. Odd to think of it that way.

Fear is a powerful emotion. Relationships, careers, and countries have fallen prey to it.

It's easy to slip into that space of working to avoid instead of working to seek. I'm trying to regularly ask myself which I'm doing.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Why Must There Always Be Snakes

When I went to the Garden of the Gods visitor center at Pike's Peak in Colorado Springs a few weeks ago, this was the sign I was greeted with near the door. You may note is says, "Rattlesnake Presentation," at 1:15.
I didn't wait around for it. No doubt it involved some wisdom like, "Rattlesnakes are on the move," and "If you poke at 'em you're likely to get bit." Since I'd already learned this at Palo Duro Canyon from Marvin some years ago, and have absolutely no intention of poking at any snake, I didn't feel the need.

I'm delighted to say so far I've not seen any snakes this year, or been bitten by any. This is good. Very good.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stone Fences

I've always loved stone fences. When I went to school at UK, I would drive around the area outside of Lexington and see them on the farms.

There are some places in Kansas where you see them, too. Recently I ran across this marker near Alma, Kansas, that explains a law in 1867 abolished open range and landowners got forty cents per rod (a little over 16 feet) to build and maintain a 4 1/2 foot stone fence.

Needless to say, that spurred many pioneers to start building. Some of the fences are in disrepair now, which is sad. They're a testament to another time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Conversation Confusion

Recently I wrote about a friend telling me she feels like she can just enjoy her life now because she's already done what she came to do. I was so struck by this idea of just enjoying life that I mentioned it to a group of friends one night and was really surprised by the reaction.

In general, the reaction was that a person who's 30 can't possibly know they've done what they came to do. I was shocked by that, and vehemently disagree with it.

Age has very little to do with our perceptions of the world and our place in it if we are thinking people. Yes, we mature, and interact with the world differently, but we are who we are from a very young age.

I believe we enter the world with a set of tasks to complete, lessons to learn, and lessons to teach. I also think we instinctively know when they are complete. I was totally taken aback that anyone would question someone else's knowing, even in the abstract.

I wondered if it was coming from a place of, "How dare this 30 year old feel like she's done what she needs to do and here I am almost twice as old and I haven't?" I don't ascribe to that thinking.

At 49 there are certainly some things I'm much smarter about how I handle, but there are also things I'm very "immature" about. The number of years I've been alive has little to do with either. It continually comes up in my life that I'm about 12-13 years behind my age peers in some ways, but that's a different long blog post for another time.

That said, I am fundamentally, at my core, the same person I was when I was 10 or 20 or 30. I may react to things differently, people may see me differently, but internally my thought processes are the same - other than I have more experience and information to use to process events, and more language to describe them. That, of course, makes for a richer life experience, but if I had completed my life's task by age 30 I would have known it. No question about it.

I let the subject drop, but it pointed out to me - yet again - how out of step I am with people in general. It never, ever, ever, ever occurred to me that anyone would question if someone had an internal knowing that their tasks were completed. I was mentioning it in the context of her thought that she could now just enjoy her life. I found that idea so amazing. I never imagined it would turn into the discussion it did.

I've noticed in the last few years I've become quieter. In fact, I've written about that here before. I think this is why - the conversation I am party to sometimes is so alien that I can't relate. So, it becomes easier to write, read and think than to try and engage.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saving Libraries

I love libraries. And I fear for libraries.

Remember travel agents? Only if you're old enough to remember a time when they closely held all the information we can now access online when we book our tickets and make our own travel arrangements.

Remember newspapers? There used to be one in every town of any size. In larger towns there were multiple choices. Now they're an endangered species, trying to figure out how to make a living in this new world.

I think they're going to do it, but it's messy. (Unsolicited Tip to Newspapers: Taking a business model that isn't working offline - subscriptions - and just moving it online isn't the answer. Be innovative. Try a new model. I have some ideas for you, but that's another discussion.)

Remember libraries is not the next thing I want to read in this list.

But libraries are going to have to make some changes to prevent that. The most simple and straightforward one is hire a marketing person and listen to them. Give them some power in the chain of authority and let them do you some good. Yes, it may be uncomfortable for the quiet librarian types. But if you don't do it you're going to be gone.

I ran across this story the other day and I can guarantee you that some of those ideas came from a marketing-oriented brain. If you are involved in a library, hire yourself a marketing person while they can still do you some good. And let them. Please, let them.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Magic of Water

This was taken at a friend's house and it makes me think I want to live on a piece of land with some water running through it. He can easily walk down to this from the back of his house, and I'm starting to really appreciate that closeness of moving water.

I grew up with a creek nearby, but since I left home at 17 I haven't lived with water nearby. I think the time is coming when that will be more important - to be surrounded by some land - with moving water on it.

There's something magic about water. It washes us clean and strips away what is clinging to us - and maybe what we're clinging to. It can be terrifying and yet calming.

I am a person of rivers and maybe one never leaves that behind. Maybe if you're born to that it is always with you.

That said, given what my family has been living through with the flooding in Kentucky I think I want to have to walk "down" to the creek.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pike's Peak

You may remember some time ago I wrote about going to the Pike's Peak Writer's Conference in Colorado Springs. My friend, Kate, started a campaign to send me and many of you contributed to the cause. I also applied for a scholarship and was awarded one.

So... I went to Colorado Springs a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing!

It was at the end of April and first of May. I haven't written about it until now because the night I got home and flipped on the news was the night we learned about Bin Laden. So, it didn't seem like good timing, and I'm just now catching up.

I went to sessions on Thursday - Sunday, and it was an incredible experience. The level of writing at this conference was amazing.

A couple of highlights...

I signed up for a session called "Read and critique." You read the first page of your novel in a small group and an agent, editor or author gave you immediate feedback.

In my session agent Sandra Bond was giving the feedback. When I read the first page of my novel she said she would turn the page to read more, so that's good. One of the wonderful things about this session was that you got to hear other people's first pages - that's one reason I knew the writing was really great at this conference. Two people in the session got the go-ahead to send their material to her to look at in more depth.

That's what you're hoping for in such a circumstance - to have an agent or editor say, "Send it." That's the first step to getting published.

One of the other things you could request at this conference was an appointment with an editor or agent to pitch your book to them. Again, the idea is to have them say, "send it."

I got an appointment with an agent who represents southern fiction, as well as other things. I pitched a different book I have that's finished because the work needs to be finished but in my eight minutes with her I did mention I was working on a southern fiction book.

She asked me to send the book I was pitching and said she would look at the novel when it's done. So, that was wonderful. I'm polishing my book proposal these days so I can get it sent off to her.

Who knows what will happen, but it's great to have this in the works. The book I pitched may be too regional - we'll see - but I'm excited that she's willing to look at the novel, too. Now I just need to find the time to finish it.

Overall the Pike's Peak Writer's Conference was spectacular. The level of instruction was great and numerous agents and editors are there. You have an opportunity to pitch them at lunch or dinner, as well as the pitch appointments. I spoke with one person who had gotten requests from four agents and two editors.

So, that's the update on Pike's Peak. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your help and your good will. I will keep you posted on future developments.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Patsy Cooks Cookies

This is what I've been working on the last few days - a Kindle book with 13 of my favorite cookie recipes. These are ones I really love. It's not finished yet, but soon... soon... soon...

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Corsage of White Roses

Ten years ago today we buried my mother. It was a beautiful spring day, just like she loved. She was buried with her Mother's Day corsage in place - three white roses - one for each of her children.

The things that matter to you in times of grief are odd. For reasons I still can't explain I wanted her to have a Mother's Day corsage. The rest of the family accepted that, even though I'm not sure they understood it. I don't even understand it, so why should anyone else. I got her one every year, and for some reason I wanted to get her one last one.

As it turned out, the previous year I had been in Kentucky on Mother's Day, not something that was a given. It's one of those "there are no accidents" kind of experiences.

In the fall of 1999 I was in Guatemala and met a man from Washington State while traveling to Tikal. We stayed in touch and planned a trip together through the south the following spring. So, I went to my mom's and spent a few days - including Mother's Day - before going to pick him up at the airport in Nashville. Had I not met Jim, had we not planned a trip, it's likely I would not have been with my mom on what turned out to be her last Mother's Day.

I've not worn a Mother's Day corsage since then, and I doubt I ever will again. On Mother's Day in the south it's traditional to wear a corsage with red roses if your mother is living, and white if your mother is dead.

When I bought my house some months later I planted a white rose bush in the front flowerbed. It has bloomed every year in time for Mother's Day. I think that's as close to a corsage of white roses as I want to get.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Three Sisters

Audrey Elizabeth Myatt Eddleman, Eva Mae Myatt Pace Waldrop and Mary Lea Myatt Terrell

My cousin, Marcia, sent this photo to me today. It's the 10th anniversary of Mama's death today so it's appropriate it arrived today. That's Mama on the right.

Marcia's mom, Audrey, is on the left. Tomorrow is the 31st anniversary of her death. She died on Mother's Day in 1980. We buried my mom on Mother's Day in 2001.

Eva was the oldest of the five children in that family. She fostered my love of writing by sending letters to me when I was a kid.

It's a day for remembrance.

The Day

Today was my first day in the office since Thursday. I've been on the road a lot for work lately - nothing major - just one thing after another. I don't mind being on the road, but unfortunately, things do not stop at the office when I'm out.

Tonight right after work we had Chicks. My topic was the name worshipping I talked about in yesterday's blog. Some friends on Facebook added interesting information to that idea today - one of the many reasons I love Facebook - and having smart friends.

By the way, if you're a blog reader and want to connect on Facebook, just send me a note with your friend request and I'll happily add you. I used to have my Facebook totally open, but changed it to protect some of my info there a few months ago. But, I'm delighted to connect with blog readers, so just send me a request.

In other news today I went to the cardiologist for a six month follow up. He proclaimed he was "very, very happy" with my heart, that everything was "perfect" and "beautiful." Yet, I have another appointment in six months. I didn't have a cardiologist until after I had surgery, even though I was diagnosed with afib some years before that. But, once you get a doctor of any sort, you seem to have them forever. Fortunately, I like this one, so it's not all bad. And, apparently we've entered into a long-term relationship I wasn't aware of, so it's a good thing I like him.

I have the next couple of days off for working this past weekend. I've toyed with various ideas for fun, but I think I will stay at home and work on the house. I've been home so little the last few weeks that I think I'll enjoy the time here.

I need some quiet, unstructured time. I have some writing that needs to get out the door, but I also need some time to just think and contemplate.

Tomorrow morning at 4:32 marks the 10 year anniversary of Mama's death. I generally do something that makes me happy on that day, because teaching me to be happy was one of Mama's greatest gifts to me, and I will tomorrow, too. But I need some time to reflect as well.

I'm at some crossroads in my life and haven't had much time to just think. So, I'm going to use some of tomorrow for that purpose. After all, we have to continually invest in our happiness and I need to figure out where to put my energies.

The past few weeks have found me out of sorts, as I usually am this time of year. I've come to some realizations that explain why that is, beyond the anniversaries of Mama's birthday and death.

I wrote a post some time ago, asking a little tenderness. It arrives in the kindest of ways sometimes. Sunday morning I was working at the Sampler Festival and Greg's mom called to say she was thinking of me because it was Mother's Day. It was so sweet of her to do that. I didn't have much chance to talk with her because of the event, but it was so very nice of her to call.

Such things matter in ways we cannot imagine when we're doing them sometimes. I try to remember to extend kindness to others as well. Although, I confess, this time of year I am caught up in my own mental exercises, and fail miserably.

This time of year has always been a season for soul searching. Lately I've realized that has a very long personal history that is at once so obvious and so obscure. It was hidden even to me until recently.

This year a new person coming into my life as this was going on caused me to examine things in a different way and come up with a different conclusion. Isn't that obvious? To come to something different you have to do something different. Simple but true.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, it has not been a pretty process. I'm not sure the word "process" ever evokes anything pretty in its midst. But, it just is. Sometimes you're fortunate enough to have people who will stick with you even when the process isn't pretty, waiting patiently for the other side.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Name Worshipping

I've been reading lately about the Moscow School of Mathematics, and the connection with Name Worshipping. Although name worshipping was condemned by the Russian Orthodox Church, some of the mathematicians were believers.

Name Worshipping is a belief that the mere name of God should be worshipped. It's more complex than that, as most religious beliefs are, but the idea is the name, itself, is worthy of worship. Believers can put themselves into a trance through repetition of prayers.

What is fascinating to me is the idea, espoused by some of the mathematicians, that in order to really work with a math concept they had to name it. That until it had a name, it wasn't finite enough for them to wrap their minds around and consider from all angles.

In today's world, I can't help but think of how one of the first things I do with a new idea is to check for the domain name. If the URL isn't available, I'll choose a different name. Obviously, how we name things is still important.

When I was choosing a name for the Creative Sisterhood group a few years ago I considered many options. I looked at the numerology involved. I tried different permutations.

I have pages filled with ideas for the title of the novel I'm writing. Of course, a title is just another kind of naming.

When we die and erect monuments, the largest space is devoted to our names. One of the first things we get is a name - often before we are even born.

I still thinking about this, but I do believe there is power in giving something a name. It somehow makes it real. Much to think about.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Go to your bosom; Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know."

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Mailbox Missives

A couple of days ago I pulled the mail out of the box and discovered a handwritten envelope. If you're like me, this automatically makes the heart jump. You know it's likely there's something of interest to be found inside.

Such was the case with this, too.

It was a lovely note from someone who reads my columns in Kansas Country Living. This seems to be the season for that magazine to be bringing wonderful things into my life.

I was flattered by the note, which said she sometimes clips articles and finds them thought-provoking, challenging and inspiring. It is always humbling to hear such praise. I'm not sure I can necessarily live up to it, but it's lovely to know people are reading and enjoying.

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Lives People Make For Themselves

I'm amazed by the lives people make for themselves. Sometimes they seem such unlikely existences, and yet there are people living them, one day at a time.

I read the blog of an American woman who runs a horse stable in Egypt. I marvel at the musicians who come through my little town, making a living at what they love one town at a time. I am impressed by writers who dig in and write yet another book, who never seem at a loss for the time to get that done.

It gives me reason to ask what life I'm making for myself. Is it the one I want?

Thursday, May 05, 2011


"Mulligan" is a word that has been coming up in my life the last few weeks over and over again. I don't play golf, but someone told me some time ago it was a word that meant "do over" in the sport. I'm so wanting a do over in multiple things these days.

Ironically, while I've been thinking about this a lot lately, I've seen three other people mention the same concept. Something in the air? A friend suggested today that maybe it's the result of the earthquake affecting the Earth's rotation. Perhaps so. Things certainly feel off-kilter.

As is often the case in life, I want to hit rewind and try a few things again. I realize there would be benefit to handling things a different way, with different timing, with more knowledge, with some additional background. A mulligan. A do over.

Unfortunately, life doesn't provide us with those. We have to seek them out, humbly and kindly. Sometimes we're blessed with a mulligan and sometimes not.

Regardless, life marches on ahead and there's not much to do but go with it. And you might as well do it with a smile.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Greensburg Kansas Anniversary

Greensburg, Kansas was hit by a tornado that devastated the town on 5/4/7. We were there a few days later to do some interviews for Mark's radio show. I'm honored that we won a Gold Heart of America Press Award for that coverage. (See more photos and read about it at this link.)

Today, Greg posted a couple of videos taken in Greensburg years earlier. There's one where we go into the Hand Dug Well, and visit Hunter Drug in 1992.

Another from 1996 when it was a focus on Hunter Drug, which was unfortunately destroyed in the tornado.

Looking at these videos it's hard to believe so many years have gone by. Where did 19 years go? Have I accomplished what I had hoped in those years?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

What She Came To Do

A few days ago I had the most extraordinary lunch with a friend. We covered many topics, but one thing she mentioned has stayed uppermost in my mind since then.

Over the course of lunch she said she feels like she has already done what she came here to do, so she can relax and enjoy the rest of her life. I find that such an amazing way to view the world, particularly for someone only entering their third decade, as she is. It seems like a blissful way to go through the days and nights. I'm so happy for her.

I definitely do not have that sense. I feel, instead, that I have much I need to do before I leave this existence.

The thought of feeling like you've done what you came here to do, and you can just enjoy your life, sounds incredible to me.

And only a distant dream.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bin Laden is Dead

Osama Bin Laden is dead.

Most people are celebrating. I am disturbed.

It's not that I think Osama was a great guy who I'd love to have living on my block or anything. He was a bad guy. I know that. I'm not disputing that.

But there's something about celebrating the death of another human being that disturbs me. I'm not saying I'm "right" and you're "wrong" because you feel differently. I'm just saying it disturbs me that we're celebrating and that is the word that has been used by multiple people.

Some say it is "justice," and maybe it is, but it feels more like revenge to me, and I guess I don't have the "normal" amount of desire for that. I don't feel at all qualified to determine that death equals justice. It's not my call to make and I'm thankful for that.

I heard families of some who died in the 9-11 attacks saying it doesn't bring back their loved ones.

At times like this I ask myself the questions I would ask others. How would I like it done differently? Frankly, I don't know. I don't think a trial would be better - I think that could go on forever and be horrible for people on all sides. I don't think him continuing the way he had been would be better - obviously, many have been harmed as a result. I don't think there was any conclusion to this chapter that would be better. But, another human being is dead, and I can't celebrate that - regardless of who the human is.

I realize I am the one who's out of step. I get that. I know that what I'm feeling is the minority position. I'm not saying it's the "right" way to feel, but to celebrate would just make me feel "less than myself."

One thing has been clear - that even this can be political. People who have hated Obama are suddenly celebrating him. I'm not saying he had nothing to do with it - he did order more troops and he did give the go-ahead to do what was done - but it's not like he personally went in and wrestled Osama to the ground and killed him.

Others are saying this is all politically motivated. I think that's a bit cynical, too. If Bin Laden had been found five years ago and killed, would that have been politically motivated? I think it's more about the luck of the draw as far as who the president is when it happened.

I will give Obama "credit" for making it a priority, devoting more troops, and having the guts to say "go" when the opportunity existed. But, lets not give the president all the credit. There were other people involved who were in great danger.

That said, lets not pretend that they weren't thrilled to have the mission. If you're a Navy Seal, would you rather be the one who gets to go after Bin Laden or the one who gets to hear about it?

Apparently Obama, Biden and others were able to watch it live as the raid was happening. I'm guessing that makes people think more about decisions they've making to carry out such operations, and that seems a good thing.

I often realize I'm out of step with the world in one way or another, and watching people cheering in the last 24 hours because Bin Laden was dead is yet another example. I just don't have that inside of me, whatever it is - that feeling that this is the right decision, that it was great it was carried out, that it's wonderful.

Maybe it's as simple as courage. Maybe I don't have enough to state unequivocably that another human being should die, or be happy that it has happened. Maybe I just don't have the guts. Whatever it is, I am lacking in it.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Quote of the Day

Those who plot the destruction of others often perish in the attempt.

Thomas Moore