Monday, April 30, 2012

Kansas Underground Salt Museum Celebrates 5 Years

The Kansas Underground Salt Museum (KUSM) is celebrating five years open tomorrow. It opened the doors May 1, 2007. Tonight they had an event with some of the folks who have made it possible over the years - from board members and volunteers to people who had the vision to make it happen.

The KUSM is a marvel on many levels. In a nutshell, it's the only place in the western hemisphere where you can go 650 feet underground and visit a salt mine. There is nothing about the experience that's not cool. What else needs be said?

But, of course, these things do not happen by accident. Tonight was a recognition of the effort it took to get to this point.

Jay Smith, who was the director of the museum, who spearheaded the effort that resulted in the tourist attraction we have today, was visiting. He spoke and said, "It took courage" on the part of many people to make it happen. In his initial conversations with Underground Vaults and Storage and the mining company he said they told him all the reasons it would be difficult and the reasons not to do it, but they didn't say "no."

Because there was nothing like it, there was no precedent. They used the Space Needle in Seattle as an example, but this was something very different. He said something that kept him going was hearing people talk about visiting the Carey Salt Mine in the sixties. He knew being underground left an impression on people.

This wasn't the first attempt at finding a way to create an attraction like this - the conversation had come up now and then for decades. But, this time it came to fruition.

Smith left Hutchinson before KUSM opened. Linda Schmitt has been the director during the five years it has been open to the public. She told some funny stories about mishaps over the years - nothing major, just minor things - like a tram driver missing a turn the first day and getting a group "lost." What she realized was that none of the visitors were upset. It was just part of the adventure.

Linda summed things up with, "Our main mission will continue to be to share this magnificent, unique, wonderful, underground place. That will be our priority forever."

The program tonight had a timeline of the last five years. One of the challenges was something you might not think about - how to get bathrooms to work. Flushing up, 650 feet, is not something most people need to do. But, there have been flushing toilets underground since August of 2007. And, just recently, the main restrooms near the event center underground have opened. I couldn't resist a photo.

Yes, that's right - there's a salt wall in both the ladies and mens rooms. How can you not love that?

One of the things Linda did that I just loved was bought a train from the Hutchinson Zoo in 2009. Years ago, the salt was moved in the mine on train track, so it's appropriate there be a train underground.

Tonight Greg and I took a ride on the train, which goes through some of the mined out areas.

There's an adage that what goes to the mine, stays in the mine, and you can see evidence of that on this ride. Even the trash stayed down under.

Of course, things change over time. This "trash" is now considered artifacts. Included in this trash pile is a 1953 calendar

Ironically, the trash can found with it was empty.

Of course, you know how I love a train!

You may not know how much Greg loves a train, which is even more than me.

The Kansas Underground Salt Museum is amazingly cool. If you haven't been, come and visit. It's one of two world-class attractions we have in Hutchinson, and I absolutely love it. I look for pretty much any reason to go underground.

I was honored to be invited to attend tonight.


Read my earlier stories about KUSM:
A story about the museum with great photos Greg took -

Scientists and 250 Million Year old bacteria -

Dr. Vreeland at the Dillon Lecture -

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cowboy Junkies at Stiefel Theatre in Salina

Last weekend Greg, Wayne and I went to see Cowboy Junkies at the Stiefel Theatre in Salina. It's hard to describe their music, but it's alternative... blues/country/folk/rock and amazing. If you haven't heard them before, take a listen on youtube. Their rendition of Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane," is a fan favorite.

Margo is the lead singer, and her haunting voice has a real impact. She and two of her brothers are in the band. Her brother, Michael, who plays guitar, writes much f their material.

She always sings with flowers on stage that she arranges beforehand. She said in an interview it's a meditation for her, that helps her with stage fright. She also walks out with her cup of tea as an anchor as well.

This Canadian band in incredibly prolific. They record at a tremendous rate compared to most artists.

It was a great evening with great friends and great music.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bits of Beauty and Mysteries of LIfe

Every day has little bits of beauty in it. They're sometimes even brilliant orange and flying around right in front of us.

Yet, somehow we still miss them. It's hard to imagine, but we do.

How this is possible is the true mystery of life.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Arlo Guthrie at Hutchinson's Fox Theater

Arlo Guthrie was at Hutchinson's Fox Theater tonight. Aside from the music, there was a lot of philosophy mixed in, which I really liked.

He talked about songwriting quite a bit, and used a fabulous metaphor. He said songwriting is a bit like fishing. He just sits and waits for the songs, and they come along. Sometimes he misses ones meant for him because he's doing something other than fishing - he's watching TV or something - and someone else catches them.

What he didn't say, but is understood, is that some bait is involved, too.

I love that metaphor for creative work.

He played four different guitars and a keyboard tonight. His son, Abe, played keyboard throughout the show. His grandson, Krishna, played bass. Long time friend Terry Hall played drums.

Guthrie also talked about how places people visit repeatedly because of what happened there are changed by that - how everyone leaves a little piece of themselves anywhere they go. I agree with that. Every house and place has an energy to it that is created from all that happened there in the past.

I enjoyed the music tonight, but the philosophy even more.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Day in Photos

I decided to wash some of my recent acquisitions today...

and hang them out in the sunshine...

of the 90 plus degree day... on April 25.

It's a heat wave. On April 25.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

The Chiropractor and Relief of A-fib

For the past few days I've been going in and out of A-fib - not major episodes, but enough to make me tired all the time and uncomfortable enough that I didn't want to do much other than sit around. While I do a lot of things from the computer, I also need to be mobile.

I decided over the weekend I was going to call the chiropractor. I've had good luck with this before, and hadn't been in months because of being occupied with other things. Fortunately, they could get me in at lunchtime today.

I'd been in a-fib pretty much constantly for a day and a half. He worked on me and my heart rate converted immediately. While I was on the table. Coincidence? Maybe. Regardless, I made another appointment for next week.

You can read more details in my earlier post at:

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National Festival Coming to Manhattan

This is really cool... If you love to bake bread, you should enter!

Here's the press release with info: 

National Festival of Breads to Land in the Little Apple

MANHATTAN, Kan. - America's only amateur bread baking contest will make its home in Manhattan, Kan. on June 22, 2013. The National Festival of Breads, sponsored by King Arthur Flour, Fleischmann's Yeast and the Kansas Wheat Commission, celebrates the relationship between farmer and consumer and highlights the art of baking bread at home.

The biennial competition, which seeks the best bread recipes from home bakers throughout the United States, is adding a Youth Category to this year's contest that is open to amateur youth bakers ages 12 to 17 from all over the nation. The adult competition is open to amateur home bakers ages 18 and up.

"Baking is an activity that can be used at all ages for positive experiences, learning and a feeling of accomplishment," says Cindy Falk, nutrition educator at the Kansas Wheat Commission, and contest coordinator.

Adult competition categories include Ethnic Breads, Rolls, Time-Saving Breads, and Whole Grain Breads. Judges will vet all entries and select eight adult finalists, each of whom will receive airfare to and accommodations in Manhattan, to participate in national competition events June 20-22, 2013.
In addition to the eight adult finalists' awards, four special awards will also be given for the best recipes using particular ingredients such as white whole wheat flour, cranberries and raisins. Each special award winner will receive a $500 cash prize.

Youth categories will include Rolls and Whole Grain Breads. One Youth Grand Prize Winner will be selected from the entries and will receive an invitation for them and a guardian to attend the National Festival of Breads to demonstrate their winning recipe.

"Inspiring youth to bake can foster future generations of home bakers," says Falk. "These youth bakers can then pass on their baking skills as a service to local schools, communities and clubs."

Contest finalists will bake their recipes on site in Manhattan on Saturday, June 22, 2013. Judging will be based on taste, originality, ease of preparation, healthfulness, and appearance. In addition, each finalist will receive a $500 cash award, as well as a Wheat Harvest Tour in the Heartland and a visit to a working Kansas wheat farm, flour mill and grain elevator on Friday, June 21.

One adult contestant will emerge as the 2013 National Festival of Breads champion and earn a prize package worth nearly $5,000, including cash, an expense paid trip to a King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Norwich, Vermont and a year's supply of Fleischmann's Yeast.

Beginning Sept. 1, 2012, amateur bakers can begin submitting original recipes A secure, easy-to-use form is available for bakers to enter recipes online; submissions will not be accepted by mail, fax, e-mail or phone. Original bread recipes must be submitted using the online entry form by 11:59 p.m. (CT) on Thursday, January 31, 2013. No purchase is necessary to enter or win.


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What Are You Willing To Spend Yourself On

Each of us has only so much time, energy, money and other resources to spend. How we spread them around indicates what we truly value.

But, beyond these things, there's the idea of our self - our very core being - our essence. What are we willing to give that to?

I've been thinking about this a lot the last few weeks. What am I willing to spend myself on? I don't have a solid answer yet, but I suspect there are very few things that fall into this category. It's a high price to pay. However, the rewards can also be stellar.

Maybe I will surprise myself at the number of things I'm willing to spend myself on. Maybe I do it far more often than I realize. More thought and analysis is required.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Farm Fresh Eggs

When one is gifted with farm fresh eggs, one must do something nice with them. I used some in making brownies for Creative Sisterhood. It seemed only right to share such a treasure.

Now I'm wondering if some should find their way into lemon curd. The mere thought of lemon curd with farm fresh eggs makes my mouth water.

Of course, then I won't be able to just admire them for their pretty colors.

All of life is a trade-off it seems.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Decisions and Values

It's not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.       
                 ---Roy E. Disney

I ran across this quote tonight and I'd never seen it before. It is so true. 

I have a reputation of being very decisive. Whenever people ask me how I can do that I reply that I have "Patsy's Top Ten Rules for Living," and they guide me on a subconscious - and conscious - level, so decision making is very straightforward.

For example, my number one rule for living is, "Seek. New people. New Places. New Ideas." So, when a friend called and asked if I wanted to go to Honduras, my answer was "yes, absolutely." I didn't need to mull it over. I knew the answer was yes. Only the details remained.

I always encourage people to come up with their own Rules for Living, those guiding principles that act as an internal compass. So far I don't think anyone has thought it a good enough idea to follow through on. But, I'm betting Mr. Disney would have agreed with me.
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Dr. Wayne Scott Anderson at Dillon Lecture Series

Dr. Wayne Scott Anderson spoke at the Dillon Lecture Series recently and he had some interesting things to say. He is associated with Medifast products, otherwise known as "Take Shape for Life." There are a number of people in Hutchinson who have done this diet, and some of those people are very evangelistic, which I find to be a big turnoff. My observation is that any diet involving meal replacements tends to work in the short term, and when people stop using the meal replacements they gain that weight back - plus some. It's the "plus some" that is the big problem in dieting.

Regardless, I went into the lecture with some "attitude" about the whole thing because people can be so pushy about it. And, it should be noted, that many of them are making money off convincing you about how wonderful it is, so I am suspicious of this.

But, I have to say, I was very impressed with Dr. Wayne Scott Anderson. He was not at all pushy about the product and just talked in general terms about health and weight loss. Frankly, I was surprised. I half-expected the lecture to be a "rah-rah" about this program, but it wasn't. He had some things to say that I thought were excellent points.

The main one that resonated with me is that he said for people to lose weight you have to help them overcome the psychological and logistical barriers of losing weight. He said one of the things about the meal replacements is that they remove the logistical barrier because people don't have to become nutritionists overnight. Frankly, he's the first doctor I've ever heard mention there's a psychological barrier to losing weight. I don't know that these things are the answer, but it was interesting to hear someone actually say that. And I can see that point about meal replacements. I just don't see how that works when you're not using them anymore.

I'm not on the bandwagon, but I had had some of the food from a friend who has used the diet, and it's not bad. I even ordered some to have for travel food. I have to say it's really great for when you're hungry and need a little something and don't have time to make something or find something. The first time I had it was before a concert with this friend and we didn't have time to eat. He produced some of the pretzels and although we were very hungry they held us for 2-3 hours. I was impressed with that.

I think Dr. Anderson may have also offered the secret in passing when he was speaking at the luncheon. He still uses the meal replacements - not that he needs to lose weight - but he uses them for convenience. Maybe that's key and people can keep using them indefinitely to keep the weight off. In the arena of making money off people, that's pretty darned convenient, too. But, of course, you have to eat anyway.

It was very impressive that he said during the luncheon that it didn't even have to be those meal replacements - that any would do that were nutritionally sounds. That is certainly not the attitude I hear from people who are pushing the diet locally. Of course, that wouldn't make them any money.

I've been paying careful attention to those in town who have done this diet and how their weight maintains over time. In general I'm seeing the same process as with any other diet - it comes back - perhaps more slowly than with other diets, but it seems to keep coming back.

Although I have no medical training, as a life-long fat person I could teach medicine a couple of things about weight loss, but no one wants to listen to the people living it. I've tried - with MDs and psychologists since I was in my early 20s - to explain it's not physical but mental. Every fat person you know can tell you the calorie count of any food off the top of their heads. It's not a lack of knowledge. It's not a lack of willpower. We understand the equations involved of calories in and calories out - fat does not make us stupid.

What we can't get you to understand is that all the solutions you're offering are not addressing the real issue, which is beyond "life style change" and "diet" and such. But, either you won't listen to us or - what I've come to believe is more likely - you don't care. No other medical advice is offered that has the tremendous fail rate of dieting. If 90% of the time when you set a bone the bone was still broken when the cast came off, we'd stop doing that.

It seems there would be a tremendous financial advantage in figuring out a real solution - and Medifast, Jenny Craig and the others - are taking their piece of that pie. But, unfortunately, real pie will most likely beckon people back to their old ways and weight. Until someone creates a real solution, the cycle is set. But we need someone with some medical training who actually cares about doing that, to find a real answer. So far that person hasn't been born, it seems.

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Tea in Newton on a Sunday Afternoon

Sunday I had a wonderful time speaking at a tea in Newton. It was hosted by the First Presbyterian Church. They invited ladies from some other churches, too, so they could have time to visit and enjoy time together.

This is the epitome of what tea should be - a time for conversation and enjoyment. That is what I love about tea - it's not the drink, it's the experience.

That said, I'm never unhappy to see scones on a table!

The ladies did a nice job of putting things together, and I loved speaking with their group. I was the program and did a talk about Food Traditions. I really enjoy that. I hope to do more presentations in the near future. A fun way to spend an afternoon.

Thanks to the ladies of the First Presbyterian Church of Newton for the invitation!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Plants Will Grow... Something I Seem to Forget

Well, you knew I couldn't resist for too long. I bought some plants today, including this beautiful, delicate-looking little thing. I love it.

And, amazingly enough, it's already in the ground - not just sitting in a cardboard box on the porch where things sometimes remain for a day or two until I get them planted.

I bought a few things today - just a few.

I'm trying very hard to not overplant this year - like I do every year.

I seem to forget that plants grow, and I crowd them all in, too close together.

But, today I resisted.

See how there's lots of empty space between the plants. I'm on the right track.

However, this will fail.

And this is why...

Yes, I know I'm pathetic. You need not point it out.


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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Taxes, taxes and more taxes

I'm always inspired to do taxes on about January 8. Of course, I have none of the materials then. By the time they arrive a few weeks later I have lost all interest in the process.

Unfortunately, here on April 17, the day they are due, none of that desire has yet returned. I have been buried in getting my taxes done. I'm almost there.

I have decided I hate doing taxes far more than paying taxes. I don't even really mind paying my share. But I sure don't like the paperwork of preparing them. I think I need to find a nice friendly accountant, although I suppose I would still need to have everything organized. And it's that process that is so difficult.

Oh well... I suppose I will manage.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012


It has been a long day in Kansas, with tornadoes springing up all over the state. We have been very fortunate in Hutchinson, where I live. Although there have been storms to the north, south, east and west of us, it have been pretty calm here. In fact, we've barely had any rain. All around us people have been pummeled with hail, wind, tornadoes and other difficulties.

If you can spare some positive energy for those affected, that would be appreciated. So far there are no fatalities reported, which is amazing. I hope it remains that way.

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Thank You Notes

I received a lovely thank you note today from Guy, who was the Taste of Home Cooking Show host. It was such a nice surprise.

Thank you notes are so rare anymore. I still like to write them, but the last time I was inspired to write one I couldn't locate a physical address to send it to. Our world has definitely changed. I ended up having to send an email, which lacks the same thrill.

Getting real mail is something I miss. My mailbox generally holds bills and magazines these days. I'm annoyed by the bills because I pay everything online and they're wasting paper sending me statements. The magazines have piled up lately without me finding time to enjoy them fully.

So it was a real treat to pull an envelope out of the mailbox with my name handwritten on it, and find a handwritten card inside. I'm sure it takes him a considerable amount of time to write notes to everyone who helps him. He does multiple shows in a row, and has 5-6 helpers at each one. He even included a mention of something indicating he knew who I was. Very impressive.

Those things do still matter. In fact, they might matter even more these days.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vintage Hankies

The last couple of days multiple people told me about vintage hankies in the window of a thrift store in a neighboring town. This afternoon I finished a project earlier than I had expected and decided I could allow myself a treat. So, I headed out to the thrift store.

There were some difficulties - they didn't take debit cards and I didn't have enough cash with me. I was within walking distance of two banks - both were closed. Eventually I had to get in my car and drive around the block to go to a drive up ATM and then pay an extra $2.50 for the honor of getting my own money. I decided this was the cost of my lesson to carry some blank checks with me. As soon as I find some, I'll do that. (Who uses checks anymore? Who uses cash anymore for that matter?)

Anyway, I was motivated. And I got all my pretties.

In the process, I met someone who reads my column in Kansas Country Living. (It was nice to meet you, Annabeth!) I also found some other treasures including some orange carbon paper. That will be in an art project before long I'm sure.

It was a nice little break. Now I must get back to my projects. But, I had to share some of the pretties with you.

Often while I am holding hand fulls of hankies, doilies, dresser scarves or other vintage linens someone will ask me, "What do you do with them?"

The answer is, "I just love them."

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ideas Swirling

Ideas are swirling in my brain these days. Meanwhile, projects that are due in the next few days are occupying my energy. That seems to be when ideas swirl the most. Why is that? It seems counter-productive.

In the midst of all of these things, I'm trying to get some projects around the house done. I'm never sure if that's because I'm motivated or because I'm avoiding. Either way, I now having a working garbage disposal in my kitchen - something I've not been able to say for awhile. This is my third one since I've lived here. I did not spring for the "best" one this time. It lasted about a week past its warranty, just like the "good" one. Apparently this is something I simply have to replace regularly so there's no point in spending extra money on it. Who knew disposals were disposable?

Did I mention my taxes are not yet begun?

I would just file an extension, but you need to pay what you owe when you do that, and I'm not sure how I could possibly know what I owe without doing my taxes, in which case I could just send the completed taxes instead of the extension form. I anticipate sleeping will not be something I do much of until after April 17.

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Monday, April 09, 2012

Resilience and Belief

Resilience is a quality ascribed to children who flourish despite difficult circumstances. It's an actual health term, and resilience is more important than people could have imagined. It seems to be the one quality that distinguishes those who crumble, and those who keep holding on for a brighter tomorrow.

I think there also has to be a belief that things just have to get better, and to believe it enough to work at it. Wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, this quality often seems to be perceived by others as being strong, as if it's an inherent quality, when in reality it's just a tenacity to not give up, to not give in, to keep putting one foot in front of the other - to do the actual work of whatever is desired. It's not that it's so much easier for those people, or that they're so much stronger, they just want it (whatever "it" is) and they are willing to work for it. They put in the hours, in the uncomfortable situations, to make something different happen.

I was listening to a Radio Diary today by Claressa Shields, who was the breakout star boxer at the Olympic trials recently. The story captures some of the difficulty of the 16 years of her life from a missing mother, to a father who ends up in jail, to sleeping on her aunt's couch. At the end of her story she says, "I always knew I'd be somebody. I just didn't know who."

I find that incredibly haunting. And a real glimpse at the mindset of a young woman who will make a different kind of life for herself than people might think possible looking at her circumstances.

"I always knew I'd be somebody. I just didn't know who," is a phrase that is going to stay with me. Absolutely brilliant, haunting, and true.
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Friday, April 06, 2012

Does Architecture Affect Our Adulthood

My friend, Teresa, and I were leaving the Eisenhower Center at dusk recently and while I was taking some photographs she was studying the house across the commons. When I turned to see what she was looking at, she said something I'm still thinking about.

"Look at that house," she said, "It's solid. It's square. On a good foundation. And the boy who grew up in it became president. I wonder how the architecture of the house where we grow up affects who we become?"

I'm not sure of the answer, but I know that's a very wise observation. And a very good question. If only I had an answer.
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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Taste of Home Cooking Show with Guy Klinzing

Today I helped with the Taste of Home Cooking Show in Hutchinson, Kansas. We do the show in the sports arena, with a makeshift kitchen. This is a snapshot from backstage at the start of the day. It's amazing what you can do with enough organization and enough people.

We come in the morning and prep everything and make the dish to show. We chop, package, saute, measure and do anything we can to make it go smoothly when the show is actually happening on stage. Everything is very organized with detailed instructions for us to follow.

Then we come back in the evening and help out on stage, bringing whatever he needs to make the recipe in front of the audience.

The host from Taste of Home was Guy Klinzing. He was here last year, too, and we all love him. He's really delightful to work with - very pleasant, kind, helpful and encouraging.

My recipe today was an asparagus strudel with filo pastry. He is always good about having everyone gather around when he's working with something unusual like filo dough so everyone can learn something about it. I had worked with it before, but picked up a couple of tips today.

I didn't get to taste it, but it was sure pretty when it was done! We had some filling left and we all took some home to try out, so I can report back, but it smelled heavenly and looked wonderful.

Guy is a great entertainer. Literally - he's an actor, who also happens to know cooking How fun is that? He gets the crowd up on their feet at various times during the show.

Tonight he had them doing a modified version of YMCA, only with "Taste of Home" as part of the song. The emcee was Bob Colladay, in the white shirt here. He's always great at playing along with anything and jumped right in.

It's a very tiring day - we start at 8:30 and today didn't finish the prep work until about 2 p.m., then had to be back at 5 and finished up about 11 tonight. This year the show has 10 recipes in, which seems like a lot, but I guess people are definitely getting their money's worth out of their ticket. It's interesting to see how the process works and I always enjoy doing it.
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