Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween!

A photo from last year's Halloween fun prompts me to be thinking about popcorn balls. When I was a kid my sister-in-law Mary Ann's mother always made popcorn balls. Oh my goodness I loved Mrs. Cooper's popcorn balls.

It occurs to me I've never made popcorn balls. Obviously, I need a recipe for them. Something to look for...

Wish I had Mrs. Cooper's recipe. I doubt anything will ever compete with those memories.
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Monday, October 29, 2012

Gifts and Grace

Lately I have been the recipient of some lovely gifts from friends. I will be posting photos eventually, but haven't had a chance to take them as I've been occupied with other things. It's so nice to be remembered by people, and that people take notice of the things you love.

I've also had some time lately to be with people I enjoy. Spending time with artist friends always inspires me. Just talking with people who see the world differently causes me to reconsider things and come to new conclusions.

There is something magical about the existence of pure creativity. It is a force in the world that manifests in thousands of ways, if we allow it. And I want to always allow it in my life.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Late Night Double Feature Picture Show aka Rocky Horror

Last night we went to Wichita to a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It has been awhile since I've been to one, but it was even more fun than I recall.

There were lots of people dressed up, including this group that allowed us to snap a photo after the show. We got there just in time for the show because we had another event before it, so we didn't get a chance to see all the costumed folks before.

It's good to know there are folks on the prairie who appreciate the fun of a good Rocky Horror experience. It was at the Orpheum, which is a wonderful old building - complete with these lamps.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Vintage Hankies

Pretty things have been finding their way to me lately. I've always loved vintage hankies but it seems they love me now, too. I keep running across them in quantity. What is a person to do except bring them home?

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Presenting at Conference

This morning I spoke about social media to the Kansas Museums Association. I did it a couple of years ago, but this was a different presentation. I'm starting to have quite an assortment of them.

It was in Newton so I made a stop at the Et Cetera shop in Newton, and had lunch at Reba's. All in all a nice morning. It's lovely when pleasure can be had - literally - on the way home from business!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sunlight and Fronds

We are expecting our first major freeze in the next few days. Ironically, I had the AC back on yesterday and today.

I do love the changing of the seasons. There's something nice about the world around you looking different as the year progresses. It seems soon there will be little green to see in the landscape.

Tonight was Creative Sisterhood and it was a great evening. It's hard to believe we're into our 10th year, now.

Otherwise, I've been occupied with various projects. I was house-sitting for some friends the last few days. Last night was my first night back in my house for a little while. It's good to try on other people's lives every once in awhile. But, I"m happy to be back in my own space.

Work continues to go well. I'm really blessed to have wonderful clients with interesting projects.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

The Problem with Moral Arguments

I've never had a debate class, but I feel certain if I had, that this would have come up. Morals are not the best way to win an argument.

The reason is simple - if we don't share the same morals, then your argument based on morals will have no impact on me. To top it off, if you make morals any part of your argument bullet points, I'm going to discount all of them. Why? Because you've just proven to me you aren't making very wise decisions. Once you've illustrated that it would be rather foolish of me to put much stock in anything you say.

Please be clear - I'm not saying your morals are right or wrong. I'm just saying they're a foolish way to try and win anyone over to your viewpoint. Because, think about it, if I shared your moral code, I'd probably already agree with you, and you wouldn't be trying to convince me.

Simple? Yes.
Necessary to state? Apparently.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Too Perfect to be Believable

Saturday I gave a presentation about Social Media to a Lions Club gathering in McPherson. When I returned I was greeted with this beautiful sunset. I love how the curve of the clouds mirrors the curve of the trees. If someone had painted it, we'd say it was too perfect to be believable.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Tact, or the Lack Thereof; and an Apology

In a wide-ranging conversation with a friend today I was telling him a family story and he said, "Ah, a little passive aggressive." I laughed and said, "No, nothing about my family is passive."

I grew up in a "tell it like it is" family. I like that. I understand that. It makes sense to me.

I honestly only learned about 2-3 years ago that you just cannot do that in the "real world." You must learn to preface sentences with, "I think...," and sprinkle them with "maybe" and "perhaps" and "I'm wondering." In communication theory, it's pointed out that women tend to do the later much more than men. Men are more likely to be straight about things, without the tentative language.

While I've learned to do this, it is not natural for me, and it takes a considerable amount of energy to constantly remind myself. So, I probably engage less with the world because it's more tiring. I sometimes just say, "That's up to you," or something similar because I just don't have the energy to couch my words with that "spoonful of sugar." The more urgent the issue is, the less tactful I generally am because - obviously - the previous approach hasn't worked or we wouldn't be having the same conversation again. But I find myself less and less willing to engage in those conversations at all.

Truly, until a couple of years ago, I didn't even understand why people would want this softer style of communication. Frankly, I still don't. If I'm working on a project and someone sees a huge flaw I've overlooked, I'd rather they say, "Hey, this isn't going to work. The blah blah blah is in conflict with the blah blah blah." That seems so much better to me than spending 40 minutes exploring the positives and negatives of it with me, in hopes I'll see the error of my ways. If I had seen the error, I wouldn't have done it this way in the first place.

That said, I do understand it's a kinder, gentler way to approach issues. And we can all use more gentleness in the average day. But, please, if I'm about to make a fool of myself and you see it happening, don't hesitate to stop me. Isn't it kinder to prevent disaster than walk gently toward it?

As with all things, I'm guessing the balance is the key here. And, lets face it, balance isn't my best thing. Ironically, the friend I was speaking with said it has only been in the last couple of years he had learned to speak his mind about anything. I guess confusion comes in all varieties.

All of this said, let me take this opportunity to apologize to coworkers, friends, neighbors, bosses and anyone else I may have crossed paths with in this lifetime who found me "abrasive." It was never my intent to harm you in any way, so I apologize if I did.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Random Beauty

The skies in October are the bluest. I took this downtown a week or so ago. I love random bits of beauty.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Other Projects

I feel as if I'm on the threshold of some new, wonderful things happening in my life. Just like this photograph suggests, the gate is partially open, and with the slightest push, I can open it all the way. Or I can just slip in sideways and hope no one notices.

One thing I've learned - finally, after living for five decades - is that one should prepare a little bit before blundering on in. Of course, you can't know everything that's going to happen, but you might as well prepare for what you can foresee. There might be a few cobwebs to get out of the way, and you might as well be bold and push the gates open wide. All of that requires some preparation.

So, that's what I've been doing the last few weeks. It has taken some energy that I ordinarily devote to this blog. I have also been busy working on website projects beyond this blog. That's part of the reason I've been less present here. I've also grown really frustrated with the way blogger (the way I blog here) handles some things, particularly photographs. So, I've been looking at other options.

This blog will continue. When everything is up and running on other projects, I'll be here more. I realize I'm missing a gold mine of material during this election season, but other things are more pressing in my little corner of the world.

Although it's not quite ready for prime time yet, this is one of the sites I've been working on for my Cook's Library Column in Kansas Country Living.  It still has some tweaking to do here and there, but the time is overdue for this website. I'd like to connect with readers in a more efficient manner. We'll see how that goes. This is its first premiere. It still needs some back-end work. But, all in all, I'm pleased with it.

I will be adding to it regularly, and eventually I will link all of these things together. That's somewhere far beyond that gate, though!

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Autumn Arrives on the Prairie

Autumn seems to have arrived on the prairie. I, for one, welcome it. The summer was not miserably hot for extended periods of time, but it was so dry it moved into frightening. 

A couple of days ago we made a stop at our local truck market, Polk's, on a nice misty, rainy day. I couldn't resist a photo showing both the Autumn colors and the moisture - both welcome.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Trying on Different Lives

Children "try on" different ways of being in the world through unstructured play. When they're allowed to just let their imaginations roam they experiment with seeing what it would be like to be different kinds of people.

Unfortunately, today children spend far more of their time in "directed activities." As a result, children are measurably less creative now. "Directed activities" include everything where children are engaged in things with rules and adults who are making decisions.

I was thinking about how this applies to adults as well as children. We should all try on different lives occasionally. We spend a lot of our adult lives in "directed activities," trying to live by the rules others set down. Are we killing our creativity too? Maybe we all need more unstructured play time.

I think that's part of what we do when we go to a B and B. We immerse ourselves in that, we try it on, we think how it would be to live in that environment. We enjoy a little unstructured play, we experiment.

Soon I'll have a chance to try on a different way of being in the world. I'm sure it will be interesting, and probably enlightening. Of course, details will follow here, as soon as they are some!

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Urban Chicken Farming

Today I went to a presentation at the local library about Urban Chicken Farming. I'm not planning on getting any chickens for my backyard, but I was sure it would be interesting and it was.

Austin and his wife, Amy, keep a few chickens in their backyard. They've become the local experts.

I love it that the Hutchinson Public Library does cool events like this. There's something quite wonderful about chickens (and ducks today, as well) being inside the library. Just another lunch hour in Hutchinson, KS.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Beautiful Things

My friend, Judith, brought me these lovelies that she got at a sale some time ago. Aren't they wonderful? 

We got to spend a couple of hours together yesterday afternoon and have a nice chat. She mentioned to me how much she enjoys my photos on the blog. I'm flattered, of course. But it is something I've been hearing a lot lately from various people. It seems I should pay attention.

I'm a big believer in signs, that the universe tries to get your attention in multiple ways. And the fact that photos are coming up so much in my life these days makes me think I should pay attention to that. I was even contacted by Parade Magazine a week or so ago, asking about using some photos from the blog. Not sure that's going to happen, but it's yet another indication.

So, I'm mulling over what to do with that information. In the meantime, it's always nice to look at pretty things!

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Monday, October 08, 2012

Sunday Flea Market Find - Grape Doily

This was one of my flea market finds on Sunday. Isn't it lovely? Just a couple of minutes before I spotted it I bought a pattern for a grape doily. It's slightly different in the middle, but the same basic grape design. Of course I love it!

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Saturday, October 06, 2012

Wiley Building

While Greg and I were having breakfast downtown last weekend I noticed these beautiful pink roses outside the window. At some point I went out to get a photograph of them in the dew. I waited a little too long, but in the process of trying to capture the flower, I took a photo that showed a bit of the Wiley Building in the background. I liked the idea, so took another that showed more of the building.

The Wiley Building is a landmark downtown, but is owned by someone who doesn't seem to want to maintain it, and it now has no tenants. It's one of the largest buildings downtown, and I think most locals don't perceive how much would be missing if it weren't there.

As I was running around doing errands on Saturday, this point was reinforced multiple times. First was this photo. Then, as I was coming back from the Farmer's Market I noticed the reflection of the Wiley Building in the First National Bank building.

I decided to go take a photo of the actual Wiley Building.

And as I drove past, I couldn't help but notice its reflection in yet another window. This time on a white van with Oklahoma plates.

If you want to see some really cool photos of the inside, check out Greg's post here.

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Friday, October 05, 2012


Saturday morning Greg and I were both up early so we decided to head out to Fraese Drug for breakfast. We sat there and chatted for quite a while, and at some point Greg noticed this wonderful shadow on the wooden floor from the lettering on the glass window.

That's one of the great things about hanging out with a photographer. They see stuff like that.

Cool, huh?

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Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Pink and Blue Elephant

Yes, he's spectacular, isn't he?

I bought him at the Salvation Army on Saturday. There he was, just sitting on a shelf, surrounded by other elephants.

No doubt it was someone's elephant collection.

I don't collect elephants. But I do collect cool stuff.
Exhibit A:

The consensus from my Facebook friends, including someone who knows a bit about such things, is that it's a planter - perhaps a Hull. I don't know. I don't care. I just know he's cool. And now he's mine.

And, then, there was a special treat on the bottom of it...

It says: 3-16-1950 - Em brought this from Wichita, Kansas.

He will be a wonderful companion to the Pink Hippo who has been living with me for a few years.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Candy Crowley at Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College

Candy Crowley spoke at the Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College Tuesday morning. She is CNN's Chief Political Correspondent and anchor of their Sunday morning talk show, State of the Union.

She spoke about the presidential election and what the candidates are doing as we get closer to election day. She said she lives in Maryland and although it's not a swing state, Virginia is, and they're seeing the ads geared toward that state. She said watching the ads that, "You would think males are an endangered species because all the ads are about women." The reason, of course, is that women tend to vote to more.

Her comments were really balanced as she spoke about both campaigns and what they were concerned about at this stage. She talked quite a bit about polling and how it's just a snapshot of today. She said she uses polls to see general trends.

She also talked about why certain stories get play and others don't. She used Romney's comment about the 47% and how that fed into an existing storyline that was already in the zeitgeist. The trick for candidates, it seems, is to lay out those storyline potentials long before something like that happens that feeds into them.

Of course, timing is also important. She mentioned a gaffe Obama made, but it was in March, and how something in September is harder to overcome by the time of the election. She said Romney's camp is concerned about not having time to recover from various things and Obama's camp is concerned that he's polling under 50% sometimes and that's not good for an incumbent. She said at this point, Romney has to run a near-perfect campaign if the polls are correct because they give the edge to the President.

She said this is a "base election," meaning it will hinge on who gets their base out to vote. She said she has thought for years that there are no undecided voters. She said, "There are voters who aren't paying attention, and there are voters who've decided they're not going to vote." But she said a conversation with her son convinced her otherwise, and that some people are actually undecided, because he is. But she said it's a small percentage of people.

What it comes down to are the 4.5 hours of the debates. She will host the one on October 16, the first woman to do so in more than 20 years. She said she's getting more than 100 emails a day of people suggesting questions

She said there's always an "x-factor" in who people decide to vote for, things we can't determine exactly. She noted that 40% of people are saying they're not satisfied with their choice, which means things could change. She said for Obama part of the x-factor may be, "The pull of history in some of those undecideds," because he is the first African-American president.

Looking ahead to four years, she comments on both parties and potential candidates.

How partisan things are is related to redistricting, as has been said by multiple people. She pointed out that more than half the house was elected by a 60% majority or more because redistricting has made districts more of whichever way they leaned.

She said if Romney loses there will be a real fight in the Republican party between the idea of the tea party and that we need a "real" conservative, versus those who believe we need to widen the tent and can't remain a party of largely white people in a country where there's a minority majority. She said it will be a party trying to figure out its heart and soul.

For the democrats she said, "Joe Biden still dreams of being president." She said she believed what Hillary had been saying about not planning to run in four years but just recently she saw her speaking at a Clinton Global Initiative Event about collecting taxes on a equitable level and the expression on her face made Crowley think Hillary might be considering it.

It's that surprise that Crowley says she loves about politics. You never know what the candidates or the voters are going to do. She ended the lecture by telling the audience to remember that, "The country is always stronger than the people who run it."

At the luncheon following she said it was helpful to her to hear what questions people had - what people in Kansas wanted to know about the election.

The questions were non-partisan (I was so glad!) and included:
  • voter fraud
  • the amount spent on elections (she said for people to always look at who is giving money for any ad you see and what their agenda is)
  • the Mormon question (we don't know - elections are always multi-determined)
  • how she prepped for the debates and how much leeway she has (she said she asks a question 3 different ways generally and then says something like, "so you're not going to answer" and lets it go so she doesn't waste all her time)
  • how important are spouses (she said people vote for the top of the ticket)
  • who runs polls and who is asked
  • how has social media affected elections (she recommended factcheck.org, politifact.com and snopes.com, and encouraged people to consider where information is coming from)

She was incredibly warm and pleasant. She mentioned that when she worked at the AP, the motto was, "Get it first, but first get it right." That's how journalism is supposed to work. It was a wonderful, interesting morning!

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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Morning Glory

A few years ago I planted Morning Glories in front of my house. I love their vine-y goodness!

This year I noticed something growing and starting to travel up the side of the steps. Then it migrated onto the porch, then covered a wicker shelf I had on the porch and continued to march toward the door. Just as it seemed it would try to come into the house it started travelling upward again.

There are very few blooms, but it it is a morning glory plant. Yet another indication that everything wants to live and is striving to do so.

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