Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Well, a week ago I swore off sugar. I love sugar, unfortunately, but it doesn't love me. While many people can eat a cookie, if I eat one, I eat the whole package. If I never start, things are fine, but the minute I start eating sweets, it seems I have no "won't power."

So last week I decided to give up sugar for Lent. That meant no sugar on my oatmeal (yech), no chai tea lattes (oh, no!), none of Susan's banana bread (so sad), no bread and jelly . . . nothing.

Amazingly, it hasn't been too bad. I have begun starting out my mornings with an Egg Mcmuffin. The protein seems to take care of any cravings I might have, and by snacking on grapes, blueberries, bananas, and strawberries, I am taking in healthier sugars.

Unfortunately, the weight loss I thought I would see hasn't appeared yet. I am still waiting, and despite walking four miles a day, nothing has happened. But I am going to keep at it . . . and I am hoping after Easter, I will have not only lost a few pounds, I won't go back to my sugar-craving self!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weaving Threads of Connection

One never knows how connected to others one might be. And so a story:

The Kansas Author Dinner was Thursday night. Sponsored by Kappa Kappa Gamma, three authors speak to a group of over 100 people about their books, writing, or other pertinent subjects. This year our delightful authors included Tom Averill, Dian Regan, and Clare Vanderpool.

I couldn't wait to meet Tom for many reasons, but especially because he and his wife, Jeffrey, own a cabin on Grass Mountain . . . which isn't far from our cabin. So we already had a lot to talk about.

Not long after arriving, people began to introduce themselves to Tom . . . a former schoolmate, a former associate. In the meantime, Jeffrey saw the twin brother of her children's pediatrician . . . and someone she had dated while in college. Turns out, Jeffrey was a Kappa for a time at KU. Then she introduced me to a woman I had met at KSU and who knew a number of friends of mine. It seemed as if that night, no matter where I turned, a new connection was being made.

Perhaps it is a function of age, but it seemed as if more people from our early years were woven back into our lives; and we began new ones.

Don and I can't wait to begin weaving the new connection we have made with the Averills. It will be fun and exciting!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Love-Hate Relationships

We definitely have a love-hate relationship with the cottonwood tree behind our house. The tallest tree in the neighborhood, it stately stands in our neighbor's yard, shading our backyard in the summer. The hate part comes when it sheds its cotton in early July. Some years it coats our backyard so badly, we think it has snowed. In July. It also serves as a home for numerous squirrels - another love/hate relationship in and of itself. And then in the fall, our yard is covered with cottonwood leaves. Lots of them. But we don't mind that as much . . . they mow up easily and mulch our garden.

The love part relates to its beauty. On hot summer days, our backyard is nicely shaded, which keeps it cooler than other yards. The rustling leaves during a light wind musically soothe us when we are outside. And sometimes, especially during storms, we get amazing pictures. This one was taken after a thunderstorm last Monday. Gorgeous.

Then Wednesday, I heard a chain saw. Looking out the back door, I saw three men in the neighbor's backyard. They were cutting down the big cottonwood tree. Oh my gosh. Watching these men risking their lives, standing in harrowing positions at the top of the tree, they slowly felled it, missing every fence and coming down unscathed. It was amazing . . . but sad.

And now, two days after the beautiful storm shot, the tree is gone. We won't miss the cotton, and the squirrels will probably migrate to our trees - not good - but we will miss the tree nevertheless.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Holly, Part 3

I have so many favorite dogs. Of course, Babs is #1. Then there are Bella and PattySue, both of whom have funny personalities with cute quirks. And then there's Holly.

We got to see Holly when we went to Texas a few weeks ago, and she is still one of the cutest dogs I know. She is a bigger Sepia or Babs, with curly hair, a teddy bear face, and sweet disposition. I love how calm she is, and she obeys beautifully. She hardly barks, she loves to be cuddled . . . she is an amazing dog.

Several months ago, I posted a "not so modest" pose of Holly on the couch. She frequently sleeps on her back, and I thought it was cute. When Diana sent the following picture to me, I laughed out loud. Apparently when Holly gets down from the couch, she stretches. On this particular day, however, she stretched . . . and then fell back asleep. In.this.position. I loved it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Poem to Chocolates

I think that there could not exist
Chocolates lovely as these six.
From Japan, by friend they came,
Too bad I can't read their name.
I do know they taste really great,
And my sweet tooth they will sate,
But soon Lent. I'd best be hasty,
So that they don't go to wasty.
No matter though how good they taste,
They will end up on my waist!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I Hate Close Ball Games

Yes I do. Especially close K-State games. Today's was the classic. Playing Baylor, the #10 team in the nation, we got behind, caught up, got behind, caught up . . . it was that kind of day.

Don and I went to the Catbacker Watch Party at Fat Tony's in downtown Wichita. The first half, abysmal as it was, ended with a miraculous shot by Jamar Samuels, and we were leading by 4. Couldn't believe that one!

The second half was equally interesting, but as time began to wind down, the more nervous I became. When I watch games at home, I can pace, or work on the computer, or do dishes, or leave the room or something. But at Fat Tony's, all I could do is sit. And watch.

Every time a team would put up a shot, my heart would skip a beat. We went ahead with 1:57 remaining in the game . . . and the next 2 minutes was agony. When the last shot went up, I thought the refs had called a foul . . . I (as well as many others) didn't even know the game was over.

Amazingly, the good guys won. And I could breathe again.

Next time, I will sit toward the back so I can stand up and pace if necessary!

Go 'Cats!

Friday, February 17, 2012


Just a few random thoughts about the last week:

1. Well, Valentine's Day was totally "unawesome" around our house. At least from my perspective. No cards, no calls, no emails - at least not from my family. Don redeemed himself, however, on Wednesday when he walked in with flowers and candy hearts. All the better because they were half-off. He's forgiven. Kenneth and Diana, however - well, let it be known I can hold a grudge.

2. The Kansas Author Dinner is next week, and I am so excited. Besides the fact that Clare Vanderpool, last year's Newbery award winner, is speaking, we just found out that Tom Averill's book Rode won the Outstanding Western Book of 2011, awarded by the Western Heritage Association in Oklahoma City. Other authors such as James Michener, Barbara Kinsolver, and Cormac McCarthy have also won the award . . . good company to be in.

3. I have been privileged the past few weeks to be on tv promoting the dinner. I have met such nice people while doing it, and it is fun to talk about such a fun evening. Proceeds go to literacy projects here in Wichita . . .

4. My books are slowly beginning to sell. Today I shipped 4 . . . but I think kids (kids meaning 20 somethings) are talking to other kids (twenty somethings), and they are spreading the word. PattySue's sales are still slow . . . working on marketing, but it is tough! Have some new ideas . . . hope they work.

5. Back to the drawing board on condos in Austin. The family took the other contract, so we are back at square one. Glad Di can stay where she is as long as she needs to! This could be a long process.

6. Go 'Cats! Always cheering for them, no matter what!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The First of Many 29th Birthdays!

Well, today is the first of many 29th birthdays for Kenneth.

Reflecting back, thinking about being 29 . . . I was pregnant with Kenneth! It was a good year, despite two bouts with pneumonia. Since I was pregnant the first time and nursing the second, I wasn't allowed to take much medication, though the doctor finally did let me have some cough syrup with codeine. And when I was pregnant with him, I cracked a rib because I was coughing so hard . . . that was pleasant.

And the day before Kenneth was a born, a woman walked by me in JC Penney's, patted my stomach, and said, "You are the biggest pregnant woman I have ever seen." Lovely. Thank you very much. I couldn't tell her the next day that he was 9 pounds 5 ounces. My mother said he was born half-grown.

The past 29 years have been a blast, raising our family, creating memories, having fun. For Kenneth, I hope the next 29 years are as fulfilling for him as he has made the past 29 for us! Happy Birthday, Kenneth!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thirty-eight Valentine's Days Later

Is that possible? We have celebrated 38 Valentine's days? What's the big deal? If a person is married, shouldn't every day be Valentine's Day? In theory, maybe, but unfortunately, life gets in the way.

I remember our first Valentine's Day. Don and I had just started dating, but I was told that he was snowed - the term used back then for a person who had fallen for another. So I thought for Valentine's Day maybe a dozen roses would show up at the sorority house; or that we would go to dinner; or something. Yes, he did remember . . . but rather than roses, he brought me a small vase of dried flowers. It was very nice and so . . . practical. I kept it for many years, and I liked it . . . but it was certainly an indication that I could not expect Don to be a "sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic."

Don't get me wrong . . . I am practical too, and frankly, the money wasted on roses every year would be into the thousands by now. So I don't miss the roses . . . much.

Don kids me that he is going to buy me tires (he has), an oil change (that, too), or a tank of gas . . . yep, got that one also. So I really don't mind, because it keeps me from having to do that. But the year he bought me a book that was recommended by our doctor (he shall remain unnamed, but his first name is Hew) takes the cake. I have told Hew he should no longer dispense Valentine's Day advice. The book's name? Healthy Aging. They both could spin it any way they wanted: I want you to be healthy in your later years, we will age together gracefully, I love you so much I want you to live longer. But really. Healthy Aging? For Valentine's Day?

So who knows what today will bring. I suspect maybe a card and dinner. But it doesn't really matter. I am married to a wonderful man who puts up with opinionated, over-the-top me. And what could be better than that?

Happy Valentine's Day, Don.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Questions from Aubrey

Several days ago I was tagged by my friend, Aubrey. She sent eleven questions for me to answer and asked me to send eleven different questions to eleven friends who blog. But I have a problem with that part: I don't know eleven people who blog . . . and those I do know would kill me if I sent them eleven questions to answer.

That being said, I thought her questions were fun, so I decided to try to answer them.

1-What is your favorite thing to bake or cook?
Maybe Maple Nut Twists, but I also like to make enchiladas, green chile stew, and Grandmother's Oatmeal Bread.
2-What was the last book you read and loved?
Pope Joan, I think, though I have read some really good books in my book club. Currently reading Cleopatra, and I like it too.
3-What are the words you live by?
Treat others as you would have them treat you; have an attitude of gratitude.
4-What do you order at Starbucks (or other coffee shop)?
Grande non-fat Chai Tea Latte with cinnamon on top
5-What is your favorite sport and team?
You need to ask? K-State Football, with Green Bay following pretty closely. Also the Lobos, but I have been away from New Mexico long enough that I don't follow them as closely anymore.
6-What was your first concert?
Don't laugh. Peter, Paul and Mary. I was enthralled.
7-What is your favorite place you have ever been?
I have been some pretty cool places. Yellowstone in the winter was pretty awesome; Alaska was amazing; London, Germany, Italy, Greece, Austria are all amazing. Denmark was beyond awesome. How do I choose? Of course, my favorite place is the cabin, but I don't think that's the point of this question. So I will have to say Florence, Italy.
8-Do you love or hate your middle name?
Neither. It's all right.
9-Why did you start blogging?
I started to try to sell my Wildflowers booklets . . . but I quickly found that I didn't have enough material to keep it going . . . so I expanded.
10-What is your favorite movie to watch over and over?
The Sound of Music. Over and over.
11-What is your most expensive piece of clothing? (shoes count!)
Hum. Since I have retired, I don't have expensive clothing. But I did buy a pair of French Dressing Jeans . . . the ones recommended by Oprah. I like them a lot.

So that's my eleven.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Think I Have B.O.

It's either that or I am having what my elders call Senior Moments. No, not body odor. Brain Overload.

I have been noticing lately that I forget things that in the past I think I would have remembered. The gift that Diana opened at Christmas that I hadn't remembered purchasing for her. After I thought about it, of course, I recalled doing it . . . but right then, not. And people that I knew well in a former life suddenly become nameless! I know I know them but can't remember their name . . . or their children's names . . . or where I know them from. And then there is the word I can't come up with, or the file I can't remember . . .

"They" say it is normal to forget details as we age. I am trying to convince myself that all this is just that - senior moments, oldtimer's disease. I have joked for many years that I just wish I could add a memory card or a flash drive to my brain . . . it would be so helpful. But that won't happen, so I have tried to analyze what is happening. And it occurred to me that I might just be a little overcommitted - two leadership positions at church, one with the sorority, two new publications just out, two leadership positions in Rotary plus all the things I do for fun such as book club, bridge, pottery, and KSU activities. Perhaps too many things to remember has caused a lack of focus and is part of the reason for the "spaciness." At least that's what I hope it is!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Learning Spanish

Two members of my family are in the throes of learning Spanish. Diana is continuing to study and refine her Spanish, though she speaks so quickly I can't understand her. So I am not sure learning Spanish is exactly what she is doing . . . but close.

My brother, on the other hand, decided to take a Monday night class at the community center with University of New Mexico. Although he has been exposed to Spanish all of his life, he decided to take a conversation class, just to get to a point that he can speak it.

For his first class he was 45 minutes late, due to a meeting that went way over. Of course the only seat available was in the front row, dead center. He hadn't read the confirmation to know that he was to bring a book, a paper and pencil. After all, it was a conversation class. Needless to say, he did not make the greatest impression and the class did not get off to a great start. In order to get out of the room at the end of the class, each person had to answer a question. If they got it right, they were allowed to leave. Bart said if the teacher hadn't given him the answer, he would still be sitting there.

Last night, they were working on personal characteristics, and the way he describes it, he was frequently the object of description. Although some people were probably nice, he only recalls those who said he had gray hair (he doesn't - it's red), he is bald (he isn't), and he is short (5' 11" or so . . . not short in my book.) But the worst was when the teacher said he was "poco gordo," . . . a bit fat. Mind you, he has lost over 30 pounds and looks really good. Some teacher.

Good thing he has a sense of humor. I can imagine some in the class would not have appreciated the comments. It could have gotten ugly.

Let it be known that we look forward to hearing from Bart on Tuesdays. I hope next Monday they are nicer to him!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Watching Friends Soar

In my job at the school, I was always cheering for other people's children to do well. It was a natural thing to do, and how gratifying it was when they achieved more than we could have dreamt for them.

So last night when I watched Chris Mann "knock it out of the park," as one close to him said, it was not so unlike being back at school, except on a much bigger stage. He was fabulous last night, and it was so much fun to actually know someone on The Voice!

Although I have known Chris since he was born, I never realized how good a singer he was until he appeared in a Music Theater for Young People performance of Grease. As Danny Zucko, he showed all of us what a good voice he had . . . and this was just the beginning. At his senior recital, we were blown away by this young man who could play the piano and sing; and during his years at Vanderbilt, we continued to watch his voice mature. We attended special performances in Wichita, downloaded his songs from iTunes, watched him at the River Festival concert he held, and caught individual performances when we could. And we kept hoping just the perfect thing would come along.

It did. In the form of the tv show The Voice. Last night (Sunday), was his blind audition, and he did a wonderful job. I had chills and tears watching him perform . . . and watching his parents watching him perform. It was the greatest.

Many say that it takes a village to raise a child. I cannot agree more. It takes good parents to raise them and the village to encourage them. And sometimes, when things go right, they grow up to be outstanding surgeons or doctors or mothers or lawyers or teachers . . . or singers on The Voice. Keep up the good work, Chris. You make us all proud.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Reading with PattySue

It has been so much fun visiting classrooms with PattySue. The first thing we learned was that we need to keep her out of sight as much as possible, because the youngsters are so enthralled with her, they have trouble focusing on the story.

Another thing we have learned is that many of the children are familiar with humane societies, and at least here in Wichita, most of the children had been to the Kansas Humane Society. Several of the classes had taken field trips to the society, and a number of children had pets that had been adopted from the humane society. It affirms to me what a great job our humane society and the teachers are doing to get the message out.

On Friday we visited with some junior kindergarteners. Kathy asked the little ones if they had pets. "I used to but my dog kept pooping on the floor so we had to take her back." "Mine throws up on the carpet." We changed subjects.

I have also seen other adults have the same reaction to PattySue that Kathy and I had. Her personality just sucks people in . . . big dog people, fluffy dog people, long hair dog people. Everyone we have met has come away from meeting PattySue acknowledging what an engaging dog she is.

Every time we read, we learn a little more about the next generation. One thing we know for sure: the teachers are doing an excellent job teaching their young ones how to be loving and compassionate to all of God's creatures. We hope PattySue is helping to reinforce the message.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


A School Like No Other has been out nearly two months now. Slowly, people are hearing about it, and I am beginning to receive orders.

One of the unexpected, but most rewarding, effects of the book has been the way I have been able to reconnect with so many students, parents, and teachers. We have had a chance to talk about some of the stories in the book . . . and some of the stories I didn't include or didn't know. We have laughed, we have cried . . . but mostly we have relived fun times.

Many didn't know about our first five years on Bluffview. That building is now the Atishwin Treatment Center, and many had no idea the school was there before Atishwin. They do now.

I have thought of many episodes that I left out that I wish I had thought of in time. One of the most significant would have been in the sports section, probably girls' basketball. For a number of years, we were soundly beaten nearly every game. It was easy to tell which teams were trying very hard to be sportsmanlike and which ones just loved to rub it in. At the end of one particular drubbing, I recall having a conversation with Jennifer Curfman. She commented that she hoped when our team started winning, "we will remember how it feels (to be drubbed) and be good sports." I wish I had put that in the book.

I guess I couldn't put everything in the book - it would have 1000 pages long. So I guess I will just continue to talk with people and relive the special times.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Have It Figured Out

Well, not really. But a little.

We have a nice treadmill in the basement that I periodically use. One of my resolutions that I have kept fairly well is walking on the tread mill. But I always get so bored. There aren't enough television shows to keep me interested, and even those have so many commercials that it is tough to keep with it. Football is over; I am not that into basketball. Oh what to do?

I found the answer . . . at least temporarily. Fluff fun novels. Ones that are engaging but don't take too much thought. I just read Saint's Gate by Carla Neggers. It's about a former nun who turned FBI agent. It was a fun read . . . and one day I had walked for 50 minutes before I checked the time.

Now I am reading the sequel to Mrs. Mike. I just started it last night, but I can't wait to get back to it.

It seems I don't read nearly enough as I should . . . I am lucky to get my book club book read in time. But now, I think I have a new strategy. We'll see . . . it may only work for brainless books, but for right now, this is one resolution I have kept!