Sunday, January 27, 2013

Leftovers and Musings

A few little leftovers from the last few weeks:

1.  The puppy is part Golden Retriever and part Border Collie.  Bart is in trouble . . . a smart, lovable dog.  I think this little guy is going to have both Bart and Jerri wrapped around his little tail rather quickly.

2.  Bart and Jerri have two cats.  One, the male Clyde, is also very smart.  He has learned how to hang on the door knob and pull it down so the door will open.  Bart had to replace the door knob with a cylinder style that the cat can't hang on . . . hilarious.

3.  Now I am learning to draw landscapes.  Watch out . . . one may show up here sometime.

4.  Babs ate 6 chicken patties and two McDoubles the other day.  She seems to actually be gaining weight.

5.  Football season is coming to an end.  One more game.  And I am sad.  It was pretty sad yesterday that there was not one game to watch.  I can watch a football game no matter who is playing, but basketball just doesn't do it for me.  Oh well . . . guess my tv viewing will go down now that football season is over.  Not a bad thing.

6.  One-tenth of an inch of rain is not worth the mess it creates.  Come on . . . let's get enough to make it worthwhile.

That's it for a rainy Sunday morning.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


What a great movie!  It returned to Wichita Friday for an encore performance, and we knew we wanted to see it.  So we went to the show that night.

Because it was in a small theater, nearly every seat was taken.  By old people.  Who don't text, talk, or giggle.  It was the quietest movie I have ever been to.  And because we were there only 15 minutes early, we had to sit toward the front.  Not usually my favorite place, but it was fine.

It is a good thing I knew what was going to happen, because the movie was tense.  Very tense.

I think it is a shame that Ben Affleck was shunned by the Motion Picture Academy because the movie was too pro-American.  I thought it pointed out plenty of reasons for us to be mad at our country.  But it also showed some very valiant people working hard to save others' lives.

This is a movie well worth seeing.  The behind-the-scenes look at a special operation makes for a pretty exciting, expletive-filled flick that will keep a person on the edge of their seat!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The LaRue Curse

My grandmother had it.  My mother had it.  My sister has it.  My two uncles have it.  My cousins have it.  I have it.  My brother has it.  The LaRue curse.

It must come through my grandmother, who picked up every stray animal she ever found.  My mother would pick up strays, as did my uncles.  My sister currently houses 4 cats that she rescued from a bag thrown in the shoulder of the road.  I have picked up my share of strays, though haven't kept any.

When my brother's dog was put down, he said to me, "I don't want to go get a dog.  One will find me . . . they always do."  He was fully aware that he has the LaRue curse . . . he just had never named it.

On Monday, Bart and Jerri went to Chaco Canyon.  There were only a few people there, and one particular family had a puppy with them - or at least that is how it appeared.  When they left, however, the puppy was still there.  It followed Bart and Jerri until it was exhausted.  No one was left in the parking lot.  Clearly, the puppy was abandoned.  What to do?  Those with the LaRue curse know what to do.  Take the puppy home.

And so they did.  Isn't it cute?

Whether they will find a home for it or keep it is still being decided.  But those with the LaRue curse at least make sure that God's helpless creatures are taken care of.  Maybe I should instead call it the LaRue blessing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Poor Kids and Their Insufferable Mom

Have you ever been so excited about something you could hardly contain yourself?  It's all you talk about?  (Being in love doesn't count . . . nothing comes close to that!)

Well in September I started my art class.  It has opened a whole new world for me.  Although the first couple of months I just did what Charles told me, since Diana gave me a sketch pad and some pencils, I have actually been practicing.  I am finding that I have enjoyed drawing something that actually looks like it is supposed to look . . . after 59 years of not being able to do that, it is incredibly rewarding!

Lately, my kids have been receiving emails that say "Can you tell who this is?"  "Guess this one," and "Who is this?"  One time Kenneth was at work making a presentation from his computer when a message popped up, "Who is this one?"  I have to start sending them to his yahoo account from now on.

Anyway, this past week I have been drawing Chaco, Babs, Sepia, and Bella.  Can you tell who they are?

First the subjects:

Sepia on the left; Bella on the right.

PattySue (terrified in the arms of Martha, the KPTS dog)


The only pictures we have available of Chaco can't be uploaded for some reason.  Heaven knows I have tried.  She was white with big brown eyes.  But this should be easy . . . ha, ha!

Now the pictures:  

(Unfortunately two are turned on their sides, and I am not quite certain how to rotate them.)

 As you can see, I have a long way to go, but at least they do look like dogs . . . which is better than they would have looked like before I had taken my class.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Must-Read for Teachers and Parents

Last Child in the Woods.  I am not even through reading it, and I can already tell this is a must-read for anyone interested in the future generation.

Technology has improved the lives of every generation (I mean, what would I do without my dishwasher), and it continues to do so.  BUT, technology is negatively impacting young children in insidious ways.  One of those ways is that young people do not play outside.  They don't build dams in rivers, they don't build forts, they don't explore nature.

Book smart, yes.  Many young people are book smart.  But they don't understand how nature works, how things work.  They don't run around, ride bikes, solve problems.

The author is making a compelling case for what he calls "Nature deficit disorder," saying that the lack of nature in children's lives is connected with obesity, ADD, and other ailments.

In discussing this book with our neighbor, Rick, a well-respected expert in play therapy, he corroborates much of what Louv says, and takes it to a practical level.  One example Rick used is one about engineers who have never worked with their hands, built with Legos, experimented with building are not nearly as proficient as those who have.  One critical question for people hiring engineers could be, "What kinds of games did you play as a child?"  Studies have shown that those who worked on a farm, who played outside, who built forts turned out to be better problem solvers for engineering problems than those who didn't.

This book is a fascinating look at education and young people.  Will be interested in other readers' perspectives.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The New Kitchen

Well, I think we are done.  The kitchen is complete.  What started as a "new countertop, new tile" project ended up being a "new countertop, new tile, new overhead lights, undercounter lights, painted cabinets, and new cabinet door" project.  Isn't that the way it always is?  Oh . . . and a new stove/oven.


I didn't think to take the pictures until the tile and the formica were already off, but the effect is still the same.


I love my sunflower over the stove.

We hadn't planned on the undercounter lighting, but we love it now!

The last part was the tile above the washing machine.  It ties the kitchen into the laundry room.

We put the same sunflower on the folding table in the laundry room.  I am hoping that I will keep it cleared off, since I love seeing it.  It will challenge my pile management strategies, but so far, so good.

I love the way the kitchen turned out.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What Can We Believe?

I have always tried to believe the best in people.  It is a nice way to live life, but sometimes one can end up looking rather foolish.

I believed Lance Armstrong.  I truly believed him.  He had been tested so many times, he talked a good story . . . I trusted that he was telling the truth.

I believed Manti Te'o.  Such a tragic story.  He nearly won the Heisman Trophy.  Duped again.

Those are two of the most recent times I have believed what someone said, only to be let down.

Unfortunately, this appears to be happening more and more often.  I ask myself, "When will I ever learn?"

Then I ask myself, "Do I want to change my outlook? Do I want to be cynical and negative?"  The answer, of course, is no.  So I guess I will continue on my "believe the best" outlook, hoping that I will be right more often than not.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lincoln, The Movie

I had heard a lot about the movie, Lincoln, but hadn't seen it yet.  Last Saturday night, we took the opportunity to do so.  Wow.

What a person learns in history class as a junior in high school doesn't come close to helping understand what really happened.  And although the movie is just a movie, the book from which it was made was superbly researched, so I suspect it was pretty accurate.

I took several things from the movie:

1.  Democracy is messy.
2.  Fighting among Congressmen is nothing new.
3.  In Lincoln's time, the Republican party was the forward thinking, progressive one interested in civil rights.
4.  Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field, and Tommy Lee Jones are amazing actors.

As we left the movie, Rick Gaskill commented that the way to teach history was through presentations such as this one.  Agreed wholeheartedly.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Just after Christmas, the Gaskills introduced me to the Fitbit - a little electronic gadget that counts steps, calculates stairs, and even keeps track of sleep patterns.

Since I bought the Fitbit, I have found that I really have increased my exercise.  Today, rather than drive to breakfast, Kathy and I walked the two miles to and from - 4000+ steps right there.  Then this afternoon, while at the Rotary mixer, I walked up 14 floors of stairs . . . enough to complete a 25 floor badge and get to 13,000+ steps!

So far I have yet to see the weight loss that is supposed to accompany the increased exercise, but I trust I will.  At least I had better!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The 19th Wife

Our book club's assignment for this month was to read The 19th Wife.  I did not know what to expect, but it is an amazing read.  The subject of polygamy has always fascinated me.  Several years ago I read a book by a woman who escaped from the group about which this book was written (or one similar).  So I had some background.

This book is told by three different people.  The first is Ann Eliza Young, the writer of the original book, The 19th Wife, who single-handedly led the fight to outlaw polygamy.  The second is a researcher into polygamy, and the third is a modern-day mystery dealing with the polygamous sect in southern Utah.  By intertwining the three stories, the author creates an amazing account of plural wives and their lives.

I completed the book hours before going to see the movie, Lincoln.  After seeing the movie, one of my first thoughts was how does this polygamous sect continue to exist in the 21st century?  In many ways, it is as cruel as slavery was.  Why doesn't our government put an end to it?  I remember several years ago, the government raided a compound in Texas.  They tried to find a way to put an end to it then, but were largely unsuccessful.

It is a knotty problem, and one that I do not understand.  But books like The 19th Wife will help expose the issue and perhaps put an end to it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Growing up, my family was not big on family reunions.  On occasion we would have them, but neither of my parents liked them, so frequently, if we went at all, it was only for awhile.

Don, on the other hand, grew up in a family that held large reunions.  His mom was one of 9, so when that family got together, the reunions were big . . . and loud.  When we were married, he would tell me about the reunions, and we would go to the ones we could.  We missed a memorable one that was in the basement of an unairconditioned church in Bucklin, when it was hotter than you know what.  Kim and Kenton made that one.  We went to our share of ones in unairconditioned places, or in freezing cold places . . . and it was always fun to meet members of the family that I hadn't met before.

After all of Don's brothers married, we began to hold reunions.  This year, everyone on Don's side made it here except Eric, Kevin and Barb's son.  After dinner at Louie's, we came back to our house where all of the kids went to the basement to play Apples to Apples.  The adults stayed upstairs, but we were delighted to hear all of the laughing from the basement.  The kids were having a great time.

My family gets together every now and then, too, but it always seems to revolve around Bowl games.  This year, we all managed to get together for the Fiesta Bowl, though I never got to see Jerri.  When we don't all stay in the same hotel, it is complicated; and when the only mode of transportation is an RV, it is even complicateder.  But we managed to have a great time anyway.

My favorite "family" reunion was during the tailgate, however.  I got to see my pledge daughter, Pat, and meet her husband, Greg, and daughter, Sarah.  I hadn't seen Pat for years until the Kappa reunion a year ago.  We didn't get to spend much time together then, and we didn't this time, either, but what time we had was wonderful.  She is such a treasure . . . it was wonderful to see her again!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Game Day!

Game Day finally arrived.  Snydy was excited!

After we arrived at the RV spot, Don started grilling the ribs.  Snydy decided to help.

When Brianna and Susan went for a walk, Snydy got the VIP treatment.

About 5:30 we all went into the game.  Snydy stayed in the RV and listened on the radio.  It was a painful experience, but we were proud of our 'Cats.  When Snydy went to bed, however, he just could not be consoled.  "Oh, the pain of it all," was all he could say.

Snydy sat quietly in his seat all the way home.  He didn't even get out of the car when the group stopped at the meteor crater.  It was just too hard.  By the time he arrived in Wichita, however, he was able to go in the house and get with his KSU friends.  Then he felt better.

Friday, January 11, 2013

SNYDY, Days 2 and 3

While the Gaskills were driving from Albuquerque to Flagstaff, we started our trek from Wichita to Gallup.  The days were broken up by these posts from Snydy:

Day 2:  Up and ready to go

Snydy loves roadside attractions.

When it was time for a snack, Snydy had his Route Beer 66 while listening to his favorite cowboy music.

Because they had such a short drive, Snydy didn't have much more to say.  The next day, however, they headed into Phoenix.

Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore.

At the pep rally:

He enjoyed seeing Eric Stonestreet, but his favorite part was when Ty Zimmerman announced that the 'Cats were getting new uniforms.  They have a Tostitos Bowl patch on the shoulder.

Finally that night, Snydy was dreaming of plucking ducks.

Doug Thompson brought along a sock monkey, and we took one picture of sock monkey looking at smoke signals, saying that they said, "'Cats win."  Other than that, Snydy had all the great lines!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Our good friends, the Gaskills, have wonderful senses of humor.  They are always fun to be around, and any situation with them ultimately results in a laugh or two.

So when Susan and Rick received a K-State Gnome for Christmas, Susan and Brianna immediately started concocting a scheme of how to involve it in the bowl game experience.

They left a day before we did, and within a few hours of their departure, this picture showed up on Facebook:

Snydy was in the back seat, buckled in and reading.

A few hours later, this one arrived:

Lunch time.

Then came Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?:

As they neared Albuquerque, we received Four States Down, One More To Go:

And finally in Albuquerque for New Year's Eve, this one arrived:

Snydy was enjoying his margarita to the max.

I have to tell you, this made the long trip very fun . . . and funny!  We couldn't wait to see what Snydy was going to do the next day!  Tune in tomorrow to find out more about Snydy's adventures.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bowl Day

We missed the pep rally, but that didn't dampen our spirits for game day.   By 10:00, I was in the parking lot of the motel making fruit salad, tossing a green salad, defrosting potato casseroles, defrosting rolls for the signature dessert, and preparing the appetizers.  Although it sounds daunting, it really went well.  By the time the Gaskill, Norton, Thompson, Kinney, and Moore groups loaded into Bart's and our RVs, we were set for a great day.

The drive to the stadium was pretty short, but as we approached the stadium, we missed the turn into the RV spot.  Have you ever seen an RV make a three point turn in the middle of a busy street?  We hadn't either until then.  But there was no traffic coming, so we proceeded to do a U-turn right back to the RV area.  Bart turned right behind us, and we were partying within 15 minutes.

Unbeknownst to us, we had pulled in right next door to Brady and Samantha Alexander's tailgate party,  so we were delighted to get to see them as well as many DU's.  We also had the Wrights and Yourdons from Wichita join us, Kenneth's boss Doug and his son, the Berrymans, and others.  I was also lucky enough to get to see my pledge daughter, Pat, her sister, Nancy, and their families.  They came over for a few minutes, and Nancy's husband, Joe, got to see many DUs too.  Rib day always draws fans, and once again, it did.

Although the game wasn't what we had wanted, none of us were surprised, so we weren't totally bummed.  We would have loved to have won, but we knew we would have to play perfectly to pull it off.  And we didn't.  The drive back to the motel was subdued, but we were pretty realistic about the season and felt blessed to be able to enjoy it while we could.

Bowl games are as much about family and friends as it is about the game.  And if that is the case, we had an A+ time.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Going Bowling

Well,  we have had a frenetic week.  So I will start with the getting to the bowl game.  It is fun, but it is also a lot of work.

The day before we were to leave, January 1, I cooked ten racks of ribs.  That is a lot of ribs.  We had to load all of the food everyone else was bringing, along with water, pop, and snacks for the road.  Oh, and don't forget the dog food.  Then there are the dog's pills, the clothes for all of the days, the snacks, the reading material, the iPad, the computer, the satellite radio . . . oh, and don't forget the warm coats, the gloves, the fruit, the trash bags, the paper plates, the napkins . . . oh yes, the gloves for eating the ribs, the baby wipes . . . you get the idea.  A lot to bring.

We left at 7:00 a.m. on New Year's Day - Kenneth, Diana, Don, Babs, Doug Thompson, and yours truly.  We made our own lunch, but stopped in Albuquerque for dinner with our friends, Janet and Greg Wright.  We have to travel all the way to Albuquerque to have dinner with our East Wichita Rotary friends.  Then we headed the two hours to Gallup, and other than making one man angry enough to make a little gesture (Don didn't see him and almost pulled over into him), we made the trip unscathed.

Unfortunately, it was going to be 1 degree in Gallup.  Unfortunately, there was no place to plug the Willie into electrical power.  We checked into our motel, Don turned on the generator, and we hoped for the best.  7:00 a.m. the next morning, we came out to leave, but the RV wouldn't start.  Don tried many things, but we couldn't get it started until 9:00.  That meant we wouldn't make it to the pep rally.  That was too bad, but once Don used Di's hair dryer to warm up the starter and we could get on our way, we were just glad to be headed in the right direction.  By 3:30 we were in Phoenix, checked in, and very happy we had made it that far. Now, just hope the RV starts tomorrow morning.