Monday, July 18, 2011


Friends of mine who are into Eastern philosophies urge me (and others) to "be in the moment." While I'm sure this is marvelous advice, I can't help but think about things I'm looking forward to. Here are a few:

1. The end of this current heat & humidity wave our part of the country is experiencing.
2. Kissing my dog, Emmylou, when I walk in the door tonight after work.
3. Second season: "Boardwalk Empire." (thank you, HBO).

4. Seeing who signs up for our college's tour to Paris & the Loire Valley in March 2012.
5. My 40th high school reunion this September in Kansas City.
6. Re-connecting with a childhood friend. We haven't seen each other since junior high school.
7. Saving enough money to buy my next car in cash.
8. Peaches.
9. Visiting pals in Boulder and walking the trails together with their two sweet dogs.
10. Watching Jane Lynch host the Emmy Awards.

11. Finishing our college's Self-Study for Re-accreditation. (College-wide effort; I play very small role).
12. Blueberry pancakes this Sunday morning.
13. Visiting London again. Maybe in 2012 when we (Parkland) host a "Beatles Tour."
14. Spending hours walking through the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. (then enjoying cocktails with my pals, Mad & Cyd).
15. Moving back to Kansas City, my hometown, when I retire.

Care to share any of your forward-thinking musings? Feel free.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just write.

February 23, 2011 was the last time I posted anything on this, my very own blog. Today is July 13, 2011. As far as I know, I have been awake during the months in-between. I've even been typing on a computer keyboard, writing tons of e-mails, letters, memos, reports, just about anything but writing for this blog.

Why the heck don't I write on this blog?

The answer is oh so clear: I am lazy. Further, I am not disciplined. At all.

Every morning I look forward to reading OTHER people's blogs, especially my friend, Jo's. (Do yourself a favor: read Smiling Heart. It's a treasure, filled with art, music, and daily observations that bring laughter and, sometimes, tears.)

Bloggers such as my friend Jo care enough to make time either every day or at least, consistently, to write. I salute them. What's more, I want to be like them.

So, let's give this blog another go, shall we, Jan?

I'll start with this comment from Cory Doctorow. I discovered Mr. Doctorow over at Boing Boing, where he is Co-Editor. Mr. Doctorow( also is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger. His latest short story collection is WITH A LITTLE HELP.

Some other poor sod asked Mr. Doctorow for advice on writing. Mr. Doctorow responded, "Write even when the world is chaotic ... you just need ten minutes and a writing implement."

I think that's a nice way of saying: No excuses. Just write.

I bought a Moleskine notebook. No lines. Just blank pages. I take it that the objective is to fill the blank pages with something. So I fill.

I write down book titles and authors that appeal to me or that have been recommended. Sometimes I even read these books.

I write reminders, e.g., Call Car X for tires rotation. Imagine my satisfaction when I cross through these reminders once I actually have completed tasks.

I write down quotes that touch me in some way. Here's one: "If an apple's called 'delicious,' it's not." Susan Stewart, writer & poet, evidently said that at some point. She may well be right.

I especially love writing down websites and blog addresses noted in my readings as worth checking out. Some are as interesting as I'd hoped; many are "blah."

I jot down ideas, work-related and personal, in my lovely Moleskine notebook. By the way, I read somewhere that Moleskine notebooks were cool so that's why I started using one. As if there aren't a thousand other kinds of journals and notebooks to write in. Cheaper, too.

But what other writing journals come with a little informational brochure written in seven languages? You can read the history of the Moleskine notebook which, it turns out, is the "heir and successor to the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two centuries: among them Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin."

I'm sold.

Folks, I just wrote down in my lovely Moleskine notebook an idea for a future blog post. This, I believe, is a good sign.

'til then.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Found & Lost

I remember him. More than 40 years on, I remember the boy who seemed golden. Tall, handsome, smart, charming. Popularity came naturally to him. I was friends with a girl he dated. That's as close as I ever came to the cool clique.

When Facebook came along, I realized it would be fun to look up people I went to high school with; heck, why stop at high school? I've now "friended" and been friended by people I went to kindergarten with.

One thing leads to another and before you know it, some of my high school FB buddies are talking about a 40th high school reunion.

A committee gets formed (thanks, folks, for volunteering your time), Save the Date notices go out, along with a "Missing" list, i.e., the names of our classmates that no one seems to have an address for or knows what happened to after graduation.

I didn't recognize many of the names (funny; I never thought of my high school class being so big that I didn't know everyone). Then I noticed a word next to some of the names: Deceased.

And there was his name. The boy I remember as so handsome and confident and popular. Gone forever.

Maybe that's the downside of these techno wonders like Facebook. You find long-ago friends. And you lose them.

The last time I saw many of my high school classmates was the night of our graduation. Pre-gray hair. Pre-grandkids. Pre-divorce. Pre-building a career, traveling the world, making huge mistakes, getting second chances, becoming the person you're destined to become.

Kinda like to remember them that way.

So, here's to you...
...and all the sweet souls of '71 that have flown off to heaven. Go Yellowjackets!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Paris is Paris, no matter how much you spend.

Friends are heading to Paris this month. I've not been to France, but oh how wonderful it would be to visit some day.

You often hear how expensive Paris is for travelers. I would think that lodging would be the major expense. Some folks find apartments to rent, which can be more affordable than many hotels, especially the Ritz.

I've heard that many of the museums are low cost or even free.

Then there's the strolling. Past the cafes. Along the Seine. Amid the parks. As far as I know, strolling is free.

You have to eat. And a little wine to wash down a meal that Julia Child would have approved is a must.

It's possible, dear friends, to not just dream of Paris. You can actually experience it. Read on here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Kindness

I’m sitting in a board meeting, lots of community and business leaders. At end of the meeting, one of my fellow board members comes up to me and hands me two CDs. “What’s this?” I ask.

He goes on to tell me how he’s been collaborating on a book about the history of a radio station in my hometown. It’s the radio station I grew up with, where I first heard “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Surfer Girl,” and the entire “Sgt. Pepper” album. In other words, this radio station changed my life.

Now this fellow, who is a big shot and well liked in broadcasting, is an acquaintance of mine, at best. We don’t hang out, have beers together, or “tweet” one another. I see him once a month at these board meetings.

But this man remembered that I had admired something I instantly recognized that was hanging on his office wall: a framed “Top 40” list from the 1960s that my hometown radio station used to print and distribute every week to drugstores, record shops, and other local businesses. I hadn’t seen one since I was a teenager.

The guy remembered this! It's been more than a year since I was in his office. Yet when he received CDs of all of the radio station jingles, from 1962 to 1981, as thanks for helping with the book on the station’s history, he made copies for me.

The kindness. The kindness.

Next day, I drive over to my favorite breakfast spot. Yeah, I’m a regular. It’s wonderful and comforting to see the same faces each morning and for the waitress to bring your coffee and oatmeal with brown sugar without waiting to ask what I want to order (let’s just say, I’m consistent).

As I get up to the front door on this chilly January morning, a tall gentleman holds the door for me. Gentleman, indeed. He looks familiar, yet I do not know his name, nor do I recall having ever spoken with him. Guess he’s a “semi-regular” at the pancake house.

As we walk through the door of the restaurant, he asks me, “How’s your dog?” Wait, I don’t know this fellow. But he asks in such a concerned and gentle voice. I realize that somehow, he must have heard some conversation among the “regulars” that my Jack Russell terrier had been at the Emergency Vet overnight (she’s fine now).
That happened more than a week ago. And like I said, I don’t even know this man.

The kindness. Again.

My heart is full. These aren’t miracles. They are joy.

I’m grateful.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Do you sing on Road Trips?

Recall many a road trip cruising those long, lonesome highways (made more lonesome when I'm driving alone). Oh, what the heck. Why not sing at the top of your lungs? I confess to loving ABBA songs. No one can criticize your music choices when you're in your own automobile. My car, my music.

One time after spending several glorious days at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, you'd think that the music of choice for the drive home would be a mix of the amazing musicians we'd just listened to, such as Sam Bush, Del McCoury, Emmylou Harris. But, no, we sang at the top of our lungs along with these lads

Trust me, there's nothing like driving through the mountains singing "Glad All Over." Why? Because you really are.

I have an awful singing voice. That's never stopped me from singing on road trips. In fact, on road trips when I'm really tired and just trying to make it through, singing 1: Keeps me awake; 2: Makes me smile; and 3: Lets me pretend that I sound pretty good.

Hope your next Road Trip is filled with music that makes you smile.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Paris the Non-Tourist Way

I've never been to Paris and I hope that I get there one day. Recently, I read Julia Child's book, My Life in Paris, and found it enthralling on many levels. Ms. Child's love of life, her strong opinions (many of which I agreed with), and, of course, her divine outlook on food and cooking have inspired many of us for years.

Glancing through today's edition of USA Today, I couldn't help notice this article about apartment rentals in Paris and "living the Paris lifestyle." As a sometime traveler, I find something so appealing about getting to know a city's neighborhoods, its shops and cafes, and, surely, its people. Staying at most hotels makes it more difficult to get in the flow of the culture you're visiting.

Friends of mine will be traveling to Paris this Spring. On the recommendation of coworkers/friends, they've lined up an apartment to stay in during their visit. I can picture them sitting outside at a cafe, perhaps just a few doors down from their apartment, enjoying an espresso and croissant. More than the food, though, they hopefully will feel as if they belong to, not just in, Paris.