Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern

In a new post, specifically created for this challenge, share a picture which means PATTERN to you.


Photo by Kim Smith

My beloved conservatory grand piano.  The pattern of the keys has been imprinted on my brain since the age of six.



A final thought along those lines …



So you know who isn’t a suck-up?

… my husband.  Never was, never will be.  He had the advantage of growing up in southern California, which is to western Kansas what the Met is to the Grand Ol’ Opry.  No aspersions being cast, just different scenarios.  Out there they had no idea who their next-door neighbors were and that’s exactly the way everybody wanted it.

Kim’s been good for me in ways that would be difficult to delineate, but let me just say that no self-doubt or suck-up-ish-ness is encouraged in any way.  We are two blue dots in a vast sea of red.  No problem.  In some ways we’re hippy holdovers in redneck country.  No problem.  When all the world is looking for something new and exciting to do, we’d much rather be home together.  No problem whatsoever!

He recently left a job (for the preservation of his health) where he apparently didn’t please a single person except for most of the patrons he fed during the run of the stage shows.  And even some of those … it is, after all, the heartland, where you could put a plate of roadkill in front of most people and they’ll tell you it’s just fine, thanks.  That’s not what they say to their table mates and neighbors, of course, but what can you do — it’s the freaking heartland.  He’s held management positions most of his life and this is the first one in which he was not allowed to manage.  He’s a man brimming with ideas.  Ways to make things run more efficiently.  Ways to make the experience better for the ticket-holders.  Never mind, it’s the freaking “we’ve never done it that way before” heartland!  Easy to come off as the world’s biggest A-hole if you try to change anything here.

Despite the unfortunate fallout created by the clash of two diametrically-opposed worlds, however, he remains unrepentant and unscathed.  And that’s just the way we like it.  He gives me the courage every day to get up and be myself.  And I like to think I give him a reason every day to be the best A-hole he can possibly be.  It’s a formula that’s worked for us for over nine years.  As the cliche’ goes, if it ain’t broke …


So, are you a people-pleaser?

Were you raised on a farm?  In a tiny town?  A metro area, but within a tight-knit neighborhood where people knew your business before you did?  Then you’re already on the same page with me.  If none of that fits you, I’m not sure I have enough words to explain it to you.

I was raised on a farm close to a tiny town that was one tight-knit neighborhood, and those people definitely knew my business.  All of it – some of which I never knew happened until I heard about it second-hand.

I’m sure it’ll shock you to know I grew up a people-pleaser from about Day One.  I wasn’t necessarily a Good Girl, but it was wildly important to me that people think I was — all those relatives and townspeople who were older than I, and whose lives I knew nothing about.  What a revelation when I grew up, left home, and started hearing the stories about THEM … of course, by then it was too late.

There’s also the unfortunate fact that a certain amount of suck-up-ish-ness seems to be genetically transmitted.  There were kids in school who couldn’t possibly have cared any less what some classmate or adult thought of them and the things they did.  It was “Get outta my way, I’m on a roll here.”  My guess is most of them ended up in politics.

I wanted to please my parents, my grandparents, my Sunday school teachers, my school teachers, I wanted to somehow please God, none of which is a bad thing.  But who was I?   I got married at 22 and was at least 50 before I stopped trying to make every word out of my mouth, every desire of my heart, every dream line up with what I thought my husband wanted.

After a few years of getting to know myself and realizing that I could trust my own thoughts, I met and married a man who also trusts my brain and loves every inch of me as is.  I mean it when I say it’s fun to be me.

Meanwhile, a bunch of years stacked up and now my driver’s license claims I’m 65, which is beyond ridiculous.  I don’t want to be old, so I’m not.  But I do love the freedom of not having to care whether or not people approve of who I am.  Tact is a valuable commodity and I don’t set out to antagonize anyone, but neither do I censor my convictions.  My ideas and beliefs are as legitimate as the next person’s.  It took me a lifetime to get here and I’m not going back.

I recently reduced my Facebook friends list from far too many to still almost too much.  Those who remain are either family or are there for every other possible reason.  They’ll stay or go, as they decide.  The me you see is the me I am, end of story.


A Mother’s Day Tribute

Brought forward and adapted from my original blog …

My mom has been in my thoughts all week.  It probably doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that Sunday is Mother’s Day, but there it is.

 My mother was a complex contradiction in terms, as moms the world over tend to be.  She grew up all tomboy with six brothers and two sisters, while at the same time evolving into an indisputably voluptuous young woman.  She was born and raised in a small Kansas town, went to tiny schools, and was afforded the limited educational choices that generally attach to such an environment; but curiosity, intelligence, and EQ were in her DNA, so she was on a quest for learning from the start.

 Mother graduated high school and then earned what was known as an Emergency Teaching Certificate through a six-week course at the nearest state teachers’ college, 150 miles away.  This was during WWII and the times called for desperate measures.  At 18 years of age, she taught for one year in a country school where most of the older boys were taller than she.  Then she met my dad and that temporarily ended her teaching career.  She married a few months short of her 19th birthday, and three weeks shy of her 20th she delivered her first baby – me.

   Four more babies followed, one of whom she lost during delivery, and what with being a mother and a wife and filling countless other roles, she didn’t get around to college again for a decade and a half.  There was never a time, however, when she wasn’t reading at least two or three books and filling journals with her thoughts.

 Finally, when I was a junior in high school, she enrolled in the local community college and graduated with honors.  Then she went on to the local four-year college and matriculated with highest honors.  With those credentials she taught English, Drama and Yearbook for several years at the high school my siblings and I attended.  My two sisters and brother all experienced the genuine privilege of having her as a teacher.  Later, she taught EMR (old label which stood for Educable Mentally Retarded) classes, and was one of a handful of women who founded the Learning Co-op for this part of the state.  I was thoroughly immersed in my own life by then and didn’t keep up with everything she was doing, but I knew enough to be very proud of her.

 Somewhere in there, Mother earned a Master’s degree, and had family circumstances not intervened it’s highly probable she would have gone on to get a doctorate.

   Because of Mother’s love of learning and reading, my sisters and brother and I grew up in a household of books.  When we were little she spent a lot of time reading to us, and later on carted us to the Carnegie Library every week or so and let us choose our own stack of books to take home.  She had a small office filled with books, and her end of the couch was surrounded by yet more books and notebooks.  Each of us absorbed her priorities and ended up with our own love of reading and writing.

 Sadly, we had to say goodbye to our mother far too early.  A sudden heart attack took her from us when she was just 67 years old.  I often find myself wondering what she might be like now in her 80s, but I need only remember what her mother – my grandmother – was like into her 90s — beautiful, intelligent, interesting, kind, thoughtful, fun-loving and funny.  I miss them both,  and therein lies another story ….

Mommy & Me on Mother's Day

Mommy & Me on Mother’s Day


Fair-weather … everything!

So today my plan was to slog through the last stack of paper in my office, but it’s cloudy out.  Yesterday’s plans went off the rails because the darn sun was shining.  And the two days prior to yesterday, if I remember correctly, it was raining.  Sort of.  Some of the time.  So yeah, not sure when I’ll be able to deal with this final eyesore.  Soon.  I’m sure of it.

If you love fried rice …

This is the classic Fried Rice recipe and it’s wonderful.  My husband made a huge batch of it the other night and sautéd small shrimp in garlic butter to go with it.  We’ll have yummy leftovers tonight with the chicken you’ll find posted below.  We eat like kings in this country — grateful beyond words!

Fried Rice

hawaiian crockpot chicken


Daily Prompt: Key Takeaway

Give your newer sisters and brothers-in-WordPress one piece of advice based on your experiences blogging.

My advice can be distilled into one sentence:  Make your blog a priority.

Write something every day, whether or not you decide to publish it.  Hang around the Community Pool (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/community-pool-12/) in order to pick up new ideas and benefit from the experience of others.  Exercise your curiosity.  Ask questions.  Stretch your wings creatively and always be willing to learn something new, add a new element to your blog site, change it up, keep it fresh.  Make friends in the WordPress community — there are thousands of people here and you will surely connect with at least a percentage of them.  If your early attempts at blogging do not meet with success, either in your own estimation or as reflected by a lack of following, don’t give up easily.  Try changing your focus, seek input from friends and fellow bloggers, gain knowledge and understanding through reading the selections on Freshly Pressed and elsewhere around the site.  Blogging is a highly satisfying endeavor and it’s worth staying with until things start to click!

The first step in blogging is not writing them but reading them.     ~Jeff Jarvis

A quick P.S. … Your phone is an excellent resource for note-taking on the run.  Jot down every idea that pops into your head because I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be there later when you try to recall what it was.  I use the Voice Memo feature on my iPhone when I’m walking — works really well.


Daily Prompt: Evasive Action

What’s the most significant secret you’ve ever kept?  Did the truth ever come out?

A fabulous secret has been mine to keep for the past several years, and the truth will finally be known to all concerned very soon.  If you’re ever just bursting to share something, but don’t want it to be public knowledge yet — or ever — feel free to tell me — I can most definitely keep a secret.  I like good news secrets best, but I’ve also been the holder of sad secrets, scary secrets, slightly dangerous secrets, and run-of-the-mill secrets.  The real secret to a secret is that whatever it entails it’s the sole property of its owner and, therefore, sacred.  And one special perk of being a secret-holder is that when its owner says “Go,” you have the privilege of spilling the beans to everyone … or to a hand-picked few.  Watch this space …



My Toemail post …

This is such a fun site — check them out!


Note to self …



Daily Prompt: The Glass

Is the glass half full or half empty?

My glass is nearly always half full, at the very least.  And if it’s half empty, that can only mean that I at some point gleefully helped myself to the top half.  Life is very clearly there to be lived!  Why else would it go on and on for most of us?  I talk with cautious people every day who are afraid to risk anything, and their lives make me feel sad and frustrated.  There are things I’m physically unable to take on, but the world inside my head is full of excitement and challenge and change!  Balls to the wall, boys and girls — make a difference!


There is no age limit on this …



Get over it …

“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on.”

― Criss Jami,
In Every Inch In Every Mile



Love the wine you’re with!

Photo by Kim Smith

Love the Wine You're With


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