Good Things – Special Wedding Edition #2

weddingFriday was the one week anniversary of Ali and Jose’s wedding. After spending the pre-wedding week in New Orleans and then driving back home last Sunday, my life still feels pretty much in post-wonderful-trip-scatteredness. My goal over last weekend was to figure out where I left off on everything pre-trip. Getting back to this blog and recapping our most excellent time feels like an important piece of this.

The wedding was, of course, the second in our family in 56 days. Back in January, we gathered in New York City January to celebrate Sam and Jean. This time we headed to New Orleans to make our family members number six! As we felt with Jean and Sam, Jose makes Ali even more than she already was – and that is a feat! Their combination of love and friendship and partnership is strong. I still remember driving them from the airport the first time we met Jose and them laughing together in the back seat. That is the best sound ever – to hear your child’s happiness.

Now, to try to encapsulate the doings is going to be a little tough. There were an incredible number of good things that went down during the days leading up to and following the ceremony. I am going to give it a try, and I hope I  convey the wonderfulness of it all. Here are some of those good things:

New Orleans – When Ali and Jose were picking a wedding date there were things that they did not want. They didn’t want hurricane threats or Mardi Gras interference. The last week of March turned out to be a spectacular choice. Making the drive down South, we could visually see Spring deepening. Everything was greener and more alive. As always, the city of New Orleans welcomed us with friendly people and beautiful surroundings. I don’t think I have been in the city when the azaleas are at their peak. This time I was. The beauty of the city was enhanced even moreso.

The Southern Gentleman – One of the memorable moments from Sam and Jean’s wedding was Jose’s  outfit. On a brutally cold day in New York City, he sported pink pants, dress shirt, bow tie, and blue blazer. He noted that that his look was the mark of a Southern Gentleman. Dan got it in mind to return the dapperness. He bought a bow tie before we left, and with the help of YouTube he managed to somewhat get the thing tied. He also bought some pink pants to complete his own version of the look. The reveal was when we met up with Ali and Jose at Cochon for a family dinner. The look on Jose’s face when he got a load of Dan was the best!

Avery Island – Through a series of fortuitous events, Ali did not have to work at all during our week there. On Monday, she picked us up and we went to Avery Island – the home of the McIlhenny family and the home of Tabasco sauce. The place is about 2 hours southwest of New Orleans and the drive takes you through some amazing Louisiana realness. Along the way we stopped in a little po-boy shop that served up an amazing fried shrimp sandwich. Getting out of the car at Avery Island, you immediately get the smell of Tabasco sauce, which was quite great! The factory tour was short and sweet, and the gift shop had quite the array of Tabasco products – special versions of the sauce, Tabasco Slim Jims, Tabasco pralines, Tabasco ice cream … Dan got so excited he bought the guy in front of him’s purchase. All got sorted out and we then drove and walked through the Jungle Gardens which is on the property. It was a stunning habitat of flowers and huge live oak trees with Spanish moss and egrets and a snake that tried and succeeded in scaring me.

Crawfish Boil – On Wednesday, we went to see the NBA New Orleans Pelicans with the happy couple, Jose’s dad, and Jim, Micaela and Birdie who had just made it in. Before the game, Ali and Jose invited us to their house for crawfish boil. Laid out on the table went 25 pounds of the little mudbugs along with corn and potatoes. It really was one of the prettiest meals I have ever seen! Standing around shelling the leftovers with Ali, Sam and Jean was also lovely.

Family – I was going to call this part “Family and Friends,” but as I considered it, everyone that I am going to talk about is really a member of our family – even if genetics would tell you otherwise. We pulled into New Orleans late on a Saturday night and got welcomed by Dan’s sister and brother-in-law who kindly offered us accomodations for the duration of our trip. Over the next several days, we had arrivals of people who have filled our lives with happiness over the years and who wanted to be there when Ali brought Jose into the family. Dan’s brother and his family and his sister showered their kindness over all. Our nephew and niece Ryan and Diane got a little NOLA vacation with the festivities. Jim and Micaela ventured with 1 month old Birdie who charmed everyone! Tom and Julie – who we have not seen for too long – showed up at the rehearsal after party and my heart leapt out of my chest with joy! Tracy, John, Rik and Teresa and Enid all could share memories of Ali as a wee one as they observed the beautiful bride she now is. Jose’s family showered us with kindness and their expressions of their love for Ali. The night of the wedding – looking around and seeing these people scattered throughout the room was the best!

Sam and Jean – When we last saw Sam and Jean, we were leaving their wedding reception on a cold night in Greenwich Village. Having five days to hang out with them in New Orleans was so wonderful. They came, of course, with an itinerary of places to eat and drink, and we did a pretty damn good job of working through a portion of that list. We also got to play at the Zoo one day which offered a number of cats for Jean to swoon over!

The Wedding – It could not have been better. I was lucky and got to spend the late afternoon with Ali and her friends as she got ready and then headed to Rosy’s where the wedding and reception would be. Ali was the most chill bride I could have imagined. She just exuded happiness. And, she was stunningly beautiful. Getting her into that dress and standing back to see her took my breath away. When it was time for the ceremony, I walked to my seat, past the Army officers who would make an arch of sabres that Ali would walk through on her way to Jose’s side (and on their way out, one of the officers – per tradition – whacked her on the butt and welcomed her to the army). The ceremony was beautiful and joyful. The reception afterward continued the joy, but amped up! There was not a song that did not fill the dance floor with young and old. Dan, Carly, and Marlin toasted the couple with words that made me cry a little as I raised my glass. And to end the evening, a brass band entered the venue and played about 45 minutes of New Orleans jazz that had napkins waving and feet a dancing like crazy. It was an amazing end to a perfect day.

The hardest thing of the whole trip was leaving. Hugging Sam and Jean that last night was so sad. Saying good bye to Ali right before we left town and seeing Banjo looking sadly out the window as we pulled away got my boo boo tears going. I just read a quotation by the author Elizabeth Stone who wrote: “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” That sums it up so well. While I would love to have them walking closer in proximity to me, I am lucky to have four people in this world who every moment of every day can be sure that they have me supporting their lives.

Last Week’s Good Things

weekIt still does not seem right to me that next week is Christmas. It is true that holidays have a whole different flavor when you do not have kids in the house. The excitement of the pending arrival of all things holiday are tempered when you have normal days and evenings that are not peppered with holiday doings and wishings and hopings of little ones. That is kind of holiday celebrating gigantified. Last week,  I tried to keep my own wishings and hopings continuing, and my celebration of the good things strong! Here were some of the things that caught my attention!

cookieMary Sue Milliken’s Border Grill Sugar Cookies – On some previous season of Top Chef Masters, Mary Sue Milliken always stands out as a good chef and a nice person. Good combination! Her name caught my eye in a sugar cookie recipe that uses crumbled potato chips. The salty addition to any dessert is a good thing for me. I made these cookies for a friend gathering along with another pretty great recipe for lemon ricotta bars. I have convinced myself that cookies are the ultimate dessert. They are compact, not too messy, flavorful, and not horrendously unhealthy in a reasonable cookie portion!

ginGin – “Gin” probably sounds a little bad, but the story behind it is nice. Dan’s Rotary Club does monthly scotch tastings, but occasionally they mix it up. This month, the mixing was a gin tasting which we held at our house. Prior to a few months ago, I was not aware that you can sip gin. There are varieties that are flavored such that they are more like sippers than mixers. While the turnout was light, the company was extremely wonderful. We sat around, ate Dan’s jambalaya, and told stories old and new. We tasted some gin and ended the night feeling happy.

gingerHappy Gingerbread Day – As I have written before, my sister and I usually have at least a text message a day. On Friday, she messaged me “Happy Gingerbread Day!” That is one of her things. She has a day for every day! Well, it so happened that on Gingerbread day I was walking home and stopped by McClain’s Bakery down the street. I am embarrassed that I have never stepped foot in that delightful space, even though it is so close to my house. I wanted a cup of coffee, but there in the counter were some very delicious looking gingerbread cookies. I bought one, and that afternoon gave it to a friend that I was meeting for a glass of wine. It was a happy gingerbread day

DSCF7624We have a wedding date – Sam and Jean confirmed the date for their wedding! How happy that is!

cbtlOut little coffee machine – When we went to Italy a couple years ago, we stayed in an apartment in Venice that had a little coffee machine. When we came home, we bought one of our own. It is not hipster of fancy or anything like that. But, when I want  a cup of coffee in the afternoon, just turning it on makes me think of Italy and what an unbelievable trip of a lifetime that was! To get a cup of espresso and a wonderful flood of memories is pretty great.

Whether you are reading this for the first time or as a regular, I want to thank all of you. While I enjoy tracking the good things that come my way, knowing that others may like what I write, adds a bit of extra good that I can’t help but appreciate.

Next week we will have very good visitors, so my posting will be iffy. Wishing you the merriest of holidays and many good things!

Last Weeks’ Good Things


I have two weeks worth of good things to report on. We had a great roadtrip to Louisville, Kentucky for the Forecastle Music Festival. That occupies most of the spots in this recap, but there were other mentionable good things too.sharon

  1. Lots of festival music – Over the three days at the festival, we moved from stage to stage to hear some amazing and fun music. The three headliners that ended the nights were Outkast, Jack White, and Beck. I loved them all, but Beck was my favorite. While his latest album is rather quiet, you would not have thought so listening to his show. He covered lots of his territory along with some covers like Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean – and then he finished with Where it’s At. It was enough for Dan to throw a somersault into his dancing. I also saw my man, Jason Isbell who was fantastic. My best surprise was Sharon van Etten. I had her on my list to see, but didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. She was great and her personality was winning. Sun Kil Moon was disappointing, but the set-up just didn’t work well for his quiet style. Hayes Carll (more on him later), delighted me. He was on the smallest of the stages and it worked fantastically. Others on my dancelist: The Black Lips, Spoon, Against Me, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Lord Huron, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Dwight Yoakam (wasn’t expecting much from this one, but it was great fun – especially watching Dan enjoy it!), Jenny Lewis. Music is good for the soul.hayes
  2. Hayes Carll – After enjoying the show at Forecastle, we realized that Hayes Carl was going to be in Kansas City this week. On Wednesday, we went to Knuckleheads and enjoyed another show by this great storyteller. His Louisville and KC sets differed quite a bit. If you have not listened to this guy, I would recommend you take some time with him. He is another one of those songwriters with a gift for language and his songs tell life stories. Wednesday, in honor of his son’s birthday, he sang a sweet and tender song about his love for magic. The very next song was a hilarious one about his baby stealing all of his wife’s attention. Good stuff.bourbon tent
  3. Fancy, air-conditioned portable bathrooms – WIth our festival tickets we also sprang for tickets to the Bourbon Lounge. That got us a fun, insulated cup that vendors inside this huge tent, willingly filled with bourbon. That was great, but as good was that it also gave us access to these special portapotties. This may be a thing, but I have never seen them before. It was like a big trailer that had regular stalls. It was kept clean during the day, and it was air conditioned. I adore this concept.
  4. Lending an Ear – I was sitting alone at the Jenny Lewis concert when the woman sitting behind me asked if she could join me. I said sure and she proceeded to pull her blanket up and we chatted on and off during the show. She seemed to have a bunch going on and she teared up a little as she talked. It wasn’t a big thing, but when the show was over and we got up to leave, she gave me a big hug and thanked me for my kindness. That felt good.ali & jose
  5. Roadtrip meet-up – The other great thing about the trip was not only being able to travel with J & M, but we also met up with Ali and Jose, who made the trip from New Orleans. Over the days, we got to share in some fun music watching, silly dancing, good food sharing, bourbon sipping, late-night pizza ordering, and Catch-phrase competitions (even though the boys won the last night, I am confident that the girls were superior).braceletsThose weeks will be tough to beat, but I am ready for what this week has to offer. How about you? What good happened during your week?

Last Week’s Good Things

weekThis was a week that began with snow on Monday and ended with shorts on Saturday. How confusing! I think that we are reaching the point where I can actually put away my winter clothes. That is a very good thing in itself, but here are a few others that were memorable during the week:

1. Accomplishments at work – Sometimes there are projects that you work on that you just get done solo. Other times, there are projects that require the input of lots of different people contributing lots of different pieces. Everyone has an important part, but, unfortunately, everyone doesn’t always understand how important their part is. This week I had a multi-part project that required input from a number of different people. I needed letters formatted, numbers calculated, careers summarized… It all came together and I was proud to be a part of it! And in the end, I got to celebrate over some very nice tequila.

God loves

2. JD McPherson at Knuckleheads – I had heard of JD McPherson, but had not really paid too much attention to him. A few of my friends, however, think that he is pretty awesome and had gotten tickets to go see him at Knuckleheads on Tuesday night. Since it was doable on our part, Dan and I went too. He is a very delightful performer, and the fact that lots of his family and friends were there was pretty great.  JD has kind of a blues, rockabilly style that is catchy and fun. What is most noticeable, however, is how much fun this guy has performing. Watching him from my seat, he had neon over him proclaiming “God loves you when you dance.” It seemed to fit very well for a midweek night in a roadhouse in the middle of America.

buda3. Grand Budapest Hotel – I have written before about how good friends and we have committed to a movie a month date. This week, when given the choices, I pounced on going to the Grand Budapest Hotel. Well, it turns out that our friends had already seen it, but were wanting/willing to see it again. Swoon. I fell in movie love. Not only is the movie as beautiful as I expected, but it is also super funny. What got me most, however, was how extremely kind this movie is. The sense of the movie is being a friend/confidant/mentor to others and seeing that relationship through. It is

4. Green Flag – Saturday proved to be a great day in Kansas City. Dan and I worked in the yard and got things looking better. We planted some seeds, mowed some grass, and pulled some weeds. At the end of the day, Dan made the decision to fly the green flag. The green flag is our designated symbol that our patio is open for business and if anyone wants to stop by for beer, wine, soda, chat – we are ready. As it turned out, no one showed up. That left Dan and me. We sat outside playing music on our Iphones and trying to guess the artist. It was so fun!  Next time the green flag is out, come and join in!

5.  No Nighttime tv – Dan and I gave up watching mindless tv for Lent. This is not necessarily a religious thing, but it is meaningful. How much time do I spend looking at someone chopping food, or telling jokes, or solving a crime… that could be better spent doing something that means more to me. The end of our pledge is here. What happens now?

Happy new week to all of you. Thanks for reading my blog and I hope that all of you have lots of good things in your new week!!

Last Week’s Good Things!



Days scurry by so quickly, and when you are dealing with weather where one day it seems to definitely be spring and the next, definitely winter, it is hard to tell time at all. That is not an excuse, but it is an explanation as to what so many of us are experiencing lately. Euphoria – spring is here!!! Despondence – it is still snowing!! Oh bother! There were still lots of good things!

Birdsongs in the Morning – Until it changes, I forget how quiet winter is. On those days when it snows overnight, and I walk outside in the morning, the peace and beauty of the winter morning is pretty awesome. But it is so quiet! Not so when springtime arrives! I am now waking to the sound of birds singing, and when I walk out to get the paper, it is a chorus of songs. That in your face reality of a nature transition is both a good thing for the week, and a beautiful transition. Next thing you know, the hummingbirds will be here!

Kansas City Bier Company
– As we get closer to realizing our own concept of making beer for the people, Kansas City Bier Company is up and running. It is weird that it is in a place where we once shopped for baby furniture, but that weirdness didn’t last for long. Dan and I went there on Saturday at about 2:00. The day was okay, but nothing great. The place was bustling! Most of the tables were filled with people who appeared to be hanging with groups and having fun. There are only snacks offered, so the draw is the beer and the atmosphere. It was very fun to see! We both had a flight of all of their German beers. We spent some time analyzing and comparing notes. We both left feeling happy for the founders; glad that we made the decision to go there for a visit, and full of some good German beer. Added bonus: they gave me a couple stickers!

Proud and excited – Several years ago, I read this book by one of my favorite authors, Tracy Kidder. It was called Mountains Beyond Mountains and it was about a doctor named Paul Farmer. Back in the 1990s (?), Dr. Farmer started to go to Haiti to treat people – in between his training to be a physician. It became a passion. His work created a program called Partners in Health. Paul Farmer is a rockstar do-gooder who still balances scholarly work with his philanthropy. Last week, my nephew messaged me that he has been chosen to spend a year working with Partners in Health before he goes to medical school. I am so excited for him and the people that he will encounter. They will be lucky!

Engage – I really try to make each day one where I can feel proud of myself for how I let it happen. I do believe that we usually have a choice. This is a little off topic, but while I was eating dinner tonight I was watching my beloved Not My Grandma’s Ravioli. Mo’s cooking partner tonight was a grandma who had spent months of her youth hiding from Nazi’s and having many of her family and friends murdered. She seemed like one of the happiest people you would want to meet. She personifies the fact that attitude depends on your willingness to step out and engage. This video that I came across this week reflected that!

Funny things that Dan Says – He makes me laugh. Last weekend I was doing something late in the afternoon. Dan was taking a little rest on the couch (as both of us are prone to do on weekends). Before he laid down we had talked about what we were going to do for the rest of the night. When I noticed that he was awake, I asked him what was going on. His response: “I am laying here watching floaters in my eyes until I get a cocktail.” Just typing this makes me laugh. That boy has my number.

Have a wonderful rest of your week everyone and make sure you notice the good things!


Last (Couple) Week’s Good Things

bookLast week came and went without me taking time to do a post. Sure it is a busy time of year, but I can’t really blame that. I just didn’t get it done. I prefer to think that I will not let that happen with any regularity, but with end of the year goings-on, I am not promising that I won’t again falter.

Here are some things that have brightened the shortened days of the last two weeks.


  1. Holiday time outings – Seasonal activities are fun! When the kids were little, we would do a monthly family calendar that we put together on a calendar program, printed it out on our dot-matrix printer, and hung it up on the wall. December was my favorite month to plan. A few times over the last few weeks, seasonal activities filled my Google calendar. One night, we met Jim and Micaela and Pierpont’s in Union Station for drinks and appetizers before going to the Extreme Screen showing of Christmas Vacation. It very much put me in the holiday mood. Union Station is glorious anyway, but when you decorate it up with lights and holly, it is stunning. Pierpont’s is as classic a cocktail experience that you can have. The bar is glorious and the atmosphere speaks Kansas City. The movie was kind of a hoot. I think I have seen bits and pieces of this over the years, but never the whole thing. Seeing Chevy Chase goofiness on a very large screen was funny.


    My other holiday outing like this was going to the Quality Hill Playhouse with Barb to hear their annual “Christmas in Song” production. We both agreed that our husbands would not cotton to this kind of thing, so it was sans them. Again, it just was one of those experiences when you are with a group of people who clearly are enjoying themselves, listening to talented singers performing songs about the season, that you cannot help but feel the spirit of the season.


2.  People Going out of their Way to be Friendly – You hear how so many people get grumpy during the holidays, but I really don’t see that. I really do see people going out of their way to be kind and friendly and generous during this time of year. There have been a few examples that really stick out for me. I went to the drive-thru bank to make a deposit. I was putting my papers in the tube and I glanced over at the tellers station. She gave me a smile and a wave and pointed at a sign that was up on her window: “I’m sorry. I have lost my voice, but have a wonderful holiday.  :-).” Because I procrastinated, I needed to send a package to Sam and Jean via two day shipping. I took it into the Fed Ex shop and I had an amusing conversation with the clerk about firearms – we were kind of sympatico in our beliefs. After he told me what it would cost to send the box, he made an attempt to get it into one of their boxes so it would be less. The DHL guy who came to the door to deliver a package was happy and friendly, even though I can only imagine what craziness his days are like. Maybe I am noticing it more, but it feels nicer out there.


3. Putting Up our Christmas Tree – I had a little bit of trouble getting inspired to get the holiday decorations out and festooned. We didn’t get our tree until last weekend. There is something, however, about opening the box of ornaments and putting them on the tree that sparks happiness. There was the hat that they put on Sam’s head right after he was born. There was Ali’s little ballerina ornament. The Campbell Kids ornament that  could be Sam and Ali. We have Little Mermaid, Bernard and Bianca, Harry Potter. Recently, we buy ornaments when we travel: a Pinocchio from Venice, a bat from Cooperstown, a Danish doll from the funny Windmill in Iowa, a bourbon barrel from Louisville. It’s a beauty.

4. Kindle Daily Deals and Eleanor & Park – My preferred method of reading continues to be on paper. but Amazon’s power plays during this holiday has gotten me reading on my Ipad. Everyday, I receive an email with daily deals from their Kindle catalogue. Earlier this month, they offered several Young Adult books. Included was a book that I have been eager to read – Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. a $2.99 One-click, and it was mine. One gray day, I hunkered down and finished up the book that I had been reading and I opened up Eleanor & Park. A few hours later I emerged a fan of this book and author. Rowell tells the story of two high school students who find in each other a loving relationship that one can only hope for during difficult teenage years. They accept each other for the people they are. Park learns how to work through the challenges of peer pressure. Eleanor learns how to trust and accept love. The book’s style is told in alternating Eleanor/Park chapters. This book also inspired a email exchange between Sam and me that I enjoyed. I have several more purchases waiting on my Ipad. Good way to spend a couple dollars.

5. Sick Days – I wrote before of some back problems that I was having. I ended up staying home one day to rest it. I don’t take many sick days, but really! How lucky are those of us who can stay home from work to heal and know that our job is safe.

I wish each of you reading a wonderful holiday season. Thanks for giving me the gift of your attention. While I like writing this, when someone tells me that they enjoy what I write, it makes my day! Thanks to all!

I Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans

HPIM0111Both of our kids have chosen to make their homes in the cities where they went to college. It is not a certainty that these will become their permanent homes, but for now, New York and New Orleans are the cities that we visit to see our children.

The first time that I visited New Orleans was in August 2005. As we drove into the city that we would come to know very differently, we somehow ended up on Bourbon Street in the middle of an impromptu parade. For me, it was an overwhelming welcome, and I did not know what to think about leaving my child here.

Flash forward eight years. Ali is now a Tulane graduate, a City Year alumni, a seasoned first grade teacher, and a card carrying citizen of New Orleans. In the interim, she has experienced her new city ravaged and then recovering from one of the worse weather related disasters ever to hit the United States. The impact of Katrina, in my mind, cemented Ali’s desire to stay. She, along with many other young transplants, have a love, devotion and a sense of ownership in the recovery. She is a New Orleanian and along the way, I have also grown to adore this city.

Again this year, we spent Thanksgiving in New Orleans. As always, the city served up hospitality and a more than healthy amount of food and drink. We had oysters, po boys, shrimp, boudin, Abitas, day after Thanksgiving bloody marys at our favorite GLBT bar … We strolled the French Market and visited our favorite art coops.

Ali lives in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood – now referred to as simply, The Marigny. It is sits adjacent to the French Quarter, but it has its own character. The Marigny feels like you’re a part of the neighborhood even if you are just visiting. Houses sit right on the side walk so just walking out your door puts you in the path of community. Like the rest of New Orleans, it has good sounds. We noticed this trip that walking past houses, music spilling from windows tended to be great.

The architecture of the homes in the neighborhood is beautiful. Many of the homes have plantation shutters that run the front of homes from floor to ceiling. There are paint jobs that combine multiple hues to highlight the fancies of each structure. You see so many with symbols of New Orleans pride displayed – Saints flags, Fleur de lis abound. To a person, anyone on the street has a greeting for you – and when you are walking a cute dog, there is typically more of an interaction.

Such an easy place to love.HPIM2092 2

Last Week’s Good Things

Nov 11

We are moving into the final weeks of the year. The temperatures we had to start the week made me realize that, but this weekend has been warm and pretty pleasant. More than a few good things happened this week as the days started to warm. Here are a few.

Courtney Barnett – It is true that almost every new music love of mine is introduced to me via NPR. I can’t think that is a bad thing. What’s the matter with letting the experts cull from so much new music, those bands and performers that pass their muster? It happened again this week that a single song played on the All Songs Considered podcast made me go home and and purchase an album. This week it was Austrailian singer, Courtney Barnett. Her music came up because she played the CMJ Music Festival back in October in NYC and everyone on the panel declared love. The song that they played was Avant Gardener, and I have literally had this song in my head since. It has droney guitars, lyrics that pull you into the story and make your own visuals, and a lazy delivery that reminds me sometimes of Lucinda Williams. Other songs on the album also build stories with humor and darkness – oftentimes both in the same song. She has some great syncopation and word choice. The double EP is titled A Sea of Split Peas. It made my week better!

I get adrenalin

Straight to the heart

I feel like Uma Thurman

Post-overdosing kick start

Reminds me of the time

When i was really sick and i

Had too much psuedoefedryn and i

Couldn’t sleep at night


Conversations – Friday was a really good day. I got to spend the day working on a chapter and made good progress on it. Late in the afternoon, I walked up to Bier Station and met Barb for a beer and some talk. When I left, the sun had set and the almost full moon really lit up the sky. After a very cold start of the week, it felt great strolling home on that warm, beautiful evening. When Dan got home, I made a Friday evening cocktail and we sat around talking a little before I made dinner. After finishing, we stayed at the table awhile – just chatting about people and things that were on our mind this week. Days can become so scheduled and full. Stresses can cloud the positive things that are out there. I loved the solitary time I had that day to focus on my writing, but then having time together with favorite people made a really good day, better.

 Sherwood Center – The movement of stuff in the world is extraordinary. I don’t think that a week goes by that at least one new non-perishable item doesn’t make its way into our house. Sometimes you need to purge, if only to make way for what you know will be coming – more stuff. In the past, we did try the garage sale route to perhaps get back some of the dollars sunk into the things that we no longer wanted. However, the time and effort to get 25 cents for some old t-shirts and books, no longer appeals to me. That is why I love the agencies that come around periodically and take away boxes and bags of our unwanted things. The Sherwood Center is my go to service. They come when they are supposed to and they leave a receipt so I can take the donation off on our taxes. The best!



Remembering the Sabres of the 70s – On Facebook a few days ago, the Buffalo Sabres posted a picture of #11, Gilbert Perreault wishing him a happy 63rd birthday. The photo posted (above) was from his glory days with the Sabres when he, Rene Robert, and Richard Martin skated together on the team. They were known as the French Connection and they made me into a hockey fan. One of the saddest days of my childhood that I remember (this makes me realize how good my childhood was) was when I won tickets to a Sabres game by guessing the correct score of the game in the weekly contest published in the Buffalo News. The day we were supposed to go to the game, there was a big snowstorm and my parents wouldn’t drive the 50 miles into Buffalo. I cried a lot. A few weeks later, my uncle got me tickets and took me to see my hockey heros. Seeing that picture this week brought back good memories!

holiday hero

The Holiday Hero Campaign and the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center Board – Doing good is easier for some than others. People with a lot of money can choose to distribute it to those projects that are important to them. That is relatively easy. But when people donate their time and their extended resources to support a project, it takes more effort. This week, the wonderful board of the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center hosted an event to kickoff the annual Holiday Hero Campaign. This campaign brings in dollars to the Cancer Center. The funds then support programming and research. Each year, a “hero” family is chosen. This year’s is one of the Spanish speaking families who have benefited from the Spanish Language cancer clinic now offered at the hospital. The event was so nice. There were board members, hospital staff, friends and family of everyone, and, of course, the Hero family. Through an interpreter, the father explained what thanks they had for the care their whole family got during their daughter’s treatment. Kicking off the holiday season amongst such good people was a good thing.

Last Week’s Good Things

pansy lobsterHere it is, Sunday night and I sit trying to put the finishing touches on this blog post. Sometimes it is easier than others to come up with the list. That is why I do this. No matter how easy or hard it is, this makes me spend time thinking about it and getting it down. Here are my good things noted during this past week. I won’t tell you if it was easy or hard 🙂DSCF7649

Lobster Fest – This is two weeks in a row that I have included lobster as one of my good things. I can almost guarantee that this trend won’t continue, but I couldn’t possibly leave it off this week. Last night, for the fifth year running, we hosted Lobster Fest. Lobster Fest involves live crustaceans making their way from the East Coast to Kansas City via overnight and landing in our back yard where they are unpacked and steamed. Our shelled friends this year were slightly over two pounds each and yielded delicious meat. I must admit that my lobster eating was limited to the tail and claws because along with the lobster, everybody brought a dish to share. We started out with artichoke dip and Cape Cods. For dinner, we had a macaroni and cheese that had caramelized onions, bacon, and a list of cheeses. There was a vinegary slaw with cucumbers. I made my favorite cheesy biscuits that I pretty much fantasize about all year long. They are buttery, cheesy, and they get a dusting of sea salt on top before they bake. Dessert included these tiny cream cheese cookies and a pudding flavored with cardamon. Sharing this feast with the crew has made this annual event such a memory maker! Coming out of this year is a pledge that next year we will not don the plastic lobster bibs that come with the shipment, but handmade bibs designed by Nate and sewn by Micaela. I am counting the days already! DSCF7664

Fleece Lined Leggings – Wednesday morning I had to scrape my car. It was darn cold! Lucky for me, earlier in the week I had received my Amazon order of fleece lined leggings. This is a new discovery for me and so wonderful! They are soft and warm and the perfect complement for a cold day! I might have to order some more. I feel a uniform being created.

Heir Encore sung by Charles Aznavour – I don’t speak French and I don’t have a strong tie to anything French. This week, however, I had a transcending event with a French song. I was driving to work listening to Slate’s Culture Gabfest. The episode included segments about a new French film and a French television program. At the end of the show, they signed off and a song came on. At the time, I had no idea what it was, but I looked it up as soon as I could. It was Heir Encore performed by Charles Aznavour. It turns out that Mr. Aznavour is one of the most popular singers in the world. In 1998, CNN named him the Entertainer of the Century. Not only does he have extensive recordings, but he has been in tons of films, is a noted humanitarian, and was Armenia’s ambassador to Switzerland. Heir Encore has been recorded in English as “Yesterday When I Was Young,’ but the English version, in my opinion, doesn’t match the French version for beauty. Without any clue as to what he was saying, my imagination transported me on my drive to work. Dan and I were back at the Piazza San Marco in Venice, sitting at the Florian, drinking champagne. The band performs this song, and we dance.


Good Training from a great Trainer – On Friday I attended a training on Project Management. It was an all day Covey workshop that was offered though my work. I learned a lot and left with some great tools and ideas. It was the trainer, however, who really made the day great. I attend a fair number of talks, meetings, and trainings. Earlier last week I had gone to a talk that I held great expectations for, but the speaker just didn’t have it. The leader of the Project Management workshop did have it. She was  knowledgeable and enthusiastic. She called us by our name and made sure that everyone was engaged. She had amusing asides that she shared and made us laugh. I left the classroom with knowledge and gratitude.

napkinsIroning Napkins – This is a weird one, but it has the quality of life element to it that makes it a good thing. We have used cloth napkins since as long as I can remember. It just seems like an easy way to reduce waste. We have about 40 cloth napkins in various stages of wear. Some we have several of; some we only have two of. There is something about the napkins being ironed that is really a nice touch. They look better on the table and they just seem better to me as I pick them up and put it on my lap. Now, just like I enjoy the experience of washing dishes by hand, I enjoy the experience of ironing napkins. Saturday – even though we would not even use cloth napkins that night – I spend about an hour ironing napkins. I listened to music and turned squares of rumpled fabric into perfectly folded and flat piles of sorted napkins. It was peaceful and relaxing. A good thing.

Last Week’s Good Things


The days were cool and crisp this week. The trees are really sporting their fall colors. For me, it was a very good week making for an easy post to put together. It starts out in an unusual way, but it certainly supports the theme of this blog.

An exceptional Obituary

I acknowledge that it is a weird habit. We continue to get the daily local newspaper and my day does not start out correctly unless I work through it. Admittedly, I do not read everything thoroughly, but I give it a good skim and read those items that interest me. One part of the paper that I always give a good skim is the obituary section. I have talked to others who also do this, so I know I am not alone. I do not necessarily look for people who I might know, but that has sadly happened. What my eyes gravitate to are the longer write-ups or a eye-catching photo. Last Sunday, I totally came across a gem. The picture showed a grandpa with a child on his knee. Cute photo; check. The write-up was lengthy; check. The content was the best ever. Of course, losing someone is a very sad thing. The best way that I find to work through that loss, however, is to keep the happy memories close. The Brown family reigns on this front. When an obituary starts out “Bill Brown finally stopped bugging everybody on October 15, 2013” and moves on hilariously from there, you know that you are witnessing a life well lived!



House Celebration

don house-2This week marks twenty-five years of living in our dear house. I remember how exciting move-in day was. We rented a U-Haul. Friends helped us move the few pieces of furniture that we had. We paid them with thanks, beer, and pizza. Over the years, we have managed to acquire furniture enough to fill the rooms. What has been the biggest addition to our home over the years is regularly filling the rooms with people we love. Last night we happily celebrated the years with many old and new friends. Brisket and Macaroni and Cheese seemed like the perfect accompaniment to such a comfortable evening, and it proved to be a perfect choice. Because it was such a beautiful fall day, the patio held the homemade beer, firepit, and festive lights. Starting at 6 PM friends started arriving. Our last friend left before the clock struck 1 AM.


It is hard to summarize such a night, but it did include arriving visitors being greeted by a cinnamon and clove scented jack-o-lantern designed and created by Ali and Jose, a beautiful martini bar created by Micaela where Kristin was introduced to her first “big-girl” martini, an adorable baby Elsie who charmed everyone and showed an inspired love for mac cheese, Kathie in a dirndl, a story from Scott about the maple trees of Baldwin, Kansas, Don’s beautiful pastel of our house, Melissa arriving proudly with a book that I had lent to her many years ago, a giant Corona bottle pinata inspired by Jose that was bashed with a golf club and offered treats of candy and mini tequilla bottles, a salted caramel snickerdoodle from Laura and almond cookies from Tracy that were mouthwatering, Jim demonstrating how to mix an old fashioned; a Tigers loss and a Cardinals win, and ending the night laughing at YouTube videos of talking dogs and make believe football teams. Once again, I feel particularly lucky.

 Visitors from the South DSCF7636

When we decided to have the house party, Ali said she would try to come. As the time got closer and she prepared to make her reservation, Ali and Jose were an item. Bravely, Jose made the trip from New Orleans to Kansas City to be initiated into Ryan world — super-sized. We broke him in, as any good Kansas City host would do. We fed him tons of food: Bryant’s for barbeque, Lidia’s for pasta; Anton’s for deliciousness. We engaged him in a heated Catchphrase battle. Finally, last night he got to experience Ryan party time. Report filed: Jose is a pro. Seeing Ali for an unanticipated weekend, and being able to meet and get to know Jose has been a treat. As I wrote a couple weeks ago when we visited Sam and Jean, as a parent the thing you want most is to see your children happy. There has been much laughter in the house this weekend.


Obligatory Chiefs comment. The Kansas City Chiefs are the winningest team in football!  On Sunday, thanks to Ivan and Janet, we got to spend a beautiful autumn afternoon tailgating in the parking lot of Arrowhead and then watching the Chiefs beat the Houston Texans. We typically go to one game a year and I have a hard time remembering the last time that I saw the Chiefs win a game. It has been a long, hard, cold spell for Kansas City sports. This year, however, that has changed. We have a new quarterback and a new coach. The team is winning; the fans are believing. The stadium on Sunday was awash in red. As each member of the team emerged onto the field as they were being announced, they just looked so psyched. They felt the love. The win wasn’t as easy as was expected, but it was a win. The mood leaving the stadium was giddy jubilation.

Bombadil  bombadil

I haven’t bought in new music in a few weeks. This week I happened upon the new album by Bombadil and I am liking it very much. Bombadil is composed of four guys – three of whom went to school together at Duke. The songs on Metrics of Affection range from acoustic beauties, to accapella story songs, to down home foot tappers. Their voices are good. The flow of the album is solid, and it wanted me to look them up to see what else was going on with them. The album opens with a song called Angeline that has some funny rhymes and really holds together. There is a pretty, romantic song called You Can Have Me that is followed by a beautiful piano solo.

you can’t have everything you want

or even sometimes what need
even if you need it desperately

but, apple blossom, if i could, 
i’d carve a shuttle out wood,
and fly us out beyond the breeze.

all alone except for stars,
i would wonder how you are
the most beautiful of things

I have enjoyed this new music very much this week!

It was a wonderful week which left me with amazing memories! I hope that you made some good memories too!