Baby don’t crack, at least not our system.

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Baby Don't Crack

Baby Don’t Crack

 

I found this porcelain baby doll in a little side table that had moved with me in the last four moves in the last 2 years. It was my daughter’s and while I was sad it was broken, I mended it and knew it was still here for I’d forgotten details like this.

It wasn’t going away and it would stay with her, just as the porcelain dolls of my Great Grandmother had stayed within our family. And just possibly, it might stay with her daughter if she chose that path and had a girl child which is such a privilege. As my cousins said when Lacy was born, “we think you had the best kind.” [which is not to insult my son, Jack].

It made me feel happy that somehow I was connected with all the women in my own family, and in my former husband’s family, that we had contributed to the work of the world to hope to make it a better place for those after us. Or at least, to give something while we were here, whether we were Doctors, or mothers, or executives, or writers or architects, or spouses or co-owners or whatever made up “The team” to have a family of whatever sort.

So here’s a poem that came to mind when I saw the baby doll and wanted to cry, for it was happy drops….For the Future! Life rolls on…spin with it!

 

Baby Don’t Crack

Baby Don’t Cry

Mama be back

Daddy can fly!

We all have wings

We all have cages

Never quite lines up

Just happens in stages…

S’okay Sukie GG Coco

Jessie, Yogi, Amy, Popo

Annie, Kathy,

Lol & Wendy

Too far ahead

but never trendy.

God is Good…

God is great…

Let us thank him for our food.

See the point!

Don’t be late!

Life is SHORT

BUT we all are GREAT!

Mildred Lee Ward and Paul Roy Ward

New Red Shoes.

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Friends show up in homey places…

Depot, Las Vegas, New Mexico. Jan 2014.

Depot, Las Vegas, New Mexico. Jan 2014.

we never really knew them.

Then nor now….

but somehow….

Rhythm kinda soothin’

photo

for the drama and the dance

energy.. words…non-romance….

xmas lights and nighttime drives

quiet… quiet…place….2lives…

 

take the fork, be on our way! 

time rolls on…plan  the day!

 

But year be New

….& plans not working‘ !!!!??

take the call!     don’t be smirking’…

Bacon-eggs & hopeful blues…

Nothing like Harry’s & New Red Shoes. 

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Happy 2014.  

Home to pens of Kansas, ready to re-load. It’s all in the mind….

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Learning by Doing: Christopher Elbow

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And an Angel in white Chef's Jacket bearing chocolate appeared before me...

And an Angel in white Chef’s Jacket bearing chocolate appeared before me…

 

Some days are just like this….

I’m walking thru Hall’s…NOT spending money…

(probably depressed as I lost my eye bobs again…researching the next pair)

feeling a little blind,

a little lost,

perhaps a vow of poverty is starting to look noble…

but really I’m thinking I’ve lost my way.

 

And suddenly, an Angel [in white jacket] appeared before me

And spoke to me…

He said, “follow Me…

[I actually think it  was Jesus who said this, but to me he sent this angel]

And he told me about how he had learned to paint such beautiful pictures…

He said he learned by trying stuff, by doing it. 

 

Yearn, Learn

See, Taste

Play, Paint….

Work Really Hard

Voilà!  Chocol’art!

merci bien pour le chocolat, made my day mr. Elbow.

w.a.theblk.Henrybrwn.advice$5

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Advice:  Henry B.

My fren’d, Henry.  Henry went to Penn State.

H “I’m gonna make me a-sign…it’s gonna say
Advice:  Five dolla’s .”

P:   “For How long, Henry? How much time?”

H:  “Fifteen minutes. THAT’S IT“.

P:   “Well Henry…. what if the person takes that long to tell you their story?”

“I mean, then you’ll have to go into overtime before you even begin to get to your work.

And then they’ll  say, ‘Hey, I’m not payin’ you that! You only talked a few minutes…!?'”
H:  “ah….well….”  (thinking)
“win ah kin see days’ gonna go on an’ on an’ tell me all dair bidness an all deez utha’ stories instead-a jes’ gettin’ to the point, ah just interrupt’en-em an say, ‘ah, dat’s fahve dolla for fahve minnits…’ “
P:   “well… how com you never did that ta me?”
H:  “well… I could see here’s sum-won who trusted otha’ people.”

“And, dat you maht’ need some learnin’ ’bout stuff.

Becuz yu had all deez thingses goin on’s …

and go’in ons in yoh ha-id
an’ dat you might jes’ needed a fren…”

Henry in Blue Ball Cap and Tucson T, Paula post-Yoga, 39th & Main.

Henry in Blue Ball Cap and Tucson T, Paula post-Yoga, 39th & Main.

 
 

 

Walk Around the Block: Henry Brown.

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I’m starting a new category called, “Walk Around the Block.” No, it is not the wonderful teacher’s training manual for integrating Built Environment Education into the classroom curriculum. It is an opportunity to walk around my block and see my neighborhood. I have been here a year and everyone’s pretty busy, but I do hope that some of you will come to visit me personally at 39th and Walnut. I’ll tell you more about my building later… but back to the introductions to my Missouri friends….

This is Henry Brown. He needs no introduction. His post is at the corner of 39th and Warwick. Long before now, I was confident that he had friends all over the city, from all walks of life. Any open-hearted person would be engaged by dapper Henry. He flashes a big smile, waves a friendly hello. If a new face has time to stop, he’s open to learning from a new soul. Some, as I, continue to get his time, attention, work and wisdom.

Emmet (left), Henry (right).
39th and Warwick, Hyde Park, Kansas City, Missouri.

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I’ll start with this picture of Henry & Emmett who also lives in this building. I intend to get you one of Emmett’s drawings in another post. Il et artiste extroadinaire et il habite dans la meme appartement avec Henri Brun. Emmet needs a kidney.  I hope he is well when this post meets the blog. His drawings were in my kitchen at Hyde Park. They were intricate, fine, composed and came from nothing formal but a relationship to a power within himself to create.

I may be moving from here in the future. I did check out their rent vs. mine in the Illinois and I would like to stay in the neighborhood. It might not be what is in my cards. My Grandmother lived to be 97 and that’s 45 more years of rent in Missouri with all of it’s color and joy, bright lights, screams, brown paper bags of 39th and Main.

I’m probably heading for the burbs, back to Kansas… where the great big sunflowers grow. Hoping that past might give me a future for I really have nothing to contribute here, politics and people where I have yet to find place, no history except a past of 30 years ago forgotten. I need to go where I have roots, where I built something, contributed to a place, before I forget that it mattered, that I mattered.

I hope my friends will stay with me. I know Henry Brown’s words will stay with me. Stay tuned.

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au veau bébé

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breathe sweetness...

breathe sweetness…

Concrete ties…

Cow mom cries

Dinner bell gong

Home Head Song

Minds Connect

Lives do Part

faith protects

love of heart.

Udderly belle pavé

Trapp bouquet…

Mon p’tit choufleur…

Je t’aime beaucoup.

Quelle Surprise 

pour le weekend! 

           -Mama Cow

Getting ‘The Boot…’

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Frye'd... with studs...  that's how ah like'em!

Frye’d…
with studs…
that’s how ah’ lik’em!

Sometimes for a Cowgirl

there must be risks

…that one takes

…with one’s actions

that were never a conscious thought

but, it might just be

that it was worth the risk

despite the costs

to get  ‘The Boot!

God has a plan

….put on your boots

and cinch up the straps…

ladies… we’re going for another ride...!

-Paula Elizabeth Graves, July 9, 2013.

If you can’t build it, paint it. XIT Meade County Ranch Headquarters.

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This has worked very well for me.

If you can’t build it, paint it.

It applies from wanting a plywood porch to be recessed shaker panels to a relationship, it works both physically and in my head.

Since I’m not a trained faux painter nor could I afford one, it’s always a project. And sometimes in life that’s all it takes to stay the course, if that is what is warranted at the time. Someone else above or deep inside knows that, and it’s because it’s best for everyone right then do to just that.  The idea with this concept is that somewhere along the way the only equity involved is mine and the only capital is sweat, time, life, effort, imagination, creativity and love. And sometimes a gallon of paint!

Make lemonade! A chair of bowlies! Cook for someone special. Sometimes it’s not work you love, it’s loving your work, it’s all the same stuff.

Pretending and painting it real.

I did this all over the second house where we raised our family from ’96 until they were gone in ’09 and was there this last June ’12.

As with anyone who returns to a former home, I realized it was now someone else’s to care for. It almost seemed as if no one lived there. In thinking back, it is surprising that this experience was quiet and comforting in a way, as I am writing this after unpacking things from the final move from my house, June 2012. Things can change quickly, so I as a historian, I wanted to get this recorded sometime around the time the changes occurred.

A house on a ranch that has been a headquarters and gathering place for over 120 years belongs to so many people. It  is above all a functional place for the office and many many meals that relate to activities of the ranch. It truly belongs to everyone that has ever worked on that ranch, though there have in fact only been the occupants below, until summer ’12. If anyone claims it as home, they missed the boat and the point of tenure. We are caretakers of history and place that belongs to a whole land system.

So no one ever called it Paula’s house. It was the ranch headquarters. I wanted others to feel this way, and wanted all the employees to eat together. This was unlike the former ranch foreman’s wife who wanted hierarchy of men, for her husband ate with the Adams family while cowboys all ate in the bunkhouse. For the boss, it meant business and ranching come before domestic activities in hierarchy for the space. Inherently it sets up the domestic structure as “work first” and home improvements as having “no return on investment.” A home on a ranch has little value in a real estate or relative sense to larger scope of setting. In many ways, I still like to keep the idea of any real estate investment & improvements as having some kind of return, in part as design is where I sell my services.

Our situation was not unique. There are others for whom marriage is also intertwined with business for their “first homes.”  For example, my father’s first job of being a marine began with their early instruction to enlisted men that they were “married first to the marines.” My mother’s parents ensured that she was not in military housing and they lived off-base at Quantico, but there was no “off-ranch” housing for the debutante bride. I had sweat equity and paint to invest of myself to make it my own, and I gave it my all.

So back to the ranch history….

I never examined the title to this headquarters in depth, for I was too busy living the life. It’s at the Headquarters, about 12″ thick. But, from my own knowledge it is assumed that there was one homesteader who proved up the claim, before speculators moved into area and bought up some land along the river which was then used for commercial cattle production.

In case of the early history of the XI Headquarters, prior to ownership of William Robert  and Colonel Charles Summers (absentee business owner), the property was operated by McCoy Brothers. No further earlier research has been done (by me that I sought when I had tasks with website), but it is assumed that this was an association with McCoy Brothers that operated many ranches in early years of cattle drives during post-civil war.  Dodge City was the closet shipping point in that region in this period around 1880s.

Here’s a scan of a brochure I did of sequent occupancy for the Kansas State Historical Society Tour that came to the ranch over a decade ago. I will likely tell more about this in a later post as the timeline shows key events that coincide with ownership and how it changes hands over time as well as how agriculture and production change.

Sequent Occupancy and XI(T) Headquarters Evolution of Spaces.

  • William Robert
  • H.G. Adams, Jr.
  • Helen &  Alexander Adams
  • Phil and Dottie Glunt
  • David and Kirsten Adams
  • Tom and Mary Finney
  • John and Paula Adams

The study of succession of people that dwell within a house in a linear fashion throughout life of building is called sequent occupancy. I did this with a ranch in the Flint Hills, studying also the evolving patterns of use within the house and outbuildings over a 100 year period, adjacent organic patterning of lands that supported this house by various families that move in and out, merge, divide and or are re-grown over time. Nothing is ever the same, or can stay the same to exist. Change, adaptation, evolution is integral for survival of anything, buildings included.

But back to this house. I’ll quit talking, here are a few pictures of the “after”, or as it is, the present, summer ’12.

John Adams chaps over Ginny Graves couch.

Fireplace I designed, John’s dad’s chair I reupholstered in cowhide, John’s watercolor painting of his father riding a horse painted by his mother’s artist father, John Gorbutt.

It looks very beautiful and simple and quiet. It looks like my father-in-law’s who was most at peace, alone, with his land. I think in the end, they will remember that the women did their jobs, just as the mother cows do theirs, by instinct for survival and to protect children as they see best while it is their responsibility.

This landscape is one of nature, animals, and men who understand that humans are that. Land parcels and employees shrink, but expenses mount. What was historically slave labor and a part-time staff of transient cowboys becomes a very cared for and well-employed existence. There is no bookkeeper or secretary living on the ranch, and it’s a staffed by a handful of people. Overwhelming in such a primitive and isolated existence with DSL, but rancher’s do it.

So, with no money, I wanted to make any improvements I made to the house elegant and historically appropriate. Below you’ll see the minimal additions of fireplace, corner tv cupboard, and work-laundry stations.

The entry hall’s first room was John Adams office. That is, I heard both John and his father say, “Don’t think I’m livin’ out here for my health!”  It was work, and we were the workers to nurture the next generation of ranch-raised Adams in that XIT Headquarters. It was something I was committed to do for life, good, bad, indifferent. Plus, it’s a pretty good mindset for how to get two kids raised with two parents and a good enough marriage which remained intact through an unorthodox lifestyle of two high schools in two cities and about 40,000 miles on my car a year for domestic driving. I was never bored.

My feeling is that if I am ever bored anywhere,

then it is because I am boring.

I think I am not bored and not boring,

though at times I wish I were. 

But, with travels to Santa Fe and primitive painting an appreciation, I did handpaint cabinets for a little New Mexican Artist’s folly. It covered an boxy oak cabinet divider that was hauled into the house to separate John Adams desk from the entry hall when one entered the foyer. It’s final morphoses was to be a leather tooled landscape to “panel” the four sections, with image of horizonline of the river and cattle crossing from a family photograph.

The former divider, pre 2012, during tenure of John Adams Family. Painted stuff.

Son of Boss’s Oss’s

That is, this painting was just “en route” but it definitely filled a need on those dark days when the bathroom floorboards were wet and the red ants and mold would appear. It probably wasn’t appropriate for when son became Boss, but it filled the bill in the whimsical years of  young children and middle-age marriage.

I also did drawings to duplicate dimensions of the historic 6 panel doors. This was done, minus the sticking, so it wouldn’t “mimic” history and fool any viewer as to historical accuracy. They replaced cheap hollow core that a foreman had put in during the time period when the Headquarters was a tenant house. It  was a major improvement, and looked as if they had always been there. The Talavera Mexican in the kitchen, of course, would never have been there.

The local Mexican Revolution was a (relatively speaking) recent change in the southwest Kansas landscape that came after the pivot irrigator, corn, feedyards and packing houses all moved west in the 70s and 80s.

We kept the same alder cabinets with chrome pulls of the 1950s kitchen as I felt that things all come back around and they have. And with private schools a personal high school choice, there was no money or time to re-do a kitchen (wouldn’t anyway, I loved it!) or bathrooms (yes, I would have! as mentioned there are red ants and wet underfloors..mold, ancient toilets from the 60s….).

But back to the place. Here are the before pictures. They seem funny, don’t they? Who was that nut, some broad from Santa Fe? or a Kansas City chick who grew up at an art gallery? She lasted 28 years??! They said she’d never last six months! Modern-Wild, colorful, imaginative, happy and wet in a landscape that to most appears archaic, tan, static. The color selection, though it may seem odd, made reference to the Mexican tile added to the kitchen as backsplash from counter to cabinets. That is, the navy in the center and torquoise of the outer door frame matched the Talavera French fleurs-de-lys which tiled the perimeter of the kitchen.

Talavera fleur-de-lys tile in XIT kitchen.

More laundry room painted stuff, pre-2012.  

XIT Laundry Room “Before” beige tan overpainting without primer :).

The southwest Kansas landscape is not dull at all, but bland to the untrained eye and “slow” by today’s time clock visualization of “action”. But nothing ever is unchanging. It is a vast landscape so harsh the Indians left it alone, and even the Comanches dwelled there only a short time. It was always meant to be empty and void of people.

It works best for those who are content to operate without community, perhaps even functioning best in absence of it. I hope that I did not become one of them, with the requirement to stand alone. I did embrace the ranch lifestyle to experience each moment.

So my point is this….

the wild colors were perhaps what I saw in the place where I lived, alive with all these critters of the landscape, and full of color.

The places where I felt more connected in history and might have felt sweet sad were Jack and Lacy’s bedroom. They looked exactly the same at the time that I visited. That is, except for a little “I’m putting it here” empty nesting going on that dad did and all parents do when trying to collect their children’s belongings and re-claim their space.

When I went into Jack’s, there was a monarch butterfly that somehow had gotten into the house (with me? or was hanging out in Jack’s pad while he’s at KU?). I knew I wasn’t there alone and it made me feel happy. I would still and always belong in some sort of way within that house. Maybe everyone feels this way when they knock on that door of their childhood home and ask if they may see where they had lived while growing up. It’s much much easier to remember it than it ever was to live there, day in and day out, though I only realize it now that I am in a city. As for raising kids here, it was a lot of fun and we had each other and the ranch.

But, it’s funny, the laundry room was very noticeable to me as I spent hours in here. It was like a runway, so big, but animal blood-soaked laundry  caked with manure was plentiful. I made it super efficient in a minimum of space that I devoted to micro-design organization. This was for the totally selfish desire to eliminate annoyance with anyone else about clothes piling up, taking to room, etc. My goal was always to design away angst, and then let go of control and let chips & towels fall where it may.

It was jarring at first. In part because I realized the memo about my paying to replace these doors and claim my artwork for a Lace or Jack, a rental, guest house, or to cart to Santa Fe to sell had either not been passed on by attorney or was ignored. I let that part go, bigger fish to fry on that visit. But, I questioned that maybe they had been replaced…

June 2012. Something is different…

Ghostpainting…..

It was as it they had not used primer or perhaps it needed another coat of paint as there was something dark coming through. There was some shadowing of the former two-color tone and it had a bluish cast, but I couldn’t see any critters. I thought maybe they had even used a sander. But, then I opened up a door and looked and found this spot. Yes!

The stories buildings tell….(please note P. Adams cabinet efficiency design with wire baskets, left side)

And I knew, someone at some point, if they studied that house and really looked as an architectural historian does, would know there was another story besides the beige. That I was there, and there was color! As both KC Mo housing and my sister said for re-sale, “I don’t think that’s what anyone wants to see” but it is what I wanted to see when I was in there doing laundry. Laundry always feels pretty good and cleansing at times, or a least necessary. I painted a picture and while I was there, I got to look at it and it made me happy, it made me feel good.

There is always a clue someone forgot to erase….the historian building detective.

And here’s what it was like from about 1997 to 2011. Enjoy, all these critters were right there living alongside me down there on the Cimarron River, some in the house :). And we all did laundry together, my friends and me.

Armadillo….yes, in the yard! The jump straight up!

 

 

Jackrabbit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prairie rattler….an indian bowl, only about 1/10th full…many more to go…

 

Tarantulas on the highway…..looks like rain.

If you can’t build it, paint it

companions,

place,

relationships

on the wall or in your mind.

Pretend when that works, make it real when action is required.

And then do it again, if not in the same place as it won’t ever be the same way, in a new place, in a new way.

Life is short! God has a plan, and I think he uses a lot of paint.

It’s the economy….