Adventures of the Handy Dandy All-Purpose Ballgown from Wells Street.

by admin

The Handy Dandy All-Purpose Ballgown from N. Wells Street was born into the Adams Family on a trip to Chicago in the summer of 1999.  John and Paula Adams were there on a summer trip. I think Jack and Lace were on this trip, because I remember Jack playing with a ball on the steps in front of Nicole Miller. We also bought a black Barbie silk vest for Lacy that I think she wore once, but it will be great for dress-up.

The cumulative total of Balls attended respectively by John and Paula Adams at this time was three.  John Adams had attended the Jewel Ball in 1979.  He had been solicited to escort, but had mistakenly felt he could be absent from parties in June for two weeks to fulfill family roundup and branding responsibilities on the XIT Ranch in western Kansas. When he returned, he had been demoted to the floor committee.  “What on earth were you thinking?,” was my comment when he still seems a bit injured. The other two Adams ball attendances were Paula Graves BOTAR Debut in 1982 (1) with John Adams as her escort (2).

I like to go on record here that John Adams, though he went to Pembroke-Hill, was from Wabaunsee County.  He was living in Lawrence finishing his last semester in business school while Paula was first working at Hallmark as design coordinator and then working at Halls in retail.  Because a BOTAR could choose her escort if she as engaged, John Adams as fiancé was her GOTAR. It tends to be a bit of a family competition at times which holds social rank: being the BOTAR from Kansas City or being the demoted Jewel Ball Escort from Wabaunsee County.

There were two dresses, one a bit more expensive than the other, both very pretty. The less expensive was a crinkly black fluffier number that would look very good on someone about 5’4″ and taller.  The other was this dress pictured below.

The Handy Dandy All-Purpose Ballgown from Wells St., Paula, John, stucco fireplace.

The structure:

It was column-like with a bit of a flare at the pedestal base. Not enough to be anything tent-like, which is how small women can feel when wearing a floor-length dress. Just enough to make it easy to walk, and more important, in which to dance. The bodice is boned.

The sheathing:

Textiles always do it for me.  Handy Dandy’s skin is an aubergine silk that is cross-woven with black. It is crushed into very flat wrinkles.  This gives her a faintly iridescent appearance. It reminds me of an old swakara (persian lamb) coat I have of my grandmother’s or bird’s-eye maple or anything very intricate, but naturally patterned in a tight, small design.

Anyway, after trying on this dress John Adams said, “that’s the one.” For a man who never appears to have any interest in or spends any time shopping, he has a good eye. But, his maternal Grandfather was an artist and had a sign company. And, his father had a good look.  As well, John Adams always looks pretty dapper.

Adventure One-Debut at the 50th Botar Ball:

The 50th Annual Botar Ball.  My friend Betsy, whose taste in fashion is impeccable, called me a trophy wife. That was nice, being that I had young children and was slaving through that last semester of architecture school so I could get the job in Wichita for Lacy to go to the big city school. Neither John nor I were feeling like there was any trophy at the end of the tunnel of marriage, children, and attempting to live rural and urban lives driving thousand of miles and eventually getting Lace educated in secondary school 200 miles from home where I would work for SJCF Architecture. It was grueling, but we were moving towards doing it, and we did it. So, feeling like a prized heifer got me through.

Handy Dandy does the Meade Eighth Grade Graduation.

Adventure Two-Second Appearance at Meade 8th Grade Graduation:

Handy Dandy appeared on stage at the Meade High School for the Meade Eighth Grade Graduation with Lacy Amelia Adams when she graduated from Junior High.  This is a formal occasion, not uncommon in smaller rural towns.  I think my mother told me of wearing a white long dress to her eighth grade graduation, or perhaps this is someone else who grew up in a small town.

I have included the picture of Lacy as she walked down the aisle with the flower that all the girls held.  A local member of the clergy was the guest speaker.  He spoke of Christian values, which at the time I found jarring, wanting separation of church and state education.  But, I’ve lightened up on this and feel it was a reflection of common values that we all held in that room. It was just clothed in a language that was probably not offensive to many, if not most, of the people in that auditorium in Meade, Kansas.

If you will look at the bottom picture of the lineup, you will notice how all of the kids turned so nicely to look at me when I took their picture.  Amanda West is the “even more petite than Adams women” girl to Lacy’s left.  She and Lace get the prize for most effervescent.  Lacy is seen having lost all composure at the occasion.  This happened on several occasions at Meade Grade School performances, at times even taking down the group. But, she was forgiven and loved for her transgressions and has since learned to handle public appearances in full control of her mirth.

Adventure Three-The Handy Dandy All-Purpose Ballgown from Wells Street at the 62nd Annual Botar Ball, Oct. 22, 2011.

When Lacy Adams was asked to be a BOTAR in the summer of 2011, the BOTAR Mother pondered, “what to wear?” Because this frock had traveled across the state and was in the possession of Lacy Adams, I asked if I could borrow it back.

Though I had been instructed from my friend Betsy,”You will not cut off that beautiful dress,” I ignored the advice. I hauled it to my stylists at Brick’s in Wichita, and asked for a second opinion.  “Where will you ever wear a long dress, or more pointedly, where will you ever want to wear a long dress?” they said.  Good point. Not only are they not conducive to climbing stairs, they are not height inducing for the Lillputian. A little bit of leg helps.  And, they don’t show the killer shoes I intended to wear that were also recycled from the Governor’s Inaugural Ball.  Oh, I guess I forgot that, I guess the Adams are at 5 Ball occasions.

Tuxedo and the Handy Dandy Ballgown with Jack and Paula Adams.

I won’t get into more details or show you pictures of the shoes.  (though please notice how cute my BOTAR Governor’s Pin looks on the little cutout in my dress at my left breast.) But, I will tell you that I was very proud of myself for recycling this classic dress for it’s second appearance at a BOTAR Ball. I could never have found a dress that I liked as well as this one. And I bragged about this to everyone who would listen.  The men, of course, weren’t listening though if they were, I think they would have commended me for my practicality.

One female friend commented, “No one will even notice.” Completely missed my point as I wanted to tell everyone in the room. I am the kind of woman who thinks it’s fun when someone buys the same dress that I have purchased and plans an event where we can wear them together like twins, hoping for a third woman to join in on the fun for a Couture à Trois. Of course, if anyone should think I am too practical from living the rural life, I do have to confess that I spent as much or more on my clutch and bracelet.

So that’s it for now for the Adventures of the Handy Dandy All-Purpose Ballgown from Wells Street. I will keep you posted.

I fully intend to wear if it I ever have a Granddaughter who is either living in Kansas City, or has the opportunity to attend or be in the BOTAR Ball if she has any desire for me to lurk in the lobby and peek in.

And if this seems too far off and murky relative to anyone wanting me in attendance or me wanting to be in attendance, I’m sure I can stay this size for one of my potential grandchildren’s 8th grade graduation, circa 2035.





My Santa Fe dance night. Cathy Faber, two GOTARS, a drummer & a cowboy.

by admin

Mostly what I will remember about Kitty Bliss’s father, Curtis, is that I danced with him at Kitty’s wedding. He was a fabulous dancer with a firm hand and said I was “light as a feather,” bolstering my confidence in dormant dancing skills à deux.  Four incredible daughters and a remarkable mother, a real man among great women.

A Dancing Story.

"Cathy Faber" "George Langston"

Cathy Faber on upright bass in great skirt, George Langston on guitar in yoke.

I’ll have to tell you about Dance Night at the La Fiesta Lounge with Cathy Faber’s Swinging Country Band, La Fonda Hotel, Feb. 4th, 2011. The picture is from the next day at Tesuque, another post, but we were visiting Santa Fe to look at adobe, hear Britt in Cathy’s Band, and eat guac.

3 cinqtegenerians: John Adams-Cowboy, Paula Graves Adams-so happy 2B mistaken for Ellen Barkin by a 70 yr. old, Britt Alexander-drummer. Tesuque, Feb. 5th.

3 Kansas cinqgenerians

Britt Alexander, center, and fellow musician friends though not in this band.


John and Paula thought they’d take a spin, but we were in way over our heads.  The dance background was there, though. For in 1981 we were a duo, a Belle of the American Royal (BOTAR) and her GOTAR doing the foxtrot, waltz and cha-cha-cha (see Kansas City Debut and that crowd). This dance occurred after the daughters had been presented to society by their fathers and had performed their curtsy.

We accomplished these dance steps while I held a big feather fan. This fan, I like to think, is in homage to Sally Rand, the famous historic fan dancer from Kansas City. She took fan dancing in the (apparent) buff to a whole new level of fine art while, I know, offering great pleasure for the men. No one ever mentions this in our debutante training, though I think the young girls practicing in this fashion might make a great pre-ball benefit.

The American Royal was a stock show in the old KC Stockyards. Kansas City was a meatpacking and a shipping point for midwestern cornfed beef to be moved East to feed larger markets. Later, the American Royal was an event that brought agriculturists from the provinces to the city as well as those urban people who had interests in agriculture in the Midwest. Mainly, it was established to be sure that Kansas City didn’t forget it’s agricultural roots and role as a breadbasket to the country. The show in the American Royal Arena is now primarily horsemanship, not as focused on interests in the commercial and purebred cattle stock show as it had been in the past.

Two GOTARS at La Fiesta Lounge.

Just a bit about being a GOTAR. This is a rite of passage for young KC men ages 22-30. This included the drummer and the cowboy with whom I was in the La Fiesta lounge at La Fonda in Santa Fe.

A word about the word BOTAR (Belles of the American Royal) and for what word the G represents. I thought it was Guys (of TAR). The men were allowed to go to this party over and over again, while the women only get to have fun the one time that they “debut to society.”

The Graves family was actually not announcing my eligibility for marriage as debutante balls were originally intended to do. They were able to gang two social events by celebrating this at the same time as my pre-nuptial showers and parties, closing the marriage deal just a month after the debut. We are an efficient family.

Note to self: Why aren’t eligible sons presented to society?

This gives me an idea, why not start a Kansas Dance Party for some great bachelors I know. Jack Adams, his KU Phi Delt & Beta buddies, some Pembroke fellas, maybe a few Meade County boys to mix it up a bit, Jimmy Corrales and some of his friends, and of course their moms; kind of like KU Mom’s Weekend.

We cordially invite you

to be presented at the

Bachelors and In-Between Moms & Mortgages Ball

The BIBM&M Ball which could be shortened to BIB, as in “I’m coming out this year as a BIB.” 

[I am sure we, as mothers, have all weaned our male offspring long ago, so just in jest!]

  • My son’s friends in many fraternities at KU that I have met have a sense of humor.
  • I know it could be made into a great guy party, at least with the 2010 Sweeping Rock Chalk Phi Delt Winners who can really cut the rug on the dance floor.
  • And, if mommy is actually trying to stay off-duty in their lives for a bit, she might actually be asked to escort them on stage for their bow.

So who’s choosing the tuxes?  I’d pick a crushed brown broomskirt weight velvet (good drape) with skinny lapels, “maybe crocskin, buttercream, buttercream….” 


…back to the dance story…

So…the then married couple of John and Paula  were practicing our two-step by the glass retail cases in the hall to the bathrooms. This was to prevent humiliation and avert collision with this fast two-steppin’ crowd. Several kind people stopped by to offer much appreciated advice.

And this is How we ended up respectively with very good dance partners…

A kind couple…two dance partners that is, Sandi Wright and Randy Forrester took us on.

Sandi is a woman, a teacher, and an author of children’s book about what!!! history and santa Fe  prairie dogs!!! (see Prairie Pug) Her daughter in finance was the illustrator and it had just been released in print. It is available at La Fonda bookshop among other places.

Randy was and perhaps still is co-host of Gotta Dance on KSFR 101.FM, Sunday from 7-8 MST, Gotta Dance .

Well, they took us on. Randy could not have been nicer and more fun and more gentlemanly.

Here’s another chunk of a great song of Cathy’s that gives you a feel for the dance crowd.  Well, it was there until enforcement…

the moves

After the first dance, Randy moves onto Dance 102 and does a dip. Knowing my neck is always a bit stiff and I wouldn’t  want to look awkward,

“what to do with the head?”, I asked.

“throw it back” and that I did. And I have to admit it, I liked it.

Well, don’t ever act interested in anything men do it just encourages them. Soon my hair was grazing the floor and Randy moved right into Dance 103 with the leg extends.  Again…I was curious, this was new for me…

So, I threw myself in, head first, or I should say, head back in submission. My father Dean Graves always had a Marine Corps motto I try to live by:  “anything worth doing is worth doing well.”

Well soon Randy was supporting my leg at 90 degrees in a split that Carolyn Howard would have been proud of (toe pointed, of course).

[I rationalized my exhibitionism with the idea that Lacy might need to know this someday. My cousin’s first husband’s father and that wife once did a Country Wedding Tango in my Uncle Bill’s Garage Dance Floor, so you never know when you might need to pull out or pass on this move to your children or grandchildren. I hung in there until Randy and Sandi called it a night, and we took a rest to watch Cathy, the guys, and Britt.]


Hillbilly Hoedown….so here’s the closure to the story.

The dance crowd had cleared out. Out of nowhere, a man in high-waisted wranglers cuts in on us and swings me off to center stage without even a “may I?”. A complete stranger, no compliment, and he took me to a whole new set of dance-bases that I’d never even heard of, sort of a jig.

I am sure I looked both scared and scary.

help me!

And… where’s John??!!!  (bathroom?  smoke?)

Where’s Britt?  (….lost in percussion).

I’m trying to make eye contact with someone…where’s Dave Wood when you need him?

The exit

John’s finally returned, witnessing the finale. The grueling ordeal finally ended, and I stumbled over to Britt’s jazzette saying, “I’ve got to get out of here, goodnight.” I make the exit motion to John who’s asking…. “who was that?”, grab my coat and bolt for the lobby.

The next day by email I apologized to Britt for any embarrassment caused by his high school friend. I also used it as an opportunity to hold another responsible for my behavior, asking, “why didn’t you help me?!” 

“Well, you looked like you were having a good time,” said Britt.

John’s comment, “he’s playing the drums…what’s he supposed to do?”

Well, I embarrassed myself a bit, but no regrets

And give Thanks to God:  My children weren’t there.  But mostly grateful; I’m the one with the camera.

Calving Part III: Anomalies in Agriculture at the XIT Ranch.

by admin

My last and perhaps best Paul Anka selection. Distracting and counter-intuitive to my motives, but makes the post, hang in there until 1:05 at least. But then, you won’t want to leave.  And what mutual conclusion did John and Paula have about Anita, Paul Anka’s singing partner in Europe, after viewing her forearms…? So I think we were right on with Paul being big with the drag queens.

Tonight’s essay is about anomalies. The boss (only works part-time on Sundays) threw me a bone. He helped me with organization of my thoughts and photos. So, you can thank him for connecting the dots that were related in my brain to identify my point before I had one.  Yes, it very often works this way with the Adams…

Sink and mini hot water heater station in calving zone of barn.

John pointed out the hot water heater Friday night.

Paula: “That’s so nice of you, I bet they like the warm water.” But I hadn’t ever noticed any post-labor rinse-off for the girls before…?

John: “That’s for me.”

I was sympathetic after other night in the pens when it was below freezing. There is only a small space heater in the barn, and this was only added in about 1996 when we moved to the west ranch.

I guess cold water is a real shocker after all that hot pV$….well, I don’t say these words, my father might be reading, let’s just say steaminess. See Part I.

So, hot water heater in the barn is anomaly one. Like a rancher with a cadillac, this is pretty high status for the XIT.

Mother and baby twins, born Jan. 22, 2011.

Anomaly Two: Baby twins were born Saturday night.
This is always fun. But, the mother cannot nurse two children, so John’s brother-partner brought over a cow from the e. ranch who had lost her baby. This is so the extra calf can “mother up” to the mother who no longer has her calf.

Anomaly Three: That girl is a freak.


John is speaking about a cow that never had any contractions. Being on the same team (females) as the cow and two weeks overdue with my own children, I have other theories for this. For example, she is such a good mother the children don’t want to leave, the calf might actually need more time in the womb, or she’s tired of men pushing her to fit their schedules and going to be difficult.

The point is, for rancher this is a pain:

Inconvenience: he has to stay up in the middle of the night either way.  He can

  • haul the girl himself to Ashland (72 miles one-way), wait for the c-section, then drive her home the other 72. This is probably a good 4-6 hr time commitment in the middle of the night.
  • Or bother the people you value the most, his great vets in Ashland, to do a housecall at the ranch.

The vet is expensive (to John the money guy). And a word about vets…The Ashland Veterinary has the best large animal and K-state grads in the region, and also great for cats and dogs.  And cheapest, maybe $175 for labor, $75 for mileage and time. It would be twice as much from Liberal.

  • One of a Cowboy’s many fine motor skills at the XIT is that he can stitch. They can handle a prolapse. This is when everything in the region from where the calf resides falls out. It gets shoved back in, she is stitched up and her life goes on.  If life at stake, the vet called regardless, even if she’s going to town to the auction block the next year or the next day.

And if there is any perceived harshness about mothering tendencies in the video, it’s not perceived; if you’re barren, you’re out after the first year.

Last, I just couldn’t figure out the hanging stirrup from the ceiling conundrum from Part I. If you’ll remember the visual stirrup of a horse and word connection reminded me of the OB/GYN so I was really trying to figure out how she got her legs way up there by the ceiling…Finally, as I did with so many engineering confusions I had in classes at KU, I had to ask.

John illustrates the function of the stirrup in the last frame.

Anyway, anomalies are good. I wouldn’t want life any other way.

Belles of the American Royal 82

by admin

"Betsy Ridge, Paula Graves, Diana Churchman



"KC Star, Betsy Ridge, Paula Graves, Diana Churchman. I think Betsy is describing her escort.

BOTARS by Laura Hockaday, Saddle & Sirloin? Allendale?

By the end of it and all the articles, we’d all had our share of time in print. Barby Allen’s was most impressive and she’s lived up to the write-up.  We probably all had horseback riding lessons at Allendale, so this was most appropriate; and she has served the state of Kansas in public office and still rides for competition.

"Connie Tutera Mendolia party"

Connie Tutera's party. pictured top to bottom, l to r: Ann McCray/Anne Potter/Barby Allen, ?/Connie Tutera, ?/Sue Holden/Leslie Evans, Sarah Smull/Paula Graves/Leslie Evans, Anne Hickok/?/Caroline Cooke

This was a particularly great party hosted by Lou & Dom Tutera & Connie Tutera Mendolia. Boss man spent a lot of time here during Pembroke tenure. He has recounted fond memories of experiencing family with Nonnie, Lucille, Connie, Mike, Peaches and Joe, all in context of Dom’s beautiful western bronzes and lots of pasta.

"KC BOTAR 82 party at Three Friends"

Mary Kerr and Paula Adams BOTAR party at Three Friends


Paula and Mary's Invitation, drawn by Dean Graves

All the BOTARS hosted separate parties. Mary Kerr and Paula Adams had theirs at Three Friends Hall at 27th and Prospect. It was collard greens and black-eyed peas with jazz from Rich Hill and the Riffs featuring the one and only Ida McBeth. We invited our friends, so Kathy Kindred Noonan, Susan Grier Campbell, Marthe Tamblyn, Mary Landon and Dave Kerr were there.

"BOTAR party at Three Friends"

Paula and Kathy, Sarah Smull, Ann Hickok, help me out, Jay Donohue, David Kerr and Marthe

"Mike Tutera, John Adams, Tom Ward"

Mike Tutera, John Adams, Tom Ward. One of many appearances Mike put in for John.

"Betsy Ridge, Mary Landon, Paula Graves"

"Betsy, Mary: the most beautiful homecoming queen of SME ever, Paula

Mike Tutera, Steve Siegfried, John Adams

You had to have these two guys at any respectable KC party in the 80s.

"The original Marlboro Man"

Sorry Ree, here's the original Marlboro Man as photographed in 1982 by Jack Rees, Jr. a KC Artist, in KC Style. This was when you could still smoke in confined spaces. He's got'em and he still smokes'em but not in the house. Meet him outside.

This is my escort John Adams. He was also my fiancé.  A BOTAR cannot be married, but can be engaged. I think being engaged at your debut is a little like selling the cow before the auction but the Ward-Graves women went young. Why didn’t my mother warn me about a man like this?

(see letters from Harry Darby)

le sketch du jour: Mon. July 7th, 1980. Trapped in Wallpaper nightmares…

by admin

It is funny because I just repeated a story to someone else about a friend who had made the comment, “if it’s not one addiction, it’s another.”

He went on to tell about how he’d decided that he would wallpaper this room. He said it looked so good, that he decided to do another. With each room, he started to feel better about his wallpapering abilities, and thus about himself. So then he shared that he started letting his thoughts race and get ahead of themselves. “I’m pretty good at this, I ought to start a business” and so on, and so on. If you don’t relate, just move on. Anyway, you get the idea, pretty soon, ego out of control, he was a Wallpaper(ing) Magnate, at least in his head.

Well anyway, I just thought I would relate because there are those people who really do focus on wallpaper and know their stuff.  Unfortunately, I had the opportunity to spend one of my afternoons in Paris au musée des art décoratifs with this very person: the Curator of Wallpapers.

I respect the art of the design of wall coverings in paper. I love the color, pattern, texture, historical motifs, etc. After living in a 100+ year old house, I now also understand the functionality in old houses with cracked plaster. A bandaid is much cheaper than complete re-haul of skin. But even later in my own home, I preferred to continue to spackle; I claimed these fissures in my own walls as the wrinkles that told the history.

So to generalize, architects don’t do wallpaper. And at that time, while not an architect, I was the daughter of an architect. Maybe this is all just an excuse, but I was BORED OUT OF MY MIND.

Here are the notes from my journal, Mon. July 7th, 1980:

Lecture at le musée.  Headed to Institute of France (Baroque) and east façade of Louvre.

Instead of lunch, went to jeu de paume-the impressionist museum in the Tuileries. Loved it. Saw the Degas ballerinas…the one in the cafés, all that you’d ever recognize.

Lecture in P.M. & then we saw the wallpapers….Quelle nightmare. She pulled out rows after rows that all looked the same and kept us until 5:45. The technique and earlier examples were interesting, but…


Climbing the wallpaper.

[More about paying for bus fare to London, 276 Francs, $70 for bus and Hovercraft.]

Home at 7:30. Got spinach and artichoke for dinner.  Cindy (Bean) came over and confirmed train reservations to Barcelona. Sun, warmth, no rain, above 60 degrees :). Wrote letters to hotels in Barcelona. Bed.

and a note:

Later when working for Bobby Smith at Jack Rees Interiors, I had the job of picking wallpaper for an older home off of Overbrook in Mission Hills. In many of these homes, the bathrooms are small, the original small white hexagonals still intact on the floor. They were well done, grout well maintained, and if it ain’t broke….Plus, old money, slow as honey, and there’s a lot to be said for not moving with the latest trends. Ranchers live like this, but to an even greater extreme since a home on a ranch is of virtually no value and there is no return on investment.

Point is, a little must have soaked in after viewing all of those many many bird & bee, basketweave, fleur de lys, strawberry, chinoiserie, toile, blah blah blah across western Europe papers.  I was able to weed through vast samples to find the appropriate color, scale of print, and historic meanings to give the owner a selection of edited choices from which she might choose. And, it was fun! Not boring at all.

The mounted roadie: Ride Tall, He’s always watching.

by admin
"Went to see a horse about a man"

Went to see a horse about a man.

Taking a roadie is taking a break. I think we may all do it, always have, in all times and places, by whatever mode of transportation is available. And times, it has only been in my mind.

The restlessness, the need for freedom, I think, is a part of who we are, or at least who I am. Being a 5th generation Kansan and a 4th generation Jayhawker, it might not seem as though I’ve left home. But I have lived in Paris and traveled quite a bit, in the states and across the state. And we all leave home in different ways. Through the books that I read, adventure is only as far away as my thoughts. And I always return home, wherever that may be, with a new perspective.

"Location:  ridge in the home pasture"

Location: ridge in the home pasture

Sometimes taking a roadie is by horse. In the aerial, you can see that I’m in the home pasture on a ridge (the line) about a mile north of the headquarters, on the north side of the Cimarron River. As it goes, really not very far from home. But it’s the concept that counts.

I’m going to include this photograph that my father-in-law Raymond Adams took, for it is far better than mine. He said one time,”if want to get close to God, you get up on that grey horse and ride up that hill behind the house and you will be about as close to God as you can get.”  And another thing he said, “I am one helluva cowboy.”

Ride tall, he's always watching.


Memoirs of Geisha Girls.

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Footbinding in Chinese Culture.

I remember both my mother and my grandmother talking about footbinding in Chinese cultures as a child. I am not sure where I read it when I was in high school, or maybe it was just told to me. But the vivid visual picture in my mind of having one’s foot bound back upon itself in order to keep it small, a bud, is more vivid than any picture. I had never seen a picture of this until now when I just googled it, but cannot share. I think it is better just told in words by mothers, grandmothers, and authors.

The purpose was to not only arrest a young girl’s foot at a certain stage of growth, it was to actually bind the toes back underneath the ball to achieve a small bud-like appearance, a lotus-shape. This was considered desirable to men. The pain can only be imagined.

It is a mother-daughter story. And I think stories such as Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan are important to read, to see what it is like for women in different times-different places. And to see how our language with each other, our nu shu, allows them to endure and enjoy.

But it as actually the Japanese Government which banned foot-binding in Taiwan in 1915.

So this is a story about the Geishas in Japanese culture. A much different story for women. This was a story I shared with my daughter when we read the same book.

Clockwise Geishas: Lacy, Lacy, Paula, Lacy.


The closest English translation of the proper noun “geisha” would be artist/performing artist. 

They are artisans that train for long periods of time (taking many years of work before becoming a full-fledged geisha),

therefore they, in some sense, symbolize perseverance. 

The world of the traditional geisha is the flower and willow world.

The flower is the symbol of beauty, but the willow is this idea of flexibility, not being rigid,

and this is how you survive.

Historically, Japanese feminists have seen geisha as exploited women, 

but some modern geisha see themselves as liberated feminists. 

“We find our own way, without doing family responsibilities. Isn’t that what feminists are?” 

These women leave their families at a young age to immerse themselves in their art.

My daugher, Lacy, read Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden the summer after fourth grade. We are both Pisces, Lace being born on the Ides of March, four days after my birthday on 11th. Always seeing both points of view, we were both immersed in books during grade school. She is her own person.

She wanted to be a Geisha for Halloween, but I don’t sew.  So we trooped to Wichita to Hancock and we kind of drew out this pattern, making up the kimono as we imagined it to be. Velvet flip-flops with a tatami mat footpad were her geta.

My geisha girl experience was as a sophomore server to S.M. East Prom in 1977.  Here is a picture of all of us:

Sophomore Prom Server Geishas: Shawnee Mission East, spring 1977.

Back row l to r:  Marthe Dreher, Suzanne Passman, Tricia Venable, Paula Graves.

Floor l to r:  Don’t know…maybe Denise Rabius?, Julie Newman, Lisa Revare.

The geisha system was founded, actually, to promote the independence and economic self-sufficiency of women. And that was its stated purpose, and it actually accomplished that quite admirably in Japanese society, where there were very few routes for women to achieve that sort of independence.                                                   -Mineko Iwasaki.  subject of Golden’s book.  then wrote her own story, Geisha of Gion. Born Nov. 2, 1949, Kyoto.

Being a Geisha is, in many ways, good training for being a woman. We have a secret sisterhood. We enjoy putting on makeup and clothes, seemingly to be attractive to men. But mostly because we enjoy the costume and makeup that we are privileged to wear in our roles. We congregated in groups with other Geisha at slumber parties in our youth, practicing our dance. And we learn from our older sister, the okee-san, and our mother, the makee-san, not just from our own blood.

The Geisha is skilled in music and dance. She is educated with knowledge to participate in skilled conversations of culture and cleverness on equal plane with the businessmen she entertains. And with her own perspective.

And, like the Geisha, we are the beautiful flowers

who bend like the willow, to prevail when the winds blows.


Gifts from men…and another home run for…Peter Stack!

by admin


I was just looking through my scrapbook and found another creative (writing) gift from you. The expiration date was 6/7/78, so I am thinking this was for my 16th birthday in 1976? Way to go! Another stellar effort from my first boy-friend.

Here it is:

"A Date on your Birthday Club, 4505 W. Burlington. Nantucket, NC 66409

So I wanted to break this down into parts, because it is such a brilliant exhibit.

Paragraph One

Sentence One: I have won something! Always makes one’s heart race.

Sentence Two: Establishes trust in the organization from whom I have won the prize. Note mention of prestige, status, and all the contact information including address (Nantucket, North Carolina, 66409) with phone and extension.

Let’s dissect  this. I know the nuances of your cleverness were greatly overlooked at the time for which I apologize.


A city I would not even visit for another ten years. But this historic whaling capital has beautiful historic homes from classicistic to local vernacular, great clam chowder and fried oysters, and most of all water. So, I am thinking that this was you foreseeing our futures in history/preservation for Paula and life-giving water for you.

North Carolina:

The state where I was born at Camp LeJeune. Establishes a connection to my past.


Berryton, Kansas. The zip code where my favorite funniest brother-in-law (and Jack and Lacy’s uncle) Charles Ash Adams lives and owns property, just west of Topeka. Again, a prophecy from you who knew his calling of an important relationship for me. Charlie’s military slang confirming our forever friendship, apart from being Adams, was that it was (I should say, he is), “teflon coated.”

339 area code:

This is for many suburban Boston towns including part of Wellesley where my sister Gina would later live. The town I will mention that jumped out at me was Maiden in Middlesex County. Not much more to say there.

Sentences Three and Four

It was wise to use the term companion instead of escort. It foretells the use of computers when their only existence at the time was at a scale the size of a small gym. And, further instruction. You knew me too well with my love of details, not that surprises aren’t equally effective.


1. Punctuality. This was nice. Since I’m usually not on time but working on it, I am sorry if I made you wait.

2. This is all true.

3. Respects my parents curfew and puts to rest any anticipated fear of consequences if ignored.


Vitae-Data, good to know.

Actually, I wouldn’t mind still having a bit of this from others before I engage in dinner with anyone, for various and conversational reasons. Weight is irrelevent, though. And of course, unemployed in the current times should be amended to self-employed. We all do good work in some form or another.

Plus, the confirmation that food is still one of the two constants directing the way to a man’s heart is one of general interest to me.

To Pete’s wife Jen and all women and wives: do we really want anymore complexity?

Back page (the further instructions mentioned above) 

"One of these dates are a possibility"

Restaurant Review

These notes are of recollections about restaurants popular in Prairie Village-Leawood-Plaza-Overland Park burgs in the latter 70s. Lancers, please post and share your stories and funny memories about family dinners, dates, girl’s-guy’s night out, or our pre-SME-Prom Group outings (or “drunks” as we might now call them): 

A. Dragon Inn. Pete introduced me to Chinese Food and this family restaurant. At the time, it was located a clock behind the sporting goods store (?, memory lapse, please post and help) on Santa Fe Drive in Old Overland Park just west of Metcalf off 79th.  We had mu shu pork and crab rangoon and it was marvelous. I learned to drink lots of water.

B. Minsky’s Pizza. The only location I can remember was at 103rd and Metcalf. Was this called Watt’s Mill or was that on east side of Metcalf? I think the only place I ever go to in this area now is Keith Coldsnow, which was only located in Westport at that time.

C. Dinkeldorf’s. Was this in Ranch Mart? Or the deli approximately across the street from Minsky’s that had lox? I don’t think the Indian Hills people knew these areas as well as those who had migrated further south to Meadowbrook. We were more Merriam-Prairie Village-Fairway-State Line north oriented folks.

D. Sam Wilson’s. Was this the first great steak and salad bar place on State Line? Wasn’t there also another one over in Missouri on 63rd?

E. Lobster Pot. Ralph Gaines. Lud Gaines father’s place in Union Station. Very expensive as I remember. I never dined there. This was quite a big thing for Pete to offer (see*).  Since I had been trained by my mother not to order the most expensive thing on the menu and to eat everything you order when someone else is paying, this was generous for him to offer but way out of my comfort zone for him to invest.

F. Trader Vic’s. Of course always loved this, but I get mixed up with the Kona Kai. I think Trader Vic’s was the one in Crown Center and Kona Kai was at the Hilton just south of the Plaza on Main across from The Wishbone (which was a definite favorite of mine). It reminded me of Brookville Hotel in western Kansas where I would go with my Grandparents when traveling to Hays.

F. Dinner at the Kona Kai. Just a word to our children about these asian restaurants in the 70s.

1) Women love drinks evocative of sand, sun, and surf served in creative containers with umbrellas. It’s a sweet, colorful playtime in a festive outfit, stimulates many senses. I should have skipped the alcohol, that was, and still is, plenty for me to handle right there. I would tell you about an SME pre-homecoming gathering here, but I don’t remember anything (or if fun?) beyond the first drink in the coconut. I do think the cute drink stirrer made it home safely.

2) And I’m making a generalization here about cultural familiarity in Johnson County vis-a-vis suburban kids and asians at this time period: we both all looked the same to each other. In fact, the waiters couldn’t even discern us from our parents when ordering alcohol.

G. Your choice. Such a relief that someone else had taken the time to think all this through, so I was putty. Was never even considered.

And to Jen and the Stack Family, you are very good sports about these, now two, posts. They are in part about New Mexico and Philmont Boy Scout Camp and Johnson County Restaurants. But Pete, your creative thoughtful momentos were the motivation to taking me back to different places, different times, old friends. Thank you, Pete.


Paula Elizabeth Graves Adams.

note: to SME Lancer’s, ’78ish. I would love it if you would post and share in Coffee?

Running on the Rez: a few Taosien thoughts

by admin

I was actually running on the Taos Reservation December 2, 2010. I met Butch and Henry (“D”) that day and they shared their thoughts and work with me. D called me two days ago on the eve of my next trip to Taos, so I am here at the Sagebrush Inn and thought it was time to record the moment.

I’ll save my Taos history for another post as well as the Sagebrush Inn stories and pictures, but on the 2nd my day began with a few pictures while running before I ran into Butch chopping wood.

Keep the money in the family

If you've got'tem smoke'em.

Living the good life outside of town. 

I knew there was a reason why I felt comfortable on the Reservation.

They enjoy life down on the farm.

Keep if in the family.

Know how exciting a good casino can be in rural America. Dodge City has a new casino and it’s the highlight of my year to now have a place to watch the people, but that’s for later, too.

Butch at work and rest.

Butch makes $50/day chopping wood, so I knew this might cost me as well as asking to take the picture but he could not have been more willing to share his morning. Butch met his wife, a Cheyene Arapahoe, in El Reno. She lives in Oklahoma City. Interesting how so many rural women live in town elsewhere and it all works out, everyone is happy.

Here are a few thoughts from Butch:
He specializes in curved doorway openings in homes on reservation and within Pueblo and has promised me a tour.
He is also an artist. He made a sandstone buffalo that he was trying to sell in Sedona when he worked on a house there, but at Sedona, you must have a license to sell of the street. After he was shut down on the street in Sedona, he entered a gallery where an artist was selling an image of the Taos Pueblo. He then pointed out to the gallery owner that actually the rights to the Pueblo image were owned by the Taos Indians, ironic as he’d just been shot down.

One guys opinion about politics.

Butch likes Bill Clinton, not a George Bush lover, and said the Taos Indians love Richard Nixon. This is because the Taos Pueblo is actually not a part of the U.S. System which placed Indians upon reservations. It was part of a Spanish Land Grant for the Pueblo Indians who have been there for over a 1,000 years. The Taosiens fought to regain their independence from the U.S. Government in the early 20th century in a long battle that was finally won with Richard Nixon granting sovereignty to the lands in the 70s.

Butch, Taos Reservation Nov. 2, 2010.

Butch told me of the Indians connection with Tibet and asked about my eyes if I had Tibetan or asian roots (?). I told him I will have to introduce him to my friend Marthe if he wants to see real Tibetan eyes and an old soul. And speaking of, Marthe and I have been to Taos together about 28 years ago and we will be back soon. I think we also stayed at Sagebrush Inn.

Meeting Butch’s brother Henry, “Dee”, and getting a deserved ass chewing for snapping without asking.

After a bit, Henry and Todd drove up in a pickup. There was a great picture of Henry and Todd that I took right off. I was promptly called out on it by Henry who said that sometimes people can end up dead for doing this. This is actually true. I remembered that my mother had once taken a picture of a waitress with reflecting gasses and a beehive behind the counter at Cascone’s Italian Ristoranti in the River Market. My father, slapped her camera down, for the man sitting on the stool that she was serving was Nick Civella. Nick Civella was a KC mobster, to use an un p.c. old word. I am afraid to use any other (like cosa nostra) as I might end up dead as he was closely associated with Jimmy Hoffa and Teamsters, Roy Williams. His skill at skimming from the Stardust in Vegas earned him a place on the Nevada exclusion list.

Anyway, I always like a good threat and am used to people who carry guns since I live in Kansas. For me personally, my concerns all rest upon how I look in the picture. But, the reason why I do this is at times is because people stop and pose. I can miss the exact moment for the best picture to be captured. So, I have found that sometimes I can get away with just taking the picture and asking later, though not this time. I deleted the picture, it was rude of me.

I was the Indian Papparazzi….it cost me $25.00 and a bottle of whiskey. I fear if they see this post, it will cost me much more, hopefully not my life. I told them about it and them seemed okay. But, I got 1.5 hours of the best history, art, design, and philosophy that I’ve ever had in one setting. I also made three friends who may someday do some cool things on the ranch at the XIT Headquarters if John will let them deer hunt on the river.

Henry had left the reservation as a young man and lived in New York where he was some kind of political figure. And yes, they do allow you to go away and come back. Henry was “old guard” Pueblo.

I felt a lot of guilt speaking with Henry, he was testing me.  When I mentioned history, he said that 90% of American History was false.  He seemed to have a bit of a chip and I was uncomfortable, so I went on the attack,”it’s been 150 years, get over it, haven’t you ever screwed anyone in a deal?”  “No, but I like to screw white women.”

hmmmm….I have decided that maybe men of other cultures have trouble identifying ages since ethnic men, older men, and homeless men seem to be the audiences with whom I seem to garner attention when I’m alone.  Though this white woman remark was not intended for me, it is taken for what I suppose men intend for these comments to be… a compliment to women, right?

Henry and Todd took me to one of the building projects.  I ws totally impressed with their recycling of materials and organization. I live on a ranch and you can tell who’s re-using their stuff by how they organize the junkpile and their takedown system of former projects. Here’s a picture.

Recycled adobe brick under tarp.

Here’s a bit about communal living and the Taos Reservation:
Even in communal living there is hierarchy. Some guys (and gals) have more and better land than others.
There is about 100,000 acres within the Taos Reservation.
80% of this is mountainous and timbered, not productive, and communally owned.
The remaining is privately owned.
There are about 1500 residents.
There are about 4,000 that have tribal rights.


This is Todd. Todd’s wife is a Taos Indian. He mentioned that the women have a lot of power on the reservation.

And last, when I asked about the recent gay pride parade in Taos, I asked if there would ever be a gay pride parade on the reservation. Maybe in 50 years, was the response. Yes, the Reservation has all kinds, everyone keeps to themself, sounds like Kansas. But mainly the answer was, “why do you care about gay men and not about us?” Maybe everyone is feeling a bit neglected and underappreciated these days, not just white males.

And Henry finally allowed me to take a picture of his ponytail only. Then, feeling artful, he gave me a side view.

Henry a la R C Gorman

So Henry, when you called, I was so happy to hear your voice! And do hope that you’ll remember, Butch, that you invited me to Christmas Eve at the Reservation with all the family and Donald Rumsfeld for the fireworks when we met at the Adobe Bar. Yes, I do feel the love… and so appreciate that you called me on some Paula issues I need to work on.

I will look you up on my next trip. And I’m glad you got present from El Prado, though when you did not trust me to give it to Butch that night at the Taos Inn, my note said “So you don’t trust your brother, eh?”

I was teasing. It was in response to our earlier discussion about Indians and all of your brothers. And in the context of the U.S. getting $h@ft’d in a deal, you know, my comment, “didn’t you ever screw someone in a deal?” But, it didn’t read on paper, you are right. I apologize and appreciate. I do not like being misunderstood. I should not be glib and what I think is casually affable invades others boundaries. We had just met, it was trespassing.

Samouyah. We will meet again.
I know I am not your brother, I do not speak your language, but in other ways we are family.
And yes, we are all the same.



And if you ever have to pay $5 at the road when you first enter the Indian Reservation, I did have a vote in that. I was able to run and appreciated taking the pictures free of charge, but perhaps a gate toll at highway could bring in the bucks, not just at the Pueblo. Of course, I need to focus more on my goals in this department. It all looks pretty shiny out there and life  good. “Good idea,” Henry said to the nosy trespassing advice-giver.


Pervasive Bald men and Blue Eyes trend…some research on roots…and why it could work.

by admin

Michael Stipe, R.E.M.


I have noticed more and more men are choosing to completely shave their heads.

And, I just noticed that so many of them have blue eyes. 

Michael Stipe, R.E.M.

a note: to remind you, I have lived on a ranch in western Kansas and spent a lot of time painting, jewelry-making, designing, french-teaching, history-researching, driving, cooking, running and raising children. So, this may be something that everyone else noticed long ago, but I’m just now opening my eyes to these things since I now spend time in the big ‘Ta Town. 

So the two observations lead me to propose this generalization:

Men experiencing early male pattern baldness and blue eyes are rushing to shave their heads to get women. 

Now, we can all accept the fact that many, if not most men are motivated to do anything, by one thing. So, this doesn’t seem like much of a statement. 

But this is so prevalent and apparently so effective, that even others without this syndrome seem to be following suit.

Wentworth Miller, whoever he is…


So let’s look at the steps from predicament to solution from a balding perspective.

a) Too much testosterone.  No explanation needed there. Getting plenty, no problem.

b) Blue eyes. a single mutation which arose as recently as 6-10,000 years ago from one ancestor around the Black Sea was responsible for all the blue-eyed people alive on Earth today. AndEuropeans are far more likely to have blue eyes. They also have a far greater range of skin tones and hair colour than any other ethnic grouping. One theory for the proliferation of so many blue-eyed persons in such a short period of time is sex selection. Sex selection comes to the fore when there is a lot of competition for mates of one sex or the other. The theory is that in Europe, where men had to spend weeks at a time out on the hunt, males were in very short supply. Therefore, the blue-eyed, more unique men were at an advantage...again, getting plenty, no problem. 

c) Hair loss, the problem arises. Hair, in a general historical sense, has traditionally associated with virility in males. So, the men who were winning with too much testosterone were now at a disadvantage.

First, a little background material on hairinesss. It’s not really a tangent, stay with me…

There is a differentiation between the effect of the level of testosterone in body hair versus that at the top of the head.

In the body,

more test is more,

unlike on the head,

where more test is less.

So, by the text books, more body hair indicates men that are fertile, sexually mature and strong. And if you believe in evolution, fertile women should go for the hairy bods.

But Finnish psychologists actually found the opposite to be true.

Here are their propositions:

Fertile women aren’t looking at the body hair, they are looking at the man’s muscles to work out whether he’s got good genes. Less body hair in the way reveals the structure. This is reflected in current aesthetics for idealism in both sexes of defined bod musculature and hairlessness. I am interested to see that this seemingly narcicisstic trend might actually has some positive (?) genetic basis.

The Finns also propose it’s not the testosterone but the estradiol. As estradiol increases, it changes males character slightly, making them better able to take care of their children. So less body hair may reflect a man’s greater caring potential. This might explain why women not desiring or post child-bearing age have no problem with hairy male bodies.

d) So, the solution. The balding men have taken it a step further. Being unable to do anything on their head (implants, plugs, rogaine, all humiliating and make women laugh at them even more) they have found a clever solution to regain their ability to get.

They are marching the smoothness-in-body hair trend vertically upward to tap into a visual characteristic that will trigger a women’s perception of caring potential, a positive trait equally effective in getting sex.  

And I give them a great deal of credit for researching the genetic, historical and cultural trends that have brought them to this point.  It’s a great look to add to the men’s team and very timely:  modern, clean, streamlined, low maintenance, functionally simple.

Michael Chiklis from The Shield.

But most important, why it works? 

Bald blue-eyed men remind of us our babies….smooth heads and their  blue eyes at birth.

I remember…..carry on sweet thing…

These testosterone-laden men are fully aware of the feeling that comes over a mother when gazing into the eyes of her infant.

…no words…

They have tapped into that desire for women to nurture their newborn and are attempting to channel it elsewhere, and where else would that be? They’ve done their homework and history. I have to say,  I’m very impressed with the sophistication of this thought process.

But, I would warn that conjuring up an infant in a woman’s mind to get sex might carry some risk to be aware of.

That is, that infant also came with some other more challenging nascent characteristics. I won’t mention these because, of course,  we all possess them and their potential is there to arise at any moment when unchecked.  But, of course, we all know how worth it they were in raising with our children.

Why I felt I had to share, since of course, this has no real relevance at my age. 

  • As a trying-to-be-a little-wiser older woman who gains most wisdom from my children, I thought I should share this proposition with the gals’ team.
  • To all the bald, hairy, shaved, bearded, waxed, paternal, nurturing, caring, maternal, bachelor, whatever men out there:  I think you’re neck in neck in the race. Keep working it, whatever your angle…


And to women of all ages…

  • Start looking….
  • Please do post and share if you notice the same thing.