A cock and bull story.

by admin

He'll be as useless as tits on a bull.

I can’t really remember what exactly was the issue here,

you’ll have to ask the Boss.

But, I do remember

that there was a female involved.

Wagon-Streetcar-Circulator: a Public who Works in Progress.

by admin

Getting Around Walnut & Westport Ave. by horse.

I attended a meeting last week about the newly proposed beginning of a mass transit system in KC, the Urban Circulator. The issue is complicated, technical and political. The City, planners, a KCMO Councilman, architects and consultants were there in force to answer questions after the brief  presentation. It was tight, beginning a quick definition of light rail and commuter trains versus urban circulators. And, a mapping of the transit district to be taxed which is handled with a write-in ballot for which the request is to be submitted by today at 5 pm. And the most effective, questions were not opened up on the floor. Those in attendance were encouraged to speak directly with all of the numerous people above capable of addressing the nuances and complicated nature of even the simplest question. Here are the points that I gleaned, in part from eavesdropping on the Councilman’s conversation with another.

a) it’s a start. A plan is never perfect, and many good ones fail at the ballot box. Try again.

b) if they get the TDD now in this first phase, it will be easier to get federal funding for the next phase.

c) Yes, there are many other arteries besides main which were considered and also had great merit. But it’s an economic development question right now. Baby steps.

Most importantly, the meeting did not waste anyone’s time. Officials were all readily accessible to the public, listened, and explained in civil, respectful terms the issues at hand to get to this point. That is, anyone who wanted to hear themselves talk or “stir it all up” or get too tedious for a roomful of people needed to speak directly to the expert whose answer would specifically address their point be it a politician or an engineer. Person-to-person dialogue. As my Wichita therapist suggested at times to say to others (sometimes annoying) questions, (big sigh first)….”it’s so complicated.” In this case, those who knew how complicated it was were there to mostly listen, but then to address the question at hand and to get just as in-depth with each person as was required (when their eyes start to glaze over…). Or, a tight answer about people and politics in a closed session, choosing the right words. It took a lot of work to get here and try again. I respect it. Kudos KCMO for planning and presentations at these sessions last week.

HOW I GET EXCITED! HISTORY! If we do not know our past, we are destined to repeat it!

I celebrated by going to the Missouri Valley Reading Room to look at transportation in Kansas City to see what was going on a hundred years ago right in this part of town. The people, the publications, the pictures.  This is the first of a series of posts about the electric streetcar in the growth of the Kansas City in the culturally rich areas which we are now appreciating after thirty years of architects and people with vision saying, “they will come.”

The picture above of the horse drawn car coincidentally is just a block from my house at 39th and Walnut. And I’m confident, the urban circulator will be heading past this address shortly, phase II or III. It will be here before we know it. Think Positive.

It is prophetic to see how much the Urban Circulator looks like the electric streetcar. A neighbor of mine in Hyde Park from a demographic of the city that never deserted this area commented, “they just should have left the old tracks.” Everyone’s got an opinion! And Henry Brown and Emmett do have some valid points. That is to say, not everyone is Johnson County-Brookside educated privileged folk are as excited about urban renewal. Schools, housing, jobs, and figuring out a way to give a little piece of the pie back to some of the good people who preserved this part of town by hanging in there and awareness of displacement.

Now that’s big one to take on with people and politics in KCMO. But at least it’s one to keep on the back burner when we all hop the state line to bring cultural richness into suburban lifestyles and a viable choice for leisure time from our shopping palaces to consumption where we could be in any city in America for their sameness (Hands raised, I’m guilty of all of the above!). Another point Henry and Emmett made was that they ultimately wanted lateral suburban systems going, not south and west, but East to visit where their folks had gone to escape the City.

I hate the expression “it’s all about the money” and I know this is true, short-term and long. But, I do believe that in the longterm with this originating in the State of Missouri that it will someday truly be a whole Greater Kansas City wide project. Everyone pays some taxes, KC-Johnson County, together as a City and People who can all share in the greater good both in life and in business.

So here’s the electric streetcar of a century ago in Kansas City. Hello neighbor, hop on!

Electric Streetcar, Kansas City.

My father, Dean Graves, lived in Kansas City, Kansas. His family did not have a car when he was a young boy, his dad worked in a lumberyard and his Mom worked for Biggar Insurance in downtown KC, Kansas. He was the first to go to college in his family. I don’t think they maybe even had a car until he was in high school or college. He would take the streetcar from Kansas City, Kansas down to Main to go to the picture show that was fifty cents where there was air conditioning. I think he said he would also go to Windstead’s and get a frosty. I wonder if this ever included the girls or was just a guys thing? What a great date night that would have been!

So, the Urban Circulator is something to do now that will create something better for those younger than I. This is my Positive Opinion.

It’s a Public who Works in Progress!

The photos above are from the collection of the Missouri Valley Reading Room Archives and the Kansas City Public Library, Central Branch. They were requested for duplication for educational use. 

Baaa…when he speaks to me, He calls me Paula.

by admin

I am attaching a link for a wonderful sermon that I missed hearing last week on Mother’s Day at Second Pres.  It is very powerful and I enjoyed hearing this one in particular at home, as I am prone to crying in church. Click on Reverend Paul Rock: The Voice, the top sermon, delivered on May 13th.

Listen to him, but he is talking about how God speaks to us and how to find that voice.

The value of feeling really low and 12 steps to go up.

I first had to feel pretty low about other things and to realize that I had to give into the fact that I couldn’t run the show of my life. I will say a little because I believe the 12 step process that one particular anonymous group identified in 1939 as instrumental for so many should be at least peripherally mentioned. It worked for many people to give up alcohol and more importantly to take responsibility for whatever else about oneself that wasn’t working in life. And addictions can be many things in people besides chemicals. I know because I am an addictive person and you can see it in part when I write. It’s often those things that worked so well for so long to keep us going, working, doing, running, thinking but for some reason yet to be uncovered it just wasn’t working anymore.

Starting over Each Day.

And, it has been said in meetings that it is a bit of a bait and switch. This is because so many do have a problem with organized religion and a higher power, religion is separate and apart from this process. But at the end of the day, it finally does come around to finding a God within oneself. And, because it focuses on just each day, it is really what brought me back to understanding why people chose Christianity as a religion. That idea that each day, sins are forgiven, and to be good, feel good. To move on doing good things it is important to forgive oneself to be rid of resentments that can keep us stuck, lazy and in the past in a negative way. Focusing too much on not forgiving oneself diverts from taking responsibility for past actions with amends as well as doing important work in life in the future.

So, after all of that and really several months of just going through the motions, I came to Believe. After practicing and saying and repeating, something finally happened. It was not like this, though this picture kept going through my head.

Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa


It did involve sunlight, though. I think this is in part because the sun is so warming and relaxing. It also so changes the way that everything looks at different times of the day. Everything is grayed and light blued in the morning, golden in the afternoon, and reveals every color possible throughout the day, all in the same still-life setup.

I knew the hard work had paid off when I felt I really now saw

Great Beauty. Masterpieces.

Not all of the time, just when I am conscious.

But in these moments, all of a sudden the

yellow was buttery,

the green was a meadow,

the blue was indigo and

my reds were tame and quiet.

I have studied art and been around beautiful paintings, sculpture, buildings all of my life. I’ve visited complex cities that were both planned and evolved with people, time and place. Some were places that others may not have thought of as beautiful like junkyards, but I’ve always been open to thinking there was something to see and learn in any place, any person. I never associated this with God.

Still my most beautiful picture, place, moment captured. Trash sack and School Bus. Colorado Line, summer 2011.

Even when I made things, my meditation, I never really thought of this as God.

And later when I so relied on my mind to remember, there and in my dreams, I have always seen vivid color and detail. It does not always matter if something is in front of me, I can still see it, taste it, smell and touch it in my head.

When I lived in southwest Kansas,

I lived in the past when I studied stone buildings and read Webb’s the Great Plains.

I was in the future when I studied Rem Koolhaus and read Metropolis.

I was with my friends when I was lonely,

and I was in Paris when wanted to explore, see, draw and be alone to experience.

And I was in the present,

when I was cooking, driving, raising a family, doing my work,

but being connected to all of that and feeling important about what I chose to do.

Paul Rock also speaks to that in his sermon. That is, pretending. Some people call it daydreaming, but when it shows up in what we do on earth it is more than that. This is the idea hat there are crowds cheering, people watching, and that what we do matters, civic responsibility and hard work. And for all that organized religion gets knocked around, that the belief in good through religion is something that at one time and still does unite Americans in values and in large part helped us to build a great country. If one doesn’t like the word religion, just call if faith, faith in building something that is good or in large part tries to be.

With faith, suddenly Life is electrified through everything on earth and it is all connected.


The Work of it, the Practice, to hear Voice.

Within Paul Rock’s sermon he also talks about Voice, real voice and hearing. I actually have practiced this, not often enough, when I really work at setting aside a time and place to have a conversation. The pauses, the questions.

I’m not so great at conversation with others in general. I talk way way too much about self, answer questions with too much detail, explain, random and tangential and wonder why I’m always the one talking and having to offer, often way more than I really want or need to say. It comes off as unhealthy narcissism when I am often just engaging in a nervous habit that in part was necessary to share about my unorthodox life but no longer has value.

I am working at the Art of Listen, being still. (though professionally here this translates to just baby steps with partial “edit”).

And of staying in the moment.

Maybe actually trying non-verbal connecting, even with other women and we are so verbal!

I have to say, the last place I found was just happening to sit upon a little padded bench in my foyer at The Illinois in one of these conversations I knew had to happen at that moment. When I looked down, terrazzo and border tile and when I looked up,  there was a beautiful plaster ceiling of white.

My little Borromini Chapel at The Illinois. How on earth did God help us do decorative plaster?

So, at the end of the day, it is work and practice and I could be doing a whole lot more, though out each day. But, I am getting pretty good at it. In fact, the birds awakened me this morning earlier than usual to get this sermon of Paul’s out there before church this morning.

So, both the seeing and the hearing are working pretty well.

 Off to shower. I think instead of running this morning,

I will have to let God treat me to a some tasting before church with a chocolate mocha decaf.

And I’ll get to church early,

to take time to smell the lilacs by the fence

of the house along Oak where I park.

Have a happy Sunday.



Shakin’ it the Good Presbyterian Girl Way!

by admin

Shake it Nancy Alberg McGuire! 

Gotta deliver the message with the moves he gives us.

Have a happy joyous and free Sunday.




to Go Ahead and Do it Even though I’m Down in Front

by Kite Singleton


Covering Balzac’s Bottom.

by admin

Nude Study of Balzac. Auguste Rodin, 1892.


Last night.

THREE TIMES it had to be said,

“Ma’m, we ask that you

PLEASE  not  touch  BALZAC’S  @$$.”

Reservoirs and Foreshortening Skills. Finals Week. Carry on. your first student, mom.

by admin

Drawing of Bob Burnquist. by Jack Adams, age 11.

I really shouldn’t talk about my family too much. But, I had the privilege of living with a man that would leave drawings like this on his bedroom floor. He was eleven. Look at the right hand…

Here are some things to know about Bob Burnquist.

  • He was the Brazilian professional skateboarder who was the first to land a fake to fake 900, the 5th person in history to have ever landed the 900. I have no idea what this means.
  • He has a signature trick called “one-footed smith grind”.
  • He started the Bob Burnquist Foundation to bring knowledge about organic farming and gardening to schools.

But back to this man with whom I had the privilege of living.

We only had about 120′ of concrete on the ranch, a curving 3′ wide sidewalk from the freestanding garage to the house.  You can see on this site plan underneath these words. Note that the larger curving drives between the buildings are NOT concrete but packed dirt.  In fact, this sidewalk was about the only concrete within a 6-10 mile radius of our home depending on the direction. [concrete inside of stock tanks does not count, not big enough for skateboarding even in a small circle.] But the point is, it was enough for this man I lived with to master many moves on the board he bought for himself.

Determination knows no dirt boundaries.

This man is likely both dee-jaying and studying engineering stuff like formations and reservoirs this weekend.  And I hope, dancing in-between all of the work and play…to keep it fluid…to keep it loose.  He taught me all of my best moves.

Thanks for showing me how to rein it in and check both sides of the gray in life. Dance hard, dance on.