Mania, Melancholy, and Making Stuff.

by admin

Fear turned out for a Saturday Afternoon.

Most of my life, if my selective memory works, I think I have been in a state of productive mania. I don’t remember the fits of rage, retaliation, or Indecision, for I HAD Purpose. I had a goal.

And, I do think this is most of the time, or at least MORE of the time. Or did, until I hit a rough patch, let’s just call it my 50s, soon thankfully to be at an end. In March, In Like a Lion, and let’s hope to reach 60 as the lamb of God I hope to be.

But lately, more chronically, I have had a problem feeling purpose. I’ve been working on edits for a second book, a Children’s Book that I’ve discovered is not really a children’s book at all. And, while I will hold onto Prairie Pug as a memoire, I do want to re-think if it even needs to be a book or might be better done in a blog. Mostly the writing is therapeutic for me. Sometimes, it’s much harder Work. Books, in print, or in digital, are not cheap to produce or market. They definitely aren’t a breadwinner.  So, I’l keep the ego and belt cinched, save that decision for another day.

I think I’m finally feeling and acknowledging the word “Depression.” Anxiety, though not of the sort I had when I resorted to taking xanax. This was while working at a large architectural firm in Wichita. It wasn’t the job, though I knew MY path wasn’t to even work long enough to be able to sit for the architectural exams, much less to pass them. My trail was to get Lacy through high school at Wichita Collegiate. And, we did do this, but taking xanax wasn’t worth it. After two years and about 4 months on xanax, I quit, and headed to Drugs (Off) Camp in Halstead. She was able to live with a dear family friend, Sally, for her senior year. I had been trying to live TWO lives, and not doing a good job at either. Mostly, I couldn’t go home to cook in the summers and fall, my main ranch responsibility after some “facilities management” with historic and domestic buildings. I’d ‘left my post’, though not in a deliberate way as I perhaps did later.

I still do not know the answer to that one. No big, life is hard sometimes! Was before that big (or)Deal got undone, too. No matter…

On the good side of Depression…I’ve

  • had a lot of sleep,
  • seem to have laid my scale on a bath mat and thought I’d lost 10 lbs but seem to have gained 10 instead,
  • and I have tried not to “consume”. That’s one way I falsely think I can “snap out of it!” as Cher would say.
  • And, I was with some women at a Meetup (GET OUT OF THE HOUSE REGARDLESS!) at Cafe de l’Art who made stuff.
  • And, more importantly, they shared about it, the details to the questions I love to ask, tediosity!

So, yesterday, I pulled out my beads, and followed my vow that I will NEVER buy one more art supply, at least in the bead department [except as needed to finish a piece, a fastener, etc.].

First, all I did was pull out the wire and “posts” and tools. Immediately and as was necessary, I felt compelled and stressed into seeing if I could remember how to “wire wrap” and if I still had the half-round pliers. I could and I did and it was “Good Enough”. FYI, a $28 brush-up is available at BEADholiday on Fort Lowell weekly, no problem. By then, I had started and I couldn’t wait. Messy ‘wire wrap’ had served most of my projects and so it would work “today.”

Stuff: so…nice and SHINY!


Then, I picked out my favorite silver charms and pieces, and decided that it didn’t matter if the posts were sterling silver (which does tarnish) or the inexpensive shiny ones I had. This post, technically I believe maybe called a “headpin,” is like a big straightpin with a head. You just put the bead on it, and make sure it’s big enough that it won’t slip off the other end. Then the other pieces can sit on top and you make the jump ring or loop at the top to string with the wire wrap. Then, you can either string the wire loop or add an open jump ring to this. It’s all super easy, one hour of a wire wrap class and you’re in business with help from their business. Crafts are good for the economy and MOI, on the other hand, then spend far less than in other forms of shopping.

So, doing something prevents the ‘living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work’ that I can find even in the midst of trying to edit a book. We read about this in church today (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13). I’ll let you look it up if you care to, just because the interpretations are all unique, just see it as a positive impetus for me. I had decided I would make gifts for Christmas for new family members. I had a purpose for the act of making something. But it was the making it that made it therapeutic, the STARTING came before the purpose, for I had remembered the medicine. It was so meditative that for the first 1+ hour, I just organized, designed, and basically made a plan. It’s like when Jesus brought the hungry man to the older lady who was despondent. She got up, she made food and drink and she had purpose. My Jesus, I guess, being those ladies who shared about their projects.

Here are some of the thoughts and things about the necklace I’ll share that also relate:

  • RECYCLE. in using old and broken jewelry, it takes the artful act of former shopping to a new plane. Not “better” just a different place.
  • enamel bunny necklace and stamped cats bracelet


    • That’s what the little bunny is, and the cats. These were small, one enameled, one stamped, horizontally linked charm pieces that my mother had seen in antiques and thrifts stores that reminded her of the tiny jewelry I gravitated towards. They had broken, but I keep all of my broken jewelry, often because it’s hard to find places that will repair costume jewelry. Recycle.
      • Here’s one I’ll share… It’s at Oliver and Douglas in Wichita, across from Aspen Boutique.
      • Ayala Bar Chandelier Necklace, Solo


In the center, I used one of two “chandelier” earrings I’d kept after losing it’s mate. These are by the jewelry designer, Ayala Bar (Mosaic at Denver International supplied the name I couldn’t remember but the gift given to me was from Aspen Boutique, Wichita, don’t believe they still carry her work).

    • fetishes from something…either someone’s old fetish necklace (I didn’t have one) or maybe a Nancy Nichols Lopez creation that had broken…?

      Fetish from Nancy Nichols Lopez creation, also using recycled jewelry necklace, hers late 1970s.

  • The rest…some of those small crystals, turquoise, other mineral and plastic stuff I had!
  • last ingredient….meditative bliss.


  1. That’s the recipe for Depression. Acknowledge It.
  2. It may start with a class, something I MUCH prefer over utube though, not to discredit online learning. I need people…So…Get out of the House.
  3. Get around others who are doing something
  4. Create something, maybe for a reason, maybe just for fun if it sounds fun.
  5. The time will pass…the mood, too, shall pass.


Bikes and looking for Gary….or at least his spirit…

by admin

Sometimes I see something creative and inspiring and I have to talk to the person who made it, wore it, put it out there for us. And people are so kind about sharing why…how….. Like Gary, when he told me about his beautiful handmade bike bags.

This is Gary smiling in front of the Delano McDonald’s, where the 21st c. cowboys hang out.

And I think I have sometimes called Gary homeless, just to identify, but Gary isn’t homeless at all.  Because Gary knows more than anyone that this land was made for you and me and he. 

Gary’s outlook on life seemed like a great way to start Monday morning. And, since the days are getting shorter, you might see him.  He’ll be heading from Jackson Hole back down south and maybe hangin’ for a while in Wichita. So, I wanted to alert you to look for him.

We may have met him before and we’ll certainly meet him again. He is a pleasure…


And, given all the negative stuff we see about our country sometimes, I feel his outlook is refreshing. Gary takes the things I complicate, and makes me realize how complicated we can make our lives.

I would expect that riding on a bike across the countryside throughout the year is a pretty good way to see how beautiful America really is. Here is Gary, whittling it down to the essence…




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.



Taking my Pony on my Boat: what I share with Zeb Pike.

by admin

Me and my Pony on my boat on the High Plains.

What I share with Zeb Pike.

I do have a few things in common with Zebulon Pike.

I climb the mountains to my West.

I speak French which I use in the West.

As was his, my father was in the military, or at least in the Marines Corps.

And, I beat the trails through Northern New Mexico quite often. This is where Pike was encamped when he was captured by Spanish authorities and taken to Santa Fe. 

I, too, am captured in New Mexico by Santa Fe.

By the art and culture and landscape I need to nourish me on the Plains, so as to be refreshed again with its beauty when I return.

And I am also an explorer of the High Plains that records with maps, drawings, pictures, people’s stories, history and research.

So I understand now that this shadow at right in yesterday’s picture, made  from the clear photo corner that was holding another picture, that is me exploring the High Plains by sea.

When I did sail at camp, about all I could do well was to trim the jib. And that’s maybe all I will ever really take part in in regard to making money off land in the High Plains; to be the crewsman, cook the meals, drive. To suit up and be there.

The XIT Yacht

When I sail on this boat, it is isolated with a skilled crew, but I am somewhat of a stowaway who serves up the chow.  I do share in my own way what I can, sometimes having them yacht, but often with others not on board. Not just sharing of the ranch but of other ranches, through drawings and photographs and writing about ranching in Kansas.  Or in other ways like preserving a Depot that used to ship cattle or having folk artists to a one-room school near my house and inviting everyone around to come see, hear the music, and bring their fiddles.

Or by inviting the real Frenchman in Kansas down for dinner and into the schoolroom to parlez with the pupils. Or having the paleontologists from Kentucky and their European interns down for dinner where I got to parlez with Sophie, the French student. I do what I love, just as those do in their jobs on the XIT Yacht. 

I do the work on the boat that I know how to do, that I did halfway well with what I’d been given, where I think I’m giving back.

Sometimes when I would return to the main dock, I would do something stupid like let go of the main halyard. This only needs to be learned once. And sometimes I need to find a different dock. 

But mostly what I enjoy on the High Plains, is sailing and seeing at sea.

Sometimes it is when I am running…

A bit of it was in the pastures where I would fish for lost cattle. I didn’t always know where to look and it seemed like I never found them. But I could feel something, maybe someone saying follow me…and I will make you fishers of men…

For a lot of my time I had on the High Plains, I had the blessing and curse of taking my pony on my boat. I was probably not as useful as I could have been on the XIT Yacht, but there many people on that boat, and it just seemed so crowded it might sink. So, I lightened the load, my load…

In my books, my degrees, my work in design or preservation, in my car driving miles, in my art, I could get lost on the ocean. But, I would always be guided safely home, wherever that was for the night…Lawrence, Kansas City, Wichita, the XIT Headquarters, Santa Fe, or a hotel in a small town in Kansas when doing historical research in the field.


a Lone Ranger note: I like this song, but I take issue with the one line that pits Tonto and the Lone Ranger as enemies. I feel it is a contemporary translation that lacks depth in understanding the actual details of the history of its writers. Their intent was to illustrate the common values of an Indian and a White man, to do good, and a friendship that united the pair. They worked alongside each other as practically equal partners, and had each saved the other from death at different points in their lives. 

Tonto’s character was originally a Potawatomi Indian by choice of the radio station owner who was from Michigan. This was a non-native to the area where he rode in Texas and the clothing is inaccurate. But, ‘Tonto’ in Potawatomi means “Wild One” and was mistaken as the Spanish word meaning fool or dumb. And, Tonto called the Lone Ranger “Kemo Sabe”, “trusted servant.” They worked the High Plains together, and would have been on the same boat. 

So yesterday, when I started with Zeb, I went on my sailboat journey of maps and google and Walter Webb’s Great Plains and my Master’s Thesis to try to take what I’d read and done before and make it into something short, edited and tangible. But, instead I realize I took my pony on my boat and we just enjoyed the day.

We sailed

  • through geological and rock formations, surface etching of the High Plains with rivers, glaciers, erosion. 
  • I read about Lewis & Clark and re-read the Charles Kimball Lecture, “It’s all about Eating: Kansas City’s history and opportunity.”
  • I did a timeline of government policies and actions within the 200 year span from Pike’s quote and today that were specific to the Great Plains. 
  • I even added in a tangential timeline of modes of production (technologies) and modes of transportation in relation to phases of Farming in America, but again, focused on my region, The Great American Desert. 
  • And I recorded my journey, over some familiar waters at sea, with my pony on my boat. 

I still do this almost every day and accept that this was the way I was made.

And just sometimes it works. I zigzag back and forth at sea and occasionally hit my mark, reach the point.

At other times I don’t really know where I went or where I was headed, but I did have kind of a plan, just like we did with America when Zeb was sent out to explore. 

And I always enjoy the journey, and record it in my memory or in some other way to preserve. I take that with me, and I leave some behind for the next guy, to do with as he pleases. 

This is Paula, Explorer of the High Plains.

On the first day of Christmas….12 drummers drumming…

by admin

Eagle's Nest, NM. Rural America, maybe everywhere, seems to have a high tolerance for alcohol well into older age. I've never thought the happy time was the "8 till" but more when one is winding up singin' the blues.

Mostly about 12 drummers drumming….they work.  For any chemical use or personality flaws such as being annoying, self-centered, narcicisstic, ADD, for having melt-downs at Best Buy, and in general for any defect of character that involves giving up control to a higher power. It’s my personal opinion that everyone could benefit from practice, regardless of habits, and hit a meeting now and then.

I am powerless over…
my computer
my iphone apps and ipod in the case of the challenged
talking about the digital world
my pleasure in my own humor
desire to use the restroom in completely inappropriate situations like church, inherited from my father

Here is a good one from today on Humility:

“A bully ain’t have too much patience to read or write too much…
how to understand things…(s)he’s just mouthy.”

“I just go to hear the stories.”  -Bob.

Bob is a well-dressed Cowboy in Delano who was hangin’ at the hood in the Seneca McDonald’s.  When I was looking for some contract labor to put labels and stamps on my Valentine mailer, he was on the way out for a smoke and said,”wait on me, I’ll come back here and hit on you”, lucky girl that I am.

Bob remembered me from photographing Barry a while back, so here’s a clip of Barry from November speaking on the need for 24-7 shelters.


I cut out the end where I lost him on the concept of the portable houses from architecture school at Marvin Hall. A ridiculous idea in hindsight, there weren’t too many homeless backgrounds in the student pool at KU to give a first hand account. Carrying a house around on your back I can imagine sounds ludicrous and backwards, heavier than a mortgage around your neck when you’re out in the field.

Apparently Barry had just had a heart attack a few days prior in McDonald’s, right in the corner where I’d taken his picture and he was in the hospital.   Bob and I shared a cry and a laugh for Barry, as he noted that management “was maaad” and took Barry aside after he got out of the hospital, “you pull any of that $h!t in here again and you’re not coming back.” They welcome the cowboys, but that kind of advertising can’t be good for the quarter-# angus sales, which are delicious with swiss and mushrooms I might add. I know Barry was very ill and I fear has passed, bless Barry.

And, back to Bob.  He lives with his brother who’s wife, a lesbian, left him long ago.  He sleeps at the Shelter down the road by where I used to work at SJCF Architecture on the nights when he’s on the sauce since his brother and new wife don’t allow alcohol in their house. A painter by trade, Bob is from a military family with both of Bob’s brothers having done tours in Iraq, one now flying fighter planes in the desert.

In our discussion of drugs and alcohol and 12 drummer meetings, he  also mentioned that the military was big on pharmaceuticals for those 72 hour flight missions.  Anyway, it was cold, so I gave him a ride from McDonald’s to the Mission, always big on safety telling the night manager before I left that if I ended up dead in the Wichita papers tomorrow, get Bob.

My parting words were, “Bob, you’ve got to cut out the drinking to get the women, you’ve asked me my name 3x in the last 10 minutes.” And Bob’s last words were, “I think I’ll go to a meeting tomorrow.” So, one of the best things about 12 drummers is passing it along, even before you know much.

The Puddle Face

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"My Puddle Face, Paula Adams, 9"

My Puddle Face, Paula Adams, age 9

My mom saved everything and I just found this, kind of scary. So this is what I was thinking about on my 50th birthday, March 11, 2010…I hope I never find the answer and quit trying to figure it out. The learning is too much fun.

And it keeps me humble when I stumble. I’m striving for something multi-faceted in-between rampant ego with short fuse and a loser who completely loses myself.