Rose’s Red Leather Bed.

by admin


Rosie and  Mei Rose [1990-1996],  June 2014.

Rosie and
Mei Rose [1990-1996],
June 2014.

Hurry it up, I’m not getting any younger…

Rosie’s really has a fire underneath me these days.  She’s not the only one either…

My routine is basically that I go to gather with like-minded folks in the morning, sometimes yoga, sometimes coffee & crosswords, sometimes a ‘house’ of sorts. The hope is that we’ll all head off into our workdays with no cross words, connecting a bit to forge on.

For me this has been things like moving 4x in 3 yrs., a bit of time in court and meeting rooms doing some bidness, applying for about 35 jobs, burning the social hours at non-profit events to both network in a new town and beat the bushes to find ‘a job’ with my multi-disciplinary degree’d-work past on Plains, lots of “accounting”, the Callan Table & John Bogle, careful people choices, learning by experience that No and Why and treating others as they treat you are pretty powerful, and even when I don’t like to do it I try to be civil about it.

But somehow, she’s just not understanding that amidst searching … researching the PhD with classes in Lawrence, grasping ‘Bridge’ & ‘Brush tip’ at JUCO CS6, in composing the letter and mindset of the job apps that will not get interviews, the networking with people and relationships and details and annoyance with advice from random places of irrelevance and my condo latency diagnosis with Time Warner and finding a way to serve others needs to avoid figuring out how to serve my own and if it’s not one thing it’s your brother or mother…..

I mean, doing and trying lots of things

to find one’s way in a new place of living and life and all that trivia in itself

Can be so distracting AND IT TAKES SO MUCH TIME!!!

And, she just sits there like the Queen, staring at me from her throne, now even more since my friend Paul began to refer to her as The Rose

The other day she somewhat confronted me, sitting right there in the middle of my Red Leather Bed beneath my black pug painting and queried me who gives her egg yolks.  She was making statements of hierarchy and higher purpose about which I have bristled a bit.

I just have to vent so I’ll tell you how it went….


[legend: Rose in Red. Paula in Indigo. As with most hearsay, you’re somewhat entering the conversation midstream…]

“Whattaya mean….?  if I’m NOT The Alpha Dog of this Place, then why am I


  • the One Who has the Best Bed,
  • which matches my red leather collar and leash,
  • under me where I sit under my Portrait,  front & center in-between the
    • first Matriarch, Prairie Pug,
Po Ching on Green Ottoman. XIT Ranch 1987.

Po Ching on Green Ottoman. XIT Ranch 1987.

  • and her Father, Winston, who was eaten by a Coyote at 6 months?’  [Winston tastes good, like a….”]
    Winston as Puppy with Dandelion by Concrete partition.  Xmas 1983, McCormick Ranch/Scottsdale.

    Winston as Puppy with Dandelion by Concrete partition.
    Xmas 1983, McCormick Ranch/Scottsdale.


you have a sick sense of humor, Rose!”

“That’s not YOU! …That’s Mei Rose. You weren’t even a glimmer then, and Mei was definitely not the Alpha Dog, poor thing. I got her when I was contemplating having Jack, never a good idea. She didn’t receive adequate attention. Po Ching didn’t help, as nice as she was about it….you know, that ‘smugness of 1st Pug-ness.'”

“And you better hope that’s NOT your portrait. There’s a reason that front porch was the Dead Dog Portrait Gallery, Rose.

Life & People & Self & Coyotes can really Eat ‘cha up & Run You Over…

It can be a real Bitch for a Bitch out there on a Ranch, it’s hard…

Not every Dog’s jes’ ‘sittin’ in a condo in suburbia eatin’ chocolate‘ as we are doin’ now.”

Don’t tell me that Mei Rose story again, it’s completely irrelevant. The UPS Truck in JOCO has no need for speed. That company’s not losing any bucks with this demographic.”

And, I won’t chase that driver down the hall again, but I hardly think he’s going to run me down in his brown boots and tight little shorts.

“Do tell me that part again, though. Did he ever figure it out? What’d he say ‘what ever happened to that little black dog of yours?'”

“Nope. What was I going to say, ‘ flattened’?  I didn’t have the heart to tell him. At least she was remembered.”


“And besides, it’s not about who’s in the limelight, or who’s the most successful, who’s favored or the golden child or heir apparent….”

“It’s about doing things when it’s the right time. Historical continuity is just about a story that keeps unfolding, and we’re all a part of  this story, we need to respect each others feelings, be safe to express ourselves to then be able to have moments of expression that are our gift from God…it’s a path that each person has to make for themselves and before we do this we have to stumble over and over and get up and then let go of our ego to give in that we can’t control everything, often not ourselves when we wander off topic…, and then to assess what works and doesn’t and then not let these defects keep us from…” ‘need I go on? I’m getting tired, you usually interrupt me by now…’

“I was practicing patience.”

I mean it!Back to the topic of me. Dog ages put me right there at about 42. If you put me ‘out there’ until summer of ’16 I’ll be 48. I’ve already got quite a bit of white, that’s why everyone asks how old I am!”


Small Breeds Dog’s Age 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 
Human Age 15 28 36 40 48 56 64 76 

“Rose, they aren’t asking you that because of the white, it’s because you’re such a small pug. And since you’ve been eating all the tuna and sardines, you really are cut for a female, a pretty slim pug. I think they think you are a puppy….”

Don’t fool yourself and don’t you ever believe it when people say stuff like this to you?”


“Just quit talking and get to work, clock is tickin’ and you’re not going to live forever. I mean what else do you have to do, and what do you really think, that you’re going to get a job???? That’s what the ex-Sprint-exec UMKC Kauffman man said to you yesterday and he said he’d been there…!! This is an opportunity! Quit being lazy and afraid!!!”

“What do you think architecture school and that Academic Thesis Torture and interior design in Paris with all those scary Frenchmen and all this artsy stuff was all about!!!????  It’s not that great! You’re not Frank Wright or Michelangelo or any kind of Power Ranger at all!!! Don’t worry about it being any good or perfect or people saying, ‘I don’t know why I just hate it and it’s bad and you’re a dumb flake and you’re annoying and live alone and I don’t like you either?’ Who really gives a $h!t, just keep on doing it like you always have and it pretty much always gets better! Work your program!”

Well, the technology part of it in Adobe is really hard and just that, major focus and skills in many programs. And while I like this when I get into it it’s both so dry and so frustrating and time intensive that I sometimes spend all day learning a lot but have no visual record of this reward….

“Well that’s why they sometimes call work work. And whattted your web designer just tell you??!! ‘Get out the scissors!!!’ The hard part is the marketing, selling it, that’s what you’re afraid of, you’ve been trying to stick yourself in places where no one could see you or work your whole life, to use that as an excuse, and now trying to figure out what you have to sell…just do it!? Things fail, over and over, that’s life, your whole life is just a series of failures, that’s the fun, that’s the adventure, always has been….

….you get right back on the horse and stay on the trail and wait for the next fork and take it! It’s all a game, but you gotta keep rollin’ the dice! Just DO IT??!!!”


“Do WHAT?” “What’s my product?” “What do I have to sell?”

MEEE!!!!! I’m your product!!!  Cher’s right here in front of you, in her prime, and you’re trying to make a Master’s Thesis out of what made Cher Cher.

Draw a few pictures, Prairie Pug can visit a few place, learn a few lessons…. 

then I’m ON!


Get with it!

Get with the Program!

Work your Program!


Harsh! Rose, that’s Harsh!”

“And besides, this is a relationship. Would I not be exploiting you in this brief time that we are really together on this earth? …it seems so capitalistic and shrewd…”

“Look we all use each other, or what do you call it in your mid 50s zone…’reciprocities’…

‘What Everrr…. ‘

‘Just do it and make this bed first. There’s Dog Hair all over my pillows.”


There’s a reason 

your sponsor needs to be the same gender.

But they never warned us

about the dangers of at times sleeping together

in a Red Leather Bed.

(But I’m NOT vacuuming up her damn hair first.)




Bang bang…my baby shot me down.

by admin
photographer:  Robert Trachtenberg. photo from  NY Times Mag 8-1-99.

Robert Trachtenberg.
photo from
NY Times Mag 8-1-99.

When I worked at an Art Museum, what I liked the most about it was that I didn’t have to talk.

Yes, pretty amazing to hear from me, isn’t it?

But I really did all the time anyway, in the way I like the best. And the other day, I was passing one of the patrons with whom I’d chatted it up while on my post.

[I saw her at the Saturday morning market in Old OP, I was browsing the beets. She was on wheels, parked at the periphery by the parsley, but fully aware of her presence.]

Paula: “Heeey!” “It’s been a while!”

Stroller Girl: “what’s up! look at all these colors…makes me wanna’ paint, what about you?”

Paula: “…workin’ on it, more like drawings….”

Stroller Girl: “Any new codependents in your life….?”

Paula: “well, you know what they say ‘54 is the new 65′….I’m getting wiser everyday…

My Grandmother Millie only made it to 97, though.”

“What if they bump up that number in the system and make it higher…

I might not re-set to your sagacity. “


Stroller Girl:  “I still haven’t shaken these two…I’m going to give them some time…

I’ve heard if you can get them to three they get a little better.

I just have to stick with my program….”

“they’re such whiners sometimes, though. A little self-discipline

tempered with Gaga-acceptance would go a long way.”

“But, the food is good…and, it pays the rent.

so….until I get a Barbie Car and grow a pair, these wheels are as good as it gets,”

Paula:  “You know it is nice to have a little of my own space and hi-place, but the solo thing is overrated…

And I’ll tell you, so is lookin’ out for yourself and growing up….”

“I’ve now been known to grow a pair, too, these days.

But, only when warranted & I really get pushed.

Sugar coated, of course.”

Paula: “But, I didn’t mean the kids…you know what I mean…”

Stroller Girl: “well, you know they say ‘one is the new 5...'”

You know these guy babes, though….I don’t get it...

Bald is the look and they’re wearing rugs

White is the new black but I’m only seeing it at the roots…

Who in heaven’s nursery taught them all this stuff…

Is this supposed to be what we want? So much work!  hi maintenance stuff!”

Paula: “Well, I think WE did, but it’s kind of a chicken or egg thing, don’t know what came first…”

“I just look at it as Pay Back. “

“It’s pretty weird times, though…

just when I thought I must look 80 with all the attention from ‘peers,’

I mesmerized some four year old across a crowded restaurant…cute guy.”

“It was really pretty flattering …he hadn’t even tasted my fried chicken.

…really had a nice van, so I was curious about the nod.”

I think it was my shoes….”

Stroller Girl: “Yea, I know that guy….buggy’s a Porsche P’4911, right?”

Paula:  “Yes! …..and….?”

Stroller Girl:  “Well, I’m sure your shoes were great, but I think he has a foot fetish.

And remember what they say….”

Paula: “What’s that?”

Stroller Girl:  “It’s only when a babe gives you a key to his Porsche

that you know

you’re close to winning his heart.

Call me Mama...

Call me Mama…



“…if ya don’t say it’s a Fine Mornin’, I’ll shoot-cha!” The Sheriff of Mission Farms.

by admin

Sun’s comin’ up over the waterin’ hole…

concrete’s a-mixin’….

Rye’s pies a-bakin’

Concrete’s a-churnin’….

An’ I’ve a yearnin’ to share my story….


I never needed resumé or an interview, I just knew it was mine.

I actually knew that this general area was my calling where I lived before, except I had a different badge.

Here’s a picture of that perch. I think Rose really felt she had to patrol most of the time, but I still put out my shingle. I’ll put her picture first, as she’s always telling me I’m stealing her show and probably correct.


Can you see how I wore it?


Here, I’ll zoom in….


Who wudda’ thunk after never working my way out of the Prairie Village kiddie pool complex, that I’d end up by this Village?

Right here by the pool and grills… 2nd floor just right to somewhat ‘see and only kinda’ be seen’, close enough to leap if I saw the need? Chuck Beatty my old boss would be proud.

I mean, I barely passed the written Red Cross Test at PV Pool and quite certainly failed the near-drowning carry. Yes, my diving pool rescue drew blood upon the back of my victim as I hoisted (scraped-drug) him across the pool gutter to the safety of pavement.

Yet here I was again, at a different Village Pool, now in a very HIGH chair, my sign in place. Like the kiddie pool, it needed a Small Woman around to Keep Order.

Actually, to be honest with you, the Prairie Village Kiddie Pool really could have used some guy guards…

David and Mike tired of that hike down from the basket room when Dirty Old Flasher showed up in his loose ones, ‘goin’ Cowboy’ as my sister from Rochester, New York sez’. We never used that term on the ranch. 

And, I’m thinking it might have been mutual enjoyment for the young mothers to have them around. Or at least, they might not get a dirty look when doing the job.

I averted many a resusci-baby, [carefully watching & waiting so as not to overstep my bounds or cause embarrassment], but was always ready for the occasional

swoop underwater uplift rescue with a cheeryup-seeee!”‘

inadvertently interrupting an intense ‘moms’ conversation. We’ve all been there, it’s in no way a criticism

  • but my point is that one must have broad shoulders to do important work.

Now, I’ve already gone off on a tangent,

…but sometimes one must stop along the way to adequately fill in the blanks on the resumé

in the event that someone questions that I’m qualified

…to self-appoint my-self as

The Sheriff of Mission Farms, East side.

I won’t get into my responsibilities on the West Side of Mission, that’s another story. But, to vaguely reference, sometimes one has to put one’s boot in my mouth to understand exactly what motivated me to hang that PV Pool Plaque.

Let’s just say that

  • unless one is there in an Official Capacity (no one was really aware of this at the time when I lived there)
  • and even if all kinds of events like Father’s Day and the 4th brought dads, kids, families to the complex
  • that it’s best not to say to the cute girl on the elevator, “is this your dad?” no matter  how similar the resemblance. (honest mistake, I think she had a floatie)
  • Trust me on this one. It got ugly a few nights later on the back streets of 105th when I was confronted by her dad & young buddy drinking some beers….appears I’d seriously ‘messed that one up’, but that wasn’t the word.
  • I’d apologized, and this wasn’t good. Best to stop talking, so I will on that.

But this was a sign, this first sign, that was pointing me in this direction of my new Post, Sheriff East Side. And upon my departure, Doug & Anne, high school friends, rented my place: #206. It was important that I’d been in this position first, why else would they have taken over as Scouts if it weren’t also to urge me to head East?

So, I’m now here, have been for six months. And a few weeks ago, I received this email.

Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 7.40.01 PM

We corresponded for a few days, about art, making stuff, writing, SME Halls, families, firecrackers at graduation (yes, Greg did it), work, and belt size.

And, a few days later this arrived by way of his brother’s salon in Old Overland Park, fitting.


KC Kid. Belt by Greg Lyle, Old Wheel Gun Shop, Seattle.

KC Kid. This was all it took, the Job was Mine. I was needed back East.

So that’s the story of how I became

  • The Sheriff of Mission Farms, (Leawood Patrol).
    The Sheriff of Mission Farms.

    The Sheriff of Mission Farms.

But, of course, there’s more to the story…

And more beautiful pictures of my Decoration: the Holster, Star badge, bullet loops…

And always some ‘learnin’ me’, as Henry would say. Gun 101.

Ya’ll stay posted….

I’ll be at mine.

Thank you, Greg.  

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

by admin
Baby Don't Crack

Baby Don’t Crack


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

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

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

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


Baby Don’t Crack

Baby Don’t Cry

Mama be back

Daddy can fly!

We all have wings

We all have cages

Never quite lines up

Just happens in stages…

S’okay Sukie GG Coco

Jessie, Yogi, Amy, Popo

Annie, Kathy,

Lol & Wendy

Too far ahead

but never trendy.

God is Good…

God is great…

Let us thank him for our food.

See the point!

Don’t be late!

Life is SHORT

BUT we all are GREAT!

Mildred Lee Ward and Paul Roy Ward

Learning by Doing: Christopher Elbow

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

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


Some days are just like this….

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

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

feeling a little blind,

a little lost,

perhaps a vow of poverty is starting to look noble…

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


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

And spoke to me…

He said, “follow Me…

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

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

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


Yearn, Learn

See, Taste

Play, Paint….

Work Really Hard

Voilà!  Chocol’art!

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

au veau bébé

by admin
breathe sweetness...

breathe sweetness…

Concrete ties…

Cow mom cries

Dinner bell gong

Home Head Song

Minds Connect

Lives do Part

faith protects

love of heart.

Udderly belle pavé

Trapp bouquet…

Mon p’tit choufleur…

Je t’aime beaucoup.

Quelle Surprise 

pour le weekend! 

           -Mama Cow

Getting ‘The Boot…’

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

with studs…
that’s how ah’ lik’em!

Sometimes for a Cowgirl

there must be risks

…that one takes

…with one’s actions

that were never a conscious thought

but, it might just be

that it was worth the risk

despite the costs

to get  ‘The Boot!

God has a plan

….put on your boots

and cinch up the straps…

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

-Paula Elizabeth Graves, July 9, 2013.

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

by admin

This has worked very well for me.

If you can’t build it, paint it.

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

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

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

Pretending and painting it real.

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

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

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

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

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

So back to the ranch history….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Adams chaps over Ginny Graves couch.

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

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

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

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

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

My feeling is that if I am ever bored anywhere,

then it is because I am boring.

I think I am not bored and not boring,

though at times I wish I were. 

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

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

Son of Boss’s Oss’s

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

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

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

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

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

Talavera fleur-de-lys tile in XIT kitchen.

More laundry room painted stuff, pre-2012.  

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

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

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

So my point is this….

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

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

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

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

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

June 2012. Something is different…


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

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

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

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

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

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











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


Tarantulas on the highway…..looks like rain.

If you can’t build it, paint it




on the wall or in your mind.

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

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

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

It’s the economy….



by admin

Back to KC!


Isn’t this why we run?

Because we are always running.

Running around doing or saying or something.

But it is only when we are truly running that we get that zen moment of the true freedom of

  • being on foot,
  • covering ground,
  • and returning to “place” that never is the same.

I have returned to Kansas City after 30 years of living away and I am doing just this, every day in every way. Friends, family, childhood places and spaces, re-visiting a history of mine and of the City Beautiful of Kansas City.

Above tells a story of my journey, but I am here to discuss my training program for Hospital Hill. Well, it was 28 years of running with, at best, a dog along the Cimarron River on the XIT Ranch in southwest Kansas. So my peer group was few, but I did fair pretty well in the local races such as

The Dodge City Marathon which,

as Participant of One,

I Won. Get the isolated picture?

So now while enjoying urban life and the KC CoffeeShop Scene at Eddy delaHunt’s, I ran into Dr. Tom Pierce from whom I request all kinds of tips since my return to town. He handles just about anything with higher than average street knowledge of KC history and cultural geography, running groups, training tips, Westwood Hills homes, and where to find a person of male persuasion with whom I might  go to dinner (no longer a point of focus)… (BTW, his recommendation for me was The Linda Hall Library).

And in ’12, despite the fact that I’d run an average of about 12 miles a month, he said of Hospital Hill three weeks before the race,

“mind over matter, you’ve been doing yoga, you’ll be fine.”

So here’s the pathetic picture of me struggling in at the final stretch. My goal was to break two hours, which I did not. I think maybe 2:05 or 2:07. But, he did give me tips on how to pace myself throughout the race.

Why did I only look up the date of this race 3 weeks ago and think I could do it? Thanks alot, Tom.

So, my approach in counting down the weeks leading up to hospital hill as a guest blogger, are to pass along both his instructions and my own thoughts as I worked my way along the course through streets of my past. I’m an architect and preservationist, with a heavy dose of ADHD when I’m not in hyper focus.

So, I will share a little bit

of history and place

along with Tom’s words

on body chemistry and pace.

Tom is both a Dr. and Chemist, I believe.

Here is one of his best and first tips:

Hold yourself upright. First, middle, last,

regardless of how you feel. Military carriage.

It’s somewhat similar to what my cousin Gretchen told me at the start of my race of the last two years when encountering friends, family, foes?, fear and complicated factum.

“Hold your head up high.”

I think it’s a pretty good approach to running,

and an excellent approach to life.