Sampler: 29 years of Adams Custom Christmas Cards…

by admin

Well, I didn’t get a Christmas Card out this year. And I won’t be able to see those you have sent over the holidays. But I know they are all beautiful pictures sharing kind sentiments and interesting news from old friends and new to the Adams Family. Thank you! I’m sure they are in a big bowl in the living room with everyone watching over Dexter episodes.

My job was staging the picture, a thankless one that I now realize my mother has always had to bear. One year we had a professional photographer, Robert Love, Ivanhoe Love’s brother (the Liberal Mayor). I cannot find that card. We were all wearing white, very posed and a bit stiff with our hands placed upon each other. It was nice, but I thought we all looked pretty uptight.

I loved doing card design. As did Jack and Lacy. I was the coordinator, printer, and database.  Jack will remember the year we were both so challenged with the avery label print merge on my Dell that the final file was labeled Merry fre@k!ng Christmas labels (or some version of that). It was used for the next several years without computer corrections to the database because it was so hard to do.

Many years I would get help with stamps and labels, but as most mothers know, it is often easier to get them out yourself. The last Mexico card was ready the week of Thanksgiving and I still think it barely made it by New Year’s. Doesn’t matter, a couple of the years the Christmas Cards became Valentine’s Day cards. I always think it’s fine to skip a year if nothing inspirational comes to mind or if it might send one (me) over the precipice. You’ll notice we had very few the 8 years of getting Adams kids through high school in cities afar, working, and commuting to ranch.

So here are a few….

Map from Meade, Kansas to the East Ranch in Oklahoma on Cimarron River.

This was a map with landmarks along the dirt road that took people from 15 miles south of Meade to the ranch house on the East XIT Ranch in Knowles, Oklahoma.

I have to admit it that you are missing a card which was a classic that I am very embarrassed to have sent out. Fortunately I cannot find it in the scrapbooks. John and I are on a horse,  I have on a Laura Ashley dress with a white apron, and John is holding our male pug Winston. Winston, by the way, was later eaten by a coyote…”the dingo ate my baaaybeh”. This was a real eye-opener for me about (wo)man in nature and kill or be killed.

Christmas Card from 1987, the Christmas before Lacy was born.

Christmas 1988. A Blessed Child is here. I knitted the sweater and you can tell she was born a happy horsewoman.


Lacy and Mei Rose. Lacy had pony print pants and I painted her in these, so I'll stick that picture in, too. It was kind of a theme that year and Christmas.

Well, here's the painting and the pug.

And here's Lacy in the pony print pants with her red high top sandals.


We had lots of paper dolls, so this was the Cowboy Santa Paper Doll Card with Lacy's Dear Santa list on his legal pad.

John, Jack, Paula, Lacy Adams. Jack Adams looks like he is smiling but it was FREEZING and he was really crying. I guess that is why dad is laughing. Boys will be boys.

Now here Jack is really happy I think, but again, winter winds in SW Kansas are colder than a b!tch's wit.

 Here is one of those late Valentiner’s. I think it’s actually pretty nice because people actually have time to look at the card as it’s not amidst 500 others.

Love this one, green red blue. I think this was taken Christmas Day because Lacy has her kitten Midnight. Lace cut a picture of a tabby out of a magazine and John scoured southwest Kansas until he saw that exact kitty. Midnight was born a barn cat and stayed a barn cat and mouser. She lived in a tree and one time caught a rabbit and drug it up into the tree, very tough cookie.

Lacy and Jack Adams by carvings at rock outcrop. 1995

Seaside, Florida. 1997.

Lace's drawing of the newly restored Rock Island Depot in photo collage.

Lacy did this great perspective drawing with a light table of the Liberal Rock Island Depot. It was adjacent to the  Grier Eating House (like Harvey Houses but on Rock Island Line) that received ISTEA Grants from KDOT for Restoration-Renovation of the two buildings.

I worked in various areas: schematics, grants, historical significance, and did fundraising so it was a baby for me.  I am proud to have been associated with work of so many many others and there is a great Italian restaurant if you need a bite to eat when traveling on 54 west.  Jack and Lace spent some time there, but rollerblading not allowed on the quays of the tracks so the card is in defiance of city rules.

Oh, Home on the Range. Lace did this drawing and I added the boots. They are over at the guest (bunk) house in that kitchen. They are also pictured on the horses riding outside of the window.

Bob Bernquist skateboarding picture that Jack drew. Then he put into Adobe Photoshop and colored in the fields. Bob is flying on the hilltop over the Cimarron River where I would run everyday on the West Ranch. Get the Mood, Dude! Brilliant, Jack.

This should be Christmas of 2000 or 01 and Jack would have been 9. His pictures were always total action.  The complex twisted body poses always convey the exact movement. He still has this ability to see how people use their bodies to a T and dances and moves like a cat.

He sees it in his brain because he seems to memorize so easily upon seeing and imprints that snapshot in his brain without having to see a picture. Same way with math. Don’t know where he gets it. I wish I had this abililty to see and master foreshortening. Look at Bob’s hand curved back in the air!

For the caption on the back, Jack wrote, "Lacy, what do you think Dad is going to say?"

This card was the Christmas after a summer we went to Chicago. We walked Michigan Avenue with Randy & Heather Knotts and their family taking pictures and lounging along the way around the Cows on Parade.

So this is Cows on Parade on the uplands along the Cimarron River.

Lacy, Paula, John, Jack in New York City, Thanksgiving after 9-1-1. I think we are outside of one of Lidia's restaurants.

Here’s another that became delayed as I was at long last finishing my last tech. arch. studio in Lawrence while John and kids held down the fort at the ranch. Mostly what I remember is that the apartment at Meadowbrook had a pull-down bed and it had to be up most of the time for all the models and projects at my drafting table and it was very lonely for I missed my family, but worth it and necessary for later events to unfold for our family for high school. Believe it or not, the Adams family would come up to visit and we would all sleep in the room together.


I know we’re missing quite a few in here. But, these were the years when we got the Adams children a genufied citified high school edumacation. And it was grueling, and we survived, but personally only by the skin of my teeth. And maybe I’m going to have to be the one to say it to all of us, but… we got’er done! And well-done at that. Fait Accompli, the bulk of our work and work and driving and driving and driving and working and working was over. I’m sure all parents feel this way in some form or another, rural or urban. Of course, it was also the bulk of too much fun!

Jack, Lacy, John, Paula Adams. Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. sum 2010.

So, you may have seen this last card on Facebook the other day. This was a vacation we took in Puerta Vallarta the summer of 2010.  We really had only taken one beach trip like this in that decade to St. Croix the year that Lacy graduated from high school, so it was a real treat and it was a lovely trip. We waited until the last night, I ordered up jeans and black and it still hadn’t been taken after dinner and lots of wine. But what did God send but this beautiful orange stucco wall with tiered steps and I think it is really our best family Christmas Card.

Many happy memories!

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.

Robin Macy, the original Dixie Chickie, Kansas Treasure, soil and soul sister of Mother Earth at The Bartlett Arboretum, Inspiration.

by admin

I have to begin the concerts at The Bartlett Arboretum with Robin Macy.

Robin Macy & Paula Adams. Jimmy LaFave 17 July 11. The Bartlett Arboretum, Belle Plaine, Kansas.

The First Encounter

I first met Robin at some kind of architectural function where musicians were playing (maybe architect musicians?). Robin was attending because Mike Siewart, her architect for her home and co-creator at The Bartlett Arboretum, was there and I think was maybe playing.  I didn’t know anyone and was new to Wichita, newly working for SJCF Architecture and my daughter Lacy just beginning her 3 year jaunt at Wichita Collegiate.

There was wine. And Robin refused it saying, “I have to speak to the parents at Wichita Collegiate about the Honor Code and it probably wouldn’t be good for me to be slurring my words.” She had this wild blond platinum curly hair that reveals her soul piled high and some knockout attire that completed the picture, but in no way detracted or distracted from the spirit within. And, a few days later I met her at Parent’s Night. I learned that she was head of the “Go girls” (can’t remember name…kind of a find your light and let it shine in whatever context or era women are born in) group.  And, blessed, the next year she was Lacy’s geometry teacher.

The Angel Professeur at Wichita Collegiate Graduation, May 2006. Wichita, Kansas.


So I better get to the basics since I don’t know if anyone really reads this stuff anyway which are the following:

  1. The Bartlett Arboretum, links to Robin’s site, description of Lacy and Paula’s first visit, pictures.
  2. The XIT Ranch, Robin and Kenny’s visit.
  3. Robin’s beautiful poem to Lace at Sr. Graduation.
  4. A recent pic from Jimmy LaFave concert at the Bartlett Arboretum. These concerts from her summer series and music will be in separate posts.
okay one
The website has most about The Arboretum as Robin doesn’t talk much about herself, but if you ever see the video on early Dixie Chicks, she is in that and here’s the wikipedia link to Robin.
This is Robin singing[youtube][/youtube] 1992. She is the lead singer and guitar, voice like honey.
  • Go here for the site’s  history of The Bartlett Arboretum, the 100+ year old 15 acre planned landscape started by Dr. Walter Bartlett as an avocation in the city of Belle Plaine.
  • He also contributed to the community in the form of ballparks and public spaces in part motivated with his fatherly interests in son Glenn’s pursuits.
  • The next generation carried on with his son Glenn becoming a professional landscape architect and horticulturist. He took it to the next level with his introduction to French gardens and landscapes as Company Commander in the 1st Division in France during World War I.
  • As life would have it for those with Kansas roots, while completing post-graduate work at Columbia in NY, Glenn encountered Belle Plaine native Margaret Meyers. She was an artist, fashion designer for magaines, a university instructor, flower arranger and garden-club organizer. So Kansas was blessed for them to return, bringing everything they had gathered while away back with them to share with Kansas and Kansas to share with them.
  • Their daughters, Glenna and Mary along with Mary’s husband Bob Gourlay carried on until 1995 when they finally decided to sell to Robin “this cute little blond elf…[who] came knocking at the door. …we gained another daughter.”So Robin’s work began.
  • The site has all the rest, the soil sisters, all the people who make it happen, concerts, etcetera. She says it best.
The Buildings
But, one last word about design.  I can’t talk much about the landscape, out of my element. And a picture is worth hundreds of letters I use, so I hope to add more photographs later and edit a little here.
I’ve seen Vaux le-Vicomte, Versailles, Green Animals and lots of other stuff, but this little jewel in Kansas is most special because it is ours: a product of Kansas midwestern work ethic and lots of planning and perspiration.
The house:  Mike Siewart’s design (Wilson Darnell Mann, Wichita) built a second level upon the simple several room brick dwelling that was originally on the property.

Robin Macy and Emmanuel Magisson with classic expressions. Pictured to actually show the original house lower level in the background.

The Kitchen: This  joint creation of Mike and Robin’s has wonderful stained white concrete counters with weathered patina in the tiny L-shaped workspace. There are only the cabinets that one person needs (husband Kenny has a separate house…the perfect setup), with several doors of antique glass spool cabinets. These were memorable to me as I have a few of these in which I use as drafting tabourets.
The Upstairs: It is kind of a loft space, so the steps are the grand ascent to her bedroom with footed tub and sink.
The Closet:  should be in a period museum and is a painting in itself of boots, petticoats, urban, rural, high, low, cowgirl, play area that is how I imagine a movie costume room to be for a Merchant Ivory Movie except it would be a different movie, maybe Wade’s Even Cowgirls Get the Blues meets Daisy, Mattie Ross, and Coco Chanel. But, never a costume on Robin. She always looks like someone who just transcends time.
The Guest House:  this is where Robin offered for Lace to live her Sr. year. I lived in Wichita for two years, but went home the third. I think it was the old chicken coop. It was really too far for her to commute with activities, but Robin was such a supporter of our family to make this loving offer.  It takes many mothers…or maybe she was Lacy’s sister since Lace didn’t have one. Anyway, Robin helped raise the Adams family.

Robin's guest house and some kind of former outbuilding.

Hmmm..only on two? I’ll make this one brief.
The kids and I were gone from the ranch that day, but Robin and her then boyfriend now husband Kenny were on a road trip one day and said, “I think Miss Lace lives around here.” They whirled up in a cloud of dust at the XIT Ranch on the Cimarron River in this dashing convertible to drop in and say “hey” to John Adams. This is always, always appreciated. Kenny is the guy mentioned above who is a musician among other things and lives with his son in the other house on the property at The Bartlett Arboretum.  He is darling with curly curly hair, too.
Here’s the cute pic, I’m so proud of John or whomever took it since the usual photo lady not there. Thank you Robin I’d say. 

Robin and Kenny in front of XIT Ranch Headquarters where the John Adams family all raised themselves together: John, Paula, Lacy, Jack.

Three:  Robin’s poem toasting Lacy at the Sr. Graduation Dinner at Wichita Collegiate School.
Comin’ outta shoot No. 2, weighing in at 101, no stranger to a saddlehorn or a pair of running sneakers, we now toast our Curly Girl.
Miss Lacy Amelia Adams journeyed the furthest to be with us tonight.
Born and reared on the histori working XIT cattle ranch in Meade County, Kansas (Daddy, John, met me at the cattle cross last year wearing spurts and sweat) this fourth generation cowgirl has much to yodel about.
Our Lacy rode a school bus 60 jies to attend a rural elementary school before her parents decided to send their Little Girl to the Big City for some AP-style “edumacation.”
She has been a very courageous woman, living without her family all year in order to make this dream-come-true.
Lacy was born smiling, from wrist to wrist. She calls ’em like she sees’em and knows all the words to Back in the Saddle Again. Mathematics did not always coe easy for Lacy but she was true to her upbringing:  tenacious and disciplined.
Qualities she surely learned while mending fence or building feed bunks in the summertime- alongside her beloved ranch hand and constant companion, brother Jack.
She was a mainstay in my classroom after schol during her Geometry tenure and I am grateful for those times together.
 Always a style-setter this fun-loving madrigal singing trackster nevr said an unkind word about anyone.
No wonder Lacy is loved and adored by her classmates and teachers.
Like her hair, Mrs. Stokley says her vivid writing and note taking is wild and magical.
Lacy heads off to the University of Kansas in the fall where I’m certain she’ll continue to be wearing her sweaters backward and with her infectious laughter, continue to be the life of the party and proving to all who are lucky enough to know her that some of the best cowboys are, indeed, cowgirls.
You can see, life will never be long enough for Robin to refill the pitchers she pours for us all,  sharing so many gifts that she taps into from one moment to another. Her focus on the big picture, caretaker and co-creator of a beautiful landscape, leaves Kansas with her footprint and those of so many others. So, she lives on and will always, putting her energy back into the soils of the earth in one way or another, always with Robin’s soundtrack as backup.