Monday, December 31, 2018

The Condensed Version



Begin with the end in mind is most important when remodeling a home.  I'm not an interior design person with vivid pictures in my head of what a room or house could look like, so my husband and I took the long road to fixing up our home one picture in mind at a time and we learned so much along the way. 
Cooling down the colors and allowing the wide open windows a chance to shine inside became our vision. We guided ourselves by these thoughts:  "This feels good" or "No, to bold or bland."

Chapter 1 (10 months)
The heavy bold yellow master bedroom changed to a cool sea foam green and we felt rested. The bathrooms of blue flowers  became various shades of sea foam, and the investment in a hand held steamer saved our marriage! The green stripe and flowered dining room wallpaper and complimentary kitchen decor changed to cool greens and one soft rust accent wall.  New carpet in the LR revived our spirits and bare feet. Next, we tackled the laminate counter top. Out with the old and in with the new granite. I still smile when I see the specks called butterfly wings shine in the sunlight. 
Then we rested.

Chapter 2 (12 months)
Yard work consumed our warm sunny days. We knew only a vision of color in our large backyard, but did not know which trees and shrubs to purchase. A team from Marcum's Nursery drew up a plan and by summer our eyes began to feast on greens, yellows, reds, and pinks. A sudden 3" summer rain storm showed us the need for immediate storm drainage in our sloping back yard. Fall gave us the opportunity to gaze at our brilliant burning bushes, and say "that's good."

Chapter 3 (12 months) 
Through love and loss we took time for ourselves, and added a bit here and a bit there.
Jack's handiwork.

Chapter 4 (12 months)
Traveling adventures here and there, golf games everywhere filled our souls with memorable delights. A new tiled bathroom and walk in shower updated our home and allowed the master bedroom area to be complete. 
Master bathroom.

Chapter 5 (12 months)
12" shiny cracked tile
To fill our home with even more light we began the year with new storm doors, that would allow us to have spring and fall breezes drift through our home. Our dark brown door  changed with several coats of turquoise paint and I smiled, ready to welcome friends. Five new ceiling lights comforted our older eyes allowing us a better view. 

With the sun on our backs we glared at the 12" shiny tile that wove throughout our home. The dark grout seams defined the linear space. The time had arrived, we needed new tile, oh my! 

In the beginning
Worth the wait


Five months of planning, nearly four weeks of destruction to construction, while we moved into the bedroom. So funny, reading in my closet, using the tub and shower to store cooking utensils, piling items nearly to the ceiling on the dining room table and then covering everything with plastic. May I add we didn't use nearly enough plastic, nor did we know to tape it down. 

The dust from the jack-hammered tile
flew everywhere, as I had been told. I didn't expect to find it inside my kitchen cabinets, but I did. The dishwasher ran night and day after the house was finished. 

Last week after Christmas as we were cleaning the kitchen, we moved the black refrigerator out from the wall and discovered that it had been put back as dusty as every. Ack! 

New base boards and door frames added splash to the house, but we weren't done yet. The guest bathroom already with new tile received a new quartz counter-top.  The last three rooms received new carpet, and once again we moved furniture here there and anywhere. Cheers and celebrations were in order. 
Cheers, to our remodel.


All of this moving, shuffling, and rearranging of storage places uncovered several stories.  When the dining room was spilling over with plastic tubs of memories from my parents and grandparents, I hit a personal brick wall and cried.  The responsibility for our family's memories weighed heavily on my shoulders.  Our daughter, Katy, heard the weariness in my voice. One evening she and Shaun arrived with their truck. Seven plastic tubs of scrapbooks, labeled zip-lock bags of pictures, and memorabilia were loaded into their truck. An old broken mahogany mirror will soon be refurbished and hang in a new home. Those stories are not all buried merely dancing through our lives as reminders of love and the passage of time. 

Happy New Year and may your door always be open to Possibilities. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Have a Blessed Christmas

On a cool rainy day in April 2018 we walked the hills of Augusta National Golf Course during The Masters Golf Tournament. We felt truly blessed to walk these ancient lush green hills filled with a nursery of beautiful trees, bushes, and grasses.

Part of a day in Atlanta we spent time in the Jim Henson Puppetry Museum.What fun to see his  imaginative work displayed for all of us to enjoy. In person the puppets are incredible works of art. 

This painting is done using architectural
pieces of design to cover the canvas.
The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta gave us the opportunity to walk the halls of our living history, and be reminded of the energy crisis we faced in the mid-70's. How cold I remember my home in Greensburg, KS the year we were asked to keep the temperatures at 55 degrees.  Our bathroom/shower was screaming 
cold when we stepped into it.

We continued on our southern trip with a drive up mountain from Atlanta to visit friends from college days at LSU, who now live in Blairsville, Ga.  Mountain fog may have kept us from scenic views, but laughter and giggles from the shared experience will chime in my ears for time to come.

A month later we drove to Houston for our niece, Sophia's, graduation and wedding. Oh, such fun for all of us. Being around young people who are majoring in Stage/Acting/Directing made us feel so young and energized.  

Homeward bound we stopped to visit the GHW Bush Presidential Library, and burial site for the family.  The literacy work of Barbara Bush proudly filled a large section of the library. Her smile was so contagious.

Feeding and petting a Stingray.

In July we met kids and cousins in Omaha for a four day weekend. It is a great way to share a vacation with sons who live in New York City (Matt) and Dodgeville, WI (Mike, Ann, and Isaac) and our four nieces.  We were mesmerized by the statues and artwork all over downtown Omaha and the river-walks, but overall I think we all agreed that the "20% butterfat ice cream, made-from-scratch and slow-churned"  from Ted and Wally's was the Best. 

"The abstraction is often the most definite form for
the intangible thing in myself that I can
only clarify in paint." G. O'Keefe 

Jack and I took off several days in August to tour Crystal Gardens Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas where they were hosting a Georgia O'Keefe show. Then we drove to Glenwood, Arkansas to spend a day with our Stapp family members, who have become close family now. 

Home for the fall and winter our days have been filled with football games, gardening, working out, walking Lucy,and adding new tile throughout the halls, kitchen and dining room, plus carpet in three bedrooms, a new counter-top in the guest bathroom, not to mention the painting, and cleaning up process. No wonder we slept so well with shorter days and longer nights. 
The tiling transformation is awesome.
Somehow, we played many rounds of golf this year. Jack won The Trails Cup by winning or placing in many weekend golf events, while I won the Women's Club Championship this year. We both laughed over our surprising wins. As we know, age can be a state of mind or condition of the back, the knees, the shoulders, etc. etc. etc.

Most of all, we feel fortunate to be alive and share our moments and memories with all of you, our friends.

Happy New Year.  
Letty and Jack

Friday, December 7, 2018

Two Black Eyes

Two black eyes
No pictures please.

Facing the boxing black bear of Ottawa County
I bounced on my feet throwing punches at his nose,
Then fell to my knees when his one two punch
Caught me square in the eyes.

Two black eyes
No pictures please.

Boldly holding a carrot in my mouth
The giraffe slapped me with her tongue,
In a swipe and a lick the carrot was gone.
Turning her head for more she butted and bashed me
With her nose square in the middle of each eye.

Two black eyes
No pictures please.

With Joey in her pocket the kangaroo jumped the farm fence
Just as I rounded the curve on the winding country road.
She leapt toward me landing a blow to the left and a punch to the right,
Square in the middle of my eyes.

Two black eyes
No pictures please.

While walking on a peaceful wooded trail
Peacocks suddenly screamed like a woman dying,
The birds took flight and the squirrels chattered.
Startled, I screeched like an owl in the night then turned to flee near death
In a breath, I stumbled over the graceful turquoise tail of colored eyes.

Two black eyes.
No pictures please.

Upon awakening my eyes overtly glistened
In shades of sangria plum and purple jam. Tears could not escape.
Appearing in public wearing Hollywood shades I hid all but the
Purple smile on my upper cheeks.

Two Black eyes
No pictures please.

In time a soft frame of Tuscan yellow and olive green
Surrounded the faded black and blue eyes.
Looking like the eyes of the peacock’s tail, I smiled.
My eyes opened like those of a child,
Wide and curious after oculoplastic surgery.

Two black eyes
No pictures please.

*Thank you Dr. Erin Holloman

Monday, November 26, 2018


"Peace which hovers over all like great white wings,
And the true happiness and joy which knowledge brings."

1929 Wichitan yearbook, Wichita High School East

Pieces of history remembered by those who lived through it are stored away and rarely shared with loved ones as time passes.  Digging and sorting through my mother's vast collection of photos, magazines, and post cards has edged into my life for nearly thirty years now. She carried so many memories but rarely shared, whereas Dad always had a story for us. 

Questions remain in my heart, never to be resolved, but what happened to my mother's life in the fall of 1929, her Senior year at Wichita East High School?  My beautiful blond curly headed mother enjoyed her teenage years in Wichita, and often recounted her first car wreck at an earlier age than 16. I used to laugh when she talked about driving her father's new car up and down Douglas street in Wichita, until the time on Volutsia street she didn't make the turn completely and hit the light pole on the corner.  Leaving the car, she  walked home that day and told her dad her story.  
When faculty and students turn away
From weighty cares and have a gay May Day. 

"Were you grounded?" I asked curiously. "No," she replied, "Why would I have been. It was an accident."  Even then I knew that Helen, my mother, was her dad's favorite child and could do no wrong.  I smiled, but i wanted to know more.  Why didn't my mother graduate from East High School that spring of 1930? Why  was it delayed? What caused her to be so determined that her two daughters graduate and go to college? 

FORWARD to Wichitan 1929
In the broad fields of student endeavor and the limitless space for achievement
there have been flights spectacular and flights nondescript. We aim to record the 
details of flight and to parallel student activities to an aeronautical adventure. 
As sophomores we made the take-off, a bit unsteady to be sure.
There were many things to master before the solo flight.
As juniors we sailed along gaily in the air and as seniors we are landing. The flight
is ended; the goal has been obtained. 

I know from my heart that my mother cherished her time at Wichita East, eventually taking correspondent classes and finishing her degree.  My mother could spell any word out loud correctly, her curiosity of language kept the dictionary handy always looking up words, her desire to learn Spanish opened a lifetime for my sister to speak and use the Spanish language fluently.  Our blue and red World Book Encyclopedia's were the lifeline to the world outside home.  

The stock market crash in 1929  destroyed my grandfather's oil company and his stock investments. My mother said to me, "We didn't lose everything. We learned like everyone else to make things last longer." (Thus, the shoe box full of used soap pieces that I found in the cupboard after she died.) The family life changed dramatically after the stock market crash, and they eventually bought a home on Oakland street that allowed for bedrooms to be converted to boarding rooms and the crows nest and basement into apartments. 

FORWARD Wichitan 1929
All has not been smooth sailing. Fogs have discouraged, strong winds have 
veered us to the right and left, supplies have been exhausted, and unfortunate conditions have made us swerve from our course many times. 
Nevertheless with the aid of our helpful pilots we have managed to right our planes and
 sail on.

During the war she worked for Boeing in the library where she organized books and papers and typed cards for the card catalog. She always liked that job.  What happened to her life between fall of 1929 and the war years?  
Opal and Helen relaxing after work.

I think she took flight and made her life productive and happy around her.  She was married and divorced during those year, as was my father. She struggled with helping her parents come through the depression. One of her best friend's from Boeing, Murphy Doodle, charmed me with her dress of high heels, suit coats, long skirts and brimmed hats, and a cigarette between her long fingers with perfectly polished nails. Their lives experienced tragedy and sorrow much like my life. 

As I prepare to send my mother's 1929 Wichitan annual to her Alma Mater, I realize that we are more alike than I ever knew. It has not been smooth sailing for either of us; strong winds veered each of us from side to side, money ran short, and unfortunate conditions caused us to swerve from our course many times. With the aid of our helpful pilots we managed to right our planes and sail on.  

Monday, November 19, 2018

A Butterfly in the Cosmos

We are like butterflies that flutter for a day
 and think it is forever. 
Carl Sagan

After nearly three months of deconstructing the flooring, adding new 18" tile, new carpet in three rooms, new bathroom counter top and painting the hallways, we created a new refreshing home where the sun radiates warmth from East to West. In the midst of this chaos we took time to gaze upon a moment, to show gratefulness for this opportunity of construction, to smile and give thanks for being here at this time, at this place, with these people we love. A simple delight like a butterfly examining my hand refreshes our souls and creates an energy that can uplift each of us in special ways. For this I am thankful.

For creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through LOVE.  C.Sagan

Walking in the fields on North Base with our Lucy dog offers us a tiny speck of the immensity of our earth, that often looks so flat.  The skies are criss-crossed on clear winter days with contrails from the jets, and for that we are filled with gratitude that we stand where we do and see God's beauty through space. A tiny dandelion grows in the middle of the jogging path, the only flower to be found in a sea of grasses. When do I ever say thanks for that bright yellow weed, except on a winter's day?   Gracias

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.  C.Sagan

Perhaps this is where Frodo may have lived? Behind "tiny doors" who can tell. Look around, you might be amazed to find a tiny door opening your mind to the world.  Kansha (Japanese) 

Most of the people I deal with are human, so I've had a lot of experience with that. C. Sagan

One cold windy day not long ago I played golf  in The Trails Club Championship with my friends.  It was so cold we laughed at ourselves for being out there. When we reminded each other that a truly blustery north wind would soon arrive we played even faster which caused even more laughter, because my tight warm winter pants began to stretch and slide down my hips.  The faster we played, the faster I found myself hiking my now very loose fitting pants before I could take a step, before I could swing, before I could putt, before I could step out of the bunker I had to jump up and hike up my pants. Now that is not a lady like way to play golf, but oh so funny. We laughed so hard that day that we paid very little attention to the stress of a club championship.

Being only human on this tiny speck of dust, standing with my pants gathering around my ankles I never worried about my swing, or hurting my back. On that day I won the Club Championship at age 70. We all cheered with laughter for finishing the round before the bitter winds swept through, and I turned my eyes to heaven and said thank you. In my heart I gave thanks to my parents who worked so hard to raise the woman I am today. Daily I give thanks to all of the people who are a part of my life.  S'gi (Cherokee)

Look at that dot. '  That's home. That's us...every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.  C.Sagan

It is the sunbeam I appreciate from day to day. Even when I cannot see it, I know it is there. 

"Go raibh maith agat" Irish for "May you have goodness."

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Shots from the Shade and...

Beauty of Nature

Some days a girl just needs a recreational break from her own head. Laughter is my greatest strength and the first one to go when I need it the most.  While walking a few days ago I passed this crooked old tree, walked up and gave her a hug.  Such beauty she radiates for those who slow down to breath and admire her resiliency.

And then an "Ah, ha" moment struck me while standing in her shade.

The next day, I drove out to the golf course and found places to practice "shots from the shade." Getting off my pity pot was a demanding job that day. I only wanted to moan about how poorly I'd been playing, but laughter and curiosity saved me. Under the shade trees with a spot in mind to land on, I practiced various shots from 60 yards, 80 yards, 110 yards on back. 

With my golf cart loaded with wet towels, two large glasses of water, a bottle of electrolytes, golf clubs, snacks, and my cell phone, I taxied around the course that day looking for empty golf holes and amazing locations from which to shoot.  My dad would scold me for even thinking about carrying such a distraction as a cell phone on  the golf course.

The dreaded "blind shot" is one of my favorites, perhaps because it is a creative challenge. Since I can't see the flag, I have to imagine the shot and location.  These are the moments when I just love my brain, but alas my brains and butt are not perfect. So I blamed the poorly hit shots on my lazy butt and congratulated my brain when the execution created a round of applause from the TV crowd.

Sometimes, a girl's just gotta laugh, and pretend to play like  Brooke Henderson, Canadian Open Champion .

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Letter to Dad

Dear Dad,

I wish you could be here to see the changes in golf in the last thirty years.  You'd be so impressed by the young women who can hit the ball 275+ off the tee, and they might be only fifteen years old!  Even my driver distance improved with the new technology in golf clubs and golf balls. When I was fifty-five I could still hit the ball farther than I did at eighteen.  I've kept my old persimmon MacGregor woods as a reminder of the beauty and difficulty of times past, but the heavy leather bags that tore at my shoulders have long since been given away.

This summer while playing in the WOGA Stroke Play Amateur at Dornick Hills, one of your old favorites,  I saw an old woman playing golf.  She swung the club exactly like you might have taught her, a smooth rhythmical swing that looks effortless, but judging from the distance I watched the ball fly, she hit the ball at least 10-30 yards less than a younger women.  This old woman played the cliff hole like an aging tree, moving stiffly in the wind. I felt the cracks of her spine that reflected the rugged cliff facing her.

Her 8 iron could no longer carry the cliff, her eyes seemed to have tears in them, but her resolve moved her stubbornly to the next shot and the next until her ball found its way to the top and onto the green.  Only then did I realize that I was that old woman, not someone I could point to and say, "When I'm that old I'll ...."

I sobbed silently that day, but kept my head steady and putted with skill and focus to make up for the lost yardage.

Dad, you've been on my mind constantly this summer because I remember with love and sorrow how difficult it was for me to watch you age.  Now I am understanding your pain daily when I get out of bed or play golf.  I watched how your burned and scared arms from that childhood fire stiffened your wrists causing you to cringe with every golf shot or hammer stroke. I noticed when your hips refused to rotate how the pain shot down your legs causing you to explain the "hitch in the get along", but you never stopped playing golf, Dad.  Sometimes weeks passed between rounds of golf.  You slowed down, took longer naps. Most importantly, you persevered and taught your two daughters by example.  Thank you, Dad

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Pioneer Courage

The end is nothing; the road is all.  Willa Cather
Willa Cather, who wrote such powerful stories as O Pioneers! and My Antonia, would be proud of The First National Sculpture Parks  in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Our family stood in awe of the splendor of these larger than life pioneers who crossed our great plains in search of a better life.

My words don't feel adequate to describe the urgency, the exhaustion, the struggle, and tenacity that radiates from the faces of these pioneers whose stories are captured in bronze by the artists. So I turned to Willa Cather, a pioneer herself in writing, to describe this life in Nebraska.

"There was nothing but land; not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made."
Willa Cather's words from My Antonia.

"What I like about the story of the great wagon train migration across America is the daring, the tenacity and the innovativeness of the pioneer spirit that opened the West." Bruce Lauritzen, Chairman, First National Bank

We wanted to encourage people to participate in the Sculpture, to imagine what it must have been like to be a pioneer.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS by Blair Buswell, Sculpture

Our family joined in the wagon train by touching, pushing, examining, and wondering how did they do it?  How did the mothers walk the prairie in those long skirts, nurse their children, feed their families, and care for them in ways we can't imagine?  How?  The struggle seemed so real in their faces, so that time and again we stepped in to help.

The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman.  Willa Cather

If visitors stopped here, thinking that it's the end of the trail,  it's like not finishing the story.  In real life and in the heart of these sculptures the pioneers continued to travel westward  along the path filled with heart aches and dreams.

As the pioneers traversed the prairie they encountered the massive herds of buffalo, and the sculptures show this story. Walking down the streets we followed the herd of bronzed buffaloes racing through the heart of the city of Omaha and we gazed with delight when the geese took flight before our very eyes.

Cows run away from the storm while the buffalo charges toward it and gets through it quicker. Whenever I'm confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment, I become the buffalo.  Wilma Mankiller, former Chief of the Cherokee Nation


The pioneers should have imagination, should be able to enjoy the idea of things more than things themselves.  Willa Cather, O'Pioneers!

On our walk that day along the trail  we searched for shade and relief from the blistering July sun. Touching the cool waterfalls from the last series of sculptures refreshed us.

"We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it--for a little while."   Willa Cather, O'Pioneers!

O'Pioneers, how did the artists bring this to life? What skills and perseverance they must have to successfully tackle a story this gigantic and touch our souls with those who walked the same lands centuries ago.

"Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky." Willa Cather

Click on the colored links below to learn more about this amazing park and the works of Willa Cather.

Willa Cather link to other books

Sculpture Park story

Spirit of Nebraska Wilderness Park

Laura Bush recalls Willa Cather's characters

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Readers in the Rough: a Golfers Guide to Great Reads 2018

The Trails Ladies Book Club

Our book club, Readers in the Rough,  began meeting in the summer of 2017. Because of our setting, The Trails Golf Course in Norman, OK, we decided to give our books ratings based on the game of golf. This rating system has been revised and discussed from time to time, as nothing is quite perfect.  We absolutely enjoy our lively book discussions and ramblings about life, and like the game of golf we read and discuss for fun and friendship.

At the end of each monthly discussion we talk through the rating briefly giving books thumbs up or down, or sometimes we gently struggle between ratings, based on our favorites.

A Double Bogey rating means don’t waste your time reading it.  

A Bogey rating means a book may meet some of the elements of fiction, but overall the book is not strong enough to gather our full attention.  We would not recommend it for discussion.

A Par rating meets the expectation of the elements of fiction: a solid plot, strong and dynamic characters, setting that is defined, a theme we can discuss along with a point of view that lends itself to telling the story, and strength of genre. A Par rating for memoir asks for a compelling story using truth, theme, voice, point of view being I, and an ongoing attempt to arrive at answers. 

A Birdie rating meets all of the criteria of a Par plus it creates excellent discussion based on a powerful theme, or other elements of fiction.

An Eagle rating says it is superb, exciting, and well worth reading. It meets all of the requirements for par and birdie, plus it is a book we will long remember for perhaps different reasons. We would highly recommend it to others

The Hole-in-One rating is reserved for only the best of the best, in our opinion, and one that we would reread, rave about and encourage others to read. It must meet all of the criteria of an eagle, birdie, and par.

As of June 2018 these are the books we’ve read and rated:

Hole-in-One Club


Eagle Club

Birdie Club

Par Club

Bogey Club

Hole-in-One: Beneath the Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Eagle:  Educated by Tara Westover, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Graham

Birdie: Hill Billy Elegy by J.D. Vance, A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Par:  Five Skies by Ron Carlson, The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg, The Black Painting by Neil Olson

Bogey:  At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen,  Kiss Carlo: a Novel by Adriana Trigiani

Double Bogey: none

I will continue to update this list monthly. Suggestions for new books to read are always welcome. You may use the comment page on the blog to list book suggestions