Here I am . . . at St. David's Episcopal Church. Gary snapped this from the scaffolding where he and his cousin, Jim Bass, were working on the sculpture of Christ that had been damaged in the fire that destroyed the sanctuary. I have been talking with Tamra Scheid at Visit Topeka about putting together a tour of Topeka churches. Those featuring the works of Jim Bass will be front and center. His garden gates at the Congregational Church are perhaps the loveliest site in Topeka.
I was looking at photos posted by a couple of my buds. Fred Chiaventone posted this image of himself with longtime friend, colleague and former roommate, Dave Petraeus. It's a wonderful photo and I'm tickled to share it. Fred, and his wife, Sharon, are two people I consider myself fortunate to know. They are talented, disciplined, interesting. If you have read this blog at all you know that Fred is one of my favorite authors. One of my proudest possessions is a certificate signed by General Petraeus thanking me for my media participation at Fort Leavenworth. I had the opportunity to visit with him on several occasions and to hear him speak often. He's simply the best of the best.
Another great image appeared from my bud, Phil Schrier, an NRA bigwig, with his hero and "president," Charlton Heston. Phil is one of my favorite people and I know how much this photo means to him. If you're ever in the DC area, stop in and tell Phil hello. The museum at the NRA offices is really spectacular and features, by the way, a lifesize statue of Charlton Heston as Will Penny.
I started going through some of my own pictures from the past year. How lucky we are to have cameras; how lucky we are to have the internet through which to share them; how lucky we are to have one another to make these good times and to share them with one another. How lucky I am to know such interesting, talented and dedicated people. Like this man, Gary Bisel. How Gary & I didn't know each other for so many years is beyond me, but the important thing is that we met and became inseparable. God's timing is right, Gary reminds me, and I have to agree.
This one was taken of Gary and me at one of the Sidelines jams, hosted by Josh Vowell and the Rumble. Every Wednesday night, the blues band hosts a jam of some wildly interesting folks. Stop in and tell them Deb sent you.
Earlier in the year, I had the great pleasure of working on the mayoral campaign of city councilman, Jeff Preisner. It was a treat to get to know Jeff and to work with the other great folks who believe in him. I still believe in Jeff and would campaign for him if he ran for president or dogcatcher. He's a good guy and we're lucky to have him in city government. Nope, he didn't make mayor but the campaign team learned a lot and perhaps next time, there will be bigger and better fish to fry!
One of the areas of my life for which I am most grateful is history. In the paraphrased words of Darryl Strawberry, "History been very, very good to me." Through the study of history, I have come to know some incredible people, both living and dead. Among the most dear and distinguished is Michael Burlingame. Michael spoke to a packed house at the Lied Center in Lawrence earlier this year, and Ken and Terry Hobbs and I drove over to visit him and to enjoy drinks afterward at the Eldridge Hotel. Here we are--Terry, Ken, the 16th president, Michael and myself. It's rare to get a photo op with Lincoln!
Like Gary, Sue Ann Seel is one of those people that I should have known since we have so many folks in common. We have been aware of one another but when we found out we were soul sisters in bluegrass, the tie was tightly bound! Here we are--some Wednesday night at the Little Grill in Manhattan, Kansas, waiting for Chris Biggs and Steve Hinrichs to kick into high gear. When Sue Ann isn't picking banjo she's preaching. I think we must be related somehow.
Since moving to Topeka, two women have become dear friends and lasting influences upon me. They have enouraged me to express myself, to have fun, to give back to my community. June Windscheffel (left) and Marge Heeney(right, below) are known to nearly everyone in Topeka and in many parts beyond. When Marge was honored by the American Business Women earlier this year, swarms of talented women were on hand to pay homage. The every flamboyant Marge encouraged women to don distinctive hats and man, noone's hat was more unique than Carol Ann's!
In the picture below, Terry Hobbs, me, Carol Ann Turner and Lynn Stillings. Terry (looking very Jackie Kennedy-esque) is a real estate agent and history convert. (Sooner or later, everyone succumbs.) Lynn and her husband, Mark, were on our winning trivia "Team Turner" a couple of years, along with Dan and Carol and Cheryl Logan and John Arnold. We stomped the competition! And we were incredibly un-gracious winners. The event was a fund-raiser for blind athletes and the prizes were great, among them, dinner at Greg Fox's Row House Restaurant. We would have physically kicked butt for that one!
In March, I spoke in Philadelphia among some distinguished folks. The best part though, was hanging out with my dear friend, Carol Waskie -- so smart, so beautiful, so talented. Here we are in one of Philly's fine pubs complimenting one another.
Speaking of talented people, the lady who comes to mind first and foremost is Barbara Waterman Peters. She is an incredible artist and a wonderful, original human being. This photo was taken when I spoke to the Friends of the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library. I was thrilled that Barbara and her talented husband, Larry, would turn out to hear me speak. Also in the audience was Gary Clarke who put the "world famous" in the world famous Topeka Zoo. Surely, I know the coolest people on the planet.
One of the best things about this year was the emergence of my alter ego, Dixie Lee Jackson. Dixie, is just like me but has big hair and more fun. As it turns out, she found her true love in Woodrow Dean (below).
Dixie Lee found her true barbecue love with Cow and Sow 2 Wow. Here, Dixie Lee and Kari Forman at their booth at Advance Auto's car show. Since then, they have opened a permanent place at 2nd and Gage Boulevard. Kudos, Kari & Steve!!
Longtime friend and mentor, Doug Wallace, had a grand soiree at his newly redecorated home. Champagne and good times flowed freely.
My sister-in-law, Scarlet, came to visit and we had a gay old time. Gary, me and Scarlet at a local pub.
The lovely Brenda Miller and myself at "Dome Party."
I love this picture. Gary's cousin, artist Jim Bass, snapped this on top of the church where he and his wife, Jean, had an art exhibit. In the background is Kansas City's Plaza.
Inside the church, Noel and I checked out the sanctuary.
Dixie Lee had so much fun this year. She hosted the Apple Festival at Old Prairie Town. Dixie Lee and Sara Leeth, director of this wonderful site.
My first Winfield experience!!! Kelsey Cohen, Mick Brazeal, Nancy Hewitt, and me!
Dixie Lee also hosted the Grape Escape at TPAC. Barbara Wiggins does such a fantastic job there!
Of course, the best blessings are babies and we got one this year...my grandson, Devyn-Ray.
A wonderful Christmas Day with Gary's mom. She fell the next day and her health has declined quickly. How grateful we are to have had that special day with her and the rest of Gary's family.
Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and my brother, Dave Chuber. Gary snapped this one in September.
Also in September...Gary on the ferry as we crossed the Ohio River. It was a glorious day.
One of the giants of Custer lore and legend...Father Vince Heier. What a wonderful time we had with the Little Bighorn Associates!
The culmination of years of research was Jim Speicher's new volume on the Sumter Flying Artillery. Great event in Kansas City with Jim and his wife, Cindi.
A highlight for me was the induction of Buffalo Bill into the Kansas National Guard's Hall of Fame. For my bud, Dale Vaughn, the highlight was the induction of James Ross. Details on both in coming blogs.
Oh heck, another highlight of the year: meeting Dean Smith. What a fantastic evening at Topeka High discussing the segregation that marked the 1949 (and previous years) basketball teams. Dean was captain of that team; Jack Alexander was captain of the all-black Ramblers.
Halloween (could you guess???) at Varsity Blues....Carol Ann and Gary. A good time was had by all!
Dixie Lee woke up Washburn! WU's president, Jerry Farley, explaining the Ichabod bobblehead to bubblehead Dixie Lee.
And finally, waving good-bye to this year, I wanted to share this image of Santa in Afghanistan. We are enjoying life, pursuing our dreams, stumbling, fumbling along in our lives while all over the world, good men and women are undergoing tremendous stress and making incredible sacrifices so that we can work hard, goof off, and sometimes lie on the sofa watching classic movies. God bless them, every one!