Saturday, December 31, 2011
Wild West -- The February issue contains a delightful interview with Buck Taylor by Johnny D. Boogs. Johnny, who can always be counted on to deliver, focuses on Buck's artwork though he touches on Buck's upbringing as the son of the legendary Dub Taylor. Buck's eperiences on Gunsmoke figures in the interview and Buck's art. This article will make you smile. Another great article by Johnny details the history of New Mexico and Arizona.
Civil War Monitor -- Issue 2 of this magazine delivers more quality research and writing. The photo of Bruce Catton with his hometown's GAR marker makes the cover price of six bucks a bargain! The story on old soldiers was compelling. Terry Johnston has really undertaken a labor of love with this publication, and we wish him the very best. His readers are already getting it.
Another great treat was a peak at James Robertson's new work for National Geographic. This is a great gift for the person with an awakening interest in the Civil War, or the perfect gift for the historian who can't get enough. Bud's vast knowledge and very readable style make this accessible and satisfying for anyone at any level of knowledge or interest.
Okay, folks, I am so frustrated with this blogger program and trying to format that I am giving up. So here it is, imperfect but well-intentioned. Enjoy!
Monday, December 26, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Rene Gibson sees that beauty and enhances it so the rest of us can see as well. The process, said Rene, is a path to finding her true, essential self as well. As with many journeys of self discovery, hers began with something ordinary and very understandable -- a woman decorating her house.
I decided I "needed" something to hang above my TV and, to make a long story short, I came up with the idea of trying to make a mosaic cow skull. I'm not really sure why, since I had been a vegetarian a few times in my life and I was never a fan of taxidermy. Yet, two weeks later the skull shown above was hanging right above my television. It was my first attempt and I loved it!
There are people, I am not among them, that think there might be something creepy about taking animal bones and using them as decor. I have always believed that our homes should be filled with beauty and meaning, not just "decorative" items, but art that speaks to us. like what Rene's work says.
Bringing out the inherent beauty of each animal as a way to honor the spirit who has made the greatest sacrifice of all is my daily spiritual practice.What?...you may ask......I often ask myself the same question. How did that happen? More importantly, do I really want people to know this about me? Well, about eight years ago I promised myself I would no longer limit my life because I was afraid. I would no longer pretend to be something that I was not because I was too afraid of revealing my true self. Here's to fearlessness.
I am blessed to know many very talented artists, and through their art, they find truths about themselves, and reveal to us, truths about ourselves. It is an amazing gift and process, and one I admire so much. Rene connected with the spirit of the animals that had once owned these bones -- a sacred trust.
I truly enjoyed working with the skulls, but it was simply another medium at that point. While working on a commission piece, things began to change,said Rene. I call him Big Head (not too creative in the name department; he had a very large head). I feel bad about that now that I know our connection, but the name has stuck. While working on Big Head, I would be overcome with deep feelings of joy and sometimes I would even laugh out loud. Other times, I felt overwhelming love. . . I kept Big Head and I'll keep the rest of that story private for now.From that point on my work became more meaningful. When I work with a skull, I approach each piece with love and attention. Billions of animals are killed each year for consumption alone, not including hunting practices. My work with skulls, while some may think it is morbid, is purposeful in that I honor the sacrifice each animal made and honor the inherent beauty of each animal. I sit with each skull and let it "talk" to me and out of that conversation a design is born. The spirit of the animal works through me as I carefully and lovingly set each bead or tile onto the skull. If one of these skulls "talks" to you, buy it because it is meant to be with you.
Take a look at Rene's work. I'm sure something will speak to you. And in this season of gifting, there is no better gift than art. Click here to view Rene's incredible art:
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Metropolis. Home of Superman. Home of Lois Lane. Conveniently located just off I-24 west of Paducah, tucked inside the Illinois state line.
When I was four years old I watched Lois Lane on Superman and determined to be a reporter. In the days of Donna Reed and June Cleaver, there weren't many working women. Not only was Lois working, she was doing a job as well as, and sometimes better than, a man. She was doing important work, exciting work and, she was doing it with a pen. She was petite, pretty, gutsy, and
successful. She was my role model.
It was nearly 11 pm when we rolled into the picturesque town. My husband was asleep in the back seat, his 6-foot-frame curled between comfort and contortion. My daughter glimpsed the sign first, “Giant Statue of Superman. Straight Ahead.”
night, but my husband roused and I knew he would need to get out and stretch. So I drove to the Baymont Inn. It was smack-dab on the river bank next to the Harrah's Casino, but in our bleary-eyed state, we didn't notice the river until the next day. But even in my exhausted condition I
couldn't help but notice the new construction in the hotel. New stonework, new ceramic tiles the smell of paint, new wallpaper – and everything spotlessly clean.
the front desk. We recalled having seen Paducah in the news, but you forget how long it takes people to clean up and repair.
The mighty Ohio River was the same gray as the overcast sky, and just as close when we went down to breakfast the next morning. Barges with their rough cargoes drifted nearer to
us than the the casino sign. I took in the uniqueness and timelessness of the scene. While glancing through the brochures in the lobby, a familiar name jumped out at me – Noel Neill Statue – just two blocks from Superman.
Get in the car!
There she was. Even in monumental proportions, she is diminutive. Dressed in a belted suit with pumps, purse, and earrings, she holds a pad and pencil in her hands. Otherthan any statue of Buffalo Bill, I have never been so thrilled to see someone immortalized in bronze.
It was the icing on this cake of a trip.
We stopped at Walgreen's for a couple of necessities before hitting the interstate. The sales clerk was so friendly and helpful, about my age, and we chatted about the town's landmarks.
I feel some in-depth, investigative reporting in Metropolis!!!
(Top photo: Me, Noel Neill, Noel Coalson. Photo by Gary Bisel)
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Steve Spurgin, an acclaimed songwriter in addition to being a fine musician, has a couple of originals -- Muley Was A Railroad Man and Tumbleweed Town. As Dan commented, Steve has a feel for Americana and these songs are strong examples. They have the feel of timeless tunes; if you didn't know better, you'd think you heard them as a child or saw them included in your reading book along with the Erie Canal and Ole Susannah. Listen closely to the words of Tumbleweed Town. The almost haunting lyrics are nearly disguised by the upbeat tune.
Covers of Gordon Lightfoot's I'd Do It Again and Bob Dylan's Girl From the North Country are really well done, with Dan and Steve trading lead vocals on these two.
The instrumentals, of course, are what you would expect from these guys -- perfect. Dan's Thunderation is sure to be a standard for generations to come and the interpretations of Shenandoah, Gold Rush, and Soldier's Joy will satisfy the most critical of listeners.
Dan commented that this group of musicians was perhaps the most satisfying of his career. In additon to Thunderation, performers are: Luke Dewhirst, Don Sternberg, John Reischman, and Keith Little.This CD is going to be one that doesn't get put away. It's an added bonus that the CD cover features a stunning image of a prairie storm because it will be laying beside your CD player from now on. It's perfect, but it ain't no storm.
Check out localgrass.com, hosted by Kenneth Berrier and Linda Wright to listen to my full interview with Dan Crary, and watch for an interview with the grammy-nominated Steve Spurgin as well.
Dan Crary and Thunderation, Perfect Storm, Blue Night Records; www.dancrary.com
Civil War Quote of the Day
posted by Tim Kent on Facebook:
"Fill your canteens, boys! Some of you will be in Hell before night and you'll need the water!"
Col. Isaac Pugh, 41st Ill. Inf. at Shiloh
Thursday, September 22, 2011
When I get the chance, I peruse the papers back home -- The Mount Airy News, The Enterprise, The Galax Gazette, the Carroll News, the Roanoke Times, the Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel. As dependable as my relatives are, they are not always diligent in keeping me up-to-date. So this is what I learned tonight:
One Larry Shaw of Baywood (near Galax) was arrested, liquid was confiscated and sent to state labs for testing, and a still was rendered dysfunctional. Pretty much breaks my heart. Hmmm. . . . looks like there might be some brandy there.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Like countless thousands, I've been a fan of Dan Crary's for years. This was the first chance I had had to visit with him. He's not only an impressive musician; he's an impressive man. You are going to LOVE listening to this interview!
Monday, September 12, 2011
A passion for history brought Andy and his wife Carol together years ago, and it brought all of us together in a lasting friendship. I've had the opportunity to visit Philadelphia many times and to host Andy and Carol in Topeka as well. This past spring, Andy spoke on Gen. Edwin Sumner to an exuberant Topeka crowd, then Carol gave a riveting presentation on the paranormal side of Philadelphia history at a conference in Missouri. Gary and I enjoyed showing them the sites, including Harry Truman's home and library in Independence.
So, knowing Andy as I do, I would honestly endorse this book even if I had not read a word of it. I am that confident in his ability as a researcher and his passion for the subject, and that doesn't happen very often. Having read the book, however, I can say that I would highly recommend it even if I did not know the author.
We Southerners often think of the North, of northern cities, as untouched by the war. Richmonder Constance Cary visited Philadelphia not long after the surrender and was shocked by the normalcy and abundance, most of all, by how unmarked it was by the war. Only later did she realize that Philadelphians had their own scars, their own empty chairs, their own losses. (She would eventually become the wife of Burton Harrison, personal secretary to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.) As a Southerner with ties to the City of Brotherly Love, Constance Cary was not alone.
Andy refers to it as a "border city," lying almost on the Mason-Dixon Line. "The city lay closest to Southern cities such as Baltimore, Washington and Richmond, which would ensure a pivotal yet grim importance as a center of any Northern war effort and destination for troop transportation," Andy wrote.
One of its sons, John Pemberton, became a general in the Confederate army and returned to Philadelphia after the war. There were many divided loyalties, but the majority supported the Union. In fact, Philadelphia contributed 100,000 soldiers including Generals George Meade and George McClellan to the Union Army. (Though Southerners may be more apt to appreciate McClellan's contributions than Yankess.)
As the second-most populous city in the North, Philadelphia bore a great financial burden in the war effort. It rose to the occasion and manufacturing reached new levels of productivity in the cause. Despite Constance Cary's observations, every corner of Philadelphia was involved in and touched by the war -- from the railroad and navy yards, to the arsenals, to the forts, prisons and training yards, and sadly, to the cemeteries.
For avid Civil War readers, Philadelphia and the Civil War is yet another vital piece of the puzzle, well-researched and well-told. Buy it. Then read it. After that, let Andy know how much you learned and how much you enjoyed learning it.
My indulgent husband Gary took this photo of Andy and me in Oak Hill Cemetery, Lawrence, Kansas, nearly two years ago. It was 0 and there was 18 inches of snow on the ground. It did not deter us from reveling in one of our greatest common passions -- dead people. My husband married me anyway.
* * * * * * * *
Philadelphia and the Civil War: Arsenal of the Union
Anthony Waskie, PhD
Foreword by Edwin C. Bearrs
The History Press, softcover, $24.99
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
Gary had these five-foot-long, 2,000 pound pry bars (maybe they weighed a little less) and while he lifted the building I quickly stuffed a brick under the bottom. What had been an aviary for the neighbor (until the raccoons got his birds) will be a garden shed for the Bisels.
"Our barn is gone! Did you see where it went?"
Friday, September 2, 2011
movie True Grit. It's where he lost his eye. This little detail, legend has it, was added by John Wayne, not the author, Charles Portis. The Duke apparently visited this quaint battle site and changed the location of the marshal's wound from Gettysburg to Lone Jack and then dubbed his cat "Sterling Price" after the Confederate general.
When the Lone Jack Historical Society marked the 149th anniversary of the battle, they unveiled a wall of honor for all veterans from the area. It was a day of ceremony and celebration, and Gary and I, along with fellow Topekan Beth Meyer, had a great time visiting with Jim Beckner, Greg Higginbotham, John Mackie, Jay & Barbara Jackson, Dave Bears, Kathleen Quigley, Dave Bears, and of course, Dan Hadley. Dan (above, far left) is one of the most talented and gracious people I know and I was tickled to be a part of the event he had worked so hard on!
PS--The soldier below (Greg Higginbotham) "volunteered" to help Dixie Lee Jackson whip up breakfast for the crowd. See her blog for more images from Lone Jack. dixieleejackson.blogspot.com
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Photos by Doug Ruth, topekatonight.com
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
More like tired bones. Gary & I have been so busy lately, there has simply been no time to catch up on photos and share the great events that have filled our lives. We'll take care of some of that this morning.
Carol Visits the WineryThe biggest event was the arrival of our dear friends, Andy & Carol Waskie from Philadelphia. Carol was among the featured speakers at Paracon 2011, held at the Belvoir Winery in Liberty, Missouri. Andy, left, handled the powerpoint, while Carol, below, discussed haunts and history in Philly. Even though her profession is nursing, her avocation is history and she has been instrumental in Civil War Roundtables in Pennsylvania, organizing events and establishing businesses with history at the core.
Paracon 2011 was a very successful event held at one of the most haunted, and picturesque, sites in Missouri. Paranormal investigations and other events are a common occurence at the winery so look up paranormaladventuresusa.com for more information. Thanks to Beth Cooper Meyer and Nick Spantgos and their crews for working so hard to bring folks to our area and provide quality information and an interesting time.
General Meade Visits Topeka
Andy was here to portray Gen. George Meade, victor at Gettysburg, for an evening of tribute to Gen. E. V. Sumner. The event was held at the Celtic Fox in downtown Topeka. Watch this blog for more on Gen. Sumner, who was a colonel when he commanded Fort Leavenworth during Bleeding Kansas.
One of the evening's sponsors, Clay Mead (no e), and Carol Waskie. At left, General Meade (with an e), addressing the crowd.
We were also thrilled that Michelle Martin was able to join us. Now that Michelle is a resident of Oklahoma, we don't get to see her as often as we'd like. She is a part of our Gen. E. V. Sumner National Monument Project and an advocate for history wherever she goes. Her guest for the evening was Mary Kristen Kurtis. Mary is the daughter of Bill Kurtis and is involved in much of her dad's business and an advocate for history herself.
So many more things happening. Let me hear from you and we'll all try to keep up with one another online and visit in person when possible.
All photos taken by my handsome husband, Gary Bisel. He also did the sound for our event at the Celtic Fox.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
More News From Talented Friends
Louis Kraft is doing the final edits on his Ned Wynkoop manuscript and I can hardly wait to see it. Just picked up the April issue of Wild West Magazine and Louis has a really excellent article on Wynkoop, who was serving as sheriff of Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory. What a life! Louis may be the best biographer going and he brings Wynkoop back from the past with color and clarity and compassion, just as he did with Geronimo and Charles Gatewood.
Be sure to grab this issue of Wild West and watch for the upcoming biography from the University of Oklahoma, Ned Wynkoop: Walking Between the Races.
We hope to get up to Hardin this summer to hear Louis (above with me at the Kansas City Civil War Roundtable) and good friend, D. K. Clark, on the 135th anniversary of Custer's Last Fight.
The History World spins on.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Oh yeah, and "when in doubt let your horse do the thinkin.'"
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
It had barely joined the Union.
There is not enough room here to tell the story of Texas. Heck, there's not even enough room in Texas to tell the story of Texas. Texas is big, Texans are big, and the story of Texas is bigger than them all. In all that bigness, we sometimes lose sight of the sadness.
It was a sad day when Texas voted to secede, just as it was a sad day when her sister states cast those votes. Even though some celebrated, others mourned the dissolution of the hard-won United States. The American Revolution was not that distant; the sons and daughters of patriots held the fate of the young nation in their hands. They did not not always decide wisely.
Fired up by . . . who knows? Who knows what fuels the thirst for war? Power, glory, conquest. . . whatever. It is rarely worth the cost. Sam Houston (right) warned his colleagues there would be "rivers of blood." They did not listen. They did not listen all over our nation and rivers of blood did, in fact, flow.
When Mississippi seceded in January, 1861, U. S. Senator Jefferson Davis concluded that his services were terminated. When he bade farewell to Washington, there was great excitement in the capitol. Crowds arrived by 7 a.m. and by 9, even the hallways and meeting rooms were standing room only.
According to his Jefferson's wife, Varina:
I . . . looked on this festive crowd and wondered if they saw beyond the cold exterior of the orator -- his deep depression, his desire for reconciliation, and his overwhelming love for the Union in whose cause he had bled, and to maintain which he was ready to sacrifice all but liberty and equality. We felt blood in the air, and mourned in secret over the severance of tender ties both of relationship and friendship. . . our hearts were "exceeding sorrowful even unto death."
That night, Varina heard her husband pray:
May God have us in His holy keeping, and grant that before it is too late peaceful councils may prevail.
Of course, peace did not prevail Jefferson Davis was soon elected the head of a rebel nation. Probably not until death did Davis or Houston know true peace after that war had taken place.
Wise men still pray that "peaceful councils may prevail."
Email correspondence with T. J. Stiles:
The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T. J. Stiles won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. I came to know T. J. through his work on Jesse James. The result, Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, is well-researched and well-written -- both of which are woefully lacking in scholarship it seems. I have to admit I was tickled to read T. J.'s note. We were discussing the ridiculousness of some Jesse James lore:
By contrast with Jesse James, no one claims to have a family story about Cornelius Vanderbilt , or a picture of him that they want me to authenticate, even though Vanderbilt lived far longer, interacted with far more people, and was photographed many more times. If all the purported photos of Jesse James really were him, he would have spent every hour of his short life in front of a camera.
T. J., I've been meaning to ask you about this photo I found in an estate sale. I think it's Jesse James and Billy the Kid robbing a train with Cornelius Vanderbilt on board and John Wilkes Booth is a passenger . . . . Maybe I'll just take it to Rick at the Pawn Shop in Vegas. . . .
Check out http://www.thefirsttycoon.com/ and follow T. J.'s appearances and blog.