Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Barnes & Noble Day

Perusing some of my favorite magazines at Barnes & Noble. I have sifted through them, Dear Reader, and have some recommendations for you:

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

War Horse

This is how you make a movie. This is why you make a movie. You care from the beginning, you're riveted throughout, and you're satisfied at the end.
Gary and I went with his brother and sister-in-law yesterday but it was already sold out. We bought tickets for today's show and the theater was nearly packed once more. I think it is only one of two or three movie I've ever seen that had people applauding at the end.
On our way out, we met Nancy and Randy Durbin on their way inside. I passed off the package of tissues that had been necessary and bade them enjoy the show.
Now, I can't wait to get the lowdown from my WWI buds on what they thought!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dixie, Mayberry, and Fun Girls!

We just returned from the hills of Virginia and North Carolina, as well as the streets of Philly and New Jersey.
Dixie Lee went along, of course, as did her sweetheart Woodrow.
As a result, Dixie Lee Jackson's Guide to Cookin' and Kissin' is available at Mayberry on Main, the Andy-Griffith-Show-Gone-Wild-Store on Main Street, Mount Airy, North Carolina. Debbie and Darryl Miles, transplants from Indiana, are as passionate about their adopted hometown as I am about my adopted Kansas.
Visit them online at, or if you're fortunate enough to be in the area, just drop in and tell them "Hey!"
If you walk in the door, you will find something to take home -- I promise.
Dixie Lee's Guide to Cookin' and Kissin' is available by using Paypal, as well, just click on Dixie's blogsite

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beauty of Bones

I have long loved the inherent beauty of bare tree limbs, of stones, of bones -- those objects that are basic and the base upon which life is built, the framework for life.

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? 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

Lois Lane In Person, Kinda

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.”
Cool, I thought. I almost drove straight for it, thinking that would be a pretty interesting site at
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.
“Our entire first floor is being renovated because of the flood we had last year,” said the gal at
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!
We drove a couple of short blocks and there, as promised, was the man of steel (in fiberglass, I think). I was verily impressed to see the words “Truth, Justice and the American Way” engraved on the pedestal. We posed for the obligatory photos there and with the Superman/Superwoman plywood-where-you-insert-your-head. Then we were off to find Lois Lane.

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.
“You should come back for our Superman Festival,” she said.

I feel some in-depth, investigative reporting in Metropolis!!!

(Top photo: Me, Noel Neill, Noel Coalson. Photo by Gary Bisel)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

If we make it through

. . . December!
So much to do!
We have so much to do because our lives are full. We are blessed.
Do not forget it.
Be grateful.
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