Monday, May 19, 2014

Blank Pages

Several weeks ago I received a very special gift from a local artist and friend, Onalee Nicklin. Books with blank pages have probably topped the list of things I most love for pretty much my entire life. The thing about a blank pages is that you get to fill it, and for a moment, before your pen first touches the paper, the possibilities are endless. Blank pages have the potential to become anything.

I typically have a collection of journals/notebooks/blank pages that fill my various needs. There is a scribble book, an idea book, one that is often in my purse or bag because it’s just the right size, and one that is beside my bed because you just never know when inspiration will strike. Sometimes I keep a grumble journal. Sometimes I keep one filled with gratitudes.

Onalee must have known this about me, as she made me a very special journal. It is personalized right down to the ruled lines within which are drawn by her very own hand. She has captioned several pages that must speak to her confidence in me… 

I love everything about this little journal. I’ve been carrying it in my bag, which is rarely far from me, though I know I am not going to just sit down and dump words in it at random. These blank pages will be purposely filled with phrases I have crafted to the point of complete satisfaction, and then I’ll probably put them aside and let them sit some more before I finally decide to commit them to these pages.

Endless possibilities… and I find myself trying them all out, by scribble, by captured phrase, by thoughts that get me through another stack of dishes or mundane chore. 

Monday, May 12, 2014


Storm clouds were rolling in this weekend as we prepared to leave Dodge City. The rumble of thunder sounds different on the plains. I have so many memories of stepping outside as a child to watch and listen to the storms as they passed over. I miss it the way the rain announced itself on the winds in advance. Sometimes the sound of thunder made it seem as if the storm clouds were marching forward, darkening our big sky with their presence.

I spent the weekend with the winds of western Kansas and I embraced every minute of it, even though the dust and severe drought made me a little sad. I was able to sleep with the windows open, the winds were strong enough and cool enough to pass right into the house and create the perfect climate for sleeping in the upstairs bedroom of the farmhouse I was raised in.

My dad told me a story about going to Germany when he was in the army in 1954. "It was hot in Germany," he said. "We spent every day sweating and I was so homesick. Then one day the wind came up and the sweat dried. I didn't have any problem being homesick after that. You never realize how much you miss the wind until you don't have it."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Personal Work In Progress, Deadline Extended

Sometimes I am good at keeping my own deadlines. Sometimes I am really, really bad at it. With my current project, it's not so much that I'm having trouble getting the work done. The project just keeps growing. The more I work on it, the more ideas I have.

My Mother's Journals ~ early 1950s.
When my oldest niece, Ashley, graduated from high school, I put together a book of my mother's stories and excerpts from her letters. It was a wonderful (and emotionally exhausting -- my mom passed away in 1997) project. Several years ago I got the idea that I would do another version of the book when my second niece, Kayleen, and my daughter, Evie, graduated. They are my mother's grandkids #2 and #3. Several months ago, I talked with my nieces, siblings and sisters-in-law about adding to Mom's book. They were all for it, and so began the collection of new stories to add to what my mother had written herself, and the bits and pieces I had compiled from letters and journals she had kept.

My father even brought me journals I had not seen before, Mom's very own stories from 1950, 1951 and 1953. I've been immersed in transcribing them, and have enjoyed getting to know my mother in her teen years. (I had no idea she was so boy crazy, and I never imagined how quickly she fell head over heels in love with my father.)

Now I'm going through her photo albums again, as having the stories that line up with the images makes the album all that much more meaningful. I'm trying to decide how much to include and how many photos to print. Will everyone in the family be as delighted by this peek into my mother's teenaged mind as I am?

Since my deadline for having a hard copy in the hands of the next two girls to graduate in our family has passed, I've decided that they will get a "proof in progress" copy of my mother's book. There is more story collecting to be done here.

If I'm going to print a book, it might as well be a big one.

My Mom, Evelyn Reaujean Skaggs.

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