Browsing Archives for September 2009

Pastor – At this time in our service, I would like to hear any joys or concerns that the congregation may have.  Does anyone have any joy or concerns?  Or any joyful concerns?  Anything?  Anything at all….?  Yes – Mrs Peters.

Mrs. Peters – My daughter had been diagnosed with chronic lower back pain.

Congregation – GASP

Mrs. Peters – Yes… and she if finding it very difficult to drive to work.

Congregation – GASP!!!

Mrs. Peters – Her boyfriend has been driving her, but they aren’t getting along on account of that mishap at the Painted Pig when this girl named Deronda showed up with her eight month old daughter and claimed that my daughter’s boyfriend was the father and now he is waiting to hear the blood test results and my daughter can’t even believe he agreed to the tests because they have been going out for four years and then….

Pastor – THANK YOU MRS PETERS!  We will certainly add your daughter… Jolene isn’t it?  Yes we will pray for Jolene.  Anyone else?  Oh yes… Mr. Wright…

Mr. Wright – I am having an MRI done on Monday.

Congregation – GASP!

Pastor – We will certainly pray that everything goes well Mr. Wright…

Mr. Wright  - The doctor thinks I might have a growth in my caterpillaries because of the troubles with my anterior crucifix.

Pastor  - Your anterior what?

Mr. Wright – My anterior crucifix… or… uh… my crustacean… I am having troubles with my interior crustacean.

Pastor -I’m sorry Mr. Wright.  Was that an anterior crustacean or an interior crustacean?

Mr  Wright – Yes… an interior crustacean… on account of I can’t breathe too good when I am laying down and also the troubles with my uh… well with my uh… um… there have been some lower bisextional trouble too.

Congregation – GASPPPPPPPP!!!

Pastor – Thank you Mr. Wright!  We will add you to the list.  Anyone else?  Joys?  Are there any joys this week?  Betty Baggins!  Do you have a joy for us today?

Betty – No… not really… I don’t think this is much of a joy, but I’m not really sure.

Pastor – Oh… well you tell us Betty and we’ll decide.

Betty – Alright.  You see, my nephew’s girlfriend’s cousin’s step mom’s step son’s neighbor’s friend was in a car wreck last night!

Congregation –  GASP GASP GASP!

Pastor – Your nephew’s girlfriend’s cousin’s step mom’s step son’s what?  I lost you after that.

Betty – You can just call him Bud.

Pastor – We will be praying for Bud.

Betty – I guess I kind of have a joy too.

Pastor – Great!  Let’s hear it.

Betty – The lump that they found in my limp nodes is benign.

Pastor – Was that the limp lump or the lump in your limp?

Betty  - Both… and the doctor said it was the size of a cantaloupe!

Congregation – Big sucking gasp that ends in a second mini gasp.

Pastor – Praise the heavens!

Betty – He said it was almost like I had a second head coming out of my… uh… out of my ….uh…

Pastor – Great Betty! We will add your second head to our list of joys!  And now… anyone else?  Yes!  Mr. Brewster!

Mr. Brewster – I would like to pray for all the world leaders.

Pastor – Yes!  We should always keep our world leaders in our prayers.  Thank you Mr. Brewster.

Mr. Brewster – I would like to ask that the Good Lord would give our world leaders guidance and to help them to see the repugnance of the nations.

Pastor – The repugnance of the nations?

Mr. Brewster – And the demonization of the markets and the Satanization of the price of rubies versus the gold standard.  Let them all repent of their evil deficit spending and turn back to God and to gold.

Pastor – Well… Yes… we should always lift up our world leaders and keep them in our prayers.  Yes… Uh… In the back… Sadie Gray.  Surely you have a joy for us Sadie!

Sadie – My grandson came in third in his sixth grade class spelling bee.  And my other grandson received a 2 at the local music festival but that was only because the judges were all from Newton and everyone knows that Newton hates us.  Also – my granddaughter is all better from the head cold she had on Thursday.  And my neighbor Lila would like us to remember her dog and her hydrangeas as they are both covered in fungus and open sores.

Congregation – Awwwwwww.

Pastor – Wow!  That is a lot to be grateful for and also extremely disturbed about Sadie.  You never disappoint me Sadie.  Let’s go to God in prayer shall we…










































On Friday, the Country Doctor and I drove to Kansas City. He was taking a course in trauma care and I was just along for the ride. We left early in the morning and our kids had to get up and onto the bus by themselves. Somehow they managed to do this without a single nervous break-down from their mom regarding tooth-brushing or bed-making. Perhaps, I should just be gone every morning?

The CD and I reached Kansas City at 7 am. I dropped him off at his class and I headed to Westport for breakfast at the Corner Cafe.




If you ever find yourself in Kansas City nearer to pre-dawn hours than you prefer (which for me is anything before noon) you must promise me that you will eat breakfast at the Corner Cafe. If anyone leaves a comment that mentions ‘First Watch’ (another well-known breakfast spot in KC) I am coming to your house to pummel you into oblivion.

The Corner serves the best breakfast in KC… hands down… end of story… goodbye.  





First Watch is for people who are impressed by the words ‘cream cheese crepe with raspberry compote’ appearing on the cute little chalk board menu beside the cash register. First Watch is for people who can’t abide a few stains in the carpeting of their favorite cafe and First Watch is for people who just want to say they went to First Watch as if that communicates something vital about them. Which it does. It means they aren’t smart enough to go to the Corner Cafe. So go to the Corner!  It’s way better food and way better atmosphere with way more stains on the carpeting.  







Besides!  The waitress with all the blond hair piled on top of her hair will be your new best friend by the time you finish your breakfast at the Corner and you will know all about her old boy friend who had a corvette that he started with a screwdriver and how much she loves french toast and that she knows every customer in the place by their first name and how much cream they are going to need to go with their coffee and if that doesn’t convince you, then you belong at First Watch and please enjoy your cream cheese crepes with raspberry compote! 






After breakfast, I set out to photograph a few of the great old neighborhoods in Kansas City.  

The first neighborhood I visited was exactly one block from the KU medical center in KCK. We lived in this neighborhood in the above pictured house for four years while the CD was in medical school. Both the CD and I walked to the Medical Center every day the first year.  He to go to class, and I to go to work at the KU School of Nursing where I was a ‘secretary I’.  I was never able to climb up to the lofty heights of ‘secretary II’ because after I had my first baby, I quit and became a ‘Mother I’.  I have no idea how many levels of motherhood I have transcended at this point, but with the advent of teenagers in my life, I think I may have recently received some kind of a cold hearted corporate demotion.  







Just a few houses down from our former house, was the home of the then Kansas City, Kansas mayor. (There are two Kansas Cities… Kansas City Kansas and Kansas City Missouri… or KCK and KCMO).  I was always very impressed by the fact that I lived only two blocks from the mayor of KCK. And I was even more impressed that she lived in our neighborhood. We rented our house for $575.00 a month which was a little over a third of our entire take-home pay. The other folks in the neighborhood at that time included a widowed mom of two young kids. A divorced mom of four daughters. A retired couple who mowed their lawn with an electric mower that plugged in with a super long extension cord and I was always afraid that the elderly man would mow over the cord and electrocute himself right in front of one of my toddlers.

Next door to us, were two medical residents married to each other who had a little boy with wild curly hair and one block over was a single man who had a gorgeous apricot standard poodle that I stalked.  Yes, I did.  I stalked that poodle.  I love-stalked that poodle.  I was the crazy standard poodle stalker lady of KU Med.  I wanted that poodle for my own and I always thought I would have one someday.  But instead I had four sons and that is all the apricot standard poodle I can handle right now.  








After walking around my old neighborhood for a while, I drove north to the Valentine neighborhood.  Valentine is where the artist Thomas Hart Benton lived and his home is now a historic site. I parked beside his home and got out to walk the neighborhood.






I was having a lovely time. Really lovely. It was a perfect autumnal morning… sunny, warm. My belly was full of corn cakes, bacon and coffee. Damp leaves in crimson and gold were cemented to the sidewalks like a cheerful kindergarten art project. People were out walking their dogs. Children in school uniforms of khaki pants and navy sweaters were chattering on street corners waiting for the school bus…






Dappled sunlight fell across porch rockers, yellow mums and garden statuary. I was surrounded on all sides by gorgeous old homes covered in chunky stone and decorative trim, while the quiet hum of a vibrant city kept time just a few blocks over. If there is a state of supreme contentment for me, this would have to be it.








Still, I never feel perfectly at ease when I am photographing houses. I am always just a bit on edge wondering if some irate home owner is going to come barrelling out of their front door demanding to know what I am doing taking pictures of their house.  But at least in a historic area like Valentine, it is probably not too unusual for the occasional wandering weirdo to be snapping photos willy nilly.





After Valentine, I drove down to the Kansas City Plaza and wandered around the Rock Hill neighborhood. It was here that the day took a sudden nose dive and all my fears about taking photos of people’s houses came to life.  Except it wasn’t an irate owner… and it wasn’t even a person who lived in the neighborhood.  Instead, it was a woman in a red car with a big dent in the side who pulled up beside me as I was walking down the street.  I wasn’t even taking pictures when she stopped me, but I had my camera slung over my shoulder.  

“Are you lost?”  she asked me.

“No.” I replied and shook my head smiling at her.

“Oh well… you know… you are walking around with a camera and well… these people might not like that.”

“Uh… Okay” I said.

“I don’t even live in this neighborhood,” she continued, “But I know the home owners would not like you taking photos of their homes.”

“Alright…” I answered her not really knowing what to say.

“They just wouldn’t appreciate it honey. They wouldn’t know what you were doing”

“Okay… thanks… ” and then I turned away from her and continued walking down the street.  She drove away.  I walked around the block trying to deal with this little incident. It could have been worse. It could have been an actual resident of the neighborhood or a police officer who called me honey and then told me that I was doing something wrong.  All I really knew is that I had been having a sparkly jewel of a day and suddenly that sparkly jewel was swirling down the street towards the sewer grate.







I am not going to insist that standing on a public sidewalk in a residential neighborhood and snapping photos of people’s houses is SANE.  And I am not going to insist that it is even RIGHT.  But I don’t think I am hurting anyone.  And I don’t think I am violating any-one’s privacy.  Home exteriors are by no means private.  I am not giving out any personal information about the homes or peeking in the windows.  I am simply photographing the exterior of a beautiful home in broad daylight from the sidewalk that anyone can see when they pass by.  

I wonder if that lady who stopped me ever flipped through a magazine looking for the photos of Brad and Angelina’s family?  I wonder if she ever got sucked into a You Tube video showing Heidi Klum at the park with her kids?  I wonder if she ever read a personal blog?  I mean in the grand scheme of voyeurism, taking photos of a house is pretty darn tame.  

But the problem is that once someone tells me I am doing something wrong, I feel like I am doing something wrong.  No matter what it is… I have some sort of freaked out hyper-morality compulsive disorder and even if what I am doing is completely fine or totally inane – like eating a bowl of oatmeal… or folding a towel… or wearing white tennis shoes to church… if someone comes up to me and tells me that what I am doing is wrong or how I am doing it is wrong, I am going to feel like it is wrong and then I am going to feel bad… for a long, long, long time.

I left Rock Hill and drove to pick the Country Doctor up for lunch.  He only had half an hour to eat, so we took a quick drive through Hyde Park while he ate a box lunch. I told him what happened.  I told him how the day had started out so great and beautiful and lovely and full of pancakes and sunshine and now I felt like prickles of fiery poison were lighting up my bloodstream with guilt and remorse.  The Country Doctor thought the whole incident was ludicrous and that the lady was crazy and that this is a free country and that I hadn’t done anything wrong.  I felt better after talking to him, but still not great.  I dropped him back off at his class and drove back to the Kansas City Hyde Park neighborhood.  






I found an amazing street to photograph, but circled the block several times before I worked up enough courage to park my car and take some pictures.  The street I had found was humming with activity. There were garden crews working on yards and housemaids taking their lunch breaks outside. There were a few construction crews at work too. Even in the middle of a workday, the street was alive. This old neighborhood still had a vital pulse and was practically begging to be appreciated and admired for what it was.







At first, I felt obtuse and awkward as I once again aimed my camera towards the grand old houses. I took the pictures furtively, nervously without much thought, because I just wanted to get it done and get out of there. But slowly, as I advanced down the street, I found myself lost again in a lovely day, surrounded by great old homes, huge old trees, massive urns filled with flowers, with golden sunlight spilling over all of it. No one questioned me. No one demanded to know what I was doing. I don’t know what they thought of me, but somehow taking photos of this neighborhood on this day was the only right thing to do for someone that happened to have a camera in their hand. To not take the photos… to not have captured the moment… in this neighborhood… would have been the crime.

And so

I did.