Rocky Horror Picture Show

Recently Jason had the opportunity to make a couple of Rocky Horror Picture Show signs for the directors of the cult play at Slightly Off Broadway in downtown Excelsior. He's made six of these now and the special orders just keep coming in for them!

Here are the progress pics:

ISO: Compassion

I believe that I live in a community that is filled with people who are compassionate. In fact, I know that we are, because almost all of those whom I have grown to know over the course of my life, are filled with compassion. I have seen it when there is a death and people send their condolences, or a fire and people send donations, or a back to school supply drive for kids in need. One of the most common things that I hear when people visit our community is, "Everyone here is so nice." And you know what, it's true. They are.

Other communities are filled with compassionate people as well. Despite all the threats that exist on a national scale in regard to the devastation that pieces of legislation may have on our populations, on a one to one scale, people overall don't want anyone to have to lose their insurance. They don't want them to have high premiums to have insurance, either. They just want something that can work for everyone, so we have what we need to get by.

Last year a local roundtable was formed to discuss the homeless situation here in the community. While we didn't feel that this was an overwhelming problem, close to 20 agencies took time to come and be a part of that conversation. To me, that was a real show of compassion. Since that time, we have partnered with the Missouri Housing Development Commission to have a "Project Homeless Connect" that will be a one-day event, meant to give direct access to services to those who are homeless in our area. We will be helping them to obtain proper identification, find housing options, help them with a resume and give them clothes to interview. We will also be giving their family a hot meal, taking their family photo for them to have, giving haircuts, and offering a shower, if wanted.

While we understand that this is not the solution for those who may be homeless on a day to day basis in our community, it will provide us with a better understanding of the needs those who are homeless may have when it comes to working toward solutions. Solutions are something that I'm most interested in and have been taking time to study what solutions work in order to better establish programs in our community that in turn will offer positive results.

One of those things is working to establish a laundry program at the Good Samaritan Center. Many families who are struggling often do not have secure access to a washer and dryer. In a recent Whirlpool study, families who were given access to laundry services had their children's school attendance rates improve 95% and the same percentage of involvement then for extra curricular activities. If we had a program that could offer that kind of return to our children in our community, that might change lives for the better in the future to come.

Another project that I have been working on is seeking secure funding for mental health professionals to be hired for our school district. In looking at our community compared to others in our county, our area struggles when it comes to mental health. Our area is also in an area that is deprived of mental health professionals, as we are "too far" from the city to attract them here. After a year of writing grants and being denied, for something that I feel so passionately is a solution for so many, I am determined now more than ever to make it my top priority moving forward.

If we are going to see a change in people's mindsets, beliefs, attitudes, and compassion toward one another, then we have to begin to show it ourselves. We have to take care of those around us who are struggling, whether they be the senior citizen that lives next door or the child whose electricity has been shut off in their house. And we have to make an investment in our people, by giving them access to services that will address their most basic of needs, if we ever expect them to then succeed.

I believe the compassionate people are just waiting to know what to do. They want to help, they just don't know how. As my priest, Father Larry Speichinger used to tell us, "If each community were to just take care of its own people, then everyone would have enough." If we are led in a way that is centered around what is best for people, we will find every solution we need.

Catching up 

This week I have been knocking through some of my larger projects that have been sitting, waiting for me to get through prior priorities that were left standing in the way. Slowly but surely, I somehow find myself managing to keep up with the steady amount of challenges life throws my way. 

I’ve spent a great deal of time this weekend researching health statistics for our community. I’m working on applying for a federal grant that could possibly provide the funding needed to hire two qualified mental health professionals to be dedicated to helping students in our school district. When it comes to mental health, funding available is few and far between. This could provide a great opportunity for us to see how much of a difference having support in place for our students showing the greatest concern could have on our population overall. 

This week I finalized our order for tshirts for the Solar Eclipse Festival and now have the glasses for sale at the Chamber and Visitor’s Center in the Hall of Waters for $1 each. I’m hoping to have the tshirts online for ordering by the end of this week. Vendors are still coming in and we have entertainment booked. This week will be a big one for announcements! 

My next project entails an organizing workshop that I’m doing for the Good Samaritan Center. All the time I have people ask me, “How do you get it all done?” Well, I’m completely ready to share my secrets with all, in hopes we can produce more productive beings for a better future! Join us this Wednesday evening, if interested! 

Mid-Week Inspiration 

Miracles start to happen, when you give as much energy to your dreams as you do to your fears.

Be kind to unkind people. They need it most.

Life is full of beauty. Notice it.


Liberal Libations 

Today’s adventure was finally getting a chance to tour my friend Stephen and his wife Janine’s Vineyards and Winery, Four Horses & a Dog. Located just off Salem Road in Excelsior Springs, the Stubbs have done a beautiful job at making the experience warm and inviting! 

Their goal is to provide an environment to come and feel relaxed. They’ve had their tasting room open since April and it has proven to be quite popular, even producing some regulars among the locals in the Excelsior Springs community. Tastings are $5, but if a bottle of wine is purchased, they are free! 

Co-owner Janine Stubbs explained the story of the name came from the fact that at the time, they had Four Horses and a Dog. The dog is what used to put the horses to sleep each night! They are featured on the winery’s labels, but in reality, the Vineyards now only have two horses. 

They also offer craft beers and hard ciders, all from other Missouri distributors. Often you will find Four Horses at local events and offering tastings in area restaurants.

Stephen took us on a tour of the vineyards and Peter Rabbit even made an appearance by stopping in to say hi! 

Stephen explained that harvest would occur about the middle of August, that it would depend entirely on the rain and sun amounts between now and then. There’s a way to measure when the right time is to harvest known as “brix.” Twenty-one Brix is what they prefer to wait for before beginning their harvest. 

Harvesting takes between 3-4 weeks. Stephen said when they started it only took a day and a half, but because of how much they’ve expanded in recent years, it takes much longer now. 

Luckily, they don’t have to do it alone! In fact, they have many volunteers who offer their time and energy to come in and help with the gathering efforts! Each of them receives a t-shirt and bottle of wine! 

Stephen explained too that there were many college students giving their time to help tend the Vineyards throughout the year. One student has been helping at their Vineyards since he was 12 and is now a sophomore in college at K-State! 

The distillery portion of the business is quite interesting as well! There’s a process that I don’t fully understand, but has to be collected and processed over time in order to properly give it the taste everyone expects in a good wine. They put their harvest in the bins and drain the wine until it’s two inches from the bottom and throw out what is known as “lees” or the junk you don’t want (stems, leaves, etc.). There’s a waiting timeframe and then you do it again, around four times to produce the wine they need to bottle and distribute. 

Missouri is known for its sweet red wines, but Four Horses produces more dry and white wines with their grapes. They’ve traveled to Vineyards in Italy and California, bringing back some of the wonderful things they saw. 

There’s a drink called “Luther’s Revenge” which has come to be named this because it is harvested with the grapes from the Lutheran Church, and is made for serving communion there! 

They have a rare Chancellor that is a dry selection with hints of berries and peppers that you will want to be sure to ask for! They also offer a sangria that they don’t sell to take home but instead uses it to hook and reel you in to come back again! 

A perfect outing for a fun group of friends! 

They have food buckets to purchase and enjoy with your wines! 

Their craft beers are from a brewery in Weston, Missouri and they have four different hard ciders from Crown Valley, Missouri. 

Urban Farming 

My husband has a variety of different plants and flowers around the house. A few years ago he built raised beds for the backyard and for the past couple of years he’s grown tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, carrots, pumpkins, and various herbs. He also has gooseberries, raspberries, and blackberries planted. Tonight we harvested some of the blackberries from the trellis in the front yard. 

The vines aren’t producing as much as they have in the past for some reason. New chutes have sprouted, though, so hopefully future years will be more bountiful! 

Mackenzie likes to get in on the gathering action! 

Berry picker 

Blackberry vine 

I spent most of the day cleaning the house, trying to catch up from a busy week that gave me no time for my chores. This evening we ran to Liberty to go to the bank and hit up Planet Sub for dinner! 

The Crepe Myrtle is in full bloom on the front porch! 

Jason made a new Spider-Man sticker for himself and put it on his phone. 

Enjoyed this morning’s meeting with the Excelsior Springs Business Women. Our discussion stemmed around an article pointing out that in interviews, the focus for men is the return on investment that can be offered to the company, while for women being interviewed, the questions focus on the perceived risk she will be to the company. 

While women account for 40 percent of founders of US companies, they only get 2 percent of the nation’s venture capital investments. 
Our organization is working to give support to women in business and helping them to emphasize the growth potential they can bring a company with confidence.

My morning quote – 

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Hello Weekend!

This week has kept me very busy, in meetings, and also working on some really important grants being offered through the USDA. On Monday I dropped one in the mail asking for assistance in replacing a parking lot that is often used by the community and today I finished one that will expand telemedicine services in a rural hospital, which could save hundreds of lives. Now it’s just a matter of keeping my fingers crossed! 

Mackenzie has been working on blending with her artwork.

Jason saw an owl here on the boulevard and was able to snap a pic. He continued walking toward the hotel when it swooped him and then not far after, another owl swooped him, too! Guess they’re camera shy! 

Enjoyed celebrating birthdays with my best friend Nena’s family this week at the Mexican restaurant. 

Stopped by the ESHS Athletic Hall of Fame to congratulate all the inductees. 

The 4-H Club celebrated our year anniversary with a pool party in Richmond! 

After the rain yesterday morning here on the boulevard. 

Was the speaker for Rotary this week and got to update them on all the great things happening at the educational foundation. 

Mackenzie had drama camp all week and tonight finished with a performance that she played the lead in! We are so proud of her dedication and hard work! She had all of her lines memeorized by Tuesday! 

Finished the week enjoying Second Friday’s in our downtown by hanging out at Aunt Molly’s studio. Her guest artist was Kevin Callahan, whose son is a good friend of mine. Saw lots of friends and made some new ones, too! Such a great way to end the week, for sure. 

Monday, Monday

Busy day! Lots of meetings today. First meeting was bright and early this morning in neighboring city of Liberty. Had an old friend contact me about a children’s services fund that is on the ballot this August in Clay County. It would establish a fund that would be accessible to communities in the county to support efforts for bettering children’s health. 

After this I dropped by the church to pick up Mackenzie and take her to her first day of drama camp. She was at the church because Jason was installing new projectors with our friend Charles today! Here’s a picture Mackenzie took of Charles up high on the ladder! 

This afternoon I had a meeting at the Good Samaritan Center. There are a lot of great projects we are working on at the Center. Today we discussed a way to establish a GED program there so clients would have access to getting their degree. Currently Excelsior Springs has no public site for individuals seeking this opportunity. 

After my meeting at the Center I headed to Lewis Elementary for a booster club meeting. We are still working on planning out our year and are looking forward to offering lots of great things for the students and staff this year! 

Tonight was also the school board meeting. I go every month to give them an update from the educational foundation. I enjoy the meetings. Also, hearing about what’s going on helps me understand better how I might be able to help overall. 

Now I’m home enjoying my family time. 

Jason’s self portrait for this evening! 

First Harvest

This evening was the first harvest for our little urban garden that we have growing around our house. The front porch is covered in blackberry vines, making it a favorite for all who see them, but especially get to enjoy them. We have caught an older lady stealing some recently! Jason said, “Some people have to get nets to keep out deer! Not me, I need nets to keep out old ladies!”

Jason also has a bountiful harvest of gooseberries that he grew in buckets in the backyard! We stemmed and froze them to make a gooseberry pie. (Jason’s favorite!)

Stemming gooseberries is what my husband calls "true love". 🍇

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Jason transplanted the plants he got earlier this week at the plant sale into the raised beds in the backyard. Mackenzie and the cat then came out to help while I documented everything.

Now it’s time for our weekly Sunday snack platter dinner and popcorn!