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Chloe’s Monkeys

Day Trip to Lucas

Brad Anderson: From Clay to Camera

summer paradise Customized pools and the

family that makes them

Salina area’s premier Magazine on People, Places & Style summer 2011 $3


Underthecover volume 02 / issue 02

Back to Pool If “Polo” is the first thing you think after hearing the word “Marco,” then chances are you spent at least a portion of your summer childhood at the pool. For the McKee family, summers at the pool began as a family tradition and grew into a successful business responsible for many “Marco Polo” games and summer splashes across the Salina region. Their story is now our cover story in this edition of Sunflower Living. This summer we also feature a home specifically adapted to the climate and soil of Kansas, a mother providing a legacy for her daughter’s battle against a rare disease, a clay artist gone digital and more. We’re online and digital—but we’re unapologetically and proudly a print publication eager to be placed on your porch table or poolside chair. Turn the pages, feel the breeze, splash your feet … and enjoy the best of summer with us. Nathan Pettengill Editor

Publisher Tom Bell advertising director Kim Norwood advertising sales managers Christy Underwood Kathy Malm Linda Saenger for advertising rates and information (785) 822-1449 Sales executives Sue Austin Natalie Pankratz Tina Campbell Leah Plumer Tiffani Emmel Jamie Stroda Brian Green Rachel Touchatt Tiffany Modlin Erica Wiseman Debbie Nelson Mary Walker Ad designers Jamie Jeffries Natosha Batzler Annette Klein Aaron Johnson photographers Lisa Eastman Larry Harwood Contributing writers Patricia E. Ackerman Chelsey Crawford James R. Godfrey Cecilia Harris Sarah Hawbaker Karilea Rilling Jungel

Production and editorial services for Sunflower Living provided by: Editor Nathan Pettengill Designer Shelly Bryant Copy Editor Susie Fagan Chief Photographer Jason Dailey General Manager Bert Hull publishing Coordinator Faryle Scott e-mail Comments to sunflowerliving@sunflowerpub.com

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Subscriptions to sunflower living $15 (includes tax) for a one-year subscription for subscription information, please contact: Salina Journal Circulation Department Christy West 333 S. Fourth, Salina KS 67401 (785) 822-1467 / (800) 827-6363 ext. 347 cwest@salina.com 4

Sunflowerliving

Summer 2011


departments

summer2011

sunflower spaces 8

After the Garden Party With each season, a couple modify and personalize a yard transformed by a pioneering, international eco-project

sunflower resumés 13 Eric Brown Salina Area Chamber of Commerce workforce development director and president of Salina Area Young Professionals

local profiles 14

From Flash to Dust to Flash Again

A Salina artist moves between clay and computers in creating vastly different works

18 The Scheme Revealed

The owner and chef of one of the region’s most popular pizzerias shares his secrets (well, a few at least)

for the family 22

Chloe’s Gift

A decade after a childhood cancer tragedy, one mother, her family, volunteers and hundreds of cheerful, cuddly monkeys support families across the globe

health & fitness 26 ‘The Moments in Life’

Hospice volunteers find meaning and service in assisting patients who are facing the end of their lives

out & about 28

Get Your Grassroots On With a history of quirky art and homesteading spirit, Lucas offers a fabulous family day trip destination

on the cover: A customized pool by McKee Pools Inc. provides a secluded, peaceful spot on a summer evening for its Abilene owners. Sunflowerliving

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features

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summer2011

‘Why Change … Perfect?’ A relocated house in a historical Salina neighborhood proves the ideal home for a custom decorator and her family Story by Chelsey Crawford

40

McKees’ Customized Pools A canceled vacation leads to a life of poolside living for one family Story by Patricia E. Ackerman

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Sunflowerliving

Photography by Larry Harwood

Summer 2011

Photography by Larry Harwood


contributors Patricia E. Ackerman An alumna of Salina Central High School and Marymount College, Pat is currently an associate professor at Kansas State University, Salina. In addition to writing, she enjoys gardening, music, travel and spending time with family and friends. Photo by Fast Focus. “After the Garden Party” “McKees’ Customized Pools”

Sarah hawbaker Sarah, whose work also appears in the Lindsborg News-Record, is a stay-athome mother to Brynn (6), Morgan (3) and Ryker (6 months). She lives in Salina with her children and husband Riley, a Salina firefighter. Photo by Turner Photography. “‘The Moments in Life’”

Karilea Rilling Jungel Karilea is author of Yesterday’s Love (Publish America, 2005) and stays busy with her husband, seven grandchildren and two active shih tzus. She works for a financial advisor’s office, volunteers, enjoys traveling and is preparing her next Sunflower Living article. Photo by Krystal Keefer-Zeferjahn. “Chloe’s Gift”

Larry Harwood Larry graduated from photography school at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California, and began a career of several decades as a staff photographer at the University of Colorado. He currently runs Larry Harwood Photography and spends much of his time at his family home in Glasco. Photo by Free Spirit Photography. “After the Garden Party” “From Flash to Dust to Flash Again” “Chloe’s Gift” “Get Your Grassroots On” “‘Why Change … Perfect?’” “McKees’ Customized Pools”

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Sunflower spaces

After the Garden Party With each season, a couple modify and personalize a yard transformed by a pioneering, international eco-project

A

fter maintaining a Bermuda grass lawn on Custer Street for five years, Stan and Priti Cox responded to an invitation passed through the Salina Art Center from Los Angeles-based artist and architect Fritz Haeg, who was seeking to transform one lawn during the summer of 2005. It was not a modest request. Stan recalls learning that the artist wanted someone who would “give up their yard�

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story by Patricia E. Ackerman

photography by Larry Harwood


Sunflower spaces

so that Haeg and volunteers could “remove the lawn, haul in soil and manure, and replant the space.” And then there was the issue of timing—that first weekend in July. “As you probably know, July Fourth weekend is not the best time to start a garden in Kansas,” says Stan. “But we did. That raised area is really just a big manure pile on which Haeg originally planted stands of tomatoes and okra.” The project was artistic but also a very earnest beginning to Haeg’s worldwide effort to create eco-friendly yards that were as much garden as lawn. Fortunately for Haeg, he found sympathetic and knowledgeable partners at the Cox home. As a plant breeder and researcher for the Land Institute since 2000, Stan held an understandable interest

in sustainable agriculture. Prior to working at the Land Institute, he spent 13 years working as a wheat geneticist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Haeg’s original landscaping for the Coxes’ front lawn—detailed in the first edition of his 2008 book, Edible Estates—included peach and plum trees, grapevines, herbs and strawberries. Nearly six summers later, the Coxes have added more woody and perennial plants. Stan points out the variety of edible plants now growing in this space. The front slope is covered with strawberries, and Stan identifies wild asparagus, prickly pear cacti and saskatoons (berry bushes native to Canada). “Here we have sage, oregano, bee balm and other herbs, which date back to Fritz’s time. I’ve filled in with parsley. That’s a plum tree. And those are elderberry

Stan and Priti Cox, opposite page, remodeled their yard as part of an international project on “edible estates” in 2005. Since that time, they have gradually modified and replaced many plantings to focus on woody and perennial plants such as these strawberries, above.


Sunflower spaces

[1]

bushes. We also have horseradish, which produces a beautiful, ornamental plant along the edge,” says Stan. Over the years, the Coxes’ knowledge has grown with their garden. “We lost the peach trees to disease,” says Stan. “Where they stood we planted two small melon trees, which don’t produce melons at all, but a Chinese fruit [a che berry]. Fruit trees from China seem to do well in Kansas. These trees are actually grafted onto the root stock from hedge trees.” It can be a struggle to find woody, foodproducing species that adapt well to the harsh Kansas environment. Hot summers, late frosts in the spring and diseases cause many problems. But through trial and error and consultations, the Coxes have hit on a number of fruit and berry species that can thrive in Kansas, including elderberries and blackberries. Though their approach might not be typical, the Coxes’ guiding idea is probably shared by many homeowners. “Our main goal is to plant all perennial plants that don’t require high maintenance,” says Stan. “I work all day with plants, so I do not always want to come home and spend too much time in the yard. So here we strive to maintain healthy soil that enables us to harvest herbs, fruits, berries and so forth.” Stan proudly points out a variety of grasslike plants. “At the Land Institute, we work toward developing food crops from plants that are not yet crops,” he says. “Some of these grasses, such as the Eastern gamagrass, the Illinois bundleflower and the Kernza, are actually plants that we are working to turn into grain crops. So they are symbolic of edible plants of the future.” For those considering edible landscapes, Stan notes that “it takes no more time and work than maintaining a lawn. I’ve enjoyed having a front yard with a bit more geography. I would highly recommend perennial plants, both woody and plants like strawberries that are tough enough to do well in Kansas. And a drip

[3]

“Our main goal is to plant all perennial plants that don’t require high maintenance.”­— Stan Cox

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Summer 2011

[5]


Sunflower spaces

[2]

irrigation system is something that is really important to save water and if people do not want to spend a lot of time on maintenance.” The couple enjoy their edible estate, even though it does not produce vast quantities of food. “Having peaches or grapes or thyme or rosemary or saskatoons growing in our front yard is very satisfying,” says Stan. “Another excellent benefit is that the grapevines grow along the trellis above our kitchen window, creating a visual screen and helping to keep our house cooler in the summer. “Some people say we should plant our entire plot exclusively to food sources, but it would be a shame to lose the shade trees we have. Larger trees screen us from the street. Besides, I’m a big fan of shade,” says Stan, who has authored a book on air conditioning and the environment. Some innovations, however, will always run up against insurmountable problems common to any local homeowner. For instance, Stan says he does not want to put in a fence—a decision that eliminates many plant possibilities. “Anything that rabbits eat is pretty much out,” explains Stan. [4]

In spring and summer, the Cox garden features: [1] columbine, [2] strawberries (foreground) with thyme (background), [3] begonias in a window planter, [4] white tulips and [5] cilantro in small containers.

Vinca provides ground cover and blooms in the Cox garden.

Basil is an example of a delicious lawn planting.

A prickly pear cactus is one of the succulents in the Cox lawn.

Rue is believed to deter small animals from gardens.

what’s what

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Sunflower resumé

a closer look at area business people

R

aised on a wheat and corn farm near Brewster, Eric Brown got his first taste of business during the summer break after fifth grade when his father hired him at the rate of $5 per hour to drive the farm’s grain cart. Now, from his office at the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, the 29-year-old executive has many responsibilities, including leading a recently formed organization for area young professionals. In tribute to the tech-savvy culture of young professionals, we conducted this interview through an exchange of text messages.

Name:

Eric Brown

Occupation: Salina Area Chamber of Commerce

workforce development director Job Location: 120 W. Ash St. birthplace: Colby salina biz community’s best asset is …

Eric Brown

If you could have any title on your business card, what would it be? NASCAR driver

Sailboat captain

Eric

Eric Brown

“speedy”

Brown (123) 456-7890

(123) 456-7890

CEO

Computer programmer

Eric Brown

Eric Brown

1234 Someday Ave. (123) 456-7890

(123) 456-7890

CEO

One of my goals is to be a CEO of a company or business. I think the CEO position would be a great challenge but also very rewarding. For young biz leaders what is a good buzzword?

Real-time.

Old young professional wisdom: “Go West, young man.” New wisdom?

Make personal connections. Close the social media and make time to meet face-to-face or speak over the phone instead of being constantly connected to a computer. Which character from Wizard of Oz would make best young professional? Why?

Dorothy. She was clever, sincere, resourceful and very loyal to others on her journey.

A bad buzzword? Synergy. A classic buzzword? ROI

story by nathan pettengill

The willingness to work together to better Salina as a whole. They understand the bigger picture— the more successful they are as a business, the higher quality of living for their employees and Salina overall.

photography by lisa eastman

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local profiles

From Flash to Dust to Flash Again A Salina artist moves between clay and computers in creating vastly different works

B Brad Anderson takes his Canon for a shooting expedition near Minneapolis.

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rad Anderson jokes he now creates art in 1/125th of a second. After spending years as a potter, building and glazing his pieces for several hours and then waiting days for the final product to come out of the kiln, the new executive director of the Salina Arts and Humanities department has changed his artistic focus to digital photography, an art form that can bring magnificent results in a split second. Or perhaps a mere matter of seconds. One of Anderson’s favorite photographs is a foursecond exposure called Trinity that caught three lightning bolts striking side by side during a prairie thunderstorm. A snapshot of Anderson’s past reveals photography is nothing new to this multitalented artist. “A large number of people only think of me as a potter,” he says. “My undergraduate degree is in design, mixed media and photography.” In fact, his first job was teaching photography as a half-time instructor at Marymount College in 1986.

story by Cecilia Harris

photography by Larry Harwood


local profiles

During that time, he enrolled in his first pottery class and found it to be so “magical” he decided ceramics would be the emphasis of his master’s degree from Kansas State University in Manhattan. He eventually quit teaching to make his living as a potter. “It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked,” he says, explaining how he traveled to 16 to 18 festivals a year in several states and, when not on the road, spent his days in the time-consuming process of creating his ceramic masterpieces.

“With photography, I can tell a better story.” — Brad Anderson

“Ceramic work is very labor intensive, complicated and slow,” he says. The typical steps involve first shaping the clay on the potter’s wheel, then letting the piece dry before firing it in a kiln. After the piece cools, a color underglaze is applied and allowed to dry, followed by a transparent glaze application before a second firing. Additional effects require additional firings. The process can sometimes take 10 days to two weeks for one piece. Anderson eventually returned to teaching in 1996 as a fulltime instructor at Kansas Wesleyan University, where he later also become chairman of the art department. The job left little time for the lengthy, hands-on ceramics process, so photography soon became his picture-perfect creative outlet. “With photography, I can tell a better story than with a ceramic vessel, whether it’s a storm or a combination of scanned photographs weaved together,” he says of his latest creative endeavors. In the beginning, he took shots of boxcar graffiti using an inexpensive 1.2 megapixel point-and-shoot digital camera, then “tweaked” the pictures on his computer until satisfied with the results. He says exposure to a computer graphics course he took as an elective while in graduate school—years before the

Some of Anderson’s photographic artwork includes, from top, Trinity (2010, shot in southern Ottawa County), Waiting (2007, a piece including images shot by Anderson with scanned images from Life magazine in the 1940s) and President Obama, (2010, part of Anderson’s Presidential Inauguration series).

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local profiles

Anderson displays some of his framed work and images for ongoing projects, above, at his studio in Salina, left.

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most popular graphics editing programs like Adobe Photoshop were invented—planted the seed for his desire to manipulate photographs into new art forms. “I started getting to know more about digital photography and Photoshop and started having fun with that,” he says. “I loved the whole process.” Eventually, however, he made “a huge change.” His art became more about discovery and new ways of thinking, reflecting his desire to exercise the senses and the minds of those who view his work. He started using Photoshop’s drawing and painting techniques to build multiple layers of scanned images and found objects in one piece of art. For one project, Anderson downloaded official portraits of United States presidents since 1960 and a number of other images from that time period. He then manipulated the images, transforming them in multiple ways. Each finished piece, focused on one president, features from 16 to 114 layers of images and a superimposed fragment of that president’s inaugural speech. “This became very personal because the words from the speeches really resonated with me, and the pictures of the TV shows and the pop culture were things I experienced.” As his art progresses, Anderson finds he exposes more of his personality in each new piece he develops. For example, he admits he still gets nervous around birds since watching the movie The Birds as a youngster, yet he’s included a photograph of birds resting peacefully on a power line in several of his recent pieces featuring multiple images. “My art was always at a comfortable distance; I didn’t reveal too much of me,” he says. “I’ve gotten a lot more personal in my work.”


local profiles

‘A New Body of Work’

Not only does photography allow for Anderson to work outside more than he might with clay, he says it also has allowed him to become more personal with his creations.

Although Brad Anderson now focuses his artistic endeavors on photography, he still turns to his potter’s wheel to share a faith message at churches in Salina and the surrounding area. “My faith is incredibly important to me,” Anderson says. “As I’ve matured as a believer, I’ve gained confidence as an artist and as a leader. I really feel directed to share my knowledge of ceramics as a faith walk; sometimes I take my potter’s wheel, and other times I just talk about the relationship between the potter and the clay. “The Old Testament talks about the physical form of the clay, and the New Testament talks about the treasure in jars of clay,” says Anderson. Anderson also relates the ceramic firing process to the struggles people face that strengthen their faith. Sometimes, he says, even a broken pot can end up as a worthy vessel. “Potters will take pieces of a broken pot, grind them back down and then add them to other clay to create a new body of work that’s even stronger.”

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local profiles

The Scheme Revealed The owner and chef of one of the region’s most popular pizzerias shares his secrets (well, a few at least)

F Scheme pizzas are known for their generous layers of toppings—a culinary nicety that necessitated owner and baker Duane B. Billings to change his approach from thin to hearty crusts.

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or Duane B. Billings, pizza’s natural habitat is one well-known piece of real estate on the East Coast. “In my mind, ever since I left New York there was no pizza,” says Billings. “I would go to Long Island with my grandmother in the summer. She would cook all the time—she was a sweet Swedish woman.” For the past 30 years, the Lower Manhattan transplant has been baking pizzas that recall his hometown from his kitchen at The Scheme Restaurant and Bar in downtown Salina. Even the sauce is a carryover from New York family connections. “The sauce I developed is based [on a recipe] from a lady whose family in Italy had been in the olive oil exporting business for many, many years.”

story by James R. Godfrey

photography by Lisa eastman


local flavor

Billings, left, has decorated his New York-inspired pizzeria with a Kansas touch: family artifacts and regional folklore such as trophy animals and paintings of the American West.

She might have passed it on to Billings, but he’s not spreading it any further. “I’ve insisted on doing the sauce, and I’ve never written down the recipe,” he says of the secret. But cooking in Salina did necessitate a slight pizza reinvention. “I was going to make a real thin New York pizza, but then everyone started calling for reservations and wearing a tie, and I thought they’re eating at night and they want a big meal, you know,” says Billings. “So I had to develop a crust that could hold enough toppings.” Billings’ Salina-style crust is designed to hold up to 7 pounds of cheese and toppings before cooking and be cooked in his old slate ovens with their eccentric hot spots. “We use the hot spots in them,” says Billings, “that makes the crust just right.”

“I’ve insisted on doing the sauce, and I’ve never written down the recipe.”

— Duane B. Billings

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local profiles

Further Secrets of the Scheme While he’s mum on the sauce and isn’t giving anything away on his kitchen procedures, Billings did provide a few more details about the workings of the Scheme. See if you can separate flaky fact from burnt fiction with the following pizza quiz.

Answers: 1-A, 2-D, 3-C, 4-D, 5-D

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local profiles

1) What is the cheese, and where does it come from? A: It’s a blend of four mozzarella cheeses from a purveyor in Minnesota B: It comes from an organic llama farm near Dodge City C: It’s mostly mozzarella with a blend of Corsica cheese D: Real pizza doesn’t have cheese

2) What are some popular summer pizza toppings? A: Asparagus and Vidalia onion B: Fried okra and catfish C: Broccoli and buffalo D: A and C

3) How many people do you cook for each day? A: I don’t cook, my twin brother Tremain does B: 150 C: 500 D: 725

4) What is the secret behind all the animal heads mounted on the restaurant walls? A) There is a hidden button, and if you press it the animals sing Dust in the Wind B) They are my great-grandfather’s hunting trophies C) For some reason, they don’t seem to scare away women customers—even though I thought they might. D) B and C

5) What is the story behind the honey you set out for crust-dipping? A) It’s from my own hives B) I tried simple, store-bought, but the customers complained C) It’s from Brown Honey Farms in Haddam D) B and C


for the family

Chloe’s Gift

A decade after a childhood cancer tragedy, one mother, her family, volunteers and hundreds of cheerful, cuddly monkeys support families across the globe

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story by Karilea Rilling Jungel

photography by larry harwood


for the family

H

eidi Feyerherm remembers that it started with a crooked smile, then a slight drooping on the right side of her daughter’s face. By the time Chloe was nearing the great age of 7—that magical time when it seems children know everything in this day and age—her face was partially paralyzed, she had lost hearing in her right ear and Mom was looking for answers. “They gave her steroids, at first, which seemed to help,” Heidi says. “But after discovering her hearing loss, they did more tests, and the results came back in two hours.” That definitive diagnosis in November 2006 was diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a terrifying-enough phrase that Heidi wondered how to pass on to her “pink- and purple-loving girly girl” because it effectively meant she had an illness that would never be contained, could not be reversed and would never go away.

Her face was partially paralyzed, she had lost hearing in her right ear and Mom was looking for answers.

LEFT: A stuffed monkey—and a large, dedicated program behind it—are among Chloe’s legacies. TOP: The “There’s a Monkey In My Chair” logo reflects the organization’s mission to bring whimsy and comfort during a critical and serious time in the lives of families facing a frightening diagnosis. ABOVE: Chloe, in a familysupplied photograph, enjoyed a normal childhood before her illness. ABOVE RIGHT: Chloe’s mother, Heidi Feyerherm, leads the foundation that she organized in response to Chloe’s death.

DIPG affects some 250-300 children annually, and all too soon Heidi learned there is no known cure for children with this diagnosis. The disease smacks the child fast and hard, and a typical prognosis for remaining time is from a startling seven to 12 months. Identifying and isolating the tumor is, as Heidi says, “like trying to find and remove sand from grass.” Chloe’s way Heidi, who lives in Salina, did all she could for Chloe’s condition, and that meant pulling her daughter from almost half of her first-grade year and concentrating on all Sunflowerliving

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for the family

possible treatments. Any progress seemed to be erased by the potent disease. When first diagnosed, Chloe was nearly 40 pounds of great health. Following her diagnosis, the chemotherapy, steroids and other cancer treatments caused Chloe’s body to balloon up to 80 pounds. But she was eating less and less. Where once Chloe had delighted in macaroni and cheese and barbecue ribs, she now struggled to eat most anything. Her favorite foods were soon restricted to oatmeal because of her inability to swallow. When she could no longer tolerate oatmeal, one of her aunts gave her Ben & Jerry’s lip balm that tasted like her favorite ice cream. As Chloe endured the feeding tube, this lip balm became her big treat. Chloe responded to the illness by first calling the cancer “Germy.” As her sight began to dim and her weight grew, she simply passed on a nickname to her tummy as well—“Bubba.” The nurses at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City began to adore Chloe and her fighting spirit. They gave her their Mercy Bear, a stuffed animal, to hold onto and talk to about her fears, her hopes and her pain. When Chloe transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Mercy Bear started attending school in her place, sitting at her desk during class, receiving notes and drawings of love and hope from her friends and classmates, and eventually “bearing” the burden of Chloe’s absence among her friends. As fundraisers were planned, notices were sent via Mercy Bear to school, then through texting and e-mails, and people began doing whatever might help the family through the difficult times. Her legacy After Chloe closed her eyes for the last time on October 17, 2007, Heidi had to find a reason to push through the family’s pain. She created a nonprofit 24

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The “monkey kit” that goes to support children and families with critical illnesses includes a book, left and top. The book encourages classmates to write letters of support to children facing an illness, but sometimes the patients themselves send in letters of thanks, above, to the organization.


for the family

LEFT: Students are encouraged to include the stuffed monkey in their activities, just as they would include their friend for whom the monkey is substituting during the illness. These students from Oregon made their peer’s monkey part of their reading and gym lessons. Photographs courtesy Love, Chloe Foundation. RIGHT: The stuffed monkey for the “There’s a Monkey In My Chair” program has undergone changes in shape, size and style over the years that the foundation has existed.

organization called the Love, Chloe Foundation to assist young cancer victims and their families. By January 2009, a new suborganization—There’s a Monkey In My Chair—was created. The foundation concentrates on helping young cancer victims, while the monkey program focuses on sending support packages to seriously ill children across the world. The packages include a large stuffed monkey, which takes the place of a student at school, and a small stuffed monkey for the patient. Along with the monkeys are a photo-journal, a diary and a storybook that help families and their child’s peers face the future together through the trials of cancer, knowing that their time together is short. Buoyed by a $25,000 grant from a charity program funded through soft drink giant Pepsi and more than $90,000 in fundraising from 2010, There’s a Monkey In My Chair has mailed 1,300 monkey kits in the United States, 100 kits to the United Kingdom and 12 kits to families in Canada. “You want to give families whose child has the same condition as Chloe some hope,” says Heidi. “But in the back of your mind you know that they are going to go through the same thing. There is a slight chance of survival, but it is very, very slim.” Helping others Last year marked a bitter anniversary for Heidi—the year that Chloe would have turned 10 had she not faced the disease. Taking a step away from her personal loss, the woman who was and always will be Chloe’s mom notes that parents who embrace the fact that their child is not going to survive this cancer often turn their energies toward cancer awareness. For her part, she believes that “we’ve done something great” in honoring Chloe’s memory. She talks about shifting her energies somewhat from finding an immediate cure to focusing on providing support for families and awareness about childhood cancer and lack of research money. “In the beginning, it was more of an emotional attachment—just losing a child is emotional,” she says “It is still emotional for me, but it has been long enough since Chloe has passed away that it is easier to talk about this with other families. It’s easier to reach out, to support and talk about it without me getting as emotional—to listen to the families and provide stable support and share experiences.” Sunflowerliving

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health & fitness

‘The Moments in Life’ Hospice volunteers find meaning and service in assisting patients who are facing the end of their lives story by Sarah Hawbaker

S

photography by lisa eastman

imply thinking about death and dying is difficult enough. Putting yourself in a situation where you must face it each week could simply be exhausting. But Beverly Fetter, Ann Brown and David LaFrance do not necessarily see it that way. All three are hospice volunteers in Salina. For several hours each week and in various capacities, they help patients who are nearing the end of their lives. Sometimes the volunteers clean or run errands, while other times they simply sit and visit with the patient and family members. LaFrance and Brown have firsthand experience with family members who received hospice care. “My heart is vested in the hospice story,” Brown says. And Fetter? Well, someone suggested to her that she would do well as a hospice volunteer. So, three days later, she started volunteering. That was 13 years ago. But aren’t experiences with hospice patients filled with great pain and sadness? Not necessarily, say these volunteers. By the time a terminally ill patient reaches hospice care, Brown says, the patients know they are past the point of treatment and have accepted their fate.

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health & fitness

Beverly Fetter

Ann Brown

LaFrance agrees, saying nearly all of the patients he has served have been in good spirits. LaFrance recalls that his first patient had everything stripped away from him because of his illness, but this left him with peace and happiness rather than bitterness and anger. Being allowed to share the close of people’s lives is an honor for LaFrance. “Those people are allowing you to spend time with them when their time is so precious,” LaFrance says. And volunteers know that by cooking, cleaning and running errands, they give family members time to “just love their family through it,” Brown adds. But that’s not to say that there isn’t some sadness. Death is death, after all. “Those people “You can’t visit with these are allowing folks without talking about death,” LaFrance says. “I think you have to be you to spend comfortable with it.” time with Many patients feel that once them when they are in hospice care, their family members and others forget how to be their time is so around them. That’s why LaFrance precious.” makes an effort to talk with and focus — david Lafrance on the patients during his visits. “They feel like people treat them as if they are gone already,” LaFrance explains. Brown and Fetter echo the same idea that life isn’t really over. Their faith tells them otherwise. “I look at it this here way: It’s a blessing that they will be made whole again,” Fetter says of the promise of heaven. Even though the volunteers typically only have days or weeks with a patient and their family, bonds are formed in that short time. Each say they go through a sort of grieving process when a patient they have served dies. “But it makes you feel good that you have been a small part of their experience,” Brown says. And Brown, Fetter and LaFrance all feel as though they take away from their volunteer hours much more than they have given. They each say they have learned more about themselves and life in general. LaFrance says he is a humbler person and quicker to express his feelings to the ones he loves. “You want to try to live a healthy lifestyle,” he explains. “But really what matters are the moments in life.”

David LaFrance

Volunteering for Hospice According to the Hospice Foundation of America, more than 460,000 people volunteer with local hospices in the United States. Volunteers are a vital part of the hospice experience, and roughly 80 percent of hospice volunteers come to know hospice through the death of a loved one. Judy Baugh, volunteer coordinator at the Salina branch of HospiceCare of Kansas, says it is important for volunteers to be comfortable with the idea of death and talking about that part of life because the patients want to talk about it. Baugh adds that having a religious background or at least a strong sense of spirituality, whatever faith that may be, can be important. Volunteers also should be willing to share their own story in addition to being a good listener. “It’s important for volunteers to just be comfortable with themselves,” Baugh says. Gina Mortimer, volunteer coordinator at Hospice of Salina, says volunteers should have a strong sense of compassion, empathy and sincerity. “Something key to being a successful hospice volunteer is understanding the journey of losing someone you love,” Mortimer says.

more info To learn more about volunteering and volunteer training, contact these organizations. Hospice of Salina HospiceCare of Kansas 730 Holly Lane 200 S. Santa Fe Ave. (785) 825-1717 (785) 823-2979 Sunflowerliving

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out & about

Get Your Grassroots On With a history of quirky art

and homesteading spirit, Lucas offers a fabulous family day trip destination

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story by Chelsey Crawford

photography by larry harwood


out & about

A

pproximately 65 miles northwest of Salina is a scrappy prairie town that has emerged in recent years as one of the Midwest’s leading centers for a movement called grassroots arts. There are framed paintings to be viewed in Lucas, Kansas, but the art celebrated in this town of some 400 residents is slightly unorthodox: a mummified Sleeping Beauty, the uncovered treasures of decades of Los Angeles history, action figures in a metallic-walled temple of art and a public toilet project with an honorary “first flush.” Intrigued? Curious? Slightly wary? All of these are good enough reasons to make a day trip to Lucas—a delightfully bizarre art center that leaves you anything but indifferent.

The interior of the historic Deeble House in Lucas, opposite page, has been transformed into a salvaged art showcase. The Garden of Eden, above and right, is the city’s original site of grassroots art and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Founding Father’s Garden A trip to Lucas should begin with a pilgrimage to the home of the town’s founding father (in spirit if not in deed). In 1907, at the age of 64, Samuel Perry Dinsmoor completed his dream home—a log cabin on a corner lot in Lucas. With limestone being so prevalent in the area, Dinsmoor used this rock for the floor, baseboards and windowsills of his cabin’s first floor. It provides an unusual but interesting contrast to the more traditional and beautiful woodworking in California red wood, pine and oak that he then employed to finish the second story. After this, however, Dinsmoor’s work became a bit more peculiar. Using tons and tons of cement, Dinsmoor began filling his yard with quirky sculptures to create, in his words, the “most unique home, for living or dead, on earth.” In all, some 50 sculptures, some as high as 40 feet, form Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden. A massive concrete tree representing the Tree of Life is surrounded by figures representing Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Moses and other biblical personages. There is also an appearance by the Devil, shown aiming his pitchfork at a child because, Dinsmoor wrote, “the devil is always after the kids.” Dinsmoor’s garden art serves an allegory for politics as well as religion. A sculpture showing a white man shooting an American Indian who is shooting a dog that is chasing a squirrel suggests Dinsmoor’s grim outlook on social relations. Another sculpture shows four figures—a lawyer, a banker, a doctor Sunflowerliving

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out & about

Dinsmoor’s garden art serves as an allegory for politics as well as religion.

The Garden of Eden’s functional art includes ornate pet homes, above, and a grand entryway, right.

and a preacher—flanked around a figure representing “labor” on a cross of concrete. “Labor has been crucified between a thousand grafters ever since labor begun,” wrote Dinsmoor. Though Dinsmoor’s art had a definite message, he also put his sculptures to practical use. Two pyramid-shaped objects are planters with stepped levels allowing for easy gardening and weeding. Concrete cubes in the garden were used as cages for Dinsmoor’s many pets, including pigeons, owls, coyotes and badgers. Another handy item still on display is the mausoleum Dinsmoor built. Dinsmoor’s wife lies here, sealed under concrete, but Dinsmoor apparently wanted to keep an eye on his creations. Since his death in 1923, he lies in a plate-glass-cased coffin on the fantastically inventive piece of land where he built his concrete dreams. The Garden of Eden, 305 E. Second St., is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer and early fall. Admission is $6 for adults, with discount rates for children and groups. The admission cost was a condition set forth by Dinsmoor in his will, with his own unexpected twist: “I promise everyone that comes to see me … that if I see them dropping a dollar in the hands of the flunky, and I see the dollar, I will give them a smile.”

Garden of Eden 305 E. Second St. www.garden-of-eden-lucas-kansas.com (785) 525-6395 Summer hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily April-October Admission $6 for adults; $1 for children ages 6-12 30

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out & about

Lucas’ Edible Art “It took awhile for people to realize there was life on the north side of the lake,” Doug Brant says about his hometown of Lucas, which sits on the “other side” of Wilson Lake, north of the heavily traveled Interstate 70. Brant’s family came to Kansas and settled in the rolling hills of Lucas to create a dream that has improved with age. Brant’s Meat Market, founded by Doug’s grandfather, opened in 1922 to sell cheeses and meats, particularly sausages made with a recipe the family brought over from what was then the AustroHungarian Empire. Walking through the doors of Brant’s, you might feel as if you have stumbled back in time. Doug says the cash register is the original from the day the store opened. One shop wall is covered in black and white photos showing the first years of the market, and another wall is a brilliantly colored mural of the Brants’ home village in Czech Republic. And there, standing behind a glass case full of mouth-watering foods, is Doug smiling and offering samples of all the meats and cheeses. “You have to try and see what you like before buying it!” he says while he prepares more samples on the wooden block cutting board behind his counter. The market is famous for Brant’s bologna, also based on a family recipe. But it also makes wonderful jaternice, hamburger (ground fresh with the family’s special seasonings), pork chops and steaks—all from local farms and ranches. Brant’s Meat Market 125 S. Main St. (785) 525-6464 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday


out & about

The Deeble House includes a rock garden with a representation of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, right. The interior of the Deeble House, below, features the distinctive artwork of Mri-Pilar.

Deeble House After paying your respects to Mr. Dinsmoor, head a few blocks to 126 Fairview Ave. to find a modern echo to the Garden of Eden—the Garden of Isis. This garden is the work of a contemporary Lucas artist who goes by the name of Mri-Pilar. Based inside the historical Deeble House, the Garden of Isis is a recycled-item shrine that is a mix between a nightmarish dollhouse and something you would find in a sci-fi movie. Mri-Pilar seems to have used everything she could find to create her masterpieces. Every piece seems to have some kind of body—that of a doll with a remote for a head or an action figure with household goods as the arms—and shimmers with sequins, sparkles and feathers. The metallic background that covers the walls from floor to ceiling just accents the otherworldly pieces. The home’s exterior houses the older rock garden of Florence Deeble, a retired teacher for whom the house was named. Even here, however, the art is not typical—the rocks are arranged in distinct patterns, some replicate Mount Rushmore, and when viewing them you would not be surprised to realize that Deeble grew up in Lucas and, while a young child, watched Dinsmoor create his Garden of Eden. The influence and heritage are unmistakable. In the home’s garage, Mri-Pilar and an assistant are working on what is possibly Lucas’ next big attraction—a municipal restroom. For this very witty project, residents have been collaborating to create an eye-pleasing artistic idea for public potties. The final version, expected to be unveiled this summer, has caused much discussion and debate and led to a campaign to auction off the honor of “the first flush.”

Deeble House 126 Fairview Ave. Admission included with Grassroots Art Center ticket during the center’s working hours. 32

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out & about

Artist Mri-Pilar, above, is currently leading a team to create Lucas’ public toilet project. An Abraham Lincoln sculpture, right, by artist Inez Marshall is part of the Grassroots Art Center’s exhibit.

Grassroots Art Center Admission to the Deeble House is included in the $6 cost of admission to the Grassroots Art Center at 213 S. Main St. Since it was opened in 1995, this nonprofit museum has emerged as one of the state’s champions for identifying, preserving and promoting grassroots art. And that is sometimes a difficult classification, acknowledges Rosslyn Schultz, the center’s executive director. “That’s just it,” she explains. “There is not a textbook definition of grassroots art. There are no rules or structures for a grassroots artist. They create in a particular, uninhibited way. A grassroots artist is a self-taught artist who is driven by a vision.” While guiding a tour through the center, Schultz suggests that, above all, a grassroots artist is someone compelled to create. “Much of the artists started creating just to fill some spare time they may have had, usually from retirement,” says Schultz. On this day, an amazing range of artistic styles is on display. For example, an exhibit from Kansas City artist John Woods features the results of a project he created in inner city Los Angeles. When the city decided to drain West Lake in the urban MacArthur Park, Woods paid volunteers to help him gather whatever they found among the muck. What emerged was an impressive collection of L.A.’s daily city life: the innocent toy boats and fishing lures as well as the more menacing weapons and human teeth. Another brilliant exhibit is contributed by Inez Marshall, who suffered a debilitating back injury that left her with little to do—until her father bought her a stone and chisel. With these tools, Marshall began creating anything and everything from limestone, magnesium and composition rock. Her sculptures are breathtakingly realistic with themes of a family headed west in a covered wagon, Abraham Lincoln’s cabin with working lights and rocks painted to look exactly like logs. But the Grassroots Art Center and museums are not the only areas that contain art in Lucas. Here, art seems to trickle to the edge of town and way up into the sky. It goes back to the city’s founding—and it seems to be here for the future as well.

Grassroots Art Center 213 S. Main St. www.grassrootsart.net (785) 525-6118 Summer hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission $6 for adults; $2 for children ages 6-12. Ticket price includes admission to the Deeble House with a tour of the Deeble Rock Garden and Garden of Isis. Sunflowerliving

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+

‘Why Change …

Perfect?’ A relocated house in a historical Salina neighborhood proves the ideal home for a custom decorator and her family

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“ ” This is our favorite place to be.

–Angie Keast

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“T

he plan when we first moved in was to stay here for no more than five years,” says Angie Keast as she gazes lovingly around her house. Sixteen years later, the Keast family has stayed in place, feeling more at home with each year. The Keast house was originally built on North Santa Fe Avenue and then moved in the 1950s to Eighth Street. Cozily snuggled in the historical district of Salina, it has been the ideal fit for Angie, husband Duane, son Thatcher and Brandy, their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Brandy is usually the first family member to welcome guests who walk through the gardens and to the front door. “That’s my second doorbell,” Angie says with a laugh as she welcomes me into her foyer to the soundtrack of Brandy’s barks. Immediately, however, the visual treats grab your attention. The huge living area, just off to the right, overflows with style. The furniture is comfortable but elegant with throw pillows, furs and blankets draped carefully over the cushions. From the thick carpets and luxurious rugs up to the coffered ceiling, the walls are covered with striking objects. “I am really big on family pictures,” Angie says as she explains one picture after another. Mixed in with the family pictures are many pieces of art. “It is also very important to incorporate the family pictures into design.” And Angie does know about design. After decorating for friends, she

OPPOSITE, CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Angie Keast and Brandy enjoy their screened porch. Brandy welcomes visitors near the front entrance. The Keast dining room is a mixture of the classic and the whimsy, such as the wooden chairs with zebra-stripe cushions. TOP LEFT: An antique oak library table and two chairs create a comfortable sitting area in the Keasts’ living room. TOP RIGHT: The front entry foyer holds a small chair, artwork and dresser. Sunflowerliving

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A glass bell contains corks, each of which Angie has marked with the date and location where the bottle was opened.

An antique roll-top desk holds period magnifying glasses, keys and a ledger from Duane Keast’s great-grandfather’s business.

Another of Angie’s favorite spots in the house is this collection of mementoes such as her son’s penny loafers, a picture of Angie and Brandy, and a wine cork from a trip to California

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decided to start her own custom decorating business and has been running it for the past eight years. “I create spaces for my clients using their personalities,” she says. “Nowadays people really like modern or contemporary, and that is something I really like to do as well. “I like to put little surprises in my decorating,” she adds as she points out zebra-stripe cushions on dining room chairs. Just off of the dining room is one of her favorite pieces—a turn-of-thecentury secretary that she has transformed into a bar. The fancy bottles of liquor, wine glasses and decanters create a striking display. During the summer months, the family spends much of its time on the screened back porch. “This is our favorite place to be,” Angie says as we step onto the back porch area, surrounded by sweet smelling flowers, green bushes and chirping birds. “On summer nights it is wonderful when we light the lanterns. It is a great place to relax.” In many ways, the home is a retreat from the ever-changing design world where Angie works. “I usually never change anything about my design in my home, which is funny because with my profession you would think I would,” notes Angie. In fact, she adds, the only thing that she regularly changes in her house is the seasonal floral arrangements. “Why change something that is already perfect?” Angie asks with a smile.

OPPOSITE right: A converted secretary off the Keasts’ dining room now serves as a bar. TOP LEFT: The family room has a wide window that looks over the front yard. TOP RIGHT: Plantings and decorations are placed on the steps leading to the screened porch.


McKees’ C u s t o mi z e d

P o o l s

A canceled vacation leads to a life of poolside living for one family Story by Patricia E. Ackerman 40

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Summer 2011

Photography by Larry Harwood


The McKees’ pool business began with their first pool, right, a concretefilled dug-out in their backyard, in Abilene. Photos courtesy the McKee family. Decades later, the family business creates highly stylized custom pools such as the Weiss family pool, below, in Gypsum.

In 1954 R. Kay McKee asked his wife, Liz, if she wanted to take their family of five on a vacation. She declined but

added, “I think I would like to have a swimming pool instead.” Having worked in his family’s Abilene-based nursery and landscaping business, Kay set about figuring out how to install a concrete pool in the backyard of their ranch-style home. “At that time, the only other in-ground swimming pool in Abilene, Kansas, was the municipal pool in Eisenhower Park,” Kay recalls. After asking around, he hired some local basement contractors to assist with construction. That first pool consisted of a concrete floor and four concrete walls. The men mixed and poured the concrete on site. There was no plumbing, drain or filtering system. The first few years, when the water would start to turn green, the family siphoned the old water with a

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“I think I would like to have a swimming pool instead.”

– Liz McKee

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Whimsy and safety combine as hand imprints of family members, right, decorate the poolside near a life preserver, far right, in the back yard of Mona and Terry Eisenhauer, below left. When days are too chilly for swimming, family members and guests can enjoy the poolside fireplace, below right.

garden hose and then refilled the pool with fresh water with the same hose. As neighbors and friends frequented the McKees’ backyard pool, word began to spread and other families inquired about inground pools. The first contract pool Kay built was for an insurance and real estate agent in Salina. That pool is still in use more than 50 years later. In the early years, McKee Pools Inc. crews built pools and landscaped customers’ backyards. As the pool business grew, they continued to design landscaping into customer drawings but eventually focused most of their labor on pool construction. Kay never marketed above-ground or vinyl-liner products. He says he doesn’t know the exact number of pools he and his crew have built, but they have left their work across the state of Kansas, as far away as Liberal. Among the most complex pools they built are the recently updated Salina Country Club pool and Abilene Municipal Pool. In 1975, Kay removed the original concrete pool from his yard and replaced it with a custom-designed pool, showcasing the brick, tile and water feature skills his crew had acquired over 20 years. Eight children, 30 grandchildren and four greatgrandchildren have grown up

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Jessie McKee Campbell, far left, and Bonnie McKee splash into their family’s Abilene pool. After starting the business, Kay McKee, sitting on left, has passed the business on to his daughterin-law and son, Kathleen and John McKee. The couple installed this pool, below and opposite, on their property in Abilene.

learning how to swim in this pool. And customers have visited the McKees’ pool when shopping for their own backyard oasis. Kay compares owning a customdesigned backyard pool with purchasing a car. “You can buy a sedan or you can buy a Cadillac, depending on the features you want to enjoy,” he says. Custom features include ornate tile, waterfalls, fountains, seating, edge trim, decking materials and remote control systems. “Each customer decides how to customize their pool based on their desires, location and, of course, available funds.” Technology has transformed the custom pool business since 1954. “Now our filtration systems are computerized and digital, with most of the water control systems being automatic. Very little chlorine is needed to maintain chemical balance in our new pools,” says Kay. Foreman Bob Walters has worked for McKee Pools since he was a junior at Abilene High School in 1969. “Back in the day, people were content to have a concrete swimming hole in their backyard,” he says. “But our skills

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Bob and Becky Walters, right, sit by their pool, far right and below, west of Salina.

have grown, along with new technologies and the types of materials available to construct custom pools. Today, customers want automation and beauty, in addition to a place to escape from the summer heat.” All four of Kay and Liz McKee’s sons have worked for the pool business. Two of them, John and Bruce, continue to make careers of swimming pool construction. John and his wife, Kathleen, recently took over operations of McKee Pools Inc. At age 85, Kay no longer makes daily trips to the job sites to oversee construction, but he does preside at big events. In 2009 all eight of Kay and Liz’s children and many of their 30 grandchildren traveled to Abilene for the celebratory opening of the new Abilene Municipal Pool, which features a zero-entry area, fountains, tile, diving well and boards, and a slide, all built by the McKees. “It was so much fun having everyone here for the opening,” Kay smiles, remembering the excitement of that day.


Sunflower Living Summer 2011  

Sunflower Living Summer 2011