Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Reprieve and A Wander

The sun! The sun, and in its wake the whirring millions of mosquitoes. This morning, for the first time in several weeks, I awoke to sunlight through the curtains. A glorious gift! When I stepped out the back door I was greeted with an unusual fishy odor, not unlike that of a morning at the lake cabin. It made me laugh, that this land so shrunken with drought could smell of lake.


My gardens are 'out of their banks', much as the our creek was a couple of days ago, and lovely Lady Larkspur is in full bloom. Nothing makes a country garden so sweet as spires of blue, pink and purple Larkspur filling in all the bare spaces between the larger plants.  (If you wish some Larkspur seed, I will happily send you some. Leave me a comment to that effect. Ian, I assume you have Larkspur over there in the motherland, but would gladly send you some if you like.) 
    At the bottom of the picture you can see some of my beautiful Gallardias, the flower we call "Indian Blanket", Oklahoma's state wildflower. This year I did not 'clean up the beds' where the Gallardia grew, wanting to see if they would seed themselves back. In the middle of May I noticed tiny round leaves pushing up through the spiked puff ball that holds the seeds. Hooray, Hurrah! I was being too quick to sweep away last year's debris I guess. Fantastic. From now on I will have these bright treasures in abundance.

       Here is a funny tale for you. Yesterday I took advantage of the drying south wind and fired up the mower to clip the running paths through Maggie's Wood.  All went well, but I did notice quite a few thistles in need of clipping before they went to seed.  At the end of the mowing I discovered that my phone had fallen out of my pocket somewhere along the way. Ah, the drunkard's path with no key to the house, once home. 
      I sent my daughter an email, asking her to call me every seven minutes. I slowly walked all the paths, twice, looking to the left and right, listening for the ring. I found my clippers first and so was able to behead all the purple thistles along the way. Finally, after almost an hour, I was able to locate the phone, a mere forty minutes before the skies opened again and the hard rains fell. Whew. A bit of luck (thank you for the millionth time, St. Anthony).
       I have in my files (yes, I do have files believe it or not) the plans for a wonderful circular labyrinth which I intend to lay out there, in the midst of the prairie grasses and flowers. It is drawn, the widths and turns figured and waiting to be stepped off by family and brought to life.  However, I have come to love this labyrinth of paths as it is right now, winding from tree to tree, meandering into a quiet circle of saplings, some turns taking you nowhere. It is more a maze than a labyrinth, truth be told. 
     In the beginning I mowed it so as to have access to the watering system and then wandered off task to cut down some groupings of thistles that were too large to cut with a knife. I have become quite fond of it, this casual prairie labyrinth of mine. Now, after nearly five years of growth, Maggie's Wood is full of all manner of wild flowers and grasses. Unseen creatures scurry off with a fading trail of rustle as I round each turn. 
      This ribbon of path in the prairie grasses allows you to be in the midst of wildness without wearing yourself out with walking through two foot high growth. You can see where your next step will land and choose which path to follow. Sometimes a path will take you on a short journey, only to return you to the exact spot where you began. There are young trees along the way, waiting to make your acquaintance and white Yarrow nodding a welcome. I will have those people who helped plant this young wood back out for an evening in the golden light one of these days. They might enjoy seeing how their labors have helped restore this little space of earth to its native roots. 
      Now I am off to scoop up some spilled gold in the driveway. A round bale of alfalfa hay has fallen off someone's pickup spike and sits, rain soaked and tumbling apart, on the oil well road. I am hauling it over to the wood to feed the trees and mulch them from the heat of July and August. I feel like an ant, scurrying around some spilled sugar, rushing it back to the den. TTFN

Sunday, May 24, 2015

An Auspicious Beginning

We were so close.

A three day week-end with all three kids, and their kids, here for some or all of it, working together to build a tree house…a forever tree house.  Design the thing, pulling input from engineers of all stripes. Buy the wood, nails, ladders, bolts. Make a menu, stock up on groceries, drinks, snacks. Throw a puzzle or two into the mix and some panchos for the possibility of rain now and then. We could handle a little rain….now and then.


We made a great beginning.  The supplies arrived on one of the few clear days we have had.  I tarped it
because, let's be honest, it has rained most days for a month and there was no use being Pollyannaish about the endeavor.
      The Korenaks arrived with tools and man power and the building began. One man and two boys in tool belts, with hammers in hand, started at the beginning. We got the legs up and the floor brace in place and bolted tightly to the tree. This is one of the two boys. We were short on men.

Zane and I even managed to pull a few onions before lunch. Our first of the season.

Then it began to rain, and continued to rain for the rest of the day and some of the night.  There would be no more building that day.  We brought out the quilts and had "hot choco" on the porch. Tricyles zoomed back and forth. The sandbox was thoroughly dug. Puzzles were begun, books were read, movies were watched. Spaghetti and green beans were enjoyed for supper, along with birthday cake for Audra.

A peaceful night followed with no crying babies. Hooray! I had wonderful dreams of Danny.

Early in the morning Zane and I peeked out the east door to see if the rain had stopped. It had.  However, there was a roar of water coming from beyond the trees. We slipped out of the house, donned our rain boots and made the first of many walks to the bridge to check the water level.

Skeleton Creek was out of its banks and all the way to LP and Martha's driveway. Not yet across the road, but up. "Big creek's up", as we say.

When the creek floods, the water runs red with shale and flows fast to the south. The few swallows who nest under the bridge were out and upset about the possibility of losing their nests.  They probably will be fine because it rarely (I've never seen it) reaches the top.  Zane said it looked like the river of chocolate he had seen in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" a day or two before. It did in fact.
We saw no bodies, human or otherwise, floating by, but  did see several tree limbs and lots of debris. One entire tree trunk lodged crossways against the upright, swinging back and forth in the current.  Zane swore the bridge was moving and not the tree. It wasn't, but you know that feeling I'm sure.  That bridge was built for the flood of all floods and this wasn't that one.
      We walked on and placed a gauging rock at the spot where the water was highest. We found a 5 gallon green plastic bucket in the middle of the road. It should serve us well for housing the turtles we will find this week for Farm Camp. (Yes, that's coming up next week-end….rain or no rain.)  I took him into our little church, which is where we go if a tornado comes, just so he'll know the place if we ever have to use it.
    We came back home, had a great breakfast with the family and began adding support beams to the tree house.  Rowan and Zane hammered a few more nails on their practice boards and took a wander through Maggie's Wood with me. The mosquitoes were fierce and forced us back to the patio.
     We talked Zach into taking a break and joining us for a snack on the porch.

The forecast for today was 100% for rain, all afternoon. The same is expected for tomorrow.
It made no sense for people to come out to the farm if there was the possibility of being unable to get back out again. (Actually, once the creek is 'up' it usually goes back down in a few hours, as it did today. By 4:00 it was back in its banks despite rainfall all afternoon. But I'm jumping ahead.) 

We placed the calls and the others decided to stay in OKC. *sigh*

It began to sprinkle….which quickly turned into honest to god rain. Lunch was served to the little ones. The van was packed up and the Korenaks headed back to the City so Audra could work tomorrow. Sad faces all around. The tree house is an ongoing project and I look forward to having the family out often to work on it.

      Later this afternoon, after returning home from a visit with the neighbors, I heard sirens. We hardly ever hear sirens out here in the country. If we do hear them, it means one of our close neighbors and friends is hurt. This time the ambulance turned west and came down our road. Impossible. Besides the three households in this valley, there are only three more until you get to the highway and they wouldn't have come this way for those three.
      They were lost, it turns out, and came flying back by very soon, heading east.  In that direction there are more friends. I called some houses to check on people. No one answered. Later, when I called again, I learned that someone had discovered an oilfield truck overturned in a creek east of here. There was a search for bodies for awhile. The owner of the truck was found to be on the rig and working.
Thank goodness, a false alarm this time.
     The wind sound weird to the west of here and I hear rumbling thunder in the distance. I'm off to check on the weather for tonight, before I hit the sack.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Museum Gets Rave Reviews

A museum that kids beg to go see, you say. A museum of osteology? Bones?
You have to be kidding me.
Nope. The museum of osteology has become a favorite with all the grandkids. It is Plan B for any fun trip that falls through and it never disappoints.
The thrills begin in the lobby where you can view the flesh eating beetles at work. Oh yeah! This is how all the scraps of meat, skin and rot get cleaned off skeletons. The FEBs do a fabulous job and give you a good case of creeps as a bonus.

Then you step into the bottom floor exhibit where you can walk around, among, and through the skeletons of dinosaurs, a hippo and a giraffe. Up close, personal and, yes, please touch the exhibits. What could possibly be better? There are also clever scavenger hunts, complete with tiny pencils, for three different age groups. Example: Find the primate skeleton that is holding a hammer. Ha!
     We jumped to plan B on Tuesday when we pulled into the Zoo parking lot and noticed the 30 school buses already parked there. When you have to park at Remington Park and hoof it to the Zoo you may as well keep driving and head south to the museum of osteology where you can see the skeleton of a king cobra and bats and a tiny red-bellied woodpecker. It is the perfect size for children to enjoy. Google it and load up crew. You might want to pack a lunch because there is a covered picnic area in the parking lot. The crew at TMoOs think of everything.
    A word to the wise: do not despair if, as you are driving, you begin to think you probably missed a turn-off somewhere. The museum is located in an industrial looking area but there are also very cute pygmy goats grazing alongside the road. On our journey we also got to see real live tornado damage from last week. That is something that is difficult to top.

P.S. I forgot to post this pic the first time around. Three kids staring a Diamondback Rattler in the face, in a safe way (snake is both dead AND safely behind glass). The kids were fascinated and terrified at the same time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pictures and Words

 A few random images that move me.

found in unexpected
unnecessary places,
breathes life into
this weary, gritty world.

A father
taking his grown daughter
in his arms,
the two of them dancing
with twenty years of memories
held sacred between.


These five,
kids, grandkids, great grandkids
of scientists and teachers,
playing science together.
(safety glasses…yes!)
Danny would love this.


My Abbey,
first day of Kindergarten,
the exact age here
that her daughter is now.
Missing teeth,
My Little Pony,
wrist bouquet,
shoulder purse,
big smile,
pink pinafore.


Unseen beauty,
in the darkness
of the deepest ocean,
lighted tentacles and a see-through
body, tinted pink. Red eye.
What wonders surround.


Tiny boy,
Blakley built
in your striped overalls,
so quiet and strong.


These two
so young, full
of love and dreams,
hoping for all things good.

it is good we can not
see what the future holds.
Miss you, my dear.