Saturday, May 28, 2016

Road Trip!

     When I was in school in Tulsa, I think we went to the Tulsa Zoo one time and I remember being underwhelmed. I never went back. So when Audra mentioned going to the zoo last week I had low expectations to say to least. But a road trip is never boring so I climbed in and tagged along. We did manage to get lost once, because it was a road trip after all. I am a fan, a big fan, of road trips, especially the wrong turns and surprising finds.
    When we finally found it, out in the wilds, northeast of the city, I was pleasantly surprised with how wonderful it was.  It is not a huge zoo but plenty big enough for kids and grandmas.  There is a train, which we didn't ride this time because we were already too done by that time.  There are elephants (which I missed because I might have been a little too hot) and stayed in the shade during that part.  There were lions and tigers, and bears (oh my), and penquins! and sea lions, snakes and lizards (yes!), a petting zoo with goats and lots of benches in the shade where we could sit down and cool off. There were friendly Otters and loads of other creatures I can't bring to mind at the moment. No Rhinos. Here in OKC we are heavily into Rhinos so we noticed the lack in that department. There was also an Oklahoma animals section, which was nice.
    There was an outstanding playground in the middle, in the shade of tall trees and close to the restrooms. Nice planning. The boys made some new friends and Audie and I had a little rest.

There was also this:

 Yep, the once in a lifetime camel ride. Note: we do not believe in riding elephants because it hurts them and they are wise and wonderful creatures, but we will climb up onto a camel, given the opportunity. Maybe they are wise and wonderful too, probably, but it doesn't hurt them to be ridden (or so the soothsayers say).
     There was also this, a grand carousel with all the animals that are present in the zoo, maybe.  Zane chose to ride the penquins, because they are his favorite animal of all time. Well, penguins and snakes, but you knew that. Ro-Ro chose the lucky elephant and I chose the park bench so I could man the camera and wave.

As the Covington Record would say: "... a good time was had by all". I loved it. There are tons of fun and beautiful places in Oklahoma that we haven't visited. Summertime = Road trip time. (They may not be Central Park or  a Broadway show, but beauty is beauty, no matter the scale, and should be appreciated.) I'm thinking the art museum at Bentonville for one of our upcoming trips.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Happy Birthday and The Spice Man

 The Spice Man commeth, and doesn't he look the part? Here is Able, OKC's spicemeister, at the Myriad Gardens downtown in their Junglebook exhibit. The last two weekends he has journeyed down there to exhibit and do some teaching about spices in general and the spices of India in particular.
    Besides being a fantastic cook, I call him a chef, he is the knowall when it comes to spices and different ways to use them creatively.  If you have questions about spice use in your cooking, head on down to Savory Spice in OKC and have a visit with the Spice Man. We are located at the corner of  43rd and N. Western Avenue, a few blocks south of I-40.

    We are also blessed to have him and Kari cook for us lots of times. The other night the family celebrated Audra's birthday at Able and Kari's casa. They fixed homemade pizza in their outdoors pizza oven (which is really a smoker but works great on pizza too).  We watched Pirates of the Caribbean off and on, had pizza, salad and strawberries and the traditional ice cream birthday cake that Audra loves.

There was some not so serious Cornhole played (read: bean bag toss). Also some mock sword fights with pretend pirates, and good talk all 'around the campfire', figuratively. We are past real campfire season now that the wheat is turning. No burning when we are close to harvest or when it is windy, especially in a drought, which happens a lot.  Believe me, the news people don't mince words about when there is and is not a burn ban in place. It's Oklahoma, "where the wind comes sweeping down the plains".

I don't know how I managed to end up without a party-pic of the birthday girl, but here she is with her sweetie, last month.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


This is where I was born
and have always lived.
I am safe here
surrounded by friends and relatives,
nothing bad ever happens.

But this day someone comes,
everyone is forced away,
torn from this spot and carted
out of sight. I hide and watch.

Why are they being taken?
All of them are gone.
Stop! I do not move.

My hiding place is discovered
and I too am taken away and
left alone in an empty crate,
alone  through the long hot day.
I am dying. I cannot breathe.

What is happening?
Why is this happening?

And then you come,
lead me out of the sun,
give me water and an apology.
We move into a cool room
and travel together for hours.
I can hear singing.

You leave, but I am safe here.
Darkness, flashes of light
and wind I can hear but not feel.
No one can see me.
My first night alone.
Later, I can see the stars.

In the morning you return
and take me to my new home.
There are others.
We are all strangers here.
Gentle hands give comfort,
support, protection.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Rainy May

      Hello once again, my patient readers. After that wonderful weekend of adventures, there followed a week of pain (out of control UTI) which included a visit to the ER and double doses of antibiotics. Ugh.
   That was followed by a week of doing various things in OKC; working at the shop, meditation group, singing group, watching both girls' children now and then, reading, visiting my dad, and pulling weeds in the gardens.  I spent some time in OKC at the capitol building, lobbying legislators about doing the right thing by the people of Oklahoma in straightening out the mess that is our state budget.  I got on Facebook so I could spread the word and encourage my friends to call/text/email/go talk to their representatives and senators.  They had two weeks left and had left most of the heavy lifting to the end, as usual.

    It was interesting and I really felt full of energy while I was there, but I had to leave at noon (we were going to stay all day) because I feel so strongly about the issues that I got angry inside and couldn't seem to tamp it down enough to be as civil as I needed to be. I really kind of wanted to grab some of them by the throat and shake some sense into them. I won't go into details about the whys and whats involved.  I would get mad again and it's late and I will need to go to sleep soon.
     Today they were going to vote on that stupid bathroom bill that everyone is talking about (*the transgender thing), so we all made our calls once more.  There are receptionists who take your call in the offices and then tally the pros and cons on various bills and report them to the Rep. or Senator.  I was urging this particular Senator to call for a special session so they could take their time and do a reasonable job of solving the problems of the budget with heaping the burden on education, state agencies that aid the poorest and most vulnerable, single mothers, and rural hospitals.  The woman was very short with me, "They already have a budget!"
"I know that," I said, as sweetly as I could manage," but it hasn't passed both houses yet so there is still time to wait and make the changes that will help the middle class and the working poor and the schools."
"It is going to pass. They have the votes, so stop calling."
     I really wanted to say, "You do realize that you and your boss both work for me and the people of Oklahoma, don't you?" but I don't think she did know that, so I just said, "I would appreciate your telling him my concerns. Thank you." Grrrrrrr....
     So I can't go down there too often, but I can be active on Facebook and Twitter and in talking to friends and family. I realize most of you don't live in this state and this doesn't concern you, but you would not believe what a 'mell of a hess' they have created here. Oh well.
     Able and Kari came up to the farm for some R and R last week end. They put the new belt on my mower and cleaned the huge porch and my house for me. Yeehaw! Man alive, what a wonderful present. I have managed to pull both my hamstrings (from bending over pulling weeds for long stretches of time) so walking around is painful, to say the very least. Hard chairs are torture. Today I was mowing the grounds and a hidden pine branch reached out and snapped back, whacking my shin TWICE (how did that happen for Pete's sake?) Wow. That smarted. So basically I hurt all over now, but the yard and Maggie's Wood look great. (Ice packs, a shower and a break with a good book were called for after all of that.)
     This weekend is Farm Camp 2017. The wheat is golden and nearly ready to cut, the mosquitoes are swarming and being gobbled up by the many, many swallows who live under the bridge and flit and fly in circles above the gardens (Yay!) My gardens are glorious. If you ever wanted to stop by for a visit, now's the time. I would love to take you on a tour. Call first so I will know to be here. (Patricia, come back and I'll show you around. I hope you stopped in and looked around when you were here to decorate the graves. You know you're always welcome. )
     I reconnected with Brad, a dear friend from high school this past week. He writes now too and was doing an authors book fair in Edmond. I loved visiting with him and his wife and hope to have the opportunity to spend some time with them, now that they live in this area again.  He is a poet, like me. Who knew?
     Yes, we have been in the rain and tornado phase of the year. So far they haven't hit me or anywhere close to me. We have about a week to go and then the hot winds will come roaring out of the south to ripen the wheat.
       I have set up a temporary outside pen for the chickens so they can get used to going into the coop at night. Today I went to town and forgot they were out there. I expected are resident hawks to pick one of two of them off while I was gone, but no, it didn't happen. This evening they all trotted into their coop at dusk and flew up onto the roosts. Hooray! Here they are, fully feathered and getting along fine.  I need to get the boys to hang a couple of wire gates for me this weekend. I really don't want them in the peace garden, digging up all my pretties.

        The circle whirls, as it has done for millions of years. We're all hanging on for dear life as we fly round and round, trying to do some good things while we have the honor of drawing breath. Take care, all of you, wherever you are. Be a light in someone's day today. It doesn't take much. Know that I love you.
         Happy dreams, or no dreams at all.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Old Stone House

     At Easter, as you recall, there was some digging into the confines of the old stone dugout which has been overtaken by the creek these past hundred years or so.  Some bottles were discovered. There were promises made of revisiting the site. That structure was the original shelter built on the land by George Washington Blakley. I'm sure he had help from his four brothers who rode beside him that day. George was the youngest boy at 21, the legal age to stake a claim. Here are some of his descendents.

     Our final adventure on Mother's Day was a long awaited visit to a different stone dwelling a few miles away. This one belonged to George's eldest brother, Samuel Robert Blakley, who also joined in the great horse race that was the Cherokee Strip Land Run, in September of 1893. Sam already owned land a mile or two to the south of the South starting line (what is now state highway 51). Although Sam could not legally stake a claim in the Cherokee Strip, because he had run in the Run of '93, he was running as "insurance". One of his brothers might not get lucky. Sam rode just a mile north, reined in, set his flag and waited. His brother Uly did the same on the quarter just to the west.
     The house we visited on Sunday was Sam's stone house that his family lived in until they built their big one out of the most plentiful timber around, Cottonwood. Sam had already set up a sawmill on his south place so there was timber already curing. 
      Time has passed and families have grown up and gone. Most of the brothers and some of their children and grandchildren lie in the cemetery at the top of hill on the place George staked in that race. The big wooden house on Sam's place is only a memory, but the stone house remains. That was our destination.
     After much tramping through the woods we found it, or I should say Audra, Maggie and Zane found it. Grandma was done before the final push. This is the inside with a lovely arched ceiling. The creek to the west has flooded many times and the house has silted in quiet a bit. I have a picture of the place in the twenties and the window in the front was at eye level.

The roof is a skin of cement over those arched native stones and has a 'bucket of cement chimney.
 The trees are encroaching. Here are all the cousins, three generations down the line from George and Sam, peering out the doorway. And here is Uncle Able, representing the Blakley name.

(Everett and Rowan sitting in the window.) 
       It is very moving to me that this place still stands and is still sturdy. I love it that these guys were all very excited to discover it. It is part of their heritage. I am sad Danny wasn't there to share the discovery with them. He is the link...well, my kids are links too.
It's a long chain that winds back to Ireland, mostly. I have done a lot of work on the genealogy of that line, the Blakley line, for them.  I think it is interesting to know who our ancestors were, because they are a part of who we are. I can see the blue eyes and think blonde hair of Danny's grandmother, George's wife Susannah, very clearly in my Abbey.  See this little Everett, her son, with his short, sturdy body and gentle dark eyes? That is what his great great grandfather, the cowboy, looked like. Everett also loves horses.

The Oklahoma Observer

I don't know why I have never thought of blogging about this, but I'm doing it now.  If you have never picked up a copy of The Oklahoma Observer, I urge you to do so. There is probably a copy available at your local library.  This small paper is a champion of education, realistic compassionate thinking, and the power of the people to speak truth to power and so influence those in power to do better work for the general good.
    Here is the link:  Read through the description of the paper's mission and history as well as the many awards it has won over the years. You can get The Oklahoma Observer in paper form, once a month, or on the internet.  This month's issue is particularly important in this election year. There is much at stake, both nationally and in our individual states. It is imperative that we become well informed and look past today, toward the larger picture of our nation's future.
      You can help support this publication through donation, subscription, or by placing a business Ad. I urge you to check it out and support it.  If you were looking for a voice of rationalism and common sense in the midst of all the partisan yelling, this could be it.