Thursday, July 13, 2017

Staying Within Our Bounds

     This lovely little fountain sits in the middle of the bricked center square (on point) which forms the middle of the octagonal garden we fondly refer to as "the prayer garden".  This garden is where the most special flowers grow; the blue and yellow Iris, as well as the Beverly Sills. Sunny south-of-the-border  Indian Blanket Flowers lean out of each of the four beds to smile at passersby. The Fall-blooming miniature iris are in here as well.  This is my place of peace, my spot to set aside frustrations, step inside the wooden fenced space and sit with Beauty....out of the wind.
    There is a tall, wire tipi, covered with blooming honeysuckle on the north side, some Purple Cone Flowers, wild roses and an America Rose (which is currently being taken over by intense blue Morning Glories).  There are also two benches and a beautiful arching butterfly chair.  You enter the space through a tunnel of Wisteria, a tight, dark space opening into one which is open and bright. Ah, Frank Lloyd Wright would be proud.  The fence posts are copper-capped and two Silver Maples reach over the walkways, providing much needed shade.

       Day before yesterday, early, I was out weeding and sweating, like I do every morning, but that day I threw my hands up and called it quits. I retreated into the quiet of this garden, sat down on one of the benches and let my mind clear and my thoughts widen.  I was watching the fountain and enjoying the music it tossed into the air. The water that splashed over the sides of its three bowls pooled on the pavers and then followed their branching patterns as it ran outward. I was remembering what Danny used to say about water: that it always takes the lowest, easiest route to its destination, and that it assumes the shape of whatever vessel contains it.  Danny was interested in water, chemically, because it breaks several of the rules of chemistry. I love water because I think it is a holy thing, a connection to the sacred.
        Okay, back to the story.  Let me first say that I had to replace the pump in this fountain this Spring.  I happened to have an extra pump, reclaimed from a different fountain which fell apart, and the switch was an easy one. The problem is that this pump is a little bigger and therefore the water flows with too much pressure, just a little bit too much, so it splashes out of the bowl, runs down the side of the upright and onto the bricks. I have been watching this happen for several months. Every morning I refill the bottom bowl and clean off the pump intake grill.  It's no trouble.
      What is troubling to me is that I have watched this for all these months, knowing a little about fountains, and never remembered that there is an adjustment valve on the pump.  (I'm not proud of this realization and would normally not bring it up in public, but I have a larger point to make here. Bear with me.)  I finally did realize it that day and stepped over to close the valve a little.  Sure enough, the water smoothed out and none was lost over the sides.
        After shaking my head at my own foolishness for not remembering something so simple, a thought came to me. "You are like this fountain, Deb. You pump too fast and run yourself dry too often and have to be refilled over and over. What you need to do is ease that valve shut a little bit and stay within your bounds."  That is the truth, on so many levels.
       After a while I went inside, picked up the phone and called someone to come out and mow my lawn, trim my trees, and weed the overgrown edges of the gardens on the north and east side of the house, things I would never have the energy to get done.  They are working on it now and I am inside writing, something I love to do, and which is better for my health than working as the grounds keeper.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

An Update About Surrender

     The gardens have been swaggering away with all the victory laurels for the past couple of weeks.  I go out in the mornings and pull weeds, clip vines, spread mulch, carry stuff to the compost pile every day, wearing myself to an absolute nub, but still the jungle seems to encroach.  I'm trying, God knows I'm trying, but Nature advances on every front and we are definitely "out-gunned, out-manned, out-numbered, out-planned", as GW says in Hamilton. Remember me taking the entire east side of the house out of the gardening plan last Fall in an effort to win some easy victories for the home team?  Yeah,  that worked really well until about a week ago, when the temperatures rocked up over 100 and sat there for days.  When that happens, Johnson Grass (a plant native to Africa), jumps out of the gate with a vengeance and all the perennials take a step back to catch their breath.  The east side of the house looks like a jungle again, despite all the cardboard and heavy mulch.
     Two trees have fallen, one in Maggie's Wood (the old Apple tree, sorry Able) and one in the Earth Circle (the 15' tall Hackberry).  The lawn mower is in for repairs and the grass is completely out of control so it looks as if no one lives here once again.  The north side of the house is overgrown with wild grape vines, ground cover and baby Elm trees. The Whing-Ding miniature rose has been completely overgrown by the ground cover. I'm not really sure where it is, but I remember the general vicinity where it should be.
     Also...the old Grandfather Elm that has sheltered the Blakley homestead since the beginning (over a hundred years ago) has died. (Let's take a moment.)  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~'Tis true, alas.  I have contacted a man to cut the branches off above the tree-house level. He and his crew are also going to clean out all the flowerbeds and mow the yard, Maggie's Wood and the open acre to the south for me.
      They are taking me back to square one where I will, possibly, have a fighting chance again.  (And they said they would be glad to come out and do the mowing anytime I ask them to.  Thank you very much. : )
       I decided not to work myself into an early grave this year.  I also didn't want to have my kids and their spouses have to work their tails off every time they come out to the farm.  I paid for labor, trickling down some of the money from the oil companies to those who needed a job and a paycheck. "Immigrants, we get the job done." (another Hamilton quote) Yep, that's me, a job-creator; it's the American Way. That is why I am inside chatting with you guys instead of sweating to death outside in 102 degree heat.
    Let's see, what else.....?  Oh, something flew out from underneath the car in front of me two days ago while I was driving home from the city.  I, of course, ran over it immediately, and now have a slow leak on front and back tires on the driver side of my car. Life.  Discount Tire, here I come.
    The Locusts are Hrrizzing away in the Cottonwoods and little green and brown lizards slither across the bricks in the prayer garden, heading for their morning drinks beside the three bowled fountain. The red Geranium blooms quietly there beside the succulents. That fountain taught me a lesson the other morning, something I'll share with you in tomorrow's post.  It's nice to stop and listen now and then,
so wisdom has a chance to whisper in your ear.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

This Little Cabin On The Prairie

 Sometimes I post pictures up here and then think: Why am I doing this? We were all there. And then I remember we were not all there. Some of us were there and others were not.  I remember the reason I started this blog in the first place: to share the moments of our life here, in Oklahoma, with all of our family and friends who live elsewhere. We are scattered from sea to shining sea and once in a while groups drift back to this little cabin on the lake and share a day or two talking and swimming and being together.
       This is not a fancy cabin, it is a simple, family cabin, but it sleeps a lot of people now, and there is clean, hot water for bathing and cooking, due to a lot of work that has been done on the water system this year by those of us who live in-state.
     This summer there have been some of us out there almost every week-end and it has been delightful.  Everyone brings food or ice or ...whatever they feel like bringing. Every once in a while someone replenishes the toilet paper supply.  Everyone helps clean up, mow, and haul away the trash. Like I said, it's a family cabin and everyone pitches in.

       My brothers, sister and I have been going out to that lake since 1961 or so, I think I was about nine when we first went out. We didn't have this cabin then; we used a trailer that belonged to someone else and tip-toed through the sandburrs to an A-frame nearby to play with the neighbor kids, friends of ours from town.  There was only one little wooden cabin across the lake from us then and the rest of it was wild and wonderful.  We grew up out there, playing alligator in the shallows, and then our kids grew up there as well, sharing happy summer days with each other. Now our grandkids come out and play together, running off the end of the dock to show off their best cannonballs, or fishing for perch and bass in the shallows, or paddling that same old pink paddle-boat around the edges, chatting and trailing hands in the water.
       We continue to work on the sandburr situation with chemical as well as mechanical means.  We may not win the war but we are winning a skirmish or two now and then (thanks Able!).  But, NO! you still should not walk barefoot through the grass unless you've completely lost your mind.
    Sometimes there is homemade ice-cream, which always makes me think of my mom. Sometimes there is ice-cold watermelon and burgers off the grill. Always there are caramels in the yellow glass candy jar (in memory of Mom), and drops in the ears after swimming...when we remember.

     Below: Kari and Abbey's Brendan (aka: the Butterfly champion from the swim team) getting out of the heat for a while on the famous cabin couch (the only safe place to sit when your suit is wet and you plan on going back out soon.)

     Last week-end, my sister and some friends of Audie and Zach came out for a swim, some good food and time in the quiet at lakeside.  Often, when we are out there, people drive back into Okeene to spend some quiet time being with Great Grandpa Dotter. Last week-end Zane and Maggie went upstairs with Ann and dug through the cedar chest.  They found my dad's USMC jacket and coat and did a march through the kitchen for us, complete with the stars and stripes and salutes all around.  There were stories to be told and listened to, and gifts given.
     Good times: that is what this little cabin on the lake affords us; good times with these people who are woven into the heart of us. I love it. Thanks for everything, Dad. This is all because of you and Mom and the love you shared with each other and with all of us.  Know that we know that and are forever grateful. May it continue to bless.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Hamilton Revisited

It had finally arrived: the day I would fly to Chicago to go see Hamilton for the second time. I went with Abbey again, thus officially making it a family tradition. For the record, I would be tickled pink to go see it with anyone, but I'm glad it was Abbey and I this time, since this was our first time to see a production that was not the original cast. There were lots of differences in interpretation, voice, energy, and since she and I are so incredibly wedded to the original cast, there were some mental adjustments to be made; but we loved it, and had bought into the new cast by the end.  Then we ran out into the streets and called for rides to two different airports. Craziness ensued and the last time I saw her she was running down the street, holding her phone in the air, trying to catch her Lyft car.  I was doing the same on my side of the street. Hysterical, but not the best way to end a get-together. Next time I'll spring for supper and an extra night on the town, so we can discuss and relax a little.

     Here is a picture of Abbey in her Hamilton shirt, I wore mine when I was wandering the streets of Chicago, trying to find Optimo Hats (as you can see above, I was successful). Now I need to get to San Fran one of these days to complete the Ham Across America tour. Anyone want to go with? 
     Abbey made it home later that night but, sadly, I did not. I spent a lot of time sitting around in the Midway airport and then had a wild ride through a thunderstorm on my way to St. Louis, where I missed my connection and bedded down in a motel for the night.  Let me say this: being stuck in airports and scrambling for lodging and connections is a lot more fun when you are with someone else. 
     I did make it home the next day, had a day to rest up and then we were off and running for the Fourth of July week-end at the lake (another long-standing family tradition).  But that is another wonderful tale to tell. 
     While I was in Chicago, I also saw the Nature Museum up on Lakeshore Drive. In the middle of the city I managed to find a spot of wildness..AND a butterfly house.  I went in early and was the only one in the room, except for the guide, who turned out to be very, very knowledgeable on all things butterfly-house. Oh! I also got to experience some of Jarret's fantastic gourmet popcorn (thanks Abbey). Oh my.  

Summary: Hamiltour continues and I can't wait to go again. It never gets old. Chicago is a bizarre and exciting place that is full of surprises and mind-bending architecture. I love getting to spend one-on-one time with my Abbey, something that doesn't happen very often here in the Sooner State.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Poem: Off The Rails

Bombings in Mosul
  in London, in France
     car bombs, drone attacks

house to house fighting in Syria
  Isis on the move, always
    broken bodies of innocents

broadcast ritual beheadings
   children left orphans
      hospitals as targets

boats full of refugees
   real news and lies
       trust and truth in shreds

Afghanistan, the Taliban
   Korea with the bomb
     The U.S. on the sidelines
the coral reefs are dying
  deserts are advancing
    deep ice is melting
When leaders lose their reason
    the rest of us will suffer
       the least of us will die

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Summer Soltice

Butterfly Bush is hosting the Summer Bee Convention this week, lots of colors and sizes of the industrious little buzzers busily having their adverbial way with those purple blossoms. I don't notice any animosity between the types of bees, but I might not recognize it if I saw it.  None of them pay me much mind, unless I step too close. They quickly give way to me; it is a large bush, everyone is welcome.
    I have three hummingbird feeders hung along the porch above the bush, and I have two pair of Hummingbirds. Three feeders and four tiny, bejeweled hummers.  One would think there would be plenty of sugar water to go around, but that is not the case. These wee birds require so much energy to simply stay in flight and yet they waste it by fighting all the time, with everyone. They don't like the cats hanging around on the porch and they aren't too happy about me hanging around there either.  Wow, they're not just territorial, they are  TERRITORIAL!  I'm not sure why they are this way, all 'up in everyone's grill', but they need to get over themselves.
     I mean, there is an entire Butterfly Bush down below their feeders, housing a host of bees getting along in the nicest way all day long, buzzing and sipping, buzzing and sipping.  The Hummers should take a lesson. (Who DO they think they are? Yes dears, we all see your shimmering green coats and those scarlet throats. So? You are not of more worth that the bees, in case you were thinking otherwise.)  Why can't we all just get along?
    Oh well, there is much happening in the gardens this week: ripe tomatoes, yellow squash, new potatoes, dill. The Marigolds are blooming to beat the band, bringing light to some dark corners. The fountain is fighting me a little, but I'll figure it out soon enough.  We have lost my mother's beautiful rose bush, sadly.  It happened all at once, as it often does with roses.  It was glorious and then, all of a sudden, it was gone.  It breaks my heart. I've posted many pictures of these lovely pink roses for you over the years.  I won't pull it out yet; I'll treat and trim and see what happens.
      There is a lot of haranguing coming out of Washington these days. I'm hoping the more intelligent and honorable of the group can talk some sense into the others and, if that isn't possible, hold them accountable for some of the idiot moves that are being proposed. This healthcare thing: I hope it isn't true that a lot of folks with pre-existing conditions are going to left out in the cold.  I hope not, I hope congress isn't that mean-spirited and petty, but you never know. (And, by the way, pregnancy is not a pre-existing condition...I'm just throwing that out there.) It bothers me that there were no women in that secret group who sequestered themselves and came up with the health plan.  Were they afraid the women might raise some awkward questions?  Who knows.  Oh well--
     I like the community in my gardens, everything working together, shading, nourishing, blooming side by side.  Yes, there is that tenacious little vine that wants to choke out everything else, to its own benefit, but we have a nice system of checks and balances out there.  The other plants let the vine climb up into the sunlight, bullying everyone else around, stepping on toes and the like, and then I can see what it's up to and I unceremoniously jerk it out of there. If you give someone enough rope, sometimes they will hang themselves with it.  We'll see what happens. That is all the time I'm giving to the politicians. I'll heading outdoors to enjoy the beauty.