Thursday, August 17, 2017

5 Things You Should Know About_____

The prompt was:
5 things you should know about___

What would I choose to write about?
*Farming in Oklahoma during the 80s. (I don't think you could bear it. I couldn't.)
*Teaching school in a state that doesn't fund education. (No. I'm trying to keep my blood-pressure down today. Maybe later....after the law suit comes through. FIX THIS.)
*The journey through the grief of losing a spouse. (Please, no. Not going there.)
*The things all cat lovers know. (They already know and no one else cares about cats.)
*The traditional Christian church vs the teachings of Jesus. (Go back to the beginning and LISTEN.)
*Gardening in Oklahoma. (Three words: Not. In. Summer.)
*The process of writing, and its obstacles. (Oh God, where would I begin?)
*Raising free-range chickens. (I think we've covered this one.)
*Things that give me the creeps. (uh...you don't want to know.)
*Mistakes people often make with their children. (Not touching that one.)
*Karma kicking your butt. (aka What goes 'round, comes 'round.)

So...here are some questions that keep coming up:

1.  Why do we, as a species, continue to forget the lessons history has to teach us?
2.  (Nope. I changed my mind about #2.)
3.  Why must dogs lick their butts every time company comes over?
4.  Why didn't I begin writing down the books I read, plus a short synopsis, when I was twelve?
5.  What is it about Pizza that is so addictive?
6.  Where have all the flowers gone? When will we ever learn?
7.  How long, oh Lord?
8.  Why in bloody hell didn't they stay in Missouri?
9.  Why can't I buy a television plan that is only PBS?
10. Why do you finally master parenting when you're on your last child?
11. Why do little kids love to talk about poop so much?
12. What's wrong with having a house that is actually a library?
13. Why does such a small percentage of the population have most of the money?
14. Why are the people in medical professions the only ones who have pulled off wearing their comfy clothes to work? (Probably because they are too busy saving lives to worry about what you think of what they're wearing.)

That's my deep thoughts for the day. Done. I'm outta here!
Please, please, please try to add a little kindness and understanding to someone's day today...and tomorrow...and the one after that. The news is killing me.







Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Elephant In The Room

      Let's talk about Honeyvine. It has a proper latin name but I'll use the vernacular, lest I endow it with any unearned respectability. Honeyvine is a fragile-looking green vine that has become an absolute menace, not to mention a nuisance, in my gardens. Here is a pic for you.



     It looks very similar to Morning Glory, though the leaves are not quite as rounded, and the vine is thinner but with the same lovely bend and twirl. It also lacks the knock-your-socks-off stunningly beautiful flowers of the Morning Glory. Truth be told, I haven't found any redeeming qualities to Honeyvine yet, not that I have been looking. I've been too busy dragging it down off the wisteria, the little elm trees, the the silver-leaf maple, the four-o'clocks,  and the forsythia, with both hands while cursing a blue streak and sweating like a horse. You get my drift.
      The amazing thing about Honeyvine is that it slips in unnoticed, perfectly camouflaged against everything you love, staying out of the light, not making any noise to speak of, looking absolutely at home if you happen to point a camera in its direction, until the day you look closely at everything in the garden and realize that Honeyvine has taken the house and is throwing a pall over all of it.
     It is what they call an invasive plant species, like wild grape vine and five-leaf ivy, wisteria, trumpet-vine and yes, honeysuckle.  They will all take the garden if you take your eyes off them for a season or even a couple of weeks. That is what they do.
     Notice I put wisteria and honeysuckle on that list of Invasives. I love both of those plants but I also know you have to watch them like a hawk and be out there with clippers in hand every day in order to keep them under control. They are not the only beautiful plant in the garden, after all; they are one of many, and do not get to bully, strangle, or steal nutrients and sunlight from all the others.           I don't know when they got it into their pointy little heads that they were somehow better than others, but that type of behavior is not tolerated in my gardens. They are hauled out of there and then dumped on the compost pile or burned. They get no second chances here. They may have the right to bully somewhere else, but they do not have that right here. Not in my gardens. Not on my watch.
 
      Okay, I'm breathing, calming down, and moving on.
     
     I am a believer in Pride of Place or I wouldn't still be living in Oklahoma, with all that has been happening here lately. I am a Patriot, in so much as I love The United States of America and the freedoms it has historically held as promised to those who come here seeking safety and a shot at a better life. I believe myself to be extremely blessed to call this my native land. During the past fifty years or so we, as a society, have very slowly been edging our way forward toward becoming an even better country than we ever were in some areas. Those who, until fairly recently, have been the victims of severe social injustice and rampant inequality of rights, recognition and opportunity have had a few doors opened to them. I understand that opinions concerning ethnic differences and gender roles change slowly, when they change at all. One lifetime is not long enough to see much movement.
     I understand that the people on the extremes always make the most noise and that the majority of Americans are of a more moderate bent than the ones we are seeing in the news these days.  That being said, after what happened in Europe during the 30's and 40's and the price paid by so many people of every nation to stop that madness, I never imagined I would see that hateful red and black flag carried side-by-side with the Stars and Stripes in parade. I never expected that I would ever, in a million years, see Americans raising the arm in that horrible, disgusting salute.

      Every morning, early, I step out into my gardens and pull out the impostors from among the Purslane and the Marigolds. I pull them up by the roots and carry them away. Every time I see that first leaf of the Honeyvine unfurl, I reach in and pull it out. Just so, hate-speech, bigotry, racism, misogyny, intolerance of differences, must be spoken out against each and every time they raise their ugly heads. You and I must turn and speak against hateful words, words that would deny freedom or human dignity to any of our countrymen, whenever and wherever we hear them. That is what Americans do: we defend the freedoms of our people, our friends and our family. We defend those who came to us, running from danger and want, seeking shelter. We stand beside those who need an ally. That is what we do.
       
       

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Meteor Showers of August

I wrote this poem several years ago and feel it deserves revisiting during these peak nights of the Perseid Meteor Showers. Sadly, last night was completely overcast here at the farm until seven in the morning, which was too late, the sun already brightening the eastern sky.  Perhaps tonight will prove better conditions to "catch a falling star", as the old song goes.

August Traditions

Come, my friend,
away from the clatter and clutter of life.
Come join me in the quiet of a summer night
with a white smile of moon sailing above.

Bring nothing but yourself;
leave behind all that weighs upon you.
Take my hand as we climb the high hill
through weary, rustling grass, breathing
the dusty scent of Summer's final days.

On the open hilltop, below a starry sky,
we will lie down upon my tattered quilt
and watch the lights arc and fall across
the infinite darkness which surrounds.

There is nowhere I would rather be
than under those stars,
in the warm August air,
with you.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

All The News That's Fit To Print


   Here are my honeys, my darling grandkids who bring so much joy to my days.They are each so different, unique in their own personalities and gifts as well as in their relationships with me.  We have had a busy summer and soon (next week) school will start and our times together will shift back to the school routines. This summer we were together at the lake quite a few times, taking it easy and playing in the water. I made it to a few swim meets and cheered on Maggie and Brendan in their races, M for the neighborhood team and B for that team and also his city team in the long courses.
     I sat and cheered for Zaneyboy for a few fast and furious games of t-ball early in the summer. I hear the teams are starting up agains soon, for the Fall season. This time Rowan will be on a team too and he is soooo excited.  It should be hilarious, as usual.  Z moves up to coach-pitch ball, which I think he will like much better. Miss Maggie is fully into horseback riding now and for her birthday I gave her four extra lessons so she can ride twice a week for her birthday month. What could be better? (Well, in all honesty, it would be better if I owned an acreage outside of Edmond, one that had a stable, a corral, and a horse and tack. That would be better. I don't see that happening at the moment though. I would need another oil well for that one to come true.)
      Everett may start back in gymnastics, which he really likes to do and has the skill for. He has been tumbling and flipping over things since he could stand up and is very strong for such a little guy.  The Richards have a new (large) puppy, a Golden Labradoodle (?),  so all of the kids are busy loving on and caring for Moose.  Moose seems to think Everett is one of his litter-mates, since they are about the same size. It's hysterical to us but a little disconcerting to Ev I think.
    In sad news, I had to have the old elm tree topped because it had died and bits were falling on everyone below.  We cut it a little above the height of the tree house and it makes me sad every time I go outside.  But the treehouse is fine, as demonstrated by Emily Moody's boys having a blast in it last evening when they came over to visit while their older brother mowed my lawn. Yes! I asked and Cody was delighted to agree to be my lawn boy. He did a fantastic job and is a very hard worker and soooo polite. He may save my life by doing the hard and hot jobs outside for me.

     

In the biggest news of the week, Little Miss Alice had her baptism last week-end at Christ The King Catholic Church in OKC and was perfectly behaved through the entire thing, including the pictures.  Kari's mom made the little baptism gown and cap, using the fabric from her wedding gown and it was gorgeous. (I admit, I have taken my wedding gown out and looked at it, intending to do this very thing, but have never been able to pull the trigger on it.  It remains folded in the cedar chest.
      Truth be told, I don't trust myself to do a good job of it. Maybe I'll take it over to cousin Patricia and see if she would like to do the deed for me. She is a whiz at sewing these little gowns and has made several for her many grandkids, I believe.)
   












All of Alice's family, on both sides, were there so she got to be in her first "all cousins" picture. Which, by the way, we have never been able to accomplish with the Dotter grandkids. At these ages it was a bit of a rowdy-dow and I am happy to say that both babies survived the photo shoot intact. I love this picture and know that it will be even more fun to look at ten years from now. I hope we can recreate it at some point before they all graduate and scatter to the four winds.
      We had a nice reception with a strawberry cake, baked by one of our employees from the spice shop, who also has her own baking business. There were also fresh veggies and our traditional pink frozen punch, which we have for every event. There were presents, conversations, and catching up on the news all around; our two families not having many occasions to get together very often. Both babies were well past nap-time by the time it was all over but seemed to weather it in good spirits.
   This is one of my favorite pictures of the day, all the boys spinning together at the reception. I guess that was the whole game, I don't know, but it was so cute to hear them all laughing, getting dizzy and falling down. Invented games are always to best, I think.

 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Poem: This Weighted Now
















I'm trying to live in the Now.

But so much has happened,
so many years have passed,
so many lives have touched mine,
have changed me,
have taught me,
have challenged me,
have healed or broken my heart,
have listened, and sung,
and cheered me on,
have laughed and cried with me,
have walked with me through changes.

But, as I said,
I'm trying to live in the Now;
savoring moments,
delighting in my grandchildren's
innocence and discoveries,
soaking up those baby smiles,
applauding accomplishments,
being there when they need me.

Now and then, in quiet moments,
I watch the leaves moving above me
and wonder where those people are,
right now, in this moment that is Now.



I Remember When

   


 I was chatting with a friend the other day and they question came up: When was your favorite year? Wow, I'd never thought about that.  I know it was when I was still home with my kiddos and they were all under 12 so that narrows it down to 1987-88. I have so many good memories from those years and have the photos to prove it.  We were all working together on the farm, still cutting a lot of wheat and not really into the cattle business too deeply.  Of course, we were poor as church mice but had a great community of friends at church and at Pioneer H.S., where Danny was teaching.
      We had big vegetable gardens every year back then, with everyone working, weeding, picking, mulching, and helping with the canning.  We also have six hives of bees and were packaging and selling honey at the farmer's market in Enid.  We had chickens and some bottle calves sometimes. We had two little lambs one year and a couple of pygmy goats and a pig at other times.  We sang songs and read a lot of books.  We celebrated when we received a box of hand-me-down clothes from Aunt Ann.  I'm sure there were some bad things that happened, and some sad ones as well, but I remember the good ones the most.  The kids swam in the shade of the big Elm tree in a big cattle tank full of ice cold water all summer long.
      One of the good stories was the year when we had a great corn crop (for some reason the raccoons hadn't robbed us blind that year).  It was time for the big harvest and my mom and dad came over to help.  Everyone had a job: Mom wanted to be the picker, the kids did all the shucking there on the kitchen floor, and Dad and I took turns blanching, cutting and bagging.  We sent one of the kids out to the freezer with the finished bags piled high in that big stainless steel bowl.  The process went on forever, but I remember there was a lot of laughing and sharing of stories.
      Another time, in the spring, we had a big pea-shelling party in the living-room with the Blakley side of the family.  Carl, Violette, and David came over and all of us sat around shelling peas until we all we had bowls and bowls of peas waiting to be frozen. We and they ate frozen peas all winter long and loved em!  We even had friends come over and pick all they wanted: I remember especially Steve and Paula Sheik coming out and carrying home sacks full of Sugar-Snaps.
    Eventually the raccoons started getting all of every crop of corn we planted, so we stopped.
One year I had a huge crop of everything and my mom came over to give me hand.  I had fresh tomatoes piled on the counter, squash running all over the kitchen table, and sacks and bushels of green beans ready to be canned.  She came in and the first thing she said was, "Which one of these do you really want to do today?"  I said-the green beans, so she took a bushel of tomatoes in hand, walked out to the far edge of the garden and tossed


them out.  Then she found a hoe and chopped the stem of all but two of the squash plants.  Then she came in and we sat down and snapped beans in the cool of the living room and had a nice visit.  We had fresh tomatoes and fried squash for supper, as the canned beans were cooling on the racks, the flats pinging now and then.  She gave me that piercing, level look and said, "You are in charge of the garden, Debra, not the other way around. Don't kill yourself on it.  You have little children who need you to be there for them."           Wise words from my sweet mom. I listened to her and from then on we cut way back on the planting of everything.  Now I plant only what I'm going to eat, for the most part.  Sometimes I'll freeze some peaches, or can some pickled beets or a few jars of tomato sauce, but not very much. It's mostly done as a fond remembrance of those earlier, busier days.