Friday, December 26, 2008

This Is Just Gross -- And I Love It

The only thing weirder than someone who owns a brain jello mold is the person who bought it for her! I absolutely love weird. I've had this brain mold for a long time. I only used it once but didn't get the jello solid enough and when I unmolded it, the brain ran all over the plate. I happened to mention the mold to my minister's wife. Two of her children were studying the brain in their enrichment classes and she asked to borrow it. She was successful and got major props from the classes when she showed up with edible brain on a plate. I was talking to another friend who shared a new recipe for a raspberry/cranberry molded salad. It included whole berry cranberry sauce, raspberry jello, pineapple, pecans with sour cream mixed in -- a lovely pinky-purple color. You can see where this is going, can't you? My grandkids were duly impressed -- but they refused to eat it. Too bad, it was really good!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Big Day at the Bird Bath

One of the best buys we ever made was a heated bird bath -- it's better than television. Boy, was it busy today. I counted 14 species -- most I could positively identify: chickadee, cardinal, blue jay, robin, tufted titmouse, house finch, goldfinch, wren, hairy woodpecker, bluebird and junco. Three I'm not sure about -- simply my best guess from poring over the bird book: pine siskin, yellow-rumped warbler and hermit thrush. Anybody else seen any of these or are these outlandish guesses? The other day there were five male cardinals in the trees in the back yard -- looked like God had tied bright scarlet Christmas bows on the bare branches. Today I got this picture of the bird bath -- sorry it's a bit blurry. You can enlarge the picture by clicking on it. You can easily see the cardinal and blue bird and robins. There's a goldfinch tucked behind the robins. Happy birding!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Read All about It

Nice article about my son-in-law Simon Forward in todays "Cornishman." I'm so impressed with his writing -- he really works to craft each sentence and puts them together with such wit. I hope my own style is "breezy" and conversational -- not simply sloppy or slapdash -- but I'm humbled in the presence of a REAL writer!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Squirrel Wars

Jack has an on-going battle with the little critters who regularly raid our bird feeders. We have a squirrel guard on the support pole -- it's about four feet above the ground. One of the more adventuresome squirrels climbed a nearby walnut tree with a branch that aaaallllmmmoooossst
hung over the feeder. The squirrel would venture out as far as he could on the flimsy limb then drop three feet to the feeder, hoping to balance on the slender rods. He was pretty successful until Jack went out with the pole saw and trimmed the tree. Then Jack sat in the kitchen with his cup of coffee and laughed as the squirrel went up and down the trunk looking for his branch. The squirrel has had the last laugh because now he backs up and launches himself at the squirrel guard, hoping to land above it. And, as you can see, he's succeeded! Oh well, squirrels need to eat, too, but at least the obstacle course slows them down.

Partnerhood of the Traveling Pants

Caution: No picture accompanies this entry. Viewing such an image could be hazardous to your sense of humor!

I don't know what possessed me -- I HATE COLD WEATHER -- but I've accepted an invitation to go to Minnesota in January. Well, I actually do know what possessed me. I need a great winter story and the pictures of Grand View Lodge plus the list of activities -- dogsledding, sleigh rides, ice fishing, skiing and snow tubing, snowmobiling and an elegant spa for unwinding -- looked irresistible. So I had to break down and find some insulated pants. They arrived just in time for our bitter cold snap and I came home from walking the dog yesterday morning (it was 16) absolutely toasty. Here's the bad news. Pants big enough to go over my butt are made for people 7 feet tall -- I'm just 25 inches short of that. Talk about a roll-up! And here's worse -- Jack wore them when he walked the dog yesterday afternoon. Needless to say, they looked better on him. Here's a visual for you -- if it snows on me when I'm bundled up in my new ski pants and my down coat, I'm going to look like a walking igloo! But I'll be warm.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

O Christmas Tree....

I finished decorating my Christmas tree last night -- only two weeks later than usual. I love my tree and thoroughly enjoyed putting on each ornament. It seems it's all about me! The decorations reflect things I love most -- my family and travel.

In the close-up, you can see the Arc de Triomphe, a London bus, a Chinese lantern, an Oklahoma bison, a Lake Charles, Louisiana, alligator (that's the magenta ornament in the top center of the photo, and a Scottish bagpiper. There's also a Simpich cloud baby -- souvenir of a Kappa Kappa Gamma Christmas homes tour in Kansas City - about 40 years ago. You can just barely see a little tin frame (from Laredo, Texas) with a picture of my oldest grandson, Calvin. The other two boys, Austin and Alexander also have framed pictures elsewhere on the tree. There's also a little white paper wreath with a picture of my son Jay - made when he was in pre-school.

The tree is dotted with over a dozen jigsaw wreaths with pictures of family members. They're all my favorites, but I especially love the wreath with my mom and dad. Mom's been gone seven years and dad ten, but they're always in my heart and no Christmas would be complete without sweet memories of Christmases past.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Calgon, Take Me Away

I was shivering at my desk yesterday when I got a cruelty email from Padre Island. It was reminding me that South Padre is a real bargain, warm and where I want to be. Yes, they occasionally have a cool day this time of year but all in all it's a great nesting place for snowbirds. And for birders -- from South Padre over to McAllen are some of the best birding spots in the country. Dolphin tours are popular and New Year's fireworks are a real blast. Check out their web site at In the meantime, I'll just grab another blanket and pretend that freezing my butt off will make me thinner!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Griswolds Live in Edmond

My six strings of icicles pale in compari-son to the symphon-y of color and sound at this house! The lights and music are on a motion-sensitive switch so they go on when a car drives up. And believe me, plenty are driving up.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Utensils of My Own

I don't drink coffee, so I feel very left out when I visit restaurants where regular customers have their own coffee cups. But now, I've found my spot. Dot Wo, my favorite local Chinese restaurant has offered special chop sticks to regulars. I have my own little paper container that holds them. Since my name isn't actually on the chop sticks but on the container, I don't want to think too hard about exactly how this works. I mean, I don't want to put the dirty chop sticks back into the little envelope. Our server tonight had a bit of difficulty with the language and couldn't answer my question. Fortunately, the manager came and took chop sticks and paper envelope saying she would take the chop sticks to the kitchen and wash and sterilize them and put them back in the container. Aside from the food being good, I feel so special!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Show Me Your Market Share

Well, this just sucks the mean weenie! Son-in-law Simon got comments from the Harper Collins editors who praised his work, Evil Unltd., then explained why they weren't interested. It won't sell. According to them, sci-fi readers don't want humor and humor readers won't read sci-fi. Tell that to Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. Simon has two more books up on -- Kip Doodle and the Armchair of Lost Dreams for young readers and Tortenschloss. So if you get tired of watching football this weekend, please check in and give him a bit of a read. I like them both but think maybe there's a better chance of Kip Doodle getting published. Don't know how it will do on authonomy -- though it's in the top 20 -- because I don't know how many people check out young adult fiction.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Maintaining Scrapbook Silence

Sorry about the quiet week, but I've had my scrapbooking stuff all over the dining room table for a couple of months -- trying to catch up. Well, I'm having Thanksgiving dinner here next Thursday, so it's crunch time. I have spent the last four days hunched over my photos and have managed to get through 2006! I'm calling it quits now. It will take me another day or two to get all my papers, stickers, cutters, etc. put away but I will succeed!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Getting Wicked in the Wichitas

Weight Watchers was a disaster this morning -- and I know why! Jack, my brother-in-law Dick and I took a road trip to Medicine Park yesterday to check out the Winery of the Wichitas and their wonderful Buffalo Bistro. Wine isn't really my thing -- my first drinks were Mogen David mixed with 7 Up and my palate hasn't progressed much from there -- but food is, and this place is a doozy! Executive chef Anna Banda (a graduate of Chef Kurt Fleishfresser's apprentice program) has taken old favorites and given them a new twist -- meat loaf sliders with caramelized onions, grilled cheese sandwiches made with Gruyere, Swiss and Cheddar. And what she has done to the peanut butter sandwich elevates her to the heights of gourmet goodiness! The dessert, pictured above, called the Vinny (after her husband, who loves it), features peanut butter on walnut-raisin bread, toasted, and topped with honey and caramelized bananas. I thought that sounded awful but, oh my goodness, just a sample bite wouldn't do -- I did real damage! Of course, there are much more figure-friendly items on the menu but as a working journalist, I felt compelled to try the specialties. So, reading public, this pound's for you!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I just got home from a choir rehearsal -- Oklahoma Choral Artists has invited the choir from Oklahoma City Centennial High School to join us for one of our Christmas concerts. The kids will be singing "Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light," and "And the Glory" and "Hallelujah Chorus" from "The Messiah" with us. I would be willing to bet that few of these kids had ever heard "The Messiah" let alone sung any of it. We had a joint rehearsal tonight and they're doing a great job learning this difficult music. As we were leaving I watched one of the high school altos skipping down the hall singing bits of the "Hallelujah Chorus." Hallelujah! The concert will be held at First Presbyterian Church at 25th and Western in OKC, Sunday, December 7 at 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 (available at the door) will proceeds going to Infant Crisis Services -- a worthy cause any time of year, but particularly appropriate for a season celebrating a wondrous birth.
I hope you'll put this on your calendar.

Et Tu, Tuva

Big doin's at the library this morning. As part of their "Our World" series, the Metropolitan Library System presented a concert by Huun Huur Tu Tuvan Throat Singers. Tuva is a small republic squashed between Mongolia and Siberia. Throat singing is an ancient art -- its origins lie in prehistoric religious rituals and communication with spirits. The five singers/instrumentalists sang ancient songs and more contemporary compositions. They began the concert with plucked notes on a stringed instrument. The singing began with a primal growl -- kind of a cross between wind blowing through a great cave and a giant tiger's purr. Throat singers are able to sing two or three tones simultaneously. Above a ground bass-like growl, flute like warblings are produced -- an amazing sound. The musicians were dressed in robes of rich fabric, three in brown tones, two in shades of rose and mauve. One was a rich mahogany with medallians of embroidered gold thread. Over 200 people showed up for the concert -- a number of them had to stand outside the doors. Who says we ain't got culture in Oklahoma?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Missing Period

I just finished a story about Frisco, Texas, and included a paragraph about their cool Dr Pepper Ball Park. I called the team (Frisco RoughRiders) public relations department for some information and not only got what I needed but an offer to check what I'd written for accuracy. Dane Brugler, their p.r. person, gave me an A+ for the paragraph but pointed out that there is no period after Dr in Dr Pepper. Curiosity piqued, I went in search of the missing period. Here's a little history. Dr. Pepper was invented in 1885 by pharmicist Charles Alderton, working in Waco, Texas. I found two stories about the name. The company site, in classic corporate butt-coverage style, prefaces their version with "legend has it..." and says that the drug store owner, a Mr. Morrison, named the drink after the father of a girl he had once loved. The other version also credits Morrison but leaves out the romantic embellishments. Popular in Waco, the soda gained wider acceptance after its appearance at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. In the 1950s, the period was dropped "to improve legibility on bottles." And the admonition to drink it at 10, 2 and 4 came after a 1920 study that stated that a person's blood pressure was lowest at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. All you really need to know about Dr Pepper is that it RULES!!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Cat's Meow

We've been so lucky with the weather on this press trip! It was cloudy yesterday and we were expecting rain and a cool front. Both graciously arrived while we slept and were out of town before the sun came up. It was bright, cool and clear when we arrived at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, just outside Eureka Springs. This is the largest, open-to-the-public, big cat refuge in the world. Strictly professional, it is one of the very few USDA licensed facilities for large carnivores in the U.S.

One of our first greeters was a very small cat -- an 11-week-old leopard named Spike. Actually, he didn't greet us but let us watch as he explored the front lawn of the facility. We were then introduced to some of the over 100 big cats -- lions, tigers, leopards, mountain lions and bobcats -- who have been rescued by the center. Each has a special story but most of them involve stupid people who think having a tiger (or other big cat) as a pet would be fun. Did you know that there are more big cats in private homes than in the wild? Dumb de dumb dumb! Several of the animals suffer from improper declawing they received as babies; others have other disabilities exacerbated by ignorance. Here, all the animals receive excellent care and even animals who have suffered from their early keeping now live good lives.

You can stay on the property in several different types of accommodations. In two of the rooms, you can look into tiger cages. A tree house provides a cosy room for two with sleeping in a loft. My favorite rooms were tent-like structures in the Safari Camp. Built on a deck, around a fire pit, the five "cabins" are decorated with original artwork and each feature a private deck in back. There's also a large hot tub available. Though farther from the cats, the Safari Camp is often visited by local wildlife -- deer, sometimes coyotes. And all the rooms are serenaded at night by "caroling" lions.

This is a great destination and a great cause. Please check their web site:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Journalist's Idea of Hell

We were told yesterday that there would be no TV available last night!!!!! I was already having withdrawal -- no TV at my B and B and I hadn't watched CNN or read a paper since Sunday morning. Most travel writers on press trips are good sports and go with the flow. Not yesterday. The troops were definitely testy. We arrived last night at the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca, Arkansas. The cabins had TV, but all but one were only working with VHS and DVD. One of the cabins was able to get PBS through a blizzard of snow on the screen. After dinner, some of us gathered in that cabin to watch the little TV with a picture so bad we couldn't read any of the graphics. But it was live; it was happening and we were able to savor history being made. A little after 10 we shared a bottle of champagne. I couldn't imagine living through the long months of the presidential campaign and not watching the election returns come in. It would have been like reading a 1000 page novel only to find the last page torn out!

I woke this morning and walked out on the front porch of my cabin. The sun was just coming up and I could see for miles across the valley and hills. What a great day!

Monday, November 03, 2008

I'm in Love with Charles Banks Wilson

Charles Banks Wilson with a reproduction of a portrait he painted of Will Rogers -- Wilson was 14 at the time.

Fayetteville, Arkansas -- today we visited Charles Banks Wilson at his home/studio. What a lovely, gracious and talented man! He let a gaggle of travel writers invade his space and offered to answer any questions we asked. We asked, he answered -- with great wit and patience. I wish I'd had my tape recorder -- pearls were dripping from his lips and I could only grab a few. My favorite -- advice to parents -- "give your children what they need, then get out of their way." This was in answer to a question about how his parents felt about his wanting to become and artist. He felt that they had done just that. I'll never look at the paintings in the Oklahoma State Capitol the same way -- I have touched the hand that held the brush. And it was really special.

"Suzanna and the Elders" painted by Wilson in 1978. "I drove over a hill and there was this woman bathing in a stock tank. She waved at me and I waved back. I think the Herefords look like lecherous old men."

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Wow! What a wild and busy week! Two articles due -- done and delivered -- campaign phone calls to make, rehearsals for last night's Brahm's to Broadway concert -- it went great -- Cal's birthday -- lunch one day and "W" the next afternoon -- and watching Simon's book on And yes, Evil Unltd. finished in the top five. Hurray! It's promised a read by a real live book editor! He has a new book up on authonomy now -- a children's book, Kip Doodle and the Armchair of Lost Dreams. As with all his writing, this one is brilliant -- so if you get a chance, please check it out and "Back this Book." I'm wondering if being a children's book will make it harder to make it into the top five. As for now, I'm off to the airport. Teddy Bear (the SATW travelin' Teddy) and I are headed for northwest Arkansas and, hopefully, some beautiful fall foliage. Teddy's got a full schedule in the next month. He's been invited to visit Mary Hendron in St. Louis -- and go with her to Ireland for Thanksgiving! You go, Teddy. Come to think of it, why isn't Mary taking me?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Southeast Oklahoma: Up-to-date in the Boonies

Please don't think I'm just a capital city snob -- but the southeast corner of Oklahoma really is in the boonies. It's closer to Dallas than to Broken Bow from here. A big timbering area, this part of the state has suffered economically for a long time. What Okies and others are discovering is that this remote region is possibly the most beautiful area of Oklahoma. It boasts brilliant, blue, Broken Bow Lake, clear mountain streams and lots of wildlife including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. With mature hardwood trees and tall pines, this is a prime spot for fall foliage color. And the Beavers Bend Folk Festival and Craft Show is scheduled for the peak of the season. For a complete article about the festival, check my column in the Edmond paper next Saturday, November 1.

Tourism is becoming big business -- beautiful new lodgings are available and first class dining at Abendigo's is a must. Oklahoma's kickiest (if not most serious) winery is Girls Gone Wine where the labels are bound to bring a smile (a Christmas white wine is called Ho-Ho-Ho -- and, yes, there are three girls, you do the joke!) and the gift shop carries a lot of fanciful and attractive items.

A few miles south in Idabel, the Museum of the Red River is a surpisingly sophisticated institution with a premier collection of arts and crafts of indigenous peoples of the Americas. And you can't miss the giant dinosaur skeleton whose scientific name pays tribute to nearby Atoka County where the first specimens were found.

Another discovery for the area is the blog "Today in Idabel Oklahoma." The product of four interesting women, its entries range from significant local happenings to exchanges on politics and religion (probably sex, too, but I haven't read all the posts yet!). Some of the entries are funny, others poignant, but they are always worth checking out.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Carousel, Confessions of a Chorister

Life's been busy this week with rehearsals for a concert presentation of "Carousel" starring Shirley Jones, Patrick Cassidy and Miss America Lauren Nelson here in Oklahoma City. The Edmond Community Chorale is singing the chorus parts -- we're sort of aural set dressing. This is not one of my favorite musicals with its sad ending and a theme of domestic abuse and the excuse of "he's your feller and you love him, that's all there is to say." Still, the music is wonderful -- with extended chunks of orchestra in the prelude, entr'acte and ballet -- it's a great chance to re-appreciate the genius of Richard Rogers. Shirley Jones is singing the part of Nettie while Lauren Nelson sings Julie, the role Miss Jones made famous. Now in her 70s, Jones is still trim and beautiful and although her voice is no longer the clear, light, high voice of her youth, she brings vocal warmth and maturity to her role. Her son, Patrick Cassidy, is a treat to watch. With the striking silver hair of his father, Jack Cassidy, he caught every eye with his good looks-- until last night, when someone decided Billy Bigelow shouldn't have silver hair. Oh my gosh, the wig looked like a poodle on his head! Bring back the real Patrick Cassidy -- it's totally believeable that Julie Jordan would go for him. (Other than the fact that he's a pretty awful character!) University of Central Oklahoma students take a couple of the other roles. The girl playing Carrie, Madison Bookout, has a wonderful voice and Mr. Snow's (James Avance) soaring tenor overcomes the fact that his character is a real prig. Lauren Nelson does a fine job as Julie. Of course, the real star is Shirley Jones. Most of the chorus know her from reruns of the Partridge Family -- they're such babies. A few of us know her from the 50's movies "Carousel" and "Oklahoma." A few of the kids are too young for either group. But I'm sure they can tell they're in the presence of a real star and a real lady. Performances are at Oscar Rose tonight at 7:30 and tomorrow at 2:30.

Even with a magnifying glass, you can't tell much from this picture taken last night during rehearsal -- but Shirley Jones is on the right in the white pants suit and Patrick Cassidy is in front in the red sweater. The men are standing, singing "Blow High, Blow Low."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who Knew?

I don't know what the fastest growing city in the country is -- but I'd be willing to bet that Frisco, Texas, is high on that list. Next door to McKinney and closer to Denton than downtown Dallas, Frisco has grown from approximately 32,000 in 2000 to about 102,000 today. Where all those people live, I don't know because Frisco has a real open, small-town feel with some big amenities. Like sports -- you'll have to look hard to find a prettier minor league baseball park, Dr. Pepper Park. Also, the home of Dallas' major league soccer team -- and enough playing fields to keep a soccer mom confused. Big stars like Jimmy Buffet have appeared in the soccer stadium -- Pizza Hut Park. Did you notice that even the sponsors are family friendly? Art -- lots of public art and a beautiful private sculpture collection scattered throughout a spacious business park. Favorite Friday night stop -- the Double Dip for ice cream. One of the coolest educational venues for kids, Safety Town. Yeah, I know, I thought that sounded boring, too. But it isn't. The little buildings in Safety Town are so beautiful, I could live there! As you can see from the top picture -- Teddy liked it, too. Shopping -- they're missing the biggie Nieman's and Saks but everything else is here. I did the Sam Moon marathon! Frisco will feature in my column in the Edmond Sun on November 15 -- God willin' and the crick don't rise. Catch the complete story there at

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Silence of the Hams

Having too much fun to blog!!!! What a treasure it is to have Zoe here -- she's the rare person who finds humor in the same things I do. I don't have to explain my jokes or the little things that strike me funny. It's so great to get the giggles together. Alas, she leaves tomorrow and a little of the light will go out of my life. But, oh my, I have loved her visit here. Just knowing she's in the house -- where I can hug her or tell her whatever pops into my head -- well, the telephone and the internet just don't quite cut it. Still, they're better than nothing. Now I want to start planning when I'll see her again. Thanks, Jack, for my great birthday present! Sending her the ticket to come visit was the best present I ever received.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

My Son-in-law, the Author

My son-in-law Simon Forward (isn't that just the most delicious English name you ever heard) is an author and is participating in a new program created by the publishers Harper Collins. I'm going to let my daughter Zoe tell you about it. I hope you'll take time to participate. I love Simon's writing. Even though science-fiction/fantasy isn't my genre of choice, I just adore his elegantly crafted prose!

Hi, this is Zoe. Anyway, Harper Collins came up with a brilliant way to deal with slush piles: create an online community and get them to do the reading for you! Only on its third month, over 600 manuscripts (some complete, some partial, all at least 10000 words) have been posted to the website at The community grows every day, and there is a lively forum in addition to the books. To participate, simply go to the website and register (it's easy, most of the info requested is optional). From there, you can upload your own manuscript or simply browse around and read other's works. In order to cast your "vote" for your favorite books, click on the "back the book" button - this puts the book on your bookshelf. You can have five books on your bookshelf at any time, but if you choose to rotate the books on your shelf to give support for newer items, the vote is not subtracted from any book you remove. You can also put books on your watch list to read later. The more books you read and put on your shelf, the higher your reader ranking. The big list at the top of the page is the editor's list. The top five books on this list at the end of each month get read by the editors at Harper Collins. The author gets a full critique - and, we hope, contracts may be offered! The editor's list will not contain any books which have already been read by the editors, so you will see a slight difference between the editor's list and the list of most popular books. You can sort any list by genre and immediately find the top choices of your preferred kind of book.

At the time of this writing, I am very proud that Simon's manuscript, Evil Unltd (TM), has made it to #5 on the editor's list after less than 4 weeks on the site. Now all he has to do is maintain his position in the top 5 and he will have the opportunity to impress the HC editors. It's been a very positive experience for him, as he has made many new friends amongst the other authors on the forum, and he has received excellent comments from his readers. If you have at least 10000 words of the Great American Novel, or at least the Great American Short Story, I would recommend you check out the site. And if you don't mind reading on the computer, I would urge you to check out the hot new talent (including my husband).

Okay, Elaine again. Zoe's nice and polite. Me, I just want you to read Simon's work and put it on your bookshelf!!!! He's a great guy and a good writer and I'd like to see him do well!

Teddy Takes a Holiday

Teddy's been on vacation while I've been working. Okay, so working and Rosemary Beach are oxymoronic! My work consisted of living like the other half -- more like the other one per cent! Rosemary Beach is elegant and expensive and oh, so relaxing. My apartment was a in carriage house -- upstairs over a garage with a loft bedroom. The chauffer never had it so good! Teddy didn't enjoy the beach as much as I did. He wasn't fond of sand in his fur. But he did like stretching out in a beach chair and, later, doing the same by the pool. Now we're back home and Teddy is getting acquainted with his Edmond digs. My daughter Zoe is visiting from England and Teddy's been a bit on his own. He's resting up for his next trip -- to Frisco, Texas -- so we'll be writing more then.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Flyin' to Florida

Just arrived in beautiful Rosemary Beach, Florida, having survived a flight not checking my luggage! Fortunately, both planes were small so my carry-on, which was technically legal but I had great doubts about being able to hoist into the overhead bins, got gate-ticketed (no charge) and all I had to worry about was schlepping it through the Memphis airport. Thank goodness, my suitcase has four multi-directional wheels -- so much easier than the two-wheeled draggers. I'm waiting now for my carriage house to be ready -- about 15 minutes -- and then, though I'd love to hit the beach, I will probably hit the grocery store for a few supplies for breakfast. THEN, beach with the most gorgeous blue water, here I come! Eat your hearts out!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Travelin' Teddies

SATW (Society of American Travel Writers) Central States Chapter, with Build-a-Bear Workshop, has an educational program called Travelin' Teddies. There are three dozen bears, each associated with an elementary classroom, traveling around the country with SATW members. Mrs. Kysar's class named their bear Teddy and he went with me to New Mexico. While he was there, he met Oso, the official New Mexico Adventure Bear. And, thanks to Oso's creator, Jill Lane, Oso now lives in Oklahoma. The photos of Oso and Teddy were taken at Jill's place, Elkhorn Lodge, near Chama. Oso will hold down the fort in Edmond while Teddy goes to Florida with me. It's going to be a tight squeeze because we're flying on one of those airlines that charges for the first checked bag. I'm trying to get everything in a backpack and a small carry-on. We'll see how that works but I think I'm going to hear some serious growling from Teddy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Mexico 4

Oh, my, what a day. We began at the little village of Chimayo with its lovely little chapel which dates back to the early 1800s. Many legends surround this church and many healings have been associated with the soil where a crucifix was found. The church is traditional style with vigas in the ceiling and five elaborate reredos, two on each side of the nave and one behind the altar. These are painted in folk santero style. In a tiny room off the nave is a hole where one can dig some of the sacred soil, said to promote healing. In another room are crutches, pictures and gifts from those who have been healed. There is also a niche with a statue of the Santo Nino de Atocha. It is said that at night, the Holy Child would leave his throne, visiting the sick and the unjustly imprisoned. He feeds them bread made by "Mama Mary" and water with the promise to set the captives free. He travels so much that he wears out his shoes. Many people leave shoes by the statue.
We visited two weaving shops -- Ortega's and Irvin and Lisa Trujillo. Beautiful, beautiful weaving -- Ortega's more of a large-scale operation, the Trujillos concentrating on one-of-a-kind artwork.
I have had several wonderful experiences with Native Americans this week -- today at the Pojoaque Pueblo. Lunch in their restaurant was fantastic and the Cultural Center was outstanding. Their story is told through a series of rooms depicting periods in their development corresponding to the seasons. I'm so sorry I couldn't take pictures there -- the three-dimensional exhibits were exceptional. Artist Roxanne Swentzell created all the figures used in the exhibits.
Next we went next door to her gallery. I'm so sorry I didn't get to meet her in person. Her art is compelling and with such a sense of humor! I did get pictures there and will put them up when I get home.
After tonight's dinner at Red Sage, I'll pack and in the morning hit the trail back to Oklahoma. This has been a long but wonderful week with so many photos, memories and things to write about. I thought I knew a lot about New Mexico but I know now that I have only scratched the surface. I have seen so many places that I want to come back to -- and spend more time.

New Mexico 3

This has to be fast -- we leave in 9 minutes for Chimayo to visit the church there and to stop in at several artists' studios. We'll be seeing some famous weavers and potters. The last three days have been amazing. I'll blog more when I get home but the highlights included a tour at Ghost Ranch to see spots featured in Georgia O'Keeffe paintings,

a narrow-gauge train trip from Chama to Antonito on the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad and a jeep trip from Red River into the Wheeler Wilderness. The aspens are a glorious gold and, highlighted against the dark green pines and spruce shine like heaps of coins. More when I get home -- and, hopefully, some good photos!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Mexico 2

What an amazing day! We went to Bandelier, a gorgeous national monument in a canyon -- home to ancient Pueblo people. I was dreading the hike -- but it was great. Some climbing, but not too much. I even made it up a ladder to a kiva. I was so proud of myself that I passed my camera down and asked Cathy Admire, one of the Geiger associates, to take my picture. I was very specific about her waiting until I turned around to snap it. She took not one but three shots of my butt backing out of the kiva! Looked like a giant blue bear coming out of hibernation. I don't know where; I don't know when, but she will get hers.
Later this afternoon we met a delightful brother and sister, Krieg Kalavaza and Diane Jenkins, at the San Ildefonso Pueblo. They are potters and gave us a detailed demonstration of their art. I wish I could have bought one of their pots but someone asked the price of a medium sized pot on the table and their answer told me I probably couldn't even afford a thimble! The process to make the pots was extremely time consuming -- they even gather their own clay -- and the finished products are truly works of art so the price wasn't unreasonable. Just didn't fit my purse!
They were so gracious about sharing traditions and beliefs. When they gather the clay, they only gather as much as they will use for one project. Krieg said that the clay didn't belong to them but to Mother Earth. So, even though it means many trips with small containers, they have this deep respect for the source of their materials. They also prepared iced tea and cookies for us. The demonstration was in Kreig's home where they grew up. We were also allowed to take all the pictures we wanted. It was a real honor to be invited into their world.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Mexico 1

I arrived in Albuquerque yesterday afternoon and was picked up and driven to Santa Fe where we (other journalists and I) toured the New Mexico Museum of Art. It is in a beautiful pueblo-styled building with a picturesque courtyard. Their current exhibit, How the West Was One, is brilliant. The museum started as a studio and gallery where artists could create, show and sell their work and was open to any artists working in New Mexico. The exhibit includes works from the time of the railroad's arrival to the present and includes an amazing variety from Native American and Hispanic artists to Easterners who came here (like John Sloan, Marsden Harley and Georgia O'Keeffe) to work. Some of the contemporary pieces are real stunners. Upstairs, the curator has paired works. I don't have my notes, but trust me, the exhibit is top-notch.
Today we started with a 7 a.m. architectural walk, breakfast at the La Fonda (where I am staying) then visits to two museums (I'll get the names wrong so I'll put them in later) on Museum Hill -- one featuring Native American art and heritage and the other Spanish Colonial. Then the most spectacular lunch at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. We got to tour the museum which is currently closed while they install a new exhibition which opens Friday. Oh my, the fabulous O'Keeffes. And the curator went around with us and gave us great background material.
The weather is the most gorgeous New Mexican weather -- a sky so blue it's beyond belief, warm sun, cool breeze -- absolutely perfect. The 7000-foot altitude is telling on me -- hopefully by tomorrow I will be more used to it and not so short of breath. (Couldn't be those extra pounds from the great food we're having?)
Must go -- I leave in 50 minutes to eat again!!!!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"You Gotta Know The Territory"

The Territory is a lovely golf/residential community on the west side of Duncan. Eventually, it will be totally private but right now, non-members can enjoy the facilities. So Jack and I and Pat and Ray Potts headed south Wednesday afternoon. We'd planned on a two-hour drive, but it was much closer to an hour-an-a-half. Since we were early, we detoured in Marlow to see the Marlow brothers monument. Wow, what a wild, wild west story -- but that's for another blog. We took advantage of The Territory's Stay and Play special -- and found ourselves in a lovely home -- 2400 square feet -- with all the latest in decor and technology. Our biggest problem -- we never did figure out how to work the TV, which was on satellite. Anything involving more than one remote is 'way over my head!

I got up early the next morning to catch the sunrise -- and it was spectacular. We all snacked on goodies from Panera's for breakfast then opened the front door to discover two golf carts waiting for us. The course was gorgeous -- and challenging. Since the disparity between Ray's handicap and mine is about 82strokes, we played our own scramble and had a great time. Memberships in the club a very reasonable -- by country club membership standards -- so, if golf's your thing and you don't mind a bit of a drive, you'll find a wonderful course, not crowded and a real feeling of getting away from it all!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Thank You for the Music

I've just seen the movie "Mamma Mia" for the fourth time -- last night was the sing-along version. The scenery is fabulous and I don't care what anyone says, Abba wrote songs you can sing. If you can sit through this movie and keep your feet from tapping, wake up, you're dead! Yes, the plot's contrived. Some of the acting is less than wonderful. Some of the singers are less than wonderful. But, taken all together, I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!! And, it has the oh-so-handsome, be-still-my-heart, my number one tub-worthy COLIN FIRTH. Is the day gray -- go to sunny Greece with "Mamma Mia" -- I guarantee, you'll feel better. And so I say, "Thank you for the music...."

Friday, September 05, 2008

You Know You're Old When....

your friends take you sightseeing in a cemetery! Okay, this wasn't just any cemetery. It was Westwood Village Cemetery, sometimes called the "hidden cemetery." It's tucked behind office buildings just off Wilshire, between Beverly Hills and the San Diego Freeway. This lovely, quiet spot probably has more stars per square foot than any other location in Los Angeles (studios don't count). A stroll takes you by graves of such greats as Dean Martin, Truman Capote, Burt Lancaster and Natalie Wood. Visitors to Marilyn Monroe's grave have left souvenirs, coins and -- I find this very strange -- lipstick prints. Some of the epitaphs are very simple, just names and dates, others are poignant and a couple went for a last laugh.

In case you can't read these, Merv's says, "I will not be right back after this message" and Rodney Dangerfield's stone says, "There goes the neighborhood."