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.