Saturday, November 29, 2008

after the eating

The most glorious thing about having Thanksgiving at my house is the actual state of my house. The floors are all clean, the laundry room is neat, the granite in the kitchen is polished to a high sheen, and there are even tablecloths on both my tables. There is no dust, grit or grime to be found. Even the children's bathroom is still in a state where I will use it in a pinch. That, my friends, is saying something.

Last Sunday, I made a big meal for my side of the family. And I do mean big. There are five of us, plus my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend. I roasted a 17 pound turkey, made stuffing, three side dishes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and two pies. I worked for two days. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my brother and his girlfriend did not attend. I managed to not kill my mother. I was quite proud of myself. We had enough leftovers to feed a small army. The children happily ate leftover turkey, dressing and such for two or three days.

On Wednesday, the older two kids left for San Antonio, and I started cooking again, this time for hubby's family. I scaled the turkey down to twelve pounds, made a wonderful dressing with roasted garlic and mushrooms, changed the sides up to suit his family, and left off the baking, since hubby's mother brought lovely Marie Callendar's pies. I served it all with a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling and two bottles of Georges DuBoeuf's Beaujolais nouveau. Talk about wonderful. I fell into a pleasant stupor from the combination of turkey and wine. We watched Dirty Jobs, stared at Mike Rowe (well, we girls, anyway) and laughed a lot, then watched the Cowboys play the Seahawks. My lovely MIL cares nothing for football and was quite annoyed that we chose to watch the game. SIL and her husband are Seattle fans, while hubby and I and our nephew all pull for the Cowboys. Obviously, half of us were very happy campers when the Cowboys ran away with the game.

After everyone left and the leftovers were safely stowed in the garage fridge, hubby and I opted for naps. He woke up sick. I mean sick. I spent the last two nights sleeping in middle son's bedroom to avoid the plague. At least I think that's what he's got, based on the sheer amount of whining, moaning, and pleading coming from my bedroom. Of course, this raging sickness has given me the perfect excuse to avoid shopping for anything at all during the nuttiest shopping days of the year!

I have learned several things from this experience:

Number one: always, always offer to cook for Thanksgiving. No travel and a sparkling clean house are included.

Number two: middle son's bedroom is actually quite nice, and his bed is incredibly comfortable.

Number three: sleeping alone is preferable to sleeping with a sick, whiny, snoring man. I actually slept through the night, in the perfect temperature, without waking once because of snoring or a big hand being draped over my chest. I even read in bed until I fell asleep without once hearing, "What time is it? Aren't you sleepy?"

Number four: always, always offer to cook for Thanksgiving, because of leftovers. I haven't cooked for two days!

The dogs and the cats have been in hog heaven, too. Turkey! Stock poured over their kibble! Strange, wonderful people to scratch their ears and their bellies. Sleeping in middle son's bed with the mama! Who could ask for more?

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and avoided all of the stores on Black Friday. Now I plan to sit right here on my sofa and pretend that Christmas is still more than a month away. I think I can get away with it until at least December 12th. But when our lovely daughter's birthday is over, I'll probably have to face up to reality and start decorating and shopping like the rest of the free world. Bah, humbug.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

ingredients for a perfect morning

home baked scones, warm from the oven, slathered with real butter

(diet be damned)

the sweet little noises of contentment coming from sleeping dogs

a brand new terra cotta pot waiting to be filled with soil and my newest plant

lovely new patio furniture and a cloudy summer day with a cool breeze blowing

orangey red, ripening tomatoes waiting to be picked from the plant

sleeping children

two new gardening books

and an empty calendar

Monday, March 31, 2008

spring in Oklahoma

It's 9:30am on Monday morning and I just sat down after a whirlwind morning of showers, breakfasts, lunch packing and phone calls.

With five in the family, our morning is a carefully timed and executed routine. Hubby rises first around 5:00am for coffee and a bit of solitude. Our lovely daughter is up at 5:45am for her shower and middle son is off to walk the dogs and give all of the animals their breakfast. Meanwhile, hubby is in the exercise room on the treadmill or the bowflex doing his daily workout. I am awakened by the sounds of him shaving about 6:30am. I get up to prepare breakfasts and lunches. By 7:00am the three of them are out the door. The little guy gets up about 8:00am and walks out the door about 8:40am.

This morning, we all slept until 7:15am. Our power was out after the storms came through last night.

I'm a bit of a night owl. Last night while reading after everyone else had turned in, I heard the Emergency Broadcast System's familiar beep sound over a rerun of Medium. The message scrolling across the top of the screen indicated tornado watches for a couple of counties to the west. Being a lifelong Okie, I ignored it and continued reading while Patricia Arquette dreamed in the background. Two or three messages later, I was becoming quite annoyed and looked up to see a neighboring county added to the list. By now it was 11:30pm. I could hear the storm beginning to pick up outside, heavy rain pelting the glass and the brick on the north side of our home while the wind whistled and roared. Hubby got up for a bottle of water, saw the message scrolling across the screen, and went back to bed. I heard our television go on in the bedroom, so I turned off the living room lights and television and joined him. By midnight the first storm had passed and we went to sleep.

An hour and a half later, heavy hail woke us. We turned the television on just in time for the power to flicker off for a few minutes. Quickly, the television came back on. Another storm was approaching. Earlier it looked like this storm would miss us, but we were now directly in its path. When a funnel was sighted four miles south and three miles west of us, we dressed and gathered candles, flashlights and a radio. Just as we were leaving our room to wake the children, our power went out.

We woke the children and had them dress by the light of a flashlight or candle. Hubby insists on full dress, complete with socks and shoes. I'm sure he's right, but the optimist in me always wants to throw on a robe and slippers.

I lit a candle and walked to the kitchen for batteries. Every blessed radio in this house requires a 9 volt battery. I had a package of two left over from changing the smoke detectors' batteries when the time changed. Batteries went into three separate radios from three separate rooms in the house. Nothing. Nada. Not one of them would come on. We were in the dark with the children, the cats, and the dogs with no way to hear how close the wall cloud might be or if the storm had passed.

About 2:30am, the wind and rain died down, calming to a mere whisper. I walked onto the porch in the dark while hubby went into the garage to find some news on his car radio. The only signs of life in the entire neighborhood were disembodied, moving lights. Against the dark, hulking shadows of the homes, and the dark, cloudy sky, lights moved here and there as our neighbors ventured out to check the storm as well. The floating lights reminded me of an eerie legend from my childhood, the ghost lights of the town of Alluwe, which had been flooded during the creation of Oologah Lake.

I went inside and hubby met me in the hallway. The storm had passed and we could all go back to bed.

The boys had a bit of trouble settling down, and decided to sleep together in one room. We are well outside city limits, and with the power out in the neighborhood, the night was black. The air felt close with no fans circulating the air or creating the customary night noise. It was some time before I was able to fall asleep.

The electricity came back on this morning around 7:15am. We woke from heavy sleep, the kind of groggy awakening you have after spending a restless night. We sped through our morning routine and while the children waited for hubby to drive them to school, we turned on the news. We saw pictures of that intersection four miles south and three miles west. One house had no roof, another had the garage door rolled up like a blind. A mother with her children had escaped after hiding in the laundry room of their brick home while they watched the roof blow away. "It's just stuff. We're alive," she said, looking at a child no more than three, held in her arms. "That's all that matters."

We had no idea a tornado ever touched the ground.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

good things come to those that wait

My poor hubby was quite sick on Valentine's Day. To be honest, this would not be a big problem if he weren't the world's biggest procrastinator.

He came home early from work that day, something he does only once in a blue moon. He called me in advance, and asked what he'd need to do to keep himself out of the dog house. My response was, "A smart man would bring home at least a token."

He is a smart man.

He came home carrying an envelope. No chocolates, no flowers, no syrupy Valentine's card, not even take out. But that was okay with me, because --

tucked inside that envelope, I found:

Which gained entry for two into this. Quite an acceptable token.

We planned to attend the exhibit on Saturday after Valentine's Day. He was still feeling under the weather. So I waited. We planned to go the next Saturday, but both older kids went to Tulsa for the weekend, and we couldn't find anyone to babysit for the little guy long enough for us to leisurely take in the exhibit and lunch at the museum's wonderful cafe. So I waited.

On Thursday, my husband sent an e-mail telling me that he'd taken vacation on Friday and asking if I would like to go to the museum with him.

Friday morning dawned clear and cold. The two older kids got themselves up, walked dogs, fed and watered all the pets, showered, dressed and got ready for school. They woke me before they left to say good morning. Yes, on occasion, they can be angels.

The little one was still sleeping when I got out of bed to get him ready for school. I made him breakfast while he got ready, then drove him to school along with two of the next door neighbor kids. When I got home, hubby was having coffee. We lingered over coffee, tea, newspapers, and blogs. Dogs slept at our feet. Cats slept curled on the sofa. A fire burned in the fireplace. It was a lovely morning.

We drove to the museum and parked just in front of the door. Perfect! Lunch in the museum cafe was lovely. I had chicken tortellini with sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and grilled chicken in a buttery white wine sauce. Hubby had a Caesar salad and the soup of the day, which was a delicious seafood gumbo. Everything was delicious.

I loved the exhibition. There were lovely art nouveau posters, quite a lot of them, by people such as Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen and Alphonse Mucha. We saw porcelain by Sevres and art pottery by Edmond Lachenal. Some of the paintings exhibited were beautiful; my favorites were by Charles Guilloux.

Some of the more fascinating items we saw were books detailing the restoration work done by Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc on Notre-Dame de Paris and Saint Denis Basilica. The were open to various pages and displayed under glass. I would have like so much to take those books in my hands, find a quiet corner and sit down to read. The books were on loan from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, which is about a thirty minute drive from my home. When the exhibition is over I'm going to find out if that's possible. Wouldn't that be wonderful!

After we left the museum, my husband took me shopping. Normally, I hate to shop, but we were shopping for furniture in an antique store in lovely El Reno, Oklahoma. I think he felt terribly guilty about Valentine's Day, because I came home with these:

a Duncan Phyfe style china cabinet

a little French style side table

this gorgeous buffet to match the china cabinet

this little two tier table with a pie crust edge

and last, but not least--

this mirror for my dining room wall

We had such a wonderful day. I'll remember it every time I walk into my dining room for many years to come. I can't think of a better Valentine's Day gift he could have given me.

Friday, February 22, 2008

an Okie contest

Well I never been to heaven
But I been to Oklahoma
Well they tell me I was born there
But I really don't remember
In Oklahoma, not Arizona
What does it matter
What does it matter

Almost everybody knows "Never Been to Spain" as recorded by Three Dog Night. I'd be willing to bet not many know the man who wrote it.

An Oklahoma native, he was born in Duncan and grew up in Comanche. He attended Oklahoma State University on a football scholarship, and served in the navy before he began performing folk music in California coffeeshops. He had a few hits of his own, but most of his songs were made famous by others. He was covered by people as varied as the Kingston Trio, Joan Baez, John Denver, Steppenwolf, Ringo Starr, Linda, Ronstadt, Waylon Jennings, Brownsville Station, and Elvis Presley. "Joy to the World", perhaps the most famous song he wrote, was covered by Three Dog Night and spent something like six weeks at number one sometime in the early 1970s. His music has been heard in several movies, including Easy Rider, The Big Chill, and Forrest Gump.

He came to songwriting naturally; his mother wrote "Heartbreak Hotel" for Elvis. They are the only mother and son to each have written a number one record. His mother taught him much of what he knew about songwriting and insisted he learn classical piano as a child. She was a fixture in the Nashville music scene and the aunt of a former governor of our great state.

The singer-songwriter was also an actor on the large screen as well as the small. He appeared in The Black Stallion, Gremlins, and Disorganized Crime on the silver screen, among others. We grew up watching him in guest spots on such varied shows as Bonanza, WKRP in Cinncinnati, Dukes of Hazzard, Growing Pains, and Diff'rent Strokes.

When he was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, his grandson quoted him as calling Oklahoma "the cultural capital of the world".

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

  1. First, name this famous Okie. I've given you many clues, it shouldn't be hard.

  2. Second, name two other songs about Oklahoma that DO NOT have the words 'Oklahoma' or 'Okie' in the title.

  3. Third, name the character who famously sang "Joy to the World" in an episode of a popular television series of the 1990s. A hint: the network was Fox.

  4. Last, but not least, name two actors born in the Sooner State. And please, one of them cannot be Chuck Norris.
  • Bonus Question on a slight tangent: tell me the origin of the phrase "three dog night" for which the band was named. (Peter, this one's for you.)
Correct answers, of course, will be used for scoring. Extra points for the bonus question, how quickly answers are submitted, creativity and humor.

You are hereby prohibited from entering if you share my state of residence. Do your best not to call or write your sibling in Oklahoma to ask for answers. (That would definitely be cheating, Laurie.) The winner will receive something from me that is uniquely Oklahoma. Enter by sending an e-mail to the address on my profile no later than Wednesday at midnight, CST.

Good luck, ya'll.

The picture above is the sun setting over the countryside of Central Oklahoma.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

circa 1985

Nothing places a generation in time and space quite like popular culture. Coming of age among certain music, movies and art certainly plays a role in our development as young people, even if only to a small degree. With that in mind, I give you a snapshot of the year I graduated high school, 1985.

Best Picture
Out of Africa

Best Actor
William Hurt in Kiss of the Spider Woman

Best Actress
Geraldine Page in The Trip to Bountiful

Best Album
Phil Collins
No Jacket Required

Best Song, Billboard
Careless Whisper

Drama Emmy
Cagney and Lacey

Comedy Emmy
The Cosby Show

The following are awards that were assessed only by yours truly as a teenager:

Best Comedy
Real Genius

Best Romance
Better Off Dead

Best Sci Fi
Back to the Future

Best Teen Angst Picture
The Breakfast Club

1985 saw the birth of Guns N Roses, Pixies, Jane's Addiction, and Hootie and the Blowfish. We drank New Coke under protest and watched Live Aid. We watched Meg Tilly in the unlikely role of a Catholic nun. Angelica Huston and Kathleen Turner strutted through Prizzi's Honor, Jessica Lange sang Sweet Dreams, and Whoopi Goldberg bared her dramatic chops with amazing results in The Color Purple. Harrison Ford lived among the Amish, James Garner wooed Sally Field, and Robert Loggia appeared in what may possibly be one of my favorite films ever. There was a foreign film from France that year with the English title of Three Men and a Cradle. I think you know what came next. America, country of the remake.

That was the year that OJ married Nicole. The car company, Saturn, was founded, and Reagan began serving his second term. Nelson Mandela was still imprisoned, the FDA began screening blood donations for AIDS, Route 66 was officially decommissioned, and the wreck of the Titanic was discovered. Calvin and Hobbes debuted that year along with the Nintendo Entertainment System (stateside, anyway).

On my cassette deck in heavy rotation that year (many of the albums are pre-1985):

Prince, 1999, Purple Rain, and Around the World in a Day
Helix, Deep Cuts the Knife
Scorpions, Love at First Sting
Def Leppard, High and Dry and Pyromania
Van Halen, Van Halen, Diver Down, and 1984
Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath
Mötley Crüe, Shout at the Devil
Foreigner, 4, Rumours
Pat Benatar, Get Nervous
Bryan Adams, Reckless
Night Ranger, Dawn Patrol and Midnight Madness
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Long After Dark and Southern Accents
Loverboy, Get Lucky
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall
John Lennon and she-who-will-not-be-named, Double Fantasy
Styx, Pieces of Eight, Cornerstone, most frequently, Paradise Theater, and Kilroy Was Here
Michael Jackson, Off the Wall and Thriller
Jean-Pierre Rampal, Telemann's Suite in A Minor

In 1985, it was still legal to purchase and drink 3.2 beer over the state line in Kansas. I wasn't a drinker, but I did buy beer for friends. Once. Then it occurred to me that I was breaking the law, even if they drank it in Kansas. Sometime that year, Kansas voted to raise the drinking age to 21. I don't remember exactly when it went into effect, though, as it was kind of a non event for me.

Last, but not least, I do have to admit to growing up in a redneck county. Being the daughter of a farmer and rancher, a member of the local 4-H club, and a regular on main street, I knew my share of cowboys, rodeo types, and outright rednecks. I learned to square dance and do the cotton-eyed joe while in high school. I can sing along to songs by Don Williams, Alabama, George Strait, The Oak Ridge Boys, and my personal favorite, Bocephus. I was still singing along in a countrified fashion in 1985. As I've said many times before, it is indeed possible to take the country out of the girl. As long as she wasn't too into country to begin with.

The picture was taken in the spring of 1985 by an amateur photographer friend of my parents in Tulsa's Woodward Park.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Today is sunny, the kind of crisp, clear, blue day at the tail end of winter that brings with it the promise spring will come. The kind of day that draws you outside to walk, to breathe in the cool air, and feel the warmth of the sun as it grazes your face.

I spent part of the morning walking with the dogs, bringing them in after lunch for kibble, yogurt, and a nap. Maddy, at five months, still needs that midday meal. Or so she thinks. Afterward, I went out to purchase some new dress shirts for hubby and pick up a few necessities. In between the 7-11 and Kohl's, I came across a thrift store I hadn't noticed before. While I generally hate to shop, I infrequently have moods conducive to wandering through unique little thrift stores and gift shops.

The thrift store had a name we've all seen before, something to the effect of "Second Time Around". I went in and began to wander about the store, picking up a piece of pottery that caught my eye and inspecting a Swedish Modern headboard in a lovely blonde wood tone. As I made my way to the back of the store, nearing the register, I heard a man and a woman talking. It was all business, talk of rent, transporting goods to the store, and collecting bounced checks. The man was older, perhaps the woman's father, and he peppered his sentences with various phrases meant to thank the Lord for their good fortune. I smiled to myself and thought about Brother Bill, the preacher at my childhood church. Something in the old man's manner and phrasing reminded me of him.

I finished my errands and came home. The dogs, fresh from their crates, were delighted to see me and ran immediately to the back door. The cats even slunk in to see who had come home. The house had grown too warm and stuffy while I was gone, so I opened the bank of windows on the kitchen wall, looking into the backyard. Suddenly the cats could hear, rather than just see those birds, and now, even though I closed the windows twenty minutes ago, they are still meowing at me, pleading for open windows again.

This time last year I wouldn't have given you a plug nickel for this town. I would most likely have wished to be elsewhere. Suddenly, undeniably, it is home.

  • I believe this is heaven
    To no one else but me
    And I'll defend it long as
    I can be
    Left here to linger
    In silence
    If I choose to
    Would you try to understand?

from Elsewhere by Sarah MacLachlan

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Musée Rodin

It was cold, dreary and rainy the day we went to the Rodin Museum. The grounds were so beautiful that I put my shawl over my head and walked through the garden in the rain. By the time I took this picture, it was raining fairly heavily. My lovely daughter wanted to stay dry and let me walk alone in the rain.

The Thinker, perhaps Rodin's most famous piece, simply stuns you with his presence. I was enjoying the quiet and solitude. Being alone in the garden was calming.

This piece, The Gates of Hell, was the most magnificent and enthralling work that I saw all day. It might be my favorite work of art in any medium that I saw while in Paris. I remember feeling awestruck. By the time I made my way to stand in front of this enormous work, my lovely daughter had come looking for me. We went inside and went through the museum together.

This piece is small, but stunning. I think the most striking thing about Rodin's work is the sense of movement he communicates with an inanimate sculpture. This is The Toilet of Venus.

The entwined hands are called The Cathedral. I love the graceful look of this sculpture.

This lovely marble bust is called Diane. Another small but stunning sculpture.

I don't remember the name of this headless lady. I honestly don't remember who the artist is, either. The museum was full of pieces by other artists that were collected by Rodin. Even though I've chosen sculpture to display here, there were paintings, drawings and pottery in the museum as well.

I love the intimacy of Eternal Idol. It is truly breathtaking. It embarrassed my daughter just a bit when I wanted to stop in front of it, gaze at the beauty and snap a photo.

My lovely daughter alongside a Rodin sculpture. The name was something along the lines of Fish Lady. My girl said she couldn't leave the museum until I took this picture. Reserved is not a word I would use to describe her.
By the time we left the museum, the rainfall had dropped to a drizzle. We left the grounds and walked along the streets of Paris, making our way to Invalides to see more treasures of the City of Lights.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

a cherished childhood book

The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind,
and another,
his mother called him "wild thing" and Max said, "I'll eat you up!"
so he was sent to bed without eating anything.
That very night in Max's room, a forest grew, and grew,
and grew until his ceiling hung with vines
and the walls became the world all around.
And an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max
and he sailed off through night and day,
and in and out of weeks
and almost over a year
To where the wild things are.

--from Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak

I told a fib in my comments today. I didn't mean to, but it slipped out. At the time, it felt like the truth. Then later, I remembered.

There is a book I have two copies of other than the Bible. It is the wonderful children's book quoted above. The copy my parents bought for me is put away, wrapped carefully to preserve it, even though it is an old paperback copy that probably cost just a few dollars. The copy I bought for my daughter when she was still a baby is on the bookshelf in my youngest son's room.

This was my favorite book growing up. There are a handful of books I have from my childhood, but this is the most precious to me. It is the one book my father would read to me over and over again. If I wanted to hear about Swimmy or a little bunny, I would have to take the book to my mother. But if I wanted to hear about Max, and wolf suits, and sailing in and out of time, Daddy would oblige.

He read the book to me complete with voices: a naughty little boy voice and roaring, teeth gnashing wild thing voices. I always giggled hysterically, but truth be told, I was a little scared.

I couldn't wait to read it to my lovely daughter. I knew I'd have to wait until she was a certain age, although I had no idea what that age might be. I bided my time reading Pat the Bunny or The Poky Little Puppy.

One day, my little girl toddled out of her room with her copy of my favorite children's book in hand. We read it. Then we read it again. Then another time. It was our bedtime book that night and for many, many nights thereafter. I read it to her so many times that I can still quote most of it to you today, word for word. When nothing else would calm her in the car or the store, I would quietly recite that beginning passage. It worked every single time.

I quoted the passage above from memory. There might be a word or two wrong, but I doubt it. Even after all of this time, and two more children who also demanded multiple readings, I still love it. Someday, a day not very soon at all mind you, I bet that I'll have a child or two who will be buying that book for their baby's nursery.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fun Monday #9: What I Like to Curl Up with at Night

This week, the Fun Monday host is AOJ & The Lurchers. She wants a peek into the privacy of our bedrooms, specifically, she wants to see our nightstands and, if we're so inclined, what's inside them.

The little set of drawers beside my bed holds my bedside lamp, a crystal dish for my jewelry, a little candle the children gave me on my birthday this year, coasters, my booklight, and a stack of books that I am currently reading, just read or want to read soon. Really a bit boring, I think.

I'm reading The Queen of Subtleties, the one with my booklight tucked inside. The stack includes Middlemarch, On Chesil Beach, and Origin of Species.

The drawer is full of more books, magazines, some bottles of lotion, a hair clip and ponytail holder. There are stashes of books all over my house. Stacks on tables and shelves, drawers and cabinets stuffed full to the brim. I love books. I always have.

I find it very hard to part with most books, and even some of my magazines. In our other house, I had some beautiful built-in bookshelves with cabinets underneath them. The shelves and the cabinets were full of books, magazines, and photo albums. My built in bookshelves in this house are small by comparison, so there are books in my nightstand, on shelves in my closet, in cabinets in the half bath and even in the bottom of my large double linen closet. I continue to buy books, and I continue to hold on to them. I need our lovely daughter to finish growing up and go to college already. I need her bedroom for book storage!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fun Monday #8: Coming and Going

I wasn't blogging a year ago when Fun Monday started, so I am showing you the views from the front and the back of my house. I even threw in a couple of street shots. Even if I had been blogging, the view would have been different. We've just been in this house since July.

This is the view from the front porch. You can see my porch light in the top left hand corner of the picture. I'm an excellent photographer. Not. For the four pictures you see posted here, I probably took twenty.

This was taken at the end of my driveway, looking west.

This is looking east. When I took these pictures Sunday afternoon, it was cold, clear and sunny.

For this picture, I stood on the patio, just outside the back door. The field just behind the line of trees is where we see squirrels, deer, and if you believe my middle son, the occasional coyote.

Here is the link to the first post on my blog. It wasn't that long ago, just from April, 2007. I don't think I've grown much since then, although I have learned to post clickable pictures thanks to Laurie. (Not that I always do.) Oh, and people actually read my posts now. That first post? Not one comment.

Go on over and see my fellow Okie, Vicki, to check out the rest of the list. It'll be fun!


Here's something else I learned from Laurie: A gratuitous puppy pic. Maddy needs her sleep.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fun Monday #7 is a Gem

This week's Fun Monday is hosted by Ann over at For the Long Run. She is one of my favorite blog buddies, and her idea to share a website that changed our lives is so clever.

My mother is a serious collector of antiques. Red kitchen items from the '40s, old cast iron, anything related to the Oklahoma frontier, furniture, several patterns of dishes, and so many other things I cannot remember them all.

One of her obsessions is a pattern made by the defunct ceramic and pottery company, Harker Pottery, U.S.A. The company was established around 1857 in Ohio and operated until 1972. The pattern is called "Dainty Flower" and is part of the company's Cameoware line. Mama collects the blue and white version. It is a popular pattern that began with a very art deco design and then morphed into something called the shell shape by collectors.

One year, probably about ten or eleven years ago, she was looking for this pattern and having a hard time finding it. Her mother, who died when she was three, had some pieces of this pattern and my mother had decided to collect a complete set. I started looking for a nice piece for her birthday. I went to all of my usual antiques haunts, hit the thrift stores, and even tried shopping garage and estate sales in older, established neighborhoods. Nothing. Nada. Not even one piece.

My husband is a techie and he had been using the internet for a good while by this time. I think it was probably about 1997 or 1998. He suggested I go online and do a search for the pattern or any information about it. I had no idea what he was talking about. He logged on to our (incredibly slow) dial-up connection and went to a search engine to teach me how to conduct a search. I think it was Alta Vista that we used.

What he found was this little gem of a site, a virtual store on the internet that dealt solely in antiques. I was shocked such a thing existed. It was a revelation. I could shop for my mother's hard to find antique collectibles at our desk! Without leaving the house! Without wasting gallons and gallons of gas! I was in heaven.

Since then, I've moved on to an array of online businesses that range from Amazon and ebay to clothing stores, toy stores, pet stores and little tiny places that sell vintage stereos, or golf equipment, or musical instruments or theater costumes. I even have a Harker pattern of my own that I collect and use for our every day dishes.

I am the rare woman who absolutely hates to shop. But when I can do it in my pajamas from the comfort of my sofa, it's not so bad.

My husband is sorry he ever showed me how to use a search engine.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Fun Monday #6: From Zero to Four in Record Time

Our lovely hostess, Lisa, wants to meet the pets. A little more than a year ago, this would have been a hard one for me. We had no pets for a long time. Our house was full to the brim with our children and our possessions and our children's possessions. I didn't want to be bothered with feeding animals, grooming animals, or taking animals to the vet. I was busy. My husband was busy. The children . . . well, the children didn't get a vote.

I changed my mind at the most inconvenient time. Well, my mind was changed for me, but that's another story. Courtesy of my parents, we ended up with two little kittens. At the time, we were in the middle of moving. Our house was on the market and my husband was living in a three bedroom, two bath, third floor walk-up. The kids and I spent part of our time driving on the turnpike to see him, carrying these two little ones back and forth:

They are brother and sister. The little yellow one, the male, was so sick he almost died. He weighed fourteen ounces the first time we took him to the vet. His sister weighed eighteen ounces.

Now, this big guy is over eight pounds. Our lovely daughter, with her odd, dramatic streak, dubbed him Streudel.

And this pretty girl named Lucy now weighs just over four pounds. She's quite delicate. This is her favorite place in the house, right on top of our fridge. Her reasons will become quite clear when you see what we got next.

We enjoyed the cats so much and found they really weren't much trouble. One day, my husband and I watched as our then eight year old son kept his distance from the neighbor's dog. He was clearly interested, but watched from across the street as the other children petted the dog and played with him. Later on, we asked him why, and he informed us that he couldn't touch a dog because of his allergies. In a very pitiful way. That's when we decided to get a puppy for Christmas, one that wouldn't shed and cause the little guy to have allergy problems. That is how Jack came into our lives.

He is about four months old here. I can't describe how much he changed our lives. The children love him. I love him. My husband pretends he doesn't, but he loves Jack, too. Below is a shot of Jack, laying in his favorite spot: my husband's lap.

As Jack grew, we decided he needed a companion. Mostly to keep him from killing the cats. Lucy had taken to hiding somewhere high all day, not coming out to socialize with me until I had crated Jack at night. Streudel played with Jack, but spent a lot of his time jumping up onto railings and counters and furniture.

This is Maddy, the day we brought her home. She was eight weeks old. Jack went nuts. He barked at her most of that afternoon. It wasn't until the next day he figured out that she would play with him.

And this is Maddy now, about seventeen weeks old. She needs a haircut, but isn't she adorable?

Even though we've only had Maddy about two months, she and Jack are already inseparable. They nap together and play together. Most of the time, they forget all about the cats, which makes for much happier kitty cats. I'd say that we're just one big, happy family.

That's how we went from one pet to four in under eighteen months. I thought I'd lost my mind for a while, but we wouldn't trade them for anything now.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

Excited is not a strong enough word to describe our lovely daughter's reaction to Notre-Dame Cathedral. When she was a little girl, one of her favorite movies was set here. Being a Disney animated movie, the detail in the film was pulled directly from the cathedral and brought the setting to life for my little girl at the tender age of four or five, long before she had dreams of speaking French and walking the streets of Paris.

These figures, or others like them, came to life and had sly conversations about Quasi Modo and his adventures with Esmerelda. Our lovely daughter was delighted to see that the cathedral really housed such statues.

Even the gargoyles had their parts. Three of them were Quasi Modo's best friends in the film. The look on her face when she saw the first of the gargoyles on the facade was priceless. Even after eleven or twelve years, she was still in awe of the way the animators had brought the cathedral to life.

I asked her to pose before we went in. I adore this picture. You can see how much joy she's feeling from the look on her face.

We walked slowly through the cathedral after we entered, looking at the breathtaking French Gothic interior. The most beautiful statue of Joan of Arc I have ever seen resides in the cathedral's sanctuary.

The stained glass throughout is gorgeous. This rose window in particular is breathtaking.

Much of the story in the movie takes place in the South Tower which houses a 13 ton bell called Emmanuel. This bell chimes the hours of the day. It is now rung using machinery, but for hundreds of years was rung by hand as it is in the movie. As we stood in line to go into the tower, mist began to fall. Once inside we were glad for the dryness and the relative warmth. We climbed the winding stairs all the way to the top so my daughter could see the bell room and the bell itself. The higher we walked, the stronger the wind became. As we ascended, the stairs became smaller and more curved. It felt almost as if you were climbing around a pole. I remember slowing down because I was becoming dizzy.

She was not disappointed. This is the best shot of her I was able to take in the bell tower. You can see how the wind is whipping her hair across her face. I had to hold the camera well away from me in order to keep my hair from covering the lens of the camera. It was worth all the trouble, though. I wish that you could hear her giggling. The bell tower enchanted her.

The view was fabulous. If it had been a beautiful, calm day, I think we would have spent hours taking pictures and exploring the tower. As it was, we stayed just as long as we could stand the cool, damp air and the wind.

There wasn't a moment of Paris that disappointed, but for our lovely daughter, this day was one of the best.