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.