Monday, June 29, 2009

Garden Update - and a small adventure

It's been a while, so I figure it's time for a short little garden update. It's still doing well, though I've been battling the heat and one spunky little green-tomato-eating worm (found and donated to my son's scientific endeavors). None of the tomatoes are ripe yet, either, since it's been so hot. It's driving me nuts.

The okra, however, is thriving!

Okra blossom... quite beautiful, aren't they?

Baby bell peppers are cute, too.

Here's the overall garden view these days.

After checking the garden, the kids and I decided to go check on something else that we have growing around our place. I did have to take a small detour back in the house for someone first. A very dear friend of mine, in fact.

Meet my girlfriend... Mabel! She's my outdoor/sun hat who is just a lot of fun. I bought her last year when a friend and I were visiting another friend in Indiana. She was sitting in a cute little antique shop just waiting on me. I'm so glad it's time to break her out again!

So Mabel, the kids, and I all headed out to...

the pasture.

Where milkweed awaits the monarchs...

and other flowers blossom all on their own, unaided by man or horse. (Did I mention that there are actually three horses living on our land? They're not ours, and I didn't get photos of them today, so they'll feature in another story another day.)

However... we didn't go into the pasture to see plants or even the pond. We went to check on the...

BLACKBERRIES!

They're not quite ripe yet, though there were a few here and there. M1 was so excited he brought a huge bucket with him.

M2 even braved the brambles to pick a few.

Then they got to enjoy the "fruit of their labor."

Clearly picking blackberries is a huge hardship. I can't wait till they're really ripe in another week or two. I love hauling them all in. Makes me feel all summery.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Woolaroc KidsFest - and extreme heat

Despite the extreme heat of 100+ degrees, I attempted to take the kids to the Woolaroc KidsFest today. It was miserable. I think it could be a truly enjoyable event if it was, say, 80 degrees outside, but anything hotter makes it horrid. There's not enough shade, the activites are all outdoors, and honestly, you can't even enjoy the pure beauty of the great outdoors in this sort of weather. All of which means we weren't there for very long and almost all of my pictures come from air-conditioned happiness of either the car or the museum (where flash photography is banned but non-flash is permitted).


This was our first greeter to the ranch. We did drive past bison, emu, llamas, plenty of deer, and a few other critters on the way in as well as more on the way out. This guy just took the cake. Cheeky little bugger ;)
This, of course, was the real entrance into the Woolaroc grounds. Gotta love the statues.
This one, just out in front of the museum, was my favorite, though. I just love it. Gorgeous.

M2 loved the flowers that were still in full bloom. She had to go niffle them.

M1 loved this card. He was both grossed out and fascinated by the idea of schlucking the snails out of their shells. The humane side of him was also a little sad for the snails.

This was probably my favorite piece of art in the whole museum. It's by William R. Leigh, and it's entitled "Navajo Fire Dance." It's just so... emotional! These people just look like they're throwing themselves into the dance with true passion.


No, I didn't go to Washington, D.C. Inside Woolaroc is the miniature from which the actual Lincoln Memorial was designed. Pretty neat, eh? There are a few changes from this to the actual one, but they're pretty close from everything I could tell. Of course, it's been 15 years since I was in D.C., and my memory could be slipping. Every other part of me is slowly migrating south, so why not my memory?

A Remington painting of Custer's Last Stand. See the wood frame around the bottom? Frank Phillips actually owned a patent on that particular type of frame, and it was displayed all over the museum. It fits Western-style paintings wonderfully. When I win the lottery... :p

After we left the museum, we headed over to the Lodge. I thought I remembered being able to tour more of it, but we only got to go through a few small spaces inside. The view outside, however, was great.


See? Great view. That's my Oz, by the way.

The view of the Lodge. It's a beautiful building, too.
I hope to go back this fall, maybe taking a field trip there with M1 (and maybe pulling M2 out of school for a day so she can go with us). There are walking trails at Woolaroc that I'd like to venture through with the kids, and I'd love to be able to really enjoy the grounds.

And if I get adventurous next year and decide I need to go back in summer, please remind me of this blog and stop me beforehand, yes?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A tribute...

So sometimes, death just seems to take over. It's weird, but most of the deaths that I have experienced in family and friends close to me (so far) have not been from natural causes.

Not that death ever seems natural, despite the fact that it IS.

Last week, Ed McMahon died.

Despite the fact that I was certainly not old enough to appreciate him on the Tonight show, he was still a name I knew. He was also old enough for it to be "okay" for him to die.

That one I was fine with.

Then, just days after she announced her plans to be married after she was feeling better, Farrah died.

Again, I'm too young to really appreciate her, but I know that she sparked an entire hairdo and brought joy to many men in the 1970s. And I mean that in every way possible ;) Her death was sad, but at least you knew it was coming.
And then... well...

There are just no words. My mother has this album. She has the record player. And I remember dancing like crazy to every single song on it when I was growing up. Despite his fall from grace and his obvious self-esteem issues, I believe he was a good man who really tried.
RIP, Michael.
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Now to celebrate life! While death sucks, it's inevitable, and it's always good to celebrate those you have rather than those you don't, especially when the ones passing on are those you never even knew in real life.
Meet my dad.
Today, the 25th of June, is his birthday. Now HERE is a good man. I know him in person. He is definitely inspiring, and I wish him many, many more years before I even have to consider a tribute to him.
I'm tearing up just thinking about it.
Love you, dad. Happy birthday.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pawnee Bill, Blonde Moments, and other fun stuff

Before I begin, I should preface by saying that all photos in this post were taken by my husband's iPhone.

WHY were they taken by my husband's iPhone, you ask?

Good question.

Well, first of all, because he has the new iPhone that contains approximately a 3.0 megapixel camera with actual focus ability. He was the freak interviewed on KRMG because he was at the mall at 4:30 a.m. waiting on the doors to open. He was there at 4:30 a.m. because he found a deal online where he can send in his 'old' iPhone for more than the new one costs... which is why I consented to let him get the new one...but also the photos were taken by his iPhone because I forgot...

THIS.

Grabbed the camera; promptly forgot to check and see whether the memory card was actually in it.

I should also let you know that there is no Wal-Mart in Pawnee, Oklahoma. There *is* a Radio Shack, but it's inside a pharmacy, and on Saturdays, they close at noon.

Not helpful when you get into town at roughly 2:15 p.m.

Moving on...

We spent the afternoon and evening at the Pawnee Bill Ranch. We had a great time! There's quite a bit to do between the museum and mansion, where no photography was allowed (the blogger in me resented that), the log cabin, the blacksmith shop, the teepee, and the various mini-shows that are put on during the course of the afternoon (hard to catch with an iPhone camera). But more on that later.
The teepee above was fascinating. You could actually go inside it, and they had a reenactor who could tell you about all sorts of Native American life, how they did things, etc. She was well-educated but a bit strict. She obviously had put a lot of effort into making some of the stuff and really didn't like people fingering the items, despite the fact that it seemed that they were obviously lying in the open for a reason.
This was one of the rooms inside the log cabin. It was a two-bedroom cabin, so quite a good size I suppose, and it definitely looked original, though of course I'm no expert. The beds even had old quilts on them that looked pretty raggedy. The log cabin was central to the gunfight shows that were part of the day's program - each program was different, I might add, so you could go back and not see the same thing twice. I thought that was pretty neat.

Next door to the log cabin was the blacksmith's shop, and they had an actual blacksmith outside working to make items for sale. My kids were totally fascinated by all the different tools he kept whipping out - chains, pins, hammers, tongs, etc.
They even had a kids' play area inside the museum, complete with all the good stuff you see here. It was a great way to kill time between the BBQ dinner served onsite starting at 5 p.m. and the actual Wild West show that started at 7:30. Plus, it was indoors... and therefore air-conditioned!
Obviously I have no photos of the mansion or museum, or of the show itself, since zoom and night-vision are a couple of those handy little features phone cameras don't really sport, but it was well worth it. The show was as authentic a reproduction of a wild west show that they can apparently have in modern days (i.e. no real bullets, no making fun of different ethnicities, etc.), and it was a lot of fun. M2, at one point, told me it was "the most good show I've ever seen." She fell in love with one of the characters, Miss Peach, though M1 really liked all the gunfights - typical boy ;) All the characters also had trading cards with their characters vs. the original characters on them, and the kids really liked collecting them. Bonus - they were free souvenirs!
Now... I know you don't see photos of me on here, and there are lots of reasons for that, but just this once...
I'll indulge you. The last show of the day, right before dinner so everyone's showing up and watching, put on by the "miracle worker extraordinaire," and guess who gets hauled up on stage?? I honestly thought, when he was calling me out, that he was talking to a woman standing slightly in front of me... but no... I was the chosen one. And I had to sing. And dance. And play a kazoo while bending over slightly. And hold a stick of "dynamite."
And for the rest of the night, I was recognized.
There's nothing quite like someone saying hello to you as you step out of the Port-a-Potty.
I could never be a celebrity.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

OKMozart!

In our efforts to A) save money and B) explore our home state, the kids and I went with a new friend - a fellow member of a homeschooling group I've joined - up to Bartlesville today to visit the OKMozart festival today. I'd never been and honestly had no idea that there was more to the festival than just the music. Turns out, that's the expensive part! There are free demonstrations and shows on every single day of the festival. The woman that I went with, a lovely and VERY pregnant woman I'll call T, had discovered that there were three free shows going on today and organized the trip. We only wound up making it to two because the science show ran long and the kids were all worn out (as was T, after all that walking!), but it was a wonderful experience and I'll definitely be going again next year.


The first show we attended, before lunch, was presented by the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center. This was another surprise to me to know that we had such a wonderful facility in the state (clearly, I'm ignorant of a lot of the stuff that goes on right under my nose), but the show was fantastic. The bird you see above is their African gray parrot who was talking up a storm, but they also featured a roadrunner, a crow, a raven, an owl, a bald eagle, and many many more. There were birds flying overhead, doing tricks, and just being... birds! And no, they didn't always cooperate. It was a really neat show.

After the bird show, we decided it was time for lunch, so T led me into the heart of downtown Bartlesville so we could eat outdoors (in the shade, of course). I snapped this shot from where we were sitting in the shadow of a building. The architecture of this city is very very clean and beautiful. We did pass Price Tower, but since I was driving, I didn't think it was a good time to try to take a picture ;)

The kids enjoyed playing a little bit after they ate - my kids are on the left and T's kids are on the right. They're looking at a grate. I have no idea what's IN the grate, but apparently to these kids, it was fascinating.

After we ate, we walked on over to the Phillips 66 Musum. It was a neat little place! They offered a nine-minute video that apparently tells quite a bit about the company and the history behind it, but we were a bit short on time and so had to skip that. It was a very cute, well-done museum, and it was amazing to see the history of the company. I was particularly impressed at how well the company took care of their own. They even had their own doctor! Insurance companies today would probably just die at the thought. That, however, is another rant for another day.

The next-to-final stop of the day (and the final stop for T and her munchkins) was the science show presented by the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. It was a neat show, too! The presenter, at the beginning of his show, said that at times he would be asking for volunteers. There were well over 50 kids in the audience, I assume most of them from various daycamps around the area given the many teen counselors on hand, and M1 being my science guru, I knew he wanted to go up. Imagine my surprise when he called for "the lap girl in the pink at the end!" I didn't even know M2 had her hand up! So she got to go up front as the very first volunteer. She got to feel the blue-tinted water to see how it felt (her description, by the way, was "blue"... followed by "cool"). Then he put the beaker in a vacuum bell and made it 'boil' and then asked her to touch it again. I thought she'd freak out about touching water that had just 'boiled,' especially since almost every kid in the audience was absolutely flipping out that he'd asked her to stick her hand in there and screaming NO!!!!... but nope! She reached right in. Quite the little performer, she was. And M1 did very well and never once seemed jealous. I was quite proud of him, too.


At long last we headed toward home, but to me, no trip to Bartlesville would be complete without a trip to Windle's Rock and Jewelry Shop. It's not a head shop or anything like that, but rather a very quiant, curious little shop that I remember my parents bringing me to visit when I was a child. I learned today that 2009 is their 50th year of business, and it's just as wonderful as I remember it. There are rocks and gems, to be sure, as well as plenty of jewelry that is as eclectic as it is gorgeous, but there are also things like fossils, shark teeth (one of which M1 insisted he had to own), geodes, shells, and much, much more. I personally purchased a small cat carved in Thailand out of water buffalo horn! Sorry about Flat Stanley in the picture, but it was the last chance I had to take a photo of him, so there he be.
So far, this Oklahoma travel thing is turning out to be a great experiment. We're going on another adventure on Saturday, so look for another blog post soon!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Just quick update...

The garden still grows! I've been doing better at keeping it weeded now, even though it's about 10 million degrees outside now that summer has unofficially arrived here.


The newest produce...

(that's a Roma, by the way, and it's STILL not ripe)
Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Let the homeschool life begin! (Sort of)

With school finally out, I (sort of) became a homeschooling mom! M1 is so excited. He is loving the fact that he'll have daily continuity and not have to worry about things like his classmates causing chaos in his life. Even for summer, he's liking the fact that I'm writing down a schedule of what we're doing each week. He checks it each day at least once so he knows what's going on. Talk about a comfort zone!

So last week, we attended our first homeschool meeting with the Tulsa Area Homeschoolers . We got together at a parks and recreation building and made Flat Stanley. Then, just to get some experience, we swapped within the group for two weeks. M1 has been hauling his around everywhere. Flat Stanley went camping in the back yard last Friday and did some other stuff today. I've been bad about getting pictures of him, but he's done quite a bit. I did snap this shot today.

The lady in the picture is M2's violin teacher! She has been begging me since about December to begin violin lessons, but... she's FOUR. Usually these sorts of whims die a merry death within a month or two. I started thinking she was serious around March but didn't get around to doing anything 'official' until a couple weeks ago. I knew I wanted a Suzuki Method teacher, but the one that my sister took lessons from is starting to phase out her students for retirement, so I had to find a new one. We found this lady, Sue Loomis, through the TAMTA (Tulsa Accredited Music Teachers Association) web site, and met with her for the first time last week. M2 fell instantly in love, and we had our second lesson today. M2 is so excited to be finally taking her lessons, and she loves the games that "Miss Sue" plays with her. "Miss Sue," for her part, seems to be a wonderful, very thorough teacher, and she's making sure that me, the ignorant mom, knows how to do the stuff, too, so that I can properly teach M2 during the week. It seems like it'll be a great fit.

Tomorrow we'll be taking Flat Stanley to Kansas to visit my grandmother in this "Little Town." I'll try to remember to take pictures this time!

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And now for the garden update. You know you wanted one. I'm sure you just haven't had enough of it yet.



Meet my first cucumber. Nine inches long, I was almost giddy! So we had to have it for dinner.

My kids said it was "softer" than a store cucumber, but in a good way. I'll take what compliments I can get.
More cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes forthcoming next week!