Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memorial Day Cemetery Visits

Visiting graves on Memorial Day wasn’t our tradition while I was growing up. My family had moved to California, and family graves were in Oklahoma. But I remember my Aunt Chris’s long letters detailing her visits to friends’ and relatives’ graves each year. She reported which cemeteries looked good, and which ones appeared overgrown or neglected. Often she took her own scissors and trash bags to clean up the area around each significant grave. She left flowers on each one. This Memorial Day ritual continued until her death a few years ago at age 86.

Now her daughters (and sometimes others) continue this tradition. Twice I have accompanied them on Memorial Day. It has been a day to reconnect with my cousins and share the latest news of our families. It is also a time to talk about our deceased relatives and keep the stories alive.

Our cemetery visits to four small town cemeteries take most of a day. We leave Oklahoma City around 9:00 and travel to cemeteries in Blanchard, Dibble, Lindsay, and Purcell. By the time we place flowers on all the graves, eat lunch, and return to Oklahoma City, it’s afternoon.

This year we also stopped at the farm where my mother and her siblings grew up, between Lindsay and Dibble. It’s fun to look at the pastures and try to imagine my mother working and playing on this land eighty years ago. Now the farm belongs to my cousins.

I love this time of year in Oklahoma. Everything looks so green.

It was a good day, spent with good people remembering other good people. Good people I remember well, such as my grandmother, aunts, and uncles. Good people I never knew, such as great-grandparents and grandparents who died before I was born and the uncle killed in World War II (whose name is carried on through my brother and my son).
It's good to remember all these lives that are connected to mine. I am grateful.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I've been pondering some big questions . . .

Who thought up those dumb graduation caps? And why are we still making grads wear them?
Why is “Pomp and Circumstance” played at graduation ceremonies? And why do I get teary every time I hear it?
Why would anyone want to live in Dallas?

Why is the water on the gulf coast beaches of Louisiana BROWN?

Why do people build their houses where a hurricane will destroy them?

This picture shows Holly Beach, Louisiana before and after Rita.

And here are some houses that have been rebuilt on Holly Beach.

Why does my husband take pictures of dead animals?

How can people eat crawdads? Eeeeeeew!

Why is it taking FOREVER for the repair/remodel people to finish my house?

Why is 98% of my snail mail junk or bills? (Actually, I think I know the answer to that one. It’s because all the people I really want to hear from now communicate with me via email—except my sister, who refuses to enter the internet age. Come to think of it, she seldom sends me anything by snail mail, either. Fortunately, she does like to use the telephone.)

Why is it that when I’m itching to get back onto the internet after several days away, my high speed connection disintegrates into a crawl?

And why did I wait two days to call the cable company, when it only took a few minutes of guidance for me to return the speed to its usual fine performance?

Do you have any answers for me?

(Dr. Lobo, I know you always have DETAILED answers. Please give my other readers a week to respond before you explain everything to us. Okay, Sweetheart? Love you!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Another Degree!

We’ve been in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, celebrating Sweet Girl’s graduation from LSU, which explains why I haven’t posted in a while. She has completed her second master’s degree, a Master’s in Library and Information Science. It’s been a grueling two years.

I’m happy to report that LSU handled graduation in a civilized manner. Instead of having to endure a ceremony with thousands of people (where I might not even have found my daughter in the crowd), academic departments had small ceremonies throughout the day.

The graduates had to get there early for picture-taking. It always takes a while to figure out how to wear those hoods.

Here are some of the graduates waiting for everyone to get organized for the group picture.

This looks like a happy (though exhausted) group. Notice the special graduate? She’s a seeing-eye-dog for a blind student from Mongolia.

Gladys posed for all the photographers. It’s been a grueling two years for her, too.

Sweet Girl made some good friends at LSU.

Sweet Girl’s sweet husband encouraged her through the hard times. He’s proud of her, too.

It’s nice to have that diploma.

The next step? Finding a job. This will not be as easy as it would have been a year ago, before we figured out that we’re in a recession. But we’re hopeful.
Congratulations, Sweet Girl! Your mom and dad are proud of you.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Jail Cell Door and Other Stuff

The Blonde got this picture of the jail cell door at Heritage Manor, so I wanted to share it with you.

Sorta scary, huh? It's in a somewhat obscure part of the house in a very obscure part of Oklahoma, and I have a feeling that if Carolyn and AJ wanted to, they could keep someone prisoner there for a very long time!

Speaking of the lovely Blonde, here she is, enjoying a few moments on the porch at Heritage Manor.

Did I mention how fond I am of The Blonde? I couldn't ask for a sweeter daughter-in-law. Dr. Lobo and I have warned Wild Child that if they ever get into a big fight, we're taking The Blonde's side. Maybe that's why their marriage seems to be stable. They're celebrating their fifth anniversary this month.

And here's another view of Heritage Manor, with Wild Child standing on the balcony.

While we were in the area, Dr. Lobo and I visited the grave of his best friend, David Young, in an Aline cemetary. David grew up near Aline and died much too young in 1993.

We ate supper at a Mexican restaurant at the train station in Waynoka. Here is Dr. Lobo right after the meal. He doesn't like to have his picture taken, and he doesn't smile a lot, but he looks reasonably happy here, so you can see that the meal was quite satisfactory.

Here are my handsome sons, who don't like to have their pictures made, either. And yes, they have the same father. They resemble each other more now than they ever have, but Wild Child looks like my family, and Little Guy takes after Dr. Lobo's family. (He looks a lot like his dad did at his age. Sometimes I get a glimpse of him and I'm transported back in time to the days when Dr. Lobo and I were first married.)

Sweet Girl resembles both sides of the family. I never understood how some families had kids who all looked alike. (One of my friends even adopted a child who looks remarkably like her five biological children.) Our kids all look like they could have come from entirely different parents.

It was great seeing my Oregon kids. I sure miss them!

In other news, I did not win the haiku contest, but that's okay because I didn't really expect to win. Here's the winner (by Andrea).

long bike rides with friends
bugs a-glow in clear glass jars
slurping otter pops

It's good, isn't it?

I have won two online contests in the last couple of months. I won an Amazon gift certificate and THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA by Cynthea Liu. I've known Cynthea for a while, and it was great fun to help her celebrate her success with that book. (It's a good read.)

This week, I heard from Michelle Houts that I'd won a copy of her book, THE BEEF PRINCESS OF PRACTICAL COUNTY. It looks like a wonderful book for kids, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Michelle's fourth grade daughter picked a winner at random, and she chose me. I figure we had a psychic connection because I love fourth graders so much.

Major repairs and painting are happening to our house, so eventually I'll post those pictures. In the meantime, our nerves are frazzled from the hammering and destruction and painting. This is all taking much longer than we expected, and of course it's going to cost more. About once a week they discover something else that needs to be repaired. Aaaaaack!

Now that I've finished my chapter book, I'm working on my Young Adult book. So excuse me while I get into official writer mode. I'll be back between chapters!

Friday, May 1, 2009

In the Middle of Nowhere

Wild Child and The Blonde are visiting from Oregon this week, and The Blonde arranged for us (and Little Guy) to spend Wednesday night at a bed and breakfast in the middle of Nowhere, Oklahoma.

Heritage Manor, located between Cleo Springs and Aline, is actually three houses put together. The owners, A.J. and Carolyn, have created a unique and fascinating place. They are also collectors, and the manor is filled with antiques, treasures, heirlooms, and curiosities.

A.J. and Carolyn welcomed us warmly, and did everything possible to make us feel at home. It’s a quiet, calming retreat for city folks.

I'm showing you just enough photographs to give you a feel for the place.

I liked this room a lot. They have mannequins here and there modeling styles of days gone by.

I love stained glass windows, lace tablecloths, and flowers on tables.

We each got to order exactly what we wanted for breakfast from a large list of items. A.J. is the cook. He owned a restaurant at one time,which must be good training to cook for their bed and breakfast guests.
Here's one of the dining areas. We ate our breakfast here.

Everything was perfect, down to the special little details. I love these little salt and pepper bowls and spoons! I felt like we were in another era.

Here's Carolyn telling us about the early phonograph. Every item seemed to have an interesting history. And please notice that we cleaned our plates. Breakfast was delicious.

A.J. took Wild Child and me for a ride in this little roadster. I kept thinking of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Not that A.J. drove as badly as Toad, but that's the image I have when I think of roadsters. A.J. even wore a special roadster driving cap. Too bad no one took our picture.

Have you ever seen a suspension bridge in a house? I'm telling you., it's pretty cool.

One thing I particularly liked was the number of books in their house. Although one room was designated "the library," books could be found everywhere--even in the bathroom!

They had unusual pets, too!

We spent time sitting on this side porch. At night, we heard frogs, and in the morning, birds entertained us with their songs.

Although we came away with about 135 photographs, somehow we missed getting a picture of one of my personal favorites, the jail cell door, which A.J. picked up for ten dollars many years ago. I have a feeling we’ll be back, and I’ll be sure to take a picture of it then.
This would be a great place for a writing retreat, especially for those who write historical fiction. (Writer Friends, let me know if you’re interested. I’ll be ready to go back very soon.)

Now go look at their website, What a fun place!