Sunday, October 31, 2004

Which Country Are You?

Australia -
Founded as a gigantic prison
colony, Australia has turned into a Mid-Level
world power. Known for its wildlife and



Culturally Admired.

Mid-Level Power.

renowned Flora and Fauna.


Founded by Criminals.

Island Nation (Isolated).

Talk Funny.

Which Country of the World are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Fun with books

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence as a comment on my blog.
5. Post the text of the sentence on your own blog, along with these instructions.


"If one man says it does not mean a Negro, why may not another man say it does not mean some other man?"

-- Benson Bobrick, "Testament: A Soldier's Story of the Civil War."

(Idea swiped from Erudite Redneck at, who swiped it from

All's I can say is....


Thursday, October 28, 2004

Tulsa Rose Garden

Just thought I'd post some photos from the Rose Gardens at Tulsa's Woodward Park from Monday. There are so many varieties since the garden is a test garden for the All America Rose Selections. All kinds of colors, as you can see:

There are roses of many colors and varieties. Some do well and some don't. The test gardens helps growers know which varieties produce well in a variety of locations around the United States.

I like this ruffly rose. It's mostly pink with a white varigation in the petals.

Here's a nice orange rose.

And a pretty pink rose.

This one is gorgeous.

And, my love, it's like, a red, red rose...

I hope you like the roses. Tomorrow we'll return to a little history lesson. Stay tuned (no footnotes included.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Vette

I think my traveling companion would be very disappointed if I failed to show you our mode of travel for the Talimena trip.

Beaver's Bend State Park

I have loved the Beaver's Bend area of Southeastern Oklahoma since I was a child. One of my favorite memories is of a late fall day when my family, along with my dad's parents, were at Beaver's Bend for dinner. There was a thick carpet of gold and red leaves on the ground. Outside the restaurant there was a playground with swings near the water. I loved the swings, but more than that I loved running through the leaves, listening to them crunch and smelling their distinct warm fall smell. There was such freedom in that afternoon -- running and jumping in the piles of leaves, throwing them up in the air, rolling in them just to hear them crunch.
So I took advantage of this weekend's opportunity, extending the drive to return to Beaver's Bend.
Things have changed dramatically in 40 years (can you imagine that?). There's a new lodge which is beautiful -- it looks more like an apartment complex than a state park. There's no restaurant now. But I did find the swings!

This shows how diverse Oklahoma's geography is. You've seen the wheatfields of north central Oklahoma and the mountains of southeastern Oklahoma. Here's an example of the lakes. Did you know Oklahoma has several islands? Here's one at Beaver's Bend.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Change of Plans

I never did make it to Mistletoe Market. Instead, there was an impromptu trip to the Talimena Drive in southeastern Oklahoma. I'll just post a few photos tonight -- more to come later.

Sunbeams shine at sunset.

In the mountains of south-eastern Oklahoma.

Moonrise on Talimena Drive in the Winding Stair Mountains.

The road to nowhere.

From the Tulsa Rose Garden -- the last few blooms of summer. Ladybug just hanging out.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Hunting season starts today

Ahhh yes, the calendar says Oct. 22. Right in that range before first quarter moon on Oct. 22 and Full Moon on Oct. 27.

Yes, the air is about right -- misty, 72 degrees, light breezes from the south-southeast. Perfect. It will keep the less determined hunters home; the sun won't be an issue; the temperature means I won't be burdened by having to carry a jacket.

Ahhh, yes. Let the games begin! Mistletoe Market starts this morning at the State Fairgrounds! How could I be so lucky... I live less than a mile from the hunting grounds which allowed me a little more time to prepare this morning. S-T-R-E-T-C-H those hamstrings. Bend and stretch -- have to avoid that "shopping-bag lumpitis" syndrome -- keep the load evenly distributed to avoid injury.

Mistletoe Market, for those who don't know, is THE shopping kickoff for festival lovers. Just like every weekend in the fall is filled with various neighborhood home tours and fundraisers and cookbook sales, Mistletoe Market launches the "cozy home" hunt.

It's in one building of the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds for three days. The prey: all kinds of candles, soup mixes, soaps, lotions, decorative items, jewelry, handmade clothing, purses.... you know, all the things that make men break out in rashes.

Hunters usually team up in pairs or small groups. The Ladies Who Lunch usually have their cute totes filled with all kinds of smell-goods when they mob the corner concession stands for their chicken salads.

Me, I'm a loner. I find I can scan and manuever best when I don't have to stick with a companion. It makes me a more efficient shopper. I can scan an aisle and see the booths that I know don't interest me. I can serpentine among slow lookey-lous and baby strollers parked in the middle of the aisle.

Now it's time to prepare for the day. Comfortable clothes are essential. My Easy Spirit tennies will guard my feet -- must remember to double-knot the laces. (Retying them can spell disaster in a shopping crowd. I could be trampled.)

I want to try to avoid the concession areas. Overpriced, watered-down soft drinks in flimsy wax paper cups are a hindrance to the mission. So I'll grab my stainless steel coolie, pop in a can of Diet Coke and I'll be set. If I don't drink it all on the drive over, it will stay cool while I shop. Maybe I'll stick a small bottle of water in my purse, too.

Normally, I can make it through the maze in a couple of hours. More than that and I'm too worn down to carry out my catch. I'll let you know how I do.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Cheers, jeers, cringes and fun!

Cheers: Kudos to KFOR-TV's helicopter pilot and cameraman who helped rescue an Alzheimer's patient who was lost and unable to return home without help. The man was driving on I-40 and the helicopter was there to pick him up as he came to a stop. Good work, good Samaritans.

Jeers: Boo to the Shawnee police officer who has been stopped twice for drunken driving.

Cringes: It's the third week of October in an election year. I have had my fill of political advertising on TV and will scream the next time I get an automated telephone call telling me how to vote. Question is, will I last another week and a half, especially listening to the rhetoric flying between Brad Carson and Tom Coburn? I'm not sure.

Good thing the weekend is on the way -- I'm hoping for a chance to try out my new camera, a Nikon D70 digital. Definitely a step up from my HP 315 digital which is basically a point-and-shoot. It will be so nice to have a real camera to work with again. When shooting film, I use a Nikon Fm that I've had since 1982. The D70 will be a great companion -- rather, it will probably become the big dog of the pack.

Monday, October 18, 2004

While we're cruising the area...

Welcome to the White Eagle monument, visible on the road between Marland and Ponca City.

Notice the tower on the hill at the horizon? Here's the story:

White Eagle was the hereditary chief of the Poncas when they came to Indian Territory in 1877. As chief, he led the Poncas in their last war against the Sioux before they left Dakota Territory and Nebraska. He was also the medicine man and religious adviser. White Eagle led the "hot country" Poncas, those who chose to remain in Indian Territory, for 50 years.

In his last years when the tribe was engaged in negotiations over allotment, White Eagle reluctantly encouraged his people to comply. Shortly before his death in 1914, he passed leadership of the tribe to his eldest son and the last hereditary chief, Horse Chief Eagle.

White Eagle's death was an occasion of great ceremony. Dressed in his traditional regalia, he was buried in the Ponca cemetery near White Eagle, the village that bore his name near the Ponca agency. The chief's favorite horse was killed at his grave side.

On a hill about ten miles south of the 101 Ranch White House, the Miller brothers had a tall stone pillar erected in memory of the old chief. On top, its eyes watching over the rolling prairie, is a white stone eagle.

Beneath the pillar is buried Bill Pickett, a rodeo star from the early 1900s who originated "bulldoggin'." There are others buried on the hill as well; unfortunately, the area has suffered vandalism

This is the ruins of the "White House," the big house on what was the 101 Ranch. I need to go through my old print photos. Unknowingly, I took the last photograph of the White House, the afternoon before it was destroyed by fire. I stopped to shoot the photo because a bare lightbulb caught my attention, shining from a second-floor window. I had assumed the power was long ago cut off at the historic building. The next morning I awoke to the news that the ranch house had burned to the ground.

One of several stone pillars which marked areas of the 101 Ranch. My guess is this may also have served as a silo. It's one of the few structures remaining on the grounds.

The ruins of another structure on the old ranch, dedicated to Joe Miller Jr. in 2001. The Miller Bros., owners of the 101 Ranch, held more than 100,000 acres. They were better known for their Wild West Show -- in the 1920s it took more than 100 train cars to move the show from town to town. Stars of the show included Pawnee Bill and Will Rogers, among many.

The 101 Ranch is considered by some to be the birthplace of rodeo.

This arch has been erected as a memorial by the 101 Ranch Oldtimes.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Some of my touchstones

Here are some photos of some of the important places in my life, in my hometown, Ponca City. These are the places where memories have been made or landmarks in my life and town.

Ponca City High School. Some new buildings have been added since I graduated in 1973, but this has been the main building for decades.

The Marland Mansion. Oh, what a beautiful place, and the stories that fill it are amazing. I'll share some another time. This is a MUST SEE if you ever get to Ponca City.

City Hall. There used to be a civic auditorium as part of this complex. An extensive renovation of the complex was completed last year. It is beautiful now -- far more architecturally significant than the earlier buildings and certainly true to the vision of Solomon Layton, the original architect. Layton also was the architect of the Oklahoma State Capitol, and yes, he did intend for there to be a dome.

The Ponca City Library. One of my second homes in my younger days. I had to beg to get a non-resident library card while I was spending so much time in Ponca City during my mother's final illness and after her death. I still have it.

This is where my mom and brother are resting, their ashes scattered in the memory garden. They were the first to be placed in the garden, but now they have company: A soldier and a young woman. Mom and Bob always wanted to spend their time in a rose garden, and so they will.

The Sentinals. This gaggle of geese were standing silently on the bank of the pond next to the scattering garden at the cemetery. They reminded me so much of the silent angels in dark coats in the movie, "City of Angels." I almost expected one to look like Nicholas Cage.

Dougan's Barbecue, on South 14th Street and Oklahoma (two blocks south of Grand Avenue). If you like barbecue, especially ribs, YOU HAVE TO EAT HERE! It's between Standing Bear and the Pioneer Woman, so it will be a good stopping place on your tour of Ponca.

These hand-carved wooden Indians will greet you as you come in the door at Dougan's.

First Presbyterian Church. This is a major landmark at Grand Avenue and 14th Street. From this perspective you're on Grand Avenue facing east. You can't go any further without going in the church driveway. Look south to see Cann Gardens. Go right for BBQ (Dougan's or Chick 'n' Millie's Blue Moon) and to see Standing Bear. Go left to see the Pioneer Woman and the Marland Mansion. Turn around and go back to see downtown with City Hall, the Library and the Poncan Theater (wish I had a photo on my computer. I'll find one.).

Saturday, October 16, 2004

A brief summary of Chief Standing Bear's importance

The Ponca tribe's removal from Nebraska was cruel.

First, their land was included by mistakenly included in a treaty in 1868 saying their land belonged to the Sioux tribe. There was a nasty war between the Poncas and the Sioux over the small parcel of land in question. The U.S. government stepped in and decided the way to solve the problem was to send the Poncas to Indian Territory.

Ten chiefs of the tribe inspected the new territory and decided it was not acceptable for the Poncas. The U.S. government said "tough." The U.S. Army accompanied the Poncas as they were forced to walk to the new territory.

Many deaths occurred during the relocation. Chief Standing Bear's son was one of those who died. They tried to return to Nebraska for burial in their homeland. They and the others who tried to go with them were arrested on order of the Secretary of the Interior. They were ordered to return to Indian Territory.

Meanwhile, Standing Bear petitioned the court for a writ of Habeas Corpus. In a landmark case, Judge Dundy had to decide whether Indians had the same protection under the law as whites. The government tried to argue they did not, because they weren't citizens. Worse, they said, the Indians weren't even PEOPLE so had no right to sue the government.

After an impassioned speech by Standing Bear, on April 30, 1879, Judge Dundy stated that an Indian is a person within the law and that the Ponca were being held illegally. He set free Standing Bear and the Ponca tribe.

A government commission, appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes, investigated and found the Ponca situation to be unjust. They arranged for the return of the Ponca from Indian Territory and allotted land to them along the Niobrara River.

Statues and Buildings ... back home

An assortment of public art in my hometown, Ponca City, OK. This is the same town where the statue of Standing Bear is located. You can see a great photo on 3&8's blog, My Race Space. There's a link on the left.

"Pioneer Woman." Artist: Bryant Baker. Commissioned by E.W. Marland, 10th governor of Oklahoma.

"Our First Account." Artist: Jo Saylors. Located in Home National Bank.

"Through the Eyes of a Child" by Jo Saylors. It is on the west side of the library.

There's been some contro-versy about this sculpture. It was dedicated in 1993 and was called "Staking His Claim." Now it is called the "Cen-tennial Statue;" it also is a work by Jo Saylors.

Jo Davidson's statue of E.W. Marland, completed in the 1920s. It was placed on the corner of Fifth and Grand, where he could look over the city he was so instrumental in building.

Not a statue, but this fountain is significant to me. This was the subject of my very first feature story, written when I was in the sixth grade. It was donated to the city by the DAR after it was restored and painted. It was a drinking fountain built to serve humans, horses and dogs. It's been located on a few different corners downtown.

Leaving Home

Today I closed on the sale of a couple of rent houses in my hometown. To me, it was more than a financial transaction -- it closed a chapter of my life for good.

These two houses were the last tie I had to "home". Now there is nothing, and more importantly, no one, calling me back to the town where I was born.

After we signed the papers and I got my check in my hand, I decided I needed to take photos of all the places that have been important to me over nearly 50 years. I'll share a few with you here.

This is a photo I have wanted to take for many years. I've never been in this cemetery; I have no loved ones here. But I've always loved the way it looked as I drove by it. The tank farm across the road symbolizes the way nearly everyone in town makes their living, and yet even in death they remain in its shadow.

As I pulled out of the cemetery, a funeral procession was heading down the road. I stopped at the corner gas station and stood at the side of the road as a sign of respect -- that's something that's still done in this and other small towns. All vehicles pull to the shoulder, with their lights on, and pedestrians stop what they are doing, standing straight with hands at their sides.

Two highway patrol cars led the procession of a few dozen cars, with a third trooper bringing up the rear.

Next, I'll share some photos of the public art and key buildings from my town.

Life and Death in an Oil Town

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

OK, that's just wrong

I was feeling all glow-y warm thinking about miracles after my last post. In the background, I've got Jay Leno on the TV.

And my night is ruined after a teen-age girl appeared on the show, with her dog, who eats his food. Out of her mouth.


Miracles Happen

I was gathered with my church choir tonight right after our rehearsal, when we share prayer requests and praises. I've been overwhelmed lately with all the prayer requests for children in bad situations and for the number of people who are discovering they have cancer.

One of the hardest cases recently is a man my age. He was an emergency room physician who has always kept himself in the very best physical condition possible. He and his wife and three children, as well as their parents and other family members, are strong in their faith. This has been a definite advantage for them over the past couple of years after he was first diagnosed with bladder cancer.

We thought the treatment he received was successful -- surgery, chemo, radiation. It was tough to see this strong bicyclist at less than his physical peak.

Wave after wave of setbacks led to the ultimate announcement that extreme surgery was needed. The recovery would make his previous problems look like nothing.

But tonight he was at choir again, stronger every week since he's been able to come back the past month or two. This man, who was so near death, was a little sore tonight -- from taking part in his son's scout camp over the weekend. God's hand has brought him back to becoming a strong man again, enjoying his physical body and testing its new limits.

Ah, but that's just one part of this story. Tonight, HE had a prayer request for his wife's aunt.

The aunt had been checked after a lymph node became tender and swollen. The biopsy showed an adenoma, one of the worst types of cancer. Usually, by the time it is detected in the lymph nodes, the cancer is a Stage 3 or 4 at least, meaning there's not much hope.

The doctors in her small north Texas town were unable to find a tumor where they expected it to be. The genetic signature of the cancer cells indicated it was probably located in the pelvis, but nothing could be found at the local clinic.

The aunt then was sent to M.D. Anderson in Houston. They did complete body scans of every type.

Their conclusion? Yes, there had been a cancer of this type, but it was nowhere to be found in her body now.

The doctors' explanation was that her immune system was strong enough to deal with the tumor and conquered it, leaving only the cell that was found in the lymph node.

I'll accept that. Being that wonderously created is plenty of miracle for me. God heals, even when we aren't aware of it. Miracles come in all kinds of ways.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Changes in Cyberland

This week has been stressful in my online communities (fancy talk for message boards). I don't know if it's a seasonal change caused by fall's arrival or if this is just a turn in the lifecycle of message boards.

One of my favorite message boards of all time was set to close this week. I had not posted for a few months for various reasons, but once in a blue moon I'd peek in to see what was going on. I just happened to drop in when the announcement was made about the closing.

This group involves a sizeable group of people, mostly women with similar interests in matters of the home. They've gathered daily for some years now, in various configurations with various host companies. Each change has been painful as people adjusted to boards that looked different or functioned differently. But for the most part, they took the changes in stride after a little grumble.

This change was sharply different. The original owners of the board were caught by surprise when the hosting company decided it was getting out of the message board business. Their original decision was to close the board and not look for a new host. One of the owners was retiring because of health issues, so it seemed a logical time to say goodbye.

But the community would have none of that! Frantic attempts were made to find existing groups they could take over. Some started temporary boards just to stay in touch. Others scattered to parts unknown in little clusters.

The majority of the group, however, managed to stay together when an associate of the original owners offered bandwidth for the message boards to be transferred to.
So the original board still lives on,which is wonderful. For once there is little grumbling, because those who made the move are so grateful to still have a place to gather together. Sure, there were some folks who stepped away to find new homes, or who declined to make the move for personal reasons. But the bulk of the group is intact.

These people have community. They have forged real friendships from the blips on a computer screen. Many of us have traveled cross-country to meet each other at conferences. Many more maintain friendships off the board through e-mails and phone calls.

It's pretty amazing to witness. Even without their physical bodies being present in the same location, these women have created bonds that will overcome almost anything. The internet has become their kitchen table, their back fence.

On the other hand ...

There are about three other boards that I check fairly often. I tried to participate in them, really I did. There were people I liked at each board. But in the past month, all three have fizzled. One of the boards hasn't had a new post in a week or more. One has turned into Bickerfest. One is so lame it's no longer worth bothering with.

So I have removed my bookmarks to these places. It's time to close those doors and find better things to do. As much as I liked some of those people, they are more like characters in a TV show. No depth. No soul. Just blips.

The people I have met in our circle of bloggers are genuine. Unlike most message boards, we talk about things of the heart -- things that really matter to us. Some bloggers are academicians; most of us are writers (whether they've ever thought of themselves as writers or not); most of us have a deep tie to "place" as well as "relationship." We thrive on the interaction of reading and commenting on each others' writings.

It's an interesting mix of people. That's why I can't go a day without checking out everyone in the circle. You all are real.

As it happens, Tech on Harbor Street ( posted this evening about this topic too. Please look at his site -- great minds think alike!

Monday, October 11, 2004

The perfect season

This is the perfect season.

Rainy days, cool enough for a sweater. That special fall crispness that explodes in our noses -- a mix of coolness and the smell of wet leaves.

Deciding which warm soup's for supper. Pulling the crock pot from the pantry shelf and searching for just the right recipe to fill the senses and the belly.

Buying new fall shoes -- comfortable as a pillow, waterproof and butt-ugly.

Warm socks.

Lighting my favorite candles -- Yankee Candle's Home Sweet Home fragrance.

Fresh sheets and the fall quilt.

The furnace coming on for the first time this year.

The sound of football games -- the perfect sleeping pill for curling up on the couch with a fuzzy throw blanket.

Folks, it's Cozy Time!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Midnight musings

It's midnight. I'm fatigued to the point of tears. There's a ton of stuff left undone that should have been finished before tomorrow morning. I wanted to make a few batches of cookies for the bake sale at church tomorrow. I even went to the store and bought all the stuff to make them.

There's still four partial scarecrows in various stages of repose in my house. I wanted to be able to deliver them in the morning.

Today (Sunday) is the church Pumpkin Festival -- besides the pumpkin patch we'll have a family fun festival with the moon walk, crafts, games, etc..... including the bake sale. There will be a lunch -- hot dogs and chips.

So why didn't I get my stuffed friends finished? Well, I've been working on the revival that will be NEXT weekend -- Oct. 17-19. I'm doing the publicity, pretty much by myself. I've done posters, handouts, newspaper calendar items, a blurb for the bulletin and an article for the church newsletter. And I've made some "trading cards" to give the kids and hand out at the festival tomorrow. I'm proud of the work I've done on this project.

But I'm tired. After the revival is over, I plan to take a break from being so heavily involved in so many different programs in the church. Too many things have overlapped at the same time.

So here's an example of my trading cards. They are based on the evangelist's text, Hebrews 12: 1-4. He's using that as a foundation to speak about spiritual training. If an athlete wants to succeed, they prepare and train for their events. We, as disciples of Christ, should prepare as well to run the spiritual race.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Remnants of a Life

First, Eda Maye didn't like her name, and most of her friends probably never knew what her real name was. Family members knew better than to use her given name.

From the time she was about 4 years old, my mom was known as Mater, a name that came from the fact that she would follow her older siblings and friends to school, carrying a pocketful of tomatoes. In her adult years, more friends came to call her simply "Smith," or "Smitty," both of which suited her fine.

Mater was an icon of stability. She was a resident of Ponca City from March 1953 until her final illness. She married Bill Smith on March 20, 1953, and they remained married until his death on Aug. 23, 1976. Through those years, she always banked at the same bank, and always had the same telephone number. Once she committed, she remained loyal -- even to those with whom she conducted daily business.

Momma worked as a registered nurse until the birth of my brother, Bob, then devoted herself completely to her family. I was born less than a year and a half after Bob.

She gave us both wings and roots. The roots burrowed deep -- some life decisions were non-negotiable. Bob in particular needed her care because of his physical needs as well as his need for help in navigating this world.

The two were inseparable. Her devotion to him created a ferocious loyalty to a simple lifestyle. It was the kind of life where the family could tell time based on what she was doing at the moment -- at 7 a.m. she was awake to make sure I was ready for school; at 11:50 she was making lunch; at 4 p.m. she was starting supper because Dad would be walking in the back door at 4:35 and it would be supper time. The routine of life was done when it was supposed to be done.

Change did come to her life after Dad's death. She was 53 years old when she learned to drive, and was a terror that would overshadow any 16-year-old driver. But it gave her such independence that she didn't care how many of her friends' mailboxes she backed into, or how many parking lot poles she scraped with her bumper. It opened up whole new worlds to her -- including the bingo halls in town. These became her social circle, where she made loyal friendships. She and Bob were accepted there, and they daubed their numbers happily as they caught up with the lives of their pals.

Shortly after Bob died in 1997, Momma's health began fading. Hospital stays were followed by moves to assisted living centers, and finally a hospital visit in Oklahoma City led to her final weeks in a nursing home. Her brothers Jean and John were able to travel from Missouri together to see her while she was in the hospital, a visit she treasured. John delivered a message from his dog, that she would feel better if she just ate some grass. She laughed harder than she had in months.

She knew she had given Bob the roots she needed, and also given me the independence to spread my wings beyond life in our hometown. A few days before she died, she told me "I don't want to have to leave you alone, but it looks like I have to." We spent the next several hours sharing the words and thoughts of our hearts, and we both knew that this Christmas she would return to God.

Beloved sister-in-law Dorothy, whom she had known since nurses' training in the early 1950s, came from Missouri to say her goodbyes, too.

Momma departed this world at 1 a.m. Dec. 24, 1999. The staff of the nursing home was still in her room, crying, when I arrived a few minutes later. They said they knew the night was different because Momma wasn't performing her usual midnight serenades -- singing bawdy songs at the top of her lungs to make them laugh. The entire staff had come to her room to find out why she was so quiet, and in their company she closed her eyes.

Later, I was going through her things, getting ready to have a garage sale. I stopped for a moment to check the pockets of her jackets that hung on the hall tree with her collection of silly hats. I discovered her legacy in the three tools of "momhood" she kept at hand: handfuls of Kleenex, hard candies and pocket change.

The value was immeasurable -- $13.92 in coins, a half-dozen peppermints, mixed with butterscotch and cinnamon disks, and not quite enough tissues to dry my tears. The mix was a good recipe; it was enough to hold a family together for almost 50 years.

Monday, October 04, 2004

More on prayer and gratitude

The story of picking up pennies reminded me of a hot summer day a few months ago.

I had an out-of town assignment to talk to a new developer in a rural area. I wasn't in the mood to drive so far that morning. I'd been feeling pretty low for a while; I was feeling no joy.

As I reached for my door knob to leave my house that morning, I had a flash.

"You have not because you ask not."

It rocked my world that morning. It stopped me in my tracks, and before I pulled the door open, I lifted my eyes towards heaven and prayed "Lord, I pray for travel mercies today and I ask you to restore the joy in my life." Peaceful calmness settled on my shoulders as I walked through the door and got in the car.

It was about an hour and a half drive. There was a bit of unexpected coolness in the morning air which was refreshing.

I decided to avoid I-35 South until I was well past Norman. Instead, I took I-44 and stopped in Newcastle to get something to drink at the Sonic there. I had been listening to a book on tape -- some silly, badly written murder mystery. I rolled my eyes listening to the ridiculous character development and the unbelievable relationships among the characters. I was glad this trashy tale only cost me a couple of bucks from a discount bookstore at the outlet mall in Gainesville, Texas. I knew it would help me stay awake as I thought of ways it could have been better written.

As I pulled out of Sonic, I remembered the prayer I had prayed leaving the house, and repeated it. I prayed it again as I merged from SH 9 onto I-35 South near Goldsby.

By mid-morning I arrived at the development out in the country a few miles east of the interstate. It was nice to get out of the city and see some wide open country with horse farms.

I pulled up under a stand of trees where the developer's fifth-wheel trailer was parked next to a picnic table. I didn't see anyone around the trailer, but I got out and started walking around.

About the time I reached the picnic table, a pleasant-looking man wearing a straw cowboy hat pulled up to the fifth-wheeler on a John Deer mule and called out my name.

"You ever driven one of these?" he hollered.

"Yeah, my uncle's, up on his farm in Missouri," I hollered back.

"Jump in, then, and follow me," he said as he hopped onto a four-wheeler.

Next thing I know, we're tearing across a sun-kissed, golden meadow that hadn't been grazed for about three years. The gentle wind rippled across the pasture, like fingers combing through an angel's golden hair.

An uncontrollable "YE-HAWWWW!" leapt from my throat. My face started aching and I realized it was because I was smiling from ear to ear.

We stopped near a 17-acre pond where the developer planned to build a family compound with homes for he and his wife and their children's families. It made me think of Walden's pond.

We drove around to several other spots as he related his family's fascinating history on this land. He fairly drew his vision for the development by waving his hand across the horizon -- a community pond here, a dam there, a custom home across the way.

Eventually we headed back to the trees around the fifth-wheeler. It was the only time I've been able to interview people while sitting under the trees, watching homeowners fishing while the photographer took photos. I talked to the people who had already built their homes here about the school system, easy highway access and the amenities they enjoyed. I listened as long as they wanted to tell me about the wild deer and turkeys that made their homes here, too.

There came a time when the photographer's cell phone rang with another assignment. I finally realized I was sunburned from the day's work and felt the grit of the dust of being out in the country. We'd been there for quite a while and it was time to go, much to my regret. I had truly enjoyed the day racing across open fields, sitting under the trees and hanging out at good fishing holes. I learned much about the developer's panache for finding niche business markets. The man could make money digging up dirt -- and did -- among other ventures.

I drove back down the country roads until I reached the casino at the interstate. I stopped there to wash my face, brush my hair and get a bottle of cold water. When I saw the smile still on my face, I knew my prayers that morning had been answered in ways I could not expect a few hours earlier.

"You have not, because you ask not," I heard again.

If only I'd known He'd answer my prayers for joy by sending me on a day of four-wheeling....


Thanks for the blessings

In response to ThePress's post under my giving up thread:

ER, thanks.

Back a few years ago when I was really fit and sassy (instead of fat and sassy), I used to walk and pray at the mall. I would pray that God find some tiny way to affirm my walking and the things I was trying to do to be healthy.

Without fail, every single time I prayed that, I would find a penny placed in my path. Always.
I started collecting them in a special jar.

One day, I really was stressed out about money. It was a few days before payday. I think most of us know that stress of no money left and a few days to go.

So I'm walking at the mall. I didn't find a single penny during that walk.

Suddenly there was a $10 bill right in front of me. I looked around to see if there was anyone frantically looking for it. No one even seemed to notice it, right there in plain sight.

I did what I thought was the honorable thing. I took it to a clerk in the closest store to turn it in. She laughed and said "I don't want to be responsible! Take it to the mall office if you aren't going to keep it."

So I did.

Later the same day, I was walking my dog in the park out in front of my apartment, still fretting about money. We were about 5 minutes into our walk when suddenly, again in plain sight, there is a $20 bill right next to a tree.

I looked around, laughed, and said "Thanks, God. I get it now. Thanks for the blessings."

Friday, October 01, 2004

I give up

I think I should just acknowledge that I stink at relationships and just accept that truth. There comes a point when it's not worth trying any more -- the rewards don't equal the pain. I acknowledge I am no good at playing golf, and so I don't put myself through that. After junior high, I wasn't tall enough to play basketball, so I put it behind me. For me, relationships simply don't do any better than those types of sports. And the cost is much, much higher.

So I officially submit my resignation from the dating world. I'm better off giving my attention to the things I can do without feeling like I'm in some dang made-for-TV movie.

That's it.