Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Bride -- Almost Ready

My dear friends Anne and Cliff were married last night, despite a rain-out of their plans for an outdoor wedding. Just a few of the 350+ photos I shot. Anne is one beautiful bride, wouldn't you agree? Cliff is pretty handsome, too, all duded up!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm rated "G" for "GREAT!"

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

I may have sold my house

I don't want to say it too loudly for fear of jinxing it, but the person has already gotten a good-faith estimate of costs from a lender.
They just put the sign in the yard -- but it turns out this potential buyer was interested before that. She works for the Realtor. She's even interested in buying some of my furniture -- some of the stuff I don't want to move!
Say your prayers for me, please.

Oh, and the house I wanted in Ponca City? It was sold yesterday.
Tuesday night I drove around and said a prayer about it, as I've been doing frequently. This time, though, I changed the prayer to the prayer that never fails -- "Thy will be done." Wednesday morning, in the rain, they put the "sold" sign out.

Next time I go looking it will be with money ready to negotiate. God knows what He's doing and I will find my next home. I know it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gut-wrenching news

Saturday afternoon about 5 p.m. I went to the laundromat a stone's throw from my apartment. Just as I'd put the last quarters in the third washing machine, my cell phone rang and my heart leaped with joy for the thought of a conversation with a friendly voice while I waited for the suds to do my duds.

It was not to be a happy call, however. Anything but. This was probably the worst news I could ever receive, as a matter of fact.

It was from a good friend, who by all rights should have been my mother-in-law years ago. Her son and I had a long relationship and I was accepted as part of the family, even though he never did what it took to make that official.

What she had to tell me was that her grandson, my equivalent of a nephew, had been killed in Iraq yesterday. That's all I got from her -- I have no details.

I refer you back to a post I wrote in late February, when this same young man was wounded over there and we prayed that he would be sent home. Unfortunately, at that time, he was not. Now he is being sent home, in a wooden box. And it sickens me.

The Wounded Veteran

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Posting from my second home

This old hometown of mine has changed some. There are now several (a handful at least) restaurants downtown now. Used to be there was one burger joint that was open for lunch. One of the new places is called Ponca Townsite Company, giving a nod toward our history during the Cherokee Strip Land Run where people staked their claim and then recorded it at the township office.

I eat here a lot. Tonight I ordered a personal size bacon, lettuce and tomato pizza and I'm sitting here with my laptop, talking to you and listening to Josh Groban. Life is good! (So is the pizza. I just took a bite; wish I could offer you one through the screen!)

I'm settling into a comfortable routine, coming here after work. Usually I go by my apartment first, just to see what kind of excitement is going on. Today the building was red-tagged for trash violations. People are very sloppy about the very few and very small trash cans for the two buildings that share them. And people are very very bad about dumping old furniture out there too. It is just a little toooo Sanford and Son-ish for my likes. To tell you the truth, I would have talked to the city guys who regulate such things myself, but looks like they caught it on a drive-by, or the sanitation truck called it in themselves. I may call my buddy Billy about the bats since he's the building inspector.

Anyway, enough griping about nonsense. I had gotten into the habit of walking over here, but since I caught on to the wireless part of the place, I've been hauling butt and laptop over here in the car. I have a large, heavy laptop and would prefer not to be mugged for it some night at closing.

This is a great help with my austerity movement. I'm not having to pay for an internet connection, plus I have my people here to feed me and clean up after me and remind me when it is time to go home and go to bed. AND they have the best ice cream EVAH here. I think I'll try the Red Velvet tonight if I have room after the pizza.

I had to cover a special meeting of the city commissioners today -- a work session. It was about a new plan to save the city lots of money with a fancy system to replace the water meters and the electric meters and put in a new system that is centrally monitored. It'll cost a bundle but save the city even more, Professor Higgins said in his presentation.

We shall see. I see wonderful things happening here, after decades of status quo. There is a new senior citizens apartment complex in the works, a new YMCA rec center, lots and lots of fancy things. Unfortunately, part of this progress means the demise of one of the very few drive-in theaters left in the state. The Airline will take its final bow, probably, this summer.

Lots is going on in preparation for the Centennial activities. The City Commission announced this afternoon that the city's centennial float will be displayed on the city plaza Monday night before the commission's regular meeting. I'll take photos!

I haven't had much time for photo-taking, which makes me sad, but my friends are getting married June 29 and I will more than make up for it at that illustrious occasion. We have all waited for this for so long, I practically expect the Queen of England to show up with a present!

My Mitford reading compulsion continues. I'm halfway through book 4, which I picked up yesterday after work. And I have book 5 on hand just so I don't run out!

I expect to stay here this weekend, for the first time. Oh the mere thought of it delights me, although I won't have the chance to sleep in late Saturday morning, which would make it perfect. I'll have to work, at least for a little while. The only thing I know for sure that I have to do is pick up the police notes. Lord, you would think it was a suicide bomb the way people try to avoid having to do them! I'd do them gladly if that was a spoken part of my assignment, but most of my hours are full with slightly more important projects.

One thing I'm working on with a co-worker has been done by bigger papers, including the one for which I previously worked. We're going to report on the county restaurant inspections. We've already had a battle with the county health department, invoking the state Open Record Act and involving the District Attorney who gave them a blistering lecture and changed their attitude for the better. Anyway, that aside, it will be a good project for a small town newspaper.

I'll leave you now and spend some time surfing around, reading what you've written to entertain me. It better be good, or else! Just kidding. You all make me happy with your writings and your comments that you leave here. I've missed spending time on the blog, but hey, now I have things to write about. And a nice restaurant in which to write them, with a pretty good inspection score, as I recall.

See you later!
Life is good!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A sweet blessing today

Today I covered a technical meeting of the Board of Construction Appeals in a little room tucked in the back of city hall. The handful of board members were considering adopting changes in three building codes to comply with International Building Standards. There are bunches of these codes, ranging from plumbing to electric to who knows what all. They are updated every couple of years or so, usually when better information becomes available as standard practice in the construction industries.

Anyway, I was the first to arrive, and was fiddling with addressing a letter to a friend to drop in the mailbox after this meeting. The clerk who would be taking the minutes was next in, and behind her was a nice-looking gentleman about my age.

He was a field inspector for the state's construction industry board, attending the meeting to give some explanation to some of the changes in the codes. His main office is in the state capital, just a couple of miles from the house I'm now trying to sell.

Either she or he mentioned his name -- Buddy O.

"Buddy O!" I said. "Did you go to school here?" I asked.
"Yep," he replied.
"Jefferson?" I asked?

I sat there dumbfounded, trying to get my mind around this chance reunion. Three weeks ago I wasn't even in this town, but here I was today, in this little room with Buddy!

He and the clerk took their seats and he looked straight at me, then turned to the clerk.

"Bxxxxx Sxxxxx" he called me by name (no, my name is not Bxxxxx Sxxxx, but pretend you know my maiden name if you don't.)

"She was my first grade sweetheart," he explained to the clerk, with a beaming smile.

My breath left me suddenly. I was flooded with wonderful sweet memories of our early years, playing on the playground, sneaking to the edge of the school lawn, sitting holding hands and k-i-s-s-i-n-g the way 6-year-olds used to do before they ever had a real clue about grown-up kissing. Such joy just started running like hot water through my blood vessels.

I couldn't believe he so readily remembered my name and could place it with this face, some 46 years later. (I guess my kisses back then really carried an impact, you know what I mean? LOL! When I kissed 'em, they stay kissed for decades!!!)

Oh my, I can't tell you what happy thoughts have filled me up. And to see how well he's done, and to know how well I've done, I was thinking how proud Miss Bradshaw would have been of those 6-year-olds, if she just hadn't had to tell them to cut out that mushy stuff.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Here's a story from the new land:

Last night about 10, as I was consuming the third book in the Mitford series, the neighbor on the other side of this here fourplex pounded on the door. I finally answered, first yelling a "WHO IS IT?" through the door. Well, so, then I peek out through a barely-opened door to find him and a lady friend (perhaps caretaker?) and he's holding a glass jar.

With a bat in it.

Which he had just caught in his living room.

Yes, it appears the space between the first floor and the upstairs units is filled with a colony of bats! They had entered his apartment through a hole in the ceiling.

"I want to get those holes fixed! " he exclaimed. "But first I want the bats out of there!"

No kidding. Me too!

Most things don't creep me out too bad. Rodents do, for sure. I freak. And bats. Add bats to my freak-out list.

Not sure how this batty issue will resolve. I'll check with the landlord myself to make sure my neighbor reports this to him.

But I do have one card I can play. The city property inspector was an old friend of mine way back in high school days, and was one of the first city officials I ran into in an official capacity when I started working here. I've got his number. If anyone will have an answer, it'll be Billy -- er, Bill, as they call him now.

Consider it an understatement when I say I had a leeeetle trouble getting to sleep after that!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

After the first week

Here are a few thoughts I collected during my first week in my new/old hometown. I find myself being somewhat repetitive about how nice it is, so I guess that must mean it's true, right??

Here you go, written sort of in a journal style as the sections were written on different days.

Monday, first day at the new place! I got to my apartment about 1 a.m. Sleeping was a little hard, being in a new place, especially as close to the railroad tracks as this temporary apartment is. But it was fairly easy getting up, and I really enjoyed my block-long walk to work. I learned that the employee entrance is on the side of the building closest to my apartment, so I don't have to walk around to the opposite side.

Still much to learn, but I can tell that the procedures will make sense once I get more familiar with it.

Tomorrow night I will cover a meeting for someone else who is overloaded. It will be fun. It's a public hearing on allocation of water resources. (The kind of geeky things I get into.)

I walked downtown for lunch, a block in the opposite direction from my apartment. It was cool and I was able to do some window shopping. I get an hour for lunch but I was so involved in the desk-cleaning that I didn't get away right on time and lost about 15 minutes of my time. But that is OK, because I really didn't take even 45 minutes.

Tomorrow I will have to try to run some errands -- set up a bank account, get deposits on utilities, etc.

Next Tuesday evening we'll have a company picnic at the shelter out at the park near the lake. The company is providing all the food. Everyone is so nice, I think this will be a good place to work.

Tuesday. Last night was so relaxing. After I finished work, I walked to the library to try to get a library card, but didn't have any proof of my new address. I thought I had my lease at the apartment, so I thought I'd be able to find it and go back to get my card.

On the way, I stopped at a new restaurant (to me, and apparently fairly new in town.) I had the most incredible wrap and decided this is going to become "my" place. They have a cyber cafe set up but not working -- they aren't sure they're going to keep the computers. But they do have wireless so I can hang out there with my laptop, when I bring it up. Nice people too, and they have live music on Friday and Saturday. It's a five-minute walk to my place.

So I went home after I ate, changed clothes, looked for the lease and gave up. Went back to the library, and they had me put my address on a post card. When it gets to me I can take that back as proof of my address and get my library card.

While I was there I found a cozy alcove, right where I used to sit on the floor during the summers when I was in grade school, reading books. It was so comfy I dozed off and dropped the book. I figured that was a sign to go home.

I stopped at the same restaurant to try some of their ice cream. It was incredible. I got cinnamon and I'm afraid I may be hooked.

Life is good!

It's pretty darn wonderful so far, I have to admit. I feel sorta cosmopolitan, what with the living and working downtown and the new restaurants that are down here too. I've only been in my car once since Sunday, and that was to go to Wal-Mart. There's just something cool and reminiscent about being able to walk everywhere I want to go. Can't wait to get my library card so I can have more internet access outside of work. I feel uncomfortable doing anything online that's not work related, but no one has told me not to.

I am enjoying not having a land-line phone, microwave, TV or computer. I'm finding I like the trade-off. A lot. Slow food, slow pace, less stress. Less noisy intrusions into my life.

I also enjoy the work I'm doing so far, covering local government. Not so enjoying typing the honor roll lists and that kind of thing, but hope to get some education stories going that have some substance other than being a clip to mail to grandma.

I am at the library (where I am currently typing). On Monday, since I couldn't get my library card, I searched for the Jan Karon books and found "At Home in Mitford." I've wanted to read the Mitford series after serious encouragement from an aunt, a cousin and a couple of dear friends.

I was so overwhelmed by nostalgia and all the walking that I dozed off and dropped my book. I had to rush back here today after I got my address verification card for two reasons: 1, to play on the computer without fear of being watched; and 2, to check out the book! I have many Mitfordish scenes running through my head in these past few days that I wish I had my laptop so I could write!

I was disappointed this morning when I woke up and realized I didn't hear the train last night. Since I've been here, I've stirred as the train goes through at 3 a.m., just three blocks west of me. It sounds like it really barrels through town at that hour, instead of the slow, rocking train passing through during the day. It's still rather comforting, imagining that there's someone on that train just making a quick pass through town to make sure everything is OK while the residents sleep. I always drop right back off to sleep after they make their run. But I missed hearing it this morning and I don't know if they didn't make the run or if I slept through it.

Thursday. They won't let us drink anything at our desks if it's not in a particular closed-lid mug. They gave me a mug yesterday to make it official.

I've spent a good deal of time doing some cleaning. I've had to clean off a dozen waste-paper cans' worth of junk off my desk and out of my filing cabinets. It's all been piling up since at least 1993, which was the date on the files at the bottom of the piles. The dust bunnies have been horrible. There are still some messy places behind the desk, between the desk and the computer table on the side. I'll have to wear slacks one day so I can get down there and dig out the junk.

I do get a lot of comments and weird looks when I clean. They may think I have an obsessive need to clean, but they just caught a mouse in a closet behind a co-worker yesterday. I don't want to feel one running across my toes!! Plus everyone is coughing and sneezing -- I'm not. I think it's because I've killed the allergens that are around me. You should have seen the dust buffaloes I corralled! HUGE!

I can't think of anything to add. Photos probably will have to come after my next trip to OKC so I can collect my laptop and photo card reader. I feel like someone lopped off one hand and crippled me without the computer. It's a poor substitute trying to find places where I can steal a little computer time. Not yet as comfortable as my old set-up at my old house.

Friday. All I had to do today was write meeting notices for the Board of Commissioners and the School Board. Both have meetings on Monday night, at the same time, to vote on their budgets for the coming fiscal year. Great. I'm supposed to cover both. I talked to the Managing Editor and we came up with a plan for me to start at the Board of Commissioners' meeting and the run over to the school board. This time I think I'll take a car. The last thing I had to do today was go over and pick up the packet that covers everything on the agenda for the B of C meeting.

Saturday. Road trip! Back to OKC today to do some more packing, organizing, cleaning and other prep for selling my house. I have to find my apartment lease, too. I can't believe it has vanished in just a week. I also have to find my social security card, which I fear is in one of two lock boxes for which I cannot find the keys. I also bundled up my laundry to take with me to wash.

Uh-oh. I got here and realized said bundled laundry is still sitting in the apartment! Good thing I left some clothes here. I'll have to find someplace to wash clothes Sunday evening. I hope the laundromats don't close too early or I'll be in some mess.

Sunday: Posting my thoughts here. Yep, I wound up napping and wasting most of the day yesterday. Well, wasting is too harsh a word. I did get some essential things done: Banking, for one. And I went to the farmers market which is about a mile from my house here. I've never made it over there in all of the 11 years I've lived in this house. So now I drive 100 miles plus a little to go. Hey, I needed some handmade soap and a candle so I can take the smell of "old" out of my apartment.

Must get up and get going now. If I'm not going to go to church this weekend, I better have something productive and essential to show for my absence. For a while, I'm going to be just a little lax about church attendance. I'm also going to do some visiting to several churches before settling into a new church home. It's been too many years since I've looked at other churches. I think it's something that we should routinely do, so we can find what other people are doing right, in welcoming, missions, mutual support ... and so many other areas. We have much to learn from one another about how to do these things.

There are some boxes in there waiting for me to come put them together and put stuff in them. Pray for me!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Realtor just left my house

And I am so pleased! She is going to list my house for about $15,000 more than I expected! AND more importantly, she expects to sell it within DAYS. It is so exciting to think that things could happen as quickly as she's saying!

This Realtor is just wonderful. Just this week she has closed two houses worth about $500,000 each, plus a $3.5 million home. (And this is Oklahoma, just to remind you. Our property values tend to be very inexpensive compared to other markets.)

She flat knows what she's doing. I'm completely confident she'll be able to deliver what she promises. She's also willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

Meanwhile, I've moved what I need to a temporary apartment. I start my new job in the morning. I'm going to do a little bit more work here before I leave for the night to drive 2 hours to the new place and get some sleep. In the morning, I'll walk a block to the office to start my new tour of duty.

I might be offline for a while. I'll have to see what the policy is on internet access at the new job. It could be that I'll be going to the library to get my online fix, or to an internet cafe.

I'm at that point where I wish I had another week of prep time, but I don't.

Emotions have been high. I'm desperately going to miss my church and all my friends here, and I was all weepy this morning as goodbyes were said. Well, beyond weepy, to be honest. I was just about to cross over into the ugly cry.

Time to sign off and pack up my underwear, which I forgot to box up yesterday. I've got a little list of things like that that I MUST remember to take for tomorrow.

Don't know for sure when I'll be back here, or back online. I'll catch up with you on the other side!