All posts by Red Dirt Kelly

Nowhere to Put My Wax Lips: Organizing A Halloween Candy Haul

You did it.  You braved the freezing weather in your skimpy ballerina costume, or perhaps warmer than usual weather under your furry gorilla garb.  You might stink due to the combination of a spandex superhero suit that didn’t breathe, or the nasty greasepaint you put on your face three hours ago.  You’re possibly a little worse for the wear, sporting more than one Halloween badge of courage.  Maybe you cut your tongue on the breathing and talking-hole cutout of your hard plastic mask; you know, the one with the single string of elastic that probably broke before you hit the third house in your neighborhood?

Or perhaps you stepped in a mud puddle wearing only your blue fuzzy Smurf house shoes – the ones you thought were a perfect finale for your blue sweats, blue face and white beard.  You might have cuts or bruises, acquired from tripping over one too many steps on the dark sidewalks you ascended as you neared the front doors of a hundred neighbors.  You may have ripped your costume in four places or cracked your tiara right up the middle.

None of this matters.  What matters is that your pillow case, your plastic pumpkin with black paint flaking off the eyes, or your neatly crafted candy bag with the stuffed ghost on the side is bursting at the seams and making your arms ache from carrying it for 27 city blocks… It is now time.  It’s time to pour it out on the floor of your bedroom in its bountiful splendor, look lovingly at the treasure, and start your Halloween candy sorting ritual.

  1. Chocolate bars – these are the “exchange units” of all other candy types.  They are the golden standard to which everything else is compared.  You put all of them together and do a quick calculation as to how many you’re going to keep for yourself, how many you’ll need to hide from the chocolate-loving freak in your family, and how many you might use to trade with your friends or siblings for other treats on low-inventory status within your stash. And, depending upon your particular sweet tooth, you might make an extra pile for your favorite no-exchanges, no-returns bars.  For my kids, these were the Reese’s cups.  No amount of cajoling would get me even a crumb of a Reese’s cup.
  2. Sour stuff – these are still valuable, but slightly below the chocolate.  Included in this pile are the SweetTarts, Smarties, Sprees, Pixie Sticks, Sour Gummy Worms, etc.  While still valuable, it usually takes a few of these to trade for one chocolate bar.  Sometimes several.  At this point, because they’re not the prime standard, you probably treat yourself to at least one packet of SweetTarts, praying that at least two of the three pieces inside the tiny packet are colors you like.
  3. Suckers – Blow Pops, DumDums, Lifesaver Lollipops, Tootsie Rolls…you carefully pick through your stack until you find every one of your suckers.  You have fun with them by arranging them into spirals on the floor, or placing them in gradually decreasing mass size, down to the tiniest ones.  You think about sticking them into your ponytail the next morning (or not), and you anxiously look around to make sure you have at least one cherry flavored blow-pop and tootsie roll.  Find them? You might hide those too.
  4. Good Little Stuff – Your pile is looking messy so it’s time to start sorting the “pea-gravel.”  You quickly look through the pile and pull out all the Hershey’s minis, the Hershey’s kisses, the hard candy you like, the prime bubble-gum brands, the Jolly Rancher’s and anything else of value. The entire time you’re hoping that the “good” little stuff outnumbers the “icky” little stuff.  Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.  But you always hope.
  5. Icky Little Stuff – For me, this is where those orange and black wrapped peanut butter taffies go. Also included is the single Bit-O-Honeys and the little packages of candy corn.  That’s just me.  For you?  Who knows…but you know you have them.  The ickies are the candy that you know you’ll either give away, beg off to someone as a “bonus” when trading other pieces, or might eventually turn hard, stale and go in the trash in February.  You do your best to find any last redeeming value from this pile, but usually by this time the ickies have sorted themselves out and are the last remaining candy on your floor.

Task complete, you lean back and assess your candy bank account.  Was it a good year or a year of famine?  You look down at your muddy Smurf house shoes, rub your bruised ankle, glance once again across the beautiful bounty of your effort and smile.  You are the king or queen, and this is your treasure.  Now you know exactly what it’s worth, and begin your plotting on how you’ll steward this beautiful booty.

Okay, there’s just one problem with this picture.  Where do you put these weird red wax lips wrapped in cellophane?!

Intent, Interpretation and Response: Anatomy of a Super-Sized Conflict

Let’s face it.  “Super sized” any-food is too much unless we’re talking about athletes, extremely physically active people or adolescent boys.  I once saw a six-foot, thin-as-a-rail boy down two super sized Mc-Meals without blinking an eye…his body was a consuming machine, growing nightly and amazing those around him daily.  But for most of us, the super sized phenomenon has resulted in a proverbial thunder thighs and badonk-a-donk butt plague gripping America by the cholesterol-packed veins.

But this essay isn’t about America’s battle of the bulge.  Rather, it’s about the something else that makes you feel like you’ve just eaten way too many calories and and you can’t shake the weight of what’s getting you down:  a super sized conflict with someone you love.

When someone begins eating healthy, the first thing they usually have to do is come to terms with what it is they are actually putting in their mouth.  Sometimes you look at a plate of food and it just doesn’t seem that 1200 calories are sitting there waiting for you to engage.  It’s the same thing with fights…people rarely understand how they started, the result is overwhelming and they feel as thought they bit off way more than they could chew.  And…frequently they experience physical symptoms like indigestion!

However, if you break down a Big Mac into all its parts, you can see what you’re getting yourself into. From the seventies we know this is…

Click photo to view the Big Mac "Two All Beef Patties..." commercial.

And, once you know what you’re getting into sometimes it seems easier to make choices that affect outcomes.  For a Big Mac, we could pull off the middle layer of bread, one of the patties, all of the sauce and have a moderately decent meal.  For fights, however, the ingredients are invisible.  Here’s the list:  feeling, action, intent, interpretation,  and response…FAIIR.  And, fair fighting is something the world could all use more of so we’ll stick with that acronym to help you remember our anatomy lesson.

Generally about this time in an article I would provide an example of an argument.  However, I think what I’d like you to do instead is think back to one you’ve had recently.  What was it about?  How did it start?  Got it in your head?  Okay…here’s the breakdown –

Feelings There are feelings surrounding every action, interpretation and response in an argument.  Identifying those feelings and being clear about them is the first order of business.  If you started it, what were you feeling?  Sometimes you have “feeling salad” wherein you have several at the same time.  Make sure and list them all.

Action Usually the feeling precedes the action; feelings are the propulsion, so to speak, for your move.  So, what did you do?  What action did you take?  Sometimes a fight is precipitated by feelings and the action becomes “shutting down.”  It doesn’t always have to be a forward-motion behavior.  It’s important to note, however, that there is always an intent for the action.

Intent Here is a major key for you – most all intentions within normal couple fights are positive.  It’s actually a positive thing to want to resolve an issue.  It’s a positive thing to want the fighting to stop.  It’s a positive thing to think you’re protecting someone’s feelings.  It’s a positive thing to try to change something that’s not working.  Even though your partner may not view your action as having a positive intent, it usually does…even if that intent is only to protect yourself because you’re feeling attacked.  That’s a positive action!  No one wants to feel attacked!

Interpretation The next part of the argument, however, is the interpretation.  In most every fight, the “intent” of one person is “interpreted” in a negative manner.  This is where the real problems lie.  A history of hurts pile up and so many times interpretations are based upon historical “sameness,” even if this fight is different.  Further, negative intents are often labeled (correctly) as “mind-reading.”  No human being can read minds, have ESP about another’s feelings, or judge what an intent really is…you’re just not that good.  Neither am I.  But over time, trust erodes when fights continue and it’s difficult to remember that your partner is a living, breathing, autonomous person with their own thoughts and feelings.  So, this is where you need to be the most cautious:  assumptions of negative intent are toxic.

Response You can tell where this is going now, right?  If you have an behavior that was feeling inspired, had a positive intent, but then a negative interpretation…the logical “response” would be to then counter with a behavior that is feeling inspired, has a positive intent, but will probably be negatively interpreted.  This is how humans, and for that matter pretty much most of the animal kingdom, are engineered.  And many times, we can’t even really identify where these fights began or how they ended.

If this type of escalation continues, it becomes super sized.  And before you know it, your relationship may have some pretty heavy baggage (thunder thighs) to slowly repair with healthier interactions.  However, the cool thing about healthier eating and exercise, AND about healthy communications and interactions, are that they make a difference immediately.  And both, over a longer period of time, can radically change your outlook on life.

Envisioning a relationship with healthy communication (clear, open and FAIIR dialogue) feels good doesn’t it?  As I think about it, I am experiencing absolutely NO indigestion!

(Now that you know the anatomy of a fight, follow THIS LINK to learn what you can do better to avoid some of that mess I just shared with you!)

After you do that, if you’re still not there…write us and we’ll get you more resources.  Thanks.

Oversleep-y Silent Sunday: 10/24/10

Persimmon Time - Oklahoma is great place for finding edible treasures across the land. NOW is the time for Persimmon foraging. Have you seen any around? - Photo by Red Dirt Kelly
The "Zac" group did their best to help OSU win their homecoming contest against Nebraska, but it just wasn't meant to be. This photo and more from "America's Best Homecoming" celebration at
Proof positive that fall IS coming to Oklahoma...eventually. Photo by Kenny Bomgardner, taken of his tree.
While the weather is still good...make sure and plan a trip to the Wichita Wildlife refuge. You might find yourself sharing the road with this guy. Photo by the Oklahoma Tourism Department. Click to read more about the area.

Ludivine OKC Lives Up To Its Second and Third Syllables: A Restaurant Review

If you do what I did and accidentally search for the Ludivine restaurant in Oklahoma City by typing “Ludivine dot com” into your browser, you’ll be met with a screen full of drop dead gorgeous, blond – um…nakedness.  Evidently Ludivine Sagnier, the French actress, is famous for her nude acting scenes. And, still photos of these scenes are displayed on the front page of her website in case you needed to be convinced of her ability to pull off the roles into which she was cast.  Certainly it’s not just to garner website attention and attract high internet traffic, right?

I’m sharing this uncomfortable detail of my personal life because the information could be valuable in case you wish to eat at a new restaurant in the Mid-Town OKC area and you might happen to do a search at your place of employment.  And, if you’re already past that stage and you work for a state agency like I do, then you might also want to do what I did:  Immediately call or write your information technology friend and let them know of your faux pas.  Here’s a copy of my e-mail…

Dear [Name of IT friend]–

I was looking up Ludivine restaurant because I want to go eat there tonight.  I typed in Ludivine dot com (rather than the correct ludivineokc dot com) and for a brief moment was flashed with naked women photos.

Eek! I’m just telling you this because I may have set off some kind of filter or monitoring system within the workplace internet software…

See ya,[me]

In case you’re wondering if I’ll be the next state employee on the 10:00 p.m. news, the answer is no.  Evidently, my anxiety level was much higher than my friend’s and his response was basically, “This stuff happens.  Thanks for the heads up.”

I’m saving my e-mail just in case.

Enough about me…let’s talk about Ludivine.  The restaurant.  In Oklahoma City.
The Red Dirt Chronicles has already covered the establishment in three ways: a) We gave a shout out to Peach Crest farms, one of their local suppliers; b) I wrote an article about why I’m crazy about the concept of the restaurant and featured a link to their YouTube video library educating the viewer about various aspects re: their growers or producers, their purchasing philosophy, etc; and, c) the fact that they are now open for business.  This review will wrap our regular coverage of the restaurant and we’ll only go back if we do some specialty work such as an interview or collaborative event.  Oops – still talking about “us” now…time to get down to business.

Ludivine, New Prairie Cuisine…A Review

The restaurant site and interior

Located on the corner of 7th and Hudson, Ludivine sits diagonally across from the new Federal Building in the Mid-Town area of Oklahoma City.  The streets in the vicinity are not too busy and provide ample parallel parking.  At night, the restaurant sign beacons you with its bright robin egg blue color and a scissortail flycatcher punctuating the logo.

Enter the restaurant and you are met with a smart décor stitched together with pewter-look delicate chandelier placements, commissioned paintings that will keep you glancing at them throughout your entire visit, and heavy dark wood tables juxtaposed against seating covered with moss-green and soft gray textiles.  A color palette of burnished fulvous, deep brick-red, ebony, gray, accents of goldenrod and a knock-out indigo made my synapses start firing…astute choices indeed.   My favorite tabletop item was not the flowers grown in the Shawnee area, although they’re close.  Rather, I was especially drawn to the flatware design – the forks have a 45-degree angle at the base of their tines, so they lend a trendy finish to a comfortable, sharp context.

The kitchen is in full view and guests are given a choice of sitting at the surrounding counter to watch the cooking action, or sit at a table in the dining area.  The only drawback to the dining area I could see is that they could use between two and four feet more floor space width.  The wait staff and guests move fluidly enough, but can be seen jockeying for position to find their way, regardless of the engaging and friendly banter.

The bar has plenty of space for a comfortable hang out, or to meet and greet prior to a meal.  I’m still mulling over the large stripe patterned curtain chosen for the south window in the bar, but I’d take out-of-town guests there in a heartbeat.  Overall, even with the space constraints factored in, I give the space a solid “A.”  And, I tip my hat to the person or team who sweated the details to bring it all together.  Nice job, Ludivine.  You won’t be redecorating your space for a good long while.

Food and drink

A server fully invested in the restaurant, as well as his role as our dinner guide greeted us.  He mentioned we were “lucky tonight because they had Coq au Vin on the menu,” kept the chilled water coming and answered all our questions.  I had my eighteen year-old daughter with me; she decided to order the lamb burger.  I ordered the Coq au Vin.  We held off on appetizers because there was a strong possibility of dessert in our future, and I ordered one of their house specialty cocktails to start the evening.

A drink with a grown-up finish: The "Bees Smashed Kneecaps." Gotta love that lavender finish... - RDC Photo

I chose this particular drink because I had watched a video demonstration on their Facebook page and decided the beverage needed further investigation.  When my Bee Smashed Kneecaps (an adaptation of their Bee’s Knees cocktail) arrived, I was not disappointed.  A mixture of Broker’s gin, lemon, lavender, and honey – shaken and strained, filled the glass.  At the same time refreshing and bold, the finish of lavender filled my “exhale” after the first gulp.  I had been concerned there would be too much honey or sweetness but this fear was put to rest immediately.  It was a grown up drink and a dandy one at that.  The Ludivine bar also gets a solid “A.”

The chilled water plus the assortment of breads was a nice filler between courses.  My daughter appreciated the pumpkin bread.  I liked the bacon crumble extra-chewy baguette.

Coq au Vin - Ludivine, 10/9/10 - RDC Photo

Next came dinner.  I’ve had several variations of Coq au Vin over the years, so I was curious about the Ludivine approach.  They served their chicken quarter over whipped turnips, with a few Crowder peas, steamed turnip wedges and a small pickled okra spear, the Vin sauce pooling on all sides.  My most important question was answered on the first bite:  Yes, the chicken came before the Vin, and was not covered up by the reduction.  There is a spectrum of “done” for cooked vegetables and I was surprised to find the turnip wedges at the front edge of that range.  I thought they might have been slow roasted for some time.  This was a good choice because with a roasted chicken in rich sauce, plus brown Crowder peas and whipped turnip bed tending to take on the Vin flavor, a difference is needed.  The barely-done turnip wedges and the tender okra spear provided that difference.  I’d like to see perhaps one more element of variety to set off the complete dish; perhaps kicking the whipped turnips for something that holds up better, or pooling less sauce.  Still, this dish earns an “A-.”

We ordered a plate of four assorted desserts.  I’m sure these rotate every evening, so I won’t dwell too much on the detail.  I will say, however, that the chilled blueberry soup was one of my top picks for the evening.  If that soup is available when you visit, order it.  They serve their coffee French Press fashion and for that I was grateful.  The blend of their beans was roasted one to two shades too dark and oily, with a slightly bitter finish.  Perhaps an intentional choice to compliment the sweet palate of desserts, but I think a bit more mellow of a finish would sit better with the majority of those dining.  Dessert, A; coffee; B.

Here are a few extra notes to finish off this particular review – I noticed there wasn’t a huge amount of noise coming out of the open kitchen.  This is unusual and I wonder if intentional as well?  For me, it was a pleasant surprise.  They provide a recycled carry out container similar to a cardboard material you would see in egg cartons…another nice touch.  And, although they weren’t initially taking reservations last week, they are now.  A needed addition if they keep performing like they did for our visit.

In sum, from the moment we exited my car to the moment we left the building after our meal, I felt relaxed, well served, and well fed.  My artistic side was nurtured by the interior design.  And, I’m certain I will go back again and again.  My next goal is to try some of their colder salads and check out the homemade noodles dressed with soft herb pesto.

An overall solid “A” visit.  And, I feel good about sending you, your family or your business guests there any time you’d like to go.  Enjoy!

Lovin’ the New Prairie Cuisine…Red Dirt Kelly

P.S.  If you click here, you’ll get straight to the CORRECT website.  Isn’t is nice that we took care of that little task for you?

Lamb Burger with wilted greens and sweet potatoes...Nice! - RDC Photo

Ludivine on Urbanspoon

When You Find Yourself in a Closet

Top row, left to right: Beth Pinkstaff, Anita Adair, Kelly Bomgardner; Bottom row, left to right: Regan Barr, Marlon Lambert. Turner Falls, Oklahoma - Spring, 1983.

It’s Spring, 1893…I mean, 1983.  I was standing in front of a camera in Turner Falls, Oklahoma with four other friends who had helped me survive my freshman year in college.  Four other friends who, together, had walked with me through one of the best years of my life, and one of the most stressful years in my life.  The camera flashed, we took off our costumes, and somehow the photograph made its way across 27.5 years of moves, still intact although a bit faded.  Last night while digging through a box on a quest to find something else, I found this photo and began to reflect.

I began my freshman year as a music major at Midwest Christian College in Oklahoma City during the fall of 1982.  I had not previously met any of the others in the photo except in passing during audition days.  As anyone who is a music major will tell you, the time investment in terms of studio hours outside of your regular studies is astronomical.  Four of the five of us were in applied lessons such as piano and voice, as well as ensemble for the school choir AND for our school recruitment singing group, “Image;”  the name had been taken from the Christian phrase of being made “…in His image.”

Any one of us could write a book of tales from that year.  Indeed, life was sometimes stranger than fiction:

1) A man in Western Oklahoma felt led during one of our concerts to pay for us to record an album. Later, the money wasn’t quite enough for a bare bones project so the only way we could make it happen was to record all the tracks during the cheapest studio time, midnight to six in the morning over a period of only two or three days.  We did this during finals week of our fall semester…two weeks after our part-time drummer and bass player had been hit by a car and had died.

2) During a bizarre twist of fate, we found that our faculty sponsor wasn’t able to continue his appointment as the coordinator, music arranger, and director of our rehearsals for the second semester of the year.  His leadership and mentorship had been extremely important to me during that transitional freshman year and he had managed the entire recording process for all of us.  However (and I still don’t know how those making the decision decided to support the request), we ended up basically sponsoring ourselves the second semester.  We went it alone: three freshman/sophomore women, and two senior men.  Our regional traveling load didn’t lighten just because we had lost our sponsor, so most every weekend we loaded the trailer, found the scheduled church (in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma or Arkansas), stayed in homes of the church members and led musical worship…or gave concerts.  Students, on the road, getting along on their own.  We did it, but sometimes when I think about it I really am quite stricken with thoughts of “what were they thinking?”

3) I spent my birthday on a dairy farm in McPherson, Kansas.  We became connoisseurs of roadside Pizza Huts.  One time we had to load out of a concert site over the “slain in the spirit” bodies of some Pentecostals who took longer to worship than our schedule  could allow.  I know at least once our sponsor had to stop the van so I could run up to a deserted farm house, go around to the back side and pee.  I still wonder if anyone was on that property and witnessed my bathroom break.  We rehearsed, arranged music, made jokes, created an alternate universe with a language to accompany it…we got each other through.

The year ended, however, and the five of us began to go our separate ways.  Regan headed to an appointment as a youth minister in New Mexico.  Marlon and Anita got married.  I must have had enough because I enrolled into a college just up the road and changed my major.  Beth stayed for another year to sing; she had a really beautiful voice.  But shortly after that the college merged with Ozark Christian College and was eventually sold to the Army Reserve as a training ground.

When you find yourself in a closet and you look at a life that existed, but has certainly faded in your memory, sometimes you’re left with only big themes or thoughts.  When I look at this photo my big thoughts are: gratitude, friendship love, stress, talent and fulfillment.  I’m so incredibly grateful to my four other comrades for getting me through that “best of times and worst of times” year.  And, when I look at my children now – who are the same age as those in the photograph, I know their capacity to manage life will always be bigger than I can imagine.

Thanks, friends, for being part of one of the most special times in my life.  I love you guys.

Here we are in the 1982 duds we picked out as stylin' fashion. Tom, our director, is on the back row - far right, sporting a mustache.

Value Times Three: Check out Taylor’s Dining Room on the OSU Campus

For a little over six years now, I’ve walked the halls of the College of Human Environmental Sciences (CHES) at Oklahoma State University (OSU).  One of the things I’ve never worried about is where I might eat my lunch in case I’m in too much of a rush to pack myself a meal.  There are two restaurants in the adjoining building to ours, CHES-West.  One of them is a little “faster food” style cafe’ serving both breakfast and lunch.  The other is Taylor’s Dining Room, the “fine dining Lab for students in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration.”

I eat there about two or three times each semester.  Every time I go, these thoughts come to my head:  1) The food is a good value compared to other bistro-style restaurants in larger city areas; 2) I’m contributing to the students’ education by eating there and interacting with the staff; and, 3) I get more than a meal when I go.  I get a smile on my face; it’s a treat to be welcomed, seated, served and checked on by students in training within the 8th ranked hospitality and tourism programs in the world.

I visited Taylor’s about a week ago and was glad to see they continue to revamp the menu as are newly inspired from students, faculty and visiting chef’s from around the globe.  In the mood to welcome autumn, I ordered the Arugula, Pear & Manchego Salad ($9) and a glass of tea.

The salad was complimented by their bread basket.  They’ve changed their daily bread service since last year; the added bread sticks with caraway was a nice modification.

Like many salads I’ve had lately, I had to pick out two or three wilted leaves.  Other than that, the dish was excellent.  I especially liked their choice of the buttery Manchego cheese as a compliment to the sweeter poached pears.

If you have a chance to visit Stillwater and want a good meal for a good price, I suggest Taylor’s.  It’s a chance to give, get and eat.  Bon appetit!

Seeking H-E-L-P Can Be H-E-Double Toothpicks

A small farm town is great for overhearing comments like these:  “Oh, he has heart trouble?  Better not let him out on that tractor during harvest.  You won’t know if he’s had any chest pains until he gets every last acre of that crop in!”  Then everyone around bursts into laughter, nods their heads, and asks to hear more about Farmer Brown’s cardiac condition. However…

It’s a human law of nature, isn’t it?  We laugh the loudest at that which rings the greatest truths?

Over the last ten years or so, I’ve studied one area about relationships more than others, and it’s because I know so many “Farmer Browns” in Oklahoma:  the phenomenon of seeking help.  Some of the reasons I began researching this topic are personal.  My own husband and I struggled with seeking outside assistance when we were having marital issues around the third year of our marriage.  When we finally DID access couples therapy services, however, it only took two sessions for both of us to realize that our marriage was much greater than the two of us sitting in the room.  It took longer for our emotions toward each other to repair, but once we made the decision to stick out our relationship we looked at all our other decisions in a very different way.  And, recently celebrating our 25th anniversary felt really great.

Another reason I’ve spent so much time researching this topic is because it’s such a pervasive problem.  I’ve only found one paper over the years by an anthropologist who wrote specifically about Oklahomans’ inability to ask for help when they need it, but through my own research and that of my colleagues, I’ve found out a little more.  Here’s what I know about folks in Red Dirt Country (AND for the rest of the US…I have national data sets as well).:

1) It’s easier for people to tell their friends to go get help than it is for them to go themselves.  A full 95% of respondents from one of my surveys stated that they would “encourage their friends to seek premarital or marital education,” or “therapy.”  However, around 60-70% of most populations said they thought they might try it themselves – many of that population responded “only when it’s the last option.”  It’s easier to suggest to others than take our own advice, it seems.

2) The number one constraint to seeking marital education OR therapy services among Oklahomans in 2003 was the concern about “getting the other person in the relationship to agree to the idea.”  In other words, it wasn’t the individual’s attitude or belief about seeking help as much as it was their fear or anxiety about bringing up the discussion, or anticipating how their partner might respond to their request.  So it seems that sometimes what we think about others, or how they might react, is even more powerful than what we believe for ourselves.

3) On a better note, however, a greater majority of people were more willing to get couples counseling, attend marriage or relationship education, or other type of couples service (retreat, take an inventory, etc), than they were to seek individual help or education for themselves.  So, they are thinking of others or their relationship over themselves, for the most part.  This is important information – knowing that someone might make a decision for the sake of another over themselves is valuable when we’re talking about relationships.

These are just a few tiny bits of data out of a very large amount of information but I think they might be useful for a couple of reasons.  First of all, what this information tells us is that it’s NORMAL to feel conflicted, worried or resistant to opening up our relationship to outside help.  Some even feel that going to an educational workshop over relationship skills will “make things worse;” that if they just ignore the issue and keep the boat steady, maybe things will blow over.

Others feel ill-equipped to know where to begin when asking their partner to go with them.  This is NORMAL too!  If you’ve been arguing or the two of you readily step into “blaming mode,” then it’s easy to see how something well-intended could turn sour quickly.  The very best way to bring up a topic like this is to make sure to “own your own wishes” (say, “I’d really like for you to go with me.  Here’s what we can learn.  Would you please think about this?”)  and resist the urge to blame or to criticize, or make things personal (for example, “Maybe this will keep us from arguing about the dogs.”)  If you talk about what you can GAIN, and avoid bringing up what is WRONG, chances are the conversation will go better.

Telling your partner about skills the two of you can learn is a much clearer message than telling them what’s been wrong.  They already know what’s gone wrong; reiteration isn’t needed in a committed relationship.  You know each other very well.

Finally, if you happen to be the one who is thinking about inviting your partner to begin therapy or attend a relationship education workshop, having the information handy is also important.  Don’t know where to start?  I’ve got four links for you I’ll share at the end of this article – you can look up the information right now!

So, what have we learned?  Seeking help is hard.  People are scared to ask their partners to go with them.  People are willing to do something for others over themselves.  How does this work together?  Well, the fact that “people are willing to do something for others” actually increases the chances that your partner will accept an invitation from you.  Now, all you have to do is ask.  Good luck…and let us know if you need extra support.

Here are those links I mention:

For marriage or relationships education for all adults, ages 18 or over:

For a national resource, check out this directory of programs:

To find a couple or relationship therapist:

Or, to look into an online community about couples, go here:

For more information about help seeking or for citations to the research used in this article, please contact:

We have “Favorite Things” too…

One of the iconic segments for Oprah’s show is her Favorite Things series – especially her Christmas show where the audience receives one of every product she reveals.  Bloggers sometimes highlight various products because they’ve been asked to place products on their site for a particular promotion, or for a payment of some sort.  Shows on T.V. highlight various products that work well and sometimes the public isn’t privy to whether or not it’s a “planted advertisement,” or if the product feature is a genuine information sharing gesture.

So, to clear this one up from the beginning, there is NO product support here.  Our “Favorite Things” will have an indy bent.  We’ll talk about a product or idea because we like it, and that’s the only reason.

I’m sharing one of my “favorite things” with you today because it took me a few years to finally hit a product that worked well for my coffee service.  I used to take my favorite coffee beans, grind them daily, then add a bit of “Sugar in the Raw” turbinado sugar plus a little half-n-half once the coffee was brewed.

However, about a year ago I found these Roland imported demerara sugar rough cut cubes.  I love them because sometimes I just want a hint of sweetness, and other times I want a bit more; there are various sizes and I really like that about them.  I don’t have to fill my sugar bowl with the granular product only to wipe up spills, and these cubes lend a foodie flair when I have company that the loose sugar didn’t have.  I purchased my box from the International Pantry gourmet shop in Norman, Oklahoma with a gift certificate given to me by my brother.

The International Pantry has been around since 1978 and is one of the few shops that feature a full line of Le Crueset cookware.  I love the orange color and have plans to start trading out my 25 year-old cookware soon for a piece at a time.

What’s the difference between turbinado and demerara sugar?  All brown sugars have some degree of molasses added to them, but the demerara is just a bit lighter, and is said to have less of a “honey” finish to it than the turbinado.

So, if you’re looking for a little something special to dress up your coffee service and love the warm flavor of demerara sugar over white sugar like I do, you might give these sugar cubes a try. I got mine for about $5.95 in the store, but you can also order them on Amazon for $4.50 plus shipping. My supply looks like it may last right at one year.

I love them!, Red Dirt Kelly

Silent Sunday: 10/17/10


Click photo to visit the Edmond Sun website.
Oklahoma Christian University Students experience "Out of This World" chapel service, enjoying almost a 30 minute feed from the space station. Click photo to visit the Edmond Sun website.



6-0 OSU Cowboys now "Bowl eligible." Nice photo from the Daily Oklahoman. Click photo to read post-game report.



The mystery message. Red Dirt Kelly was walking across campus on 10-12-10 and spied this lone piece of paper randomly taped to a glass door. Upon closer inspection, she noted that there was a message, and some sort of insignia. The note read: "Forever blindly ill (sic) always wait thoughts (written in "of") you keep me up late." What did it mean? Who was it from? To whom was it directed? What did the bronze/gold metallic "M" symbol mean? ... Was it YOU?"



Sometimes Red Dirt Kelly sees things that give her ideas. This image gave her the idea that the Red Dirt Chronicles needed a company truck.




In November, 2009, Matt Mahan, his children and his brother-in-law were out digging for flint chips in the Dewey County area when his brother-in-law called them over to a bluff area he was working on. He had found "a dead guy," that ended up being a 200+ year-old skeleton. The medical examiner told them that based upon the femur size, the man could have been 6'6" or taller, and was probably not Native American. Have you ever just been digging around in the dirt and discovered a skeleton? It's almost Halloween, so we're publishing this photo now. We need to follow-up to see if a final report was filed by that M.E., and what the conclusions were.



OU killed Iowa State. That's the whole story. Click the photo to get the perspective of an Iowa State blogger.


Gracie Burris, 5, gathers small pumpkins in the "Hide-a-Pumpkin" pit in Muskogee, OK. Photo by Wendy Burton of the Muskogee Phoenix.



Heidi, Haystacks and Headaches: The Truth About Children’s Literature and Farm Life, Chapter 2

As a child, I used to fantasize about being Heidi of the Alps.  I used to draw pictures on my wide-ruled notebook paper of hovels on top of mountains with thatched roofs, the landscape dotted with fluffy yellow haystacks, goats, pine trees and snow.  I used to pretend my bedroom was her attic bedroom where she could see the stars at night.  And also, I used to have a literary crush on Peter, the goat-herder.

Heidi got me so hooked on “orphan” books that I couldn’t really get interested in much else for a while.  There was Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Mandy, The Secret Garden…all orphans, and all “me” in my head as I read through the pages over and over again. Oh, and I also had literary crushes on Dicken in the Secret Garden,  AND on Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables.

Since the parents of  Harriet the Spy weren’t around much in her books, I turned her into an orphan as well.  Need you even ask if I had a crush on her friend Sport?  And, since Wonaplei in the Island of the Blue Dolphins was stranded for eighteen years…yes, orphan.  Every one of these female characters were “explorers” who pushed the boundaries of social acceptability with their adventures in one way or another.  All of them were zealous, passionate about life, and most all of them had an emotional melt-down at some point.  That’s where my story will begin today.

I think I was pretty awesome at having emotional melt-downs as a child.  I know I was strong-willed.  Had my parents only known to tell me to turn left when they wanted me to go right, jump if they wanted me to stand still, or scream bloody murder when they wanted me to be quiet…they might have thought their skills were magically blessed by the Early Childhood Fairy.  I know that from time to time I would dig in with an idea, a rant, or some sort of decision that would turn in to quite the horn-locking situation.  And, since we’re using “horn-locking” as a metaphor, I could probably take that even further and say that I was bull-headed.  Strong willed, bull-headed, stubborn…pick one.  They all fit.

In order for you to fully understand this little tale, it’s also important for you to know that I was a cartoon-lovin’ kid as well.  Looney Tunes ruled.  “Boy, I say BOY!…”  I loved to imitate Foghorn Leghorn.  And Ralph E. Wolfe and Sam Sheepdog: “Mornin’, Ralph.”  “Mornin’, Sam.”  And, I loved cartoon paraphernalia.  For example, that cool anvil that always showed up to give the character’s heads a few knots? Nice!  Or “ACME” everything. And, I used to love the fact that cartoon haystacks were so versatile.  Looney Tunes did a great job with their cartoon haystacks.  For instance, Wile E. Coyote could pick up an entire haystack within which he was hiding, run with his fingers across a road (cue the upper register piano keys sound effects), and then set the haystack back down again…over and over until he reached his destination.  Haystacks were also good for breaking falls.  Usually, the “good” cartoon would fall out of an airplane or off a cliff and land on a nice fluffy haystack, while the “bad” character would land on the dirt right beside them.  And then, of course, dynamite would blow up in case the fall didn’t kill them.

One summer day my penchant for fantasizing about orphan protagonists, my bull-headedness and images of cartoon haystacks all came together into one knock-down, drag-out argument with my mother.  I’m sure I was highly invested in defending my position to the death, and I’m sure she was thinking that perhaps she had spawned a freak of nature who needed a calf-tranquilizer.  The verbal tennis-match we were having was Wimbledon worthy.  So, I decided to one-up the situation, not by pleading my case with different words or more emphatic body language, but by ending the argument.  I decided I would “run emotionally away from the scene of this persecution,” therefore garnering sympathy and attention.  I was a literary orphan and this was my moment.

I turned around, ran out of the kitchen and through the garage, pushed the back door open and took off across the back yard toward (um…stop for a second, look around, pick a target…) The BARN!  Caught up in my “persecution” leading role I thought quickly, “I’ll go throw myself on a haystack and cry violently!”  My pace picked up, and before I knew it I was in the barn, climbing the stack of baled prairie grass, mixed with a few bales of alfalfa.  The first level of the haystack wasn’t enough for dramatic effect.  I was going all the way to the top. I grabbed a hay hook, used it for an anchor as I threw myself over the second and third layer of hay, and then finally pulled myself up and over the top row.

Adrenaline is a funny thing.  Had I not been so worked up, I would have realized that as I was crawling across the highest layer of hay bales, my knees were receiving pain messages.  The hay was tough and scratchy, more like crawling on cedar chips than the bright yellow cartoon hay image I had in my head.  I quickly sighted the center, perfect for my dramatic “throw down and cry” scene, heaved my body forward and slammed my head down with a wail.  The impact of my face onto the tightly baled hay might as well have been that of me slamming into a pine tree on Heidi’s mountain; it was solid as a rock.  “Ouch!” I yelled, the shock and awe reverberating through my entire head.

Previously I had planned on forcing myself to fake-cry really loudly in order to punctuate the scene with the proper je ne sais quoi.  Mustering fake blubber was no longer needed, however, as tears flowed easily from the very real physical stinging of my face.  Wow, this haystack wasn’t yellow, it wasn’t fluffy and it sure as heck wasn’t something I could cry myself to sleep into; I wasn’t even sleepy.  However, the bull-headedness didn’t get suddenly knocked out of me just because I had given myself a hay-concussion.  I decided to TRY and cry myself to sleep just to make whatever point I was trying to make.  I suppose on some level I succeeded because I ended up taking a short nap, but it took a lot longer to fall asleep than in the movies.

I woke up a little while later and was immediately reminded of two things: a) I had actually run out of the house away from one of my parents and could be facing very real consequences for said action; and, b) my head hurt like the dickens.  Not Dicken, my literary crush from the Secret Garden, but “The Dickens” – the voluminous, overwhelming adjective used for special occasions to emphasize a great amount of “whatever.”  At that point, it was my headache.  Head throbbing, ego-bruised and curiosity peaked as to what my punishment might be for running out of the house, I made my way down that wretched haystack.

When I opened the door back into the house, however, my mother’s face showed genuine concern.  “Kelly, are you okay?” she asked. “What happened to your face?”  I could hear the worry in her voice.  Okay, I HAD been gone for probably 45 minutes to an hour.  There was no mention of the family court-hearing that would be taking place in our living room to hand down my sentence for leaving home.  The “judge” just looked worried; perhaps my face looked quite a mess and she thought I had already paid some sort of price for my actions.

Maybe being an orphan wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.  I closed the door and came on into the house, sat down and began to eat a pretty good meal that was waiting on me.  As I worked through my sandwich, my right cheek throbbed.  The first genuine tear of emotion trickled down my cheek.  “Haystacks are not soft,” I thought.  “Goat cheese probably isn’t as good as this sandwich,” I continued to talk myself down off the Alps and back to my farm in Tuttle, Oklahoma.  It didn’t take long.  The comfortable sounds of the kitchen soothed me as I finished my meal and headed back to my room.  I glanced at my bookshelf and spied the Heidi book.  I hesitated, turned back around and went to help my mom clean the dishes.

RDC Friday Morning Shout Out: To Our Neighbors Rebuilding Without Government Aid


Click photo to read a report from the GovMonitor re: the denial of Oklahoma's flood aid claim.


While floods have devastated areas around the world and within the U.S., recently Red Dirt country sustained a fairly damaging flood as well.  This particular phenomenon was coined by weather experts as a “500-year rain.”  In other words, we’ll probably not see one like it again.  To add to the burden, although the majority of the damage was sustained in areas not zoned as “flood plain,” the White House denied Governor Henry’s request for aid to those who sustained property damage.

This denial was a difficult blow to absorb.  Areas of Northwest Oklahoma City and Edmond were damaged, as well as throughout the metropolitan area.  We’re not going to include shock video or photos on our blog, but suffice it to say there were highly emotional moments.  During one instance, a young girl was almost lost in the deep waters several times before emerging one last time to be pulled to safety by rescuers.  Another story included the testimony of an adolescent boy holding his paraplegic grandmother above the water for six hours before being rescued.  Horses and cattle were lost, farms were devastated, and houses sustained an inordinate amount of damage.  Some were irreparable.

But, just like those around the world and across the U.S., the commitment to rebuild has flourished and progress is being made regardless of financial assistance.  The progress is possibly slower due to the lack of resources, but it’s certainly no less determined.  There are hundreds of stories of progress across the area, many much more extreme than we’ll share here.  We have three small vignettes for you, however…slices of rebuilding taking place.

So, today the RDC Friday Morning Shout Out simply goes to all those who are making progress, whatever the pace may be. And certainly to those who are still planning progress but for some reason haven’t yet begun.

1) One fun little story comes from Dane and Diane Sharp.  They live just down the road from me.  For kicks one Halloween, they made big “eyes” and nailed them onto a dead tree in their yard.  The flooding was so high in their area that the eyes were swept away, never to be “seen” again.  The Sharps have since replaced the eyes and now drivers-by can smile at the local “Googly Eyed-Tree.”


Googly Eyes are Back in Action! "Eye Level" is about 4.5 to 5 feet, where the water had risen and swept them away.


2) Our second story is about Cody and Andrea Freeman.  They had just purchased a home that had been vacant and left uncompleted for approximately five years.  Determined to finish the project out for their family, they went through all the steps to take ownership of the home and moved in.  They had JUST settled in when the flood hit. Standing on their porch, they watched these waters rage onto their brand new property (see below – photos are post flooding).  The waters have recessed, there was some “re-clean-up” to perform, but they’re doing okay.


The area on the left that looks like a flooded section is actually a creek. The water is over the top of the bank.


3) Our last neighbor’s property was extremely damaged.  He lost horses down a flooded creek, lost fencing around his horse farm, and had extensive mud dumping across his quarter-section of land.  Here is a cell phone photo of their property after the water subsided.  You can tell by the vegetation that the water reached nearly to the top of their fence posts.



Horse farm, after the water subsided.


I stopped by to see them the other day and check on their progress.  The dogs greeted me, but they weren’t home.  There is a new fence, however, on one side of their property.  There are at least two horses back at their home now.  A large area of mud dredging has been grated and it looks like they’re getting ready to start on the next section.  Good luck, Mr. Horse Farmer Neighbor…good luck, bridge builders and dry wall fixers.  And good luck to everyone who was affected by the flood and are rebuilding regardless of the lack of federal disaster assistance.  We’re proud you are our neighbors and wish you the best!



Two of the four dogs who were happy to show me the progress their owner was making on his horse farm.



As the sun sets, you can see the new fence on the right and piles of mud grated to clear the drive on the left.



Happy to be back home.



Mud cleared, and the next section is ready for a fence.
Cleared area number two - ready for the next section of new fencing.



…And That’s the News in Red Dirt Country

Last year during one of my “Human Sexuality and the Family” lectures, the students  happened upon some information in our textbook they found especially intriguing.  Evidently, there was a study cited examining why those our society deems as “attractive” women might choose to marry (again, what our society deems as) “unattractive” men.  The debate heated up when pop culture examples were named by various class members.  I think Woody Allen and former wife Mia Farrow were one illustration used as evidence to make their point.  Okay, I could sort of see their reasoning on that one:

Woody Allen and former wife Mia Farrow. Photo from the National Portrait Gallery. Click to visit their website.

But then, they hit me where it hurt.  They actually brought up the name of Garrison Keillor and his wife.

Garrison Keillor and wife Ulla Skärved. You are welcome to click this photo to go to the source, but will be met with pop-up ads galore.

I’m sorry, but at that point they had trodden upon my sacred ground.  Seriously, Keillor is one of my literary gods.  Only a genius could write statements like:

“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.”

And even though I like cats, I wailed away about the beauty of his voice, his humor and his written word.  They didn’t care…and I probably lost the argument.  My students are excellent debaters.  But as I began reviewing my Facebook page this morning (this was very early, pre-earthquake time), I began thinking about Keillor again because one particular comment caught my eye.  I thought, “Okahoma is like Lake Wobegon, only – – it’s not fiction.”  I then decided that perhaps I should occasionally write up a “news report” of sorts in the Red Dirt Chronicles.  True stories.  So, I’m starting now.  And although I can only deign to approach the outskirts of Garrison Keillor’s shadow when it comes to wielding my proverbial pen, I believe I can count on our fair community to make up for what my writing loses.

Volume 1;  Taxidermy and Interior Design: Domestic and Industrial

The Cherokee Hills “middle-aged plus a few years” Sunday school group drove to Meers, Oklahoma this past weekend to enjoy a scenic journey and eat a meal together at the famous Meers Store and Restaurant.  Jim and Cina Gailey decided to drive separately because their shiny red T-Bird was well suited for this sort of thing.

Jim and Cina, preparing to load out for their Meers trip.

But then Jim decided he was tired of driving, having already done that quite a bit earlier in the week.  So they unloaded the car, and jumped in with the rest of the crew.  90 minutes later the entire entourage was standing in line, admiring the landscape and general beauty of the hamburger establishment.

I have no credit for this photo. I stole it off the internet blatently. Okay, yes I do. Click the photo to visit the blogger who took a better picture than me.

Once inside, everyone had an enjoyable time ordering – laughing, joking and generally enjoying every minute of their outing thus far.

Their laughter died down, if only temporarily however, when they looked up and saw what hovered above them menacingly, as if to say, “Mess with me and I’ll drop the whole load on your plate.”  Yes, the covered-in-dust ceiling fan became quite the target of concern at that point.  Is dust bacteria-ridden?  How much has to fall into your food before you should actually begin worrying?  These questions and more haunted at least one or two of the more cleanliness-occupied Sunday-schoolers.

The "menace" of Meers.

It wasn’t long, however, before the attention-limited group found another focus.  Mr. Deer was hanging on the wall above the party to their left, and he also needed a good dusting.

“Dusty,” the ten-point wonder buck. Oh, and for those of you outside of Red Dirt Country, those hooves below are a gun rack.

Ah, poor Dusty.  He looked much older than his years because layers of dust had been accumulating for ages on his whiskers, nose and face.  Just about the time everyone’s stomach was churning over the sight, however, the food arrived.  And just for the record, there is a reason why people keep going back to that joint in droves, in spite of any fossilizing dust accumulation.

Smoked chicken dredged in BBQ sauce with a side of fried green tomatoes.
The Meers Burger, already half eaten by the time the camera focused.
Beverages served in Kerr jars.

While the group was eating, they were entertained with the fine art selection hanging on the walls.  Notice the dusty frame and even the dusty slatted wood?  The interior design theme of “Dust O’ Plenty” was consistent throughout the entire venue!

But the fun had to end at some point.  Here is evidence of the fact that the food really is quite amazing…


On the way home, Red Dirt Kelly graciously kept her husband’s full attention by taking no less than thirty or forty shots of the wind turbine farm just west of the restaurant.

They all look like this, folks. Every single one of them.

Later that week, a local Realtor posted a Facebook message asking her friends whether or not she should “…leave the mounted deer heads on the wall when staging her new listing to be sold, or take them down?”  Several chimed in about the virtues of taxidermic interior design.  Others wondered if perhaps the prospective buyers might be put off by the sight, just in case the deer in the home was bigger than that shot by them looking at the house.  It might not be appropriate to demean their hunting skills right off the bat.  Red Dirt Kelly, of course, chimed in about the virtues of dusting the deer heads, whether or not they were left up or taken down.  The Realtor assured her they were well dusted and looked great.  Appeased, Kelly sighed with relief and signed off until the next day.

When she signed back on this morning, however, she was met with another quandary posted by the same Realtor.  Here’s the text of the actual post:

so I am about to do a preforeclosure inspection and house is stil occupied and he is a cop so if I carry I have to disclose it. figure that sets a bad tone. I guess if I am not on fb in an hour…it didn’t go well.

For those of you outside Red Dirt Country, “carry” means “gun.”  I’m not sure how our gun-packin’ Realtor came out on that deal, but if I find out I’ll let you know.

In other news, a 4.5 earthquake shook the Red Dirt in our heartland today.  Hordes of citizens immediately took to the Twitter air waves and began sharing their, “I was doing THIS when the 7.5 quake hit!” banter.  Jokes were made about Gary England watching the quake on Doppler radar, and about the fact that Hefner Lake condos were evacuated as a preventative measure against a catastrophic Tsunami.

Then the Tweets died down, the people resumed their daily goings on, and that’s about all the news in Red Dirt Country this week.

Stay safe, dust your deer, and we’ll see you next time.  Y’all come back now, ya hear?

(“Tweet verbiage” from TheLostOgle.Com)


Meers Store & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

We’re All Human Beans; Let’s Find Common Grounds

Sometimes I think a blogger has to be vulnerable with their community in order for important messages to resonate.  That’s why today’s “Relationships” post includes a personal story.  Two of them.

When I was bullied

I grew up in a fairly rural community surrounded by independent and small farms.  I can always recall the year of any grade level during my youth because I was in kindergarten (grade “zero”) in 1970.  Life was fairly stable and slow-paced during my early childhood.  The definitions of the community I knew as a youngster were changed, however, when the social breezes turned into troubled storms.

Desegregation busing was in full swing by 1974 and my hometown was close enough to Oklahoma’s largest metropolitan school districts to become a haven for what has become known over the years as white flight. I can’t blame any family or individual for how they reacted to change.  People are scared of what they don’t know.  I can say, however, that I was affected by the change in our own community.  There was an influx of “city kids” into our country town, and with that change in our landscape came some challenges for both populations.

I experienced new emotions, unfamiliar to me until that time period in my life.  I was met with students who were socialized differently, whose wardrobes were by and large purchased from department stores, and whose houses were larger with more amenities than the previous norm.  I’m sure the incoming students were met with challenges as well.  They had moved into a new town with new rules; it must have been difficult for them.  I know it was for me.

I frequently became the recipient of comments about my hand-me-downs, about my hair cut, and about the way I talked.  New “street smart” lingo was wielded like weaponry in the halls and my wounds got deeper as the weeks passed.  In hind sight, I can now see that much of the behavior I encountered was a form of bullying.  Unfortunately, my response to this was to become a bully.  I’ll never forget one day on our playground in either the sixth or seventh grade.  I had worked hard to gain the acceptance of some of the newer kids and seemed to finally be making some headway.

When I became a bully

Standing with the group, their attention turned toward a weaker individual in our class.  She was socially less skilled and struggled with grades.  The group began taunting her and I joined in.  I was now the bully, not the one being bullied.  At some point she began shouting back, and in an attempt to protect my new status as a cooler kid, I stepped toward her and pushed her backwards.  I must have pushed pretty hard because she fell to the ground.  What’s worse, she tried to get up once and I pushed her backwards again.  She stayed put the second time.  Those who I stood with began to laugh at her and call her names.  My face flushed…this girl was a “country kid” and I had just hurt one of my own.

Over twenty years later I tracked her down and apologized for that day.  The guilt from my physical aggression weighed heavily on me and I needed to make amends.  Interestingly, she didn’t even remember that day or what happened.  So, the act of reconciliation was basically for my own healing I suppose.  I’m sharing this illustration with you because “bullying” seems to be in the air on the national news, we continue to have bullying problems and Safe Schools programming challenges here in Oklahoma, and bullying is a social problem that happens across races, cultures, social classes…and even within our family trees.

As I watched a few of the “It Gets Bettervideos this past week, I was reminded that human beings respond to their own pain many times by taking it out on others.  The thing is, though, those they take it out on are human beings too.  They were born, they have some form of a family most of the time, and…they have feelings and hopes and dreams.  Just like you.  Just like me.

So today my message for you is this:  Whether you are being bullied or are the bully, try to step back, take a fresh look, and find common ground if possible.  If you can’t stop hurting people, there is help.  We’ll help you find some at the RDC if you don’t know where to look.  If you are scared and hurting because people can’t stop hurting you – same thing.  Everyone is valuable and you’re no exception.

We’re “human beans”…so let’s find some “common grounds.”

I’m going to get a cup of coffee now…Ciao.

Gianna Jessen, The Book of John & Faith Wednesday

I love that we have wireless at my place of employment, AND that I can take a quiet moment when eating lunch.  I’m using this time to share my quiet moments of thought I had early this morning.  Thoughts that are still with me six hours later.

1) The Gianna Jessen video from 2008 is an interesting opportunity to revisit your views about life, death, politics and values.  Speaking in Queen’s Hall of the Parliament House, her message is delivered to an audience representing great diversity.  A message representing one voice, standing for many others.  If you’ve not seen the piece, I would recommend it for several reasons…One of which I address in my “second lunch-time point.” I chose to share this link because it’s her 16 min. speech in full, but will require a Facebook account to view.  You can search for the video easily in two parts on your internet browser if you avoid FB…


2) My second thought is this.  Regardless of what you believe, where you fall on this issue, or how you personally wrestle with feelings on one side of the line or the other, I would encourage you to embrace all human beings and think about loving them…without attributing a “sin” or behavior toward rationalizing how things are…or aren’t.

I was reading from John 9 this morning, and was thinking about how many clients I see in my office who struggle with the sins of their parents, or grandparents, or other family members.  Much of this “sin” is simply their family members’ inability to understand the consequence of their actions…or ability to empathize due to their own damage or pain.  Many clients feel they are being greatly punished for the sins or consequences of their family history.  Their pain is very real.

However, my message to you, the public, on this Faith Wednesday is this:  Turn these thoughts around, and think about the OPPORTUNITY your struggles or setbacks provide you to live out your faith, and glorify Him who you call Father.  Gianna Jessen does.  I try to.  Thousands of heroes and heroines do across the world every day.

Yes, this is a Christian message.  But it holds for people who have other faiths as well.  Or, for those without a faith to call their own.  Good luck, today, taking up the opportunity you have been given…with whatever struggles you are bearing…to use it to glorify and spread a positive message for your Savior.  For your faith.  And/OR, for the good of those around you.

Take care, Red Dirt Kelly

1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  John 9: 1-5

The Roach Motel has an Emergency Exit

I sat in the dark, staring up at the aging, Jewish researcher sporting his yarmulke and hunkering over the lectern on stage.  He had the rapt attention of 3,500 marriage and family therapists as he intertwined his lifetime of research, vulnerable and human stories of his own marriage, and a joke here or there.  John Gottman was on a roll.

I had heard most of his speech before, but noticed that his personal examples were getting more poignant.  He had peeled back a few layers of caution; a nice trait you rarely see in addresses to such large audiences.  I was about to lean over to my colleague, Suzanne, for the twentieth time (we had been whispering back and forth, making those “aww” noises when he would say something heartfelt…you know, the classic therapist speaker-interaction behavior), when Gottman’s words stopped me.  He was saying, “You know…getting into one of those really crazy intense conflicts with a partner is like checking into a roach motel.”

I forgot what I was going to whisper to Suzanne and began to search frantically for my Blackberry instead.  Digging around in my purse proved rather noisy and I received three “shame-on-you” glares by the time I found the thing.  I didn’t care.  The Memo Pad on my phone needed a notation.  I pulled up my “Relationship” file and typed in: “Negative conflictual escalation like a roach motel…check in, but can’t check out…runnin, dark, worst selves”

The fact that I correctly typed all words but “running” in the dark on that tiny keypad pleasantly surprised me.  I hit “save” and turned my attention back to the spotlighted man on stage.  He was already into something else cool and I had missed half of the lead-in.  I decided not to ask Suzanne to catch me up lest I receive more glares from those around me.

I made six more notes before the speech ended, but my mind kept jumping back to the Roach Motel metaphor.  It was true.  Roaches follow the bait into a place they really shouldn’t go.  They can’t get out and really have no idea how they got there in the first place.  They enter quickly, into a dark and sticky place and become immobilized.  Stuck there with the others who did the same thing.  Not a pretty sight.

Couples do this.  People do this.  Someone drops the “bait,” another begins to follow the trail and before they know it they’re both stuck in dark and sticky fight they can’t leave.  Once those involved engage in a negative and escalating sequence, the fight usually builds until it explodes…or until it dies down and simmers for a very long time.  Neither of these potential endings are desirable.

Gottman went on to say that at any given time, based upon everything else going on in a person’s life, the probability that one person in a relationship can be “emotionally available” or “attuned” to their partner is 50%.  Put that with another person who is also attuned at a 50% probability level, multiply them together and the result becomes this:  At any given time a couple is together, they might BOTH be emotionally aware or available to their partner 25% of the time.  The other 75% of the time could potentially end up in a dark, sticky place with both trying desperately to get out of what they just entered.

I’ve been there.  Have you?  In the middle of a conflict with someone you love and you just can’t get out?  So where’s the “Emergency Exit?”  Gottman called these times “Sliding Door Moments.”  He coined the phrase from a Gwenyth Paltrow movie that Suzanne said ‘wasn’t really that good, but must have had redeeming values to provide this metaphor.’  (Yes, she whispered that to me during the speech.) Sliding Door moments basically boil down to a split-second of time where you reach out, slide away the glass and open up yourself to the other person in the fight.

Gottman described one of these moments wherein he noticed his wife was sad.  He began brushing her hair and asked, “What’s the matter, baby?”  She disclosed to him that her mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and she couldn’t grasp the fact that she was going to die in such a difficult manner.  He said that the moment before he “attuned” to her sad face, he wanted his own needs met.  He chose, instead, to ask her about the look on her face.   He wasn’t in a conflict with her at the time, but they were definitely in that 25% time where neither were really regarding the other.  An escalation could have easily happened.

So how do you find a Sliding Door moment in the middle of a Roach Motel fight?  Look at their face.  Your partner is hurting, they’re sad, they’re angry, they’re alone…they need something.  You stop, slide the door open, and think about what they’re really trying to say to you.  You might not necessarily have to pick up the hairbrush and begin stroking their hair, but you CAN connect with them and ask, “What’s really the matter, baby?” Some people call it a time out.  Some people call this slowing things down.  I call it realizing your partner is a human being with feelings and thoughts.

Chances are, they’ll look into your eyes and see the exit.  Isn’t it nice how Emergency Exit signs illuminate a dark place?

Silent Sundays: 9/26/10 – Images pulled from The Oklahoman, 9/25/1910, 100 years ago


"Packing Town" (Stockyards) to open October 1, 1910 - CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW, PARTIAL ARTICLE ONLY

Demonstrations at the State Fair - "...Corsetry is a fine art"

Note: There were approximately 5-10 "tonics" for various ailments on sale through the newspaper. All "proven" and "not imitations like the others."

RDC Friday Morning Shout-Out? Bob Waldrop!

Bob Waldrop - President of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative

Good morning friends.  Today’s RDC Friday morning shout out goes to Bob Waldrop, co-founder and long-time president of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative.  We’re working on a full length essay about his life growing up in Oklahoma, his teenage journey to California and subsequent sojourning to Utah, Kansas City and ultimate return to his Oklahoma homeland.  We hope to have the completed piece out for you next week.  I sat with him for two hours during our interview and felt like we had just scratched the surface of who this man is, and the capacity he has to love those around him.

Bob has a dedicated and passionate mission to connect the citizens of our great state with each other in order to build a community network of wholesome, organic and locally grown or produced food:  Producers and consumers working together to build sustainable and satisfying, relational food systems not easily interrupted by more national events or various wrinkles in the larger systems.

You go, Bob Waldrop!  Thanks for all you do…we look forward to sharing our full-length essay about you and your work very soon!

P.S.  Remember…Rob will be treating you with a sports essay around noon today.  His last essay on Kevin Durant’s character received an especially high readership.  And, speaking of readership…THANK YOU to WordPress.Com for featuring the RDC in their “Freshly Pressed” section yesterday.  Like I shared with our author group and FB friends: Who knew barf bags could be so interesting?  Take care – and have a great weekend!

Red Dirt Kelly

Ha, Ha, Ha! = I Love You

I’ve had this cartoon hanging on the outside of my university office door for about three years.  That side of my door is plastered with quotes, thoughts, cartoons, etc.  My thesis advisor used to plaster his door and he’s now retired.  Somebody’s got to pick up the hallway humor and I figure it might as well be me.

I change the quotes out periodically, but this one has stuck for a while now.  Just about the time I think it’s time to take it down, I’ll see a person look at it, pause, then smile.  Sometimes they are with another person and they comment to each other.  So, I guess it will stay put for a bit longer.  The cartoon does, however, remind me of something that I think about a great deal:  humor within relationships.

Humor in the classroom has shown to have positive effects in terms of students’ perceptions that they are learning more.  Humor in the military is a tried and true coping mechanism – a mainstay of comrades helping each other get through extremely stressful situations.  Attraction science measures “type of humor” as one of the highest factors in selection criteria when young couples begin pairing up for potential marriages.  And, humor is even considered a type of power among same-gendered groups.  In other words, he or she who has the humor, has the power.  Social scientists continue to be interested in the secret to humor and how it is useful (or not) within our relationships.

Sometimes when I think about my husband during the day, I catch myself thinking about a joke or a laugh we’ve recently shared together.  In fact, our entire 25 year marital history is now a complex and interwoven “secret language” of inside humor, insider stories and meanings or narratives that only the two of us would fully understand.  But I also wonder why it’s the laughs that I use as a memory resource.  Are the laughs a reserve, perhaps, like the old emotional bank account adage of deposits and withdrawals? Big laughs certainly punctuate our human bodies with nice doses of hormones which are helpful to our emotional well being.  Maybe returning to those memories is like “going back to the pool” for second dip.  It’s a good thing.

This post isn’t meant to be a long drawn out literature review on humor and relationships so much as it’s meant to ask you a simple question:  Are you laughing?  Are those with whom you are close sharing laughter occasionally?  Do you feel supported or connected because of those humorous moments?  If yes – good!  Keep it up!

If not, then here is your prescription today:  Take one joke before each meal, three times daily.  Share with those you love.  And start building your happy memories.