Category Archives: Oklahoma culture

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch: Keep on Farm Truckin’

My very first car was a red, 1967 Ford Mustang.  Red dust (old paint) clung to every individual who attempted to lean against it.

The vinyl top was mostly gone, and the condition of the seats….well, they were bad.  I was taught how to use a screwdriver on the starter to start it.  Piece by piece the car was revived to it’s almost original state and accessorized with a collection of B. Kliban Cat pillows.  It lasted the rest of high school and most of college then I wrecked it.  Bummer.  It had the coolness factor.  As punishment for wrecking the cool car, my parents bought me a beige Chevy Citation and told me I would be paying them for it.  Definitely not cool.

Fiat Spider
The love we have of our cars is documented through time in photos like this one. This is about 1985.

I declined the offer and purchased a little silver Fiat Spider convertible before the month was over.  The convertible top had to be duct-taped in the winter.

The next phase of my car purchases was not as exciting.  My current Saturn Vue has cloth seats, and yes, there are days when I miss those heated leather seats.  It’s not the coolest car I’ve ever driven, but it’s pretty reliable and gets me back and forth to work.  It’s just not exactly what I need on the weekends.

Dually
My father-in-law's 1993 Chevrolet 3500....our farm truck.

Enter the farm truck.  Ours is a 1993 Chevrolet 3500 known by us as “The Dually.”  It belongs to my father-in-law, and he is proud to drive it to do “farm-type” errands that involve more filth than usual.

The farm truck is essential to life in the country.  Need some lumber?  The farm truck can haul it.  No trash pick up?  No problem.  There is plenty of room on the farm truck.  Wearing muddy boots?  Hop in the farm truck.  The inside is trashed anyway.  No one will care.   When it comes to cool, there is nothing cooler than driving a farm truck…unless it had some cute pillows in the back.

I’m going to work on that.

Silent Sunday: 10/31/10

Hm, what to do for fun on 10/24/10? "Muddin'!" Okie girls making the most of it in Sparks, OK - photo provided by Micah Owens.
When the ewes put on their bright red fall berries, it looks like Christmas came early. Photo by Red Dirt Kelly, taken at Ruth Roberts' on 10/23/10.
A mommy in central Oklahoma didn't have this on her shopping list! Children seem to be able to sleep anywhere, huh? - photo by a friend of the RDC.
"Yo," I am a Toyota. Photo by Ann White.
Fall visits Oklahoma. Photo by Ann White.
Good morning! - Photo by Ann White.
Q: What's one of the best smells in Oklahoma during the fall? A: Driving behind a hay truck with your windows open. Mmmm. - Mobile phone photo by Red Dirt kelly.

Macabre Encounters: The Truth About Children’s Literature and Farm Life, Chapter 3

Editors Note – It seemed fitting that I publish this particular post late on All Hallow’s Eve.  I might also mention that this essay is about dealing with death on the farm, and is probably too graphic for the queasy-stomached. (PG-13 rating.)  Please pass on this one if you’d rather think happy thoughts…RDK

I get a little overwhelmed when I think about all the animal death passages I endured during my children’s literature stage of life.  Old Yeller got shot by his owner. Old Dan and Little Ann died protecting their owner in “Where the Red Fern Grows.”  Laura Ingalls ran to the cabin and stuck her fingers in her ears so she wouldn’t hear the pig squeal on butchering day.  Even Walt Disney children’s films don’t spare the gore; indeed, the 101 Dalmations were going to be skinned for their fur.  And don’t even get me started on fairy tales – they are chock full of swords, axes, poison and all sorts of deathly possibilities for both the animal and human characters filling the pages.

The problem with these stories, however, is that generally the fairy tales (at least those originating from England and the US) have happy endings.  Laura Ingalls got to have fun with her sister roasting the pig’s tale and making a kick ball out of the bladder.  There was something tragically sweet about the great lengths the owners of Old Yeller, Old Dan and Little Ann went to in order to try to save their beloved pets.  And of course, the Dalmations got the best of Cruella DeVille and the family adopted every last one of the orphaned pups.

There is a gap, however, between a literary youth tragedy, a cartoon or a “gently told” story of a little girl in the Big Woods on butchering day…and real life.  These stories were written for youthful audiences and therefore didn’t include the harsh realities of what death looks like up close and personal.  Those experiences came suddenly or unexpectedly in all sorts of ways while growing up on the farm.  Animal death scenes and farm life seem to go together like Alfred Hitchcock and scary movies.  There really isn’t a way to separate the two in my mind.

The stories are many so I’ll only share four short vignettes.  The first one begins at my grandparent’s farm on a day where I was innocently sent to gather eggs from the hen house.  The task is managed by opening the wooden lid of each setting box, taking the eggs left by the hen, or if she’s still there, gently lifting her up and removing the eggs from underneath her.  Sometimes hens peck at the hands entering their box and leave little tiny bleeding marks on those with more tender skin.  I never saw my grandpa’s hands bleed, but my little girl hands did quite a bit.

One day I reached into the box and felt not feathers, not eggs, and not wood.  It felt like – wait, what was that? I opened the lid further and stared at a dark mass of coils for a bit longer than I should have; the sight sunk in slowly, registering through a foggy brain clearly not expecting anything other than chickens.  It was a huge black snake and the coils filled the entire box.

I slammed the lid down and ran as fast as I could to tell Grandpa.  I don’t know how I expected him to react, but he immediately headed to the hen-house and grabbed a hoe on the way.  I followed him wondering what was in store for the snake.  He threw up the lids of the boxes until he found the snake, stuck the hoe handle in through the middle of the coils and lifted the snake up and out of the box like he had done that sort of thing before.  I backed away as he headed out of the hen-house and out to the gravel driveway.  He shook the hoe and the snake fell off.  Uncurling quickly, the snake began to slither away but Grandpa began hacking with the blade end of the hoe, chopping at the snake with a vengeance.

I watched the whole scene with horror, and then let out a scream when the visual went into overdrive.  Evidently, the snake had swallowed five or six eggs whole, and when Grandpa’s hoe hit those large lumps in the snake’s throat, its head raised about two feet off the ground, the mouth involuntarily opened up and spewed yellow yolk everywhere.  I couldn’t look anymore – I turned around and ran in the house.  The image of Grandpa hacking the snake to bits while it spewed yellow goo was burned into my brain, and played over and over in my mind over the next few weeks.

Vignette number two involved a fight with my cat.  I was up in a mulberry tree one summer, my face and fingers covered in purple juice from my harvest, when I heard a horrible screech from my cat.  I looked down to see that it wasn’t my cat making the noise, but a rabbit that my cat had caught.  The poor thing was bleeding and fur had started scattering.  The cat was eating the little bunny!  I dropped out of the tree and began chasing my cat who felt threatened that I was taking her meal.  The cat was fast, but every once in a while it had to stop and adjust the weight of the bunny she was dragging…her prey was half-dead.

I slapped at my cat.  “Leave the bunny alone!  Let it go! Let IT GO!!”  I love my cat, but I wasn’t going to let it have that bunny.  I finally caught the cat in such a hold that I could pry the bunny out of its claws and teeth.  The bunny was stunned and didn’t move.  I was wrestling with the cat, trying to hold it while nudging the bunny along with my foot.  “Run!” I told the bunny… “Run!”  The bunny finally hopped away, the cat scratched me deep enough that I couldn’t hold on any longer, she ran after the bunny…and killed it.

I remember running across that bunny tail a few days later.  I picked it up, let it dry and kept it for a while.  “Animal body parts” were fairly common on the farm.  I once found a squirrel tail (probably left after the cat ate it), I found a few rabbit feet over the years, and I would frequently find carcasses of one sort or another in our pasture.  I know there is a food chain, and I know animals do what they do.  What I didn’t know is that some animal parts look like others.

Vignette number three was especially gruesome and I couldn’t get it out of my head for a very long time.  I was skipping along one day, spied a white tail from a rabbit, picked it up and began to inspect it.  When I turned it over, I saw two tiny closed eyes and a baby mouth.  I uttered some kind of creeped-out yell, threw it down, and realized it was the leftovers of one of our new baby kittens, probably eaten by a tom cat who had come back to visit.  I had always heard that tom cats ate kittens, but had never seen tangible evidence until that day.  I felt like throwing up.  Seeing “the food chain” up close and personal, especially when it involved tiny baby kittens, was too much.  I think I probably stayed indoors for a few days.

And finally, vignette number four has to do with cows.  When you lived on a farm, it was common to have people come to your house, ask about hay,  or drive out on your property for one thing or another.  One day I looked out my bedroom window to see a white truck driving around in our front pasture.  The cows were running around and I began to wonder what was going on because there was a man in the back of the truck.  Startled, I realized he had a gun.  Just about that time he raised it, aimed at a cow and pulled the trigger.  A rifle-shot rang out and I saw the running cow stumble, then eventually fall.  I was gripping the window sill…I had just witnessed one of my cows dying!  We named our cows, for crying out loud, and we usually only kept about thirty at a time.  My stomach tightened and I sat down.  I always knew we butchered a cow or two, but I had never witnessed a death like that.  I felt like I had seen a person killed and couldn’t shake that scene in my head for another week or two.

I was recently corresponding with Becky Winsor, a childhood neighbor of mine, and we were talking about the “cow death” experience.  She was one of four sisters and wrote me her “death on the farm” story:

Growing up on a farm was, in hindsight, a very good experience. Over the years, I have put to use many of the life skills that I learned. I won’t lie, it was hard work. We raised cattle, sheep, chickens, pigs, and had a couple of horses. We also got to chop and pick cotton, bale and put up hay, and plant numerous crops.

My memories are however, for the most part, good. One of the hardest lessons I learned came when I was about 10 years old.  My father gave baby calves to my sisters and I. We were allowed to name them, bottle feed them, pet them, and visit them as much as we wanted. This went on for about 7 or 8 months. One day, we came home from school to find that the calves were gone. We were understandably upset.

When my father was questioned about this disappearance, he stated that they had been sold. He explained that we couldn’t keep the calves forever, that this was a natural consequence of raising farm animals. He had to deal with 4 teary-eyed girls for several days. He never allowed us to have our “own” farm animals again. Of course, he never again really complained about the 10-12 cats we had running around either.

What I realized when I read her story was that my experiences were not isolated.  There were (and are) children everywhere learning about death first hand on farms every day of the year.  However, I would venture to say that those lessons are never cartoons, they rarely have happy endings, and they aren’t written by a children’s author with gentle phrasing and puppy grave sites that grow red ferns.

In fact, the doggie grave sites MIGHT just end up like mine.  One day when I was running toward the creek to go play with my brother and my foot dropped about two feet down into a hole.  As I pulled my leg out I saw rib bones lying around the hole, and when I moved my shoe I saw more bones.  THEN I realized that was where we had buried our dog, Peppy, a few weeks before.  Evidently, an animal had dug her up and had her for dinner.  ARGH!  It was so creepy!!

If there is any redeeming value in animal death stories on the farm, it is that the most recent trauma usually replaces the creepiness of the former traumas.  Honestly, that’s the only good thing I can say about the subject.  Well…and, the fact that my clients can tell me just about anything in my therapy office and I’m hardly ever shocked.

Hmm…can it be that there was actually some redeeming value in all those creepy death experiences?  Naw…then it wouldn’t be a Halloween story, right?

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?!

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch: Back In The Saddle

hugh
Hugh sittin' proud on his new horse Andy. It's only a matter of time before Hugh outgrows this saddle he has had since he was eight months old.
saddle
Judy's saddle purchased for the second time. I'm the lucky one who got to use it on this trail ride.

I’m sure there is a story behind Gene Autrey’s old song “I’m Back In The Saddle Again.”

I’m not sure what it is… but from now on I’m going to think about this one:

When Judy Hart Nelson was nine years old, she convinced her dad that riding a horse was not just a passing fancy.  She wanted a real saddle.  They went to a local horse tack auction near Chickasha, OK and purchased one for her.  She used that same saddle on her horse, Cupcake, until it was time for her to go off to college and then Cupcake was sold.  The saddle went into the attic.  A few years later, thinking that her horse-riding days were over, Judy also sold the saddle.

Twenty five years passed.

Circumstances allowed Judy to return to the countryside where she could own a few horses.  After Judy’s dad died in 2007, she recalled the special memory of their trip to the horse auction.  It made her wonder about that old saddle.  Amazingly, the man who purchased the saddle entered Judy’s workplace on business and Judy decided to ask him about the saddle that held so many special memories for her.

The saddle had been used as an elk hunting saddle in Colorado.  It was sturdy and had carried many elk for this avid hunter.  Judy didn’t care what shape it was in.  She asked to buy it back, and he let her.

Judy’s son, Hugh Hart Nelson, is nine years old and is just about to outgrow the saddle he got from his dad before he even reached his first birthday.  Soon he and his parents will make a trip to an auction or tack shop to purchase the saddle he will use for the rest of his life.

No doubt this saddle they choose for her son Hugh will not get to see the same adventures as Judy’s old saddle unless it’s with its owner.  Judy has learned her lesson.

“Whoopi-ty-aye-oh

Rockin’ to and fro

Back in the saddle again

Whoopi-ty-aye-yay

I go my way

Back in the saddle again.”

Back In the Saddle Again lyrics/ Gene Autry (click link to enjoy the song)

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 http://www.osupics.com/
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.

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…

“Burp.”

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.

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

CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW

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

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

Labor Day Weekend In Oklahoma, 1960

I don’t envy the library employees who labored to document, scan and archive electronic images of The Daily Oklahoman from the day OPUBCO opened its doors.  But I sure do appreciate them.

Last year I was doing some research that led me to discover this feat had been accomplished, so last night I logged on to do some more.  This time for the Chronicles.  I wanted to see what Labor Day Weekend was like in Red Dirt country fifty years ago.

Italian sweater jersey dresses were $21.00; John A. Brown's was having a "door buster" sale - shirts for $1.00

What I found was a slice of life that made me laugh, frown, send a clipping to my colleague at OSU and think about my friends who are politically active.  I experienced quite an array of emotions for the hour I perused the September 1st, 2nd and 3rd issues of the paper.  Then I tried to decide how I would put all that information into a small Friday morning blog posting.

The decision I arrived at was to provide you bullet points of what stood out to me, provide you with a few visuals, then encourage you to try this type of exercise on your own if you enjoyed it.  Here we go…

  • The Oklahoma local and county fair scene was being announced in several sections.  In Beaver, OK they were announcing festivities in a recently completed complex that cost $150,000 to construct.
  • H.E. Bailey and group were doing the final studies to put in a turnpike to travel eastward.  I’m sure the Tulsa World reported the project as traveling westward.
  • Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee  were preparing to “tie the knot.”
  • OU and OSU were gearing up for their first football games of the year to be held later in September.  OSU was celebrating being voted into the Big 8 conference; 1960 would be their first year to compete although they had petitioned many years prior.  OU had just finished a pre-game scrimmage and was concerned about two injuries they sustained during the contest.  They did win the scrimmage, however.
  • An OU professor was being investigated.  He was under suspicion for being a “Red.”  The “Red” theme was all over the paper.  “Red China” was the title they used for that country in a national headline.  This professor story was sad to me.  From what I could tell, all they knew at this point was that he and his wife had “legally updated their passports while in Moscow” on an academic trip.
  • And speaking of Moscow, Khrushchev was in the news because the US had refused to provide him an actual red carpet to walk on into the United Nations building due to a classification of his status “being one of the 60 states represented” rather than “a dignitary.”  There was another international article wherein a student from Africa was warning her fellow students back in her home country not to attend a Russian university, as she had, because of extreme derogatory names she was called while there.
  • People were gearing up for their Labor Day weekend cookouts.  Sound familiar?  I’ll bet you wish we had 1960 grocery prices!
  • In fashion, the new fall line was being introduced at Peyton-Marcus in downtown Oklahoma City.
  • People were getting married, people were dying and babies were being born.
  • The weather was exceptionally hot for this time of year.
  • "Er, I ran into a door!" - political cartoons changed? Not much.

    And, Governor Edmondson was trying his best to educate the state about several legislative measures going to a vote of the people very soon.

  • I noticed that in the business section there were many announcements from local business and industries about new hires or new appointments to management.  All of the names were male.
  • A young pro golfer had been found murdered in Lawton.  There were other crimes and murders as well.
  • And, I read a nice recipe in the food section on how to prepare garlic bread with a clove of garlic, butter and Parmesan cheese.

So I wonder…what has changed?  The Oklahoma culture is still here:  Football season, Labor Day cookouts (standard across our country), the local and county fairs, community, politics and the news.

Milnot: Make it a NO Labor Day!

It seems that most of what has changed, besides the fashion, are socio-political factors.  There isn’t a “Red” scare any more…but there are others, right?  Are people of various skin colors still being threatened with persecution and derogatory name calling?

Okay.  Perhaps not all that much has changed.

However, the technology to retrieve this information is a huge difference.  People will cook with technology that wasn’t invented in 1960.  The football games will have real-time updates on the internet and entertain the crowd with multimillion dollar big screen “wow factors.”  Brides-to-be will be utilizing event management software by an account set up online within their wedding planner’s website.  People will take digital photographs of their fair entries and send them to their family around the country.

There are differences.  Perhaps a bit of the socio-political paranoia is gone…maybe.

But there sure are similarities as well.

"The Big Red Will Rise Again" (Article in the Dec. 2nd edition, AFTER the football season was completed) Click for larger view.
"Rattlesnake Roundups," fair news, stock shows and rodeos...News from Around the State.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch: Divide and Conquer…..Together

It’s a Saturday.  The nine-to-fivers are reveling in the covers that hide the dawn’s glare this A.M.

Purple Martin house
Purple Martins found a home out here at the ranch just one week after it was built.

But not us.  My husband and I begin our weekdays before some people go to bed,  and the weekend is no different.   Like every household, we have things to do.  OUR problem is that usually we have each created our own lists (hidden in our own minds) and have divided the chores out between us without telling the other about the plans.  It could be a problem if we let it.  We don’t.

I stopped picking the last of the tomatoes to watch Greg lower the Purple Martin house to get it ready for the winter and ultimately next spring.  He joined me in the melon patch to check on our first watermelons.  We are both amazed at how much fruit our only two melon plants have produced.  I made a mental note to put the tomato cages up for next season.  He set up the sprinklers to water the yard.  I fed the kittens.  He fed the cats.  I carried my coffee across the pasture to give the horses some carrots.  They knew it was not my usual time with them, and they seemed grateful.

Fence
Turning the corner on fence painting.

There is always so much to do out here, but neither of us seem to mind.  We have stopped to sit on the backporch to have some coffee.  Greg remembered that the front gate doesn’t latch.  We have got to fix that.  It’s added to the list.  Before noon we will have added as many chores as we have completed this morning.  Maybe he’s right next to me; maybe he is across the pasture.  Either way, we are content to divide and conquer our chores for today, so we can spend the evening……together.

From a White-Skinned Father to a Black-Skinned Son

Josh and Silas, November 2009

I am a white-skinned father with a black-skinned son.

A little over a year ago, my wife, Amy, and I adopted our son, Silas, from Ethiopia.

Silas turned two in December.

Today our conversations tend to revolve around our favorite snacks – yogurt and lemon pound cake at Starbucks – and favorite TV characters and movies – Elmo and Ratatouille. We also squabble very little these days. Sometimes Silas will take a swing at me when I take away the Wii joystick. And other times he’ll treat the cheese sandwich I made him for dinner like a Frisbee.

One day, though, Silas will want to talk about other things.  Like the color of his skin. And my skin.   And his mother’s skin.   And pictures and events and people and dates he finds in his history textbook.

There are some historical dates I don’t want to broach with Silas then. August 12th, 1955, for example.  That’s the day Emmett Till, a 14 year old boy, was brutally lynched in Mississippi by white, southern, “Christian” men.

Then there is September 15th, 1963. That’s the day when four little girls were killed by a white supremacist bomb at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Or April 4th, 1968. That’s the fateful day Dr. King had his hope-filled voice silenced by a sniper’s gun.

But then there are days in America’s history I can’t wait to explain to Silas.

Days like December 1st, 1955, for example.  The day when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. That small, defiant “no” reverberated out into a large, defiant “no more.”

There are other days, too. Like August 28th, 1963. The day Dr. King delivered his famous message, “I Have a Dream.” It was a day unlike any other day. It was a day of dreaming of another kind of America.

And then there was November 4th, 2008.  Obama’s presidential victory.  And then there was January 20th, 2009.  Obama’s inauguration.

These are dates I look forward to telling Silas about – not as a student of history, but as a participator in making history.

Baby silas
Baby Silas

And I will tell Silas this: whether one voted for Obama or not, one could not argue that it was a significant symbolic moment.  And a storied moment with deep biblical resonances.  From hundreds of years wandering in the wilderness of prejudice and oppression.  To now the new days of exploring the “milk and honey” land of equality and opportunity.

Undoubtedly, MLK glimpsed the Promised Land from a distance.  Like Moses.  Like a dream just beyond his grasp.  But Silas, you, and others of your skin color will experience this land as a blessed reality.  Like Joshua.  And the nation of Israel.

I can only pray that this new land for you will shimmer with the topsoil of fresh possibility, and contain in its seedbed the promise of renewed dignity.  But, Silas, there are still weeds trying to choke out these verdant seeds.  For though the “color line” W.B. Dubois spoke of has been broken in America’s political establishment, it still exists in America’s religious establishment.  95% of the evangelical church, for example, still remains divided along the color line.  Unfortunately, Martin Luther King Jr.’s truism stills rings true today:  11 am on Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America.  Perhaps, though, Silas, by the time you come of age, that small, subversive 5% of the American church will have grown and spread through the body of Christ like a lush vine.

Voting though won’t bring this change.

Only Spirit-led repentance will.

I can only pray that you discover these seeds pods of repentance bursting within my heart.  And your mom’s heart.  And your grandparents’ hearts.  And in the hearts of all of those who you know that call themselves Christ followers.

I am reminded of observing MLK Day last year.  You, your mom, and I celebrated Dr. King’s legacy with our adoption community at the Queen of Sheba, a local Ethiopian restaurant.  On that special day, our dear friends, Eric and Tara, received their referral picture from Ethiopia of their soon-to-be-adopted baby boy, Malak. That night we laughed and cried over Malak’s picture, ooing and awing at his large black eyes and his luminous smile.

Later that night as I lay awake in bed and reflected on that festive evening, I couldn’t help but wonder if in fact Dr. King were alive today, would he approve of couples like us and the Silvestres adopting black children. I also thought about how far we have come, from an age of colonialism, where Africans were our slaves, to this new post colonial age, where Africans are now our sons. And I wondered if Dr. King could have even dreamed of such a day when such transformation was possible. Who knows really? But it makes me wonder if at the Queen of Sheba, if just for a fleeting moment, with our bellies full of freshly baked bread, and sweet Ethiopian wine on our tongues, and with you in our arms, and Malak’s picture in front of our faces, if we did not glimpse even if for a moment, the future community of God, the eschatological days when the old age of hatred and racial division will be truly over, and a new age of love and racial harmony will have begun.

As I closed my eyes to sleep, I suddenly recalled Dr. King’s words spoken days before he was assassinated.

“The end is reconciliation;

the end is redemption;

the end is the creation of the beloved community.”

And remembering these words, Silas, I thought to myself, Perhaps the end has already begun.

-Josh Bottomly

Editor’s Note – this article is reprinted from Relevant, an online magazine. It was published as a Martin Luther King Day feature dated Monday, January 19, 2009.  Josh is the Director of College Counseling at Casady High School in Oklahoma City.  He coaches basketball, is a husband and now a father of TWO children from Ethiopia. Silas has a little sister.  She joined the family in June of this year.

Beyond Red

by The Howard

*Disclaimer: All facts reported in this article may only be facts to me and could have nothing at all to do with actual history.

You could say that I grew up in the red hills of northwest Oklahoma between Buffalo and May.  I never actually lived there, but have spent a lot of time in the area and have occasional, random opportunities to go back.  Not as often as in the past, but on occasion I get, or take, the opportunity to go.

Take last Memorial Day for instance.  My brother and I took off the Thursday prior and ran the gauntlet of Waynoka, Buffalo and Laverne leaving silk petals behind as we went.  We had a great time – took along my tattered Atlas & Gazetteer in an effort to get from place to place and back home again without straying onto a highway.

We weren’t completely successful missing the highways but we sure killed a lot of time!

My latest northwestern jaunt was for business to an area south of Gate, Oklahoma.  I’m assuming Gate is so-named because it is just inside the Oklahoma Panhandle, serving as the gate to “No Man’s Land.”

You have to love a place called “No Man’s Land.”  Texas didn’t want this 38-mile wide, narrow strip of land.  Kansas was restricted by geography and treaty from claiming it.  So, it was pinned onto the collective of unassigned lands fated to become Oklahoma.

What I found south of Gate was surprising and a little irritating. At least for a while.

You see, for at least 120 feet below the ground surface there is nothing red.  No “redbed” as the old-timers like to call the red shales and sandstones.  No red silts or sands such as what comprises the red hills outside Buffalo.  No red clays like those that cover much of the state.  Just light brown sand, gravel and a little bit of gray clay.

This geological footprint makes for an interesting drive; it’s like the undiscovered Little Sahara.  There are what appear to be hills but on closer inspection are discovered to be sand dunes rolling right into the Beaver River.  And the visage of these sage covered sand dunes…I couldn’t help but be reminded of Teletubby Land.  My son loves it when I sing the Teletubby song.  He’s now twelve years old, and was never as big a fan of the Tubbies as I.

I didn’t actually see a child’s face in the blazing hot sun (as in Teletubby Land), but after prolonged exposure I’m sure I heard giggling!

Laurie's Cafe in Gate, Oklahoma

By the way, if you ever go through Gate, stop for a cheeseburger at the local café.  They’re pretty good; I’ve had several over the course of two weeks.  And the special on Thursdays is fried chicken.  It must be good because it’s the only building within, say, thirty miles that has more than four people in it.  Every table is filled on Thursdays!

Driving home from these sage-covered dunes, I began to ponder red dirt and the Red Dirt Chronicles.  Oklahoma isn’t all red dirt but red dirt is a common bond.  It is a bond that’s unites us in this geopolitical jigsaw puzzle called Oklahoma.

I think about all the eco-diversity in Oklahoma…I believe we have six distinct eco-regions, depending upon which source you read.  Beyond red, we are a diverse mixture of urban and rural cultures and backgrounds.  But we are united by the wind and the red dirt carried upon it.

It’s good to explore Oklahoma!