June 30, 2008

It's Never to Late to Do the Right Thing

It's never too late to do the right thing -- Jeff Key

Flipping through the channels today, the title of one particular program leaped out of me. Semper Fi. The United States Marine Corp motto, it is short of Semper Fideleous, always faithful. I know this because I'm the granddaughter of a Marine, a man who dedicated nearly 30 years of his life to his beloved corp. For that reason, I'm always interested in learning new things about this branch of the military.
So, I scrolled to the show and pressed the information button. And I was instantly drawn in even more. This is the first-hand, true life account of not just a Marine who was deployed to Iraq with the first waves after the invasion, but of a Marine who was also a homosexual.
Jeff Key served the Marine Corp with great honor. This film is based on the one-man play he wrote about his experience. Although much of the information is anchored around balancing his sexuality with his service, he also focuses on a filthy war's impact on innocent civilians, especially children. As a mother, those thoughts run through my mind often.
The film is poignant and breath-taking. It intertwines with scenes from Jeff's play, news footage from that time and the accounts and recollections of Jeff's family, friends and, most importantly, the men who served with him. Each of his fellow soldier spoke with the highest regard for Jeff, even though most of them knew of his sexuality. As he was older than most of them, old enough to be most of their parents, he served as a mentor de facto for the group. At one point in the film, one of his fellow soldiers says that in the war zone, one's race, religion or sexual orientation did not matter. The fact that he knew Jeff Key would take a bullet to save his life did.
Jeff Key is an American hero. He enlisted in the military for the right reason, patriotism alone. Not that the GI Bill isn't a totally legitimate motivation, but he was already educated and established when he joined up. While Jeff held a great compassion for the Iraqi general populace, he was a fierce a soldier as any. But then again, Alexander the Great and the Spartans are still the greatest war machines this world has ever experienced and they practiced wide-spread homosexuality.
I could write all day long about this film and what I took from it. With the nation's birthday approaching, I suggest this viewing to honor service people past and present.
I made the difficult decision to exit the military. I could no longer be a part of a war that I knew to be illegal under the Geneva Conventions and wholly immoral. It was the most difficult decision of my life. I could not in good conscience apply for discharge as a contentious objector. To be a contentious objector, one has to believe that it is against his religious or spiritual convictions to take up arms against another human. I had been, up to the time of my return, and still was willing to kill to defend defenseless people, protect my nation and preserve the Constitution of the United States. Although it has taken me years to admit it, I probably would have relished taking the life of a tyrant who out of cruelty or greed had caused innocent people to suffer -- Jeff Key
Jeff has also founded an organization, www.mehadifoundation.org, to help alleviate the suffering of our troops who are returning home locked in the chains of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as that of the Iraqis who have no real home to return to. The non-profit organization is named after a little boy Jeff met in a small, dusty town in Southern Iraq who extended kindness to him and the other American troops as they arrived. Go read about Jeff's mission. Better yet, donate. I mean, really, what sacrifices are you making for the war outside of that magnetic ribbon on your SUV. It's not like the magnetic ribbon manufacturers are donating their profits for medical care for our troops, but Jeff is. Like he said, it's never too late to do the right thing.

Reason # 301 I'm a fun hater: Christmas in July.

On almost a weekly basis, someone calls me a fun hater and I guess that could be true. When a friend suggests going to see some hip up-and-coming punk band at some trendy club in the city, I think about some miserable mosh pit, glittery girls who will make me feel a decade older than I already do and, of course, the head ache of the following day. And that doesn't even touch on the fact that it would probably require me to be in public past midnight, which is something I only do twice a year if at all possible. That's only one scenario. There are really millions that some well-intended and much cooler friend will pitch to me, only to find out what disastrous calamity I am certain will break-out if we go forward with the fun.
Now, I know most of you probably are finding all this hard to believe if you were around me often in high school and then very little since then. It's not that I'm against beer-drinking good times, but that I just want them to be over by, say, 8 o' clock. And any situation that might result in the misty-eyed, nostalgic REMEMBER WHEN stories years down the road just make me nervous as hell. Perhaps I always felt this way a little, but didn't want to miss out on all the action. Perhaps motherhood has morphed me from the life of the party to a stick in the mud. I really don't know, but I don't want to apologize for it, either. At the risk of sounding a bore, you can keep all your sexy, slick sports cars and jets skis. I'd rather get a new mini van, especially one of those fancy numbers with the swiveling seats so that we can play Uno while driving down the road. Now that's a party.
While I may be more like a 72-year-old than a 27-year-old, let me tell you who isn't giving up the good times -- my little sister Katie. Now I'm not professing to be a psychic or some brilliant know-it-all, but when one situation turns out the same 100 times, I can see it's gonna be that way 101. And when she and her husband decide they are going out on the town, they go out on the town, LIVIN' IT UP, LIVIN' IT UP.
On at least a daily basis, Katie runs some brainstorm by me that she think is going to be awesome, like on the road with the Rolling Stones awesome. And as soon as she finishes telling me this new plan, I immediately begin discouraging it. After all, after almost each excursion, she tells me the next morning that she is never doing that again and the swinging details of the night before reminds me of some chaotic scene from Boogie Nights or Dazed and Confused. And, not the good parts, either. The crazy man shooting out the back window parts.
With the exception of the Country Palace, no place makes me more nervous than the lake. Any Lake. While you might think of a cook out under the stars with friends and beers, I think sunburn, drunken mayhem in boats and, of course, the backaches from sleeping in some damn tent. No thank you.
Although I always think the lake is a miserable outing I want no part in, the upcoming Christmas in July held annually at Foss Lake is just all those awful things on steroids. First of all, there are about 100 times more stumbling fools out there than normal. Don't get me wrong, I like to drink some beer myself. This is in no way passing judgement on those who like to partake in a little drinking. I just think it's better done in small numbers. I have no desire to throw up with 1,000 of my closet friends. Intimate circles with those I've puked with many times, please.
On top of hosting at least double the people that should be out there, it is a camp ground. What does this mean? Well, for one, it means that there is poor lighting. So, you have too many people who have subsequently had too many beers tripping around aimlessly because they can't see where they are going, unless of course they get lucky enough to catch a glimmer of light from a passing Roman Candle. Because it's some sort of postponed Fourth of July extravaganza, of course there are fireworks. But, there is no designated fireworks area, so they are just blowing off at random with no rhyme, reason or, best of all, warning. You better friggin' believe there will be Black Cats, millions and millions of those heinous Black Cats. There's a reason I never joined the Army, so why in the hell would I want to go into some hot, sticky simulated war zone.
Speaking of things they don't normally have at camp grounds, the huge lack of bathrooms needs little explanation as to why it is up the negative box.
And don't think that the law enforcement officials aren't hip to all this law-breaking. There's only so many ambulances that can be sent to one place before they figure out that maybe something fishy is going on. Now, for all your law enforcement folks who are going to be forced to man this patrol, I'm truly sorry. You have a dedication to your job that I don't understand. There isn't enough money or pension in the world that would make me try to facilitate order and safety for people who so clearly do not want it. God bless you.
Just when you finally give in and start drinking beer, as dangerous as you know it may be, you see some kid and you feel bad. Why anyone would take a child to this alcohol-fueled accident in waiting, I'll never know. On the upside, if you can keep a 3-year-old alive in this madness, he or she will have balls of steel. They won't be scared of shit! I don't necessarily know if that's a good thing, but if you are aspiring for your kid to be a UFC fighter or a drug-running crime boss, this would be great training.
Now, why am I blogging about Christmas in July, or D-Day in July as I like to call it? You are probably wondering since I think I've made it pretty clear that I won't be going. Well, let me tell you why. Because my foolish little sister told me to. She told me today that she's thought up this brilliant plan to have some sort of keg co-op at this nightmare in order that she can consume a huge volume of beer with a smaller price tag and then I went through all the above-listed reasons for why I think this is a colossally poor idea. She then said to me, "Well, I think you should blog about this. If you are right, you will look like a genius and if you are wrong, you will have to admit that you are a fun hater who tried to prevent me from having this great time."
There was a time that I, too, loved Christmas in July. I think I was 20 and had a constant, streaming blood alcohol concentration of about .08. I would allot for higher, but it would go down for a bit while I worked and slept. But even in that hazy stooper I could see what a bad idea this is and I wasn't trying to orchastrate a keg co-op. It is like 10 kinda poor ideas rolled up into one gigantic chaotic disaster on water.
So, there you go. If you want to go out, I'm not gonna stop you, either. My words of reason certainly aren't going to work on my sister. But, they are up here on the blog. Check back after Christmas in July, miserable effin' event that it is, to see if I am boasting my genius or, as unlikely as I think it is, admitting that I'm a total kill joy.

Blowin' in the Wind

From the time I was a small girl, I've felt like I hailed from a legendary heredity. Not just from one side of the family, either, but from both. I guess maybe everyone feels that way.
My husband's grandfather, Jack Allen, was definitely of the brand legends were made of. Though Jack was gone before Rowdy and I met, the tales of his larger-than-life rise from the Great Depression to cowboy extraordinaire still dominated the family's recreation. Recently I was at his ranch, a massive patch of land he pieced together over the years, and this tractor scrap just sort of spoke to me. The rusted, aging metal hanging from an old fence, swaying with salted wind above Oklahoma prairie whispered a picture larger than the grandeur before me. With each blunt drag into the hard earth, a little bit of duck feet chipped away. Just as we do in life, each time we emerge ourselves into our life's purpose, we create more life for future generations as little bit of our own vitality fades away. Newer grass grows up, but we then we are gone forever. The circle of life goes on and on, we are part of something greater than ourselves.
But, then again, maybe it's just scrap metal.

June 29, 2008

New Cat in Town

I have no idea how my house always looks as though Oscar the Grouch has set up a garbage camp squire in my living room , but it does. After cleaning for three hours, it is certainly discouraging for the house to look as though that effort was never made 5 hours later.
With my guys at the house, the big one definitely included, it is difficult to get any cleaning done. So, for that reason, I banished them, all three, from the house this evening so that I might make our home adequate for human in habitation once again, as brief as that might be. I don't really think Rowdy was overexcited about it, but Ridge and Rolan were raring to go.
As soon as the three left, I whipped out the Pledge, Windex, Pine-Sol and that carpet dust that makes your whole house smell like a Downy candle. After 30 minutes, they tried to come back inside, but I ruthlessly kicked them back outdoors.
Now, somewhere in the mix of all this, they found a kitten. An orange, baby kitten. A kitten almost the exact size of Sophie Cat. A perfect replacement for the sister she's been missing. I've yet to investigate what's under the hood, so to speak, but I've named our newest feline addition Suni. She's of a lighter complexion than poor Sadie, the vacuum victim, but I think the two will be a famous pair. On a side note, our border collie Whiskey is already bearing the signs of a man overran by smaller, but domineering women. He's never known the sweet joy of warm milk, so like a cleaver scamp, he sneaks to the bowl to pilfer from his new porchmates.
We don't really know where Suni Girl came from, how she came to be a baby abandoned in a plowed field. We don't know just how long she's been out there, fending for herself. For whatever reason that she came to be alone, however long that may've been, it did give her a few skills her new surrogate sister does not possess. And by that I mean she has the good sense to hastily flee when she even suspects Ridge or especially Rolan are heading out the door. Quickly she's mastered the art of darting under vehicles and is subsequently teaching the craft to Sophie, who was a bit younger when she came to live with us and didn't have the same survival skills.

Text Messaging or SEXting messaging: The epic journey of one fool and his fancy phone

I guess it wasn't that long ago when my friends and I were leaving the nest and spreading our little drunken wings. I mention this because the first of my friends, Miranda, got a cell phone upon our debarkation for Weatherford. It was for our own "safety," which is code talk for always knowing where the party was. But, at any rate, it was the first time I was ever really around 'em. Well, my mom had one of those gigantic bag phones, but Miranda's was the true granddaddy of this NASA-grade gadgets we are all walking around with now.
Fast forward a decade (I'm telling my age, ya'll), and everybody has a cell phone. I mean fucking everybody. Ty, precious, darling, 7-year-old Ty, has a cell phone. Now, I completely understand his mom's reason. Cell phones do carry a lot of safety bonuses when your kid is away from you. But, still, you get what I'm saying. It's not just for Exxon Execs anymore.
For the first few years of the cell phone revolution, they were pretty basic. Then Dobson started offering something called "Elk City Breeze," which alloted for free minutes to numbers from your town or some such shit. Overnight almost everyone I knew had a phone. And with more phones came fancier phones. It was probably about 7 years ago when the kids I worked with at the Pizza Hut showed me the text messaging. At first it totally bewildered me. I didn't understand if you put in the area code or not. Damn frustrating, if you ask me.
Then my father grew convinced that I would be abducted and/or raped and/or killed by a nomadic pedestrian walking by my house. Not some guy he had spotted with a record of such bloody behavior, but rather, just any man who happened to be on foot. So, eventually in his anxiety to promise my safety, he got me a cell phone. Plus, he could find out where I was ANYTIME he wanted, which was often, so it was on. I tinkered around with all this text messaging, but I always preferred just calling over the mass airway communication.
Now I know some folks who can text message so quickly it is as though their brain waves are somehow buzzing onto the phone's screen. Hell, I'm sure there are phones that offer such a freaky service. And these people just LOVE the text messaging.
Not long ago one of these tech-smart junkies taught a country boy I know all about this predictive texting. There are certainly a lot of perks to this predictive texting, I know. I can't seem to figure it out, but those who can tell me the phone basically does the texting for you. Well, I already think George Bush has put a bug inside my brain, so I don't want a machine just guessing what message I want to send, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
Back to the story. You know I get a little off track when I start thinking about George bugging my brain, transcribing all my thoughts while Dick Cheney cackles like a witch in the background. I'm not saying it was my husband and I'm not saying it wasn't. I am close enough to the situation to know that when this man's wife received this particular text message from him, she didn't know what in the hell he was talking about.
The phone buzzed or twinkled or spit out some rap tune or whatever hell it does when it's letting you know you've received a text.
She picks it up and opens the message.
I want to duck yolk

Her head tilted to the side, the same way a dog does to his panting owner or a baby to his babbling grandparent, she was bewildered. She called her husband, who was proud of his predictive texting. After all, she didn't even know where to get duck eggs or what he wanted to do with them if she did know where to get them
Well, he didn't want breakfast or a bird. He was in the mood for something else all together. Something of a romantic, martial nature, if you dig.
So, for all of you who are pushing 30 or have already topped that hill, be careful when you are using the predictive text. These days we can use our phones for just about anything. Rowdy has one of those fancy, schamancy iPhones. That son of a bitch will carrying around all your favorite tunes, let you check weather anywhere on the globe, give you driving miles from anywhere so that bull haulers don't pad up the bill on ya and even connect you to "that world wide web," as Rowdy calls it. But, there are some task you might need to do manually. Otherwise you might end up with a apron-clad woman in the kitchen as opposed to the in-the-buff seductress in the bedroom that you were hoping for.

June 27, 2008

Radar Ridge

So it looks like Ridge inherited more than his love of farm equipment and basketball from my mom. Well, I guess he could've just as easily gotten that from Rowdy, too. But, that's besides the point.

My mother, Radar Rhonda, and her sister, Forewarn Janet, are like cats on a hot tin roof when the weather turns dark and loud. When the clouds are still cruising over Wichita Falls, Texas, or somewhere in between, these two have the skinny. By the time they are rolling on Western Oklahoma, they are buzzing around like day stock traders, a phone stuck to each ear while flailing their hands about like air-traffic controllers. One watching Gary England and the other watches that balding frat boy on KFOR and the swap information back and forth. And now my grandmother, the most experienced meteorologist of the storm chasers, has some weather walkie talkie that picks up the going ons of several countries. Needless to say, if one raindrop falls from Erick to Weatherford, they know about it. I joke about this at their expense, but in all honesty, if I am concerned with my safety, I know the Tornado Trio will tell me what should hit and when.

I bring all this up to set a historical and hysterical context for a conversation Ridge had on my barely-functioning phone with his Auntie Lyndi. Since she and I talk on the phone literally daily, these two also have frequent convos. Lyndi will be a temporary Western Oklahomans next week, so we were making plans for that. About that time, Ridge came walking through the kitchen and Lyndi requested him. I think she was hoping to talk about her upcoming sleepover and food and movie bonanza, but that is not at all what Ridge wanted to discuss.

Somehow he knew that increment weather would soon be upon us or, in the very least, he nailed down a really lucky guess. All I could hear was this end of the talking, but here's how it went.

Ridge: "Aunt Wyndi, you can't stand by the windows if the rain starts hitting on it."

Silence, where I suppose Lyndi was responding.

Ridge: "If the rain hits your windows and then there's the lightening, you have to go get in the closet and shut the door. SHUT THE DOOR, AUNT WYNDI!"

(Ridge's grandma's safe room is in her closet.)

Silence again, more muted questions from Lyndi.

Ridge: "You HAVE to go. The rains will hurt you and break you......I love you."

Just as quickly as he spouted off his orders of safety, he handed the tattered phone back to me. I think Lyndi was still talking to him when I got back on the phone. Of course she hadn't caught all Ridge's cautionary tale, so I filled her in what she missed and what it meant. So, it looks like he will be a storm safety advocate like his NaNa. Hey, I think there's a ring to Radar Ridge.

Oh, you can still donate to Lyndi's fundraiser for leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood cancers. The full story is in the older posts, but a link remains at the bottom of this page.

Rage Against the Machine(s)

Almost simultaneously, my computer and my cell phone both went into self-destruct mode. And, I have to tell you, it is sending me into a tech-craved rage.
The problems with the computer all started with a shortage of memory and have just trickled into everything else. I did get a new hard drive installed, but a power outrage restricted Kyle from getting all the old files copied. I pretend to know what that means, but I do know it needs to be done. Then somehow this tiny battery came undone, which Kyle tells me is like a million to one odds. I always hit the numbers I don't want to. Then the new hard drive got unplugged and now the mouse periodically just freezes up. I really just want to kick the son of a bitch, but I restrain myself. I know that won't help. Of course, I have rounds and rounds of wedding photographs to burn. That, naturally, is always the case when the computer goes all diva.
Then on top of all that, my cell phone is half-hinged. This, most assuredly, is the result of Rolan's giddy obsession with flipping it opened and closed while greeting non-existent callers on the other end. Now the caller ID won't come up. So, if you call me, leave a message. I'm sure a few brides will call and they'll think I'm some terribly mannered photographer with poor phone etiquette.
It's amazing how all these machines that we either didn't own yet or didn't even effin' exist ten years ago seem so painstakingly impossible to leave without now. Even for one day. I swear, I'm twitching.

Just one more reason I hate the camper

This happened a few days ago, but with all the computer uprisings I've been busy squashing, I forgot to blog about it. One of our two kittens, Sadie Cat, died. If you dig back through the older posts, which you should be doing any damn way, you will find a picture of the furry, black beauty and my baby Rolan in Rolan Little, Urchin of Doom. Our place is no picnic for any animals, especially those whose necks are shaped perfectly for a toting handle. Seriously, Rolan was awe-struck by the efficiency.
Surprisingly, poor Sadie's demise was not at the hand of Rolan or his brother. Rather, she met her end as the result of a plummeting vacuum.
Even though I didn't stay in the damn camper at the recent family reunion and even though I already cleaned up once prior to the trip, washing out all the food, bringing in the supplies and sparkling it up for another year of, well, sitting, was my job. After I sprayed it down with all the fresh smelling, yet toxic cleaning supplies, I vacuumed it once again.
Now as I was in the camper scrubbing away, a brief sprinkling rain fell. While I thought this was a nice, cooling touch to the day, it ended up being a fatal factor for Sadie Cat.
As I was carrying the vacuum back inside our home, Sadie and her sister Sophie tagged along behind me, bouncing playfully beneath my feet. Now, you need to remember that their mother was recently killed before the kittens were weaned, so they are both still quite tiny. Dashing along to finish this chore, my pink flip-flop landed upon the first concrete step onto my porch. However, the remaining moisture made this footing a bit slippery and I fell back a few inches, dropping the vacuum on top of Sadie in the process.
It was awful, truly awful. I instantly jerked the machine, enormous in comparison to her frail body, off her. I knew immediately that this would be fatal. She twitched in pain for a few seconds and it was over. And I felt like a very bad kitty momma.
Ridge came home soon after this incident. Thank goodness he wasn't at home at the time. He has been quite protective of Sophie Cat ever since. Periodically he will chastise me for killing Sadie. With a lowered brow and shaking finger, he reminds me that you have be careful with babies and then demands that I just leave Sophie forever alone.
For the first two days after Sadie went to kitty heaven, Sophie cried at the door. She wandered around the yard and the home looking for her sister. It made me sad, but I think she is fine now. Ridge comforts her with the relentless abuse he calls love.
Clearly, this is just another omen for the dangers of camping. It's like a burning bush or that gypsy who eerily told Julius Caesar, "Beware the Ides of March." Or at least that's the argument I'm gonna use the next time Rowdy tries to drag me out in that bullshit.

Never let a Cowboy provide your medical service.

At the risk of grossing you out, I have to disclose this: I have a zit in my ear. I think it is actually the byproduct of some unholy impending ear infection, but who knows. If it wasn't, it certainly will be now.
So, last night when I came home, Rowdy was busy lounging with boys. He NEVER gets to do that, so even though our home looked as though someone started a junk yard in the living room, I thought this was pretty cool.
The ear was kind of hurting, so asked Rowdy the Butcher to have a looksie. I have to say the pain was obviously clouding my judgement or I would've known what this asshole would have in store. But, in a desire to quench my aching ear, I foolishly listened to him.
He convinced me that I should let him take a safety pin and essentially pop this little sore. I was weary, but I allowed it. I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth and said, "Okay."
He poked around like a blind seamstress for a few minutes and then decided that the zit "just wasn't ready."
What? You jabbed my ear 10 times with a needle and now you think it wasn't ready. Almost instantly, I felt heat rising in my eardrum. There was a wetness and I'm almost certain it was blood.
As though I didn't already regret letting Rowdy the Quack perform this sadistic surgery, I woke up this morning with a throbbing, swollen, puss-riddled ear. My entire left jaw hurts. This was a poor, poor decision.
Undoubtedly, I should develop gangrene. By Wednesday, my ear should be being amputated.
Don't let a cowboy provide your medical care. That's all I'm gonna say.

June 26, 2008


As not uncommon, my computer and a few of its accessories went all haywire yesterday, so I didn't get to post the blogs I had planned. Trust me, there's been some funny shit happening 'round here and I still aim on getting them up, but I want to address something more serious first.
I knew when I went to sleep last night that today would be one of those sentimental, reflective days that one always carries with them. While I was at Rowdy's annual family reunion on Saturday, my cell phone rang and the voice on the other end bore a heart-breaking tale. Christi Price, the wife of one of my father's oldest and most loyal friends, had died.
Now LC, Christi's husband, has been a staple in my family since, well, before I was born. Long before this tragedy happened, I've thought of his life in the sort of Homer's Odyssey. Much like my dad, it seems as though he has already squeezed 100 lifetimes into this one. When LC met Christi, they were both raising young children. I was a teenager and periodically baby-sat his two wild urchins, Joshua and Caleb, who have both grown into respectable young men. Kind of gives me hope for the two caged animals currently leaping over my furniture as though they are monkeys instead of boys.
One evening while I watched the Price boys, one of them caught a pile of leaves on fire, which promptly scorched onto the fence. Not long ago, Christi and I talked about that incident. Most women, especially one who was already raising two kids, might would've been scared off a little by such an incident, but Christi laughed at this even when LC couldn't. I've never really been a believer in soul mates, in the notion that two souls were split and then sent on some unlikely journey for a possible reunion. However, if there were ever a case of such, it would be in these two. Never has the term "blended family" been so accurate. LC and Christi brought their lives and their children together and it couldn't be seen where one ended and the other began. They were just one, a solid unit. LC had his three sons, Christi had a boy and a girl and then they added the sixth not long after they married.
When both my children and my sister's children were born, Christi sent gifts so thoughtful and extravagant that it almost embarrassed us to keep them. Periodically, just out of the blue, she would call me to request a new photo of my kids to be emailed to her.
I also want to note that both of Christi's parents and one of her grandparents are still alive. As a parent, I cannot even begin to measure their pain. I don't really know them, but from them came Christi. I think that speaks volumes.
Driving to Elk City this morning, I thought about the day laying before me and what it might hold. As I did, a quote from Rose Kennedy, the mother of the slain president and senator, ran through my mind.
"I tell myself that God gave my children many gifts -- spirit, beauty, intelligence, the capacity to make friends and to inspire respect. . . . There was only one gift he held back -- length of life. "

As I walked into the church with my mom and sister, I was struck by all the people. There was no one "group" or age. Almost every generation and economic sector was represented. Against the large, white wall, a video of Kristi's life lead us, the mourners, through her early years as a smiley baby to now, a smiley mother.
And then came the photographs of Christi and LC. They weren't posed. They weren't taken in the studio. They seemed to be photos snapped when neither of the two knew they were being captured. They were both cool in their skin around each other. As the video replayed several times, that caught my attention each time.
And it hit me -- romance was here, dancing all around us, even in the most tragic of situations. As a wedding photographer, I am frequently in ceremonies were every little detail is selected for sentimental reasons, often to honor this person who is the object of their affection. And while this scenario, a funeral, is the virtual opposite of a wedding, a commencement, oddly I noticed so many similarities. In this, LC's adoration for Kristi was seen. The tribute that LC and their children gave through the two ministers was evident of that.
It was the stuff that made Beethoven's Immortal Beloved and Poe's Annabelle Lee and almost every pen stroke of Shakespeare's. Love transcending time, even death. I knew in that moment that while the whole world may never know this particular narrative, that this will be one of greatest love stories of all time.
As the bagpipe playing Amazing Grace faded into the Oklahoma prairie, Kristi was laid to rest in a golden vault. Like I said, there were so many parallels to a wedding in his farewell. The burial LC gave his wife was a grand gesture, an eternal monument to the value he held for her.
My dear friend Lyndi told me once that when someone dies, our relationship with them doesn't end. It just changes a little. Although the nature of LC and Christi's relationship will obviously evolve, I know he will continue to love her in his daily life. He'll do it by raising their children to be like her -- funny, kind, successful, happy. He described her as the glue that held their family together and, even though she won't be physically present now, I don't see why that would be any different.
I've always been a romantic and, unless you are one as well, I'm sure you think that applies to reading Harlequin romance novels during nap time. If you are a romantic, you know what I'm talking about -- hanging your late grandfather's work shirt by the front door, the ticket stub to your first concert, the song you listened to when you realized you were in love. Most folks believe that romance applies only to lovers and the physical acts related directly to that, we romantics know differently. And today, as I sadly watched a broken man bid an earthly farewell to his love, I felt romance consume the chapel. It was in each piano stroke from a thoughtfully selected song. It was in the air and in the ground and everything in between.

June 25, 2008

Pee Wee's "Play"house

On Sunday afternoon, we all scurried over to my darling little cousin Mikayla's second birthday party. Born at 28 weeks gestation, Kay Kay is a true miracle. She cheated death in her very first breath. Look at that, I'm a poet and I didn't know it.
Anyways, because we are all so thankful for the little toot and because we knew there would be cake, we were front and center at Kay Kay's birthday blow-out in her Grandmommy's backyard. Grandmommy, by the way, is my Aunt Tam. With a thousand varieties of plants and flowers, the green, shady stretch is more like a resort than a backyard. And this year they added a fancy, schmancy pool with a slide and all. Sugar-coated hooligans were littered about like New Year's Eve confetti.
Although my dad, Big D as I like to call him, is generally anti-social, he will make the social gatherings if one of these three people are included: Aunt Tam, Cousin Stephanie and, for God's sake, Cousin Krista. It's really a goal of mine and my sister's to be loved as much as those ladies. Tammy and Dad were once married to siblings and, although both marriages ended in divorce around the same time, my father has always considered them his family. He's pretty selective in that group, so I've always been glad for them in his life.
Now I'm only laying all this out so you, my devoted reader, will understand just how much my dad loves The Tam. The term, I believe, is like a fat kid love cake, to borrow a line from 50 Cent. (On an unrelated note, my dad loves 50 Cent. Big D ain't scared to bust out a rhyme, either.)
As one score of children leaped in and out of the pool while a whole other score bounced upon that huge, rental castle, my little Ridge snuck up in the playhouse swing set to, well, relieve himself. I didn't notice it because I was busy chasing Rolan, who was literally double-fisting Coca-Colas abandoned by other random guests. I don't really allow for the pop drinking so he was gulping this shit up like it was last call at some honky tonk.
So, perhaps you are wondering how I did notice Ridge pulling down his pants just in time to stop the impending urination. Well, that's because PaPa Dennis freaked out as though the peeing 3-year-old was our old buddy Pee Wee at the back of that adult theater. I scurried over, pulling up Ridge's underwear before the business started. Of course he was confused. As most of you know, men at any age don't understand why peeing outside is such a big deal. In fact, I think my dad may very well be the only one.
As all this pandemonium was busting out, Rolan sprinted gleefully toward a ice chest lined with half-empty pops. Miranda, Krista, Katie and Aunt Tam bit their lips to suppress rolling laughter, as they all well know just how damn seriously Big D takes the proper manners. In the mean time, Dad is warning of Ridge's future expulsion from school and other delinquent fall outs as a chain-reaction from such behavior if I don't get a handle on it. I blame it on his Marine Corp raising, I suppose. Of my dad, my father-in-law Wallice likes to say, "With a please and a thank-you, Dennis will politely kick your ass."
After I got Ridge moved to the front yard, where only random motorist might sneak a peek of his business, I couldn't help put chuckle. Seriously, I thought of Pee Wee Herman.

***On a side note, Ridge went down the slide into the pool and that fast little Rolan certainly tried!

June 24, 2008

The WALRUS contest

Okay, I have a confession: I simply forgot to draw a name of the winner of last week's contest concerning the towel animal from our cruise. Now, I got some interesting answers and a few of you nailed down exactly what our steward said he intended -- a walrus. A few of you were abstract thinkers like us, as though he and the Carnival Cruiseline may have desired to plant another furry friend subliminally to insure a smiley excursion. You know, the one that will promise a memorable trip and also bears the letters "us" within its name. Like a lotus, pervs. Anyways , I did have a few folks submit walrus, which was the correct answer and we drew the name today. However, I'm not gonna make it that easy. I'm leaving the winner's name as a comment under the original contest post. I think you will have to go two pages back within the older posts. So you, Winner, are due a lunch special and drink at the Hog Trough in Elk City. Their number is 243-4647, so call 'em up so you can plan what special your taste buds are craving.

June 22, 2008

Iron and Steel, a song by Chad Little

My brother-in-law Chad wrote and performed this song, Iron and Steel, all by himself. We are so proud. His friend Austin Moore created the video. Listen it it. Tell your friends to come check it out. The tale in the lyrics really is representative of the childhood my husband and thousand other farm kids live to produce food for our nation.

I'd like to send our condolences to the family of Christi Price. Her husband L.C. has been a longtime friend of our family and is honestly one of my favorite of my father's friends. In everything Christi did, you could see her love for her children. With each of my children, I received no gifts that were more thought out than the ones she sent me. Well, I have to assume that it was not L.C. who bundled those oh-so coordinated packages. ;)
Like any of you reading this, I am still reeling in shock of this news, but I want to let the Price family know how much we think of them.
L.C., Cliff, Cara, Cameron, Joshua, Caleb and Peyton,
Your wife and mother was an amazing woman and we are humbled by our luck in knowing her.

June 21, 2008

Well, it looks like all the bitching about the lake was all for naught. Both boys are sick. I know that's not any better, especially since Rowdy will be heading back out to the lake and I'll be here with them. But, that's the downlow. Both sick.

June 20, 2008

Presidential Smackdown

This shit is about to get real, you better believe that. For those of you who follow politics as I do, as though it's March Madness or some other sports grand finales, you know what this means.
One of the great advantages George W. Bush had in the caricature-isque 2004 recount was that he didn't accept federally matched funds, which means that while Gore was totally tapped out and operating basically on volunteer work, Bush and Company could legally throw all the funds they wanted to at the problem. It helped.
Now, to me, this is a ballsy move on Barack's part. It could really pay of, assuming he will be able to raise more than the 84.1 million promised through accepting federal funds as John McCain has. I would say he likely will, by the way. From day one, I've been totally awestruck by Barack's ever-rolling machine. Bill Clinton used to make all political junkies gush, even the ones who hated his politics and policies, because of the charismatic mastermind he was. Let's be serious, he was the son of a drunk and a divorced, poor working-class mother from Hope, Arkansas. By far and large, the vast majority of our presidents have hailed from establishment families, none more than our current president. Hell, George's momma's maiden name is Pierce, as in President Franklin Pierce. He lived in New England until he was well into his adulthood, yet the bulk of the country believes he is from Texas. I've always been amazed by that. SO, back to the point, Bill's ability to break into this otherwise impossible to enter arena and then conquering that biotch has made him a phenomenon to political junkies of both affiliations. However, Barack's just unheard of march to the White House is probably going to unseat Bill from the wizard's chair. So, I don't think it is just insane to think that he could raise 100 million.
Now, here's where it is gonna turn into some WWF Smackdown as opposed to a presidential election. Because John is accepting the funds, he can legally only receive a limit of donations, so those who really want to throw money at his quest for the White House (which is, by the by, how folks get to live in the White House. Don't kid yourself, the same is true of Barack as well), are going to have to donate to these fringe groups. Polls are already showing that in the 16 swing states that voters who are exposed to the emails that have already been largely discredited about Barack are actually having a tendency to vote for him. But, we are still a long ways from November. Every die hard Democrat I know sites the Swift Boaters for John Kerry's 2004 demise. Maybe, I don't know. John McCain knows all about the vicious damage these groups can do to a campaign. Just ask him about the 2000 South Carolina primary he ran against Little George there. Ouch, it was rough. These fringe groups or special interest groups are pretty effective in that they can really trash a candidate and then other candidate can totally distance themselves from the remarks. It's a double threat, man.
I already knew the gloves would be coming off in thisdeal. Hell, they already are, but this only solidifies that. Perhaps what I find more interesting is that Republicans are generally against the federally matched funds, especially when Congress threatens to make them mandatory, which would put a spending cap on ALL candidates. Democrats, we poor folk, are typically all for requiring each candidate to have the same invisible ceiling as far as funding goes. So, this is a total roll reversal.
As far as the GOP goes, I like John. Always have. This is in no way a criticism of him. Moreover, it is just me pointing you to the knowledge that, whether he or Barack want it to, this shit is about to get real.

June 19, 2008

This just in, George Bush touched my heart today.

Now before anyone of you pass out or suspect that I've been smoking heroin, rest assured I have not. If you know me at all, you probably know that I've been a pretty big critic of President Bush's. But today, as he gave a press conference in Iowa, he gave notice to those in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, due to their recent floods, but then assured that all the smaller communities will likewise be attended to by their government. That region of the country, by the way, is one of the most critical. I know many of you might not see it like that, but instead see it as a fly-over state like my beloved Oklahoma. But, Iowa raises a huge portion of our domestic crops and therefore is essential to our country's independence.
Now, don't get me wrong, I will hope that the president keeps his word. There was one other time I was all moved by him. I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about, him standing on top of World Trade Center rubble with his arm around New York City's fire chief as he declared his promise through a bullhorn to make those who knocked down those buildings feel our wrath. Well, Osama is still at large and just the other day Georgie made that comment that he just wasn't that concerned about bin Laden at this moment.
But, that aside, it really did warm my heart this afternoon when I heard the president make that pledge. I've been a small town girl my whole life and likely will always be. Like most small town folk, I often feel that our vast contributions to the nation are overlooked due to our smaller population.
So don't faint or call my physician. I'm fine. For those hard-working people of ALL of Iowa, let's keep the government to their word. If these family farms fail, corporate farms will swoop in and take their place. And, trust me, that's not good for anyone. Just ask anyone who recently suffered from food poisoning at the otherwise harmless hand of the tasty tomato.
Kudos to you, Mr. Bush.


Perhaps you've been wondering where I've been today. There is a new blog under "Complaints and Grievances," but I haven't posted on the main page yet today. So, here goes.
I've been cleaning out the camper today. This weekend is Rowdy's family reunion and, even though I swear every year that I'm not going to be the one preparing the camper I never stay in, I went and did it. What can I say, I'm a good wife.
There isn't a single person in Rowdy's family that I don't like and, overall, I enjoy their company. However, for some reason, I just don't dig the annual reunion. I don't know if it's because of the ridicules heat or the sleeping in ungodly places, which together are enough to bench Michael Jordan, or the certain sunburn I will have on Monday, but I dread this event each year. I'm sure the old reliable tornado scare has something to do with it as well. And, considering that I've been to the shelter more times in the last month than I have been in five years, I think you could put a hunskie on the probability of 100 people stuffed into the public bathroom in search of security from the storm. Rowdy, on the contrary, loves it. I mean if we won a free trip to all of Europe and it happened to fall on this weekend, we'd skip the once in a lifetime vacation.
The boys, most assuredly, will have a great time. After all, there will be other kids, candy, a playground and, most importantly, mud involved. That's really all they need.
So, think if me this weekend, friends, when I am just one mosquito bite away from a meltdown.

June 18, 2008

Black Cat Down

On Monday as I drove into Elk City, the back way as always, an advertisement of Black Cats caught my eye. This is the first one I've seen this year. Son of a bitch, it's that time again, ALREADY, son of a bitch! Now, don't get me wrong, I like the Fourth of July for many reasons. First and most important, there's the beer. You can drink as much beer as you want on the Fourth of July and not a soul will even bat an eye at you. You can pass out at 11 am and all your friends will hail you the Supreme Patriot in the group. I love it ! Now, is this wise, in light of all the semi-explosives other drunken patriots will be blasting off at random, often without warning or reason? I doubt it. Is it awesome? You betcha it is. So, just so you don't completely skip over this, I do like most fireworks.
Okay, reason number two, the Fourth of July is my mom's birthday, which has always made it an extra special holiday to me. Plus, that only solidifies reason number one. Mom's down, for shiz!
And reason number three, the Fourth of July is a day set aside solely to recognize the freedoms insured to us through the United States Constitution and the men and women who've labored selflessly for that. I'm the granddaughter of a veteran, a man who served nearly 30 years in the United States Marine Corps, including two tour in one of the most tumultuous conflict in our country's history and retiring as a Lt. Colonel. Semper Fi, word! I'm also the granddaughter of farmers and ranchers, those who work endlessly often for little profit to maintain our domestic food source. If you know anything about the vitality of countries, you know that resources are a big damn part of that. So, yeah, I love observing the luck I had in the location of my birth.
With that said, what the m-f does Black Cats have with freedom? Holy shit, are we trying to send some poor veteran who already has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder into a full-own flashback? I mean, is that seriously how we want to thank the men and women who put their lives on the line for the longevity of our nation.
"Yeah, come on out, guys. We are gonna have a day just for YOU and, of course, Uncle Sam. Grab a beer, there's gonna be parade and then watermelon. OH, and I think Aunt Sue is making that homemade banana ice cream love so much. Just take a seat in the lawn chair, relax and let us have an extravaganza in your honor!"
And just as the poor vet starts to relax, cue the 11-year-old punk to whip out a roll of Black Cats half the link of a driveway. I've never been in a combat zone, but I'm shaking and my nerves are shot. I feel like I've been put through a 30-hour "interrogation" in the Eastern Bloc. You can definitely see how this would send some old warrior back to Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or whatever other hell hole they were sent for us.
So this summer when you rush out to the firework stand, loading up on the legalized explosion you are about to ignite, freakin' pass on the Black Cats. I know many veterans and I can tell you that forcing them to relive the Tet Offensive is no way to celebrate their service and our nation.

Lost in Translation, so to speak

On the days we ported in Mexico while on our cruise, Sol seemed to be our beer of choice. I like Pacifico a little more, but honestly it wasn't as available and when it was, it wasn't quite as cheap. Of course, I've never been a big fan of the Corona, so Sol it was!

Now on the trip, Chad was soaking up this south-of-the-border cervasa with the rest of us and even made the comment that he was going to continue to drink it once he got back to the states. The last morning of the cruise, though, he said he had an upset stomach and credited to the Sol. I agreed that it could be the beer, but might be the quantity, not the quality, that was to blame for this mayhem.

As we drove through Texas on our way home from the trip. we both stopped and picked up a 12-pack of the Mexican brew. Naturally ours was gone within a few days of our return. I mean, Lyndi had been gracious enough to let us park our car at her home there in Norman, so it was only the neighborly thing to do to whip out a couple and share with her, right? Then each day I would have one, longing for the Yucatan.

Well, apparently Chad just now got into his. He called me two days ago and said, "Well, I think I've found out what Sol means in Spanish?

"Sun," I said.

"No, enema."
I thought that was really funny. I've been looking for a reason to post this photo. I thought it really says lazy days on the beach. I had figured it would be on a stressful day with the kids, like, a "Man, I need to be drinking Sol in Mexico," kind of day. But, with that funny phone call from Chad, this is as good a time as any.

June 17, 2008

Is He Makin' You Crazy

Rowdy left the house at 6 am yesterday and didn't get in until 11 pm. In between cutting wheat at the Woodward Place and checking cattle and keeping a finger on this wild oil-pushed market, he was a busy man. Now, farmers and ranchers are almost always glad to see rain rollin' in, but in this case, it is also buying him a much-earned nap. Now the little banter with Ridge when he came in was pretty funny. I don't know what this says about him, our darling boy, or us, his doting parents. But here it is:
Rowdy comes in and lays down in his Lazy Boy.
Me: Honey, if you are going to take a nap, why don't you go lay down in bed.
Rowdy: ......total silence.
Ridge: Mom, is he makin' you crazy?

I thought that was pretty funny!

The Sponge Bob Conspiracy

I'm not for sure where my kids got turned onto this little gem, but I have my ideas. SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS! One day they came home, chanting and pleading for me to turn it on the tv. Seemed harmless enough. And since its on Nickelodeon non-freakin'-stop, I just flipped it over and there it was. Because they seemed so pleased and entranced, I went ahead a recorded it for good measure.
Over the next following weeks, Ridge asked for it more and more while Rolan danced gleefully in the background at the prospects at watching this underwater sponge living a pineapple.
Well, one day I decided I should maybe watch this with them. I mean, I know that no tv is really that good for kids, but Thomas the Train, the undisputed champion of Ridge's heart, periodically talks about colors and letters. Plus Ridge has learned to talk like a cheeky little Englishmen, abandoning the word "mad" for "cross," i.e., "Mom, Rolan is playing with my train. I am so cross."
Anyways, let's get back on track. So, I sit down with my guys one afternoon to see what all the fuss is about. With my mouth dropped open, I was shocked at how many times this one tiny sponge could burp and fart, as though my boys need any encouragement in this department. The sponge bumbled around foolishly as some grumpy squid or whatever schemed on selling kids for profit or something, just one more thing my boys probably won't need any further encouragement with.
Immediately I banned Sponge Bob and all his ridicules friends from our house. Just put it on the shelf next to the Nascar and the Grizzly Man log-sawing contest or whatever the hell that is that Rowdy soooo loves to watch.
As soon as I erased this nonsense, my living room looked like Tienanmen Square, China, circa 1989. Ridge and Rolan were in a fully brazen protest and you know I was gonna mow that shit down like all those tanks over those freedom-starved students. (I know, I know it's probably immoral to joke about such a thing, especially coming from a self-described liberal such as myself, but I bet you laughed.)
After the Great Sponge Bob Famine of 2008 began, I spent a lot of time thinking about such a show and how it ever came to be. And before you start sending me some hate mail because you love Sponge Bob, look down at your one-hitter and your hacky sack. Yup, that's why I don't want my kids watching this bullshit.
Now, if you happen to be one of those neocons, follow closely. You are gonna love this. After all, that nutty windbag Jerry Falwell decried that the purple Teletubbie was making our kids homosexuals and you all went banannas. Here goes: I think Sponge Bob was created by the Taliban to dumb down our kids, thus setting the stage for an out-and-out jihadist invasion in about 15-20 years. I mean, if I wanted to conquer their shit hole countries, this is exactly what I'd do. I make a show that was so silly and ridicules that all kids would love it, but have the underlying message be, well, burping and farting. Osama bin Laden is behind this, I just know it.
And since I'm a sworn enemy of Osama, I'm waging war on this Sponge Bob Conspiracy and I think you should, too. I mean, do you want the insurgents to win? To quote my man Dub, you're either with us or against us. Osama is against us and so is Sponge Bob. And the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I bet Osama loves Sponge Bob.
I don't give a shit what former or current comic geek is credited with the creation of this little cartoon nightmare. Osama was behind it. Haven't you ever seen Super Troopers? Johnny Chimpo, need I say more.
So, there you go. I've done my patriotic duty. George Bush told me if you see something, say something. I've passed along the information. Go well, my friends.

Here it is

For those of you who have sent checks directly to Lyndi, I thank you both on her behalf and those who will benefit from it. Now, for those of you like me, you like to do your business cyber-style, here's the link you've been asking for. It's simple as pie, baby. Just click and donate. A message box is even provided so you can write a little box of encouragement that all will see. Let our girl know how proud we are of her and her lion heart.

June 16, 2008

Only in America

So, I've been trying to lose weight, which has been no easy feat considering how much I love eating and cooking and what a fantastic metabolism my husband and sons have. In order to consume waistline-friendly fare, I often end up preparing two meals. Not long ago, though, I discovered a small remedy for this conundrum -- homemade sushi. Through the magic of amazon.com, I can order nori, the seaweed wrap that serves the purpose of a Japanese tortilla. Lyndi gave me a bamboo rolling mate about a year ago and rice vinegar can be purchased at Homeland or United. Of course, sashimi-grade fish isn't readily available in Western Oklahoma. I can buy it on the internet, but it is expensive and must be used quickly. So, for those reasons, I normally stick to sushi rolls made with imitation crab meat, which is honestly pretty cost efficient.
While the sushi roll I started out making at home was a California Roll or something close to it, the need for something new has sparked my creativity. Typically I stick to the rice and crab with a touch of avocado, cream cheese and sesame seeds, but I like to randomly add new ingredients just to mix things up. I'm a rebel like that.
So, while I was strolling through the grocery store today, I spotted a bag of "Snow Pea Crisps" in the vegetable aisle. The package had a picture of snow peas. Not some snow pea mutation or a chip that was colored in the limey shade of snow peas. Now, it was very clearly a snow pea on the package. Since I've seen snow peas served at sushi restaurants, both fresh and dried, I thought this would be something nice to have on hand to add to my rolls periodically.
When I opened the bag, I quickly realized that this was not the dried snow peas I thought they where. No, these were basically chips made with a trace of snow peas. Now, don't get me wrong, these bastards were good, real good. When I pulled my oily hand from the bag, it looked as though I'd been emerging it in a finger-lickin' bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Since my taste buds have always been such avid supporters of all things fried, they were pleasantly surprised at this new revelation. I flipped the bag to the label and, low and behold, 20 pieces of these processed peas scored an impressive 150 calories, 10 fat grams and 15 carbohydrates. The list of ingredients that staged the corruption of the formerly pure vegetables included corn oil and rice. Now I have no doubt that the peas, fried, salted and all, are healthier than, say, pork rinds. But is that really that comforting?
As a fat ass, I feel like I am entitled to speak for us all. And by the way, this is in no way pointing blame to anyone else for the ba-donk-a-donk I have to lure into my jeans. After I read the label of doom, I feed the snow peas to my quite thankful border collie. He gave the mouth-watering snack high marks. With that said, I'm quite certain this new delicacy isn't something you'd find in a grocery store anywhere else in the world. If you did, it would definitely be stocked with the junk food and would probably only be there in the first place because some American had moved to town.
So, for all you lazy readers, the ones who would've probably thought the unexpected tastiness to have been caused by magic, we are now deep-frying snow peas and serving them up as healthy treats. Only in America, right?

June 15, 2008

Outside Man Ridge

I drive the tractors well into the night
and hop the combines with all my might.
The seed, the rain, the dirt, the grease.
I am a hard-working, hard-playing, hard-laughing beast.
When Dad's daily task prevent me from goin,'
Mom has one wound up boy she'll be a-towin.'
I love equipment, none too small or too big.
I am a tractor-drivin,' cattle-callin,' outside man, Ridge.

Forget about the "Don't Eat Yellow Snow," just don't piss in the bucket

So as I was cooking Rowdy's vegetable-free (per his request) Father's Day lunch, I noticed Ridge in the pantry room with his little pants and underwear down. With that oh shit, she caught me look on his face, I scampered quickly to pull them up.
Me: "Ridge, what are you doing?"
Ridge: "Ummmm, well, I peed in the bucket."
Me: "What bucket?"
Ridge, pointing to the big white tub that holds the ice cream maker in order to catch the stray cream and sugar as it flies out of the churning metal ice cream container, : "That bucket."
Yes, that's right, Ridge peed in the bucket. Now it never actually holds any of the ingredients and just serves as a kinda buffer for the container and I did instantly get out the damn bleach. We love the homemade ice cream, so naturally I'd want to salvage it. Of course after I scrubbed it, ruined my shirt from the showering bleach, ran it through the dishwasher by itself, Rowdy pointed out that it could easily be substituted with a round, store-bought Tupperware. Hell, a knock-off Tupperware would do the trick.
Ridge was punished and was then banished to his room. And, to him, that was even more devastating than normal since I was allowing Nascar to be viewed in our home in honor of Father's Day. That shit only happens on holidays that are specific and exclusive to Rowdy. We had the "Where are you suppose to pee pee talk" over and over and over, pounding it in his head like George Bush hard-selling that pre-invasion WMD story.
All you mothers of girls, I know this must be really shocking to you while all you mothers of boys are replaying similar stories through your mind. I know that Miranda never seems to have these little gems while Melissa and I do. Mollie, who is raising a clan of four, has them, but they only seem to flow from the penis-bearing children.
Look at this picture. Thank God he's cute.

June 13, 2008

Kickin' It Up a Notch!

Okay, well, if you've been here before and you've found your way back (solid evidence that, in spite of what your spouse/mother/teacher says, you are a GENIUS), you probably noticed that things have changed a bit. I'm **trying** to kick it up a notch, as Scotty Word would say. I mean, I do need an avenue to deliver my wit to the world, what a tragedy it would be if you guys missed out on that, but rational tells me I probably need to be displaying some of my wedding photos as well. Currently you can see some of my wedding photography from last year at www.myspace.com/shondalittlephotography. Soon I will be transporting some of them here and I will definitely be uploading photos from recent weddings. Art is, after all, ever-evolving. So, the "Home" tab will be, well, the home for my every day posts. For example, this morning my oldest son Ridge asked me to lay down with me. He just wasn't ready yet to pull himself from his warm flannel sheets. As I laid down beside him, he tooted. He grinned mischievously as his green eyes burst to the size of nickels and he said, "There's a frog in this bed." Now, that in itself was funny enough to make the blog. I mean, what a proud moment for his momma. I blame Rowdy for this and, if you know him, you know why. However, later this afternoon, the "frog in the bed" took a hilarious turn when he killed a frog. Yup, that's right. He killed a frog. He took his fishing pole and thrusting it at the little guy like he was harpooning a whale. That and stories like that will be under the "Home" link. Home for the madness. Home for the funny. Home for the Littles. Get it? "Momma's Kitchen" will have recipes, tips, home stories and disasters and little tidbits like Ridge shoveling cups and cups of flour into a bag of chips. I might throw some scrapbooking stuff no doubt stolen from Mollie in there, but you get the drift. If the old saying "Never Trust a Skinny Cook," holds any truth, you are gonna wanna read that. And then there's the "Complaints & Grievances." I don't think that needs a lot of explanations. It could be anything, like stumping my toe on a toy as I stumble to the bathroom each night to some politician who thinks we are all stupid. Or, it could be grievances. Normally these will be funny posts, or at least I will labor for the humor. Who the hell knows what you will think? But, sometimes I will dip into the serious. I might, for instance, write about the total shock I felt when I found out Tim Russert died. Sure, I never met Tim. I watch him almost every Sunday on Meet the Press, but we've never played a round of golf together. I've never played a round a golf with anyone, but that's beside the point. He's been the host of MTP since 1991, so I've been watching him stare down Washington's movers and shakers all my adult life. But, that's not what me love Tim. He's been voted Father of the Year by several organizations and I've heard many talking heads praise his devotion to his kids. I love good parents especially famous good parents. Like I said, the "Complaints & Grievances" will typically be full of sarcasm, but on random days like today, I might whip out the stoic. Rest in Peace, Tim. Now, if you have already clicked on one of these tabs, you might think you are in some cyberspace twilight zone. You are not. I know you see the same page under that link as the one you were originally on, I just haven't figured out yet how to direct my posts to the appropriate tab. I'm sure after 10-12 frustrating hours of throbbing shoulders and curse words I will master it. Well, master might be a stretch, but I'll get there. If you happen to already have the key to this lock, by all freakin' means, hook me up.

June 12, 2008

Rolan Little, Urchin of Doooommmmm......

Out feeding cattle at Roll a few days ago, Rowdy and Ridge swung into Uncle Jerry's. Jerry's operation boasts a wide convoy of combines and, to Ridge, that is as good as Disneyland. While there, Jerry shared the sad news of his momma cat's recent demise at the hand of a reversing pick-up. Well, Ridge loves all furry animals and country people always need cats to hunt the ever-invading field mice, miserable bastards that they are. So, the kittens were loaded up, adopted out to their new home with the Littles.
Now, I'm sure these two adorable feline ladies were already frightened out of their tiny minds. After all, they could have used a few more weeks on the teet and not only had their chi-chi (Yes, that's what we call 'em) were instantly snuffed out, but they were being toted off by some rough giant named Ridge. Little did the kittens now that Ridge, lifting and petting and dragging, would be a field day in comparison to what was awaiting them at their new home -- Rolan.
Rowdy had tried to tell me about the kittens during a phone conversation we had via cell phones, but considering the reception here in Roger Mill County is such a crackerjack service, I didn't understand a damn word he said. So, when Ridge came strolling in with two baby kittens, one gray and one black, I was kinda shocked. However, my dismay was pale beside Rolan's.
Rolan's been a lover his whole life. Considering my utter contempt for cuddling, I suppose he must've picked this up from Rowdy. Who knows, really? Anyways, hugs and kisses are happiness to Rols. When he saw these two pea-sized babies, almost custom-made for his hands, he was overcome with excitement. I mean, pure and solid to the core excitement. For the first few moments, he stood paralyzed while bellowing a deep, rolling laugh. I've never heard him make this particular sound before. Then he spent the next several hours either squeezing them or freaking out because he wasn't holding them.
And ever since they've arrive at our home, both boys have been obsessed with them. Don't get me wrong, Ridge isn't necessarily a carriage of gentleness, but I'm sure his chest must feel like a spa to the kitties when compared to Rolan. He just loves them so much. It gives a whole new meaning to Love to Death.
So, for their own safety, the kittens are in a semi witness protection program of sorts. In other words, I put them in a box lined with soft woolly blankets far too expensive for a cat hotel and then hide the box at the top of our closet. I close the door and Rolan spends the following 30 minutes desperately searching for them. Eventually he finds a book shelf to clear or a toy tractor to push, but that 30 minutes is a panicked frenzy while it lasts.
The Buddhists believe that the manner in which you live one life determines what life you get the next time around. In other words, if you are good, you gain a better position. If you are bad, well, you get to come back as a kitten at the mercy of Rolan Little, Urchin of Doom.

June 11, 2008

Run, Lyndi, Run -- Help Raise Money for Leukemia Research and Care!

Lyndi and her momma Jan in NYC
"Be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a great battle,"
my darling friend Lyndi has said to me many times. She is a woman of wisdom and tolerance and, really, she has been since she was a child. Although this is one of her favorite quotes, borrowed from someone else, I'm amazed she wasn't actually the first person to say it. As long as I've known her, she's always had a cause. She inherited that from her grandma, I believe. Improving the lives of others has been one of her most committed missions. Sometimes it's just welcoming a newcomer or befriending a broken-hearted stranger. Other times she labors for some of the world's more overbearing problems. You know, the ones wealthy and powerful politicians discuss only in desperate, sentimental election years. Like a trusty old stand-by girlfriend, these world "leaders" drop 'em when they have a more promising, lucrative cause (like their hedge fund or trust fund or skiing in Sweden fund), but come again courting with sweet talk as soon as they need something again. In the meantime, Lyndi and good people like her chip away at the issue, no matter how big or small.
Recently, she called, like she does almost daily, and told me of her newest conquest. I'm awed not only by her simple sacrifices of others, but how hard she works to do it.
She said, "Well, I think I am going to run a half marathon."
"Really, that's pretty cool. I'm impressed. When are you going to do this?"
"On October 19th in San Francisco," Lyndi responded. "It's the annual Nike Women's Marathon. I think I may have mentioned last year that I wanted to do it. I am training to run with the Oklahoma Team on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society."
She went on to explain that leukemia claims the lives of more children than any other disease and 1,900 new cases of it, lymphoma and myeloma are diagnose EACH WEEK.
Of course I thought running 13 miles would be her donation to the charity that works to find cures of these three disease as well as Hodgkin's disease, as well as improve the lives of terminal patients and their families. But no, that's not even close. I'm telling you, this Lyndi really makes me feel like a selfish bum.
In order to even be eligible to go run in this marathon, she must either raise or donate $3,600. She's a school teacher here in Oklahoma and you may or may not have heard that they are kinda underpaid. She is going to contribute her own extra money and is having a garage sale/bake sale as a fund raiser. Beyond that, she will be working at Red Hawks games because the team will donate $45 to her cause each time she goes. She doesn't actually get to pocket any of the cash, but it will eliminate some of the money she must raise to participate in the marathon.
However, even with this monetary donations and work granted on her own part, Lyndi probably still won't met her required amount. So, she needs our help to help others. There is no donation that will be too small and of course there isn't one that's too big. Naturally, all donations are 100% tax deductible. Donations will be accepted until the Lyndi leaves for San Francisco in mid-October, but receiving them before July 30 will help measure how much further she needs to go.
So, if you would like to give to Lyndi so she can give to others, please do. You can contact me at shondy26@hotmail.com or at 580.821.2866.

Apocolyptic Accounting, I suppose

Well, the oil inventory numbers just came in. Keep in mind that crude was already trading at $135, a solid hunksie over what it traded at less than a decade ago. Analysts were expecting a neutral number, neither an increase or decrease in the world's available supply. Boy, where they off on this. On CNBC, any time some report is scheduled to come out, which is often with home sales, credit applications, even freakin' ebay listings, they put a small countdown graphic in the bottom right hand corner to the time of the expected announcement. Just as the clock hit 00:00, the doom on the announcers faces was evident.
The crude inventories came in 4.6 MILLION barrels lower than expected. Instantly, crude rocketed up and the Dow went in the opposite direction. With the housing market still reeling from the knock out punches of last summer and the trickled effect of the Bear Sterns demise, I can't help but wonder how this trifecta will effect the American economy. You might not afford to go the movies or on the earned and anticpated vacation, but you at least now have my witty blog to entertain you. I know that's a comfort.
On the other hand, if you do have to go through the "American Oil Crisis," as the conservative CNBC is now deeming it, there's probably no better place to live than Western Oklahoma. Rowdy and I may have to sell one of our kids to get a wheat crop in the ground, but at least our friends and Rowdy's stepfather can whip out their fat oil dough and buy us a beer for consolation. Talk about job security. All jokes aside, I'm a lover of Western Oklahoma and it really does make me happy seeing this area that is my home prosper.
Several airlines are making moves to cut down their fuel consumption and some of them sound kind of funny. American Airlines, for example, is debating removing all the backseat telephones, stating that each plane carries 200 pounds of 'em.
Now the South Koreans are out in full force protesting because their government is reinstating their American beef imports. Of course this is frenzied fit is because of the one confirmed case of mad cow. It was over three years ago and the American Beef Industry has gone above and beyond to prove overwhelmingly we will never have another case. For example, if a steer has any trouble walking, he will never make it into the food chain. Turns out, they sometimes break their legs. The leg can be healed, but if it impairs their ability to walk at all, the slaughter houses won't take 'em. The upside is that Rowdy then has more head to feed out here and then sell at cost to our lucky friends. You won't eat a finer steak at the most swank restaurant in Manhattan than you will in my kitchen, thanks to the feeding genius of my husband. American beef is really our only remaining import. Everything else can made, normally cheaper, in other countries. And, sure, they can raise beef in the other parts of the world, but they can't raise the quality beef that we do. Have you ever eaten a burger in Mexico? However, that sole case of mad cow in American, the world's largest beef producer, has been a bargaining chip in the South Korean Free Trade Agreement. Ranchers were offered up on a sacrificial alter for lower import tariffs and Korean a few troops. Thank God they did, too. It would be total disaster if pimple-faced 14-year-0lds had to pay $30 for video game than $25. If you think we will go to war over foreign oil, just imagine if we were fully dependent on foreign food. In this global market, a country must be able to import something to maintain growth and, in turn, independence.
Last night I saw a Wal-Mart commercial promising to cash the stimulus checks, or "China Money" as Mollie coined it, without a fee. And, if you will get it put on some sort of Wal-Mart card, they will waive other fees. Now, let me see if I fully understand this --- We are borrowing money with interest from China to give to American consumers to stimulate our economy (and our stock market, which is cooooolllll with this stock trader) so that they can go to Wal-Mart to buy products made in freakin' China. Holy shit, it's like some weird twilight zone. Remember that picture of the cow eating grass in your science books, with the arrows going into a circle. That's what it reminds me of. And, outside of the short-term, I can't really see this being beneficial to the country, but you know I'll be getting long the favorite retail stores of idiots who will spend their checks instead of saving them. Maybe AutoZone or Pep Boys? Vehicles seem to be the preferred investment of the prudently frugal. Spinners or lift kits or a deafening "system," anyone?
Speaking of shopping, this month's retail numbers come out tomorrow. Just like today, the little countdown will be rollin' away in the corner of the tv screen on CNBC. I'm sure this oil mess won't look positively effect these reports, but who knows? The first round of verdicts on the stimulus checks will be in and, good or bad, you can beat the talking heads will be all a-twitter.
Until then, I'm not putting either of the boys on the auction block just yet. But, we are still three months, give or take, from sowing wheat. Call me then and we'll see. They are cute and they never talk back. They eat whatever you serve then and they put themselves to sleep. And the stimulus checks are going to fix everything.

June 10, 2008

In the Eye of the Beholder Contest

Carnival Cruises are well-known for many things and one of them happens to be the cute, cuddley towel creations left in your room. The quick and crafty stewards stalk your room for each and every opportunity to clean it up and yet you never seem to see one of them.

On our recent cruise to the Yucatan Penenisula, our sailing mates Chad and Jennifer found the most peculiar towel concotion in their room one evening. They came to our room, which was right next door to theirs, to get our opinion on it. Rowdy and I have been on one other cruise and the adorable towel animals, as simple as it might be, were a heart-warming addition to our trip. However, on our first watery excursion, we did not see this particular clothey pet.

Just like that black-and-white cut out photo of Jesus, everybody seems to see something different when they see the photo of the towel animal. You know, kind of like that picture that is a beauty queen when it is turned one way and an old woman when flipped the other. Now, I'm sure many of you will see what we saw, which is what made this thing so attention grabbing. Hell, who knows what you will see. But, post a comment with your guess. At the end of this week, next Tuesday night at 10 pm, a winner will decided. Now, if only one person guesses the right answer, they will win a lunch special and drink from the Hog Trough on South Main in Elk City. For more information on their finger-lickin' BBQ and down home sides, visit http://www.thehogtrough.com/. Swing by, I think you'll like it.

If, by chance, more than one person pegs it, I will draw the name of the lucky person. So, let me know what you think. Tell your friends. Let's hear it.

June 09, 2008

Live to Blog Another Day

Until last night, I had thought I'd had a near-death experience. There were a few times during my teen years that I realized with the light of a new day that perhaps the poor decisions of the night before could have produced a calamity. On a drive back from Oklahoma City one afternoon, a large propane grill tumbled out of a pick-up and onto I-40 as my friend Casey and I traveled back to Elk City. A skilled driver the likes of Richard Petty, Case swerved around it like stoic ice skater. For the remaining trip, he and I discussed just how bad that could have been had we been any closer to that pick-up. In my mind, that was truly a close call, that is, until last night.
It's not always easy for those of us who live west of El Reno to know what to do in the event of summer storms, as any Western Oklahoman will testify. Growing up here, we fully comprehend the realized potential of a tornado. And, you normally don't end up living in Oklahoma by chance. Most of us are multi-generational Okies. We cut our teeth on May's fury. So, we definitely take the threat of a twister seriously. With that said, the unbalanced weather coverage we receive from the television stations makes it difficult to predict just what action, if any, we should take. First of all, there have been many times that we do get over showered with walled off coverage . Sometimes this happens when there isn't much threat, although this is certainly the exception. And sometimes a cyclone of dooming is leering at us. Both happen. Of course, this leads us to believe that, in the event of a serious cloud, the stations will wallpaper us with reports. As much as I do appreciate it at the time, the occasional broadcasting of Western Oklahoma misleads us into thinking that they will inform us of all our threats. Even further perplexing, if any sort of increment weather approaches the Oklahoma City metro area, holy shit, all three news stations thrust into full on hysteria. These clouds are stalked by caffeine-fueled storm chasers like Britney or Lindsay stumbling out of the club. Don't get me wrong, if OKC is experiencing grave danger, I want it to be covered. We have family who live there. Two of my favorite little people in the world, Paden and Josie, are residents of the metro. So, by all means, I want my tv programming interrupted if they or any of their fellow city dwellers face even a little threat. It's always better to have and not need than need and not have, right? They do, however, get a little hysterical when the city faces any thunderstorm at all, which makes it difficult for us to know just what option to go with when are facing our own storms and the channels aren't broadcasting much on them.
And, so was the case Sunday evening. Oddly, Rowdy had spent the entire day at the house with the boys and me. A crazed workaholic, this almost never happens. We just....hung out. It was nice. I am coaching the Cheyenne tan t-ball team this year, so I had scheduled a practice for 7 pm. At about 5:15, Rowdy and I pulled up the local radar on the DTN, knowing a thunderstorm of unknown strength was likely on its way. Just as we confirmed this, my friend Angel, whose daughter Zaylee is on our team, called. Her job at the Roger Mills County Sheriff's Office affords her privy to the National Weather Service. A clustered string of cloud formations in the Texas Panhandle were streaming toward us like a pack of gnarly Hell's Angels, circa 1966, descending upon a paralyzed Norman Rockwell community. We decided to reschedule the practice.
Sometime between 6:30 and 7, Rowdy told me he thought we should go to his mother's house, which is about 1000 feet from our house, because she has a storm shelter. A family member in Sweetwater, a small town southwest of Cheyenne, had reported winds of 100 miles per hour. I didn't know if this was true or not because I didn't know how this force was measured. We turned on the television, switching back and forth between the three Oklahoma stations. Each had the miniature map of Oklahoma with our county highlighted for tornadoes in the top corner, but all were airing their regular programming. This is puzzling not just because an ominous vortex was obviously entering into the state, but also because all three stations gave non-stop storm analysis on Thursday night to a storm in Oklahoma City that clearly had no potential for anything outside of rain and small hail. I even remember Gary England saying as much while I was watching the endless parade of moving radar on my tv screen. Needless to say, that sort of annoyed me Thursday night because of past incidences like the storm just before our cruise, but the memory really aggravated me Sunday evening as we walked out the door. So, when we left for Glenda's, the lack of coverage lead me to think that approaching clouds would hold the danger I later discovered they did.
Not long after we got to Glenda's, the rain and hail began. An army of deep denim clouds amassed in the southwestern sky and the horizon stewed into a charcoal broth of thunder and lightening, a glazed sunset barely breaking through the bottom.
After 15 or 20 minutes of heaving rain and small hail, I realized that I didn't turn of my computer when I was leaving for Glenda's. This, no doubt, was a product of my uncertainty in this storm's might. I'm an Oklahoma native, so I know all the possibilities. But, as I said before, it is a bit disorienting when the weather reporting is unreflective of each storm's wrath. They either overdo it or underdo it, there is no in between. From the radar on the television screen's corner, we could see that more was to come. However, since the graphic was micro made as though mice or some other tiny animal were their desired audience, we couldn't really make out just when and where this would be hitting. Fortunately, Angel was still at the sheriff's office, so she told us another monster was rolling from Reydon toward us. With the rain and hail in a temporary loll, I asked Rowdy if he thought I had time to come to our house, just down the hill a little ways, to turn off the computer. After all, I had just downloaded 1,500 pictures from Kassie Jackson's and Mike Lee's wedding and I hadn't burned a cd yet. Although I have a surge protector, I didn't want to risk a total loss in their irreplaceable wedding photos through a fried computer if electricity just happened to strike our house. I mean, weirder things have happened. It was calm enough for the time being, so Rowdy said he thought it would be fine for me to come right down to the house and right back. I jumped in our Explorer and headed down the hill. The rain was definitely falling, but it was manageable shower.
I shuffled quickly in the house, turned off the computer and directly went back to the car. Awww.....gorgeous wedding pictures safe and secure. A wedding day cannot be relived and I take that responsibility seriously. Just as I opened my car door, I remembered that I hadn't deleted the photos from my memory card when I downloaded them. The card was new and I wanted to make sure they were fully on my computer before they were evaporated into cyber air. Perfect, I thought. If for some reason the computer still faced any damage, like in the event of a ravishing twister, I would have back up. I ran back in the house, grabbed the memory card and went to the car for the second time. Now our border collie, Whiskey, tried to scuttle in. At first my instincts hastily shut the door, leaving him in the storm. But then I realized what I had done. I love Whiskey, the pooch not the hooch. I don't think he has ever actually been inside the cab of the vehicle, so it took a little coaxing on my part to lure him inside. Not long, just a few seconds. However, this and my speedy return for the memory card saved my life, at least in my mind.
Backing out of my carport, I realized the rain had almost instantly flowed into a downpour. Hail beat unforgiving against my car's exterior. The repeating thumps sounded like mortar fire. Together they were overwhelming to my sight. It was literally raining and hailing so hard that I could not see. Outside my windshield, a vast, wet blanket of gray blocked my vision. Of course I've traveled up and down this graveled driveway thousands of times, so I relatively knew where I was. But, I inched slowly up the hill because, frankly, I could see nothing...
As I crept up the driveway, all my energy was consumed with simply trying to see where I was. I knew it was wet and I knew I could easily get stuck. Also, my mother-in-law has worked hard to establish her yard. I don't really know how fast I was driving or how long my trek back up the hill too, but was slow. I do know that.
Still straining my eyes for a path, I realized that I was driving over bigger gravel and I knew where I was. The turn from the big driveway, which runs north and south to both our house and Glenda's, into hers has the larger pebbles in the corner. Relief waved over my body. I both knew where I was and I knew I was close to my mother-in-law's house.
Within a few seconds of realizing this, I also finally saw something. Although it was still too hazy to fully distinguish, I thought the big block of white something was probably my in-law's travel trailer. Just as had this thought, it appeared to be getting rapidly closer to me, although I was barely moving. And, just as had this thought, I unwittingly realized this was correct.
According to Rowdy's keen depth perception, the larger gravel and the spot the trailer was formerly parked at are about 75 feet from each other. When the travel trailer caught my attention, thank God, I immediately honed in on it. Clinching the steering wheel until my knuckles were white, or so I suspect, my neck dipped well into my shoulders as I strained to see the world outside my car. In the most frightening moment of my life, I saw the trailer dp one full tumble, bounce when it's top hit the soaked Earth, spin in midair and then continue rolling rapidly toward me. I was driving into an avalanche of metal, fiberglass and wood. It was nearly upon me and, if I didn't move, it would be in a matter of seconds.
Now before I go in further, it needs to be explained that each thought was fragmented and each action purely instinct. Immediately, I threw the Explorer in reverse and flew down the hill. I don't remember clearly thinking which path I suspected this mammoth rolling stone to violently take, I just knew I would be in it if I didn't move. When I first realized what was actually going down, that I was outside in this, I knew I was in imminent and serious danger. It wasn't the thought that I could die, but rather, the stern knowledge that I could die. A lifelong Okie, I had broken the cardinal law. I was out in this mother cloud. Now, as all this madness was unfolding around me, I do recall believing that a tornado must've popped out of the sky. That happens all the time. They can come out of nothing and then go right back into it. I figured my family was inside the safe room, aware that the storm had elevated even if they didn't know about the trailer's demise. In that moment, as spectacular and sensational as special effects from Twister, my existence was poignantly simple: outside equals death and inside equals life.
As I reversed until I felt I was out of the trailer's direction at least temporarily, I could hear my father telling me to always drive forward if I had the option. The unrelenting flood was still pouring so heavily that I could see nothing. Therefore, I knew I couldn't drive much of anywhere because I couldn't see much of anything. Just as I pulled forward, I realized that I was on the small level plateau in the middle of big hill between my house and Glenda's. The soaked ground would've been a sponge for my SUV, which was now turned almost as though it was driving back down the hill. Between that and the thick, blinding rain, I knew I would make it faster on foot. And, I knew where I was. I parked my car. I had to make a run for it.
I flung the car door open, commanded Whiskey outside and forged into the drenching abyss. As out of shape as I am, which is pretty damn out of shape, I never felt an ounce of physical restraint. Every cell in my body was united in our dash into the house. Thank God for that because the fierce trinity of wind, rain and hail provided plenty obstacle. When one hail stone connected with my lip, the taste the blood was on my tongue, but the fat lip didn't register until after I made it inside. Twice I fell in my siege, but I didn't even stop to realize I had. I just pushed forward, frantically aware that the outside equaled death and the inside equaled life. Truthfully, I don't think the run took very long and I don't recollect really having any concept of how much it was taking. My mind seemed to be able to have only one thought.
Just as shocked as I was when I witnessed this travel trailer pushed over by the gusting wind and tumble toward me as though it were cardboard, I was awestruck to make it to the house. After avoiding the trailer, reversing my car and then turning it around, my run to the house seemed pretty simple. Drenched and muddy and heaving from my panic sprint, I tried to retell this story to my family. Until this moment, I have never fully understood the meaning of the word terror. It's a little different than the other fear-related words. In the purest definition, it is the realization that this moment really could be your last. Rowdy and the boys were sitting in the storm shelter and Glenda was fending off a flood of water rushing into her house and onto her hardwood floors from the crack beneath her back door. No one even knew this was happening outside.
I started telling them the events of the last few moments, although my panicked recount had to be hard to follow. I was still trying to process everything that happened. Gasping for the breath of sweet survival, I told Glenda and Wallice that I was pretty positive that their trailer was gone. Honestly, I don't know for sure at that time if they understood that it hadn't just tipped over and rolled maybe once or twice. It flipped and twisted and turned like pebble plummeting down a boulder. I still didn't know for certain where it finally rested, but I knew wherever that was, that it was gone.
As I said before, I don't remember fully realizing the extent of my miracle. My mind was still in survivor mode. After a few minutes, it started sinking in. Images of that rolling trailer flashed through my mind over and over again.
I've had some friends die in freak accidents and many times I have wondered if, even for a brief nanosecond, they knew they were in a pickle. Did James Banks see that pipe has it plunged toward him? Did James Ashworth realize his pick-up was turning? I don't really know why my mind as wondered to that place, but it has from time to time. Normally while my brain is picking through the sordid details of these two dreadful days, I also know that a few seconds difference in their actions right before their accidents could have made them just something they talked about over beers. Had either one of them talked for five less seconds or five more seconds, they simply would've witnessed that pipe and that turkey. And, with full certainty, I believe that coming back inside to grab that memory card and taking the time to load up a stressed border collie saved my life. Had I not done those things, I would've been on the hill's small summit just as the trailer started flying and I wouldn't have time to reverse from it's path. A ferocious collision with my Explorer would've erupted before I even realized what was happening. It's funny how life works like that. Life is fragile and life is resilient, all at the same time. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I feel like a narrowly avoided death or serious injury. And yet aside from the lip busted by a blunt hail stone, I escaped the danger without a scratch.
As soon as I realized I was in the haven of safety, I hugged my two boys. My wet clothes soaked through to theirs as I kissed them over and over again. They thought I was playing with them. What if my time with them had been snuffed out so prematurely? It's funny how your life's value escalates with the thought of its loss.
I left my Explorer parked in the small, flat pass between our houses. After the second round of fierce rain and hail subsided, Glenda suggested that I go move it into a shelter of some sort. Don't get me wrong, I didn't want to lose my car. But, I also couldn't make myself risk another bout with Mother Nature. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my life and the loss of a vehicle seemed kinda trivial. At this point, we had been without electricity for awhile. So, tuning into the news channels for answers wasn't an option. However, had we had electricity, television still wouldn't have yielded any new solutions. Hundreds of miles away in Stillwater, my dear friend Natalie did have electricity and access to the weather broadcasts. With each random update from the meteorologists, Natalie would text message me their analysis. It was no surprise to me or her, also a Western Oklahoma native, that they were providing scant coverage during commercial breaks. After all, this wasn't nearly as pressing as last Thursday rain when it moved through the city. Commercial break-ins are just more than sufficient when the storm was in Western Oklahoma. Last Thursday is the perfect evidence of this fact. Even though it weakened as it moved east, once the storm hit the metro's city limits, the weather men were as frazzled as The Day After Tomorrow. I don't mean to sound bitter, I really don't, and I want those who live in Oklahoma City to be safe. I'm just hammering on this over and over again to both vent my frustration with this unpredictable coverage and to fully describe how this random broadcasting makes it difficult for us to interpret any storm's true severity or weakness. If there was some sort of formula outside of a storm's location to let us know why two similar storm systems receive such varying coverage, maybe we could instinctively know how to react. However, there just isn't. We are truly and wholly thankful for any broadcasting and instruction that we receive, but the decision to do so doesn't seem to be based on severity as much as programming.
Either way, I was blessed to live, to die another day, hopefully in the far distant future. I still have so much left to do. For whatever reason, God blessed me to continue on my earthly journey and, for that, I am humbled and grateful. Because I was alone in the Explorer, staring down a possibly fatal bullet, no one will ever be able to fully understand the soul-shaking terror that was the tumbling travel trailer. Writers are known for our flare for the dramatic, but trust me, this is the closest I've ever knowingly came to death. As those frightening images periodically flash through my mind, I am just so glad for this opportunity to continue to be with those I love. When I look at where the trailer was originally parked, directly east of the Kirk party barn, and I see the path it's havoc-raged journey to its resting place and I know exactly where I was when this all unfolded, I know this is as close to a near miss as one can experience. I mean that figuratively and literally. I get to continue loving all the great people in my life, my husband and sons, my parents, my sister and other important relatives and, of course, a vibrant team of the world's greatest friends. I get to live to blog another day.

Note: When the travel trailer started flipping, it was directly north of me in my Explorer. I was driving north and it was rushing south. I threw it in reverse and drove several hundred feet backwards and south. When I decided I might be out of the trailer's path, I put the Explorer in drive, turned almost fully around and then realized I was in a great parking spot. So, my car was actually pointing the other direction when the trailer was tumbling toward me. However, even with it moving southeast and landing close the fence line and me driving southwest, you can see how close we ended up from one another. When I made my dash to the house, I didn't even think of being hit by possible debris, which was scattered about the yard.

Also, if you are a bride and groom thinking of hiring me to photograph your wedding, I will risk my life to secure your priceless pictures as well. Now, do you think Blunks would do that? ;) ;)

Finish This Page, but click on the older posts, too.

The knee-slappin,' cursin,' GOOD TIMES don't start or end on the front page, so read the older posts! Maybe you missed something. Maybe you forgot. I try to post daily, so read the older posts!
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