Monday, October 31, 2011

And the winner is...

I don't know. Nothing has jumped out as The Thing I Must Do In November, and I'm okay with that. I do need to work on last year's sweater, though, and the other one that is completely knitted, and just needs to be seamed up.

Tomorrow is supposed to be sandal-warm here, but confidence is high that Wednesday might be gingerbread day.

Today's video clip: Ray Price and Willie Nelson. I stood in line once get Willie's autograph, back in his tax trouble days. Not only did I get the autograph, he got up from the table and posed for a picture with me, and then walked over and shook my dad's hand. That's the thing that left the biggest impression with me, that he made an extra effort to be nice to my dad.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

As usual

Staying up too late, trying to post before midnight.

October is not quite over, but I think I can declare NaBloWriMo a success. I've only missed posting one day, and that was an accident. Now, as with NaNoWriMo, I won't claim that you got high quality every day, but you got something. I like to think that even when I just posted a video, it may have revealed a little bit about me.

As November approaches, there are more "do something crazy this month" options. There's NaKniSweMo, where you knit a sweater in a month. I tried that last year, and still have a half-finished sweater that I haven't touched in eleven months. Maybe I should knit the OTHER half of the sweater next month.

Or there is NaNoJouMo, where you work on an art journal every day. That one appeals because 1) there are daily prompts, and 2) you can use words and pictures, in any proportion you see fit.

Then there is the 30-Day Creativity Project, which just wants you to do something creative every day. Even fewer rules! I'm liking it already.

Here's what I WISH I could do. But, patience, grasshopper.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What a crock

At the grocery store a couple of days ago, we found packages of fresh vegetables for making beef stew. I thought it was brilliant, because it irks me to have to buy, say, a bunch of celery when I only need a couple of stalks.

So today, I decided to make beef stew in the crock pot. I worked today, and wasn't able to start cooking until afternoon. Setting the crockpot on high should have given it plenty of time to cook, but after three and a half hours, the vegetables were still very crunchy. We ended up turning the crockpot to low and going out for Mexican food. By the time we got back home, it was simmering nicely.  We'll have to stew for Sunday dinner.  It will probably be better the second day, anyway.

I'm wondering now, though, if that crock pot going wimpy, since low seemed to cook hotter than high. It's probably about 15 years old.

Yesterday, I installed an old copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking on the desktop.  I'm trying it out tonight as I write this post. Talking to the computer is not as natural as I thought it was going to be. Even with simple text, I have to stop fairly frequently to make corrections or look up commands. I also don't seem to have a good sense of what the words look like when I'm not actually writing them. That may be something to get used to in time.

After yesterday's melancholy song, today's selection is plumb full up with the confidence of young love. This is the aria from La fille du regiment that earned Pavarotti the nickname "King of the High Cs". Here is is performed by Juan Diego Florez, and he pops out those nine, count 'em, nine Cs like there is nothing to it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wating for gingerbread

It's almost November, and I'm still waiting for gingerbread weather.

Gingerbread weather is the first really blustery day of mid-fall. It chilly enough that you need a proper jacket, and maybe even a scarf. It's probably cloudy, maybe even drizzly, and the wind cuts right through you. When I was a kid, the first occurrence of such weather was my mom's excuse to make gingerbread. Even after I was grown and long gone from home, she and I would still report to each other when it was gingerbread weather.

I keep thinking it will be any day now, but so far, no. It's getting cooler, but otherwise rather sunny and pleasant. I'm ready for it, though.

This should be the point where I give you my mother's recipe for gingerbread, so here it is.

Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cake and Cookie Mix

Yep, mom was a dandy cook, but her gingerbread cake came straight from a box. What's more, she always topped it with fake whipped cream. At first it was Dream Whip. (Mixing the Dream Whip was my task in the gingerbread experience.) Then, when Cool Whip hit the market, she switched to that.

In memory of my mother, I also have a box of gingerbread mix in my pantry. I draw the line at the Cool Whip, though.

Now, I just need the right day.

I don't have a cheery video today. Late October is the time to share this beautiful, wistful song, performed here by the fabulous Rosemary Clooney.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

When is a biscuit not a biscuit?

A couple of days ago, faithful reader Bernie blogged about biscuits, and illustrated the post with a lovely picture... of canned biscuits.

It's clear that B is not from the American South. Canned biscuits, also known as tube biscuits or those damn storebought biscuits are considered by many to be a Yankee-sponsored attack on Southern gentlefolk.

Which is not to say I've never had them. My dad was always happy to cook his baby daughter a cholesterol-stuffed array of pigmeats for breakfast, but he drew the line at scratch biscuits, so I've had my share of ersatz biscuits. Cooked 'em, too, but if I need biscuits, I usually use Bisquick, which I consider to be slightly less of a travesty. Plus, you can make Impossible Pies with it. Who could be against that? (And Bernie--Bisquick pot pies. I'm just saying.)

In the south, canned biscuits are often called "whomp" or "whop" biscuits. This term is a legacy of the late comedian Jerry Clower, who lamented the sad sound of biscuit tubes being whomped on a counter to pop them open, and the contents being foisted off onto families as biscuits.

I couldn't find a clip of Jerry talking about biscuits, but I did find an audio clip about Tater Ledbetter and his moped. I remember listening to it with my parents, and them giggling themselves silly. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I'm just so proud to be here!

In my distraction yesterday, I failed to note that it was the 99th birthday of the late Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon.She's been gone for 15 years now, but you remember Cousin Minnie Pearl, don't you?

What the heck, let's watch another! I like this one because she has a different costume, and different body language to go with it. Her country bumpkin simplicity often disguised the fact that she was a smart woman and a skillful performer.

The phrase, "They don't make 'em like that anymore," is sometimes overused, but in this case, I think it is the absolute truth.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Can't blog. Reading.

I stopped by Target this afternoon to pick up a few things. While there, I saw Shatner Rules by, who else, William Shatner. I glanced at a few pages, and thought it seemed more readable than his recent memoir, Up Till Now.

So I bought it, and I'm reading it, and I'm loving it. If I didn't have to go to work tomorrow, I would stay up way too late reading it. At this point, I have only stayed up slightly too late, and I need to stick to that.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Penultimate day of summer

Today was a lovely summer day. I know this because they have finally turned the heat on at work, last week when it was chilly, and it was a tad bit stifling in the office today. The leaves have mostly turned, but they haven't all fallen yet. When I crossed the river this afternoon, the trees on the banks were all covered with golden leaves. Tomorrow is also supposed to be warm. And then Wednesday, not so much.

I love autumn and spring for the anticipation they bring. One day you can be wearing shorts and sandals, while unpacking your turtlenecks and mittens. It's sort of like leading a double life.

Today's musical selection: I have no earthly idea what made me think of this. I think I may have seen something about Nairobi on Yahoo News. Anyway, even at my advanced age, I am too young to have seen The Ernie Kovacs Show when it was on the air. I did sing this song in high school choir, and years later, discovered Ernie on public television. I give you The Nairobi Trio, with Solfeggio.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More shops, no drops

Our weekend festival of shopping continued today, but we went separate directions. T really didn't want to wait while I shopped for clothes, and I did not especially need to go to Bass Pro. I would not rule out the possibility of me taking a spin through Amazon before bedtime, either.

Today's happy video has embedding turned off, so instead there is just a link:
Singing In The Rain

Gene Kelly is my imaginary boyfriend, just so you know.

My friend Sand asked me today, "What's the deal with the videos?" The first one, "Enjoy Yourself, It's Later Than You Think", is one I can sort of play on the ukulele. It isn't heard much anymore, but its message is still timely. I thought I would do my bit to resurrect it.

I don't remember why I picked "Get Happy", but c'mon - get happy! What's not to like? Judy was already entering her period of unreliability when she made "Summer Stock", but she sure kicked it in this number.

We have Sirius/XM in the car, and I listen to the Broadway station when I am driving. They played Irene Ryan's version of "Just No Time At All", which I assume is also underappreciated, since I can't find it on the internet. When you watched the clip, did you sing along when instructed? I hope you did. It's a bouncy chorus that is fun to sing.

And so on.

I love a good torch song as much as anyone [who knows what a torch song is nowadays], but a happy song has an amazing ability to lift me up. Maybe one of them will lift you up, too.

Anyway, isn't it a bit more entertaining than hearing that I bought a sweater today?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shop 'til you drop

T and I had accumulated a long list of things that we needed around the house, so today we shopped. He has been want to replace the kitchen floor, so we got some new tiles. I wanted something to tidy up The Studio, and got a wet/dry Swiffer. Winter's coming, and I needed socks. He needed something from Scheels. I needed something from Ulta. It went like this all afternoon.

The only thing we could not find was a piece of heavy canvas. The camper tent needs patched in a couple of spots, and we thought canvas and fabric glue would do the trick. Have you ever been to Joanne's on Saturday afternoon? It's a madhouse, and as far as we could tell, every employee was either at the cutting counter or the cash register, both of which had long lines. Want to ask someone a question without waiting fifteen minutes? Not a chance. We're going to continue considering our options. Mail order? Nylon instead of canvas? Duct tape?

Since it is Saturday, here's a special Saturday song from my favorite group ever.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I was on vacation today, and it is T's day off, so it really felt like we were playing hooky. We drank our morning coffee together. We got haircuts. We went to sporting goods stores. We went to Barnes and Noble, twice. Pretty exciting stuff.

For today's musical selection, I tried to find Kay Armen singing "Hallelujah" from Hit The Deck. (No, not the Leonard Cohen song of the same name, which is sort of a downer once you get past the first verse.) Once again, teh intrawebz failed me. During the search, though, I learned that Ms. Armen passed away earlier this month, at age 95. I also found this video of her performing a few years ago. If she sounds this good in her 90s, you can imagine how good she was 55 years ago. It's not in the title, but at 5:40 she sings "Time After Time", which is one of my favorite love songs. RIP.

What I COULD find on video was Kermit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Do-over by chaimann
Do-over, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
I was looking through my handspun yarn this afternoon, and found this little ball of black wool. I got the fiber when I learned to spin, about four years ago, and it is clearly beginner spinning. It's thick and thin, mostly thick, and it would be really tough to find something I could make with it as is.

I thought the black fiber was pretty, though, so I decided to see if I could re-spin it into something usable.

It's been a little dicey, since it has been spun for a few years and is sort of "set". But by going slow, and taking my time unspinning the former yarn, I'm getting a nice fine single.

Continuing this week's uplifting musical selections, I give you Miss Martha Raye:

This role was originated by Irene Ryan, but I could not find her Broadway recording on the internet. Yes, sometimes the internet fails. But this one is pretty good, and I actually remember seeing this performance, on PBS I imagine, back in the day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Get Happy!

This morning, I read this article about how to be happier. If reading an article is too onerous for you, you might enjoy the Cliff's Notes version.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's later than you think

At least, it's later than I thought, meaning, it's bedtime. In lieu of inflicting more of my babblings on you, allow me to present this song which sums up my worldview pretty well.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Twine-ing around

This weekend, I brought home some work from the office to proofread. It was a new procedure, and I was checking to see if the logic made sense. After identifying several hiccups, I thought it might be easier to make a flow chart or some other sort of diagram to help me see the problems.

I tried handwriting one, and didn't like it. I looked at some flow chart software, and it was way more complicated than I needed. Then I remembered what the boss said when she asked me to look at it: "Try out all of the options. Choose your own adventure."

Some time ago, I read something on the web about software that would help you organize a Choose Your Own Adventure story. A bit of Googling later, and I had a copy of Twine.

It was, quite simply, exactly what I needed, and really simple to use. The program opens with one window open. You type your text in that window, then use some simple wiki-style formatting to create links for your options. (Twine is based on TiddlyWiki, which I have also played around with a little bit.) The link opens a new window, and you type more text, and create more links. Lather, rinse, repeat. When you are done, you can export a document for proofreading, or an .html file for playing the actual adventure.

It didn't take me long to map the entire project, and see where the goofy parts were. Even better, it was fun. The way the boxes popped up and linked together was very satisfying. The only problem I found was that the .html export didn't work for me, but since I didn't need it, that was not a problem.

My internal clock can't help thinking about writing things in mid-October, and it tells me, "Something like this would make NaNoWriMo more fun. It had a word counter, you know."

I may need to remove the batteries from that clock for the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Astro quilt by chaimann
Astro quilt, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
This is part of the quilt that I won at the star party. (Thank you, Okie-Tex!)

It's huge. It could easily be a bedspread on our queen-size bed, It won't be, though. Even before we got home, I told T that it would have to stay out of the reach of she with the thick fur and sharp claws.

If you look carefully in the upper corners, you will see flamingos. Flamingos are the unofficial mascot of the star party, and there is one embroidered on each corner of the quilt.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ghost strip mall

Ghost strip mall by chaimann
Ghost strip mall, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
When we were on vacation, we decided to drive up to the Three Corners marker, where Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado meet.

It might have been a good idea to take the regional map with us. As it was, when the paved road ended, and branched into two dirt roads, we chose the road on the right, which turned out NOT to be the road to Three Corners.

We drove for awhile, until we were convinced that we were already in Colorado, and we were nowhere near the marker.

Being lost allowed us to see this unexplained feature, though. It looked new, not run down or abandoned, but we did not see any signs suggesting it had been or would be Something. And it was really remote. The nearest town was maybe 15 miles away, and that town has about 20 people.

T and I are usually pretty good at making up stories about weird stuff we see, but this one has us stumped.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oh, no, no, no, NaNo

When we were on vacation, I put the spinning wheel up on a table and covered it with a garbage bag, so it would not present to much of a temptation for Katie (who managed to behave badly, just the same, but at least not on the spinning wheel.)

Now that my new desk is put together, and the old desk is gone, I once again have room to the use the wheel, so I finally unwrapped it today and did some spinning. I am almost done now with the First Bag of Fiber I Don't Love. I purposely bought fiber that wasn't special to me, so I could practice and learn and screw up without feeling bad. When I finish the singles, I'm going to try N-plying them, and I am fully prepared for it to end up unusable, or close to it.

I also put some new batteries in my Neo. I don't think I'd used it for a couple of years, at least. It still had a couple of files on it, so I offloaded them onto my computer. One was a scene from the last NaNoWriMo I completed, 2008 I think, and I have no idea what the other one was. I read them both, and... they were not bad.

They weren't "not bad" enough that I'm ready to cave and do NaNo this year. I'm a slow typist, and it just kills me to spend that much time churning out unusable crap, and, as T rightly points out, I'm a mess by the end of November.

They did make me wish, though, that I was one of those people who has story ideas gnawing at them all the time, because I can do pretty serviceable work, as long as it is at my own pace.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sometimes I am a little slow

I probably saw Blazing Saddles dozens of times over thirty-some years. I know most of the dialogue backwards and forwards. Still, it was only recently that I realized that a "hearty" handshake might also be a "hardy" handshake.

A Laurel and Hardy Handshake. Ohhh. Got it.

In other news, after I went to the dentist a couple of days ago, I rewarded myself with a quick spin through World Market. There, I was delighted to find that Vosges has added Mo's Dark Bar to their lineup. A few years ago, I reviewed Mo's Bacon Bar for the Piker Press, so I felt I had a journalistic responsibility to try one.

It was pretty good. It's been awhile since I had an original Mo's, so I'm not positive, but I think it worked a bit better with the milk chocolate, and I don't recommend milk chocolate lightly.

I also see that Vosges has an entire category of bacon-chocolate delights. Wow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Despite my best intentions, I failed at the "blog every day in October" thing. I had an idea for a post last night, and then completely spaced off taking the ten minutes to write it. Oh, well.

That post was going to be a quicky, pointing out that one of my vacation photos is the Peek of the Week at the Piker Press. That is probably my cue to start uploading some more photos, since the editor is fond of nature pix, and I have them in spades.

Yesterday, I was reminded that NaNoWriMo will be upon us in a couple of weeks. Last year, I successfully avoided participating. This year, I even avoided remembering that they push the reset button on the web site in early October. I believe that means my recovery is on track.

I still like to check out their technology forum to see what's new for writers. This year, one of the sponsors is Yarny, a cloud-based writing app, which looks sort of cool. I have a love/hate relationship with the cloud, though. Ninety percent of the time, I think cluttering up the internet with my natterings is stupid, or selfish, or risky. The rest of the time, I'm completely dazzled by the idea of having my stuff available to me, no matter where I am. I mean, I have three computers of my own, plus access to some others. If you were writing something, wouldn't it be great to have access to the latest version, no matter which computer I was using?

(Full disclosure: I do have a Dropbox account, which I use infrequently, but happily. If you would like an account of your own, you can use this link and we'll both get an extra spiff on storage space.)

Then I remember that on my last vacation, we were a forty minute drive from the nearest wi-fi hotspot. If you aren't at home, there are still a lot of places that don't have wi-fi, and then where are you with your cloud-based novel? Taking notes on a napkin with a pen, that's where, and saving your typing to a flash drive.

That's right. We've come to the point where using a flash drive makes you a luddite.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just another manic Monday

...Wish it were Sunday.

Went to work early, did the usual stuff, and some extra stuff. Came home, fixed dinner. Watched some TV with T (War of 1812 on PBS). And that's about it. Maybe I will be more thoughtful tomorrow.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Wooly green cheese

Spunky Eclectic Lunar by chaimann
Spunky Eclectic Lunar, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
For Christmas, T got me a Galaxy fiber sampler from Spunky Eclectic. It has twelve one-ounce bundles of fiber, each dyed to represent a different solar system object. When I am jonesing for a small spinning project, these little bits are perfect. The one pictured is called Lunar. It's hard to photograph it so that it shows all of the shades of green - lime, kelly, teal. It's really pretty, if you like green, and I do.

Today, we had lunch at the new French bistro in town, Tartine. It's in a strip mall, a location previously inhabited by a barbecue joint. They did a nice job of classing it up with paint and new chairs. You still order at the counter, and get your own drinks, but they serve your meal on china, with real metal flatware and cloth napkins.

I liked my quiche just fine. It was a nice, thick slice, which I don't see very often, and it had a crust that was actually tasty. T said his panini was okay, but a bit on the bland side. I'm looking forward to trying it again, maybe at breakfast, when pain au chocolat will let me give it the ultimate thumbs up or down.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

I have a new desk!

Desk accessory by chaimann
Desk accessory, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
...but the same old desk accessory.

We bought the desk before vacation, but didn't assemble it until now. While we were away, Katie left a small deposit on the box. No doubt that gave her a sense of ownership.

Friday, October 07, 2011


Why is it that dental issues invariably crop up AFTER the dentist's office is closed for the weekend? At least it's just intermittently painful. Once I broke a tooth, in my sleep, on Thanksgiving. Have you ever tried to find a dentist working on a long holiday weekend?

In other news, L’Shanah Tovah.

And so, to bed.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Ya big sissy

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am a big fan of Halls Naturals cough drops, especially the ones with a real drop of honey in the center. They are tasty and soothing.They are sort of hard to find, though, so when I saw them at Hy-Vee the other day, I snapped them up.

What they don't tell you on the bag is that they have "improved" the packaging. Each drop now comes wrapped in a paper printed with one or more bits of encouragement. A PEP TALK IN EVERY DROP (tm), they call it.

  • Flex your "can do" muscle.
  • Seize the day.
  • Dust off and get up.
  • Push on!
  • Don't give up on yourself.
  • Let's hear your battle cry.
  • Put a little strut in it.
  • Put your game face on.
  • Be unstoppable.
  • Power through!
  • Be unstoppable.
  • Go for it.
  • Hi-five yourself.

Really, Halls, all I need from you is a mentholated candy that will stop a coughing fit. I'll deal with my own positive attitude when I can breathe and speak, so just take your little wrappers and "Hi-five" yourself. I'm going to bed early

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Gym Suits: A remembrance

Yesterday, since T and I were both still off work, we did our grocery shopping in the afternoon. On the way home, we drove past a group of high school girls in t-shirts and baggy shorts walking together - the track team, I'm guessing.

Seeing all of these girls in their sort-of matching gear gave me a flashback to  my teenage years, and the dreaded Gym Suit. If you are too young to remember gym suits, or if your school was more enlightened in the 50s through 70s, then God bless you, and I hope you are truly thankful.

For the rest of us, gym class meant changing into a "ladylike" one-piece romper. It was cotton, I think. Surely they wouldn't have inflicted polyester on us, would they? Ours had a culotte style of skirt, although I understand some actually had bloomer legs, which is the only thing that could have made it more hideous. The top closed with snaps, I believe, and had a tasteful and impractical notched collar.

I can't recall how long we had to wear these contraptions. It may have just been in junior high, but I definitely remember thinking, "They want us to wear WHAT?!" when I first heard about them.

Our ensuing discussion about gym dredged up another clothing memory. One of the high schools I went to had a pool, and one of the phys ed modules was swimming. So of course you had to bring a swimsuit for that, right?

Wrong! The school provided you with a swimsuit. Flimsy, black one-piece suits with no structure and no support, if you know what I mean. I guess if there was any positive aspect to them, it was that they made you want to stay in the water, where it was hard to see how unflattering the suit was.

What about you? Did you ever have to wear a uniform for phys ed class? Sound off in the comments.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Day 4: Taking the easy way out

Our hostess at NaBloWriMo graciously provides us with a prompt each day which we may use, or not, as we see fit. Since today is the last vacation day, and also the day when my cold had me sort of groggy and unsteady, it seems like a good day to let someone else give me a topic.

Today's prompt:  What advice would you give your fifteen-year-old self?
  1. Don't try to figure everything out yourself. Let grown-ups give you some advice.
  2. Take more science and math classes, and maybe business. Yeah, I know you love music and writing and languages, but science and business are where the jobs will be when you grow up. And you can't imagine what will happen with computers in the next few years.
  3. I know studying is not as fun as hanging with your friends, but it will pay off in the long run. Study as hard as you can.
  4. Don't be so quick to judge people. There may be a very good reason why they are the way they are.
  5. You won't believe how soon your parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles will be gone. Talk to them, and write down the stories they tell you.
  6. Start saving as much money as you can. When a company called Microsoft starts selling stock, buy all you can afford.
  7. Learn everything you can about managing your money. Budgets are boring, but always having money available is fantastic.
  8. It's okay to say, "I made a mistake."
  9. Don't be a prude. You can be sensible without being a stick in the mud.
  10. But that boyfriend who wants you to go a little farther than you feel right about? Go ahead and be a prude about that. You won't regret it.

Monday, October 03, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 3 (and 2, and 1)

See how I've been posting here several days in a row? That's because I signed up for NaBloWriMo. The goal is to post to your blog every day in October. If you want to take a crack at it, you can still sign up until the 6th.

We are home after two days driving. Let me tell you, after we spent several hours yesterday driving across northern Oklahoma, the Flint Hills of Kansas looked utterly beautiful today. Autumn is creeping into the upper Midwest, and I hope to get out a take a few pictures for y'all before all of the leaves fall.

Since I'm still tired from all the travel, I'll just answer a few questions someone has asked, or maybe ones I made up myself.

Why do you blog?
I believe I started the blog because I wanted to post a comment to a blog that limited comments to other bloggers, or something like that. One of my first posts is about how I really didn't want a blog. But once I had it, more often that not, it ended up being the letter I would have written to my parents if they were alive. If anyone else wants to read it, that's cool, too.

What is your blog about?
Nothing in particular, and anything that strikes my fancy. I like making, or trying to make, all sorts of things, so often the blog will be about something I've made. Or not. Full disclosure: I'm not above posting pictures of my cat in lieu of actual content.

What do you mean, "fiber wrangler"?
I knit and crochet. I am moderately proficient with a drop spindle. I got a spinning wheel a few weeks ago, and am trying to get my wheel skills up to snuff.

How's your cold?
I've had worse. I'm still sucking on cough drops, and I need to refresh my stock on The Good Ones, Halls Natural Peach With Honey Center.

What else are you doing right now?
I'm watching Prohibition on PBS. I started watching the first episode at the hotel last night, when they were talking about famous Kansas resident, Carrie Nation.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Heading back to civilization

The star party is over, and we set off for home this morning. FYI, after a week in the wilds of Cimarron County, the drive across northern Oklahoma is dreary. How dreary? T hates Wal-Mart as a rule, but he was excited to stop at Wal-mart in Alva, just so he could look at something besides straight roads, red dirt, and tumbleweeds. But I exaggerate. He also saw some dust devils.

We stopped there so I could get some flowers to take to my parents' grave this afternoon, and some cold medicine. Yep, I managed to catch myself a cold. Most people would settle for a souvenir shot glass or something, but not me. I have souvenir Mucinex and saline spray.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Way Out West

We spent the past week in western Oklahoma. FAR western Oklahoma- Cimarron County, the western-most county in the Panhandle to be exact, and in the western half of the county, at that.

My parents were both Oklahoma natives, so as a child, I spent a fair amount of time traveling to Oklahoma to visit relatives, and those experiences are a story for another day. Suffice it to say,  I thought I knew Oklahoma, and I wasn't particularly impressed.

In recent years, as T and I have had occasion to travel across the state for one reason or another, I have been interested to note how well the Oklahoma tourism people are promoting the state's many natural and cultural features. A trip across I-44 a few years ago had me thinking, "I'd like to visit THIS place some time."

No one ever told me about Cimarron County, though. It's high, high plains on the eastern half, and the gateway to New Mexico on the western half, with rocky hills and mesas. We are camped at Black Mesa State Park, which is smack on the dividing line. We came in on the southeastern entrance, which was mostly flat and straight. When we leave through the northwestern gate, we see one mesa after another. It's really beautiful.

And remote.The locals have cell phone service, but it does not support roaming from any other services. We have to drive about fifteen miles before we start picking up a signal from the county seat. It feels a little strange to be this far removed from phone service, to say nothing of wi-fi, but we've adjusted.

We came here for the Okie-Tex Star Party, which is held a few miles from the New Mexico state line. Most days, we have taken a little side trip to see some of the surrounding country. T was born in the southwest, and he says the landscape reminds him of his early years in New Mexico.

Today , we walked the little nature trail in the park, and kept hiking up to the high, rocky bluff. Up there, T saw this spider on the path. It went on about its business while we took our photos.

Brother Spider

And now, a public service announcement on behalf of the good people of Cimarron County, who have been lovely hosts to us. Apparently, the governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, has never visited Cimarron County. The local newspaper runs her picture on the front page, asking, "Have you seen lthis woman?"

Governor Fallin, you really need to visit Cimarron County. It's beautiful and peaceful, and the residents have a fantastic spirit. Every year, the good people of the county welcome astronomers from all over the country to enjoy Oklahoma's beautiful dark skies and warm hospitality. If you cannot figure out how to shake some hands, and make a speech about the grandeur of the earth below and heavens above in your state's most remote gateway, then you do not deserve to be a politician.

It would also be nice if you could get one of your tourism people to come take a look at the sign at Black Mesa, the highest point in the state. The front of the sign was very informative, but the plastic covering the back side was so yellowed that the information was completely unreadable. Maybe YOU don't care about the condition of your state parks, but some of us do.