Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's Been A While

A lot has happened since we last visited.

My husband and I both have different jobs.

We've moved further away from the city and our lives have somewhat settled into a routine.

In the past few months we've enjoyed some sunsets ...

Fed some deer ...

Chased away more of these than I care to count ...

And even experienced a few earthquakes and the longest, hottest summer I can remember.

Needless to say, I am really looking forward to old man winter
and all that it entails.

And I hope to do more things like this ...

Snuggle by the fire.

And this ...

Cook in my new kitchen.

And this ...

Read a few books.

But what will probably happen is this ...

 And giving our extreme weather,

by the end of winter,

I may look a lot like this!

Enjoy the season.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Summer Reading List

Summertime is reading time. I inherited it from my mother.

When I was growing up, back in the seventies, my mother liked to sunbathe and read paperback novels while my younger siblings and I splashed about in a kiddie pool in the backyard.

Mother was a compulsive reader. And every time she finished a book, she would proudly proclaim, "That was the best book I have ever read!" Until she finished another book, then that would become the best book she had ever read.

Of all the books Mother ever read, the one that sticks out most in my memory was Herman Wouk's The Winds of War - one just can't forget a novel as big as that lying around the house for weeks on end - Mother did seem to enjoy it.

One tranquil summer afternoon, sprinklers swishing and lawnmowers humming in the distance, mother put her swimsuit on, spread a blanket onto the grass, and set down to sunbathe and finish The Winds of War.

Hours passed as she read obsessively and my brother and sister and I frolicked about. Until finally, down to the very last page, Mother got up for just a moment - as many avid readers do, in order to give reverence and pause before finishing a good book - and returned to find our beagle, Deacon, (thusly named due to an uncanny resemblance to the deacon of our church) gnawing and slobbering on her tattered paperback ... the very last page was missing.

This was bad, I remember thinking to myself. Up until that point in time "Old Yeller" had been the longest book I had ever read and it seemed like a tome. I couldn't imagine what it must have felt like to read something so long as this and not be able to finish the very last page. For the first time in my life, I felt sorry for my mother. "Whatever will you do?" I remember asking. We had no money to buy a new book. And the library was closed. And lord knew no one else in our nonliterary circle of friends had this atrociously long novel lying about.

But mother was a sly one: swiftly she threw a blouse on, some flip flops, and scurried my younger brother and sister and I into the car, and nary a word, drove like a mad woman down to the local drugstore, where she strutted in, sunburned, bare legged and resolute, three soggy kids in tow, straight toward a spinning rack of books, where she picked up The Winds Of War, read the very last page, then gently placed it back upon the rack, turned and strutted back out the door again.

Three elderly townsmen stared, jaws agape, at this spectacle they had just witnessed.

And moments later, as the wheels of our Ford station wagon eased away, Mother proudly proclaimed, "That was the best book I have ever read."

I was impressed with my mother that day and never forgot The Winds of War.

And years later, during a late night game of Trivial Pursuit, before my husband's drunken college buddy could slur the words out of his mouth, I knew the answer to "Who wrote The Winds of War?"

It is rare moments like these when I cherish my kooky, crafty mother the most. She didn't give me much, but she instilled in me a love for reading and books. And for that, I will be eternally grateful.

So what's on your summer reading list?

Nothing so long as The Winds Of War, I hope.

I am needing some ideas.

These are the books I have read so far.

Anyone have any other suggestions?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Moment To Brag

Pardon me while I take a moment to brag.

For anyone living in the Oklahoma City or Edmond area, my son will be performing at the Vintner's Cellar on 15th and Bryant, in Edmond, on Saturday from 6:00 to 8:00 pm..

It's a cool place to kick back, relax, and enjoy some great wine and music.

My son just graduated from college and is a talented musician.

There's nothing more enjoyable than food, wine and music, and spending time with family and friends. I am proud of my boy.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Henry and Edith

Society seems to be stuck in the fast lane.

Busy these days, seems to be the norm.
Sometimes, when I bump into friends on the street, I find myself compelled to convey an illusion of busyness, just because one feels inferior if one is not busy. Heaven forbid you have a quiet day with nothing to do but set beside a pond and think and read a book.

If Thoreau could see us today...

That is what I keep telling myself.
But I know better.

Because if there is one thing I have learned from reading and literature ... it is that mankind, over time, has changed very little.

Henry David Thoreau escaped to Walden's pond in search of a simpler life.

In a trance of endless social engagements and mindless activities, Edith Wharton wrote Twilight Sleep.

Thoreau died in 1862.

Edith was born in 1862.

One began where the other left off.

Both authors were keenly aware of how hectic life can be. Mankind, it seems, has always been busy. Or are we just busy being mankind?

Walden Pond

I know Thoreau well.

Not through his books.

(Oh, I tried reading "Walden" once and all I could think of was, "Show me the damn pond so I can throw myself in and spare myself the agony of this book(!).")

No, I know Thoreau because I live with him.

My husband is Thoreau.

My husband could spend two years setting beside a pond.

Come to think of it, when we were dating, I lived right beside a pond. And while my husband was pretending to visit me, I know in reality that he was more interested in fishing at the pond.

Hmm... Should have been a sign.

Now ... I just realized that hubby and Thoreau share the same birthday.
Which is quite a coincidence because Edith Wharton and I share the same birthday.

Come to think of it, as I began this post, Thoreau and Wharton were the first two authors whose works came to mind when I thought about mankind and how hectic our lives have become.

Each wrote, although in very different style, on this very subject.

And each were keenly aware that life has become too busy, too fast-paced, and too complicated in these modern times.

Henry and Edith were definitely ahead of their time.

Hubby and I not only share the same birthdays with these authors. We also share a love of place.
Thoreau loved Walden's pond and preferred a simple life in the woods.

Wharton, on the other hand, appreciated the finer things in life and lived in a mansion and wrote The Decoration Of Houses.

So, I guess it should come as no surprise, when hubby wants to live in the country, while I prefer the city life with architecture and cultural activities.

Wharton split her time between The Mount and Europe.

Thoreau spent two years living on an isolated pond in the woods.

zzzz ... zzzz...

The Mount


Hubby and I, it seems, are the modern day equivalent of Henry and Edith.

Two complete opposites coming together through place and time with absolutely nothing in common but a love of place and an appreciation of books.

Next month we will be married twenty-nine years.

It's a union of mutual respect.

I respect the fact that he likes to go fishing and wander about in the woods.
He respects the fact that I am a town mouse and prefer cafes and libraries and big old houses on tree lined streets.

Edith Wharton
Henry David Thoreau

So ,I  guess the moral of the story is, before you marry, check their birthdays.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

I went to a family reunion last week.

It was strange seeing all my relatives who live in the country.

It was fun, but also hot and tiring, and it felt good to be back home again.

Travel, it seems, brings a new perspective on things.

I learned that I am a town mouse.

Oh, I love ducks and geese and flowers and big country kitchens and quiet afternoons strolling the open prairie.

But country life is a lot of work(!).

And ironically, there is not much food on the prairie.

Also, there is a lot of hay fever.

Two hours after arrival, my son began sneezing so badly that his head swelled like a balloon, then he broke out with the most severe case of hives I have ever seen. For a moment, we thought we were going to have to make a trip to the emergency room. But thankfully he is okay now.

My son is a city boy. If we had went to the ER, I envisioned a conversation something like this:

Nurse: What's he allergic to?
Me: The country.

Things had been a bit stressful lately, and, as a family, we were looking forward to this trip.

But one weekend in the country ... with meals of nothing but meat ... and bugs and chiggers and hay fever ... and my two kids and I came running home so fast, it would make your head spin.

So much for the country life.

We barely lasted a weekend.

Tired, sunburnt and hungry, we hit Tulsa late Sunday afternoon and headed straight for Whole Foods where we ate like pigs and picked up enough produce and groceries to last a nuclear winter.

Warning: never go to Whole Foods after spending starving weekend with relatives in the country.

Even though our weekend in the country wasn't as spectacular as we had hoped, it did do us good to get away ...

It was nice to visit another persons world.

It allowed us to reassess our own values and learn more about ourselves and who we are in the process.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to read The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse in order to lull me to sleep for an afternoon nap.

I find it interesting that I always became giddy when the town mouse took his friend, the city mouse, back home for an elaborate feast, and always felt sorry for the lonely, impoverished existence of the country mouse.

Ironically, I no longer feel sorry for this penurious mouse.

Now I have discovered that simple is good.

But still, in the end, I always admire the city mouse.

Someday I will invite my brother from the country to my home in the city where we will share a great feast.

And it will be a grand time (!).

But something tells me, that in the end, he will scurry back home to the country, while I remain happy and contented in the city.

Each to their own.

 So which are you?

A Town Mouse or A Country Mouse?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Local Announcement

Life in Oklahoma City may be getting easier.

Just this week Whole Foods Market confirmed that the chain would be opening it's first Oklahoma City store in late 2011.

Late 2011? I guess it takes a while to build a brand new store, but my family is going to be mighty hungry by then, so I hope they can put a rush on it.

It must be noted that Whole Foods has had some bad press lately. Particularly with their CEO, who seems to be about as flaky and nutty as some of that overpriced cereal they sell. But we food eating residents of Oklahoma City have gone so long without a decent grocery store, that I would let Atilla the Hun set up shop as long as he promised to provide some fresh vegetables and grass fed beef.

When it comes to grocery shopping, Oklahoma City is the worst. Walmart somehow cornered the market in this state and it has severely hurt our image along with our health. So yes, I will shop at Whole Foods, but will continue to purchase as many things as possible from local farmers markets.

Small, local farmers put their heart and soul into what they do and it definitely shows in this basket of greens purchased at my local market. I've never seen Romaine and Savoy so fresh. They were purchased twenty minutes after the market opened and I bought the last head of Romaine.

On to some really good news.
Forward Foods opened it's newest store on 5123 N. Western last week where the old Coco-Flow used to be. It's a great place to buy healthy gourmet food, spices, local produce and green cleaning products as well. I was thrilled to find unbleached muffin liners and parchment paper. It doesn't take much to make me happy. They also serve coffee, espresso, and tea, and my daughter said their coffee was better than Starbucks. Their cheese selection is their crowning glory, it alone makes it worth the trip. Very impressive. I almost forgot I was in Oklahoma.

I picked up some Brie for my daughter, the French girl at heart. Some Vermont summer sausage for my meat eating hubby. Spanish olives and hot peppers for my son who likes things a bit spicy. And then I went a little crazy and came home with a whole bag of goodies for myself: French bread, pita, dried organic beans, couscous, sea salt from Brittany, fresh herbs, and enough cumin to get me through the summer. I use a lot of cumin.

If you live in Oklahoma City, I encourage you to visit Forward Foods. Even if you are not a cook, they have a great selection of snacks and frozen foods. Also it would be a great place to buy a gift. My mind was spinning with ideas.

This goes without saying, but the opening of new, corporate retail stores can often hurt small, local businesses. And as much as I desire a Whole Foods, I worry about them putting Oklahoma City landmarks such as Kamps and Crescent out of business. These two stores have been a beacon of small town charm in a sea of impersonal, overcrowded superstores for decades. In today's corporate world, it is comforting to know there are still places like Crescent and Kamps and Forward Foods where the customers matter and the butcher stands behind the counter and wishes you a good day. It would be a tragedy to see any of these stores go away, although, I seriously doubt that will happen.

So, is Whole Foods coming to Oklahoma City a good thing or a bad thing? As much as I desire a better grocery store, there is something in me that wants to picket the big bad chain store ... that's out to destroy everything we hold dear.

What is your favorite grocery store? I would love to know.