Gently Reclaiming My Turf

dawn

This past week I went on my first walkabout in over two years (unmitigated life-events notwithstanding) with a sincere desire to reconnect with “my” landscape.

Dawn was ushered in by a pastel sunrise and I couldn’t resist exploring.

Viewing the lake from afar is lovely, but up close and personal restores my soul.

geese

Ma and Pa Goose escorted me the first fifty yards, honking furiously and strutting indignantly. (Must be a nest nearby.) After spontaneous flight the shore was mine.

This time of year the lake is the least colorful and most hopeful — a wait’n’see kind of attitude that initially appears unimpressive cloaked in muted tan, brown, and gray — but, there’s SO much more to see once you get past your first impression.

Shapes. Shadows. Surfaces.

Treasures lurk beneath!

So far I haven’t stumbled upon anything of value yet (nor the hundreds of lures TMOFW and I have “donated” to the lake over the years), but this was priceless.

Beauty and serenity — not to mention self-worth — are in the eye of the beholder. I hope you recognize yours, xo.

peaceful-shoreline

Transient residents are welcome, too, to tell the story of the ever-shifting shoreline tempered by wind, water, and time — a continuous Do Over.

We ought to learn something from that. (Every day’s an adventure!)

Nothing stays the same, but we can bear with it gracefully… even scenically.

sea-serpent

This driftwood castaway reminded me of a sea serpent. (Maybe Lake Eufaula has a Nessie?) Wouldn’t that be something.

Raccoon tracks (among others), shed feathers, and a barnacle-laden rock or two are but a few of the many reminders that this is a shared space… a sacred place.

We respect each other’s right to partake of the the lake. Yay for my turn!

It felt good to wander again… gently.

Enjoying Oklahoma,

~ Kim

How High Is The Water, Mama? (Rhapsody in Blue VII)

Old Boy contemplates a cloud

Old Boy (my Great Blue Heron friend) usually sits in the “driftwood tree” farther out in the lake. Remember? 

These days he’s roosting elsewhere and I can’t blame him.

The tips of the branches you see in the photo below are the top of that tree after two weeks’ worth of rain… with another weeks’ worth of thunderstorms in the forecast.

High water

That’s a lot of water!

(Or, as they say around here: a “Lotawatah.”)

There’s a road by that name not far from here — for good reason.

High water 1

This photo is more “brown” than “blue” but you get the idea…

A neighbor called to check on the flooding by his cabin. (This is the photo I sent in reply.) Somehow it reminded me of Johnny Cash’s song, “Five Feet High and Rising.”

How high is the water, Mama? Two feet high and risin’… three feet high and risin’… four feet high and risin’ — and on it goes. Whether or not you’re a Johnny Cash fan, The Man In Black wrote real-life lyrics (even though his song pertained to flooding in next-door Arkansas at the time.) Yup… that’s our “real life” at present.

According to the Army Corp of Engineers — the efficient folks letting out the deluge day by day at the dam 15 miles east of here (yes, our lake is THAT big!) — Lake Eufaula is hovering around 598 feet… 13 feet above “normal.”

Disappearing driftwood tree

Generally there’s a 15 foot “drop” between the lake and our “lakeshore”

It’s comforting to know that the ol’ Lightning Tree has witnessed this before — and oh, how I love looking at things from a tree’s perspective! There’s less chaos and more calm about the rising water level when witnessed by a stalwart soul — merely a phenomenon to note (despite the waves crashing ashore on windy days) — ho hum, been there, done that. Que Sera Sera.

Thankfully we live farther up “the hill” and are safe and well, other than the occasional water moccasin (aka poisonous “cotton mouth” snake) in search of a place to sun themselves. Can’t blame them either! Their habitat is in more danger than ours.

Please pray for our friends and neighbors (vertebrates and invertebrates alike) living in the low-lying areas. We may be treading carefully these days, but at least we aren’t treading water!

Enjoying “life on the lake” in spite of things,

~ Kim

Riding Off Into The Sunset

Surprise visitors 1

It isn’t every day that a renegade trio shows up in your front yard, but I’ve come to expect that from Oklahoma.  After grazing undisturbed for a moment or two, this wayward threesome trotted up the hill, satisfied with their adventure.

When I wrote home about it, my Dad was tickled by the tale of their unfettered freedom — he loved anything that hinted of “Westerns” — and on June 8th he followed suit, peacefully riding off into the sunset.

I mean no disrespect by announcing his departure this way; in fact, when it’s my turn to saddle up, I hope to hit the trail with half as much grace and good humor as he did.  Plus, “cowpoke dialogue” frequently meandered into our conversations.

On the heels of my last trip — not knowing whether I’d see him again — I said goodbye ala The Duke:  “Well, I guess this is the part where I ride off alone.”

Dad responded with a nod and an “Adiós.”

His fascination with the Old West rubbed off on me.  He shared my delight in moving to Oklahoma, even if it meant not coming to visit very often (we both accepted the ramifications of being apart), but the prospect of wandering at will or being “willing to wander” held mutual appeal.  In my lifetime, I accomplished it in the cab of a semi; in his, via the pages of his favorite books.

While it’s difficult to sum up eighty-four years of life in a few sentences, here’s an excerpt from the eulogy I gave in his honor:

“Dad loved the land and the stories associated with it.  He once told me that he’d read “Centennial” so many times he lost count!  Not only did he love the geological descriptions, he admired the settlers and cowboys who expanded this country — a country which he proudly served.

Taking Dad’s respect for the land into account, God blessed him with a small piece of earth he called “home” (which he loved dearly) and a wife and family he loved even more.  It was there that his own story was written.

Dad’s story includes a trail of sawdust… being a good neighbor… working up a sweat and cooling down in the shade… the satisfaction of unloading the last bale of hay in the barn… cows mooing contentedly… hitting a nail square on the head… sunrises and sunsets… finding the first pussy willows in the ditch… the tug of a fish at the end of his line… his infamous “grin”… Sunday drives on the back roads he knew so well… going to the A & W… mowing lawn… family picnics…. watching his kids, grandkids, and great-granddaughter frolic on the front lawn… a refreshing sip of cold water gushing from a garden hose… snow flurries on the way to midnight Mass… reading the newspaper with a good cup of coffee… the merits of homemade pie, sit-down suppers, and Westerns on TV… serving God, country, and family… and surprising Mom with a vase of red roses on the kitchen counter…

Dad recently compared his time on earth to his favorite book, “Lonesome Dove.”  In a conversation between two age-old friends — one of them near death — the character comments that it’s been “quite a party.”  Dad grinned at me and said, “I’m glad you came to my party.”  That’s how he felt about all of you.

Today we give Dad back to the land he loved, but his story continues… written on our hearts.”

Surprise visitors

Adiós, Dad — and Happy Trails.

Enjoying memories of you,

~ Kim

Beauty Among The Thorns

Beauty Among The Thorns

After the series of tornadoes that devastated the Oklahoma City area, it seemed appropriate to “celebrate” the long weekend with friends nearby.  (I miss my family 750 miles away…)  Hearts gathered and hearths welcomed.

Mindful was the unspoken word… mindful of those grieving the loss of loved ones… mindful of a kitchen to cook in and food to cook with… mindful that Nature can turn on a dime and make you feel thankful to be alive and grateful for every little thing.

I won’t regale you with my thoughts on the matter; instead I’ll post a few photos from this weekend that brought me joy and pray that my view of the world doesn’t seem trite.

Oriole at the Feeder I

Oriole at the Feeder

Oriole Nest in our front yard

Oriole Nest in our front yard

One of the highlights was the return of our lake neighbors.  (The non-bird variety!)  We renewed our friendship over an invitation for homemade beans & ham & corn bread at their home one evening, followed by brunch here the next day.  Hearty food seemed to be in order.  Souls as well as bodies needed nourishing.

My brunch menu consisted of a “breakfast bake” with ham, cheese, potatoes, and eggs (along with a second, smaller “bake” ala Kimby… crumbled bacon, green onions, and thickly sliced baby portabello mushrooms sauteed to golden goodness, nestled in a Dijon and nutmeg spiced custard), waffles with homemade butter-pecan syrup, plenty of strong coffee, and homemade biscuits courtesy of the aforementioned neighbor.

Afterwards, returning dishes and carrying leftovers was a mutual pleasure, especially when they pointed out the Mockingbird nest in a hedge at the edge of their drive.

I would have missed it if they hadn’t shown me!

Which brings me to surmise…

Mockingbird Nest & Eggs I

Home is where the heart is, even when your nest is temporary.

Hospitality takes on more importance in the wake of tragedy.

Hope (and beauty) can be found among the thorns.

Prickly Pear ready to bloom

Share something spectacular with someone you love today.  It can mean the difference between heartbreak… and joy.

Enjoying the blessing of perspective,

~ Kimby

Oppressive? On the contrary…

“O the times!  O the mores!”

(from Cicero’s oration in Catilinam)

One last observation I made before being forced from our home during the recent air conditioning malfunction was 01 on our thermostat.  “Ought 1.”  (Or “aught,”  if you insist on it.)  One-oh-one.  One hundred and one.  Obviously, we have a two-digit read out; similar to an odometer turning over, it simply showed “one”  (plus one hundred degrees) and I was too hot to object, or do more than photograph the onus for proof and posterity.

(By the way, that was indoors, not out.)  Ouch…

At one point, I was feeling considerably ornery and obtuse, but it occurred to me that I could overdo it and shuffle off this mortal coil if I loitered any longer.  Oh, no!  Perish the thought!  Oklahoma lover or not, I wasn’t going to risk mortality to prove I’m stubborn.  Time to proceed to cooler climes, post haste.

Speaking of which… other folks have opined on this topic (much more notably and eloquently than moi.)  In no particular order:

“We may achieve climate, but weather is thrust upon us.” ~ O. Henry

“Climate is theory.  Weather is a condition.” ~ Oliver Herford (who, not so coincidentally, signed his name O. Herford now and then.)

I love quotes.

My point in overstating the obvious (or perhaps it’s still oblivious..?) is that O packs a powerful punch in the chops (or thermostat) — enough to convince a body not to risk obliteration with continued folderol, as well as playing a (major) supportive role in most of the words in this post.

O…

Got it?

One of the things I adore about words is their extraordinary ability to convey two or more ideas in one forum.  (Love it!)  Allow me to proceed…  Oftentimes, we take our surroundings for granted.  (I’m talking about home, sweet home.)  My beloved and I only experienced a temporary blip — a minor inconvenience.  There are others much worse off.

Once I cooled my heels in our comfortable accommodations later on, my thoughts turned to those who’d recently lost their homes in the wildfires… or folks relocated by Hurricane Katrina… or the millions of people affected by tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters of epic proportions… or the displaced and/or disenfranchised souls whose permanent address is “homeless.”

They’re survivors.  I’m just a tourist in comparison.

Not to say that I wasn’t overwhelmed with gratitude when our obstacle turned out to be a one-day outing and our lives (and thermostat) returned to “normal” shortly thereafter.  Omen or opportunity?  I took it as a sign to express my opinion, even in the context of humor… to open my heart in an effort to touch yours.

However humble your home may be, you can offer something to someone less fortunate, be it a prayer or a drink of water or a dollar or simply greater compassion toward those “without.”  Collective caring may not change the world, but it just might change your world.

I’m hoping it will.

One final note:  Please don’t allow your ego to stop at “Oh.”  All it takes is one quick look around to notice somebody who needs you… and I implore you to DO something about it.  Thank you for having the courage to step outside of your comfort zone boundaries.

Okay, I’m done now.

Enjoying familiar surroundings following an eye-opening epiphany,

~ Kim

P.S.  Ordinarily, I don’t post twice in one day, but I’m confident you’ll rise to the occasion. :)  xO!

.

.

.

A Quick Post and a Quick BBQ Sauce

Generally, I put a lot of time and thought into my posts, but our air conditioner quit at 4:00 this morning and the A/C guy isn’t here yet.

(In case you haven’t heard, Oklahoma’s temps have been in the 100’s for the past two months…)

Here’s what our inside temp reads now.

  (P.S.  It’s 10° “warmer” in my writing nook…)

Thankfully, I have a cool place to retreat to as soon as I’m done with this, and thankfully I planned a barbecue for dinner tonight.

Last night I made my Quick BBQ sauce and it was delish brushed over barbecued ham steaks.  (How does one spell BBQ correctly anyway?)

But patience, sweet ones, patience… it really is better the next day.

I also fooled around with my camera just for fun… :)

This is as basic as BBQ Sauce gets!

Quick BBQ Sauce

1/2 c. ketchup (I used Heinz)

3 Tbsp. honey

1/2 Tbsp. yellow mustard

1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

(Optional add-in’s:  red pepper flakes to taste, a dash of hot sauce, a shot of whiskey)

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat; simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cool, then store in the refrigerator.

Bring to room temperature before applying to grilled meats.

Brush sauce on during the last minutes of grilling and ENJOY!

Ooof… here’s what our temp was last time I looked, and it went up a degree after I uploaded the picture!

Enjoying the prospect of grilling… but not indoors…. gotta run!

~ Kim

.

.

.