Herding Armadillos and An Overdue Letter

How close can you get to an armadillo? Depends on how brave you are. The Man Of Few Words recently got close enough to photograph the hairs on its back, gently poked at them and concluded they’re more leathery than armored (oblivious, too), and grinned at me. We should all be so trusting.

Last week one of ’em almost ran up my leg. After a few “Oh, OH’s!” it scampered into the underbrush. (Didn’t realize they could run so fast!) As a result of that — plus previous encounters with cottonmouth snakes and a stray dog — I’m still a lil’ gun shy and/or photo shy with unexpected “up close and personal” opportunities to document Oklahoma’s wildlife. But, I appreciate “seeing” all of it — even through someone else’s lens — and I’m feeling braver by the day.

Thankfully Mama armadillo wasn’t around. (Not sure what I would’ve done with a full-sized armadillo chasing after me!) Here’s another pic of one of the babies courtesy of TMOFW, followed by a long-promised letter from me. Sometimes words are more forthcoming than photography on my part.

Dear Friends,

I’ve been a letter-writer all my life. Pen pals. Best friends. Family members. Even long distance crushes. (More on that momentarily.)

As long as I have a pen in my hand with access to paper, stamps, and a mailbox, I’m a happy camper. I’d even go so far as to say that if I don’t write something every day I’d be as skittish as an armadillo. (Bet you’ve never heard that comparison before.) Whether or not my thoughts make it to another human being’s mailbox, the fact is: I WRITE every day. Some days I scramble into the underbrush. Tentative. Unsure. Unable to to portray the real “me.” Still, I write nonetheless.

Life’s too short not to be candid.

Speaking of that long-ago long-distance crush, what a humbling moment that was in my letter-writing life. I grew up on a flat, fenced farm in rural Minnesota and the nearest body of water was a tributary named the “creek” (pronounced crick) a quarter-mile away. More of a dribble than a tributary, except during the Spring and Fall rains when it overflowed and chewed away at our rural gravel road with a gaping whirlpool — it served as a convenient get-away after a short hike — a respite and quiet place to think and write. I’ve been looking for the ideal spot all my life and finally found it at “The Lake.” (Thank you, God.)

Round about that time the musical “Oliver” was released. While everyone else was enamored by Mark Lester — the “star” — my girlish notions were captivated by The Artful Dodger, Jack Wild. (For some reason, I’ve always favored the underdog — a life-long habit, ahem.) I wrote a letter to him on the banks of the “crick” and put it in the mail, hopeful of his personal reply. Imagine my chagrin when the mailman returned my letter a few days later due to “insufficient postage.” (Who knew international postage rates applied?!) Appalled and ashamed, I tore up my love letter and tossed them into the flowing waters of the “crick.” Since then, I’ve decided to do a lil’ more research, pay the price (as needed), and continue to let people know how I feel — postage rates or not. Also sorry to learn that he succumbed from cancer at an early age.

I’ve also learned not to mess with Mama!Above is TMOFW’s favorite goulash with corn because that’s the way his Mom made it. Who am I to upset tradition? Ever the faithful wife. :)

Some lessons are learned alongside fledgling waterways, heart-felt love letters returned with insufficient postage, and “the lake.” (Even armadillo encounters…)

I’m grateful for every one of them on the journey toward being “me.”

Enjoying discoveries one day at a time,

~ Kim

Wildlife At The Lake

Armadillos and squirrels and woodchucks, oh my! You never know what might show up at the lake.

(Actually we have two woodchucks, but “Mrs. Woody” is a tad camera shy.)

Our above-ground friends add to the entertainment.

Recently The Man Of Few Words captured a photo of Oklahoma’s elusive state bird, the Scissortail Fly Catcher, too. So proud of ’em both…

Most days we sit on the deck minus the camera intent on watching the world go by. Ahhhh…

But, every once in awhile we get lucky. Tickled to share our glimpses with you!

In between we’ve also spied bluebirds, orioles, cardinals, hummingbirds, bald eagles, Great Blue Herons, cranes, geese, wood ducks, blue jays, gray jays, robins, thrashers, wrens, and assorted other “little birds” but they’ve been too fast to capture on film. (Or we’ve been too slow.)

However, life’s been good. Nope, make that wild!

Enjoying Nature at the lake,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ February 2019

In My Kitchen… things have been more verbal than visual these days. My camera is always at the ready, but I tend to eat the evidence (winter survival mode?) or talk about food rather than take photos. One day I felt artsy and compelled to snap a picture of the vintage serving plate I recently acquired at the church thrift store. (Loved the light and shadow!) Truthfully, I’ve nearly reached my limit for kitchen paraphernalia to “show and tell” but one can always use another serving plate. :)

In My Kitchen… I’m blessed to eat good food. What constitutes “good food?” Flavors that make your soul smile. Dishes you want to share. Recipe requests!

Most days I cook on a wing and prayer, depending on what’s in my fridge, freezer, or pantry, and/or how “artsy” I feel. (Generally they defy description, but feel free to ask.) Above are a few of my flavor inspirations. Be sure to click on the link to Sherry’s Pickings to peruse other kitchens around the world or add your own adventures. Always something new thing to learn there! Make your soul smile.

BTW, my intention to “write” more than once a month (recently announced on FB) is still in force. More to follow,  xo.

Enjoying artsy moments and good food,
~ Kim

Think Warm Thoughts

Frost 1

When The Man Of Few Words ‘n’ I moved here a decade ago (during the summer), I was looking forward to a respite from the bone-chilling winters I’d previously experienced in Minnesota. New terrain, new seasons to assimilate.

Plus, I knew how to dress warmly.

Surprise, surprise… that winter Oklahoma had record-breaking lows.

Fast forward to 2018. I’ve officially become a weather wimp. Whenever our temps dip below 60º (15.5º C for my Southern hemisphere pals) I’m cold! I’m talkin’: put on a heavy sweater and socks — possibly a pair of ear muffs or a stocking hat (inside) — and throw on two more blankets at night.

Oklahoma hypothermia!

My hardier ancestors would be chagrined.

Frost 2 Lake View

Above is a photo out our frozen front door, but I still find frost beautiful. 

Every season has highs and lows, no matter what the temperature is (inside or out) and/or how many blankets you have to pile on.

Think warm thoughts and experience the JOY of transition.

Enjoying the unprecedented cold front… and hopefully 70º on Sunday, 

~ Kim

Extraordinary Evenings

Every day that ends with a sense of contentment is a good day whether I accomplish anything or not. Sunsets seem to affirm that. (We’re here to witness, share, and be, folks — not just “do”.) I grew up ingrained with a “doing” mindset and my self-worth was often measured by how much I got done. It’s taken me decades to get past that primordial training. Last year I put my life on hold to take care of my family, and as a result, I put The Man Of Few Words (“our” life… my life?) on hold for over six months, took an unpaid leave of absence from my job, and contended with limited cell phone signal,  almost no internet (save for my son’s tablet), and a Minnesota winter.

I was a mess when I got home.

It’s taken almost a year to regain my sense of “self”, feel the slightest modicum of creativity, and forge ahead with “my” life — or at least what I formerly envisioned it to be — while handling ongoing phone calls, daily crises, paperwork, and myriad “to-do’s” once I got home. Old habits die hard and fatigue can play funny tricks on your brain — not to mention sap your strength and leave you feeling hopeless.

Yet, I don’t.

Every day back at the lake is a stellar day… followed by an extraordinary evening. (Even when I don’t do a gosh darn thing!) Sometimes I just need to absorb it all. Contentment reigns.

During your tenure on the planet you’ll oft be presented with challenges you don’t feel qualified to face. “Buck up, buttercup” and face ’em anyway! There’s a lesson to be learned and life goes on. Things will gradually become sharper and clearer, even if you’ve had to put you (and/or your “envisioned” life on hold for unprecedented/unanticipated lengthy stretches and you question every decision.) Eventually, it will all make sense, Or, as TMOFW has oft encouraged me (while I wondered aloud about my sanity and ability): “When God wants you to be doing something else, He’ll let you know.” In the meantime, it’s segueing gently between my obligations and my dreams… being aware… and taking care of myself. (Even if it’s just looking at a sunset.)

As if to say “amen” to that thought, my poetic friend j.i. kleinberg recently published this poem entitled The Evening.

found poem © j.i. kleinberg ~ The Evening

After “all of the above”, this is how my life has been lately… halfway between my dreams and reality… with a lot of “blue” up for consideration.

Enjoying re-configuring life at the lake,

~ Kim

Rhapsody In Blue VIII

There are two kinds of fishermen on the lake. (Three, counting vicarious photographers.) Not only do we rely on serendipity, we thrive on hope. Here’s to the souls anticipating the “catch of the day” by whatever means.

A few years back, I’d climb down the thirty-foot drop to shore over uneven rocks and toss in my “hook, line, and sinker”. These days I have to be cautious about my balance — particularly my inner balance. While I may not be able to do what I “used to”, it doesn’t deter me from having fun.

Life is a series of compromises.

Figuring out the best one for you — sometimes daily — requires a knack similar to fishing, a small dose of humility, a huge dose of gratitude, and a heapin’ helpin’ of self-awareness and self-acceptance. For now, “watching” suits me just fine.

South side

Ever had to give up an integral part of yourself (temporarily or permanently) to deal with “life”? How did you cope? Did you have fun? Do tell.

Enjoying uncompromising pleasure,

~ Kim

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