Archives for the month of: January, 2013

It’s definitely been a winter for the records, at least the records since I’ve been around.  It’s been drier and warmer with only a hint of snow that barely counted.  Global warming, indeed.

Today, it was 49 degrees, feeling like 40 due to the wind, so I took a walk.  I’d been walking a lot, but quit after surgery and a bad cold.  As I told my doctor, it’s amazing how fast we deteriorate, or I do anyway.  Don’t say it’s my age – I’m sure someone will tell me once again that it’s a factor.  But I have a lot of stamina – for my age – and it’s coming back.  So there!

Anyway, I walked because I need to get out when the sky looks like this…

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and this…


How can that not make you feel better?  Even if you feel good.

When I got back home, I walked around the yard to see what was happening.  Spring is trying to get here, even though I know and you know that we sometimes have our worst weather in February and March here in Oklahoma.  The first thing I noticed was the grass.  The green coming up isn’t grass…just spring weeds.  Dang.  I should do something about that but I’m not enough of a grass fanatic.  Maybe…

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Then there were these little ones…

Daffodils…I have lots of kinds of these…

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Maple tree…not a clear image because the clouds came in and the wind came up…but there are buds…

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Something flowering (I just enjoy them – can’t remember all the names)…

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What the heck is the name of this big bush?  I planted it myself about 9 years ago…it’ll come to me…not that I care, but I hate to forget…



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Oak Leaf Hydrangea…love these!

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I’m not sure what Mother Nature has in store for us as I sit in front of the fire on a day when it’s supposed to drop down to 16 degrees tonight and then jump up to 55 degrees tomorrow.  But she’s not asking me, so I’ll just enjoy.



It’s raining in Tulsa, Oklahoma today!


It’s raining…a nice, steady rain with a rare clap of thunder.  It’s been so long since we had a good rain here that we almost don’t know what to do.  It’s been the driest year in ever so long, taking us back to Dust Bowl days, although I hate to compare to that since we are not living in the same times or with the same knowledge.

The trouble with the weather here is that it’s true what Will Rogers said, “If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute and it’ll change.”  We’ve had other dry years and everyone was praying and begging for rain and we got it…in deluges, floods.  Be careful what you wish for.

There were wistful comments about our lack of a winter since we had very warm temperatures and just a scant flurry of snow.  I love the snow, too, but not so much the ice storms.  Again, be careful what you wish for.

We wish for the cold in the scorching days of summer and the heat in the freezing days of winter.  We don’t ever seem to be satisfied with what we have around here.

I’ve been in states where the seasons are pretty much the same and it’s great, but I grew up with all of them and am pretty much a four season girl.  It’s not like we don’t have heaters and air conditioning for the extremes here in the city, so we’re not actually living out in the elements.

The best I can do is say that I like the following:

Snow in winter if I’m home with plenty of supplies and a fire in the fireplace – it’s stunningly quiet and beautiful

Rainy days when I don’t have to get in and out of the car – love the sounds of rain on the rooftop and thunder and lightning shows in the far sky

The fresh greens of spring with new flowers and color coming to brighten up winter’s gray

The cleanness of spring with warm temperatures that make you want to get outside and play or plant or start something new

The first days of summer on the golf course and at the pool or lake

Summer flowers and the richness of the flowers and plants and trees with their canopies of leaves to shade us

The crisp feel of cold in the air in the fall and the change of the colors in the leaves

The sound of the leaves crunching under your feet as you rake them into piles

The trees in the winter, stripped bare and forming lacy patterns against the sky

It’s all beautiful if you’re comfortable, spoiled people that we are.  Today, I’m just enjoying listening to raindrops falling around me and watching all the living things outside drink them up!  Getting ready for the next season.

I watched the movie, “Lincoln,” for the second time last night.  I’m not much of a movie reviewer, but I’ll recommend this one as a must see for thinking people or fans who appreciate good film making.

I grew up with actors like Raymond Massey and Henry Fonda playing Lincoln…they didn’t even come close to Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance.  It’s a fact of Hollywood that they love English actors and it’s too bad that there isn’t an American actor who can play an American, but that’s a pet peeve since I learned that it used to be or may still be that  American actors can’t play a character in England if there is an English actor available and it seems like every character I see in America turns out to be English, Canadian, Australian or not American, although they play us well.  Anyway, it doesn’t matter in this case, because Day-Lewis is one of the great actors of our time and nobody else could have or would have gone to the depths of learning and becoming Lincoln as he has.  I looked up Lincoln’s walk and voice and read descriptions by the people who met and knew him.  Day-Lewis just morphs into a living Lincoln.

When I watch a movie at home, I have my iPad in my lap looking up questions I have about production, plot, actors, directors, or historical facts.  I can excuse some distortion or interpretation of facts for art’s sake, but not all.  It’s good when a film makes you want to know more.  That’s also what’s nice about having DVDs and DVRs so that you can stop and answer your question right when it hits you, if you want to.  I think this one is pretty close to accurate, at least on the questions I had.  Tad really did run rampant in the White House and Thaddeus Stevens really did have a relationship with his housekeeper, although there are different stories on that.

A funny side note was that I read a review of the movie where the reviewer said he was surprised at Lincoln’s humor.  I guess I thought everyone knew what a renowned storyteller Abe Lincoln was.  I grew up with a book that belonged to my great-grandmother, “Abe Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories,” published in 1901.  The copy we have is missing all the even numbered pages so she must have gotten a deal on a printer mess-up.  You still get some of the stories, the funny drawings and photos of all of the people who were around Lincoln.  And I learned at a young age what a beloved and complex person he was.


Anyway, this is just a great film.  The performances are terrific, especially Sally Field, David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones, Tim Blake Nelson, James Spader, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hal Holbrook…and the list goes on.  I should look up every name to give them all credit.  And the direction by Steven Spielberg, the cinematography, lighting, costumes…just the best.

You really feel like you are in that time and place, you feel like you are watching history unfold.  It’s entertaining, but, mostly, it’s enlightening.  Not fast paced action…just a disclaimer if that’s what you want to see.  Besides, you already know the ending…or should.

As movie reviews go, this was just my thoughts after being wowed by this film for the second time.  I can’t use stars or thumbs up since I’m not really a reviewer, so I’ll just give it a standing ovation!  Bravo!

When I got married, everyone decorated their first home in “early family.”  There was no style since you were just glad to have furniture of any kind.  My mother thought you should have accessories, so she helped us get some extra pieces to make it more than just a series of bare rooms.  The rest of our place was things we picked up in thrift stores –  we “antiqued” some pieces, the going thing at the time.  It was cute to have my mother’s first coffee table that I painted and a headboard that we covered in gold burlap and a paper lamp from Pier 1.  Young, funky and fun.

Through the years, we upgraded to furniture we liked and purchased mixed with more hand-me-downs from our families.  I got the desk that had been my maternal great-grandmother’s refinished by my paternal grandfather that had been in my room as a girl.  And I would find something on sale.  Or I would find an antique I liked at a shop or auction, mostly with my mother teaching me how to bid.  And I would buy paintings on a trip.  This didn’t happen overnight, but it was a never-ending accumulation.  When I down-sized, I gave away various items to my kids, but I replaced them with my mother’s things when she died.  And more things I found.


Somewhere in this mix through the years, I think my basic hoarding inclination took over.  It’s not that I mean to hoard furnishings, but I do hoard memories.

Anyone who comes in my house sees a lot of stuff.  I see a memory on every table, wall, available space.  There are paintings by artist friends, a couple by my mother, others from galleries and my parents.  There are photographs that need no explanation.  There are contemporary furnishings mixed with American, English and French antiques, Western and Greek sculptures mixed with carved wood bears.

Accessories include my great-grandmother’s coffee grinder, my grandmother’s cookie jar, my other grandmother’s little syrup jar, wooden elephants that my father brought back from Africa in World War II along with this statue of a man with a frog on his head that scared me to death when I was little.


I have clay heads my son made in high school and clay figures my grandkids made.  There is the huge Oklahoma map that was behind my father’s desk at work when I was a little girl.  On the shelf over my desk is one of my son’s lunch boxes from his collection and a mug we got at The Ugly Mug coffee house in Seattle.  There’s a collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s works that I used to read at my grandparents’ along with my father’s copy of “The Emerald City of Oz.”  And more books.

It goes on and on throughout the house.  I am beyond eclectic in style.  I can’t say “early family” anymore since I’m at the old end of that chain.  There is a memory that I need to shift every time I get ready to let go of something.  Some things aren’t so easy because I remember when I got them, who I was with, why I liked it.  It’s not that I never part with anything…I just tend to hang on.  And I’m not apologizing. I love everything I have around me or I would get rid of it.  I definitely live surrounded by warm memories.

And, I still need to clean out some things.  I’ve just learned there are still memories to come and I need to make room.

I guess my decorating style defies a professional decorating definition.  Let’s just say it’s personal.

Watching the world on a 24/7 news cycle, reality shows and documentaries and the internet sprinkled into the mix, we have a unique view of the behavior of people around the world.  You begin to search for the nice stories, the feel-good realities that restore your hope for mankind.  Otherwise, it’s pretty horrifying to watch what people say to each other, do to each other.

Listening to people justify guns and violence, hate and hurt, I have to go back to the most basic lesson of all…the Golden Rule.  It’s so simple and so basic that we tend to forget its power.

A couple of years ago, I found this little book…


It contains versions of the Golden Rule from all religions and cultures, going back thousands of years.  It’s so simple that every group of people on the planet has it in their beliefs or literature.  There are versions from Confucius, Native Americans, African tribes, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Torah, Babylonia, Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, Muhammad, Martin Luther, Matthew, Luke and others.  Pick your prophet or your spokesman – they all have the same message.

I gave a copy of this book to my eight grandchildren for Christmas one year.  It’s small enough to carry with them through life.

The way things are going, I’m going to order some more copies and send to some of our leaders.  Please…it’s so simple.

Rarely do I want to discuss politics online because I have a wonderfully diverse bunch of friends and relatives who represent all the extremes and everything in between.  I like hearing all their views…well, until they go on rants for weeks and weeks…and I like trying to understand where each is coming from to reach their conclusions, whether I agree or not.  I don’t like people who bombard me with hate messages and full blown vitrolic views assuming that just because I know them means I agree with them.

I’ve seriously voted since I was could, voting for some winners and some losers.  Many times my candidates have turned out to be huge disappointments and the ones I opposed have pleasantly surprised me.  And I studied them before I voted – not like I just checked a box next to a party.

I’ve worked for candidates who lost and understand that disappointment.  You believe that they are going to make the changes you want and then you’re left with wondering what will happen now.

I voted for candidates from both parties through the years, believing that parties don’t define the best candidates.  Four years ago, I left the two parties and became an independent and have found that an interesting position to take.  I was frustrated with the Democrats and the Republicans and haven’t seen much to draw me back to either one of them.  That’s just the nature of the party structure in this day and age.  You’re either all in or else, no room for moderation.

Mostly, I understand that we have winners and losers and that people need to concede with grace.  I always listen to the inaugural speeches with hope.  I want our leaders to be all that they can be.  The Presidents and Governors and Mayors and Senators and Representatives and Council Members may not be my first choice, but they won and I want them to do well.

Living in our age of violence, our age of constant media coverage, our age of access to the most extreme of views, I am grateful that good people want to run for office and I thank them for it.  I pray for their safety and hope that they can surmount the obstacles that lie in their way.  I want the future to be better for my descendants.  I want the best for our country and our planet.

Bless these politicians.  Heaven help them today and every day.  May we all become listeners and responders rather than reactors.


Genealogy is one of the favorite hobbies of older generations, which I can see because it takes a lot of time to dig through and find out where your family came from and all old people have is time.  Ha!  The sad thing is that none of us spend enough time with our older relatives asking them questions about their lives when they were younger, making our own history come alive.  I did spend hours looking through the drawers of photos they kept and ended up with many of them from both sides of the family.  While everyone else was dividing up the furniture, I got the photos!

My mother was sharp until she died and one of the most interesting things that happened was a chance conversation we had about her grandparents.  She spent a lot of time with her grandmother and remembered every tiny detail of the house, what my grandmother wore, what plants were in the yard.  While she talked, she drew a map of the house and the wagon yard my great-grandfather started in Ardmore, Oklahoma, explaining exactly what a wagon yard was since I really didn’t know.  My aunt and uncle had lived in that house when I was a child, so I had a sense of the location.  We went through it again and I taped it this time.  I love listening to that conversation, the only one I have of my mother talking.

Here’s my mother with her brothers and grandmother.  I found this photo in a box I was looking through this week.

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On my father’s side, I have a book about my grandfather’s family written by his younger sister.  It’s a delight reading the story of their family from my great-grandparents through my father.  She told little anecdotal stories and gave me a sense of what their life was like in Uniontown, Kentucky.  I used that book to identify each of the family members in these photos.



I also have a book on the history of the Hamiltons that traces us back to Thomas Hamilton leaving Scotland in the 1700s.  That side was easy since the work was done. is a great source and pretty easy to do.  The only problem with it is that our family trees are never-ending and you could spend all your time on the search.  Not a bad thing on a cold day, I guess. The families branch out in all directions, but you begin to see the trends.  My relatives came west, with a lot of farmers on my mother’s side.  I had a hard time finding out about my mother’s beloved grandmother, but I did finally find out that she was one of 16 children.  The family, over the generations, kept moving west from Alabama and Tennessee to Texas and finally Oklahoma.  Always looking for a better life, I imagine.  My mother’s cousin told me about a great-great who was a “high-stepper,” married often and very selfish and wild.  We have all kinds in our trees.

Sometimes, I’m bored and get into it and dig around the documents you can see, wondering how we ever kept track of people when the census was handwritten and names were spelled differently each time.  But we, as a nation, did keep track and it can be fascinating.  Sometimes, you find a story or another clue and it makes you wonder.  When you have a photo, you really wonder and marvel at the path your ancestors traveled to get you to where you are.  It’s overwhelming how many names you find in those outer branches.

Here’s my great-grandmother in southern Oklahoma.  Hard for me to relate to her life, but I appreciate her.

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Here’s my grandfather I never knew (center of the photo).  He must have been great fun and I’m glad to see a glimpse of him.

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Searching for our roots is a way to bring history home.  You look at these people who came before you and try to place them in history.  I see my father with his grandparents and think of my grandkids and me.

Mom & Dad Hamilton with J. C., Ed & Sara

I look at my tree and see that I’m already in the thick of it, with my grandchildren at the front end.  I’m already a piece of their history, placed in the world as I saw it in the decades I’ve been here.  It truly is a never ending Circle of Life.

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Today was one of those days that you just need to get out of the house – at least I did.  It was sunny and in the 40s in January and that was enough to get me out of my pajamas on a lazy day.  Enough of this recuperating.  Heading west on Route 66 seemed easy enough – follow the Mother Road the way we used to when I was a kid, before the turnpike sped us along.

I’d been wanting to go to the Rock Cafe in Stroud.  I’d seen it on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri, heard about it, read about the fire and the rebuilding and the original grill and its influence on the movie “Cars.”  I also knew it was up for sale and figured I’d better see it soon – who knows what will happen.


If you take Route 66, you look for the signs of the old 66, the little concrete road that runs parallel to the newer road, and imagine what it must have been like to drive when it first opened.  It’s narrow, hard to imagine what you did when you met another car coming at you.  They didn’t go very fast, compared to today, but Americans drove across the country, passing through Oklahoma on their way from Chicago to Los Angeles.  It was definitely an adventure in those days.

My family used to drive it almost every week, heading to Oklahoma City to see my grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins.  I mostly remember driving back at night in the dark, sleeping on the floor of the car, listening to the radio.  The turnpike was a godsend for those of us who made the trip often, but I realize what it did to the little towns.

Anyway, today I looked for remnants of what it must have looked like, traveling along that concrete road.  We saw a few of the old, old motels…amazingly some are still in use.  By the time my friend and I were in Stroud, it was almost three in the afternoon.  There were no cars at the Rock Cafe and we went in for a late, late lunch.  To my horror, after we ordered, I remembered they close at three.  They were waiting to leave when we got there, but they didn’t admit it or turn us away.  I’ll give them credit for that, because the service was begrudging and the food was no more than mediocre.  I can also imagine it’s more interesting with more customers.  I will say the bathrooms are interesting – every inch of the rooms covered in graffiti, even the toilet seats.  They’re clean…just covered with messages from folks who’ve stopped by.

So check off another place on my never-ending list of places I’d like to see.  Not every adventure has to be perfect.  It’s the going that counts.




This one’s for Patsy, who reminded me about paper dolls.

I played with all kinds of dolls when I was little and paper dolls were one of the best.  I had a box I kept them all in after I carefully cut out the dolls and their costumes.  It’s kind of amazing to think that I did that as I didn’t exactly excel at scissors.  My kindergarten report card gave me a low grade in that area, so maybe I was trying to compensate in my later years.  I’ve always found that to be so funny.  I was a very good student, but I’ve chosen to focus on the fact that I was a little weak in scissors when I was four or five years old.

We got books of paper dolls, but what I remember the most is Betsy McCall.  My mother subscribed to all the ladies magazines, including McCall’s.  Each month, they featured a page with Betsy with a story and new paper dolls and clothes.  It was something to look forward to.  I had to wait for my mother to read the magazine and then I could tear out my page and start cutting.


I also found some pictures of old valentines with paper dolls.  Those were a special treat in our decorated shoe boxes of valentines from our classmates.


I remember spreading all my dolls out and dressing them with the various outfits, bending the little paper tabs that kept the clothes on the doll.  I think we used to paste the dolls from magazines onto cardboard to keep them strong enough to stand up and be in the stories we made up about the lives of these paper people.  We got cardboard from our daddy’s shirts when they came from the cleaners.  We used those cardboard pieces for all kinds of activities.

In this fast paced world, it’s hard to imagine kids sitting for hours cutting those very intricate little pieces of clothing and patiently standing up the dolls to show off their newest outfit or making up a story for them to act out.  The other day, I was watching my granddaughter play with a Mickey Mouse iPad app where she dressed him in different rock star outfits.  Pretty cute, but not the innocence of Betsy McCall.   When she gets older, I’ll try to explain about paper dolls.  She’ll listen, wide-eyed, and wonder about that old fashioned world her grandmother grew up in.  Or, if I wait too long, she may just roll her eyes.

Sometimes I have to admit what an antique girl I am.

One of those lazy Mondays when sometimes a song gets into my head and I’m full of the memories.  If I were a whole lot younger, this might be a confessional, but I’m not, so it’s just a memory.

I was a junior at Oklahoma State University in May 1966, and had a brand new silver Impala with white leather seats that I had gotten for my 20th birthday.  Probably for being a pretty good kid, making good grades, not causing problems.  I was actually embarrassed that my father had spent that much money on me, but he was pleased he could do it.  Not many of us had cars in 1966 so it was easy to find people to cruise with.

A popular movie a few years back was “Where the Boys Are,” which featured a group of college kids on spring break in Florida.  Spring Break wasn’t as much back then – I’m not even sure we got a week.  The idea of going somewhere was also pretty new to us – not an entitlement of youth.  Anyway, the title song hung around and we still had romantic visions of meeting a young Jim Hutton on a beach (at least he was the one I liked).

I’m not sure where the idea came from or how we suddenly became obsessed with going to the beach, but we did.  It wasn’t even the right time.  A bunch of us just decided that would be the coolest thing ever.  The closest beach was in Galveston, Texas, and there must have been a rumor of something happening there.  What were we thinking?  I’m not sure if we told our parents or just took off, but four of us left Stillwater after classes on Thursday and drove to Norman to pick up another friend at OU.  I’m not a drinker, so it’s a good thing I was driving my car, cool as it was.  We spent the night at someone’s apartment, meeting a bunch of guys there and everyone drinking beer before we fell asleep on the floor, couch, etc.  Did I also mention that I was engaged at the time and not looking for guys, just looking for a fun adventure.  In fact, we tried to get my fiance (future husband) to fly in from California where he was in the Navy and join us for the weekend.

We stopped in Dallas to find out that my guy couldn’t get there, visited the JFK Memorial and headed on to Galveston.  How many miles/hours was that?  We had the music blaring in the age before cell phones or even 8 tracks.  Just the radio and us.  And, we made it there.  We must have driven all night.

Nothing looked quite like the movies.  It was a dirtier beach than Florida and there were no people.  We had a motel room right there, but there were no people, much less college students.  But we were here.  On Saturday, we hit the water – it wasn’t even sunny.  And, suddenly, there was a group of guys.  They had cute southern accents and had come over from Monroe (pronounced MON roe) Louisiana.  Better than nothing.  We also befriended the lifeguard, who took this picture.

Galveston - May 1966

That night, the group drank and we danced, some of us on the table in the room.  It was pretty innocent, actually.  Very innocent, when I look back.  You’d think I’d remember more since I was the sober one, but it’s just a blur of silliness now.  Nobody ended up together, nobody did anything illegal.  Just kids meeting other kids for fun.  We didn’t make any stupid mistakes – maybe the movie taught us the consequences of that.

And, back to my point.  We drove back to school, arriving Monday in time for some of our classes.  As we drove, we kept hearing the Mamas and the Papas singing “Monday, Monday,” on that rainy Monday at the end of our big adventure.  Back to normal lives, finishing finals, planning my wedding.  The Louisiana guys came to see us, but it wasn’t quite the same.  Nice guys, but…

So, I randomly remember this trip when I hear that song.  When my own kids wanted to do things, I tried to remember what it was like to want to break out of the norm.  I tried to not worry since I had done the same with nothing bad happening.  Of course, I knew better and did worry.  I’m a Mom, after all.

I have to smile when I think of this really not so wild adventure.  It was still fun!  “Monday, Monday” always brings it back to me.