Archives for the month of: November, 2013

This is the time of year when my husband would go quail hunting and come home with not only birds, but a special treat. He would shoot down a clump of mistletoe from high in a tree and bring it to me to hang in the house for the holidays. It was a treat to me because he was so proud of himself and would hold it over my head for a kiss before he hung it over a door. It wasn’t the mistletoe, it was the look on his face that I loved. Big ole guy with his clump of mistletoe, a romantic at heart.

There is a tree in my neighborhood with a lot of mistletoe this year. Mistletoe’s a parasite, a holiday tradition, the Oklahoma state flower, and that combination makes me smile. My morning walk takes me by that tree and I have sweet memories each time I pass it.

May someone hold mistletoe over your head this season!


Today, I’m remembering a song my grandmother used to sing to me and my mother and I sang it together forever…

I just took a peek in the pantry
And there on the row of shelves
sat a row of pies
that would be a surprise
to the Mince Pie King himself.

My grandma is here and my grandpa,
my cousins and Auntie May.
What is it about?
We’ll soon find out
for tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.

Happy day before Thanksgiving to all!

Karen & Mommie Dude 1950

When I was in college, I printed a quote that I liked and kept it on my bulletin board, probably the whole time I was in school. I found a copy of my little handwritten note the other day in a box of old clippings. It’s from Loren Eiseley, anthropologist, philosopher, beautiful writer. I can’t say I’ve ever read his books, but I loved the quote, wherever I found it.

“In the days of the frost seek a minor sun.”

I’m not sure what I thought that meant when I was 18 or 19. I hadn’t experienced the frost that life can bring us yet, other than teen angst at best. I know I loved the thought of looking for the positive in the coldest times in your life.

Today, I read it with experience, knowing what the frost can be in my life, in other people’s lives. Sometimes all we can do when the frost covers us in sadness or despair is hope for a glimmer of light to melt away the cold.

Not much I can say to improve on Dr. Eiseley’s words. Wishing you all the minor suns you need in your days of the frost.


This weekend, the weekend before Thanksgiving, I did some shopping here and there, getting ready for the holidays. Everywhere I went I left with a smile on my face because of how friendly and nice everyone was. The clerks were friendly and smiling. In the grocery store, people laughed when we bumped carts and made light conversation with strangers as we picked out or favorites for the upcoming feast. One lady and I almost collided as I left an aisle and she joked that she shouldn’t be texting while driving.

At one store, some lovely people were handing out papers asking shoppers to purchase goods on the list to help with Thanksgiving dinner for men at a shelter in town. I gladly did so and was greeted with smiles and genuine gratitude from the volunteers. People were talking to strangers about the big game that night and laughing about the cold outside while they went about their shopping. The people handing out samples of food were laughing with the customers. It was the same everywhere I went. When I picked up a prescription, the lady commented that our birthdays are both coming up in a week or so. We talked about that.

It shouldn’t seem strange or unusual, but it really kind of was. Nobody seemed in a hurry or annoyed or frustrated. Everything was moving smoothly in all places. People pointed to their cars so I could follow them to get a place, people thanked clerks, clerks thanked customers. It was nice out there, running routine errands.

I hope everyone stays this sane, this relaxed during the coming weeks. I’m going to try and do my part and make sure I shop with a smile on my face. Aren’t we supposed to enjoy the holidays? Aren’t we supposed to be shopping for people we care about and doing extra things for people who need us? Isn’t this season supposed to be fun?

Remember during the coming weeks, when you feel rushed or pressured, to slow down, relax, hum a holiday song, smile, and do what you can to make this season, no matter what holidays you celebrate, what it’s supposed to be. . .the nicest time of the year!


Yesterday, I had lunch with some old friends and one of them made the following comment when asked how her husband was…”He’s more himself than ever.” I love that. She said that she thinks we all become more ourselves as we get older.

Think about it. At 67, I certainly know myself better than I did when I was younger, know my strengths and weaknesses, have fewer doubts, have learned from life, have accepted more, and find more joy in everything.

I am definitely more myself than ever these days.

And I take that to mean that there are still a whole lot of experiences out there…and I’m ready.


One of the more unique places I meet interesting people is at the City of Tulsa Green Waste Site. This is where people go to dump trees that have been cut down or yard waste. I have two fireplaces – one large and one small. I had the larger one converted to gas logs since it’s in the living room and I’m not spending much time in there. The smaller one burns wood and I love a good wood fire. But, it’s small, so regular logs are sometimes a problem.

A few years ago, I discovered the Green Waste site where I could go and pick up small pieces of wood for free. It’s about 15 minutes from home and, on a pretty day, it’s kind of fun to go out and pick around the wood pile. There used to be a huge area that I could dig around, looking for scraps and small logs. There are also huge piles of brush and wood being ground into mulch, which is also free. Plus, you get a nice drive a little way into the country.


Almost always, while walking around picking up small logs, people start conversations with me. I’ve never met anyone who isn’t nice at the wood yard, which is great considering many of them are wielding axes and chainsaws. Some of the people are getting wood to re-sell, others are just chopping their own wood. We talk about the different kinds of trees and, usually, someone will hack off some little pieces for me when they know what I’m doing. I’ve had people start helping me find what I need. I’ve met young and old alike out there. I’m sure they think they’re taking pity on this poor old woman picking through the wood. They don’t realize I consider it kind of a fun thing, plus I bend over a lot more than I would if I were told to do it for exercise.

This year, it’s all changed. There is less wood because people know about it and clean it out pretty quickly. Mostly big hunks, so I try to find someone with a chainsaw who is kicking out scraps. We’re also not allowed to scavenge from the big piles, maybe for safety reasons. Bummer. I need to write someone about that – I’m not the only one looking for small pieces.


Today, I found some pretty good wood and met some interesting people. There was an African American guy with dreadlocks in an old pickup who might look kind of dangerous somewhere else, but we talked at the wood yard. There was another older man waiting for someone to meet him to help split logs who followed me around talking the good old boy talk. I found some wood with wood worms and showed him for more conversation. They were pretty interesting, really.



There’s just no pretense at the wood yard. None whatsoever. I always feel good when I get back, mainly because it restores my faith in the basic goodness in human beings. And I have nice fires on chilly nights.

Bit by bit, I’m cleaning out my garage. It had gotten out of control as I stored things for relatives and friends and kept things I might sell in a garage sale or might use later. I’m still sorting.

There was a moment when I thought I might be on the brink of being a hoarder, but then I recruited some of my grandsons to help me dig out and discovered some hidden bonuses. First, I found a box of old directories and date books, which I have kept since 1975. I have actually used them to find dates for things nobody else can find. There were a few directories from groups I volunteered with that contained a list of past presidents that helped us put together a history of an organization. There were other directories that helped me remember names of people I worked with. The date books have helped me date old photos and events through the years, not to mention giving a timeline of my life when I need it. I confess to being a keeper, a keeper of old photos, letters, memories. There is a difference in being a keeper or being a hoarder. I hope.

There was a lot of junk in the garage, still is. The biggest decision was not to do a garage sale which would take an inordinate amount of time and energy, but to start throwing away and giving away. Local charities are glad to get stuff like I had in there. Some of it was leftover merchandise from when I owned a gift shop and I’m thrilled they can profit a little from it.

The best part was watching my grandsons discover things and ask questions. There was a conversation about things that belonged to their grandfather who died before some of them were born or things that belonged to their uncle. They wanted to take things home with them, which I let them do. They found out things about their relative and about me that they didn’t know. I gave one who loves making movies a camera that was my father’s. Later I found a photo of my father using one of his cameras, emailing it to him to make a lasting connection.

When my mother died, my sister and I spent weeks going through her things. She had already cleaned out a lot of cabinets and drawers and closets and given us some precious items, but there is always the chore of touching every single thing in a house, every little bobby pin (remember those?), scrap of paper, piece of clothing in drawers, closets, a house. A lot of stuff. It turned out to be fun, full of memories and stories and laughter, a last way to connect and learn about her life. I’ve heard other people say this, too, and it’s true that the things people want in the end are the old cookie jar or some object that strikes a memory rather than the most expensive things.

So, I continue to sort and clean out and am close to being able to get my car in there again. There is still much that needs to go, and it gradually will, I promise. I want to leave things that my kids can laugh about, wonder why I kept it and figure it out, discover something new about me, or remember something fun from our lives. My goal is to be more historian than hoarder. I’m digging through, excavating so to speak, a job that will never end.

I hope when I’m gone, my kids say, “What a mess.” And then, “What a life!”


On Veterans Day, it’s appropriate to thank all of our veterans and their families. Thinking back on my own veterans, my thoughts go to all my family members who played a part in any war. Thanks to all of them…

My father, a Lt Colonel in the Air Force in World War II, who was a Squadron Commander flying bombers from Africa to Italy. His men never forgot him.

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My grandparents who sent three sons and a son-in-law to war. Their youngest son, pictured with my grandfather, didn’t return…shot down over Germany.

Clayton & Bill

My grandmother never got over that loss…

Aggie on 39th St

My other grandmother sent both her sons to war. She stayed home and packed parachutes at Ardmore Air Base.

Jerry West & Artie West (2)

My mother worked on the Air Base, where she met my father. They married at the end of the war.

Betty & J C Hamilton wedding

My husband, who served in the Navy during the Viet Nam War. His post was state-side, but he served with pride.

Scan 1

I salute all the men and women who serve and those who wait for them. It’s about all of them giving for all of us. Thank you!

There is nothing like live football to energize you in the fall. Televised is fine, a good thing, but you can’t beat seeing it live.

I’ve been to high school games since my grandson started playing. Friday night lights and all. He plays for my old high school, but it wouldn’t matter. The youthful enthusiasm, the fans, the band, the cheerleaders and pom squads all make it a fun event. Some schools are more like little colleges with their recruiting and digital screens and commitment to winning at any cost, but most are just like you remember. You watch the kids milling around the stands, the parents cheering for their kids, and sing the fight songs in the cool air. Victory is sweet and defeat stings. Just like life.


Yesterday, I went to a game at my college alma mater, Oklahoma State University. There’s nothing like college football in America. . .anywhere! Television hasn’t spoiled it, but it doesn’t show the energy that surrounds a game. There’s the tailgating, a new multi-million dollar industry from what I can see. The sophistication is amazing. There was a set up with an attached bar with barstools made of saddles under a rusted corrugated steel roof that was the tops for me. Too cool. There are big screen TVs in tents set up for the day with huge grills toted in behind pickups, custom made for game day. The logistics of it all are amazing, but the total devotion to tailgating is a thing of wonder.

There is energy all over a college campus on game day. I think it’s because you can’t help but catch some of the scent of youth in the air, whether it’s from remembering your own college days or from watching the kids who walk where you walk. It’s unique and invigorating. What a college recruitment tool. Taking kids to the game where you are having so much fun at your alma mater has to rub off a little of your love of the school on them. Or not. We all know kids will do what they want to do, we just hope they love what we love a little bit.

Inside a stadium during a college game, you are treated to all the university’s traditions throughout the day. The colors, the band, the fight songs and cheers, the music, the cheerleaders, pom squad, mascot, alums and students all add up to an atmosphere of love and loyalty. Sure, there are more breaks while the networks air their commercials, but the fans are treated to performances on the field. The cheers and moans are not felt through the TV screen, the half-time activities are cut for commercials and long analysis from wordy commentators who have to fill air time. It’s a whole different experience being there.

In this modern football setting, you get replays at the game and updates from other games and people check their phones to see what else is going on in the world, the real world and the football world. You aren’t in your easy chair at home with the ready snacks and ability to switch from game to game. Even if you’re watching with friends, there is still something missing that you can only get live.

We fortunate ones live in a world of ease of getting our entertainment when and where we want it. It’s great and all that. But there’s nothing like going to a live football game. There’s nothing like approaching the stadium and the campus and having memories sweep over you or just feeling the excitement. There’s nothing like it. So American in all the best ways. We do know how to have fun, don’t we?


Fall used to mean hunting season in my family. My grandfather started hunting as a boy in Kentucky and must have hunted for 60 or 70 years. After being in Kentucky, I picture him with his brother, bringing home a mess of birds for the family dinner. He taught my father to hunt and my father taught my brother and then my husband who taught my son.

Not everyone in the family loved it, but those who did loved it with a passion. It was the whole experience that they loved, I think. They were bird hunters, quail mostly. My grandfather hunted pheasant, too, and my husband and father went on a couple of prairie chicken hunts. My husband hunted duck about once before he gave that up as not the same experience. And dove hunts came later.

First, there were the dogs, pointers and setters, smart and loyal to the end. I remember a long line of hunting dogs through my life with short names to call them easily in the fields. Buddy, Guy, Tim, and our favorite name of all, Grandpa. My daddy got Grandpa from a man who had named him that because he thought he acted like an old grandpa. We always delighted in calling “Grandpa” to bring him home. When my husband died, he left me with Tim, the ever loyal and loving English Setter who was his last hunting pal. When I finally felt he needed to be where he could hunt and run, I gave him to one of the men who had hunted with them often. Tim looked at me once before he left that day and then jumped up with his paws on my shoulders to look me in the eye as if to tell me Thank You. It was a moving moment with a sweet dog.

You couldn’t hunt quail very well without the dogs, so they worked with them all the time. Before hunting season even began, there were the days when they just went to run the dogs and get them ready. I think the men just liked to watch them work, running the fields with such abandon, spanning out for a mile and returning quickly at the sound of the whistle. It was all part of the experience.

Here’s one that must have belonged to my grandfather, maybe to my father, way back when.

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Finding a field to hunt was another ritual. My husband spent a lot of time looking for fields that were likely places and checking with the owners to see if it was allowed. For a long time, he and my father had private use of a property about an hour away where they hunted and our family fished the pond. Later, when my father had quit, he hunted with buddies in rural areas in northern Oklahoma. They knew all the hunters in the county and found lots of good places.

The night before the hunt was spent on the phone making the arrangements, oiling the gun and boots, packing the vehicle, a pickup in later years, laying out the clothes, the jackets with pockets for shells and game. It was a ritual, part of the deal.

I could hear him leave in the morning with his thermos of coffee, the only time he liked to get up early being for a hunt. I could hear him say “Kennel” and the dog would jump into the back of the truck or car, ready to go, tail wagging. Time to drive through the dark to reach the fields at dawn.

Dove hunts started September 1 in Oklahoma and you need as many hunters as you could to work a field. No dogs on this one. Quail hunts were smaller with as many dogs as you trusted to do the job. Walking those fields on cold fall mornings breathed life into the hunters I knew. They loved bringing home the game, but they loved being outdoors walking, working the dogs, watching the birds fly just as much. On the days when they came home almost empty handed, there was the same excitement because of the day they’d had.

Another ritual was the hunters’ breakfast in small rural towns, filled with hunters coming in after the first run of the morning, telling the stories, eating the huge breakfasts provided at bargain rates in those great little cafes. It was another part of the deal.

Then there was the homecoming, cleaning the birds, cleaning the gun for the next time, cleaning the mud off the boots, packing away the jackets and gear. My husband even liked to cook the game, using his Hasty-Bake in its finest way. He got a great dove recipe from someone he met in a field and we couldn’t wait. I can’t tell you how I miss having game to eat these days.

Some people don’t like hunting in any form, but it was such a part of my family that I understood. They were actually some of the greatest conservationists I knew since the last thing they wanted was for a species to be over hunted.

This fall, as I drive through the countryside, I study those fields and imagine the men I loved walking through them with the dogs running ahead. I understand their love of the land, of the rituals, of the season, of the hunt. I miss all of it. I miss them.

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