Archives for the month of: June, 2014

While driving through Ardmore, Oklahoma, this weekend, I was on a side street and this display stopped me.DSC_0209

When I realized what I was looking at, I was deeply moved.  This is who we send to battle, these are the men and women who give their sons and daughters to leave home and go to exotic places on the globe to protect the rights of Americans.  Their pride in their service tells the story.DSC_0210

The scope of their service is extraordinary.

DSC_0211 I don’t know who hangs the spoons, but I would add one if I could.  DSC_0210 - Version 2 DSC_0211 - Version 2

As we celebrate the 4th of July and all our freedoms this week, take a moment to think about the Spoons and all the families like theirs.

Thank you, Spoons!

My grandmother used to say, “Let’s go do something!”  It didn’t have to be much, but we weren’t going to be bored with her around.  At her house in Ardmore, Oklahoma, I used to spend my summer days looking at the stuff in her cedar chest, exploring the garage, swinging on the porch swing, picking pears from the tree in back, catching horned toads, walking to the ice plant, and going downtown with her to see my uncle at the bank or to the department store or to get ice cream.   We ran through sprinklers and sucked on Kool-Aid (the real kind with lots of sugar) frozen in ice trays into squares to keep cool.  I honestly never felt bored.

I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to be spontaneous these days.  I used to have a few friends or relatives around who were up for jumping up on the spur of the moment and doing something, but they have moved or are gone or are less eager these days.  My mother always told me to never turn down an invitation.  I try to remember that, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.  It’s the excuses that bother me.  Why not?  Some of my best memories are of times that nothing was planned and special things happened.

When I was a child in Tulsa, we didn’t know what we would do most days in the summer and we didn’t care.  There were swim lessons and golf lessons and a few structured things here and there, but most of the time we were left to figure it out.  We played in the yard, stringing clover together into necklaces and bracelets, played tag, ran in the sprinklers some more, played card games and board games, lay on the bed in front of a fan, chased the milkman for ice chips, brought home stacks of books from the library, caught June bugs, ladybugs, and grasshoppers in the day time and lightning bugs at night and then lay on a blanket and counted the stars.  There were always kids around, riding their bikes or walking down the street.  We would gather a group to play work up in our side yard.  Work up was baseball when you didn’t have enough for two teams.  We played for hours and I don’t remember a dispute over a call.

Today, I took my granddaughter to her swimming lesson and was looking at a schedule for day camp.  That looked fun until I thought about the difference between having everything structured and doing what you felt like.  Don’t get me wrong.  I understand the need for structure and the need to have planned activities when you’re in charge of a bunch of kids. And I like organized sports.  But, it’s not the same as just playing.  The other night I watched three of my grandsons in the pool, making up games as they went along.  They went from pool basketball to pool baseball to throwing a beach ball around to playing soccer with the beach ball, changing as they felt like it, making up rules as they went along.  Total joy!

I wish all kids could walk to a neighbor’s and ring the doorbell to see if their friend could come out to play.  I wish kids could play ball, any kind of ball, without practice.  I wish kids could make up games and draw when they want to and read a book because they love it rather than because it’s on a school reading list.  The things I’ve been describing were simpler when there was no television and most moms stayed home and there were fewer organized camps and lessons and activities.

The world won’t go backwards, but we can still try our best to find ways for our children to have free, spontaneous time.  Sometime, when you’re exhausted from work and just want to sit, pull yourself up and get everyone out of the house to a park for a walk or to a creek or something, anything, unexpected.  This applies to every age.  Old people – get up and get out.  Find a friend to take a drive, walk along the river, get ice cream. Or do it alone. It won’t kill you and it might even brighten your day.  Do Something, Anything you weren’t planning to do.

One thing about spontaneous actions is that they make you smile.  And we all need to smile a lot every day!

Scan 17


The year is half over.  I was reminded by email and it added to my awareness of how fast the days, months, years are rushing by.  I always said that when you reach middle age and go over the hill, the rest is a downhill slide.  Remember how the days crept along when you were a child?  School would never get out soon enough and the days dragged waiting for summer, birthdays, Halloween, Fourth of July, vacations.  You couldn’t get there fast enough.  I can’t think of the last time I couldn’t wait for my next birthday, although I’m glad I’m still here to have them.  They seem to come about every other month anyway.

The trouble with the middle age thing is that you don’t really know what your middle age is.  For my son, it was 17-18.  For my husband, it was 27-28.  For a friend who died this week, it was 34.  If you think about it that way, you start living your life in a way that celebrates every day you have.

So this year is flashing by and it’s time to assess how to spend the rest of the year.  I want to do so much and there is so much to do and they aren’t always the same.  There is work to do and play ahead.  Sigh.

So, this blog is ending quickly.  How much time do I have anyway?


The mockingbird family I wrote about yesterday is now completing its first day with the babies out of the nest.  There were four babies yesterday, scattered around the neighboring yards, the parents frantically trying to watch them as they flapped their baby wings, too short to lift their fat bodies very far.  By night, they had gathered them in one yard, the only yard for several houses without cats or dogs.  They found a spot in the corner with a chair covered by a mat beside a birdbath with hedges close by.  Perfect.  A thunderstorm blew through last night and I picture the mother cuddling with them again under the mat, this time without the nest she had so carefully built.

Today, I looked out and there are only three babies.  I can only imagine that one flapped too far away and maybe didn’t make it.  At least its body didn’t show up on my doorstep as a present from my cats.  Now there are three.  I relate.DSC_0027And they still don’t know how to take care of themselves and still have fuzzy heads.  When I spotted them, they were staying together, flying to the ground and then hopping back up the mat.  They weren’t straying too far.DSC_0028DSC_0034I should have known it was breakfast time.  They could hear their mother’s wings and all stood up, spreading their wings and opening their mouths…DSC_0036Of course, Mom and/or Dad were out there getting something for them to eat.  Just because the babies left the nest doesn’t mean they know much about taking care of themselves, including where to find food.  Am I putting myself into this story too much?  One got distracted, which means he or she will be at the end of the line for the next bite.DSC_0037Yep!
DSC_0038But there will be more.  The babies started chirping, getting more impatient.DSC_0040The mother is doing the best she can for these little ones.  While I stood at the fence shooting these pictures from a yard away, she landed right beside me and looked up. I understood that she might have been checking out my motives, so I didn’t say anything and she flew away, ever mindful of her motherly duties.DSC_0042This last shot reminded me of the frantic nature of being a parent.  You can’t get it all done fast enough and yet you keep doing it.  And the kids keep chirping and hopping around and falling down.  Oops!  I mean baby birds, of course.DSC_0041The babies were starting to get fuller tummies and were awake now, so when I looked back, there were only two.  One had flapped into another yard where there is a dog, one was on the ground, and the other clung to the place where he should stay.  I glanced again and all three were in different directions.  For this mother, like all mothers, the day has just begun.

For the past few weeks, every time my cats decided to sunbathe on the deck on their favorite chair or glider, a Mockingbird would fly down and perch about a foot from them, giving them a warning round of chirps. The bird was pretty intense andthe cats just laid their ears back and took the abuse.  I knew there was a nest nearby and the cats were getting warned.


Today, it happened.  I don’t know where the nest is, but the babies all appeared in my yard, four of them, flopping their short wings in an attempt to fly.  When I stepped outside, the mother was watching overhead, trying to help them as she could.  The first two I saw were by the fence, hopping and flapping.  This one finally made it down the yard, through the fence and up to a branch about a foot off the ground in the yard next door where my dogs can’t get it.

DSC_0025The second one hopped in the opposite direction and made it along the fence where a puppy was following it with its own baby curiosity.  It went through the fence into another yard where there was no dog, thank goodness.  But now the mother had two babies in different directions.  My own mom instincts were pretty high as I attempted to reassure her that I was trying to help herd them.  I couldn’t think where they could go where there was no danger.

Two more appeared.  I still don’t know where the nest is.  This one headed for the fence by the puppy and they stared at each other for a bit until I herded it away.  It flew at me, came up two steps of the deck and fell under the deck.  I guess it’s hopping around still.

DSC_0028The next one flopped around, heading for the deck and stopped to pose.  DSC_0034DSC_0037All I can think is that they are too young to leave the nest.  Their heads are covered in fuzz, their wings are too short.  There is too much danger lurking right here in my yard, much less the rest of the neighborhood. The mother is now looking at me and getting puffed up.  I understand that completely.DSC_0031DSC_0032You can’t imagine how much I relate.  I had four kids and they went in all directions.  Not on the same day, thank goodness.  I’m picturing the mother bird’s day, flying from yard to yard, trying to oversee their first day on their own, maybe even feeding them if they haven’t figured that out yet.

All those emotions are coming back to me, watching my bird counterpart out there.  My oldest grandson leaves for college next year.  I don’t know if he’s ready, even though his wings are definitely long enough.  But there’s all that danger out there, all those unknowns.  Even knowing you can’t protect them forever and they have to get out from under their mother’s wing sooner rather than later, it’s stressful for moms.  And dads.  And grandparents.

It’s nature’s way for our young to leave the nest.  They may fall out too soon, they may be adventurous and fly out on their own, or they may get kicked out.  We’re all in this together, birds, animals, humans of all races and ethnicities.  We all want our babies to survive and fly.  And soar.

Several years ago, my son, who was both a cook and an expert on pop culture, told me that food trucks would be the next big thing.  I knew he was right because he never missed on those kind of things and I even looked into a food truck for him.  He had great ideas, but not enough time with us to make all of them happen.  Because of that, I look at food trucks fondly and have followed the rise in popularity, just as he predicted.

We’re not talking about food trucks on the midway of the state fair now.  These are mobile kitchens full of culinary delights from some of the best cooks around.  You see them on street corners, tucked away on vacant lots, and in organized places.  I’ve been to parties with food trucks owned by local caterers, a fun touch of good food and atmosphere.

In Portland, there are blocks of them and you can eat any kind of food you like or want to try everyday downtown.  In a city with lots of parks and a fairly mild climate, it’s like a festival every day.

P9090031In Austin, there are food truck lots close to downtown with treats for all, matching the funky feeling in that city.DSC_0009In Tulsa, we have Food Truck Wednesday downtown and workers, artists, and the rest of us folks line up in the shadows of downtown buildings…IMG_4852One of our best local chefs closed one of his restaurants and operates from his food truck now.  Yum!10411378_10203172790017295_2067858657220542596_nWhat’s the appeal?  Why do we stand there waiting for food like this chicken and waffles with chipolte maple syrup and pineapple salsa?IMG_4853

I think there is something inherently fun about it.  It’s just that simple.  I like being outside waiting for the food, watching the people, talking to strangers about what to order and then munching on a delicious lunch.  It’s a totally different experience than a restaurant.  There’s an upscale festival atmosphere that brings good vibes.

I don’t know how else to explain it.  It’s just fun…like these mini donuts cooked in front of me in a small trailer then drizzled with caramel, chocolate and nuts.  Just wicked fun.IMG_4855

I grew up in an era of handwritten letters and notes.  We were taught to graciously write thank you notes for just about anything that people did for us.  We had stationery from the time we were little and monogrammed stationery, both formal and casual, as we grew older.  Thank You notes were ingrained in us, something we did automatically, like Jimmy Fallon on Friday nights.

Times are more casual, media more immediate, so today’s thank yous often come through emails or on Facebook or just verbally.  I know I still have my note cards, but I use them less frequently.  Mostly, it’s not because I wouldn’t write a note, but because we, my friends and I, often say when giving a gift to not bother writing a note.  We let each other off the hook after so many years of writing notes to each other.  It’s part of our friendship pact to know we love the gift and know that we are thankful.  It’s implied in the relationship.

I hope the tradition isn’t dying though.  I hope that young people are learning this valuable habit which teaches you not only to be grateful but to write thoughtfully. Writing notes is a great habit for careers, too.  I don’t know anyone who isn’t impressed with a handwritten note.  The rule should be “When in doubt, write the note!”

My youngest grandchild, age 4, recently scribbled a thank you to her teacher, speaking the words out loud she scribbled.  She has the ideas down pat and can add the actual writing skills later.  Recently I gave her something and she immediately reached for paper to write my note.  Pretty good reflex.  Gotta start somewhere…

By the way, Thank You very much for reading my blog.  I appreciate all of you who take the time to share my thoughts and pass them along to others.  Thank you again and again.