A rose for Emily

Vicki's roses

I can’t lay claim to having grown these roses. They came from my friend Vicki’s garden. Vicki (a.k.a. Heels) and I have started what I hope will become a summer tradition: Last week, just for fun, I cut a bouquet of zinnias from the patch behind my back fence, tucked them into this little jar, and left them on her porch. After the zinnias wilted, she returned the favor by refilling the jar with roses for me.

I wish I could post the scent of these roses online so you could enjoy it, too, because it’s absolutely lovely.

When I got home from work this evening, I figured those zinnias probably had wilted, so before I left for church, I cut a Velvet Queen, an Arikara, and … ummm … a Tarahumara, I think, from my sunflower patch and stuck them in a Mason jar for Vicki. I can’t wait for the Ring of Fire blossoms to open. Velvet Queen and Arikara are pretty, but Ring of Fire is the real showpiece.

There are few things I enjoy more than growing things to share with my friends. I can’t really explain the satisfaction I get from going into the garden and gathering a bag of fresh produce or cutting a bouquet of flowers to give away.

I think it has something to do with the fact that while Ron and I can dig holes and plant seeds and run the sprinkler and turn the compost, we can’t actually make anything grow. God has to take care of that whole turning-seeds-into-food-and-flowers part … so when we share the bounty of our garden, what we’re really doing is sharing our blessings.

I can’t really share my garden with you online, but I hope you’re enjoying the pictures, anyway. I’ll try to shoot some more this week. I need to get a photo of the water lily blossom before it disappears.



Mountains and neon

Cimarron River sunset

I made Ron turn the car around so I could shoot this sunset over the Cimarron River on Sunday evening. Look closely, and you’ll see a heron flying above the water.

Gloss Mountains

We came through the Gloss Mountains on U.S. 412 in Oklahoma just at dusk. The pictures don’t do them justice; I’ll have to go back a little earlier in the day to get better images.

Rest stop

U.S. 412 is littered with these little roadside parks all the way across Oklahoma. I like them; they’re a nice throwback to the rest stops we’d see along the road when I was a kid.

Tin Man

We saw this guy while we were cruising along 412, too. He was standing outside a defunct restaurant.

Click here to see photos of the gorgeous neon signs we saw along Route 66 in Albuquerque.


Quick update

I’m still sifting through the more than 150 photos I brought back from Albuquerque. I’ll put together an album for you to enjoy later, but for now, I just want to mention a handful of things before I forget:

1. On Wednesday morning, we were standing outside Joseph’s Grill and Cantina in Santa Rosa, N.M., when a little bird zipped by me at warp speed. I looked up in time to realize that I was watching a real, live blue swallow. There were three of them playing around the entryway. They were utterly gorgeous little things, with bright yellow breasts and dark blue backs that looked almost black until the light hit them and made them shimmer intense blue. Up to this point, the only Blue Swallow I had ever seen was of the neon variety. These little creatures were at least as beautiful as their namesake motel in Tucumcari. I wish I’d had the camera out when I saw them, but they were moving too fast to shoot anyway.

2. We took U.S. 54 from Tucumcari to Guymon, OK, then drove U.S. 412 east across the Oklahoma Panhandle and through the Gloss Mountains on our way back to Tulsa. It was quite a trip. Photos forthcoming as soon as I finish sifting through them.

3. While we were in Albuquerque, we cruised Central Avenue and saw literally hundreds of beautiful neon signs. I photographed about 70 of them, give or take; I’ll post the best once I get them all cropped and Photoshopped.

4. I wandered outside this morning to discover that our garden thrived while we were gone. I harvested a bunch of cucumbers, an eggplant, a Hungarian Black pepper, a few yellow cherry tomatoes, and a huge bouquet of screaming fuchsia, coral, and yellow zinnias. My immediate supervisor and I were both off last week, and another girl had to run the office in our absence, which was no small task. I took the zinnias to work and gave them to her as a little thank-you present for her efforts. The sunflowers are also starting to bloom at last. One had opened all the way, so I brought it in and took it to Suzanne this evening when we went to visit her and Michael. Our water lilies have also started to bloom; I found a blossom when I peeked into the pond this morning. I plan to get a photo of the pond soon so you can see how huge our plants have gotten. They almost completely cover the surface of the water, so I don’t anticipate any more algae problems.

That’s all for now. Gotta get back to work on those photos so I can post them later.



We just got in from Albuquerque about five minutes ago. Unloaded the car, plugged in the computer, checked e-mail, and here I am. I’ll have photos and a full report on the trip tomorrow night. Right now, I’m just heading to bed, as I have to be up and ready for work in eight hours, and I’m wiped out.


Cuppycakes, sunsets, and Route 66

We spent yesterday driving from Tulsa to Tucumcari, where we stayed at the beautiful Blue Swallow Motel on historic Route 66.

We got up this morning and headed on into Albuquerque. Rather than ramble forever about our adventures, I'll just post some pictures of the highlights here:

Bee on thistle

I like this closeup I got of a honeybee working on this gorgeous flower — some kind of thistle, I presume — in Glenrio.


We found these weird gourds growing like kudzu all over the side of the road in Glenrio. I wasn't sure what they were, but I've never heard of a toxic curcurbit, so after I cut this one open with Ron's pocketknife, I licked the blade just to see what it would taste like. Auuuuugggggh! You can't believe how bitter that thing was! Bleah! Yecch! Ptui! I changed my mind about swiping some seeds to plant in my garden after that….


We wandered into the old cafe in Glenrio, where I got this shot through the window. I thought about having Ron sit down so I could take his picture, but I wasn't entirely sure whether any critters were living inside that old diner booth, and I didn't really want to find out….

Odeon at dusk

The Odeon, a historic movie theater in Tucumcari, is a couple of blocks off Route 66. I love that marquee. I was trying to get the sunset behind it, but the buildings were blocking the light. Still a nice shot, though, I think.

Bob on the phone

This picture may look like an ordinary picture of a man talking on the phone, but it is really proof that hell has frozen over and the Cubs' World Series victory is imminent. Why? Because the man in question is Bob Waldmire, hippie, artist, and Route 66 advocate extraordinaire, and the phone in question is of the cellular variety. You'd have to know Bob to fully appreciate this image, but suffice it to say that Bob, who lives in a VW Microbus most of the year and basically inspired the character Fillmore in the movie Cars, is not exactly a technophile. 😉


We ran into a lot of old friends — and made a few new ones — at the Blue Swallow. Here's a shot of our merry band, taken by a fellow traveler who was very patient about photographing all of us with about umpteen different cameras handed to him by various people.


There is a restaurant in Albuquerque called Cake Fetish. They sell nothing but cupcakes. Ron and I got into town early enough to try 'em out today. That's our order above. The big cupcakes are peanut butter something-or-other (on the left) and "Half Baked," which is a regular vanilla cupcake with chocolate chips all through it and a blob of chocolate-chip cookie dough baked into the center. The little cupcakes are Inside-Out German Chocolate (if you get the big one, the caramel and coconut frosting part is on the inside) and Hot Chocolate (a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream frosting on top, sprinkled with a little bit of hot pepper … because, y'know, in the Land of Enchantment, there is nothing so great that it cannot be improved with the addition of a little chile pepper … not even a chocolate cuppycake).

And last but not least … here are two views of a vicarious Tucumcari sunset for Brad and Vicki, who are probably learning more than they ever wanted to know about Route 66 thanks to their friendship with a certain Red Fork road warrior:


Check Ron's blog for more pictures and reports from the road.



Sorry I’ve been delinquent in posting this evening. We aren’t allowed to blog from work (a wise decision by our supervisors, I think — blogging is more addictive than smoking, and it takes up 10 times as much time!) and I keep my home computer unplugged during storms, of which we have had several the last few days.

The weather has been good for my garden. I’ve got plenty of cucumbers coming on — lots of miniature White Wonders (which, for the record, taste great: nice and crispy, and I haven’t had a bitter one yet) and a couple of pickling cucumbers that are growing on a volunteer plant that came up in the middle of the peas and took over so aggressively that it crossed the trellis and wrapped itself around the garlic on the way up.

Speaking of garlic, Ron harvested garlic, shallots, and elephant garlic the other day, bundled them, and hung them up to cure. Quite a harvest, and a little early this year — garlic usually isn’t ready until July or so. We’ve also got a Hungarian black pepper about to ripen, and loads of blossoms on the pepper plants, which are going crazy in the heat and rain.

The zinnias behind the back fence have been blooming and blooming. Gorgeous things. I’ve got one sunflower on the verge of opening and several more coming along right behind it. I can’t wait for those to open. I’ve been handing out bright pink zinna bouquets, which are nice, but sunflowers are even more cheerful — and much more dramatic.

I had a headache, so I didn’t get outside to treat my roses for thrips this evening. Guess I’ll have to do it tomorrow night. Little stinkers keep damaging the blossoms, so I went to the Country Store and got some neem oil with pyrethrins in it. Technically organic, though it feels a bit like cheating. The roses smell so nice, though, that it just breaks my heart to have them look too awful to be presentable. Anything that lovely ought to be shared. I’ll lop the existing blossoms off before I treat the plants so the bees will stay out of the insecticide.

While I was at the Country Store, I asked Bill about my zucchini problem. The plants have made tons and tons of blossoms, but they just wilt and drop off without producing fruit. He says young plants sometimes make too many male blossoms, and the problem should correct itself as they mature. I ran into the same thing with my eggplant, but I noticed the other day that I finally have fruit forming on one plant, so I guess they’re on their way.

Hope your weekend was productive and full of beauty.

I have a special project in the works. Stay tuned … I hope to unveil it in a couple of weeks.