I got a little work done tonight. Not as much as I’d like, but a little. I made a pretty good batch of new potatoes with leeks (recipe follows) and made a good dent in my office-cleaning project by rearranging some shelves and organizing some craft supplies.

I ought to finish cleaning the office, but I’m tired, so I think what I will do instead is read a magazine or two and go to bed. The rest of this stuff can wait for tomorrow.

Here’s the potato recipe, for whatever it’s worth:

Roasted Potatoes with Leeks

Cooking spray
About a dozen new potatoes, diced
Three leeks, cleaned thoroughly and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 stick butter

Coat the inside of a good-sized casserole dish with cooking spray. Put the potatoes and leeks into the casserole dish, dot with butter, and bake, covered, at 400 degrees until potatoes are tender (about an hour). Remove lid and bake for another 10 minutes.

Nothing fancy — just a nice, basic recipe that lends itself well to experimentation. The leeks have a very mild, sweet onion flavor, and the potatoes don’t have a whole lot of flavor of their own, so you could go just about any direction you wanted. Crushed garlic and red pepper flakes would probably be good, or a bit of curry powder, or maybe a marinade of Italian dressing and fresh herbs. But I think it’s pretty good all by itself.

Expect more recipes in the not-too-distant future. I’ve gone vegetarian again, which means more cooking at home.


Three miles

“We are all capable of more than we do.”
— Mary Baker Eddy

I got to the gym too late to catch a real, live human being on the premises (apparently the employees go home at 3 p.m. on Saturdays), so I gave up and put in three miles on the river trail. I’d already spent about an hour installing stepping stones in my backyard in the pouring rain, and I didn’t melt or anything, so I figured if the sky decided to open up again while I was on the trail (which it did), I could handle it. We’ll call the stepping-stone project cross-training, as it involved a lot of lifting.

I got a little over two miles’ worth of blue skies before the rain started. It actually felt kind of good, because it was 81 degrees when I started running, and the earlier rain had things pretty steamy out there. Maybe I’ll just suck it up and run in the rain for the rest of the summer. It’s only a problem if there’s lightning, which wasn’t the case today.

I saw a flock of Canada geese hanging out next to the river. They were pretty.

I’m supposed to be making potatoes and leeks and cleaning my office this evening, but I am procrastinating (as usual). I’d kind of like to spend my whole evening sitting on the couch with a stack of Sentinels, reading as many as I can so I can take them to the Reading Room and reclaim the end table next to my papasan chair, but I have a long list of other stuff that really needs to be done first. I probably ought to pick up some magazine files and at least get my magazines organized if I’m going to keep them around. I’m pretty sure I’ve read some of them three or four times, because I never seem to remember which stack is the “to read” pile and which stack is the “to drop off at the Reading Room” pile.

Ah, well. Guess I’ll dive into my umpteen projects and see how far I get before bedtime. I’ll post an update when I’ve accomplished something….


P.S.: On the training blog that I kept in 2005, I would close each post with a quote about running or perseverance or something like that. I think people actually liked the quotes more than they liked the blog itself. In the interest of keeping the tradition alive, I’m opening each of my training posts with a quote this time around.


The rain keeps pouring, and the storms keep popping up, and I keep shutting off the computer and staying inside, offline, and out of shape.

We’ve finally reached the limits of my patience: I’m heading out this afternoon to join a gym so I can log some training miles without having to worry about being hit by lightning. Treadmill miles aren’t the most fun way to train for a marathon, but I’ve already waited (in vain) for clear skies for so long that there’s no way I can be marathon-ready in time for Albuquerque (which is Labor Day weekend), and if I put it off much longer, I’ll be out of luck for Route 66 in November, too.

I don’t mind running in the rain, provided there’s no lightning, but rain without lightning is rare in Oklahoma, and I don’t want to get caught in a heavy storm several miles from the nearest shelter … so I think it’s time to suck it up and hit the treadmill.


Yet another project

Two of them, actually.

First: I redesigned my site. Go take a look at the new index page. More changes are in the works as time allows.

Second: Click that “Racing to save 66” tag to find out all about my new Route 66 preservation effort.

I’ll have more details later; at the moment, I’m headed to bed, as I have to be up at 5 a.m. to go to OKC for a TV spot about our Ray’s Motel project from the other day.


Fire and rain

Ray’s Motel, before we started working on it.

Bob Waldmire — the inspiration for Fillmore in the movie Cars — helps paint the trim.

Ray’s Motel, after we finished.

“I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain…”
— James Taylor

I saw fire and rain healed this past weekend during the Route 66 festival in Clinton, where I led a group of volunteers who were repainting the old office at the former Ray’s Motel as part of a preservation project sponsored by the Oklahoma Route 66 Association.

When Ron and I got up Friday morning for breakfast, we were dismayed to see dark clouds gathering overhead. By the time we finished eating, a thunderstorm had moved into the area, bringing heavy rains along with it.

You can’t paint in the rain, and some of our volunteers had traveled hundreds (or, in a few cases, even thousands) of miles and were looking forward to this all-too-rare opportunity to get involved with a hands-on Route 66 preservation project. I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I did the only thing that made sense under the circumstances: I grabbed the phone and called a practitioner.

I couldn’t get hold of anybody right away, but I still had a couple of hours before our project was scheduled to start, so I curled up with a copy of the week’s Lesson and got to work, looking for an idea I could use to dispel my fear of being rained out.

Two lines jumped out at me:

“For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me…”
Job 23:14


“Every man’s work shall be made manifest…”
I Cor. 3:13

I reasoned that if our preservation project was right action (which it certainly seemed to be), and if we were undertaking it with right motives (which we obviously were), then our work would, indeed, “be made manifest.”

Looking at a weather forecast on his laptop, Ron was less convinced.

“This storm isn’t moving,” he reported as he watched the radar. “It’s not going anywhere.”

When Ron got offline, I got on my friend Kate’s blog, where I remembered reading a great testimony about two healings, a century apart, that involved dispelling storms. As I continued to hang onto the thought that no material condition could hinder right action undertaken with right motives, I became increasingly confident that I didn’t need to fear this storm.

Rain was still falling lightly when we left the motel, but the sunshine was penetrating the black clouds, and it occurred to me that we could always start scraping in the rain if we had to.

Daily bread,” I muttered to myself. “‘Take therefore no thought for the morrow.’ It’s OK if it rains now. I don’t really need it to stop right this minute.”

It was still raining lightly by the time we reached the work site, so I got out my cell phone again and called my friend Lucy — a wonderful practitioner from Illinois — to adjust the situation.

‘All things work together for good,’” she reminded me. “I’ll get to work.”

By the time my friend Marilyn arrived a few minutes later with paperwork for our volunteers to fill out, the rain had dwindled to sprinkles, and it stopped completely just as our friend Carol got there with scrapers and sunscreen for everybody.

That was the rain.

The fire came later in the day — and for the rest of the weekend — when the sun came out and my skin started to turn pink. Although sunburns have caused me immense pain and even dehydration in the past, this one never really bothered me. My skin turned red, my nose peeled, and I even discovered small blisters on one arm Monday morning, but it didn’t hurt, and I never felt any ill effects from the heat — no headache, no symptoms of dehydration, no discomfort at all.

It was a great weekend all the way around. A few pictures:

Volunteers help paint the former Ray’s Motel on Route 66 in Clinton.

Who says federal bureaucrats won’t get their hands dirty? Mike Taylor of the National Park Service helps scrape paint off the building.

Ron scrapes paint from the building.

A crew from the Oklahoma Route 66 Association puts up masking tape before painting the trim.

David Williams of helps paint the building.

Rod Harsh of fills in holes and cracks in the stucco.

Michael Wallis, the Sheriff of Radiator Springs from the movie Cars, helps paint the trim.

Route 66 photographer and author Shellee Graham, left, and Jason Bernhardt, right, assistant publisher of the Route 66 Pulse, help paint alongside one of the Willman girls from Colorado.

Mike Pendleton of Kansas moves the ladder into a better position. Blunck’s Photography in Clinton loaned us the ladder.

Carol Duncan, Washita County rep for the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, paints some of the trim around a front window.

Our finished handiwork.

If you happen to live in OKC, you might turn on the Fox 25 morning news on Thursday morning, as Brent Weber is going to do a piece about our project sometime between 7 and 8 a.m. CDT.


Home from Clinton

We spent the weekend at a Route 66 festival in Clinton. We just rolled back into Red Fork around 11 o’clock last night, but I was too tired to post and pretty much collapsed in a heap as soon as I hit the door. I’m busy transferring photos over and editing them now so I can pull together a slideshow about our adventures. I’ll post some details as soon as I get my photos sorted out. Stay tuned….


Grateful monkey

I have no idea why I decided I needed a sock monkey with the head of a Grateful Dead Dancing Bear on it. I think we have established by this point that reason is seldom, if ever, a consideration in my creative outbursts. In any case, meet Owley:


Here’s a lightened-up closeup of his face so you can see the ears:


Getting that felt part to come out right was hard, but Owley turned out better than any of the monkeys I’ve made up to this point.

And here’s a closeup of the little monkey in his arms, which I made on my lunch hour yesterday, using a couple of fuzzy baby socks:


I was thinking it would be cool to attach monofilament to Owley’s arms and legs and turn him into a marionette so he could be a real Dancin’ Bear. 🙂

who obviously has way too much time on her hands lately …




We finally have toads in our pond! Toads are usually very shy — you seldom see them, and if they see or hear movement nearby, they stop singing and get very quiet until you go away — but these characters just went about their business like we weren’t even there. I actually had my lens less than a foot away from one of them, and it just sat still and let me take all the pictures I wanted.

We recorded some of the male’s trilling. I’ll try to upload it when I get a hand free.

Yaaaaaaayyy! Toads!


Monkey business


I made another sock monkey tonight. I wanted to give it to Jamie, but I ran into some problems as I was making it, and it didn’t come out quite the way I wanted. I have two more socks like these (I mixed and matched between two pairs), so I’ll just keep this one and make a sturdier, better constructed specimen for Jamie.


Despite its flaws, I still think it turned out pretty cute.


Here it is with my first monkey, a traditional Rockford Red Heel specimen.


In case you are wondering, Scout is no longer speaking to me. She did not like sharing her chair with that sock monkey one little bit. She looks awfully cute with the monkey’s arms around her, though….


On the nature of beauty


“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases …”
— Keats

“Beauty, as well as truth, is eternal; but the beauty of material things passes away, fading and fleeting as mortal belief. Custom, education, and fashion form the transient standards of mortals. Immortality, exempt from age or decay, has a glory of its own, — the radiance of Soul. … Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color.”
Mary Baker Eddy

I’m always amazed at how much the world expands when I block out most of it and bring just a tiny bit into focus through my camera’s lens. Somehow, by limiting my view, I see things that escape me when I set down the camera and look at the world through everyday eyes.

Crouching on the floor of the convention center yesterday, my body twisted into an awkward (and probably ridiculous-looking) position, I held my breath and released the shutter, hoping I’d found an angle that could do justice to the sleek lines hiding under years of corrosion on Tulsa’s famous buried Belvedere.


While many of my shots were about picking up the texture and color of a half-century of rust, debris, and mineral deposits, a few were about the breathtaking design work that went into the creation of the Plymouth Belvedere. What I wanted to show, more than anything else, was the way the car’s architectural elements — the voluptuous curve of the roof, the long, streamlined fins, even the distinctive Deco typeface that spelled out “BELVEDERE” — transcended 50 years of degradation and left an impression of inherent dignity and class that no outside forces could destroy.

In thinking about it later, I realized that in its tarnished condition, the car was whispering a quiet truth about the eternal nature of beauty.


Parked several yards away, its gold paint gleaming under another set of lights, was a showroom-condition 1957 Belvedere, an identical twin to the one that had gone into the vault 50 years earlier.

With its shiny chrome bumpers and glossy paint, the lovingly maintained vehicle cut quite an impressive figure, but what struck me most was the fact that the qualities it expressed — things like grace, speed, power, and elegance — were no less visible in its recently unearthed counterpart.

And why should they be? Beauty never has been and never will be dependent on age, physical condition, or any other external factor. Beauty is a quality of God, reflected and expressed by man in “multifarious forms,” as Mrs. Eddy puts it.

Like the lines of a classic automobile, it has a way of surviving adverse conditions and shining through the lime deposits and rust that sometimes seem to coat the human experience.


P.S.: I promised a photo of the survivor that took my breath away and nearly brought me to tears when I walked into the car show Friday night at Tulsarama. Here it is:


I’d assumed this sign was gone forever. I’d seen pictures of it, but it had long since vanished from the shoulders of the Mother Road by the time I took my first trip west on Route 66 a few years ago. Evidently it was in the hands of a private collector. What you can’t tell from the picture is that the smoking cowboy actually blows a series of three smoke rings that light up in sequence. It’s a tremendously eye-catching effect. Beautiful work, and a beautiful restoration.