Category Archives: beauty

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.


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.


Cars at the Admiral Twin

Cars line up

This was the line of vehicles stretching down Easton this evening for the Admiral Twin Drive-In’s showing of the movie Cars. A line of similar length stretched out in the opposite direction. And this was a Tuesday night.

If you’re in Tulsa on a summer evening, I highly recommend paying this great old drive-in a visit. It’s on an older alignment of Route 66 just north of I-244 in Tulsa.


Before the movie started, we were treated to a parade of vintage propaganda, snack bar advertisements, and so forth. These ads would have been worth the $6.50 admission price even without the double feature. They totally reminded me of that snack bar ad they show in the drive-in scene in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Here are a few peeks to whet your appetite. The stills are fun, but you really need to go watch a movie out there to get the full effect of all these great old clips:


They played the national anthem ahead of the movie, complete with subtitles for singalong purposes and stirring footage of a flag withstanding a hurricane-force gale.


This ad was made when they still popped corn in coconut oil, before everybody got all paranoid about heart disease. If I am ever lucky enough to own my own drive-in, I am going to make the popcorn with coconut oil, and atherosclerosis be damned.

snack bar

dr pepper

Note how this Judy Jetson-looking girl is enjoying a Dr. Pepper, which I think may be the official state beverage of Oklahoma.

popcorn planet

popcorn planet

See the rocket ship? It is blasting off to Planet Snack Bar, where the astronaut happily steers through a barrage of popcorn asteroids. Obviously this film was made in the ’50s. In the ’80s, we’d have had sense enough to either dodge the asteroids or shoot them to smithereens. 🙂

tune in

Snack bar: Tune in, turn on, drop out.


These hep cats are serenading the snack bar, they love it so.

church of your choice

These pious folks are advising you to attend the church of your choice on Sunday … and bring a friend.


The snack bar ads were so long that we had to have an intermission in the middle of them. Notice the copyright date: 1959. In case you couldn’t tell from the mid-century googie styling.



Groovy … I love prevues.

I’ve already raved about the movie, so I don’t need to tell you how awesome it was to watch it at a drive-in on Route 66. We hadn’t been to the Admiral Twin to see a movie before tonight, but I enjoyed it so much that I programmed the FM frequency for the west screen into the presets on my car stereo, as I expect we will be back several times before the summer is out. It was great to see all the families with kids out there. The kids went down and played soccer in front of the screen before the movie started, while their parents were busy setting up lawn chairs and getting out coolers and stuff. It was great.

I grew up in the same town as the late, great Egyptian Drive-In, home of the World’s Largest Movie Screen. I am still furious that somebody tore it down for no good reason. I have a piece of corrugated metal and a Pepsi sign I swiped from the wreckage. They make me want to cry. The survival of the Admiral Twin provides a little consolation, though.



I’m glad my garden was productive today, because I certainly was not. I went outside this evening and pulled a handful of tomatoes (most of them nibbled by bugs but still serviceable) and a couple of Miniature White Wonder cucumbers out of the garden. The cucumbers are absolutely wonderful, and I’ve got tons more coming on. They’re a little bitty variety — smaller than the average pickling cucumber — and are supposed to be equally good for slicing or pickling. I think they’ll make good refrigerator pickles.

The peppers are finally starting to grow a little bit, and I was delighted to see blossoms on the tomatillos. The tomatoes aren’t producing as much as I’d like, but we’re still about a month away from tomato season. No fruit yet on the zucchini plants, but they’re enormous and covered in blossoms. The peas are about done.

The garden desperately needs to be weeded. I hadn’t been out there in a couple of days and didn’t realize how bad it’s gotten. I’ve got to shove everything else off my plate and make some time to get out there and work. I don’t know when or how that’s going to happen, but I absolutely have to give this garden some attention before the weeds choke it out.

My roses don’t look very good. Three of them are blooming, but the petals all look brown and withered around the edges. Maybe I can get to the Country Store on my lunch hour one day next week and find out what the problem is and what I need to do for them. I refuse to spray chemicals all over my plants, so I’m going to have to come up with an organic solution to the problem.

The pond is much healthier than it was. The algae problem appears to have diminished significantly, partly because of the blue dye I put in the water (I hate to do that, but with no shade over the pond, I didn’t have much choice), and partly because the water hyacinths, lettuce, and lilies I put out there have all taken off and gotten enormous. They cover three-fourths of the surface of the water. Another couple of weeks, and I think the whole thing will be completely covered, which is exactly what I hoped would happen.

I need to move the lilies. I deliberately planted them pretty high in the pond at first because I was afraid the tint in the water would keep them from getting adequate light if I planted too deep. They’re big enough now that it shouldn’t be a problem.


Bang, bam, boom!






When I was just learning to talk, my term for fireworks was “bang, bam, boom!”

I was on Route 66 somewhere between Bowden and Oakhurst tonight, heading home from the Oklahoma Route 66 Association’s western cruise, when I saw fireworks off to my right.

I pulled into a church parking lot and got out to take a few pictures. These are the ones I liked best. It was hard to get the camera to focus quickly enough to be able to take pictures, but I had fun trying, and I learned a little bit in the process.

Today was a great day. I will have more pictures later, but the fireworks were such a nice little unexpected treat that I wanted to post them right away.



I cut two calla lilies from the bed in our front yard this morning and took them to the office. I forgot to photograph them before I harvested them, but they were really pretty.

The frogs were calling to each other this evening. I still haven’t seen them, but it’s nice to come home from work and listen to them.

I forgot to mention this yesterday, but as I was leaving a meeting yesterday, two of my colleagues and I saw a tiny sparrow perched on the windshield wiper of a big Lexus SUV. It must have been really young, because it was really small and still had fuzzy wisps of down sticking up above its eyebrows and here and there on its little head. It was just sitting there looking at us as we walked by. So cute!


Meme: Sparks in the dark

A couple of months ago, I posted a little riff on here about how I’d recently discovered that wintergreen Lifesavers really do make sparks in the dark when you crunch them. You can read it yourself here, but the upshot was that little acts of kindness are like sparks in the dark: tiny flashes of light that often go unseen in a world that sometimes seems very dark. “Sparks in the dark” has become my term for tiny demonstrations of kindness.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of peace, and wondering what one little hippie in Red Fork can possibly do to help a world that seems to be addicted to hatred and violence.

Tonight, I received an e-mail from a preacher I knew back in Illinois. He sent me a copy of his church newsletter, which included an essay he’d written that dealt, in part, with the idea of memes.

Briefly defined, a meme is a concept, message, or buzzword that spreads through the public consciousness, becomes part of the popular culture, and gets handed down from generation to generation like so much DNA.

There are a lot of horrible, ugly, poisonous memes out there. If we listen to them, they can drag us down or even fill us with anger and hatred. (A friend of mine recently pointed out that hateful thoughts are really a subtle form of violence.)

But peace starts within each and every one of us, and the only answer — the very only answer — to war and hatred and negativity and violence is for all of us to express as much love as we can to as many people as we can every minute of every day.

To that end, I’d like you to help me put a new meme into the zeitgeist:

Sparks in the dark.

Start noticing sparks in the dark. They’re everywhere, all the time, but you have to be paying attention. Go make some sparks of your own. And then spread the meme. Hand out wintergreen Lifesavers, explain their significance, and encourage the recipients to go make their own sparks in the dark.

If we appreciate them and nurture them and perpetuate them, those tiny sparks will be enough to light up the world.