Category Archives: Red Fork

More bee drama

Remember last summer, when we shucked out $800 and pretty much went through hell and back trying to move our hives all over the yard to get the city off our backs after some jerk called to gripe about our bees?

Remember when I said that I really hoped the guy behind me was responsible for the visit from the city inspector, because the changes we were required to make pretty much ensured that his backyard was going to look like O’Hare International Airport, what with all the hives now facing his property and the big ugly privacy fence guiding them over there?

The guy outed himself today by taping a little handwritten nastygram to my front door, telling me what a horrible neighbor I am because my honeybees are drinking all the nectar out of his hummingbird feeders and scaring his dog away from its water bowl.

I would like the record to show that the letter I am sending back to him does NOT say, “Baaaaaaahahahahahahaha!”

But really:



Shepherd, show me …

“Home is the dearest spot on earth, and it should be the centre, though not the boundary, of the affections.”
— Mary Baker Eddy

When Riggy went missing Thursday morning, my first instinct was to call a Christian Science practitioner. She assured me she would take up the work and asked me to keep her updated.

In between calls, Ron and I took the appropriate human footsteps: talking with neighbors; putting up posters; contacting Rig’s microchip company; posting online; calling vets; checking shelters; and even taking Songdog out for walks all over the neighborhood so Rig would have a familiar scent to follow if he’d simply lost his way.

I woke up this morning thinking of a few lines from one of Mrs. Eddy’s hymns:

Shepherd, show me how to go
O’er the hillside steep …

I will listen for thy voice,
Lest my footsteps stray.
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way.

When I called the practitioner this morning, she mentioned that hymn — and seemed delighted to learn I’d been humming it all morning.

Rig is coming home, I thought.

When we walked Song this afternoon, I felt drawn to an industrial area surrounded by vacant, overgrown land. To human sense, it might seem dull and empty, but to a hungry little dog who was bred to hunt rodents, it would look like a game preserve.

As we walked, Ron took note of the thick vegetation and commented that our bees probably foraged there.

It clicked: Our bees have seen Riggy. I took comfort from the realization that if he were within two miles of the house, at least a few of our 200,000 honeybees would encounter him in their daily travels. He wasn’t lost. Our girls knew where he was.

I turned that thought over and over as we walked home. I’d been awfully angry earlier this summer, when the city ordered us to move our hives. My anger was a function of fear: Conventional wisdom says if you move a hive more than two feet but less than two miles, the bees won’t realize they’ve moved, and they’ll get lost trying to find their way home the next day.

We moved the hives a week ago. The girls are fine.

I thought about that. I thought about bees. And I thought about the fact that thousands of tiny creatures manage to explore the entire neighborhood and find their way back to our yard every single day.

Is anyone really surprised that when Song came in from his evening constitutional, Riggy came sauntering in with him, as if nothing had happened?


People will come

View from the top of the Ferris wheel. Out in the distance, past the flash and glitter of the midway, lie the lights of the refineries that built southwest Tulsa; at left, cars approach on historic Route 66.

This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

— Terrence Mann, Field of Dreams

I saw something beautiful this evening.

For the first time since I began traveling Route 66 a decade ago, I saw the parking lot at Crystal City shopping center filled with cars.

A small carnival is in Red Fork this weekend, offering a midway full of food, rides, and barkers.

Almost everything you remember from the parking-lot carnivals of your childhood is there: the carousel …

This thing sort of frightens me.

… the Ferris wheel …

… the scary rides …

… the baby ride with the little glittery cars that carry bewildered toddlers in slow circles while their parents encourage them to smile …

… the corn-dog stand, the cotton candy, the funnel cakes …

… the win-a-goldfish game, the shooting games, the balloon dart game …

… the game of chance with the little numbered ducks that float by (every duck guaranteed a winner) …

… the strongman game with the sledgehammer and the bell …

… the weight guesser …

… it’s all there. The only thing that seems to be missing is the Tilt-A-Whirl — unless, of course, this Toy Story-themed contraption is some newfangled hybrid of the Tilt-A-Whirl and the tubs:

Ron and I grabbed our cameras — my Rebel, his Flip — and headed over to document the fun after dinner.

As I stood on the midway in the golden light of early evening, watching the crowds and waving to a student who’d just called my name, a snippet of dialogue from Field of Dreams popped into my head — something about what was and could be again — and I suppressed a sudden urge to burst into tears.

This, I thought, shivering just a little in spite of the warm spring air, must have been what Red Fork was like when Route 66 was young. This must have been what it was like when the Zingo was in the parking lot and everybody came to Crystal City to do the weekly shopping. This is what it could be again.

Red Fork is coming back. I can feel it. And people will come. People will most definitely come.

It’s going to be a very good summer.


Snowy Saturday

Here is how Song and Riggy spent part of their day:

Songdog turns into a giant puppy when it snows.

I think he’s wishing for more snow to play in. We obviously don’t have quite enough out there….

An invitation to play….

… initially met with a “Dude, WTF?” response from Riggy …

… but eventually accepted …

… albeit grudgingly. It’s hard to enjoy deep snow when you’re just a little guy.

“Mom, can we please go inside now? Song keeps bugging me, and I hate this snow.”

Hope you enjoyed your Saturday, wherever you are.




I was making a Braum’s run tonight to get bleu cheese to garnish the giant bowl of pesto linguine I’d made for dinner when I glanced up and noticed this utterly spectacular sunset behind the bare trees in a neighbor’s yard.

I ran back inside the house, grabbed my camera, and shot the sunset before remembering that I’d been meaning to photograph the Christmas lights in downtown Red Fork at dusk, and I just hadn’t had a hand free to do it this week. With the camera already in my hand, I didn’t have much excuse to procrastinate, so I made a five-minute detour before finishing my errand:

Check out the new header to see the rest of the lights. I think the side trip was definitely worth the extra five minutes.

Dinner was pretty spectacular, too:

If anybody’s interested, I’ll post the recipe later.

I think I’m going to make myself a cappuccino and curl up with a magazine this evening. Hope your weekend is off to a good start, wherever you are.



This little guy was sitting on our front porch the other night. Ron narrowly avoided stepping on him. He obviously didn’t appreciate being captured and subjected to a photo op, but hopefully the experience scared him enough that he’ll be reluctant to endanger himself by sitting directly in front of the door in the future.

I thought he was awfully cute.

In other nature-in-my-yard news, the water hyacinths have been blooming like mad. Check out the number of blossoms we had one evening last week:

Here’s a closer look:

I know they’re an invasive non-native species, but Tulsa winters are cold enough to keep them from becoming a nuisance here, and my little backyard pond isn’t connected to any waterways, so I feel safe using hyacinths to keep down the algae and pretty up the yard a little bit.

Incidentally, I wasn’t trying to be coy with that last post. A friend of mine asked me to shoot some pictures to go with a magazine article about him, and this was the easiest way to show him the proofs. The publishing company involved is not crazy about using photos that have already appeared online, so I password-protected the post to keep the editors happy. Once the article comes out, I’ll be happy to share the images.


Springtime in Red Fork

This is what our deck looked like a few days ago:

In case you are wondering, wisteria smells heavenly. For a few glorious days, our deck was an utterly gorgeous place to be. (The bumblebees thought so, too, and were rather assertive about guarding the blossoms.)

A closer look at one of the blossoms. They look and smell a lot like the royal paulownias that were blooming all over southern California when we were there last June.

I discovered this little guy in a hanging basket that’s been enveloped in wisteria vines. One of his siblings didn’t make it — I found it on the ground — but Ron found another one the deck a little while later and put it back into the nest. I’d been concerned that the nest was abandoned, but Ron said the mama bird sat nearby, giving him the skunk-eye and yelling at him, when she saw him pick up her baby.

Our front flowerbed was a sea of purple when the grape hyacinths and violas started blooming at the same time. This was a few days ago. The hyacinths have since faded, but the violas are blooming even more profusely now and have been joined by native violets. My great-grandmother would be proud. Purple was her favorite color.

Speaking of purple, here’s an extreme close-up of one of the chive blossoms. I just have them in a smallish container on the deck. They don’t seem to mind; they’ve come back two years in a row.

We planted tomatoes yesterday evening. We bought only seven plants this year — less than half our usual number — but I’m hoping for a record harvest anyway, as we are really babying these plants: The raised beds are full of horse manure and barn litter, and we bought some red plastic mulch to lock in moisture and stimulate growth. I’ll probably treat them with seaweed tea before it’s over, too. Tomatoes love seaweed tea.

I love rugosas. They’re tougher and less temperamental than regular roses, they smell absolutely wonderful, and they produce intensely flavored hips as big around as quarters — wonderful for making Red Zinger tea. (Speaking of which, I need to get some hibiscus and lemongrass for the corner flowerbed in the front yard.)

A closer look at a rugosa blossom.

Last but certainly not least, here’s the bee yard. We planted buckwheat in the garden next year to give the girls a convenient nectar source (and hopefully produce darker, richer honey).

A closer look at the bee yard. The hive in the middle is in its third or fourth year (I’ve lost track) and is populated with golden Italians. The hive on the right is in its second year and is occupied by a colony of feisty Buckfasts. The hive on the left houses a brand-new Buckfast colony.

I’m not sure whether I’ve mentioned this already, but we have a new chicken. A couple of weeks ago, we bought a buff Orpington rooster from a lady in Beggs. We named him Bond, of course. He’s very pretty and has fairly decent manners — not too loud, and not inclined to crow at night. Guess we’ll keep him around for a while.

Hope your spring is as pretty and productive as ours….


How cool is this?


I got a nice surprise in the mail the other day: My friend Mike sent me this gorgeous linen postcard showing how my school looked in 1946. It looks basically the same now, except the trees are a lot taller and more plentiful, and the windows look slightly different because of an update that was done a few years ago to improve energy efficiency.

Our campus, which is just off Route 66, is really beautiful. I love our main building’s great Art Deco lines. (Zaphod didn’t know it at the time, but when he offered me the job last year, it was the tour of the campus that helped clinch my decision. It’s hard to walk through a 1938 building and say, “No, I don’t want to work here.” As I told Zaphod later: “You had me at Deco.”)



I still feel as if I have a million things to do, but it’s been a great weekend thus far. I started it by spending about three hours in my classroom Friday evening, making a big dent in the backlog of papers I need to grade. I didn’t get them all finished, but I definitely knocked the stack down to something manageable.

Ron and I went to breakfast at Ollie’s this morning. I don’t eat breakfast very often, but if you’re going to do a thing, you should do it right … and it’s hard to beat Ollie’s for breakfast.

After breakfast, we took Gretchen over to the feed store in Sapulpa and then spent part of the afternoon moving the chickens back into the garden to get rid of some of the weeds. The girls didn’t like being moved, but they were happy to get fresh forage once we got them settled in.

I had just time enough after our chicken-wrangling adventures to take a shower and make a futile attempt to do something with my hair before heading to school for the Vision West block party. It was nice. The weather was pretty (at last — we’ve had rain for days and days and days), we had a good turnout, and I got to see some people I hadn’t seen in a while.

After it was over, I stuck around to help with cleanup, which basically involved moving a lot of folding chairs. I had just finished helping put away the chairs and was standing around, shooting the bull with some of my bosses, when one of our assistant principals shouted my name. Before I could figure out what she was yelling about, my principal pulled me out of the way of a little cargo trailer that had just started moving directly behind me. Suffice it to say that my Achilles tendons are now his biggest fans, as his quick reflexes rescued them from almost certain doom.

Hope your Saturday was filled with sunshine and friendly faces (and, if necessary, blessed with someone fast enough to protect you from any potential disasters that might have headed your way).


Small success

I wish I’d had the camera with me in class yesterday.

I wasn’t in the mood to grade papers this weekend, so instead of a writing assignment, the kids’ bell work for yesterday was to take the giant magnetic poetry kit we’ve been developing and work together to write an original poem. I was prepared for the whole thing to degenerate into insane, pointless chaos, but the kids surprised me. Highlights from one class:

Five or six kids immediately grabbed the kit and gathered around the big tables in the center of the room to create a poem.

One boy — who usually doesn’t participate much — wasn’t keen on the idea of poetry-by-committee, so he and another kid took some of the cards and began making their own poem. His friend eventually lost interest and went to see what everybody else was doing, but this boy kept working diligently on his own.

Another boy got sidetracked by the new bulletin board I’d put up, which features an enlarged-and-laminated version of that Calvin and Hobbes comic strip where the food recites a soliloquy from Hamlet. This boy stood looking at the board for a long time. You know I wasn’t about to stop him. If I had more time on my hands, I’d turn the whole freakin’ play into a comic book. Maybe this summer….

A girl wasn’t interested in the poetry project, but she was completely engrossed in a novel she was reading. I didn’t have the heart to tell her she couldn’t read a novel in English class, so I just let her keep going.

Three kids were just straight-up goofing off, but that’s actually lower than the usual goof-off rate for that group.

I am learning again. I’ve always been leery of group work, because it seems like the kids spend a lot of time dinking around instead of working, but on those few occasions when I’ve let the kids work on their own, they’ve surprised me. The classroom feels chaotic, but when I call time, I’m always vaguely shocked by the amount of work the kids have managed to produce. I have to remember that this is not about what’s comfortable for me. It’s about what reaches the kids. If organized chaos works for them, how can I say no to it?

On an unrelated note, I went to see the kids play basketball last night. I am pleased to report that the JV girls, JV boys, varsity girls, and varsity boys all won their games handily. Go Warriors!

Next up: Rustle up some breakfast, spend the morning hanging Christmas lights at the Chamber of Commerce office with Ron and Zaphod and some of my National Honor Society kids, and then devote the afternoon to planning the details of my Hamlet unit, which starts after Thanksgiving.

Hope your weekend is good.