I’ve passed these tractors a dozen times and often thought “I should take a picture of those”. Yesterday, I was in a hurry, but the camera was on the passenger seat in preparation for another destination, so I stopped on the side of the road and took a few quick shots. Ironic that two new tractors were parked on the other side. But my eyes are drawn to the old, the abandoned…the object that might be yearning to tell a story.
A few years ago I took this photo of an old farm. When I look at it I imagine the family that owned it and the cows or horses that stood next to the barn. I’m not sure why I find that more intriguing than the family just down the road that is currently raising cattle and a family. I’ve just always been drawn to the past and history…who came before me and how they lived.
I spent twenty minutes working in the yard today. It was difficult and I’ve had to adjust some of my methods and expectations, but last year I wasn’t sure that I would ever work in the yard again…so I’m definitely happy with my altered abilities and my new garden. As Gary said, “It’s just the right size.”
I’ve made a few changes here and there that make this yard feel like home. I haven’t spent a lot of money. I’ll have to be patient while some of my small plants and young seedlings take hold and grow into their spaces. But that’s what gardening has always been about- patience and faith.
I’m most pleased with the long flowerbed that runs the length of the house. It was a wild tangle of old mint, chives, strawberries, and a few herbs. I killed all of those over the summer and fall of last year, a tiny bit at a time, in between doctor’s visits and surgery and physical therapy. Preparing that flower bed has motivated me to get better and stronger. I can’t wait to see how beautiful it is later in the summer!
I can’t remember a time when there weren’t birds in my life. Oh, not just the ones in the trees, but birds in the hen house, birds in a wire cage, birds in our house, birds in a shoebox, birds at a feeder. I was always trying to save injured birds or climb a tree to see baby birds in their nest. I tried to trap a quail once. Dad raised parakeets for a while. Gran had a parakeet for twelve years. I kept homing pigeons one summer. Grandad had a pet crow. I raised white doves. I kept finches in my office. And now I wander around refuges and feed birds in my back yard.
I’m not really a great birdwatcher. I don’t know lots of birds by sight and certainly not by sound. However, I do try to identify the ones that come to the yard and I like to label the pictures I take. So I have several bird guides and I study them when I can.
I was reluctant at first to try bird photography because I don’t have a big lens and I can’t spend hours walking or standing. But I’ve worked out my own method of getting some decent shots. I put birdseed on the patio and sit near the glass door. The birds become accustomed to seeing me and if they are hungry they make good models. Recently I’ve been sitting on the patio for longer periods of time and a few of the birds are becoming used to that as well.
Sometimes I just watch the birds while I eat lunch or drink my afternoon coffee. There is something relaxing and reassuring about watching birds. They’re a constant reminder to me of God’s love and care.
There aren’t many animals that are as entertaining to listen to as they are to watch. I walked out to get the mail a few minutes ago and the birds were singing brightly despite the overcast day. One of the joys of gardening is listening to them while I work.
So…today I’m especially thankful for birds and the enjoyment they bring to my life. I hope you have birds at your house as well. The thing about birds is…they’re wonderful!
A few weeks ago Gary and I purchased a new camera. We’ve generally had two cameras for years, but a series of circumstances led to us sharing one during most of the past year. We had different schedules and different needs and it all worked out. However, with our impending trip to California I felt that it would be much more enjoyable, and fair, to have two cameras again.
When it comes to photography Gary and I have very different viewpoints. He is more of a “landscape, machines, and buildings” kind of photographer. You know I’m the “details, creepy creatures, flowers” gal. We both appreciate birds and nature, but often see the same scene in totally unique ways.
Yesterday we went to Hagerman to try out the new camera and… “WOW!” Gary’s new camera has a far superior lens, as you can see from these comparison shots. I took the same photo with the old camera from the same distance. And we expect even better results on a day when there isn’t a 20mph wind! It was definitely cool and blustery yesterday.
In the future I will probably leave most of the bird photography to him and concentrate on my flowers and bugs. And you’ll benefit from seeing both viewpoints when we work together. We have another scheduled trip to Hagerman before we leave for vacation. Then we hope to take some awesome shots on the road and at the beach in California! Can’t wait!
Of course, I have to say that I think I took the BEST shot of the day…this great photographer wandering in the woods.
Gary and I are having cheeseburgers and coleslaw and fries for dinner. Of course his will be made with a beef patty and mine with a vegetable patty. Our coleslaw is homemade. Our fries are not (I’m lazy), but I’ve read all the labels and made the best choice I could. I’ll bake them in the oven, and no, we won’t put extra salt on them. There isn’t any salt in the house.
The cheeseburger, more than any other food I can think of, is the barometer of the American lifestyle. We love to watch cooking shows and it’s amazing to see the variety of burgers being made, and enthusiastically consumed, across the country. But the basic idea- meat and cheese between two pieces of bread- remains the same.
When I was a child my grandmother owned a “bar and grill” and that blackened greasy grill made the best burgers in the world. I can still hear them sizzle!
In a few years we were privileged to walk up to the window of the first McDonald’s franchise and order a cheeseburger for 19 cents. Yes, I’m that old!
When our own children were small we were always short on money, so even McDonald’s burgers seemed a bit pricey. Instead we dined at a small drive-in that may or may not have been serving meat. In any case, we all lived.
Once while traveling in Texas we took the kids to a restaurant that served a burger so big it had to be cut with a knife and shared. They thought the plate-sized burger was the best!
When I worked for a small publishing house there was a food truck parked on the corner that cooked onion burgers and the smell permeated the whole neighborhood.
I went to college with a woman who had a cheeseburger only once a year- on her birthday.
Of course the burger wars are waged each day on our televisions and everyone has a favorite. There are round ones and square ones, fried ones and grilled ones, with everything in the world piled on top of them.
The two summer holidays looming on the horizon will no doubt prompt a spike in hamburger sales. Every other yard in the neighborhood will have a crowd enjoying their meat and cheese between two pieces of bread. We’re just practicing tonight!
This is a month of commemorations and celebrations, a month of awards and honors, medals and scholarships. It’s a time of joy and triumph for those who have accomplished their goals and are moving on to the next phase of their lives. But it can also be a time of difficult transitions and even great sorrow for those who are left behind to observe from a distance the person who has hardly left their side for eighteen to twenty-plus years.
You might think that moms, dads, and grandparents would be more than ready for their adolescent prodigy to go off to college. We all know the teen years are times of conflict and it isn’t the easiest task in the world to guide your child to the finish line of school. However, adults tend to worry, and teens going off anywhere on their own can give one ample cause for a few worrisome thoughts. Going off to college…well, let’s just say that the news media, movies, and friends can create images that stay with us. So “letting go” is definitely an act of faith.
We try to have confidence that we have given our children a good foundation. We’ve warned them about the hazards out there. We’ve made sure they are as morally, emotionally, socially, academically, financially, and physically prepared as possible. And we even offer Plan B- “Remember, you can always come home again if you need to.”
But what about those left behind? How prepared are the mothers and fathers and others who must make adjustments in every aspect of their lives, from daily routines to holiday celebrations? It’s ironic that many parents are totally unprepared for their “empty nest” life because they spent so much time and effort preparing their baby bird to fly they forgot to even think about the next phase of their own life. Some marriages suffer; others are revived by the new lifestyle. In homes that still have other children, the ones left behind may or may not enjoy the extra attention now made possible by the absence of their sibling. There is a definite pecking order in every family and everyone adjusts when someone leaves. Some parents devote more time to their jobs or take up new hobbies. And frankly, some mope around and never quite recover until their child moves back to town.
Of course our job as a parent never truly ends. We hope and plan and worry as long as we live. Even those who have lost a child continue to devote a portion of their thoughts and heart to them. However, our job as a parent certainly has phases and transitions and this is one of the major ones. My sympathy and prayers go out to those who will soon be left behind to contemplate their new role in life and adjust to the new challenges ahead. But I can also reassure you that there is much joy and satisfaction ahead. Adult children can be fascinating, rewarding, entertaining, and enjoyable! You’ll be left behind while they find their own way…but that way usually leads back home for at least a visit.
It will surprise no one that I’m currently reading Dr. David Norris’ book, A History of Southeastern Oklahoma State University Since 1909. It is after all a history book about my alma mater and a Caddo resident was one of the first graduates. Also, the book spans the time from 1909 to 1967, the year before I first enrolled at Southeastern. And in addition to those enticements it is well-written and the history of the university is fascinating.
Of course you have to begin by understanding that when it opened Southeastern was not a college, but a “normal” school, an institution for the instruction of teachers. There were already normal schools in the new state and there was not only fierce competition, mostly between Ada and Durant, over the location of a new one, but a fierce battle in the legislature over the merits of the various communities vying for approval. During a debate, Senators Reuben M. Roddie and J. S. Morris got into an actual fist fight and had to be separated!
So the history behind the first term is interesting and there is much to be learned about the politics and preparation. However, it is the campus life of the first classes that makes such a great story. Here are a few tidbits:
A faculty reception committee met all incoming trains in order to orient and enroll each student.
Another committee assisted students in locating housing. Excellent room and board could be obtained for $3 to $5 in private homes or $4 to $10 in furnished rooms with cooking privileges. In the fall of 1910 about one hundred students needed housing.
Attendance at chapel service was mandatory and each student was assigned a seat in the auditorium.
Studies were divided into two fall, two winter, and two spring terms with an additional six-week summer session so that area teachers desiring to improve their credentials could “enroll in short courses at frequent intervals during the calendar year”.
The campus contained a “model school” for observation and training which enrolled 170 children. The normal school had an early enrollment of just over 550. The school consisted of eight grades and at the beginning of their senior year the normal school student taught or observed in the model school for a hour a day.
Faculty members were expected to visit students at their residences and to report anything not conducive to the pupils’ moral or physical welfare.
The catalog stated, “All education should have a moral and religious tendency.”
In 1910 the first graduating class consisted of five young women: Clara Petty (Caddo), Mabel Nolen, Edna Crudup, Joe Yerion, and Beulah Wair. Dr. A. Grant Evans, president of the University of Oklahoma gave the address and President Marcus E. Moore handed out the diplomas.
Students boarding in Durant in 1910 were required to “remain at their boarding places after dark every evening from Monday until Thursday” and be home not later than 10:30 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
There was no smoking on campus.
The students were thrilled that Southeastern was annexed into the city limits in 1911 because the campus would be “provided with the benefits of electricity.”
There are also some entertaining sports stories that any fan will love, including the practice of “filling in a team” with non-students, a practice which Dr. Moore refused to allow at Southeastern.
Anyway, I’m thoroughly enjoying this book and I thought you might like to read it too!
I could have skipped my workout today. I was already tired from an early morning bout of leg cramps. I was already tired from a trip to Walmart. Gary had just finished mowing the lawn, so I might have tempted him to stay home and rest. But I heard him cleaning up and changing into his gym clothes. So I saved my research, put on my treadmill shoes, and went to the gym with him.
It is sometimes an effort to get up and go to the gym, especially now that I’m not going directly from work. But “effort” has served me well over the years. I’ve been in countless situations where I just had to put one foot in front of the other and tell myself that everything would be fine.
Today was also a day when I had to endure. That two mile mark seemed about four miles away…but I kept going and kept going. I even talked myself into increasing my speed a bit. I credit those endless days of dragging a cotton sack with teaching me to endure difficult tasks.
We both ended up having a good workout and being grateful that we encourage each other. But we laughed on the way home about the fact that even though we are eating less and working more neither of us has lost any more weight. Ten pounds and stalled. But we’re happy with our increased strength. We’re happy with our improved stamina. And we’re proud of our effort and endurance.
This month marks the end of the first year of my retirement so I thought it would be a good time to do a brief assessment of my new lifestyle. I know there are many other teachers who are about to embark on the same path and my experience may be of some value to them in the coming weeks.
First of all, let me say that the first few months were quite stressful because of all the necessary financial and legal changes. Paperwork for retirement, insurance, Medicare, annuities, taxes, etc. can be overwhelming. Just take one problem at a time and know that eventually it all falls into place.
Many people got the impression that I “fell apart” once I retired. Yes, I did spend six months going to doctors, getting numerous tests done, having surgery, and going to physical therapy. The truth is that I had to retire to have the time to take care of my own health needs. As a teacher I often worked in pain or put off doctor’s appointments because I simply didn’t want to take time away from my class to recuperate. Most teachers hate to be absent! I’m happy to say that although I still have health problems, I am stronger, healthier, and even a bit thinner as I mark this anniversary.
Yes, I worked a little this year. I enjoyed tutoring and I may do it again next year. I’ll make that decision after I review my options this fall, but I do think many people my age enjoy working part-time at something rewarding but not demanding. I feel that I have many more years left to be useful to society, but my health problems and personal feelings made retirement from a full-time career my best choice.
I’ve talked to women who have concerns about how retirement will affect their relationship with their husband, especially if he is already retired. I’m not here to give marriage advice, but I have observed that Gary and I are just doing more of what we have always done. We have always enjoyed many activities together, but also had distinct hobbies and interests apart from each other. Now that he is working part-time and I’ve been working part-time we just have more flexibility. I think it will be quite some time before we have any serious adjustment problems.
The best thing about retirement is that now I can consider countless other opportunities. I think each of us has a “someday I want to…” list and mine is quite long. I’ve done a little of this and a little of that while teaching, but now I have the time, and hopefully the energy to devote to a few personal projects and goals. And I’m open to new ideas that may present themselves. I know God has plans for me that I haven’t even considered.
So…at the end of my first year of retirement I’m incredibly happy, healthy, and eager to start another year. I hope you’ll be here next year to read about it.