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I’ve spent much of the day researching murders, robberies, rapes, and various other crimes. All of them took place before statehood. Many of them, especially the murders, went unsolved and unpunished. Bodies were often found weeks or even months after they were disposed of and crime investigation did not include fingerprints, DNA or toxicology reports.
When my book is completed this fall I’m sure there will be those who will be shocked by the number of crimes that took place in the Indian Territory. The number, and also the savagery, has been a bit of a surprise to me as well. I’m not sure why I should be surprised by anything that took place during any time in history…we are after all the same basic humans that have been chronicled since Bible times. The story of Cain should have taught us something.
A few interesting details have surfaced in my research:
Just as today, many murder victims knew their killers because they were friends, co-workers, and family members.
Murderers were more likely to go to court than horse thieves or rapists, who were often lynched before they could even be arrested.
Choctaws scheduled for execution were usually allowed to go home to “settle their affairs” and say goodbye to family members. They almost always returned.
Whipping (50-100 lashes) was the preferred punishment for many crimes.
Some long-term prisoners were paroled in later years because of health problems.
So…that’s what I’ve been doing today! I promise to do something more pleasant tomorrow.
Gary and I decided to go to the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge today and see the birds. Well, that’s sort of what happened.
First, let me tell you that if you want to encounter a large group of children this summer, just tag along with us. Remember the air and space museum? School group. Zoo? At least four school groups. Tishomingo…two big school buses…one in front of the visitor center and one at the entrance to our favorite walking path. Giggling pre-teens everywhere!
At least we encountered the students after a quiet half hour spent at Goose Pen Pond. We wandered around a bit more at the visitor center, hoping to find out how long the tour would last…when it started sprinkling lightly. Then it rained!! I told Gary I wasn’t going to complain about that, not in June.
We drove around in the rain and after the heavier showers stopped we decided to attempt the walking tour. No….by then the groups has changed places and bus #2 was taking the tour while #1 went to the visitor center. Then they planned to meet for lunch. We decided to drive to Madill for lunch and head home.
Despite the crowds and the rain we did see a few herons, egrets, sparrows, vultures, a crow, a hawk, a turkey, and a lovely doe and her fawn. I managed a few photos of some dragonflies and butterflies. Even though the day was quite different from the one I had envisioned it was quite enjoyable. The pond was peaceful. The woods were lush and green. There were still a few wildflowers in bloom.
And best of all, the rain followed us home! Everything in my garden got a good drink!
I have been privileged these past few years to live in a place where plants and animals are constantly enriching my knowledge, entertaining my heart, and blessing my soul. To enhance my enjoyment of the outdoors the sliding glass door in the kitchen gives me a wonderful view of the pond and one of my bird feeders. The window over the sink allows me to watch the birds at two other feeders. And the laundry room window is my favorite spot- in line with the area where I feed the raccoons. Now it is also my viewing station for our new Martin house!
The Martin house has been a major headache for my husband. You may remember that it came in pieces…lots and lots of pieces, which he patiently put together for me. But then it sat in the laundry room for months. The weather was awful, our schedules were erratic, the wind blew too hard. We finally managed to get the hole dug and the pole set in concrete. Then Dad died and we postponed again. Yesterday, after a few problems with the telescoping pole, we managed to finally add it to our little bird sanctuary.
Now here is what I don’t understand- this morning while I was working in the garden I looked up and spied a lone Martin sitting on the electric cable above me. He sat there for a good ten minutes, alternately watching me and then eyeing the house. Finally he flew to the house, checked out one of the holes, flew back to the cable, sat for a few more minutes, and then flew away. That’s the first Martin I’ve seen in months. Where has he been? How did he know we put up the house? And will he return with family and friends?
I also witnessed a little “bird argument” this week and was surprised by the confrontation and the outcome. The feeder in front of my kitchen window is one I made by recycling an old fan base. It’s always been a favorite of the birds, especially the doves. A group of ten doves has been hanging out here lately and dominating some of the little birds. One of them was on the feeder when a little chickadee, a couple of sparrows, and a cowbird decided to join him. The dove flapped its wings and the smaller birds flew off, but the cowbird bit into the dove’s wing and held on tight. The dove actually had to whirl around and pull before the cowbird let go! I’d never seen anything like that before. And yes, the dove flew off and the cowbird enjoyed his dinner.
One more bird story. Each morning for about six days the heron has been sleeping in the fork of a little stump in the pond. It surely can’t be as comfortable as the dead tree at the other end of the pond, yet when I pull back the kitchen curtains there he is carefully balanced on his tiny perch. I have yet to snap a picture of him because he always leaves just after dawn.
This poor bunny made me sad this morning. I was outside filling the feeders when I saw him. If you look closely you’ll see a huge tick on his nose and two on his ear. Poor little guy! I guess they eventually rub them off, but I’ve noticed that many of the rabbits have ticks on their faces or ears. Nothing I can do for him. At least I know he’s getting plenty to eat!
Mama squirrel fussed at me a bit when I worked under HER bois d’arc tree this morning. I imagine she thought I posed some sort of threat to whatever babies she has this year. Like every other creature on this hill she sometimes forgets that I’m the one who scatters nuts and seed everywhere. LOL
So…that’s why I don’t watch a lot of television. Much more fun to watch nature…
Well, I guess you just never know when your early training and experiences will come in handy!
As most of you know, I spent many years of my life in California. During my school days I participated in more earthquake drills than I care to remember. Even a shorter and thinner version of me was difficult to shove under a desk or nearby table at the sound of an alert! And the four times as an adult that I was near enough to a real earthquake to need protection there wasn’t a desk or table close enough to shelter me. I just sat or stood in stunned disbelief until each was over. Well, actually I was on my hands and knees waxing a floor when the biggest one transpired.
I thought when we moved to Oklahoma I would be terrified every time it stormed. However, I quickly noticed one very significant difference between an earthquake and a tornado. There are indications of an impending tornado and Oklahoma has an excellent warning system. That doesn’t mean the storms aren’t dangerous or that some Oklahoma towns haven’t suffered tremendous damages in recent years. What it does mean is that most storms don’t just occur suddenly in the blink of an eye on an otherwise clear sunny day!! That’s the terrible reality of an earthquake. NO warning signs. One second you’re waxing the floor and the next second you’re sprawled across it.
So…this morning when I told Gary I felt an earthquake and he looked at me like I was suffering from dementia…I had flashbacks of those early drills and the few major quakes I felt in CA. Sure enough, there were four quakes today. The one I felt was the 4.3. I guess I’d better be prepared for more because Oklahoma has had 67 earthquakes in the last 30 days. I think I’ll go see if I can fit under the dining room table.
Between wind damage and grasshopper bites, some of today’s blossoms look a bit ragged. But even with their flaws they are still beautiful. In fact, some of them are far more interesting than their “perfect” counterparts. I find that fact a comforting reminder that our own flaws don’t have to keep us from being beautiful or useful.
My father had his own way of doing things and that concept extended to some of the smallest details of life…like making iced tea. He owned a little aluminum pot that was used exclusively for boiling tea. He preferred loose leaf tea and it had to be Lipton’s. I don’t remember how much tea he used or how long it boiled, even though I must have watched him do it a hundred times. Of course Mom made it the same way…because he “taught her how”, just as he supposedly taught her how to cook. Dad liked sugar in his tea, and when I was a child we always chipped our ice from huge blocks. He said the result was much colder tea.
My grandmother irritated Dad every time she served a meal because she preferred instant tea. I can still see him rolling his eyes and telling her it wasn’t “real tea”. She also used ice cubes and very little sugar. Her only chance for redemption was that she had slender aluminum glasses and they kept the tea very cold.
I got the same eye roll the first time I explained the concept of “sun tea” to him and admitted that I never boiled tea or added any sugar. I thought I was going to get a spanking right then and there, despite the fact that I was nearly thirty. He occasionally consented to drink it, but he always added sugar and told me his was better.
Since Dad’s death I’ve tried to remember some of the “big” events and experiences of our life together and to record them for his grandchildren. However, it’s the daily activities, like pulling out a tea bag, that seem to bring back the most vivid memories. The mind works in mysterious ways…and I’m very thankful.
While we were on vacation I had the opportunity to observe at least fifty children in a variety of public places. Most of them acted like typical children: happy, energetic, excited, and a little loud. However, many of them were rowdy enough to be annoying and some were downright rude. One child was openly defiant to her parents. I also observed a group doing something dangerous…with the permission of the adults accompanying them.
The public behavior of children is often very different from their “home environment” behavior and can sometimes provide a clear indication of three things: 1. Their basic training. 2. Their true personality. 3. Their relationship with their parents. My parents always told us that we were expected to be much better in public than we were at home because we were representing our whole family. We were especially cognizant of this when we lived in Caddo, where our behavior in town or at school could be reported to her before we had time to walk home.
One of the things that I’ve noticed lately is that parents seem reluctant to discipline their children in public. They are more likely to cajole, tease, bribe, or sweet-talk their children into compliance, rather than just reprimand them. A young boy was attempting to get over one of the barriers at the zoo and instead of simply saying “Stop that” or “Get down”, his mom said, “The sign says you have to stay behind the fence.” The sign says?? How about common sense says?? The child was old enough to know for a fact that he shouldn’t climb the fence and I suspect just wanted to see his mother’s reaction to his attempt.
When we ate dinner one night we were seated next to a multi-generational family group that included parents, a grandmother, and two young children. The little girl (about five years old) got up and wandered around the restaurant. Her parents asked her to return to the table. She not only said “no”, but the whole scene was repeated at least four times.
At the air and space museum there were at least four groups touring the building. Each rotated through the exhibits independently and then stopped for two presentations given by the docents. I couldn’t help overhearing one group repeatedly warned, by their sponsors and the docents, to behave. The poor man giving one of the presentations stopped several times and reminded them to be quiet and to keep their hands where they belonged.
At the aquarium we were constantly bumped and elbowed by children trying to get between us and the exhibits, even though we were clearly standing there first and in many instances trying to take a picture. I promise you, we were NOT that slow!
At the zoo a group of children hopped up on a statue even though I was standing in front of it, obviously taking a photo. Their mom didn’t say a word to them about waiting for a moment. Another group ran down a ramp directly at us and I had to quickly move over. However, it was in the rain forest habitat that I saw the worst behavior. The bench in this photo is obviously a great place for a “photo op”, but a group of young children decided that instead of simply sitting on the bench, they would sit on top of the wall behind it. I had to turn away because I was so fearful that one would fall. Before you dismiss my concerns, keep in mind that a young child was killed this week by a statue that toppled on him at a popular tourist spot in CA. I don’t know all of the details, but accidents happen.
Kids will be kids…and I know they are enjoying their summer vacation as much as I am. But if you are out and about doing the “tourist thing” with your little ones, please remind them that their behavior is not only observed by others, but can seriously impact the pleasure of someone else’s vacation.
If this is a preview of my retirement years then I will definitely need more energy…and more time!! I completed one major project today that I started back in early May. I’ll tell you about it in another week because it’s a surprise for someone. I did about three hours of research for my new book. I checked off two little tasks on my “to do” list. I pretended to clean a little bit. I read a few more chapters of “Inferno”. I took these photos. I fed the birds and critters. I answered most of my email. And now its 6pm and time to see what is happening on FB. Where did the day go???
You can’t get to my age without compiling a long list of encounters with death. The first “funeral” I ever participated in was for a bird that fell from the tree in our front yard. I spent a whole day trying unsuccessfully to feed it, despite my mother’s warnings, and the next day she helped me put it in a little shoe box and bury it under the rose bush. I cried myself to sleep that night.
During my childhood there was a seemingly endless parade of fish, birds, hamsters, cats, dogs, and even a pig or two that caused me to shed painful tears and wonder about the unfairness of the whole life and death process. I still have a tuft of hair from my first cat…sealed in an envelope in the diary I kept as a twelve-year-old. Her name was Sandy and she was hit by a car. I grieved for her for years.
The first human death that had a significant impact on my life was the death of the young brother of one of my classmates. We were in the sixth grade when the tragic accident occurred. I don’t remember exactly how old Rudy’s brother was…just a toddler. Somehow he ended up in the driveway, backed over and killed by their father. I mourned for my classmate and for his father. I couldn’t imagine his guilt or understand how they could go on with their lives. But of course they did.
I have a few vague memories of attending funerals with my parents. I suppose friends and some distant relatives died. I attended the services, but it wasn’t until my great-grandmother died in 1961 that I felt any personal loss. I had only seen her a couple of times, but she was family, and she was my family. And before I could get to know her better she was gone…forever. Other family members have followed over the years, some after lingering illnesses, some suddenly and unexpectedly. Some were very old and others graced our lives for only a few short days.
And now I am once again going through the process of saying goodbye.
I know you’ve heard of the “stages of grief”, but there is a great deal of controversy about the validity of that theory. I don’t personally believe there is a particular series of emotions that follows the death of a loved one. First of all each relationship and each death experience is unique. I’ve been angry about the deaths of a few friends and relatives, but certainly not all of them. I wanted to deny that my mother was dead, but I have no such illusions about my father’s passing. I cried for hours and days and months after Mom’s death. My tears for Dad have been less frequent and I even find myself smiling when I pass the DQ. He would not want hours and days of crying over his death. I am also older and wiser than I was when Mom died; Dad and I had even discussed his inevitable death a few times.
Grief is an emotion that is always with us, just as love and hate, joy and anger. It is only the expression of it that changes. I still miss my great-grandmother when I see her photo or remember her laugh or smell roses. I might have to pull over to the side of the road and cry if Mom’s favorite song plays on the radio tomorrow. And I’ll probably grieve for Dad each time I see a poppy…but life goes on, and so will I.