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Election 2012

6 Nov


I got up early this morning to be at the polls as soon as they opened to vote. It was a brisk 36 degrees outside and I neglected to bring my coffee. Needless to say, It was a looong wait in the cold. However, waiting in such a long, cold line gave me a greater sense of fulfillment than if I had just skipped in and out in under a few minutes. I didn’t just vote, I VOTED. (All caps because of the wait and the weather.)

As a Georgia native, I missed walking away from the polls with the classic Peach Voter Sticker. I miss that little peach.  I was really hoping for something Native American on my Oklahoma sticker or maybe even a scene from the land rush.  I know, the sticker isn’t the important part.  (But a Sooner Schooner sticker sure would have complimented my sweater today.)  *wink*

Sticker preferences aside, please get out there and do your part by voting today. No excuses. Just because you don’t live in a swing state does not mean that you shouldn’t go vote. Every vote counts. Remember, you’re not just voting for the President of the United States.  There are also other important state questions and state positions to be voted for.

Gettin’ our kicks

6 Jun

This past weekend the kids and I along with my co-worker and her family set out to get our kicks on Route 66.  The historic highway runs East to West through Oklahoma and is brimming with sights and attractions.  (Yes, I know I sound like a travel brochure.  Just know I’m also wearing a name tag and a State Park uniform…it’s niiice.) 

In true Southern style, we started the day off with a free lunch courtesy of the new John Deer sales facility in Edmond, OK.  Can anyone say redneck?  I think you can.  We feasted on hamburgers, hotdogs, chips and sodas that were chilling in a John Deer pull-along trailer full of ice.  That trailer was strategically stationed by the clown so that you could grab a soda and a balloon animal in one go.  Want a Sprite?  How about a balloon poodle to go with it?  Oh yeah.  Life is good.

Next we set out for the Old Round Barn in Arcardia, OK.  It was built in 1898 and restored in 1992. 

Old Round Barn, Route 66

The barn is amazing.  I know, some of you may scoff at driving an hour just to see a barn.  However, I think that this one is a barn worth seeing.  As your come out of a curve on Route 66 the barn comes into view and you are taken aback by its size, shape and height.  It’s a big barn!

The barn is two stories tall and part of it is still used for its original purpose.  The bottom floor is where the livestock and other farming equipment was stored.  However now it is a store/museum.  It has some amazing photos that were taken during the restoration.  The upstairs is still a large open room, used for gatherings and dancing.

Interior shot of the Round Barn Roof

This by far has to be my favorite shot of the barn.  The interior shot of the roof is…well, indescribable.  Call me dull, but I could look around this place all day.  (And practically did.)  The upstairs area was the favorite of the kids.  The briskly walked about the room because running was prohibited.  [cough]  They also stuck their heads out of the several open windows to get their pictures taken and giggle at passers-by. 

Pop’s on Route 66

 Last by not least there was Pop’s.  We actually stopped by here on the way to the barn after taking a quick stop off at Acardia Lake.  It was 97+ degrees outside and we were due for a cold drink.  Pop’s, also called Soda Pop’s, is built in the style of the bridges that were common along the highway during its heyday.  The walls are all glass and they are adorned with glass shelves full of exotic sodas.  There have to be hundreds out different sodas in Pop’s.  They import them in from all over and sell them almost as quickly as they get them in.  To say the place is popular would be an understatement.  You have to jockey to get in line for the sodas coolers.  Annoying?  Not a bit.  While waiting to get near the coolers, you have time to browse the soda selection.  You can even get a card board six-pack to fill up with your choices.  I absolutely love it.  The only down side is the price.  The sodas are $2.79 each.  However, I don’t mind splurging every once in a while for a fabulous family outing. 

Oh, and did I mention that they have excellent food as well?  Their cheese fries are a-freakin-mazing. 

Seriously, I may have to write a brochure for Oklahoma Route 66.  [smile with tooth sparkle]

The Storms

26 May

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last week, you have by now heard of the devastating weather that has plagued the US this week.  I am a bit of a stranger to “storm season” since I’m from SW Georgia.  Down there the most exciting weather we have is a drought….and maybe the occasional passing tropical depression from a hurricane.  Other than that it’s hot and muggy for most of the year and the mosquito proudly holds the title of state bird.  It’s a good thing.

However, since moving to Oklahoma last summer I have gotten my fill of natural disasters.  Earthquake?  Check!  Blizzard?  Double check!  Tornado?  Oh, you better believe it.

I live in Norman and work in Moore.  And if you’ve ever met someone from Moore, you know that they take the weather seriously.  On May 3, 1999 the town was devastated by a massive EF-5 tornado.  The date has become synonymous with destruction and fear.  Thus when the weather forecasters early Tuesday morning began comparing that evening’s weather conditions on par with / more explosive than May 3rd of ’99, we were more than a little concerned.  By 3pm the storms had begun to build in the western part of the state and the sky in Moore/Norman had turned a sickly shade of green.  By 5pm massive cells of powerful storms were racing toward the OKC metro area, leaving a trail of destruction and tornadoes in its path. 

My office shut down early to give everyone a chance to get home and hunker down before the storms arrived.  I was a mess on the inside.  I had to keep a straight face for the sake of my children, but deep down inside the swirling sky and blaring sirens were chipping away at my composure. 

As soon as Jordan got home around 5:30PM the weather had kicked up into full gear and we were on alert.  The sirens all over town were constantly calling out their shrill warning of impending danger.  Jordan and I debated on leaving town but by the town we had decided to go it was too late.  Storms had developed all around us and there was nowhere to go.  We would have to stay and ride it out.

The kids were worried over the sight of Jordan and I carrying down pillows, blankets and mattresses from upstairs.  The dogs were rounded up downstairs and their crates brought in from the garage if things got worse.  Jordan stayed upstairs watching the weather report on the TV since it was the only place in the house where we got local channels.  I was stationed downstairs with the children and dogs, hovering over the weather radio listening to the same broadcast that Jordan was watching upstairs.  It was grim. 

Tornadoes were touching down and ripping through the countryside  just to the west of us.  Chickasha, not too far west of us was hit.  Then Newcastle, which was even closer.  Peidmont to the north-west of us was almost leveled by a massive wedge tornado.  People were injured and some even died. 

As this was coming across the airwaves, Gary England was tracking multiple tornadoes that were on projected to hit Norman.  They were unsure about were they would go, but we were definitely on the block for potential damage.  I called family back home in Georgia to alert them of the situation.  I hated to be the newbie, overreacting to the situation, however Joplin was still fresh in my mind.  Just two days before 120+ people had been killed by a tornado.  I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to tell them I loved them if the cool-headedness around me was misplaced. 

Of course my family thought that I was about to die and I was feigning calmness for their sake.  “So…we’re under two tornado warnings and are about to take shelter downstairs…we’ll be perfectly fine.”  They didn’t believe a word I said.  And personally I couldn’t blame them, because I was all kinds of terrified on the inside. 

The next hour was spent poised on the balls of our feet, ready to dash into hiding at a moments notice.  We watched/listened to tornadoes touch down and lift back up all around us.  We held out breath as some would be poised to strike and then would curve in a different direction at the last-minute.  It was exhausting.  I only glanced out the window once and found it hard to see past a few feet.  It was monstrous outside.  By 9pm it seemed as though the worst of the storms were to the east of us and we could finally exhale. 

I called my family back home once more to let them know that we were out of the woods as Jordan lugged the mattresses and blankets back upstairs.  The kids had contented themselves with sandwiches and cartoons during the worst of it and seemed unaware of how dire the night’s events had been.  Besides a few tearful moments at the peak of the storm, they had passed through it unphased.  Thank goodness.

After we tucked the kids in bed and made sure that no new storms had developed in the west, Jordan and I settled into bed to watch the coverage of the damage.  It was amazing in a terrible way.  So many people had lost everything.  They had nothing left be slabs where their homes had once been.  Some people were missing, others had been killed.  The damage path of the tornado that had hit Peidmont was had to process.  It was incredibly wide and long.  I had never imagined a tornado would stay on the ground that long.  It’s path across the countryside was nothing but dirt and leveled homes.  No trees remained, not even grass. 

Work yesterday was draining.  Catastrophes such as these make working in insurance challenging.  I talked to so many on the phone yesterday who were shaken and homeless. One woman had barely survived the storm in her mobile home as it was tossed about.  Her mother was still in the hospital recovering from injuries sustained during the storm.  It was heartbreaking.  What do you say to people in these situations?  How do you ease their suffering?  I truly do not know. 

Now, two days later, people are digging through the rubble and trying to move on.  Some are still missing and some are burying their loved ones.  Tuesday’s storms have given me a more healthy respect/fear of the weather.  I hope that this will be the only storm of the season and that by next spring I’ll be better prepared.

Oklahoma, you’re making my mom nervous

15 Apr

'Tis a head of thunder

Oh Oklahoma.  Can’t you behave yourself?  Don’t you know that you’re going to give my mother a heart attack? 

Before heading out to soccer practice last night I had a peak at the weather forecast.  We had some large thunderheads building in the east and I wanted to make sure that they weren’t going to effect practice.  Thankfully the weather stayed to the east and Fisher got to run around in all his sweaty glory without the fear of additional moisture.  Because little boys like sweat more than they do rain.  Fact. 

Besides calling for a drastic drop in temperature for the next morning along with continued strong winds the forecast was fairly dull.  What, it’s going to be dry?  Right-o.  And the wind will be comically strong?  Well, what’s a day in Oklahoma without having your hair scattered to the four corners of the earth?  It’s just par for the course. 

Apparently I should have paid attention to the state forecast because I got a panicked call from my mother this morning. 

“I waited as long as I could!  Did you know some town practically got blown away last night in Oklahoma?!  Tush-something.  I don’t know, it started with a “T.”  Is that near where you live? 

And, like an unprepared dunce I was all like, “What bad weather?  There was bad weather?”  Er, yeah.  I missed the part of the forecast that called for potentially deadly weather.  Oops.

As it turns out Tushka, OK, which is to the southeast of us, got hit hard by a fairly large tornado last night.  I don’t know many of the details beside the fact that it was large and that it took out a school.  Thankfully it was in the night and no one was at school. 

This news definitely drives home the fact that I am now living in tornado alley and how very much I want a storm shelter for my birthday.  Either that or maybe I can set up some kind of time share with the couple up the road.  They’ve got a lovely storm shelter right next to their hot tub.  In case they want to relax a bit before huddling under ground.  Hey, hiding for your life is stressful.  Everyone needs a bit of “me” time. 

This morning the same weather system is moving east and I hope that it will be more forgiving as it goes.  Meanwhile the weather here is substantially colder and windier.  (Windier?  Is that a word?  More windy?)  Thus I’m once again donning my overly large jacket that I was sure would go unworn for several months.  What was I thinking?  This is Oklahoma.  Land of wind and unexpected weather.

Super Cao Nguyen

7 Apr

Like I mentioned earlier in the week, I visited a local Asian food market Monday night.  It’s called Super Cao Nguyen and it is now officially my favorite store this side of Saturn.  What isn’t to love about a plethora of Jelly Fish next to the produce?  Exactly.  Thus, I thought I’d share with you the nuggets of awesomeness I took home with me:

Of course I bought some black tea and green tea.  I’m sure that it’s a rule that you can’t go to an Asian market without buying tea leaves.  Am I right or am I right?  I’m totally right.  Next I got some Boba and Boba Straws because there’s no way you can suck those pearls through a regular straw.  (FYI:  Boba = Tapioca Pearls)  Boba is my current obsession.  I gots to have my boba.  Jordan picked up a box of Pocky which is pretty much cookies in stick form that have been dipped in chocolate or strawberry flavored chocolate.  The kids are in love with these.  Jordan also picked up some dried banana chips which are thinner and crisper than the ones you can find at your average American market. 

Then came the unfamiliar.  Sesame cookies?  Good and not as sweet as you’d think.  Tamarind candy?  Just plain weird.  It’s one of those things that you keep eating in hopes that you’ll figure out what the heck it is and that maybe, just maybe it will start to taste normal near the end.  It never does, though.  I wouldn’t say that it was bad.  It was definitely different in a good way. 

Our favorite purchase?  Green tea hard candies.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I am going back this weekend to buy a case of those green goddesses. 

Then we bought these.  Taro balls.  What are they?  Who the hell knows?  All I know is that I do like the flavor of Taro…so that’s a plus, right?  And have I had one?  Not yet, but I think I’m going to try one tonight.  Fingers are most certainly crossed.

And finally the weirdest acquisition of all.  Strawberry Snowballs.  Again, I really don’t know what these things are or even what purpose they serve.  All I do know is that they are a mixture of Red Dye #40, Glutenous Rice and Red Beans.  Yeah.  That takes “odd” to a whole new level.  The strange thing is that they’re not too bad.  They’re actually somewhat sweet instead of savory like I thought they would be.  (I know, the package clearly states that they’re strawberry flavored, but it also says that they contain red beans.  What would you expect?)  Over all they are pretty bland.  However I find myself nibbling on them again and again just because they have the weirdest mouth-feel of any food I’ve ever eaten.  I’m confident that this is what it would feel like to eat a jellyfish….a live jellyfish. 

So, what will I be doing this weekend?  Making a return trip to Super Cao Nguyen, of course.  I am hooked.  :]

Ye Evil Fair

4 Apr

As promised the Medieval Fair was awesome.  Or, as the kids are now calling it, the Evil Fair.  I’m too lazy to give you all a blow-by-blow of the day, you know…because it’s Monday morning.  However I will say that the kids got to ride a camel, Jaden sold her Aunt into slavery, Fisher bought her freedom and there was a lot of staged violence.  Oh, and turkey legs.  [smile]  It was the stuff dreams are made of:

Meet Captain the camel. Ride Captain, ride.

 

Fisher was less than pleased. Actually, I'm pretty sure he was terrified.

I wonder if the town leash law applies to camels? He needed to come home with me.

To translate: "Hey, wanna sell your Aunt?" "Sure!"

"Wench for sale!" (Nice one, Jaden.)

Fisher buys his Aunt's freedom with a dollar. She's a cheap wench.

...and kids this is yet another thing you can't try at home. Hey, where are those throwing axes?

“]

Look at the size of those swords...I mean, shower curtain rods.

And finally, me getting up close and personal with a turkey leg. It's a good thing.

 

Forsooth, ’twas a fantastical day!

What rhymes with evil?

2 Apr

Today is Medieval Fair day.  The kids have been eagerly awaiting its arrival all week.   Jousting, human games of chess, bow and arrows and last but not least: turkey legs!  (Quite possibly my favorite fair food.)   There’s nothing like walking around with a turkey leg the size of a baseball bat to make you feel content in life.  [wink]

In celebration of the fair, the kid’s Aunt made them cloaks to wear to the fair.  Looking the part is half the fun.  Oh how the kids love them.  They’ve worn them about the house and yard all week.  Yesterday morning while getting ready for school Jaden commented about her cloak:

Jaden: I can’t wait to go to the Medieval Fair!  Although, I don’t know what I’m going to wear with my cloak.

Me: It will be okay.  We’ll look through your closet and find something.

Jaden: (In all seriousness and with a hint of dismay)  [sigh]  I just don’t know if I have anything that will make me look evil.

After stifling a laugh I did my best to explain that “Medieval” did not mean “evil.”  She rebutted with the fact that there would be knights there and everyone knows that they’re evil.

[hanging my head in defeat]  We’re in serious need of a history lesson.