Sunday, September 21, 2008

Studying on the Brain

Douglass helps me study. Seriously.

Oklahoma State Fair

Kyle and I went to the Oklahoma State Fair on Saturday. What fun! I have such sweet, childhood memories of the great North Carolina State Fair. Of the funnel cake smells, twinkling laughter, of spruced-up barnyard animals, of pony rides, and ferris wheels. I loved being the one to introduce Kyle to HIS first state fair. I'm not quite sure if he delighted in it the way I did, as a reminder of carefree days-gone-by, but I CAN testify to his love of a mile-long hot dog, curly fries, our own miniature jugs of root beer, and the spectacles of Oklahoma Heritage.

We arrived at 11:00 and careened towards the Centennial Frontier Experience. This exhibit boasted a rodeo-style arena, two real buffalo, horses, cattle, a wagon-trail campsite, and Oklahoma Fiddler. There, we were educated on the art of trick-riding, horse-roping, and favorite rag-time tunes. We gradually made our way to a timber-cutting exhibit and log-rolling expedition. My favorite, of course, were all the barns filled with prized livestock. In particular, I craved Clydesdale Alley - row upon row of majestic draft horses. The Oklahoma State Vet School even had live demonstrations of animal surgical procedures, which I could, in wonderment, have observed all day. But, Kyle made me leave that stage early! :) ... right about after the vet put the breathing tube down the trachia ... I feel I've missed my calling.

There was an agility dog show, Plains Indian dances, and funnel cakes galore! A little slice of Oklahoma paradise. We left after a long day, sunburned and full of sugar, but happy and appreciative of the simple things.

I miss Grandaddy every day, but today a little more than usual. So many things we saw, I wish I could speak of them to him with joy. I remembered him all day and how he would have loved hearing stories of the livestock and the trick-riders. I feel it is these simple reminders of his absence that help me keenly feel his presence - in my memories, my stories, and my love of things tied to North Carolina, the fair being one.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Semblance of Ordinary Life

I found zinnias at the farmer's market!

Hurricane Ike sunset off our deck

Because ordinary life seems so EXtraordinary to us right now, we try to find joy in the small pleasures ... such as farmer's market zinnias and rain-driven sunsets. Tomorrow, Kyle's taking his commercial pilot's exam in our previous Oklahoma hometown, Enid. I'm tagging along to visit my favorite coffee shop ever, Da Vinci's. There, I will read my homework and prepare for teaching this week. Instead of focusing on the massive volume of work, I will try to delight in a carride for talking and my own iced cafe late - yum! Douglass has had a rough road. He's recovering well from surgery, although he can't yet put weight on his injured leg. He hugs it to himself like a broken wing. Our poor little guy. When we went to have his stitches removed, they gave him eight vaccinations. The only thing that comforts him is to be snuggled up between us on the couch. We are thankful he's here and look forward to him romping around in full strength. I also planted some indoor herbs today in pots Kyle and I spray-painted copper. I found this idea in a Southern Living magazine and I hope, oh I hope, it looks just like the real picture! I will post their progress as they grow. Hurricane Ike brought rain on our football game today, so we stayed warm and dry inside. Kyle's Kowboy Blitz postponed until September 27th.

Upcoming events about which we're excited:

September 20-21st ... Oklahoma State Fair
September 30th ... our 2 year anniversary
October 3-4th... Bluegrass festival in Guthrie, OK
October 11th ... my cousin Kaitlin's wedding in Dallas, TX
October 21st ... Becca's 17th birthday
October 23rd ... Nolan's (our godson) 1st birthday
October 25th ... hopeful Bed and Breakfast weekend to celebrate our anniversary

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Go Pokes! ...Here comes Bullet...!!!

On Saturday, Kyle and I attended our first OSU football game. With a group of school friends and decked out in our orange-finest, we cheered the cowboys to victory. Here's how football goes in our family:

While Kyle commented on the plays...

...Shannon noticed the brilliant sunset during the third quarter...

When Kyle became disgruntled by referee calls, Shannon was amazed by the solitary contrast of a lone referee in a vast, orange OSU...

When the cheers erupt over a touchdown and Kyle joins the fray, Shannon captures the artistic symbol of pride...

And, when Kyle wants to leave early to get a head-start on the rush of traffic, Shannon makes everyone stay until she gets one last shot of Bullet - the victory horse!

So, to add a little depth to this post, we've dedicated an entire section of commentary to the in-house, analyst expert - in his own words. For a full report of gameday extravaganza...HERE'S...(we intend to make this column a tradition!)

Kyle's Kowboy Blitz:

OSU v. Houston
The first home game of the season for the OSU Cowboys was certainly a tale of two halves. After a rough first half, which saw Cowboys give up three turnovers, they were fortunate to go into half-time only down 16-14. Houston's offense looked extremely efficient early on, moving at will down the field through OSU's cover-two defense. However, Cowboys seemed to make excellent half-time adjustments and scored a 28 yard TD run by #5, Kieth Tosten 95 secinds into the second half. It was off to the races from there! The Pokes scored two more unanswered touchdowns on Dez Bryant receptions of 29 and 74 yards which effectively sealed the game. The Cowboys racked up 699 yards of total offense, balanced almost equally between run and pass. It seemed like every option was open to them as the second half progressed, as they went on to win 56-37. The one lingering question would be: how will the defense hold up against stiffer Big 12 competition later this season. The Pokes have a tune-up game next week against Missouri State and should be able to address these issues before facing Troy, a team that upset them last year. Stay tuned for more commentary from Kyle's Kowboy Blitz!

OSU player-of-the-game was #1 Dez Bryant who accumulated 307 total yards and four touchdowns.

Monday, September 1, 2008

An Unconventional Camping Trip

To celebrate Labor Day, Kyle and I thought we might go camping. Kyle did research this week while I was at school and discovered the perfect site: The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Preserve in Lawton, OK - about an hour-and-a-half drive away (the wildlife preserve part of the park means that it's an open range habitat for buffalo and long horn cattle). Because it continues to be impossibly HOT during the days here, we decided to wait until Saturday evening in which to venture forth. We planned to reach our campsite, a clearing on one of the lakes, pitch our tent, eat an array of hotdogs and smores over the fire, and go hiking early AND all morning. Kyle, being the expert outdoors man of our family, did our packing and menu planning. I collected a change of clothes and Douglass' stuff. What we thought would be a routine jaunt to the wilderness - albeit our FIRST - became an adventure of catastrophe and wonder.

When we arrived at Camp Doris, later than we originally anticipated and starting to darken, we pulled into the visitor's center - flanked by buffalo, REAL buffalo. I was fumbling around for my camera, but missed my perfect opportunity. Had I reached my hand out of the window, though, I would have touched a buffalo, a REAL buffalo; I stared into his beady, wizened, coffee-brown eyes and marveled at his shaggy hair. The man working at the visitor's center had an eerie, Hitchcock-like quality and responded, after I announced that, "This is our FIRST time camping," with, "Heh. You sure picked a good one." He meant, I suppose, in terms of weather - which was beginning to send the trees spinning above us.

Kyle and I paid our $8 and set out to claim our #31 spot, which we discovered was directly adjacent to a group of juvenile delinquet hooligans. Great! Not to be daunted, we pulled the two-person tent, a wedding present, out of the trunk. By this time, 9:00 or so, our surroundings were enveloped in woodsy darkness, which led us to realize that we had forgotten our flashlight. Kyle boldly carried on ... until we laid the tent out to stake it up and were covered in a torrential downpour. Lightning was flashing, thunder was rolling ... and we were soaked by fat, cold raindrops. Our campsite muddy, we tried to tie the stakes in the night and rain. I feel I must mention that I have never before erected a tent. You can imagine the rest ... Kyle bravely fighting mud, wind, water, me standing helplessly by - holding out my little hand full of stakes and asking, "do you need these yet ... do you need these yet?," our neighbors yelling profanities from the cover of their warm and established tent, Douglass howling from the backseat. After twenty minutes of torture, we quit our romantic fantasies of snuggling in the wilderness and hightailed it ... for HOME. We picked up the sodden tent, dumped five gallons of water from the inside (what would have turned our air mattress into a water bed), threw articles in the car anywhere they would fit, and sqealed out of the parking lot - to avoid the humiliation and shame resulting from our first twenty-minute, $8 camping trip.

I tried to capture the magic for you ...

soaking-wet and defeated, we head for home

lucky douglass never left the backseat or his warm bed

the five-star view of our campsite...gorgeous!

the tent flung haphazardly in the backseat

tent stakes in the cupholder

After losing our way escaping from the wildlife preserve, we stopped for icecream. Icecream, laughing the two hours home, warm showers, and our own, soft, DRY bed redeemed our first camping trip. I think we'll give it another try...although it may take us until NEXT Labor Day to recover!