Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Poe and Loki say Happy Halloween too, and also please pass the tuna flavored candy.

Poe gets seriously miffed that he doesn't get to go Trick or Treating. After all, he doesn't even need a costume!

And Loki, in an effort to placate his sweet tooth, has taken to the hard stuff.

Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. I just love the costumes and the frivolity and the joy of it - the expectations aren't as high as Christmas, and you can just cut loose and have fun. Also, it signals the beginning of all of the best holidays of the year - Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and of course, My Birthday. :)

(As an aside, the girls' costumes fit well and they really liked them - Maybe my sister will let me post a few photos of them in action?)

Sadly, Noel is working nights on this job, so it's just the kitties and me (and Johnny Depp - I love Sleepy Hollow) this Halloween night.

In honor of the celebration, I was feeling decidedly domestic:

Check it out! A (mostly) homemade pumpkin pie!

I'm also pleased to announce a new member of the family:

Just in time for pie. (By the way, the under counter ones are so expensive! We're just going to build a little shelf for this one instead.)
The boys were very excited, not about the coffee maker (Loki has his Mountain Dew and doesn't really need any more caffeine) but about the box it came in.

OOOH! A fortress!

In other domestic news, I've been busy fixing Noel's work pants. For those of you who've seen him after an average day's work, you can attest to the fact that he generally comes home from work looking like he got dragged down a muddy gravel road by a team of runaway donkeys. His work pants generally don't survive long, particularly in the knees. So we came up with a free way of hopefully making them last a bit longer. I've cut the legs off of some of his old pants and made large patches out of them onto newer pants. Voila! Reinforced work pants.

Noel likes them. The feline fashion police aren't so sure.
Well, it's time to get back to some sewing and the headless horseman.
Happy Hauntings!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Requiescat in pace

Whence cometh the dawn from this dark night
where our souls are draped with mortal shroud?

Here hath been extinguished, what was our light
and angels hide faces too stained with tears.

Hark, how the shadows in rueful delight
rush up from their baneful expanse

To mock our eternal mortal fight
and to Hades laughing swoop and dance.

Our prince, our rescuing angel of morn
has flown to fields of amber and gold

And left us too tired and too alone
to draw up our faces from the dark.

From whence shall come our daylight reborn
without the elixir that was our strength?

When from black-laced shadows we cannot be torn
without the nectar of your embrace?

You shall be missed, Mr. Coffee.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Children of the Corn (now with 100% fewer murders!)

Since it is the season of fall and corn and all things autumnal here in Oklahoma, Noel and I decided to take a little road trip out of Wagoner to see a local tradition:

A corn maze. Called a corn maize here, ha ha, play on words.

It was so cute - just a small area surrounded by local farms, and set up with a hay jump, a hayride, fire pits, goats to pet, and, for those who love the beach but hate the sand, a corn box. Yes, a large box filled with dried corn, in which children can frolic and get corn down their pants. The toddler set was all over it.

We had come though, to try our hand at the maze. I've seen these things on tv and they look kinda fun. Thankfully we opted for the non-haunted maze though (that one's only after dark and Noel and I both shock easily and unpleasantly).

(Also, I got to bundle up a bit! Yay! Although by the time we were done the sweater was tied around my waist and the hat and arm warmers were off. It was nice while it lasted though.)

There were moments of absolute terror, when we thought we'd never get out:

This is Noel, realizing that (1) he's lost, and (2) he forgot his flare gun to signal the National Guard to come rescue us.

Thankfully we made it safe and sound, and walked around the other booths. We talked to the mother of the owner of the maze, and she provided us with some interesting info! First, we thought it was cool that she & her husband live in South Dakota, but move down here for 2 months every year to help their son run the maze. They park their 5th wheel right on the property and have a little working vacation.

Secondly, we found out how this whole thing works. Noel and I had discussed on the drive there, that it seemed a tremendous waste to mow down part of your crop for a maze. Why do this? Is the corn bad? Is the crop undesirable or something, so they decide to make a maze out of it and try to salvage some profit that way?

No, actually. This was started by a maze company that travels the U.S. and finds good spots to put mazes up. They purchase or rent land for said maze, and the corn that's planted here is planted WAY after corn is normally planted - this one was planted in June. The paths are carved out very early on, and the corn they use is a special type of corn that doesn't actually produce very many ears. It's specifically Maze Maize, you could say. This lady's son now owns the property and runs it as a maze each year, and each year the design is different. We were amazed (ha - get it, aMAZEd?) when we saw what the actual design is:

You can't tell what the design is from the ground, so they have aerial shots taken each year. Cool, huh?

After our wanderings in the corn, we decided to go for a drive up north and east, and saw some really gorgeous scenery. As we drove, we passed over a dam. (Rachel, you'll love this - it's in a town called Disney).

The dam has a pretty lake on one side and a dried up rock bed valley on the other. Very scenic!

And, Oklahomans being the natural outdoorsy type (please see Bass Pro Shop photos), we saw some in their natural habitat.
Doing this:

Now if you're having a hard time figuring out what's going on in that picture, these are souped up Jeeps that people take on impossible treks through rocks and water and hills and mud and such. The yellow one has already gotten up this crevass, and the blue one is currently in the process of making it up. We watched for at least 20 minutes as these guys (and one or two others) tried and succeeded to actually get this Jeep up this rock. It looked a few times like they'd flip (and sometimes they do) but these guys didn't. Impressive. And also insane.

But lest you think this was a random occurrence, oh no. When we drove through the tiny town of Disney, we saw this:

Apparently this is an annual event here, called Rocktober, and anyone with any type of ridiculous looking 4x4 was there, talking about shocks and axles and whatnot. Incredible, how much money people spend on these things!

(And yes, I do see the irony of my investments in yarn).

(Also, yes, Noel thought this was so super cool I finally had to practically drag him back to the truck, which he then was mentally fitting out with monster tires.)

On a random side note, a huge number of people here have flatbed trucks. I guess it makes it easier to haul hay and...whatever things cowboys haul. Saddles? 10 gallon hats? Anyway, we've seen these things all over the place. Noel wants one of those too. So anyone with a flatbed truck they'd like to donate, let us know. (Monster tires optional.)

After our exciting drive through Disney, we thought the next day we'd try for some more interesting sightseeing. We decided to take a scenic drive and ended up going into 3 other states (Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas). (YES, ON PURPOSE.) I am known for getting lost into the wrong state (I once drove into Alabama by mistake, and also Tennessee and Oregon, but all on separate trips, thank you very much).

We went north from Oklahoma and crossed the Kansas border, took a right and went into Missouri, and then headed toward Arkansas, where we turned back into Oklahoma. Neat that we could do that all in an afternoon! Too bad we can't put those stickers on the RV (that's cheating!).

On the way, we made a little side trip in order to see:

Cool, huh? And they have a Tyson plant there, so the fried chicken is plentiful, I would imagine. Noel didn't want to get out to have his picture taken with the sign (chicken - HA). But at least we got the sign.

Unfortunately a lot of our travels are coming to an end here in Oklahoma, since Noel actually had to start working. Bummer. But we did get to see a lot already, and I'm sure there's plenty more to come!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where the wind comes whippin' 'cross the plains!

We've done some fun sightseeing in the Broken Arrow/Wagoner area the last few days, and I've taken way too many pictures. Thankfully, today is laundry day and we're sitting in the laundrymat in Wagoner, and Miracle of All Miracles! I have a full internet signal here. HOORAY.
So! After 4 hours of uploading the other day, I just managed to upload 17 pictures in about 6 minutes. Guess where I'll be blogging from now on? (NO, not the laundrymat, but at least in town a bit - they do have a cute cafe here).

So without further ado, I give you what has to be the biggest Bass Pro Shop on the planet:

This place is HUGE! And we had no idea that the whole huntin'/fishin' market was going so upscale. This particular Bass Pro Shop had....a Starbucks. HA!.

Hey Billy Bob, can you pick me up a new fishin' pole and a vanilla latte? Thanks.

The inside was extremely impressive. Look at this! So Fancy! (Also, we were a bit embarrassed to be walking around taking pictures of the Bass Pro Shop like some kind of bumpkins who had never seen fancy things like Indoor Plumbing and Them Thar Purty Camoofloge Sofas!)

Noel was particularly taken by the oh so classy shotgun shell mailbox.

And for the woman who wants to hit the town but camouflage those 5 lbs of Halloween candy weight gain:

A ghillie suit, with matching hat. So fetching!

This Bass Pro Shop also had a fish restaurant in it, and so we decided to splurge on the whole I Am An Outdoorsman experience and eat lunch there. Noel had a fish sandwich - served on a very chic plate, even! I had popcorn shrimp, which were tasty but not as photogenic. :)

After we left there, we decided to go by a shop we had seen on the way into town, Mid-Continent Leather Sales ( Neither of us had ever been in a leather shop, and this place was fascinating!

They had skins, from steer hides to ostrich. The owners were very friendly and showed us around, suggesting pictures to take (I love when people do this - it makes for such fun because they tell stories and explain things that we wouldn't normally appreciate).

Not only did they have skins and leathers in all different colors (notice the steer hides made to look like zebra, leopard, etc above? Also the owner said that the pink skins come from a cow farm in Lithuania that grows pink cows and give strawberry milk. He said one woman actually believed him once. HA. The ostrich skins were pricey - $50 per square foot, so each skin was worth $800-$900. Now, I love to sew and such, but that's a LOT of pressure to cut stuff right the first time.

The owner makes chaps, and showed us a fun pair he had made for his grandson. A different pair were on the wall as displays:

They had fun silver stuff to put onto your leather items, and a thousand different types of buckles and pins and decorations. They also had the small stamps for punching leather - this is how they make the textured designs and art on leather. Using a variety of these small relief stamps, they hammer them onto the leather, impressing the design into it. Impressive, to realize how much time it takes to do something like a saddle! They offer classes, and if we were going to be here for very long, we both were interested in learning.

They also had snakeskins (don't look, Rachel! Of course, they're dead snakes, so you might not mind so much.). These are anaconda. They also had rattlesnake. These were so thin - it seems impossible to actually make anything out of them without tearing the skins. It's amazing that they're apparently durable enough to make things like boots and wallets.

Also, for the old sewing machine enthusiasts out there (I know who you, check these out! Old leather sewing machines.

After a fun trip there and a small purchase (Noel got a neat silver pirate pin for his jacket and I got a leather bracelet), we decided to walk around downtown Wagoner a bit. Is this not the cutest little downtown? It looks like Mayberry or something. There aren't a lot of businesses, and the ones that were there (including the little history museum) weren't open when we went by. However, we've seen a fair amount of renovation on buildings and homes in the area, and wonder if this town isn't coming out of an economic slump.

As promised, I also took some pictures of the scenery from our campground.

And it was COLD - 49 degrees for the high! We bundled up properly:
Noel organizing his toolbox:

Me wearing every single handknit item I could manage to put on at once (not pictured, knit socks).

It's so nice, these temperatures and this scenery. We love the small town feel of this place. And the cooler temperatures make us think about Christmas shopping. We found the perfect gift for the person who has everything:

A gen-yu-wine cowhide toilet seat.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Let me start off by apologizing for not having posted for a few days. We have an interminably slow internet connection at our campground (it's taken me over 4 hours to upload these pictures), but it's well worth it (more on that later).

We've had a wonderful few days so far in Oklahoma! Our drive up went really smoothly, which considering the fiasco that was The Drive Of Doom from Georgia to Houston, is a small miracle. Not even small, actually. It's HUGE. Thank you, RV gods, for letting us get here safely and with no new plumbing/tire/trailer problems.

Also, we saw a motorcycle with a sidecar. How fun is this?

Oklahoma is not what we were expecting. I guess I personally was thinking it would be (1) flat and (2) full of wheat. It does have some flatness happening, but it also has some lovely rolling hills and those hills are full of cows and horses, not wheat. Oh, and HUGE ranches with big farm houses and round bales of hay.

(Did you know that cows won't eat those round bales of hay? They don't feel like they're getting a square meal. Thank you, thank you, I'm here all week).

The colors on the trees are gorgeous, and we're both thrilled to actually see Autumn, something neither of us has seen in years. And the weather? OH! How I love 60 degrees. I had forgotten you, dear 60 degrees. So long have we been separated by the Cruel Bonds of Humidity. I actually got to wear a scarf yesterday! (For knitters, this is very exciting - bear with me).

Oklahoma is an interesting state - the Trail of Tears ended here, so there are quite a few Native American nations stationed around here. We've seen the Cherokee headquarters (more on that later) and a really nice medical center for the Creek/Muscogee nation. And a few casinos too! Oklahoma didn't become a state until 1907, and there are gorgeous Victorian homes that have historical society signs out front stating they were built in 1903, in Indian Territory. We both thought this was absolutely fascinating - to go to all that expense to build a big fancy house in what wasn't even a state at that time.

We went to a museum of the Five Civilized Tribes that was full of intriguing artifacts from the Trail of Tears era. What a cruel and horrible thing to do to a group of people - take them off of their sacred ancestral lands and force them to move somewhere else, particularly for a people that depended on farming. Can you imagine relying on farming, and being uprooted to a different ecosystem? And the earth being such an intergral part of daily religious life, and suddenly not being on that same land anymore? Horrible.

One interesting tidbit though: many Native Americans actually had black slaves. Huh.

We visited a town near our campground called Talequah, which is the headquarters of the Cherokee. One famous member of this nation is named Sequoyah (the tall trees were named in his honor). Sequoyah developed a written language from the spoken language of the Cherokee - this was the first Native American language to be developed into a written language. How cool is that? And even cooler? The street signs in Talequah are written in English AND Cherokee:

NEAT! I love the way it looks.

We're staying outside of Tulsa, a bigger city than either of us imagined. We originally planned to stay in a campground on the outskirts of Tulsa. It had a nice website, pretty pictures of the campground, and lots of amenities. And indeed, it did have some lovely amenities. The laundry room/game room was particularly nice:

(Not pictured, large fluffy cat on the sofa).

In true Oklahoma fashion, it even had a totem pole!

One thing it didn't have, however, was S-P-A-C-E between campsites.

UGH. We really don't like sites like this. You feel like you're sitting in your neighbor's living room.

And how scenic is this? This is the view from the living room:

And this is the view from my sewing table:

Yeah. Lovely.

So! We decided to do some campground exploring on the other side of Broken Arrow, where Noel will be working. Unfortunately Broken Arrow itself has no campgrounds - weird.

We found a gorgeous place in a little darling town called Wagoner (it has a little historic Main Street - so cute!) This campground was significantly cheaper, because (1) it doesn't have a fancy laundry room, (2) or a totem pole, (3) or cable. We subsequently went out and bought some inexpensive movies/tv shows on DVD so I wouldn't go out of my mind and start dressing the cats in little frilly outfits and having tea parties with them.

Being so far out in the country is also why we have a very slow internet connection, but hey. The sacrifice is worh it. How's THIS for a campsite?

Gorgeous, no? And for comparison's sake, here's the living room view:

And my sewing room view:

SO MUCH BETTER. We really like it here - it's so quiet and peaceful, and it frankly feels a lot safer than that crowded miserable parking lot of a campground we moved from. It's not too much farther from Noel's worksite, and it's a much prettier drive. Personally we'd both rather drive a little further through beautiful countryside than have a shorter drive through traffic and shopping malls.

Noel doesn't start work until next week, so we've basically had a week of vacation to check things out. We've done quite a bit of exploring so far - we've gone through Broken Arrow, Talequah, Muscogee, and a bunch of other little towns whose names I don't even know. It's lovely country to drive through. I'll try to get some good pictures of some of the countryside for you, and some of the big Victorian homes too.

We also had to check out some of the local shopping. This is always so fun when you go to a new place, to go to their stores and see what different things are there than you're used to. We went to a big store called Atwood's Ranch * Home.

Noel LOVED this store. They have tools! They have clothes! They have food! They have....

Sheep sox! I have no idea what these are used for. But I'm intrigued....

They also have horse tack!

And saddles! (Yes, Andrea, I took these pictures for you) (For those who don't know Andrea, she's a friend of ours who has horses, and who is jealous of the apparent horsiness of our destinations. Andrea: please come to visit whenever you want. We have horses next door).

In our driving, we came upon some fantastic ranch homes. Andrea, we found your future ranch:

Let me know if you want me to talk to the current owners for you. I'm sure we can make a deal. ;)

We've seen lots of neat old bridges:

And toured through the National Cemetery, which had some interesting stones in it. Also, it was HUGE.

It's rainy here today, but we need to do some cleaning in the house anyway. There's also a corn maze in Broken Arrow that's intriguing, and some pumpkin festivals and Halloween fun stuff to do this weekend. I'm excited! Must decorate! (Wait, isn't having 2 black cats enough decoration?)

Alright, I'm going to try to post this with this slow connection - wish me luck!