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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Three Barns

"Ooh Ooh, seem like, seem like seem li-ike...," the sound verb rated off the high wood roof of the old barn echoing like the voice of a soloist in a cathedral. About a hundred or so people stood or sat on lawn chairs, metal folding chairs and discarded church pews lined up against the wall, mesmerized by the skinny white man in the middle of the room.

A string of white Christmas lights twinkled overhead, the man dress head to toe in blue, sported a turquoise bolo tie. He pulled out a harmonica and began to play, tapping his feet against the dusty wood floor.

"I'm just an old truck driver," he told the crowd. "Watermelon Slim" was at his best, his voice; a finely tuned instrument provided the haunting sounds that seemed to touch the souls of those who had traveled across the state and across town to hear him.

We didn't know what to expect when we decided on a lark to take a side road and follow the signs to the Chautauqua Hills Blues Festival on our way to visit family in southeast Kansas. But we followed the signs that led us first to a big field surrounded by the die-hard blues fans who had found prime camping spots close enough to the stage to hear the music without leaving the shade the campers provided. The stage was nothing more than a flatbed truck with lights stuck precariously around the stage. The main concert was Sunday.

A sweaty guy who smelled like he had spent more than one day in his old Ford Fairlane came up and greeted us. We asked about the evening's event. He pointed back down the gravel road.

"It's at the Three Barns," he said. "Go back through town."

We worked our way back down the road, driving slowly to avoid the ruts and the dust. Occasionally, we would giggle nervously and ask, "Are we nuts? What are we getting into," both secretly hoping everyone else at the event didn't smell like the friendly Fairlane guy.

It didn't take more than five minutes and we were at the end of "town." Sedan, Kansas has a population of 1,342. On the short trip across the town, we learned its most famous son was Emmett Kelley, and it was known for having the "longest yellow brick road." That evidently called for a festival because we saw faded signs heralding the annual event.

We stopped at the last -- the only -- convenience store we saw and asked for directions.

"Have you heard of the three barns?" I asked, hoping I wouldn't be met with a blank stare.

"Sure, keep on going down this road, you'll get to a Y in the road, and you go left," the woman behind the counter talked as much with her hands as she did her voice. "That's right isn't it Sue, they turn left? Yep. Left. You'll get to a sharp hill, then turn right as soon as you top the hill. It's a gravel road."

We were committed at this point, and we took off in search of the three barns. It was surprisingly easy, as we started down from the hill, we saw a sign directing us to the "Three Barns."

A group of folks greeted us, charged us $10 and told us where to park. We followed the crowd up to what appeared to be the main barn. There was a dinner being served and we were handed plates and pushed into the line.

We spotted "Slim," a familiar face from the city. He was surprised to see us, but had to prepare for the show, so quickly excused himself. We walked with our plates to upstairs to what was the main venue. The barn still showed the signs of a renovation, new lumber, aged to appear old. We started to move to one of the empty church pews against the wall, when a man stopped us.

"Sit here," he motioned to chairs at his table. We soon met his son, fellow campers and learned about why they had come to the blues fest.

"You just get drawn into the blues," said our new friend, Curtis.

The crowd, most with coolers under their feet or beside them filled with beer and wine coolers, sat politely through the first two acts -- a duo who looked more like fraternity boys looking for a good time and a long-haired blond guy from Boulder, Colorado singing the blues without the conviction of someone who's seen a hard time.

Then it was Slim's turn. The talking stopped, the restless crowd grew quiet. "He's one of us, a truck driver," said Curtis, clapping and whistling in appreciation after a song was done.

The evening was over way too soon, and we drove silently for a while, the gravel crunching under the tires of our car.

Our eyes met and we starting laughing. "Do you think they would feel the same way if they knew he had a degree in journalism and a master's in philosophy or history?"

"Probably. He was a truck driver."

And, he can sure sing the blues.

Next year, we'll probably purposely go to Sedan, Kansas to the Chautauqua Hills Blues Festival.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Need more...time

Seriously, this has been a long week that went by too fast. At work we're scrambling because one of our major campaigns of the summer just kicked off this week. Suffice it to say, it involves the environment -- and we had an Ozone alert day on the day we had an OUTDOOR event. Despite sunscreen, water, gatarade etc. We all got heat exhaustion and are still a little dehydrated. I'm so behind on other projects that I'll have to work at least part of the weekend to get caught up.

At home, how my house got into chaos I don't know - ok maybe I do know. I'm so exhausted at the end of the day, usually after two hours at the gym each night (more on that topic later,) constantly watering and weeding my flower beds and I'll admit trying to feed my t.v. addiction by trying to watch all the big finales that have been TiVo-ed. (Editor friends - Is that a verb now?)has taken too much of my time. So I've been doing crazy things like getting up at 4 a.m. to dust, and other stuff. I've decided I'm just going to hire a maid for one day. What I really need is an assistant. How did I do this when I had three children at home? Oh, yeah. I actually LEFT my job at 5 p.m.

And, finally Taylor Hicks hits a big one for all the gray-haired Americans out there. Maybe I'll let my hair go natural...nah.

And because I'm short on time and can't respond to regulars on their blogs: Lil Red - Glad you are having fun. Wordgirl - I don't know. I think I give Jolie and Brad at least two years. Diva - I love roses, have those too. Gardening takes A LOT of freaking time. G-thrilled for you and Will. S - get some rest, you live in a mecca that will be calling visitors to you, unlike OKC. Mommy-Tracked - Thanks for the bb blogs, I plan to check those out more later. KK - So I thought you were going to have more time to blog?

All others - Ya'll have a nice Memorial weekend - - we're headed to Kansas for a fascinating tour of the local cemeteries with two 80+ (one is 90+) year-old ladies who still remember Memorial Day for the reasons it was intended (more on that later too.)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Weighty things

The gym has become like a second home lately. It's not that hard to get into a routine. Hubby and I see the same faces on a regular basis. We run into people we know from lawmakers, lobbyists to some of the accountants from my husband's office. Retired people and young people all work out on the weight machines, cycles or treadmills etc. Most of us are absorbed in our own world choosing headphones or books to stop conversation.

At the other end of the gym are the free weights. That area is almost always nearly empty when we're there. Occasionally, we'll hear the familiar grunts signaling that the "serious" body builders are in the house. Monday one of them decided to come into "our" area. That happens every now and then. Like cattle that have strayed away from the herd, they'll come with their overgrown muscles and shove and squeeze themselves into one of the weight machines.

Then they'll proceed to make lots of noise. Grunts, mostly. They usually have another person with overgrown muscles with them. The louder the grunts, the more looks of aproval overgrown muscles person No. 2 gives.

The rest of us look over, look at one another and roll our eyes. We, of the small muscles think we're superior.

Interesting world.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I planted flowers this past weekend -- on Mother's Day. That was my "gift" from hubby. Lots of flowers for the bed on the side of the house. I wanted to have flowers that I can cut and bring in for a splash of color.

I don't think I can ever recall my father buying flowers for my mother. Instead he grew them. My father, a farmer, would spend his time off taking care of the yard, a small vegetable garden and flowers. My dad always planted Zinnias. Lots of them every summer in the flower beds around our house. As a little girl, I loved to pick the flowers and bring them into the house to put in a vase in the middle of the dining room table. We always had fresh flowers.

My husband reminds me a little of my dad. He's not a farmer. He's an accountant. But he might have grown up to be a farmer if when he was five years old, his dad hadn't died. His parents sold the farm and moved into town shortly before my husband's father died. He knew he was dying.

But my husband, the accountant, likes to grow things. He's the designated plant keeper in our house. I manage to kill indoor plants.

But buoyed by the resurgence of mums I planted last fall -- I can't believe they're coming back since shortly after I planted them the blooms fell off and the leaves turned brown no matter how much I watered or gave them plant food. But they're back. So my husband is indulging me and letting me try my hand at gardening. I have a whole flower bed to call my own.

I planted zinnias.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Cat

Splash. "Son of a biscuit" Ouch. I stubbed my toe on the cat's water bowl again this morning, as I sleepily made my way to the kitchen for a glass of water. The cat - Marley - likes to move her -- despite the name, she's a her -- water bowl out the middle of the room. I should be used to it by now, but it's in a different spot every time.

Marley and I have a love-hate relationship. I do love her because she's our pet, has been for 10 years, and is sort of cool despite the fact that she's a cat. I don't like cats.

So how does someone who doesn't like cats, end up with a cat?

Marley came to be in our family when we were still in college. The summer of 96. Our college paper admin manager, Becky, had yet another batch of kittens in the office. Her country cats were prolific. I wasn't interested. I don't like cats. I'm allergic to cats.

But I was out on assignment somewhere,and my daughters happened to stop by the office with hubby. They, of course, loved kittens. So by the time I got back to the office, my daughters each owned a kitten because Daddy couldn't say no to them.

So they come home, dubbed "Doobie" in honor of the Doobie Brothers and in part in homage to the other's cat's name, which was "Bob Ziggy Marley." Yes, they were trying to suck up to the parents with the names.

Long story short, Doobie was not long for the world. A veterinary student did him in when we took him to the campus vet clinic to get spayed.

So we had Marley. That was 10 years ago. Since then our daughter has moved out, gotten married and now owns a dog. So Marley became our cat.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Gradual changes

When I first began this blog more than a year ago, I planned for it to be a political commentary. That's not what has happened, and that's ok.

There's enough political commentary out there.

For me this blog is a way to express things, share things that I might nor ordinarily share. It's become a way to keep up with friends who live elsewhere. And it's cheap therapy.

Why do you blog?

Where have you gone?

Diva has been talking about going down memory lane this past week. So it started me thinking about people I used to know:

Carrie Brown -- Knew her from first to eighth grade in Floydada (if you have to ask...) Carrie had polio and wore braces on her legs when we were in elementary school. The last time I saw her when in high school, when I was living in a different town. It was a football game, they were the "away team" and there's Carrie. A cheerleader. That made me happy.

Jimmy Nunn -- An Abernathy boy. A Methodist. Probably my best friend in high school. I still remember the time the principal sent him home because his hair was "too long" during Junior year. Jimmy's response? He went home and shaved his head.

Sheila Sturgis -- skip forward to the senior year in Montana. We hung out a lot. I guess I should have made it to that high school reunion last year.

Rose Patterson -- Probably the reason I'm a journalist. My high school English teacher and I suspect that she's probably passed away by now. She was a great teacher.

Janet Moore -- A year older than I in high school. She was the "newspaperwoman" the rest of us wanted to be. I always wondered if she wound up working at some big city paper.

There's so many more people that somehow either knowingly or unknowingly touched my life, and sometimes they still cross my mind.

Marines vs. graduation cap

This might only be news in our little corner of the world, but it's an interesting story. A young Marine, Michael Lueking had to stand on the sidelines and watch his classmates graduate because his high school wouldn't let him wear his uniform.

Now this was obviously not a slacker, or a trouble-making student. This kid worked to graduate a semester early, joined the Marines and, rightly so, is proud of his USMC choice and the uniform that symbolizes so much. Obviously some at his school -- just dont' get it.

So where's the ACLU on this one? I think school officials overreacted, and it would not have in any way diminished the graduation. It's not like he wanted to graduate in his football uniform. What do ya'll think?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why should I care?

Sometimes it's nice "caring" about little things that in the grand scheme of our lives don't really mean anything:

Say it isn't so! But it is. Chris got the boot tonight on American Idol. I truly felt like a "dirty old lady" when he sang, so it's probably just as well. Hubby was not so keen on my (clearing of the throat here) support.

Barry Bonds -- enough already! The public has convicted this man without a trial. Where was the outrage when Big Mac admitted taking some helpful meds? And, what is this outrage based on? A book by two so-called journalists. Has anyone wondered why these journalists who supposedly had this evidence so long ago did not report it back then? Just because it's in print, does not mean it's true. Heck. Just read this blog.

Oklahoma has finally gotten rain, hallelujah, my grass is green.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Empty Spaces

You know how you get used to the same thing every day on your route to work or school? Yesterday, I noticed an empty space on the corner of a street near downtown. Empty. Something was just plowed over, and for the life of me I can't remember what was there. And, somehow I felt bad about that. The now-gone building was probably the dream of some entreprenuer a long time ago. Now, it's gone. An empty space sits, waiting for its next occupant, making way for progress in a revitalized downtown that often means tearing down old buildings.

Behind the empty space, now sitting alone is another old building. This one I've always noticed because through the windows in the top floor you can see someone's collection of old cars from the 20s, 30s and 50s. I've yearned to go in and see the cars, but now I wonder how much longer that building is going to survive on the street known as "Automobile Alley" because of its history. I wonder if I'll notice and remember what was there when it's an empty space.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Daily observations

Every day a mom and dad and a little boy walk by my house. They are usually carrying a bag of groceries each. The little boy runs to keep up and the bag he's carrying drags the ground. I would imagine he doesn't get to carry the eggs.

A man was sitting on the temporary retaining wall near the entrance to our neighborhood market. He called out to those walking into the store. A well-dressed man, shakes his head and rushes by. Another man and his wife walks by, he tells the man in Spanish that he doesn't have any change. He doesn't look like a rich man, but on the way out of the store, he stops and gives the beggar some money.

As I wait in front of the school of medicine for a friend to pick me up for lunch, I see a lone green jack -- the kind we used to play as kids -- sitting on the sidewalk. I wonder how it got there. Did some little girl sit near there playing jacks, waiting for a parent and lose it? Was it a diversion for some medical student stressed out about finals?