Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Post Cheese Festival

It has taken these past two and a half weeks to wind down after Cheese Festival. The reports are good -- the Festival was a little more successful than last year, which is saying a lot for a transitional year. The Festival actually made a profit!! The Committee is already working on ideas for next year. Today is Halloween! The local kids have already had a "haunted walk" down main street (last Saturday) and will go out again this evening to trick-or-treat. We will have a quiet evening at the B&B since we are out of the City. I gave out candy to a few kids that came by the Spot this afternoon. And I got a big surprise -- a call from the Library saying that the decorated pumpkin I submitted for their contest won the "popular vote" as favorite over all. I did it as a lark, just to show the Spot kids an idea of what they could do. Last Saturday the Phoenix Circle Foundation held it's holiday session of Liquid Art and we painted "The Scream". It was fun. We had a couple of new people show up and they did great! Of course, we all had fun. Our next painting venture will be to decorate wine glasses! Watch our facebook pages (Phoenix Circle Foundation, Liquid Art, and Chaparral Retreat) for details of date and time for the next Liquid Art. The weather here has gone from freezing cold a couple of nights to 78 degrees this afternoon. This week has been very pleasant. We're hoping for rain on Saturday, even though that is the night for various Halloween parties. At least the temperature is supposed to be in the 60's over the coming weekend. And last but not least -- the upcoming election on Nov. 6. PLEASE GET OUT AND VOTE!! Locally, we have four mayoral candidates, two of whom are good prospects and want to see Watonga survive and even thrive. The other two have specific agendas that don't take into account, in my opinion (and this is "my opinion page"!!) the good of the entire community and its need for some changes. At a recent Town Hall meeting, one candidate didn't know what our town's current sales tax is and he's been on City Council for at least ten years!!! Unfortunately, one candidate has been known to change his vote based on who's buying him a beer. Some folks say it is the same in all small towns, but since I've been involved in the community here I've seen and spoken with several other small towns' community leaders who have been able to make positive changes happen. It's hard, but it can be done. I hope everyone will get out and vote, whatever their "politics" are. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

IT IS CHEESE FESTIVAL WEEKEND! Almost everything is ready for a high-powered weekend! The temperature is supposed to be PERFECT, but there is a chance of rain. Rain hasn't kept us down in the past, and it won't this year either, but it sure would be nice if we had pleasant weather for a change. Youth & Family Services is sponsoring several events/activities: The Youth Art Show (with Canton school students' work); an apple-bobbing station and other carnival games; the Youth Food Contest; and the Miss Cheese Festival competition. We have 17 candidates for two awards: Little Miss Cheese Festival(ages 8-12) and Miss Teen Cheese Festival (ages 13-18). The winners will be selected by ballot vote cast during the day on Friday. The winners will then be announced on Saturday morning and the girls will ride in a convertible in the Parade on Saturday afternoon. They will also receive a generous Watonga gift certificate. Another new event will be "Watonga's Got Talent", with contestants to perform on Friday evening on the Centennial Stage. With all the musical performances, the two days promise to be lots of fun for everyone. I am chairing the Fine Arts Show again this year and have several new artists participating along with many of the regulars. I've been saving my money to be able to purchase something this year. On Thursday evening, 7:00 pm., we are hosting a wine & cheese reception for the artists and local people who would like to preview the art (and possibly buy something before the show is open to the public). Come see me at the Oasis Church building at the Art Show.
LIQUID ART events are going well. This is our latest attempt. I'm as happy with this one as any of the others. This month, on October 25, we're going to do "The Scream" by Edvard Munch. Should be fun.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Begining of Fall

FINALLY, a break in the hot weather and a little rain has fallen. Too little too late for any kind of vegetable garden, but at least the grass is greening up. The temperatures are in the 60's - 80's, so quite pleasant. We are gearing up for Cheese Festival. Andy and Mary Larson from the Chamber have been working long hours to make this year's festival a resounding success. The CF volunteers have a lot to make up this year for the losses sustained last year from mismanagement. We have new Art Show exhibitors,new sponsors, and volunteers that are all working together this year, so we have no doubt the festival will be successful. We are continuing to run with the Phoenix Circle Foundation and promote art projects. Hopefully after Cheese Festival we can begin work on an art gallery on Main Street Watonga, and after that the goal is to open an art studio. These are long term goals and nothing happens quickly in Watonga, but we are determined to make something positive happen in Watonga. We have lots of support from community members and appreciate that so much. We hope to have a bonfire and outdoor chuck-wagon cookout at the Retreat sometime this fall, so stay posted!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The summer has gone by so quickly, I've hardly had time to blink. Actually, I've gotten a lot done. We've had several guests at the B&B over the summer. I've managed to keep the yard and gardens alive through the horrible heat, but just barely. I've hosted two more Liquid Art evenings, gotten through a summer of Farmers Market Saturdays, and had one lawn concert at the Retreat. The rest of the time has been spent getting ready for the Cheese Festival. My daughter had surgery on her shoulder and has been going to physical therapy but is now ready to go back to work. Drew came to visit and we took a trip to Tulsa and went to Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower. I was inspired by the art exhibit there. Drew did some sketches while there. He also brought some of his recent art pieces for us to see, but took them back to Austin with him. we have 5 guinea hens now. Three killed by a snake and two killed by Skeeter. But they have been helpful in keeping the grasshopper population at bay. Now that the weather has turned slightly cooler -- before 90 degrees -- and we've had a little bit of rain, the gardens are starting to put foliage back on. The Rose of Sharon is even blooming!! I'm looking forward to a pleasant fall. We hope to have a couple more lawn concerts before the weather turns too cold. Then it will be time for a bonfire and a cookout! Stay turned!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Second LIQUID ART event, July 28.
Summer Sunset - 2012
It's been a busy summer for us. Friends came to visit from Dallas and we traveled to Dallas to visit others. We've had several new guests stay with us in the past two months in spite of the hot temperatures. Unfortunately the gardens here have suffered from the extreme heat (105+ temperatures) and the grasshoppers. The more we water and plants try to grow, the more the grasshoppers have to eat. BUT, on the bright side, we bought some guinea hens and they really keep the grasshopper population down. This has been a whole new experience. We purchased ten chicks and have had to keep them in a pen most of the time, letting them out to forage for a few hours every day until they are old enough to fly up into trees and get away from danger. They are just now at that point. But we only have 7 left because a snake got three of them when we first got them home. We had them in a pen on the patio and somehow a snake got into their pen. After that incident we put their pen up on a table, off the ground, and have had no trouble since then. At the end of the day they were easy to herd back to the pen but difficult to get them back into the pen. Then, I came up with an idea: I put a piece of plywood up against the table as a ramp leading into the pen. That worked! I was able to herd them into the pen by myself with little difficulty, and with two people herding them they went right up the ramp and into the pen! They are really funny to watch, catching grasshoppers and fighting over them. Next year we'll get more and start earlier to keep the grasshoppers out of the gardens! The Phoenix Circle Foundation has held two Liquid Art evenings in conjunction with Brad Stinson and the Whirlwind Winery. Both were a success. We have limited space at the winery but it has been full both times and every one leaves having had a good time. We have another evening scheduled for August 25. We proudly display our works of art. Even though they aren't "professional", they are pretty decent works! We had a couple of days where the temperatures were 100 or below but this week the heat has returned and it has been 102 and 103 degrees. that's still better than 105+! There is still plenty to do around here -- a couple of our guests have spent time at the State Park, both at the natural springs and at the big swimming pool they have. The Winery is open on Friday and Saturday. The Liberty Theatre has had some great music groups playing there through the summer. Come for a relaxing visit!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A lost loved one

Summer solstice--first day of summer. Temperatures are hot, in the high 80's and low 90's. Looking at my journal from last year (2011), I see that we had already experienced many 100+ degree temperatures by this time last year. Unfortunately, the grasshoppers are just as bad this year. They are eating everything, well almost everything. It is interesting to see what they eat and what they leave alone. They strip the mint leaves but leave the oregano. They devour monkey grass but leave bermuda uneaten. They live in clusters of vinca but don't munch on the leaves. Killer Kat passed away yesterday, suddenly. On Monday he was out running with Skeeter, came in that night and was fine, and on Tuesday morning he acted like he had been hit by a car (but hadn't)--he was lethargic and acted like he was sore, didn't want to be touched. He didn't eat but did want to go back outside. He laid around outside in the shade and by evening he was gone. Andy buried him in the woods, where he loved to roam and hunt. He was a great pet--unusual for a cat. We loved him and will miss him. Hopefully our next cat will be as friendly and get along with the dogs.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Andy and Blake had a successful and safe trip to Hammond, Ohio and back in record time. They left Thursday morning and got back to Watonga on Saturday morning around 2:30 a.m. They went there to get an art deco door for the Liberty Theatre. I can't wait to see it installed. Then Andy can finish the tile work on the front of the building. It's going to look fabulous when the renovation is finished. The weather has been hot and windy for the last couple of days. Today may even get as warm as mid-90's. We had guests at the B&B early in the week but no reservations for this weekend. There has been lots of traffic into the Park on Thursday and Friday, so there is still a possibility that we could get a last minute referral from the Lodge. We're always ready for that. I went to Alva, OK this past week and visited an art gallery I'd heard about -- Graceful Arts. They have a nice location off the courthouse square, with a good size gallery in front and a workshop in the back. They offer classes for both children and adults. They also host an "art walk" once a month, where the gallery and few gift shops on the square stay open from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.This is definitely something we can do in Watonga. I've been home, off work, for a week and my blood pressure has gotten back down to normal. My hypertension is definitely the result of stress at work. Working in the garden and writing have been good therapy for me. Today is Cinco de Mayo. Few people actually know what the holiday signifies, but it is widely celebrated in the U.S. It isn't Mexican Independence Day as most people think. Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican Holiday celebrating the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862. In 1861, France sent a massive army to invade Mexico, as they wanted to collect on some war debts. The French army was much larger, better trained and equipped than the Mexicans struggling to defend the road to Mexico City. The French rolled through Mexico until it reached Puebla, where the Mexicans made a valiant stand, and, against all logic, won a huge victory. Even though it was short-lived, as the French army regrouped and eventually took Mexico City, the euphoria of an unlikely victory against overwhelming odds is remembered every May fifth. THE UNDERDOG WINS! The holiday reminds us that a small group can win over a large enemy and gives people hope against all odds. Keep that in mind as you drink your margarita or mojito tonight!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Irises everywhere --April 2012

Sunday Sunday

Both animals brought us "gifts" yesterday. KK brought a fat mouse down from the barn area and ate it after showing it off and playing with it for a while. Then Skeeter came to the front yard carrying a young rabbit. I know that sounds rough, but that's nature out here. Today is a gorgeous day. The sun is out and the air is just a little chilly, around 55 degrees when I went outside to pick some chocolate mint for garnish on the breakfast plates. We're serving our "trademark" Appaloosa to our guests this morning -- orange juice and Whirlwind winery's Honey Apple wine. Today will be a good day to rake leaves and clean out some of the gardens, and maybe hike at Roman Nose State Park. On Friday, Andy and a group of friends, local citizens, and school officials and teachers held a day of instruction (don't tell the kids they were being taught anything!) and fun at RNSP for Watonga middle school students. He had Kaci Cronkhite tell some of the history of her family and the park, and Larry Roman Nose shared some of his family history in the area. Travis LIndley, park manager, had arranged for some park rangers to talk about the Park's plants and animals, and another park ranger taught about stewardship and got the kids to help pick up trash. Then the kids got to ride paddle boats and play miniature golf after lunch. This was a really good joint effort among Friends of Roman Nose Association, the Park, the school district, and the Country Store at the Park. The weather cooperated-- it was a little cool but not rainy. I hoope to get some photographs to post, but check out the Watonga Republican next issue for some photos and maybe a story.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


The last "average" frost here is April 10, or so I've been told, but this year the last day of below 30 degree temperatures was mid-March. So, morel mushroom hunting season has come and gone and as of now the trees have all leafed out, irises are in bloom,and we are getting daytime temperatures in the 70's with chilly (50's) overnights. Spinach, mesclun, arugula, parsley, cilantro, basil and snow peas are growing (good salad mix). Flowers are blooming all around the property. Andy has had to mow the yard a couple of times already. I'm constantly working on raking up leaves from the flower beds.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


We've had rain and rain and rain, and today is HOT (80's), which means mushrooms should pop up. Tomorrow will be mushroom-hunting day. Also tomorrow, a trip to OKC to buy some garden shrubs and seeds. I've planted carrots, broccalli, spinach, lettuce, parsley, snow peas, and cilantro and look for some of them to start sprouting any day now. After the rain this week, everything is blooming. Redbuds are popping purple, phlox is blooming a light lavender, both the wild and variegated vinca are blooming. The daffodils and jonquils and narcissus have pretty much played out, but a few I planted late look like they may yet flower. Purple columbine is ready to bloom. Golden mouse-ear coreopsis is just starting to flower and will give a nice contrast to all the pink-purple in the yard (including henbit--I know it's a weed but it flowers so pretty that I leave it until it plays out a little and other blooming plants take its place. In Texas, we called a weed that flowers a "wildflower"--that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Last weekend I weeded one small flower bed and raked leaves (a never ending job), and transplanted some ground cover on Coot's side of the lane. On St. Patrick's day, drank green wine with Brad (who is such a purist, I was surprised he let me color his honey apple wine green!--what a good sport he is). I may post a photo on facebook.

I gave blood for a good cause earlier this week and it really left me weak for a few days. I hope I am ready for a weekend of work in the yard by tomorrow. Sadly, I may not be able to donate blood again if that is how it is going to affect me, as I was a little fearful of how I felt.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Trout Derby at Roman Nose State Park this weekend. we're eating fresh rainbow trout for dinner. Thanks to the fisherman who caught the fish and gave it to me!
Thanks also to all who manned the registration desk, Patrick, Mary, Denise, Bobby Jo, and our weighmaster, Jerry. I know I'm forgetting someone but I'll catch up tomorrow after the Derby is over. The weather cooperated today but tomorrow will be even better, warmer. Skeeter enjoyed a walk in the park and I made some new friends. It was a good day and a nice end to a very weird week!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

WOW! it's already mid-February. We've celebrated Andy's birthday, Drew's birthday,and Blake's birthday...and Valentine's Day. Today, Saturday, the weather is a pleasant temperature in the 50's but windy. I planted irises, naked lady bulbs, and daffodils last week and they are starting to come up through the dirt. We already have narcissus blooming from bulbs that have been in the grounds for years. That is definitely a sign that Spring is almost here. I'm watching for the crocus to come up--another positive sign. I checked the quince this morning and it doesn't have any buds on it yet, but it won't be long. This winter hasn't been too difficult except for the one major snowfall we had (and I slid off the road and into a ditch going to work that morning) a couple weeks ago. A very nice gentleman saw me in the bar ditch and came back to help me - drove my truck out of the ditch and I was then able to make it to work. I was so shook up that I didn't get his name, but I definitely owe him BIG THANKS. If he hadn't been so kind, I would have been stuck there for some time and not made it to work.

Even though it's winter, we've had several guests at the Retreat. And we hosted a Valentine's dinner event called "Bella Notte" on Feb. 14. We had 5 couples come and Brad Stinson from the local Whirlwind Winery brought and served various wines during the dinner. We served a delicious parsley pesto on toast, an antipasta plate with an assortment of veggies, cheeses, and salami. The main course was a choice of a red meat sauce, a vegetarian marinara, and grilled chicken with an alfredo sauce. Dessert was creme brulee with chocolate. Everyone seemed to enjoy the dinner and the fellow diners, and Andy and I enjoyed serving. Brad was a huge help, and I think he had a good time too!! His wine store (Whirlwind Winery) is open on Friday and Saturday afternoons, for wine tasting and purchasing your wine for the weekend. (A glass of wine is good for your heart! So my cardiologist tells me and I'm taking his advice!!!)
We're hoping to have a regular dinner offering in the coming months, so stay tuned to this blog and to Facebook (under Andrew Joe Barrett or Chaparral Retreat) for more information. We'd like to bring some different dining options to Watonga.
I know I don't like having to drive to OKC for a nice dinner!!!

Andy and I are deep into helping with various Chamber of Commerce events: the Trout Derby in March, and the FreeWheel Oklahoma event on June 12. More information on those events are available on the Chamber of Commerce website or at 580-623-5452. The Chamber is doing something different this year in the way of the Grand Prize: A backyard patio set and grill from Lowe's. We're trying to appeal not only to fisherman (with the boat) but also to Mom and Dad and families. I know I'm buying a couple of registrations to get my name into the hopper for the drawing, even though I don't fish.
OK, time has gotten away from me and I haven't been the best at keeping this blog up to date, but I'm not a winter person and I tend to hibernate this time of year. You can always check our Facebook pages for updates. And send emails to if you have any questions or want information you can't find on this blog! Come visit us anytime!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mild weather for January

I can't believe it's the middle of January! We've had some freezing temperatures, but this past week was pleasant with daytime temps in the 40's and 50's, and yesterday (Saturday) it was almost 60 degrees during the day! It was nice enough to have a bonfire and invite friends over for drinks and conversation. Vernon brought his guitar and played for us. Roy and his wife Rose came too, but without instruments (he'll know better next time!), though he played Vernon's guitar. Veva and Gerald and Brad and Tanya also came. And we were joined by our B&B guests, Jim and Arletta from Stillwater. The sky was full of stars and the wind stayed quiet, so it was a perfect night to be outside. I'm eager for spring weather when we can have outside entertainment regularly. Those friends who didn't come by will get another chance!

The Phoenix Circle Foundation is gearing up to get a NEA grant application in by the end of February in the hopes of establishing an arts center here in Watonga to serve Blaine County. We have big plans and need the help and support of the entire community if we are going to make this happen. Check out "Phoenix Circle Foundation" on facebook and watch for our Paypall account to open soon to accept donations. We are glad to send a tax receipt upon request (we are a valid 501(c3) educational non-profit corporation). Also look for ways to support the Foundation at upcoming benefit concerts and other events. I'll keep you posted here and on the FB page, and also Andrew Barrett's FB page.