Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30

It's a beautiful day.  Yesterday was too.  I don't care that it was 87 degrees.  I will take hot temperatures over cold any day!!  I'm not happy that the temperature is going to get down into the 40's later this week, but I know it will only be for a day. 

Yesterday Andy and I went to pick up gravel for his wood oven project. 

He also had cement supplies delivered from Home Depot.  I went mushroom hunting on our back acreage with Skeeter and Itzel.  I got off the trail and was lost for a little while, but I made my way back using my orienteering skills learned in the Boy Scouts.  AND I found an area with morel mushrooms!  There were only a couple but it encouraged me to keep looking, knowing that they are present in the area and the conditions under the cedar trees is condusive to the fungi. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013


We have no plans to be away from the house this weekend, so I decided to put up an "Open House" sign and have invited people (via Facebook) to stop by if they want a tour of the Bed & Breakfast.  We've already had a couple of groups come by and may have a booking for Sunday night.  The day is kinda dreary, with the sun shining and then going behind clouds off and on.  But the temperature is supposed to get close to 70 degrees.  There was a couple of storm cells that came through the Metro area last night, with 60 mph winds and "golf size hail", but we didn't get anything but rain (for which we are thankful) -- we seemed to be on the edge of the severe weather.  Oklahoma City had some serious damage though. The storm cells started in the northwest and went southeast and then over to Tulsa, according to the weatherman.  Of course, being in Oklahoma means that all TV shows were pre-empted for weather coverage wall-to-wall. 

Andy is hard at work on the outdoor fireplace and wood-burning oven.  COMING SOON -- The Oven at the Chaparral Retreat!  Our business plan is set  and Andy has ordered supplies to start building. He's taking it slow right now because of back pain, but he'll be working on it little by little over the next month.   I'm working on the menu and practicing some pizza dough recipes (in a regular oven for now). 

We've had a few things blooming, but we definitely lost all the buds on the red bud trees.They are starting to put out their leaves now.  We also lost all the flowers on the currant so I don't know if they will produce fruit or not -- there is a possibility that they will because they were in full bloom when the last freeze came through, but we'll just have to wait and see.   The creeping phlox is still in bloom. The ajuga is blooming, along with the henbit and grape hyacinth, so we have different shades of purple throughout the yard. I've seen a few buds on the spiderwort and a couple of iris buds.  Believe it or not, the few tulips I have in the ground are just now blooming!  I see summer phlox coming up along with the obedient plant and hostas. The rain has been good for the yard so we should start seeing more things greening up.  I have some cilantro, lettuce, and mesclun mix with arugula coming up.  I LOVE MY GARDENS!

Check out the CHAPARRAL RETREAT facebook page, along with our Phoenix Circle Foundation and Liquid ART (education) pages.  Thanks for reading!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wed. April 24

Yesterday was a horrible dreary winter day, with ice and snow and clouds and freezing temperatures.  If this doesn't change soon, I'm moving!
I participated in a brainstorming session with a women's group yesterday, following a WAC (Watonga Action Committee) meeting on Monday evening. The WAC group continues to rehash ideas about what needs to be done to "improve quality of life" in Watonga... some ideas that have been brought up over and over again during the past year but without action, like cleaning up the town.  Yes, the mayor announced last night that he has hired an official Code Enforcer -- or rather, given that designation to an existing emplyee.  The issue will be whether or not that Code Enforcer is able to do his job without being jaded by his relationships and friendships with local townspeople.  This is a huge problem, but our Mayor promises it will be rectified.  The Cheese Factory was condemned in 2007-early 2008 and it is still standing in its dilapidated state. Let's hope the new Code Enforcer can get something done sooner than five years!!! 

Last night the idea of having an art center here, to have SOMETHING people can come to Watonga for other than the State Park, was brought up as if it were a new idea.  I've said (and others have said) that Watonga is a perfect location for a small "arts center" -- we have a wonderful theatre building, an established winery lots of talented people both artistically and musically, and lots of  currently unused space on Main Street that is wasting away.  But so far my small group of supporters is the only people taking any action.  I have to say that one local businessman has thrown some support our way and we hope to have open an Art Workshop on Main Street this summer.  In the meantime, I'm going to coordinate with our church and Kiwanis' summer kids program to provide art lessons for children. ....

Time for breakfast ... watch for more later!   

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A windy Saturday - April 20

We've had erratic weather this Spring -- still getting freezes overnight but have had daytime temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees.  And then a day in the 40's. Weird.  We planted some peppers and tomatoes in the garden about a week ago, after about a week of nice weather, and then we got a freeze overnight so we lost those seedlings.  I'm waiting until the end of the month to plant any other vegetables outdoors.  I'm glad lettuces and cilantro and arugula can stand the cold weather -- they are surviving and growing in spite of the overnite freezes. 

Yesterday it was sunny and nice and I worked in the garden, transplating some variegated vinca and some violets.  The grape hyacinth are gorgeous.  I think the last cold snap hurt the red buds and we may not have the color we've had in past years.  I still have lot of leaves to rake and get off of some of the gardens, so there is plenty for me to do outside even if I can't plant vegetables yet. 

Andy has started working on the outdoor wood-fired oven.  He's staked out the space, ordered supplies and picked up some things from Lowe's to start working on the foundation.  He's looking for a cement mixer -- he's going to have a lot of cement work to do and it would  be costly to rent one for the length of time he will need it. 

Last week I gave a presentation to the Kiwanis Club about our Liquid Art events to benefit Phoenix Circle Foundation.  It was well received and I'm hopeful for more participants at the next sessions.  I'll probably start children's lessons after school ends. 

Today is very windy  but the temperature is supposed to be in the 60's.  I think I'll go to the winery for the weekly brainstorming session before working in the yard.   

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tues April 9 2013

Yesterday we spent the day driving to Tulsa for a doctor's appointment for me that lasted less than an hour.  All I can say is, the government is spending a lot of money on me to find out something they already have in the record.  On the bright side, my blood pressure was back down to "old normal", what it was before my heart attack, 112/78.  I think the absence of dealing with the stress of being around unethical people is making a difference in my health. 

Today I put up a display at the Watonga library to promote the Liquid Art evening this month. We have several reservations, a couple who said they want to come, and three empty spots as of today, Tuesday.  In addition to the library display, I sent out a few "request for donation" letters and hope to generate some money to fix up a building we are looking at in Watonga in which to put an art workshop and hold art classes ...
As you can see, it needs some work, but the  main room  inside is quite sufficient for an art workshop.  I won't say too much more about it except THANKS -- I am grateful for the businessman who is willing to let us use this space.  Once we get this opened, we can have art classes for children and adults here. I'm eager to get some youth interested in making art.   Remember ...
today is a windy day, with the sun coming out every now and then, but there is a chill in the air and the temperature isn't getting above 60 degrees. I had planned to rake up more leaves but decided not to fight the wind.  Last evening I was excited to see some carrots coming up at the garden, along with the cilantro and lettuces.  I've transplanted some arugula to give to a gardening friend who has never had it, but it will take a few days for the plant to recover from the shock of transplanting.  I am eager to hear what Gene thinks about arugula!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

After Easter

Easter signifies a new beginning. I think that's one of the reasons I love spring so much. One of the nicest things about running the bed & breakfast is getting to meet new people that are really nice and sometimes turn into friends. On Thursday and Friday we had a returning guest from the Chicago area. He comes to Watonga as part of his job and has though he has also stayed at the Lodge, he usually stays with us at least one night when he is in the area. Yesterday for breakfast I made "Dutch Baby pancakes" from a book I read recently, with bacon glazed with brown sugar and fresh rosemary. On the side were sliced pears and apples with just a little bit of grated asiago cheese on top. A couple of surprises to the taste buds.

Yesterday was a beautiful day, too nice to stay indoors. After breakfast I got out my yard utensils and began raking leaves off the the garden beds, when an SUV turned onto our lane from the highway. Skeeter met the car and it stopped midway down the lane, the driver obviously afraid she was going to hit the dog. I called him back to the house and walked out to meet the car. The passenger rolled down her window and smiled and said she and her daughter were just out for a drive and saw our sign on the road. I asked them if they'd like to come in and see the B&B and the woman said she knew that this had been her dentist's house! Sue introduced herself and her daughter, who was driving, and I invited them to come in. We walked through the bedrooms and out onto each deck, and then outside off the Texas bedroom and around to the front of the house. Sue expressed her excitement at our having moved here and taken over the property, and asked if he ever hosted retreats for women's groups. I said we were available for that, and she said she would love to bring her friends here. We had a nice visit while we walked around. Her daughter brought her husband Bob (who had stayed in the car originally) in and showed him through the bedrooms. We all had a nice visit while we walked around. Sue's daughter (I'm sorry I don't remember her name right at the moment) loves to garden so we had lots to talk about. She said she could appreciate all the work that has gone into the house, having done home remodeling herself. I hope they will both come back sometime. I got back to work and raked leaves off of the front garden along the porch and also from under the cedar tree next to the OK room deck. I transplated some thrift and some sedum to a few places that needed color and watered them in, and also divided a clump of summer sedum and planted them into pots. I'll find places for them when they get their roots established.
Andy was busy researching supplies for the brick oven, and then worked on putting in a drain underneath the flagstone path that goes along the south side of the house and meets up with the back cement patio.

After all our work was done, we showered and then to town to visit with Brad at the winery about the Wine Competition they are planning for the Cheese Festival. Andy and I both felt like we accomplished quite a bit yesterday.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thur. April 4, 2013 We've had a steady rain for the past couple of days! I'm eager to walk outside and see everything greening up. It is supposed to be warmer and sunny by this afternoon. If the temperatures cooperate, this weekend (Fri, Sat.) may be good days to hunt morrel mushrooms! I've finshed reading a good book as part of a "Let's Talk About It" book club sponsored by the Watonga Library and OK Humanities Council. Our local library is absolutely FABULOUS about getting and putting together programs here, both for children and for adults. Tonight's book for discussion is "A Homemade Life" by an Oklahoma writer, Molly Wizenberg. I was surprised at how easy it was to read, and the recipes in it are a bonus. In fact, I'm going to make one of the breakfast recipes for our B&B Guests this weekend. It is a little bit like a recipe from Andy's family called "German pancakes" (which, ironically, I had planned to make this weekend had I not found this new recipe), but it is called "Dutch Baby Pancakes". In the book, there's a short family story surrounding every recipe. As I've mentioned before, I don't think a reader of this can post a "comment" if they don't have a google or gmail email address. If you try to post and cannot, please post a comment on the Chaparral Retreat facebook page, or send an email to "phoenixcir@yahoo.com". I've been lax in keeping up on the blog mostly because I didn't think anyone was looking at it, but have received a few messages that friends are reading but can't leave a "comment" here. Let me know if you are reading--that will encourage me to continue writing. It's a new Spring and I am crawling out of the winter cave, so I plan on posting more to this blog.
Wed. April 3. Yesterday I thought I was having a good day. Got out of the house, went grocery shopping for a few things, then went by The Spot for part of the Advisory Committee Meeting. It was uncomfortable; my presence wasn't even acknowledged by the youth and some of the staff. I felt anxious but got through it. Went home and relaxed. Then in the evening, I went with Andy to the City Council meeting in Watonga. That was more distressing for me. When I got home, my blood pressure was high--162/102! It's a constant battle keeping my blood pressure down when daily life takes me to dark places. Today will be better. /linda

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring sunset. Easter weekend was really beautiful -- sunny and warm and not too much wind. On Saturday we all worked in the yard, raking up leaves and gathering up wood for a bonfire on Sunday evening. Andy trimmed up some trees where limbs had broken off. We still have lots of work to do! The irises are putting on buds. Saw the first quince blooming and also some grape hyacinth. On Sunday we had some friends over in the late afternoon and ate hotdogs cooked over the bonfire. It was a pleasant weekend. I have realized that a person cannot leave a comment on this blog unless they have a Google or gmail email account. If anyone wants to comment, you can go to our Facebook page or send an email to "phoenixcir@yahoo.com". I am troubled by some actions being taken by the City of Watonga concerning a possible sale of Roman Nose State Park. Many people don't know that the City owns the park and the State of Oklahoma leases it and operates it. It doesn't cost the City anything to own the property and it receives some revenue from taxes and providing water. We have been told that the State doesn't want to put any more maintenance money into the park unless it owns the property (the swimming pool at the Park may not be opened timely, if at all, this summer). The City would love to have a big influx of cash from a sale to the State. What is disturbing is that the City mayor and city attorney appear to be "negotiating" behind closed doors for a deal and refuse to discuss the matter with anyone - city residents - when asked "what's going on." Of course, any sale of city property would have to be put up for bid and advertised to the public, but by the time any other potentially interested party other than the State sees the posting it might be too late to arrange for funding -- this isn't the kind of transaction one can pay for out of their "savings account"!! The people of Watonga need to ask questions about this. There probably needs to be a public forum to let the residents know what is going on, but no one I've spoken to seems to be willing to "ruffle feathers" by asking questions. Why are WE interested? Because the Park is one of the main reasons we started our bed & breakfast here, so the Park's future affects our future. It may all some down to someone asking the State Attorney General some questions about what our Mayor can and cannot do and possibly request an investigation into the matter. It's up in the air for now. Tomorrow (Tuesday) night is a City Council meeting, so we'll see if the issue is addressed at that time.