Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 30, 2013

It was a busy weekend at the Retreat, with Dan and Anita and Sydney from Washington, Lee and Myrna Marriott from Edmond, and Drew and Jenna from Texas all here for a visit.  Andy smoked a beef brisket and Drew brought fresh flour tortillas from HEB store in Austin.  We ate brisket tacos for dinner with a chocolate sheet cake for dessert.  Sydney couldn't get enough of it! 

The weather was perfect for sitting outside and watching the hummingbirds come to the feeder. Tim and Sherry stopped by for a visit.  The kids stayed up late, talking.  It all reminded me of the days when Andy and I would come here to visit granddad.  The next day, Andy got the Desoto out and took everyone for a ride through town. 

The front windows on the theatre are etched with an art deco design by Drew and it was the first time he and Jenna got to see the finished work.  Andy and I are both proud of him and his work. Now the Liberty Theatre has touches of two generations of Barretts
On Friday we did our Liquid ART at the Whirlwind Winery.  We didn't have a big crowd but those of us there enjoyed the evening.  I can't believe more people don't come to this inexpensive evening of fun! 


Friday, July 26, 2013

The Oven is now being "seasoned" -- Andy has to build a fire in the oven for six days, starting with a small fire and each day increasing the size of the fire. 

Yesterday afternoon we walked down the trail to the "back forty" and cleared away dead limbs and suckers that had overgrown onto the path.  There was a nice breeze under the canopy of trees.  Then, last night, we got about two inches of rain!  Andy mowed the lawn yesterday, just in time for the moisture.  The property is looking pretty good.  We sat on the front porch and looked out over the canvas and decided what trees need more trimming and where I should plant more color for this time of year.  The crepe myrtle are blooming, along with the summer phlox, coreopsis, and turk's cap.  This weekend we will have family visiting and we hope to get to sit outside on the patio and enjoy some "cooler" weather -- in the 80's! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013


July 19.  Today was hot at the Retreat, around 98 degrees, but a light breeze and shelter in the shade under the trees made it tolerable.  The grasshoppers are back in full force, after a few days of wet weather. I didn't spend too much time outside other than spreading an organic bait for grasshoppers in the early morning.  Andy worked on mowing the yard and then went to town to do some "paid" handyman work.   We have lots of baby zucchini on the plants, some baby eggplant, a few green tomatoes, and some flower buds on the pepper plants.  The "bait" takes about two weeks to work, so I'll continue to watch the garden for evidence of grasshoppers eating the leaves.  So far the basil is unaffected by the varmints and I'm ready to harvest another crop in the next day or so to make pesto. 

Last night the Community Band put on a nice program.  The band consists of not only local band students but musicians from surrounding towns, alumni of Watonga band program, former and current band directors.  Our high school band director Brian Pope and former band director Chris Bordelon have done a great job in getting this group together.  I hope they continue to put on the concert every year. The community certainly did support it with good attendance. 

As for the Oven, the fireplace side is now finished and Andy is ready to start curing the inside of the oven.  There is still some "construction" to be done -- putting on the rock facing and digging out the yard for seating space -- but I'm hopeful it may be ready in a month.  Andy has been working hard on the project in spite of the heat. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013


This past week was hot and humid, but Andy continued to work on the oven and fireplace.  I worked in the garden, pulling weeds and grass out and harvesting zucchini and tomatoes.  Just enough for us -- none for the Farmers Market though I'm hopeful I'll have a big harvest by next weekend to take into town. 

We had some visitors from Dallas at the Retreat and enjoyed reminiscing with them not only about Dallas but also about the Chicago area, where they have also lived.  They spent the day exploring the area, did a little wine tour including the Whirlwind Winery, and then went to the Canton Rodeo. 

This morning is beautiful!  It was raining when I got up from bed.  Before making breakfast, I sat on the front porch with a cup of coffee.  The temperature was about 68 degrees! A perfect morning to commune with nature.  Everything is green, a few flowers are blooming here and there, and the air smells clean and fresh.  It has stopped raining but it is still overcast and cool, and the birds are singing. 



Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday, Sunday

It's awfully hot today so I am staying in the house.  Yesterday I harvested some basil and made three jars of beautiful Pesto.  The plants are still healthy and thriving, so I should get to make another batch of Pesto next week.  We baked a loaf of French bread and ate the pesto as a spread on it.   In the last batch I added some chipotle seasoning to give it a kick.   Delicious!

This evening I'm going to plant my sweet potato slips.  I have some regular potatoes growing in the garden but they aren't quite ready to dig yet.  I'm encouraged after getting some fresh new potatoes from our friend Janet Edsall from her garden.  I cut them in half, coated them with olive oil and seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, dill) and roasted them in the oven.  They were great with a small filet mignon steak, and even better cold the next morning with breakfast.  Waste not, want not!

Friday, July 5, 2013

4th of July

Our friends Linda and Mark Grennan stayed at the Retreat on Wednesday night.  After breakfast, Andy worked on the Oven during the  morning, while I worked in the front gardens.  There are always weeds and grass and four o'clocks to pull up.  I also harvested basil from the garden to make a batch of pesto.   It was a lovely day, not too hot or humid. Patrick Espy came by for a visit -- we hadn't seen him in quite a while.  After work we sat under the umbrella on the patio and enjoyed a cold beer while a slab of ribs cooked in the house oven. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Progress on the Oven at Chaparral


Andy's been working hard while the weather has been pleasant and he's made good progress on the Oven this week.  There are so many more steps to the building process than I originally imagined.

A layer of sand is spread out within the frame of fire brick.

Then the firebrick are laid out in a herring-bone pattern without mortar.  But they have to be perfectly level.  This is going to be the cooking surface:

Then the actual dome form is covered with firebrick and a special mortar.  Once set, the form itself will be removed, leaving only the brick structure.