Friday, March 25, 2016


2015 ended with a bang - an ice storm that left us without power until the end of the day on January 1, 2016.  All of the cleaning in the garage we had intended to do was postponed, though we did get through a few boxes, rearranged some boxes we will store for a while more, and threw away at least four big black bags of trash.  We almost have room for a car now!!  We found our breadmaking machine in a cardboard box marked "Kitchen Stuff"--this  coming weekend we'll have to give it a try and see if it still works!!  Drew and Jenna make such fabulous handmade bread from scratch, I'm not sure keeping the breadmaker is worth it; but we'll give it a try! We found a box of antiques that I'll take into OKC to get appraised -- nothing we'll get rich off, but there are some nice glass plates and a set of painted plates, probably vintage '20s.  I have a box ready to take to the Goodwill store too. 

Drew and Jenna were on the road visiting friends and family,  and spent the holidays with Jenna's family. They returned safely to us on Jan 7.  Meanwhile, we fed and watered the hens and the cats, gathered eggs enough to give away a few dozen and still have some for ourselves, and made cinnamon & brown sugar roasted pecans. 

It's Already February, so buckle down for a long read.....

 I've let time go by without writing here, but I did finish the script for the children's play I've been working on for three years!!  I am eager to do a "reading", hopefully sometime soon.  We'll get out some wine, assign parts, and read through the script.....
Christmas and the beginning of the New Year were quiet at the Retreat.  The ice storms caused quite a bit of damage to trees so we have our work cut out for us between now and probably April to get all of the dead wood cut up and stacked and trim off damaged tree limbs.  If you look at Google Maps and search for Chaparral Retreat, or 4978 OK Hwy 8A, you'll see how we are surrounded by forest.  The forest is less dense after the ice damage - probably won't show up on Google Maps for six months to a year.  
Andy and I worked on cleaning out some boxes from the garage to make room to actually park a car in there!  SUCCESS!  After Drew and Jenna got back from their excursion to visit her family, AJ and I went down to Dallas to visit friends and pick up the new baby.  We haven't had a new car in ten years, and this "new" one is a 2010.  Can't wait for warm weather when we can put the top down! 

The kids have made some progress on their house in spite of weather limitations—it is exciting to see.  We’re still having cold temperatures overnight and early morning, but the numbers are moving up slowly.  Then again, we can have five days of temps in the 30's and 40's  and wind, and then five days of temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s. 
As a board member of the Oklahoma Tourism group, Red Carpet Country Tourism Assoc., I’ve been distributing the annual Visitors Guide all around our  town and hope to get to other small towns both in our county and around the state.  Our B&B's audience is people traveling and looking for a nice, quiet, clean, and even something a little upscale (which we are), so we need to get the tourism guides distributed at hotels and convention centers in the suburbs.  We did drop some off at the OK/Texas border Welcome Center and at the Cherokee Visitor’s Center on I-40. 
Drew and Jenna have ordered worms for their composting bins and are busy shredding paper and hauling manure to get the bins set up.  Sounds exciting, doesn’t it!!  We're thinking about establishing a community garden in town, looking for a "Health and Hunger" grant.
We had a Liquid ART event on Friday, Feb. 12 – calling it a pre-Valentine date night.  On the 13th we had a full house of guests from Edmond, OK, and added a Valentine’s dinner for all on Saturday night.  I put together a menu of tapas with paella as the main course.  Our local vintner brought wine.  I miss the days in Dallas when we could go to happy hour and graze and sit for hours with friends, telling stories and laughing at ourselves.   Our recent trip to Dallas was a joy and a special treat, getting to see friends from Andy’s radio days and catch up.  I hope we were good enough salespeople to convince them to come up to BFE for a visit.   
In mid-January I attended a social media marketing seminar at our local library.  It was very very good and I came away with lots of tips on increasing traffic to our website and our facebook pages.  It just all takes time to implement those ideas!! 
We are heading into our busy season and getting calls about pizza dinner reservations.  We haven't had enough consistent good weather stretches to advertise set dates, but we are willing to take a reservation and plan on dinner with the understanding that it is subject to the weather. 
I have scheduled a couple of house concerts for the spring:  Caroline Cotter on March 23, and My Politic on May 16 (check them out on their websites or on youtube.  I have one potential booking for April but haven’t gotten confirmation yet. 
Easter is early this year and we have no special plans.  Our dinner with the Davis’ for Valentine’s Day went so well and smooth, I am considering doing a special dinner out here one night a month. 
I am planning the First Annual Scissortail Arts Day for May 28.  This year it will be a half day with sidewalk squares made available for chalk art drawings, for kids and youth AND adults (if any are brave enough to do it!!)  One food truck, and some live music in addition to a recorded playlist.  The point being, having something in Watonga to bring people here in addition to the one festival the town has and is known for – the Cheese Festival (which did not do well last October and lost some of its credibility with vendors).  This week I have to start on making flyers for the event, lining up the music, and visiting the local university art department to drum up some interest and maybe volunteer help.   We’re going to do a “trial run” in Okeene in April at the request of one of the shop owners there who is looking for something different to attract people to her storefront – the weekend of the Okeene Rattlesnake Roundup—yes there is such a thing and it’s a pretty big thing around these parts. 

Andy and Drew are in Portland, OR visiting Blake this week.  There is a "tour d'dirt" mountain bike event this weekend at Roman Nose State Park and I'm hoping to get a booking or two from that.  Tomorrow and this coming weekend are supposed to be beautiful, warm days, so I hope to get some gardening done.  The daffodils are blooming, as is the quince and crocus.  New iris leaves are popping up all over, along with baby daylily shoots.  Tomorrow I'll walk around and take an inventory, and maybe even plant some cilantro, parsley, spinach, and lettuces.  I LOVE SPRINGTIME!! 



Catching Up

We've survived the winter, loss of electricity for a week as the result of a serious ice storm, and the change to Daylight Savings Time.  We are being blessed with an early spring and some rain, though we are still in "drought conditions" and could use some more rain.  The redbud trees and gardens are popping with color!! Irises are blooming (some colors--different colors bloom at different times, so we have iris color over a longer period of time).

Earlier this month I donated blood - just to get my vitals checked.  I started getting medical insurance through Medicare, which allowed me a Free one-time checkup by my doctor.  What it doesn't cover are all of the visits to specialists and tests he referred me to have -- blood work, visit with a cardiologist, visit with a neurologist.  I received good news from the cardiologist -- my heart function has gone from an EF of 30% (congestive heart failure) to 50%.  He says that is close to a normal EF number for someone who hasn't had a heart attack!  YAY!  On the other hand, my cholesterol is high.  I've since made major changes in my eating, exercise, and medication, so I wanted to get my cholesterol checked by donating blood.  Still waiting for those results. Giving blood drains me of energy for more than 48 hours, while the body regenerates red blood cells. It's unfortunate that that's what I have to go through to stay on top of my health unless I want to pay $100+ for a doctor's office visit and several hundred dollars for blood work at the hospital lab.  Something is really messed up about our healthcare system. We shouldn't have to pay out the nose to stay healthy and prevent health conditions that can, if left undetected and untreated through preventative care, cause more serious and costly medical care.  The system isn't going to change for the better as long as it is profitable for certain entities to keep people sick. OK, that's my rant for the day.  I am thankful for every day of my life. 
One of our recent guests, from Edmond, OK, wrote on facebook:  Have you ever looked back at your life and been truly thankful for the bad things because without those you would be on a different path in your life?

So, now that I have energy again, it is time to rake leaves, trim trees, and get the vegetable gardens ready to plant.  Drew and Jenna have already planted cool weather herbs and vegetables.  We will start having wood-fired pizza dinners on April 2 and try to have a dinner every Saturday. 
A young couple, Stephen and Elizabeth Hunley, who live in Tennessee but have relatives in Blaine County, stayed with us at the Chaparral Retreat last November. I didn't realize Stephen was a musician until they were checking out and we some time chatting.  Then, a couple of weeks ago, they sent us a link to Stephen's  new video for his song "Oklahoma" on youtube. They had shot the video in the Watonga area earlier in the summer, and we recognized many of the location shots.  It was a wonderful surprise!  We are so happy for them.  They've been back to stay with us this past month, and we've invited them back to do a House Concert later this year. 

This past Wednesday night at the Chaparral Retreat we hosted a singer/songwriter for a house concert.  Even though it was sunny outside, the wind was ferocious so she played indoors. Her gig here was the subject of KOSU's music minute on Wednesday, where they played a clip of one of her songs and promoted her concert at the Chaparral Retreat! Thanks to all who came out to see her and support the arts and music! I thought it was a great evening!  She left the next morning to head to Kansas, and then on to Portland Oregon with several stops for house concerts along the way. 

Watonga hometown girl Katie Ballew will be performing a House Concert at the Chaparral Retreat soon. Watch for details on the Chaparral Retreat fb page, or Oklahoma House Concerts page

"Kids" from age 5 to 70+ participated on a Wednesday afternoon for some outdoor fun I organized in the parking lot at the local Methodist Church.  I had marked off ten 4 x 4 squares for sidewalk chalk art drawings.  Through our arts foundation, we provided all of the supplies and some instruction and samples of ideas. It was a gorgeous sunny day.  You can see the creativity on the Phoenix Circle Foundation facebook page.  I am thankful for the adult volunteers who came to help watch over the kids' safety, to the church for allowing us to use their parking lot, and the parents who allowed their children to come.  The church also a snack and water, and everyone had fun.
I am hopeful this will be the seed for the first annual SCISSORTAIL ARTS DAY We are trying to organize for the Saturday of Memorial day weekend.  I've made contact with the Southwest Oklahoma State University art department to get some of their art club students involved, and met with an artist in Weatherford who used to do sidewalk chalk art.  Watch the Phoenix Circle Foundation facebook  page for updated information.



Sidewalk Chalk Art
+ FOOD= A Fun day for the whole family
Saturday, May 28, 2016 —1:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Corner of 4th St. and Burford, Watonga, OK(check in is at Parking Lot of

 TEAMS ARE NOW FORMING--ALL AGES Please call 940-735-1065or 580-623-4269 (leave a message with your phone number for a call back) to request information and registration form, or email us at

So, that's what's going on with us out here in rural Oklahoma.  Come visit us anytime!