Sunday, December 31, 2017

End of Year 2017

2017 has been a good year--productive, sometimes stressful, but overall I feel like I've accomplished a lot both in my business ventures, in my writing, and in stress and my health management. Though I got hit with the flu at the end of this year, my health has generally been good all year. I haven't been as consistent as I would have liked to have been this past year in several areas, but think I am getting the hang of managing my time among all of the things I want to do and, if I wanted to call it a new year's resolution, it would be to put some of the ideas I've read and learned this past year into practice in the coming year. Today I'm going to try and catch up on this blog!  Most of this end of year update has been posted at some time during the year on facebook.

Andy and I and our family want to wish everyone a safe and happy new year celebration and success in 2018 in all of your endeavors!

We are still working on building our clientele for the Bed & Breakfast but pretty much stay as busy as we want to. It is such a treat for us to meet new people, make new friends, and catch up with returning guests. All of our "advertising" is on social media or word-of-mouth, with, TripAdvisor, and Google searches bringing us guests looking for a special experience. We have a great relationship with the Park Lodge staff and management and we each refer potential guests back and forth. There is a new Park manager and a new Park Ranger at Roman Nose State Park and we look forward to working with them, both in promoting their programs and attracting more people to this tucked-away treasure in rural Blaine County. 

Our "Oklahoma House Concert series" has attracted many talented musicians to come out to the Chaparral Retreat to perform, and our audience is growing.  We've been working with the owners of the Whirlwind Winery in downtown Watonga to "cross-promote" our businesses.  They bring in lots of people from the OKC metro area through their wine & cheese pairing Groupons, and Brad and Don (owners) allow us to promote our B&B and the House Concerts at their storefront on Main St.  We have even held a couple of house concerts at the winery, trying to get more visitors to the Watonga downtown area.  

Brian Pounds and Grace Pettis 


We haven't done any Liquid ART classes this year but did provide supplies and art instruction for two local fundraisers -- one for a woman's medical expenses and one for a Relay for Life team. Mainly, we have been focusing on the music series and renovating the building next to the Winery on Main St. Watonga in order to open an Art Gallery/Creative Space. Andy has made lots of progress this year with the help of Drew and several volunteers. Phoenix Circle Foundation received a small grant from Walmart and I've submitted several other grant applications that we hope to hear from in January. The space is coming together slowly but surely, and we want to have it ready for some children's art projects and to use as a live music venue by Mid-March. In order to do that, I do a lot of "begging"/fundraising, and praying for that special "angel" -- a local business person or corporation who can see our vision for Main Street to become a year-around tourist destination and is willing to invest in the community with a significant philanthropic gift to Phoenix Circle Foundation.

We are thankful for the individuals who support our efforts and support the arts with their donations and attendance at activities and events we have held over the year, including the house concerts. This past year we had at least one house concert a month, held a sidewalk chalk art activity for children in town, and gave away free school supplies to local children/families. PIONEER TELEPHONE and Geary resident Kaye Base donated to our effort to encourage youth to pursue art experiences with a $250 scholarship to a high school student in May. I've worked with the high school counselors and art teachers in the schools in Blaine County that have some kind of arts program -- music or visual arts -- to raise awareness about Phoenix Circle Foundation's mission.
This summer we held an art auction and house concert as a fundraiser, featuring Brian Pounds and Grace Pettis from Austin providing some awesome music, and works of art donated by several Oklahoma artists for us to sell. Both the Whirlwind Winery and K&R Liquor provided some adult beverages, and we had Bedre' chocolate for our guests. We cannot say "thank you" enough to everyone who helped make this small event a success. I've posted our thanks on all of our facebook pages, but we can never thank these awesome and generous people enough!

This is all I have strength to write today -- I may edit later, but for now, I hope everyone is able to stay healthy, warm, and safe at the start of the new year!!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

December 14, 2017

TODAY ANDY AND I ARE CELEBRATING OUR 37th ANNIVERSARY.   We are blessed and happy to be where we are in life.  Last night Sadie woke me up around 3:45 a.m., wanting to go outside. While I waited for her to finish her business, I was for some reason inspired to get out my journal and hand-write a poem: 

"Nobody gets out of here alive.
Good things happen in life - embrace and enjoy them.
Bad things happen - embrace them and learn from them.
Everyday is a test of how we will live our life and what we get out of it.
But nobody gets out of here alive." (c) Linda Barrett 12/2017

I thank Nathan Brown for spending time with me after his show on Monday night and inspiring me to write.  And I thank Dylan Stewart for his support and encouragement for me to pursue (and hopefully accomplish) one of the items on my bucket list, and his willingness to help make it happen.  His songwriting also inspires me to write.  All of the musicians who have come to our place to perform have left a piece of themselves here that I can think about when I get off track.  I can't list them all here, but they know who they are, from locals Katie Ballew-Lyle and Vernon Brickman  to TJ George from Columbus, Ohio and Caroline Cotter from Maine.  We've had quite a ride this past year, and it's not over yet!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

End of year House Concert

 Dec. 11, 2017
Chaparral Retreat, Whirlwind Winery, and Phoenix Circle Foundation were honored to host Nathan Brown at the Whirlwind Winery on Monday evening. We had great conversation, music, some poetry reading, and, of course Wine with a great group of people who came out on a weeknight to support an important goal: Bring more of the Arts to rural Oklahoma!   This show was the last Oklahoma House Concert for 2017, and as you can see from Nathan's post below, his next to last for the year. 
Our thanks go to Nathan for his time, wisdom, and inspiration; to Brad for the wine, and to friends who shared this special time with us and supported the arts with their presence and donations.

Nathan has published several books, available on Amazon and at Mezcalita Press LLC. Check out Nathan Brown-The Poetry Page on facebook and "Like" his page. 

Oklahoma House Concerts is "on the map" and attracting more and more musicians to come out and play in a special place, with more visitors from out of town coming to have a unique and intimate experience. 
After the show at the Winery on Monday, I spent time chatting with Nathan at the house. We stayed up way past my usual bedtime and talked about writing, inspirations, rituals, publishing, the potential we have in the small town where I live to have a fabulous place for the arts, music, writing, storytelling, workshops .... we were in a mind-meld. I want to put everything else I am involved in away in a box and just write. I have a few more things to get done this year, and then I may consider dropping everything else, staying in my cozy bedroom and just writing, try to finish one project. Winter is a good time for that, for me, because I hate cold weather and tend to spend a lot of time indoors anyway.  One thing Nathan told me he does everyday as part of his morning "ritual" is write one poem.  I'm going to incorporate that into my morning routine.   Here is what I wrote today: 

"Valerie jerks forward as she passes me, like the startled feral cats she lives with. Food and water are her only needs other than the occasional accidental brush against someone’s leg when she chooses to be near people. Though she was out on the street today, I guess she wasn't in the mood for human touch.  She isn’t seen much around town these days. I believe she’s found her place in the world, a kind of solitude among her feline friends. I wonder who puts out food and water for them all now."