Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Summertime and the living is easy - George Gershwin

 May 4 2023 

Musings on a summer night at the Chaparral Retreat:

'I listen to the whippoorwills chirping in the background of the sounds of insects flitting in and out of the luminescence of the patio light while Sadie finishes her survey of the yard and tries to sniff out the presence of other animals daring enough to venture out of the darkness while she is on watch. Not that she would do anything about an intruder other than snarl at it and maybe chase it back into the woods, but she is smart enough to know what her duties are. To warn and to protect. She is, after all, a shepherd, with the instincts of the breed but without a regular herd to manage.'

We are having a somewhat mild beginning of summer, with some rain and daytime high temperatures in the 80's. The grounds are lush, and we are working to remove layers of fallen leaves from the garden areas, trim branches from trees and shrubs, and move around some perennials that have outgrown the spaces they are in.

We have hosted several private events over the past few months, including some art workshops using oils and watercolors. I planned an art curriculum for the Kiwanis Club's summer youth program that runs through June and was happy to have twelve children show up for the first session. They worked on a pop art project and also made cookie-cutter figures out of clay. I have a couple of printmaking projects planned and another clay activity, and we'll do a collaborative painting that I think they'll have fun with.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Hail Storm in April 2023

 Yesterday afternoon we were hit by a massive hail storm! The scene was eerie as steam rose when the frozen hail hit the ground. The outside temperature was 70 degrees when the rain started falling, and it quickly turned to hail. The storm lasted about thirty minutes, starting with pea-sized pellets and ending with almost golf-sized frozen balls. I welcome the moisture but not the destruction of my gardens and all the cleanup work that needs to be done. On the bright side, tomorrow it will be warm enough to go out and hunt mushrooms!!  

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Fresh Start - 2023

 April 2, 2023  

Spring is here, and we are in the process of "sprucing up" the property for coming visitors and events. Andy has been working hard: he replaced the fence on the front of the property using cedar boards from trees he cut down from the "way back" of the property. He has been clearing more trails through the woods. The kids planted some fruit trees and though we may not get fruit this year, they have survived and we look forward to future harvests. We have lots of projects to get done this spring!

We spent a lot of 2022 traveling to check out event venues, other lodging options, attending hospitality seminars, and trying to see how other businesses like ours are adapting to meet the changes in travel, entertainment, and hospitality services after three years of living with COVID. Last year we moved toward expanding our "customer base" to offering the Retreat for workshops, business conferences, and art retreats.

The redbuds are in bloom, and if we ever get some rain, we'll go out to hunt morel mushrooms! I will begin writing on this blog more often this year, so please check in to see what's going on out here at our little piece of heaven!

Check out our facebook page for photos and other hyyge commentary. Sending our love out to all . . . / Linda Barrett

Monday, November 29, 2021

 So, 2021 wasn’t quite the year clear of the Coronavirus like we thought (i.e., hoped) it would be back at the end of 2020.  We in our family have all been vaccinated and continue to social distance and wear masks when in public.  Sadly, we’ve experienced through good friends what the virus can do and it looks like the virus is going to be with us for a while so we will continue to take precautions in the near future.  The good news is that we have been able to leave the house and resume some semblance of “normalcy” by getting to go out to eat, travelling, and spending time with friends.  We took a few trips this year: to Bakersfield to visit my sister Becky and her family and to lay our brother Simon to rest at the National Cemetery; a quick overnight trip to Dallas, and a trip to New Mexico to celebrate the retirement of one of Andy’s college buddies.   

Back at the Retreat, things have been quiet for the second year of the COVID pandemic.   We’ve started having guests again but have limited rentals to the New Mexico room which can be directly and easily accessed from its private patio.  We aren’t serving a cooked breakfast, but hopefully we can resume full service in 2022.  We had one House Concert this year and it reminded us of how much fun those shows are; again, we hope to resume having live music next year, if not at our house then at our local winery where we’ve hosted musicians in the past. 

Our son Drew earned his degree in art education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and almost immediately got a job as a high school art teacher in the town of Yukon.  The commute is long and he and Jenna are looking for a house to buy nearer to his job.  Jenna works from home as a paralegal for a Dallas-based law firm and all of her work is on-line. Their house project on our property has been at a stand-still since Drew went back to school to finish his degree but they still intend to finish it at some point and use it as a studio. Our daughter Alma is still living in Portland, Oregon and is happy there.  I still post updates on goings on around here on Facebook (Chaparral Retreat and Guesthouse) and sometimes write in my blog at chaparralbb.blogspot.com

Fortunately, our family is doing well as this year comes to an end.  We hope this note finds you and yours in good cheer for the holidays and that 2022 brings you LOVE, PEACE, GOOD HEALTH AND HAPPINESS.   

 /Andy and Linda Barrett
NEW MAILING ADDRESS:   4978 S. Hwy 8A, Watonga, OK  73772 (we no longer have our PO Box)"

Monday, August 2, 2021

Summer Celebrations

Aug 2, 2021

 It's 6:00 pm on Monday, third day of my birthday celebration. I made taco salad with grilled and sliced steak for family dinner, after eating out two days in a row with friends who were in town to celebrate an anniversary and my birthday. Being with good friends and family is the key to a happy birthday!

The weekend started with a fun watercolor painting lesson with a new 12-year old student at Watonga ArtWorks. Children are such sponges of information and experiences, and Maddie was a joy to work with.
Teri and John from Broken Arrow arrived in time for happy hour before going to dinner at Foggy Bottom restaurant at Roman Nose State Park Lodge -- excellent food. We were all too full for dessert but sat up and talked, catching up, till the late hour of 10:00 pm. We started up again on Sunday morning with a light breakfast of fruit, crescents, and bacon at the Chaparral Retreat before going on a hike around the property. The outdoor temperature on Sunday and Monday were like early spring and it was a real treat to walk around without getting sweaty or heat stroke!! We took our friends on a car tour of the town, including the new casino property (hotel is not open yet). By the time we finished with a late lunch we were all ready for a nap. We had breakfast at home before they headed off to their next adventure in Kansas. Celebrating their anniversary with them was very apropo since Andy and I attended their wedding which was the first time I met any of Andy's college friends after he and I first met over 40 years ago. I feel so blessed.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Come see us at the Chaparral Retreat again!

 We are having guests again at the Chaparral Retreat, but with some changes in order to take into account the continuing threat of COVID19 and its variants. I will miss cooking breakfast for our guests and spending time visiting with them as we ease back into the new normal. Everyone's safety is our primary concern! The peace and quiet of the Retreat, beautiful sunsets, flowering gardens and trails through the woods are all still here for visitors to enjoy. See the website at www.chaparralbb.com for updated information. I am also keeping up to date on postings to the Chaparral Retreat facebook pages.

With all of the rain we've had, the property has become a jungle. I am working to pull up vinca that is encroaching on paths, and continuing our annual battle with the grasshoppers. The vegetable garden is surviving but we're going to try a different tactic to keep the grasshoppers out since every other method we've tried has proven unsuccessful. I went to Hobby Lobby and bought several yards of a twill netting and intend to make small tents to place over the garden areas that are susceptible to the grasshoppers. They specifically like the basil.

I was walking along the front of the house yesterday, with scissors to cut the vinca that is extending onto the cement path that leads to the New Mexico room. I had not yet met the visitors who were staying in that room, but they were sitting on their patio and saw me, and asked if I was the proprietor. I introduced myself and they asked me some questions about the property and how we came to Watonga. We actually had a nice visit before the sun came out behind the clouds and the humidity shot up. The thing I missed most about shutting down during COVID was visiting with guests. We get to meet some interesting people and they usually end up being long-term friends.

Drew and Jenna have returned from their vacation to visit her parents back east, and they are both busy getting caught up on work and school planning/assignments. Martha was a good traveller but was obviously happy to be home where she can run to her heart's content. I know Sadie missed Martha even though we tried to give all of the animals extra attention while the kids were away.

The summer flowers are starting to bloom: coneflower, phlox, lantana, purple heart, and four o'clocks are putting on color. Our black currant bushes were eaten up by some kind of caterpiller but we did get a small harvest of the berries. We also found a mulberry tree on a friend's property and I collected some berries and made a mulberry jam. I have to say, it came out really good. I'm ready to make another batch after the ground dries up (the trees are in a low spot in a yard near a creek so it is especially muddy right now.

We are looking forward to having friends come to visit this summer, and have one Oklahoma house concert scheduled for September 13. We are going to try and hold the show on the back patio if the weather cooperates.

I hope everyone had a good fourth of July and that everyone is tolerating the heat and humidity of this time of year!

Friday, May 7, 2021

May 2021

 As Andy and I were walking around the property last evening, we saw that all of our crape myrtles died back from the deep freeze we had early this year. But they are putting out new growth from ground level. We have a lot of trimming to do to get rid of the dead and give the plants a fresh start!

The freeze also affected my iris bloom -- I only had one white iris bloom and about eight blooms in other clumps around the property and they are only now (May) opening up!

This week's weather has been perfect -- high 40's-50's overnight and 60 to 75 degrees during the day, with not much wind. I've spent the last week raking leaves off of the garden beds around the house in the hopes of keeping the grasshopper population down this year. Everything is green right now. We lost several entire trees from the ice storm and we have lots of fallen branches that need to be chainsawed into pieces. We'll have to take out a few dead trees completely. WE HAVE LOTS OF CUT-UP WOOD STACKED AND READY FOR PICKUP -- IF INTERESTED, CALL ANDY AT 214-763-3823 TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS TO COME GET IT. We are located on the road to Roman Nose State Park if you need wood for a campfire!

We are opening up one bedroom in the house for rent (the New Mexico room), and have availability in June. We are still complying with social distancing and other precautions and have changed our breakfast to a "continental" offering: coffee and juice, fruit, muffins and/or bagels, granola, yogurt. see our website: www.chaparralbb.com

We have a house concert scheduled for September 16, with Ian Leath from Chicago, Illinois. Here are links to his bio and music:
Instagram / leithalian
I'll be posting an Event on Facebook later in the summer.