Drinking Heavily

Last year, the Bubs and I toured the town for the Best Sno Cone EVER.
And we found it next to a tepee. No, really, it’s the TP Church, even shaped like one. And across the street…the Best Sno Cones EVER.

This year, we ventured into the Sonic Drive-In for a much-needed chili dog. Horrible nutrient wise and certainly not thigh-slimming; super, though, for the jonesing-for-crap DNA I possess.
And in the stall next to us sat an enormous, lit-for-best-view-from-space neon sign advertising suggestions of the variety of Sonic Drive-In drinks that can be made by carbonating sugars, syrups, candy pieces, and corn syrup.
Well. That’s a CHALLENGE if ever I’ve seen one, right? I mean, c’mon, who can resist the glow-in-the-dark coloring of all things un-naturally purple? Like a moth toward a flame, baby.

Thus was born the Top 10 Drinks to Try This Summer, with two versions to play:
the Bubs Edition, and the Mama Format.
(Guess which list seems more palatable?)
And the worst part…er, I mean, the BEST part…is that the drinks on the list only need to look INTERESTING, not DRINKABLE.
AND. We both have to try all the drinks!
Gauntlet, THROWN!

Last night was the First Day of the Voyage into Unpalatable Beverages, but since it’s one thousand degrees outside and I don’t stop whining about the heat until Halloween, anything cool and/or icy is a PLUS to moi.
On tap for me: Tea, BUT. I already deviated slightly from my own list, because I had initially written “Raspberry Iced Tea,” and my craaaaaaazy rogue ways went with PEACH. I know! I’m a warrior! WHAAAAAT?? Peach tea!? Insanity.
Bubs’ first selection: Green Apple Slush with Jolly Rancher Pieces.
After I told him, “That cannot be a thing,” he indeed successfully ordered it.

Since, per the agreement, we BOTH must try BOTH drinks, and because I’m a Mom, I went first. I sipped fully, with caution.
Not enough caution.
Bubs stared while I tried to get the feeling back in my tongue and willed my eyes to re-seat themselves in my sockets — they went internal, like, touched my brain; that’s how far back into my head that they were sucked by the pucker of the green apple tang cruelty that lay festering in the Sonic cup.
And while I was trying to regain a normal breathing pattern, my Bubs sipped my innocuous iced tea — with the wacky zing of Peach that only a Mom can bring — and he acted like I’d fed him strychnine.
I’d love to see the video from the Sonic security cameras, the one showing the Bubs and I, both suffocating from icy beverages that we hurriedly exchanged, thereby sucking upon our own beverage choices as though the straws held a rich oxygen mixture able to reanimate life forms and not make them oh-so-hate this new 10 Day drink challenge.

But worse than trying to tease my tongue into unfurling — “no, no, I won’t let the bitter foul taste get you again” — is the drive home, when the drinks are half finished, my tea is delightful, but alas, the Bubs has chosen a slush, which had all the liquid sucked out of the ice, and is thus not slushy, which means he’s dry-sucking ice bits and candy pieces up a straw, across air bubbles hitting the sides of the plastic straw and resembling the sound of my grandmother’s coffee percolator, the one that woke me at unearthly hours as a child and made me deeply resent all coffee forms until much later in life, when I could buy the coffee premade and thus eschew all knowledge of coffee brewing sounds.
I digressed a moment, but still, I insist that the soundtrack of Bubs sucking air and ice particles — then pulling the straw up and down through the plastic lid, with that awful donkey-in-the-morning braying sound over and over; really, it’s like nails on a chalkboard, you know the sound — then sloshing around the frozen mess with his straw like that will liquefy things quicker, then continuing with his musical number, like Orcas coming up for air. That’s what it sounded like when he retried to drink the no-more-liquefied air and chunks. It was a musical number that rattled across my peach-tea ridden nerves all the way home.

Day 2 started early, with the 8 a.m. order of two large
Cranberry Frozen Limeades — because Large was cheaper than Small in the morning (?) — a concoction we both agreed looked enticing, and thus we tried them on the same day.
Bubs said, “It tastes like limeade.”
And I replied, “Yes. Squeezed from the actual lime fruit.”
(It was a bit tart, that first sip. Drinking it got easier…or my taste buds died.)
The two giant cups lasted all day long, with our finally tossing the nearly empty cups into the trashcan at 5:05 this evening. We were wired for sound all day, buzzing around like we were on fire for 8 hours waiting for the sugar effect to dull.
It didn’t.
Goodness knows what Day 3 will bring…I’m a little skeered…

5 Boy Books for the Summer, as Described by a Boy of Few Words

Since I’m reading like a fool this summer, I asked my Bubs which titles he would recommend to other like-minded, but-summer-is-for-NOT-school, video gaming boys whose mothers force them to put down the controller for a hot minute.

These are Bubs’ Top 5 selections, his own descriptions included:
5. Big Nate — any of them; funny with a good story.
4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid — any of them, there are so many; also funny, also with good stories, but don’t go see the movie ’cause it’s awful. (Mom’s Side note: I agree with Bubs about the movie; shudder.)
3. Captain Underpants — any of them, of course, because you can’t go wrong; they’re quick and easy reads plus they’re hilarious. (Mom’s Side note: we saw this movie as well, “The First Adventure,” and it was a ton of fun. As a mom, I did not hide my eyes one single time, though I did and for extended periods of time during the awful Wimpy Kid movie.)
2. Geronimo Stilton — pick one, there are many (Mom’s Side Note: there are many, many, many); easy to read with enjoyable stories, plus lots of funny mouse humor.
1. Percy Jackson — especially the Heroes of Olympus series. They are very interesting stories,
exciting, too, but bewarethere are some romance scenes. (At which point Bubs sneered.)

And as I write this list of Great Summer Reads for reluctant summer readers, what is Bubs doing? Filling his brain with literature and the pursuit of a larger vocabulary? Of course not. He’s…well, I don’t know what he’s doing…but I can hear voices from the iPad, and he doesn’t listen to audio books…

 

Okies on Tour: the Jelly Making Trail

Since last summer, I’ve wanted to find the Jelly Making Trail, an Oklahoma Tourism attraction set up to lead consumers to all the fabulous fresh fruit picking places in the state.
I forgot all about it in the following year and last week ended up on it. Serendipitously.
How? Because of a Peach Need.
Every June, when the heat rises, and the grass grows because of all the glorious rain, I swear at the Heat — I’m not a fan of the hot — and then swear at the grass — because I’m not a fan of the Mow — but I do mow in the ridiculous heat because there’s nothing quite so magnificent as a cold peach after a long ride on the Deere.
Unless it’s an ice cold beer.
BUT. A chilled fresh peach AND a dripping-down-the-sides-cold beer?
Good googly-moogly, that’s the STUFF right there.
(Insert longing whistle and an appreciative head shake.)
But in June, I lean toward peaches, because after a long spell of Letting Them Grow, the trees are officially on duty, producing phantasmagorical delights. And every year, I’ve been lackluster in my efforts to get out to the Wind Drift Orchard in east OKC before the season ends.
(I’m not great at planning ahead. Also, again, if it’s hot outside, I really see no need for being anywhere but in the doors.)
And by the end of peach pickin’ season, the grass has finally given up on tormenting me and chosen to go dormant.
Thus, my presence is no longer required atop the mower.
So I don’t need a peach.
But the beer…
Well, anyway, I’ve wandered off course.
Wind Drift Orchard, located East of Oklahoma City, is a hidden paradise. We pulled through the entrance — only a modest sign to proclaim its existence — rolled over a rise in the drive, and behold, across the valley: a seemingly endless landscape worthy of Monet’s brush: acres of peach trees, all popping with red and orange orbs, screaming to be chosen to go home with me.
I was not one to deny such pleading.
We parked the truck and moments later, our chariot awaited: a canopied carriage driven by a friendly fellow willing to deliver us over the acreage to the day’s Best Spot, where the freshest, most Pick-That-Peach-NOW fruit hung precariously from slender branches.
“Try the fruit,” he requested as he handed us bags to hold our treasure. “Eat them, so you’ll know how good they are.”
He had me at “Try,” the only request I needed.
And try I did! Peach nectar ran down my arms, onto my toes, before I finally got wise enough to bend over, thus  saving my feet from juicing. And ants. I pictured ants, coming to feast upon my delicate digits. (Shudder.)
Bubs used about two and one half minutes to fill his bag with fruit. Ready to pick? Didn’t know. Red and ripe and juicy? Didn’t ask. He simply filled his bag, asked, “Ready?” and looked down the empty lane, awaiting the appearance of our tractor ride back to the truck.
Me? Oh, sweet pits o’ goodness, I took my time. I fondled more peaches than was absolutely necessary. I certainly Taste Tested more than required. And I had a wonderful time in my haze of All-This-At-My-Disposal-and-I-Only-Have-this-ONE-TINY-BAG?
The tractor of return came, announced by, “Mom, he’s here!” and, seeing that I wasn’t ready for the escort, went, leaving Bubs to shout, “Mom, he’s leaving!” and stare indignantly, hands on his hips, face frowning in confusion, as the poor man retreated, leaving Bubs to marvel at the indecency of stranding a young boy with his mother, who gave not three shakes of a peach leaf about leaving just yet.
“Do you think he’s coming back?” my Bubs implored, curious as to how he would survive (could he survive??) in the wilderness of six foot trees for the foreseeable future of at least five more minutes. I watched his face as he mentally calculated turnaround time to be at least five…whole…minutes…
Finally, though, sated and weighed down under peachy goodness, we accepted — begrudgingly on my part, while Bubs practically skipped onto the deck — the second offer of a ride back to civilization.
I haven’t told the Bubs yet, but we’re going back in July, when a dozen more varieties will be ripe and ready to come home with me.
Plus, now that I’m a connoisseur and harvester, I need to investigate the Jelly Making Trail to see where it leads us next.

The Day’s Catch: twelve pounds of fruit.
Treasure retrieved and safely ensconced within the domicile: less than twelve pounds.
And I really need to get the truck detailed now; who knew peaches were so messy?

Anyway. Fruit is chilling, and now I’m skipping off to mow the fields.

Okies on Tour: Strebel Creek Vineyard

One thousand times, I’ve driven by Strebel Creek Vineyard in The City, always with the thought, “I’d like to check that out.”
At the time of those one thousand drive-bys, I lived less than two miles away, yet never checked anything out. Then I moved to the Out There and promptly forgot about it.
From the street, Strebel Creek looks like someone’s really nice backyard — a small vineyard by the road, a store sitting behind, housed within a discrete steel building — on the edge of a heavily traveled street. Nestled into a neighborhood, the vines grow near a curb by a small sign announcing every weekend, “Winery is Open.”
On the one thousandth and one-th drive, I spotted the Open sign and impulsively turned into the modest drive — the one I’d ignored because it felt so personal, so invasive to turn into what looks like the driveway to someone’s home — and parked in the shade of an ancient oak. (Or Elm, maybe. I don’t know. It’s just huge and lovely.)
Bubs, with no inhibition or thought of invasiveness, ran along the sidewalk to disappear into the building while Mom and I strolled up, stopping at the thriving vines for a couple of Kodak moments before meandering through the door. There, we beheld a large flat-screen tv tuned in to the sport-of-the-day sitting in front of a large area rug and two over-stuffed comfortable chairs awaiting viewers awaiting potential shoppers.
I could hear a gentleman, presumably the owner, gathering the next round of Tasters, but since the Bubs was present, I reluctantly wasn’t one of them. A lady, presumably the also-owner, greeted Mom and I, telling us to look around and make ourselves at home. She waved toward the store, indicating any and all of it was ours for the perusal as she disappeared into the tasting room.
I very much felt like her generous wave wasn’t just a suggestion, that I could in fact kick off my flip-flops and stay a while, should I choose to.
But instead I shopped.
Trinkets, decor, purses, scarves, all things wine and wine-accessorizing, atop table after table, all housed together to create a cozy, fun gift shop. Impromptu as our stop had been, neither Mom nor I had any one item in mind; we simply pawed and investigated every single thing while we listened to the soundtrack of wine demonstration, little descriptors reaching our ears: sweet, bubbly, dessert wine, wife’s favorite.
A few minutes into the tasting, the hostess, indeed the establishment’s co-owner, returned to the store and stood behind one of the recliners, awaiting any questions.
I had many.
How long have you been here? Do you crush your own grapes? Do you bottle here on the premises? Do you live on the property? Is there really a creek?
And with each question, the lady answered matter-of-factly, with humor and grace.
I liked her a lot.
She and her husband open the store each weekend, when day jobs are over until the following Monday. They spend their leisure time chatting about wine, talking with customers, sharing tips about grape growing and getting rid of unwanted garden intruders.
I shared my woes about my fruitless — literally — attempt at grape growing and learned that I was not the birds’ only victim.
“Oh, the birds,” she lamented, then tutted and shook her head. “And the raccoons, and the foxes…One day late, and all the grapes are gone.”
With the few vines they have, and the numerous fauna that insist upon their share from those beautiful bundles of fruit, the owners contract out to other growers for their wines. Northern growers have far more land, with space to grow far more vines, thus generating a better harvest.
I didn’t feel so badly about my gardening skills, about not being quick enough to pluck the fruit from my one little vine, a veritable snack tray for local avian populations.
Now that we’ve met these nice people, when I’m venturing into The City again for a gander at civilization, I won’t just drive by when I see the Open sign at the vineyard. I’ll park and go in to say hello to the folks willing to share their knowledge and recliners with strangers.
Next time I’ll visit a minute, even sit in one of the comfy chairs to lament longer upon tales of gardening efforts gone wrong. And maybe even try the wine.

Another Day, Another Eye-Opening Book(s)

I’ve been reading again.
It led in interesting directions, so I’m hoping you’ll follow my trail.
Okie author Jennifer Latham’s “Dreamland Burning” is written for young adults. It’s the story of two fictional young people narrating the account of a very real event, the Tulsa race riot of the early 1900’s.
Of course, being regional, the location appealed right away. I didn’t know the book’s premise, and once I opened the covers, I was a bit queasy. I vaguely knew about the abomination that happened in Tulsa’s city streets, when whites got mad that blacks existed and decided to gang up and be jerks, in the very most upper levels of jerky-ness that jerks can be.
(I have delicate fingers. My palate can’t stand to verbalize or write the true words that come to mind when the anger this story evokes wells up.)
So insert your favorite incendiary verbiage here, about truly heinous people, and know that racism is the ugliest. And racist packs, fueled by heat and unquestioned loyalty to ignorance, are intolerable.
So, at first, until I knew the true subject matter, I enjoyed the references to familiar Tulsa places as much as I enjoyed meeting Will and Rowan, the two leading teen aged characters. But when their stories kicked into high gear, my heart raced, and I got so involved in what’s-next-what’s-next that the just conclusion came too quickly.
What is even more interesting, is that not only does Latham talk about the atrocities of Tulsa’s racial divide, but Will is part Native American. His grandmother was murdered by evil greedy men, part of another true and horrific state secret, the Osage Indian murders. Native American women were killed because of money, especially that tangled up with oil and mineral rights. David Grann, author of the highly praised “The Lost City of Z,” chronicled the Oklahoma story in a book published in April of this year titled “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
I drove through Pawhuska just a couple of months ago — ironically, it may have been April! — thinking it was a ho-hum, tiny town, its most interesting attribute being that its street signs made me slow down for a couple of miles on the way to my destination, another thriving metropolis of about 50,000 folks, an hour or so further down the trail.
Pawhuska in 2017 did not strike me as eventful in any way, but it certainly was a hotbed of furious — literally furious, unhampered, and evil activity a hundred years ago.
Too much terrible history, too close together, in a state that has never seemed overly large but now seems especially tight quarters to fester so much hate.
By Oklahomans.
Against other Oklahomans.
And current Okies know little to nothing about any of it until a full century later?
Ignorance of history, atop so much hate and violence, equals further abomination.
Read these books. Let’s talk.