About michelleferg

a prairie dweller, a mom and a librarian...sounds like the start of a joke

A New App

I went to Wyoming.
I took pictures.
I took many, many pictures. Some with my phone, some with an uber nice, borrowed camera. I called it my “Now and Later” system, in which I could see the phone pics immediately but hadn’t quite figured out the viewing procedure for the Good Camera.
(I knew I’d figure it out eventually, once I was exhausted of oo-ing and ah-ing and was finally ready to see what I had seen all day. But frankly I fell asleep, and didn’t figure out the play back thing until I was re-settled in Oklahoma. Huh. Well. All the better that I had my Now Camera. Anyway. I digress.)
I was in the truck for a total of 54 hours and traveled 3,200 miles in said vehicle.
It was a camper without the beds. Or the kitchen. Or, of course, a bathroom, but God made truck stops for that necessity. Plus you can get more M&M’s after you use the facility, so it’s a win/win.
So the speed limit in Wyoming is 80 mph. Which meant I clipped along at a hale and hearty 85, because that’s what we do, and who wants to stop every two seconds for a gorgeous shot? Because really, it’s an Every 2 Seconds I Stop state — that should be their motto — but now that I’ve rethought it, maybe not…
Thus, I employed my Vintage Through-the-Windshield App on both of my cameras. And if you look through the bug juice created by the filter, you can see all the pretty stuff, like the sky in the above example. PLUS you get the Ol’ Time Vintage feel to your photo.
Love it. Used it a lot.
(A LOT. In fact my photographer friend was nearly apoplectic at my insouciant use of the Vintage Windshield app. He may never speak to me again.)
I’ll show you Later photos later, to complement the trip narrative I have planned for you. It’s like a “My Vacation” without slides…just picture after picture using Vintage Windshield. It’s gonna be great.

Touring Okies: Western Heritage Museum


After travelling 3,252 miles in a truck for 54 hours — 54! — the Bubs and I landed back at home, deep in the heart of Oklahoma, to spend my final vacation day touring the City.
Over the course of a packed week, we saw Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, and a little bit of Montana, stirring our Westward juices — it’s a thing — so that once we arrived back on the prairie, we settled in for a while at Oklahoma City’s National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, a place I haven’t visited since it was called The Cowboy Hall of Fame.
I erroneously referred to its previous name, and Bubs was sad. “Aw,” he muttered. “Hall of Fames are boring.”
I did not know that.
But when I corrected myself, with the proper title, he cheered instantly and said, “Oh! Well, museums are fun!”
Also something I did not think I would hear from a pre-teen.
I had always thought there was a Fun for Adults part, with paintings and sculptures and yucky boring stuff, and a Fun for Kids part, with a wild west town replica made perfectly for children.
But, now, in my adult-youth, I find that the whole darn tootin’ place is fabulous.
Paintings: because I marvel at technique and skill.
Old West Town: because hey, that stuff doesn’t get old
Gardens & Ponds: because of my gardening gene
Museum Store: because there’s a little bit of Retail Therapy for every place we roam
Rodeo Corral: fascinating; did you know “tenny boots” were a real thing?? I’ve heard that expression always and thought it was fake, fake, fake
Wild West Women: obviously
Prix de West exhibit: again, because of the Art Gene
The Old West in Entertainment: because I can stare at boots worn by Sam Elliott in “Name Whatever Westerns He was Even In” for a shockingly long time
Air Conditioning: because after returning from the West, where the last day’s morning was a drizzly, glorious 54 degrees, and arriving in the middle of Summertime August, I’m still whining at the heat, and doggone it, “Let’s look at the whole entire and complete museum because it’s cool in here and so stinkin’ hot out there.”
We loved the museum. Loved, loved, loved it. I encourage all visitors to go there right now. Right stinkin’ now.
And touring your own hometown is always an adventure. There’s something you don’t know about it; go find that thing.
And I’m facing the fact that I wasn’t ready to let the West go just yet.

Penny Fall/Fail?

I’m gearing up for the annual trip to Wyoming, except this year, we are going further into Wyoming, so far in, in fact, that we’re going out.
While usually we skim the state’s fringe by hunkering home base into Cheyenne, this year we are heading northwest to Jackson and Yellowstone, but we’re staying three nights in Idaho, which makes perfect sense, because…well, I don’t know, but when I was looking for room to sleep, this one yelled “yes” to me.
I booked it! Paid the deposit! Woot! Rest isn’t due for a whole week! (And that was last week!)
Blink. Blink.
Okay, so vacationing is expensive and for the next two weeks until we leave, my wallet is on lock down, which hampers the Bubs’ summer fun.
Hampers mine, too.
For instance, I wanted a haircut before we leave. Solution: pull hair into ponytail; snip the ends, et voila, an instant “layered” look. (That’s what I’m telling my stylist who will fix this hot mess when I can afford to see her again. Until then, I like hats.)
What to do with all the hours left to while away in poverty?
Pinterest. Internet is paid up for the month and it doesn’t cost to look, so, yes, to Pinterest!
Yesterday, I loved Pinterest.
Today…not so much.
Remember when my kitchen gave me no joy, thus I ripped out a huge chunk of cabinetry to “open the space, let me breathe more freely with joy, worry about where to put actual kitchen-type items later”? Yeah. That’s a hot mess, and I was sure Pinterest would have the cure.
Penny floors. Have you seen them? I’ll wait here while you Google it…
Lovely, right?
And what’s cheaper than sitting on the naked floor, gluing pennies to give it a nice coppery glow, while the Bubs languishes in all the video gaming time he and I both need to turn my cement slab into a masterpiece? Nothing. Nothing is cheaper than that.
I dug out my hot glue gun, turned it on to burn away the dust it had collected, assembled four dollars worth of rolled pennies, and proceeded to glue away! I even tried to put all of the coins face up, so my superstitious Mom won’t freak out at the good luck leaking into the slab. (I can tell you now I’m not as OCD as I once thought, because Abe be darned; within seconds I only wanted the stupid roll of stupid coins stuck to the stupid ground and I didn’t care about stupid heads nor stupid tails and why oh why did I have to go to the Pinterest?)
Well. I can tell you this, which is no surprise…four dollars doesn’t go very far. And if you lay four hundred pennies out end to end, well, you have a place mat. I need a bedspread, though crib size, and four dollars in copper lays out to the size of a place mat?
Pennies are hateful.
Bubs’ piggy bank was bleating to me from his room. Really. It lured me in there with its, “I have more money than you right now” witticism, and I followed the sound, because you know what? My kid really and truly stored more money — though silver — on his dresser than I have in my vacation depleted bank account.
I grab said piggy and go to shaking.
What is the only thing that will draw my Bubs away from his intense gaming? The sound of money. Which bodes well for his entrepreneurial future, but completely busted me in the maternal venue, as in “Mama, why are you robbing me?”
I proceeded with, “Honey, only the pennies. And I’ll pay you back.”
“Pennies?” he warbled. “But that’s the bulk of my stash!”
While I lauded his verbiage, I dratted his excellent hearing and puppy dog eyes that guilted me into almost putting the loot back. Almost.
Because the hot glue was still hot and Mama was in the midst of a project.
Anyway, I told him I heard a mysterious noise coming from the PlayStation or whatever system he has and convinced him it might be shutting down, which immediately made him vanish from sight.
And I glued more pennies.
Another three dollars, and still I have a lot of blank cement left to cover.
I need more glue. And many, many more pennies.
(Pennies add up to actual dollars so quickly, don’t they?)
Which requires having the pennies, thus rendering my project dead in the water until I donate platelets for money or work for three weeks after returning from vacation.
I have to write my son an August — maybe September — dated check for $7.24 to cover the costs of my crafty side.
Sigh.
Stupid Pinterest. This never would have happened if I hadn’t been dazzled by the four-minute demo video that lured me into thinking, “Hey, pretty! Sanctioned nonsense as an adult! And yes, yes, I have a glue gun and one jillion pennies!!” (Nope. Nope, I don’t.)
That kind of thinking is what gets people in trouble.
And proceeding to dig into a closet I haven’t opened since the 1900’s to look for a throw rug.

 

Okies on Tour: The Glass (Gloss) Mountains

What does Fourth of July mean to me?
A day off.
And a day off is simply destined to be a road trip day.
It just is.
Because I’m a tourist in my own state, I wanted to see the Glass Mountains, AKA the Gloss Mountains. Lore calls it both, seemingly because a British gentleman said “glass” like “glaws,” because…he was British.
Which, frankly, led to all kinds of questions, like, “Why was a British dude in the middle of the prairie in the middle of the upper half of the middle of the state in the middle of the US??”
But no marker answered that burning question.
Has no one else pondered that anomaly?
I wanted to see these mountains because for years I’ve seen them pictured beautifully within the pages of promotional dental office calendars.
And, as per the pics, when the mountains are shiny with sun-setting light, they are truly lovely; striations of coloration all over the place. Ask any dentist, they’ll tell you that, “Yeah, those hills look like plateaus of stained glass panels atop the prairie. Now, rinse.”
I might paraphrase, but I had to see those hills for myself, right?
So I pointed myself northwest and I darn near missed my target.
The entire Glass/Gloss Mountain State Park is book ended by signs saying “Welcome” and “Thanks for Visiting,” within a half mile distance to each other.
Circling back to the parking lot, I parked and prepared to scale the less-than-ominous looking butte of a “mountain,” elevation 200 feet, according to Wikipedia.
Scale we did, and do you know, proper foot wear is a must when climbing the side of anything rising to the sky at a 70 degree angle? My toes clung to the plastic sole of my flip-flops, while I kept telling myself their lack of tread was a point in my favor. Goats don’t have corrugated plastic soles on their feet, so boom, I win.
Fortunately, the short distance was equipped with a metal handrail presumably re-purposed from a ship from the 1880’s, it was so rusted and bent — scoliosis of metal, nearly curly, I tell you — and I clung to that bad boy as though it were a lifeline, because it was. For the last fifteen feet or so, I was no longer walking across pieces of ladder laid over the rock face and instead climbed upon boulders, white ones that looked like chunks of quartz. The all-rock terrain tested my toes, lungs, and gratitude equally.
But I made it.
I made it.
When I pivoted to see how far I’d traveled, well, I got a little woozy. See the above photo. Notice how the “trail” seems not to exist but was instead carved by millions of furry-bodied lemmings who sloughed away any edges as they fell to their doom? I did not Photoshop this, folks.
Needless to say, I was willing to sit a while and enjoy the valley view before tumbling to a painful lemming-like death.

Up top, I followed a “Trail” marker for the twenty feet necessary to reach the “End of Trail” marker, which stopped abruptly at the edge of an equally high precipice.
I had hoped for an elevator.

I thought there was no good way down.
And after psyching myself up for a good long while, I literally tiptoed my way down the side of the hillock, across those ladders, nearly bounding with over confidence at the end, telling fellow “hikers”, “Aw, shoot, it’s not as bad as it looks,” as I hustled back to the car.
Because, hey, over-and-down-on-foot was the only way down.
Except it wasn’t. Look at this guy who literally jumped! What a show-off.

I swoon at heights, truly, and yet I considered, “If I’d had a parachute, would I have preferred its twenty second ride to the laborious ten minute stalk-of-terror it took to return to prairie civilization?”
I nodded sagely to myself and answered Me honestly when I replied, “Hell, no.”
By the way, from experience I’ve learned that the Glass/Gloss of the mountains looks Red/Rouge, with a Matte/Anti-gloss finish on cloudy days.
Which means I need to gear up with my camera and return to the mountains on a sunny day. I’ll stay at the bottom, too, I believe.
No parachute requested, thank you.
Happy Fourth, everyone!

I Throw in My Ranching Gloves

Faulty gate latches and my own blind excitement about a road trip led to the pathway to destruction for five of my beloved chickens.
Four hens and the most beautiful little rooster I’ve ever loved, gone to the unmerciful jaws of two bored dogs who wanted to play keep-away with live bait.
Two beautiful, no-evidence-obvious-but-still-they-were-dead corpses greeted my dusky return from the road, after we Okies toured the state’s northeast Green Country.
I tell you, while the sun said goodnight, my heart cracked in half.
No other signs of life came running from corners to rest for the night. How could I blame them if they were there? I’d stay there, too, wherever that may have been.
This morning, I went to cluck with my girls. The rooster was silent; he lost all of his tail feathers and any vestige of pride while I warrior-ed the road yesterday.
And there, in front of the gate, was one of the girls I thought I’d lost.
Mangled, weary, but bright-eyed and quiet.
I bawled like a four-year-old, then retrieved the Neosporin and coated her wounds.
She’s in the coop now, in the shade, near water and food and the rest of her tribe, who still can’t cluck their condolences. It really is every bird for herself. And I can’t blame them for that, either.
But for the last hour, I’ve had my eye on every hidey-hole in the yard, armed with bandages and tears in case another feathery friend wants to trust me again.

The High Cost of No Joy

You know I read Marie Kondo’s tiny, unassuming work called “The Life-
Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” It’s about only having things around you that give you joy.
Easy enough idea, hard to practice.
Any way, this little idea has stayed with me the full two months since I read the last page.
And you know, while walking through the kitchen — not my favorite room of the house — I realized, “Hey, I have no joy with this under the counter cabinet in which things go to die.”
It’s a cavernous cabinet space, full of a copper Lazy Susan as big as a tabletop, covered over with all the pots/pans/roasting pans I do not use, nor wish to.
The interesting thing is that if I do require some certain something from that Susan — the last time was Thanksgiving, but memories are lasting until July, I guess — and I get her spinning too quickly, appliances hurtle against each other like bowling pins and fall to the back, the far, far corner which would require a mechanical arm to reach.
Which is fine, really, because how often do I use a roasting pan?
My point is this: things go to that back back corner of doom to rot.
Thus, guess what? The yawning maw of that space equals no joy, for me or for the poor roaster.
With sledge and crowbar in hand, I began liberating the Lost Kitchen Toys.
Well.
One side wall later, I realized the other side wall…and the drawer space…and even the cabinet door…are not needed so much, either.
(Except, upon reflection, the drawer was great for my now homeless kitchen towels, truth will out.)
Turns out, when I demo things, I have an anal desire to keep the construction zone tidy, which means I was never far from the Shop Vac, my third favorite home upkeep tool.
So. Now I have an immaculate work space: a clean, appliance-free, towel liberating area, with which I have less than any clue how to address.
What to do? Throw the dog bed in there, of course.
How many homes have an in-kitchen pooch perch? The hygienic ones, of course. But those silly people actually cook  in their kitchen, thus they are on a different plane than I and my happy pup.
I realize restoring this kitchen space to something workable will require a handyman, and several trips to Pinterest, but since I’m in no hurry, I shall wait for the perfect Genius Idea to leisurely trip across my brain.
Until then, I have thrilled my canine to no end.
Also, I freed myself from six newly-discovered-to-be-joyless-to-me blouses from my own clothes closet, which tells me it’s time to take a shopping trip.
And while I’m out, maybe I”ll peruse the Home Depot shelves, see what ideas they spark.
But mostly, I’ll just clothes shop. So much more joy there.
However, my towels, stuffed in a wicker basket until Whenever the Future Presents a Better Idea, well, they have no joy.
I tell them it’s only temporary. But who am I kidding?

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.