Saturday, April 26, 2008

Shounapalooza 2008

It's official. the Shounapalooza 2008 pictures are up over at my Flickr Gallery - click on the link on my sidebar to see my record of the festivities. I'm afraid everyone may not be represented - I had a few flash failures and some shots came out way too unfocused too dark or unflattering to survive. If I missed you, I'm sorry - I'll catch you at the next event (this means YOU, Pat!). I think it's safe to say a good time was had by all, as is always the case when Buddy mans the barbecue.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Every Weekend is an Adventure

This weekend was a busy one. Saturday morning we headed out to Choctaw for a cycling event, part of their annual Land Run Festival. There I met my nemesis again. For some time I've known that I had a violent allergy to Indian Paintbrush, which comes into bloom near mid-April. It's a beautiful wildflower; a large swath of them is a stunning sight. Sadly, it's a sight I don't much enjoy, as it can makes my eyes run and fits of sneezing to commence. Last spring I found during a ride that it made my chest feel tight, and my breathing less effective. I had scheduled only a fifteen mile ride because I was unsure about how well I would do during the blooming period of My Nemesis. As it turned out I was wise to choose the shorter ride. This time I was apparently struck stupid. I attempted a 40 mile ride. I say "attempted" because I ended up "sagging in". I was short of breath during the first half of the ride, which I put down to my poor early season condition and my recently infrequent yoga practice. We had just started back up on our hill training earlier in the week, and I was not really prepared for the many big hills on the course. I was 10 miles in either direction from a support stop where someone could call the sag wagon for me when I suddenly found myself unable to breathe. No matter how hard I tried to inhale no air got to my lungs. This was a small ride - only 60 riders, so there were no other riders in sight, and there was not a support vehicle continuously riding around the course. There were many hills still to go, and I was out in the middle of nowhere. It scared me, but there was nothing to do but go on. I did not know where I was, so I got to the nearest intersection with a sign, then I called Shana and left a message, thinking that she might have finished her ride and could come out to get me. Then I continued on, peddling up the hills as far as my strength would take me, walking the rest of the way up, then coasting down. I figured I would keep going until I got to the next rest stop or Shana got back to me. I got to the rest stop first, but it was a while before they were able to get someone out to get me. I think this may be the last time I try a long ride in Indian Paintbrush season.

Vivian came to spend the night later on Saturday. She's trying to talk now - the first thing she said when we got home was D- D- D- looking for Roxy. She has turned into the busiest creature on earth. Her only direction is FORWARD, her only speed AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. When she really gets her feet under her she will be a menace. Rita and Skippy were also here for the night, so the house was like a 3 ring circus all evening. The adventures started up again at 4 a.m.

Vivian will be a year old April 21, so she had her little birthday party today. We met at a local botanical garden for cake and outdoor fun. The ducks were a big hit with her, and she tried to eat a pansy. We followed up with a visit to IHop where she stuffed her little face with ham and eggs. She may be the least picky eater I have ever seen.

Little Logan is also growing like a bad weed. In the newest pictures he looks like he has changed so much in the last week or two - so alert and busy! He's really filling out after a little slow start. He's starting to be able to grab what he aims for - the trouble begins.
As always, more pictures over at the Flickr Gallery.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dinner at the Skirvin

Last night Shana and I took advantage of a generous offer for dinner and an inspiring talk at the Hilton Skirvin Oklahoma City, which will always be the Skirvin Plaza Hotel to me, because that was its name when I first came to Okahoma City. In 1911, when it was built, it started life as the Skirvin Hotel. I worked in downtown Oklahoma City for a few months in the early 70's, passing through the elegant lobby a few times. The "Oil Slicks" were in town and parties were lavish. Then came the bust in 1982. At that time it was experiencing hard times and it was not a surprise when it closed in 1988. I came back downtown to work in 1990, spending some months working right across the street from the hotel. That was still in the days of Oklahoma's recovery from the oil bust, and the empty Skirvin seemed like a sad reminder of all the tough times we had experienced. Several attempts to restore the hotel to its function were proposed and collapsed before its current resurrection as a part of the Hilton empire. I can't speak for the guest rooms, but the lobbies and meeting rooms have been treated to a sensitive renovation. It is even more beautiful than I recalled. The only odd thing is that the acoustics of the building make the piano bar in the first floor lounge sound creepily like the Overlook Hotel from the mezzanine.

Our tickets were courtesy of Dr. R. Murali Krishna, who is president of Integris Mental Health, among many other honors and positions. He treated the therapists to tickets which not only entitled them to dinner at the hotel and a seat for the lecture, but also counted as points towards their health program. He's a wonderful speaker, and the topic was very interesting: the benefits of happiness from a physical and psychological point of view, and strategies for achieving that state. Not only did we get to enjoy his presentation, but he also provided every attendee with a set of Cd's covering most of the talk and additional materials. It was a great evening out, especially since it was free.

This being the month of my Annual Birthday Celebration it was only fair that I get to enjoy an evening downtown. So far I have also scored a camping ax and a campstove toaster. I can hardly wait for the next camping trip to try out my booty.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Friends of Doris

This weekend found me back at the Wichita Wildlife Refuge in spite of overnight temperatures down into the 30's. As we get into the spring and summer the cycling events become closer together, I'll take a trip to Florida, and time for camping will become harder to arrange. Any weekend not otherwise spoken for or when actual tornadoes are not forecast becomes a camping weekend. Back at the turn of the century Camp Doris was a mining camp. Now it's a small campground. At one time there were several campgrounds in the refuge, but now Doris is the only one. It's worth the effort to arrive early enough to get my favorite campsite. The facilities are more than adequate and because the campground is quite small, it's very quiet at night. My favorite site is at the end of a loop so there is almost no car traffic after about 8 pm, and little foot traffic in spite of the fact that we are at very comfortable walking distance from the "flush-o-rama" and the bath house. There is a ravine behind, so no noise or light comes from that direction (although raccoons do). We frequently have deer passing through. Best of all, the best tent site is screened from the road by trees so it feels very private.

The more I see of the refuge the more I love it. Shana and I hiked up Elk Mountain again this time. The weather was perfect, cool and bright. There was a lot of wind, but until we got to the top we were not affected by it. As before, the beauty of the views more than made up for the strenuous walk. When we came down, we headed back to the campsite for a delicious steak dinner, featuring potatoes perfectly baked in the coals.

Dinner preparations were closely supervised by a posse of turkey vultures. I had noticed them cruising above the campsite the night before. This night they cruised around until sunset, then settled in to roost in a tree a few yards from our tent. All the jostling, pushing, and shoving in the tree sounded like someone bumping big cardboard boxes together as they silently shoved at each other with their powerful wings. Upon securing a perch the victor then had to rearrange his wings and get comfortable again while the loser took off and circled in to land on another perch. Once everyone was settled into a comfy perch they were silent until they took off first thing in the morning.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


I should really be dressing for work, but just in case you haven't seen anything cute this weeks I feel I must present: Logan Piggies.

They are especially sweet when you think about what they will look like in just a few years. Seems like yesterday Giant Alex's toes were this cute, but they look nothing like this now.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Happy Birthday Alex

I met Alex for lunch today to celebrate his birthday. While we were enjoying our meal, I commented that although I take several pictures of Vivian every time I see her, I seldom take pictures of him or Jamie. I thought he had dutifully posed for me in the parking lot when we were getting ready to leave, but when I loaded up the pictures I saw that Alex had had the last laugh. He has made the face of a rabid beast. Double click on the picture if you dare to get a closer and more disgusting view. Fresh pictures of Princess Vivian are being served over at my Flickr Gallery, link on the sidebar.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Redbud Classic

This weekend saw the 26Th annual Redbud Classic. It's named after the Redbud, Oklahoma's state tree, and one of the one of the earliest blooming Oklahoma native trees. It takes place in early April, when the Redbuds are in bloom. There are a variety of events including runs and cycling tours of various lengths, a kids' run, and a baby stroller event. This is the first year I participated. I've mainly avoided it because of the hilly course, the unreliable weather of early April, and sheer unadulterated laziness. Usually I am not ready to tackle a ride of any length this early in the season. Because I now live about a mile from the starting line, I had few excuses that would hold up, so I signed up, along with Shana and several of our group. The first part of last week saw high temperatures into the 80's, with morning lows in the high 50's to mid 60's. I mention this because this morning I rose to find a temperature of barely 40 degrees, with an expected high of 70. I weighed my clothing options, as did we all, and decided on a jacket, but no leg warmers. I thought I would warm up quickly, and the temperatures would rise quickly enough to make them unwanted baggage early in the ride. This turned out to be not at all true. At fifteen miles I was so cold that I swear I could not feel my calves at all. then we turned south into the wind. The good news was that we were not burning off much water, so our stops were pretty brief. The cold temperatures made lots of people get cramps in their legs. All of our group finished their chosen distances, albeit with generous amounts of whining. I was really glad I only chose to ride 33 miles instead of the fifty mile I had considered.

Alex, Jamie, and Vivian came for dinner Friday night to celebrate Alex's birthday. Oddly enough, I only took pictures of Vivian. I got Bad Grandma points by laughing when Vivian made loud animal noises at the table. Apparently I am not supposed to egg her on, but she was so cute I just had to laugh. She's almost walking, and an intrepid explorer. If Mom or Dad is out of sight she doesn't fuss; she just takes off to find them.