Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Eye of Spring -- the Iris

Grandmother irises
I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't enjoy the beauty of the spring iris.  Early playful memories of living on a golf course in Independence,Ks. provide visions of nearly gnarled rows of purple and yellow irises blooming between the house where we lived and the bowling alley/golf shop.  One grandmother grew an entire garden of roses and lined it with irises, while my other grandmother planted them in the front yard beside the steps of the porch. That's why I named the purple iris the grandmother iris.

Their beauty shows through no matter where they grow, and people stop to admire their light lacy leaves blowing in the winds. 

Irises also tell stories about places we've lived or those who lived before us. Along 43rd st. in Hutchinson a clump of faded yellow irises bloomed every spring. Sometimes, I pulled off the road and walked over to admire their resilience, because someone's grandmother must have planted them by the corner of her house decades ago.  I say a word of grace to her angels reminding them that I know she once walked on that soil.  I left them there, even though I wanted to dig them up and take them home. 

Some of my irises in Kansas traveled with me from our home east of Norman, while others came from neighbors and sales at farmer's market.  I nursed them and moved them year after year trying to find the best place to enjoy them. 

The lovely white iris that blooms first and glows in the sunlight came from a lady's yard in OKC.  Before she died she asked my
daughter to take some of the irises and enjoy them, in memory. We shared those irises, and I wonder--will someone remember me through my flowers when I'm gone? 

I did my best to label the irises so I'd know what colors came from the rhizomes, but I failed in that attempt.  Before we moved  back to Oklahoma I dug rather blindly, hoping to take a variety.  I arrived with one of every color except yellow.  Then last week an iris bloomed that hadn't bloomed in Kansas. I was so excited I took pictures at night and by day. 

Violet colored bearded iris at night. 

Last year my mother-in-law asked me take some of her bulbs.  I planted them out back, so I could tell her grandchildren that these came from her home.  If I found her yellow ones, they didn't bloom this year, but others did.  

We've enjoyed an extraordinary spring in Oklahoma, and the "Eye" of spring bloomed for over a month.  Now as I look out my window I only see two blooms remaining, but I have birds all around the feeders, yellow knockout roses happily bouncing in the sunlight and wind, and buds on daisies and rabbit's ears are ready to burst forth and take the stage in my garden.  

What memories do you share with times past through the flowers in your garden? 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tide Pool, a Nearly True Love Story

Ooey gooey blue liquid
Early that Sunday morning in the darkness of the laundry room, a bold orange jug of detergent, left carelessly on top of the washer, slowly inched its way toward the edge of the vibrating washer. The crash and splattering of gooey blue liquid went unnoticed, as Lilith backed out of the driveway.

Lilith left the house that morning eager to be playing golf with friends. Nearly two years now since her husband’s death, she felt the cobwebs and heartache receding. Earlier in the summer she and Tom were matched up in a weekend couples event. She looked forward to seeing him again.  Even though he’d suggested several times that they go out for dinner, Lilith excused herself saying she had family plans.

On the golf course, she felt the summer sun, penetrating her pale
white skin, restoring color to her life.  Chuckling from time to time at errant golf shots, the day ended in laugher.  “Any chance you might want to continue this day with dinner at Charleston’s? We could relax and get better acquainted.” Tom asked.

“That sounds great,” she replied looking at his smile.  “Give me an hour to get home and clean up.”
Looking at his watch, he smiled, “I’ll pick you up at seven.”

Pulling into the garage feeling rushed, Lilith berated herself. One hour. What was I thinking? I need more time.  Out of habit, she dropped her purse on top of the craft table as she walked down the hallway to the master bathroom. 

After the warm shower Lilith began to relax slightly, but now standing naked before the mirrors she stared at her aging body. Pulling at her face and chin, she pretended to give herself a face lift. With a little shake of confidence she thought, He’s seen me hot and sweaty on the golf course.  What could be worse than that?

Throwing the towel around her body she stepped into her closet and pulled out her Capri’s, then remembered the clean blouses hanging in the laundry room. Without turning on the light, she stepped into the laundry room and felt something cold on her feet. No longer in control of her balance she slipped, one foot kicking the nearly empty bottle of Tide, one arm grabbing then sliding down the rounded edge of the dryer.  She felt her hip bounce, her elbows and head bang the floor, but her eyes saw nothing.

The chill of her naked body soaking in a layer of gooey blue Tide woke her from a foggy blur. Her fingers clawed searching for the towel that was slowly soaking up the liquid goo.  What on earth happened? She wondered shaking her head. Wiggling and counting body parts Lilith was relieved to know that nothing felt broken.

Now in a scramble to get up, her hands, her knees, and her feet slipped one way then another. “Damn it,” she screamed. In the flopping motions of a frantic swimmer Lilith pulled her slippery blue coated body and towel toward the dry wooden floor in the hallway when suddenly the doorbell rang. Oh, dear God, Tom is here.

Shaking with a chill, she began to giggle at the absurdity of the moment. Seeing her purse on the nearby table she crawled to reach it and pulled it down.  Grabbing her cell phone, fingers sliding across the screen, she texted Tom, “help garage code *2016 careful! dragon from the blue lagoon lying in wait.”  The tears brought on by the giggles gently rolled down her cheeks.  

**Thank you Story Circle Network for selecting my story of  Tide Pool for the 2nd place winner in the Hot Flash Contest.  

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Unfocused Fun

LPGA Pro Mickey Wright, PGA Pro Johnie Stapp
1958 MGCC
When I was young and learning how to play golf, I stressed my father's patience so much that he nicknamed me Tizzy.  As long as he could see that I was learning my name was Letty, but of course, the tonality changed with the teaching moment. When he reached that point of total frustration with my actions, inactions, or total lack of focus, he'd take off his hat, scratch his scalp and mumble Tizzy. Then he managed to laugh a little, and crack the tension of the moment. I always knew when he called me Tizzy that he was in a state of great frustration. 

Perhaps he knew I'd never be a championship golfer because of my lack of focus, but he never gave up and although my focus still drifts, I did learn to persevere.  

I think he'd like to know that my mind, imagination, travels, and golf have taken me some interesting places. Since I have the pictures to prove it, that tells you that perhaps I wasn't focused on golf while I was busy looking at trees, at oceans, at mountains, at bobcats, at birds, and at anything other than my next shot. 

A few years ago the Bighorn Sheep were eating the grasses near a green at PGA West.  I guess I finished putting before slowly creeping toward the bighorn in hopes of catching a photo. We were all three in awe of his majestic body, and skillful steps as he turned and sauntered straight up the mountainside away from us.

Most often I find trees, bushes, and flowers to capture my attention,

but sometimes those elusive animals allow me time to click; like the herd of Javelina's  at The Gallery in Marana, Az. 

Then other times my playing partners just can't resist a good shot.

Focused or unfocused a day outside with nature is truly a blessing for me.  

Since I'm waiting on warmer days to play some golf, I'm writing each morning this month. Perhaps you'd like to click on the link to Oklahoma Women Bloggers -- Blogger of the Month and read my stories on "Imagination." 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Fun, Fear, Fascination

How is it, that fun, fear, and fascination are so closely linked? As a child growing up two movies left nightmarish imprints on my gut:  The Rains of Ranchipur and The Devil at 4 O'Clock. While watching The Rains of Ranchipur with my mother and little sister, I felt the grounds shake as the volcano erupted; witnessed the earth opening up and bodies of hundreds of innocent people falling to a cavernous death; screamed as rains washed away villages and ripped concrete bridges to shreds.

Boulders in Texas Canyon, AZ
Now I walk through boulders that once exploded from the earth's surface, but still fear the ground opening up and sucking me downwards.

Sometime after that mother tried to calm my imaginative mind by telling me that the reason she and my father left California after I was born was because an earthquake knocked me off the bed, and I banged my head on the floor! We'd be
safe back in Oklahoma or Kansas, she explained. I can only laugh now, as Oklahoma ranks as the state with the most earthquakes per year. To date I've only felt one of them.  

As for The Devil at 4 O'Clock, Spencer Tracy tried so hard to save lives that I cried for him, but still I shook at the thought of a volcano erupting and lava grabbing my ankle and burning me alive. "It is hard for a man to be brave when he knows he is going to meet the devil at four o'clock," is the proverb from which the title came.  When Mt. St. Helen's erupted I was transfixed to the television shots, but couldn't understand why those watching weren't afraid. Fearless or just curious, what led them to stand, to take pictures, to think that they could stand up to nature? 
Why do we stand outside and study the clouds for tornadoes? I think there is just a tinge of fear, but the fascination overrides our senses. 

Mojave Desert
Fascination with nature resides deep in my soul, along with the fun and adventure of traveling. My first touching recollection of rocks, deserts, mountains, and volcanic eruptions came on trips to Arizona and California in the 1950's. I kicked a dead tree at the Petrified Forest, not believing it was rock; we walked on the hot sands and rocks probably wondering too close to the
Petrified Wood
cactus; picnicked on Route 66 near Flagstaff and smelled the mountain pine trees as the cold winds drifted down the hillside. My dad assured me that we were safe from the now extinct volcanoes that created so many of the mountain ranges.  I didn't believe him. Still it never stopped me from walking near the edges, peering over the precipice, or touching the rocks, trees, and the prickly cactus. 

We drove our children through the National Parks of the western states, and felt with them the eagerness
Sequoia Trees Katy, Letty, Matt 1985
to explore, but then I began to observe nature from a different aspect, that of a teacher and parent.  Facts were fascinating, but stories and experience were longer lasting.

Now my husband and I take the time to explore the
White Sands National Park
lands, the formations, the uniqueness of each area we travel through.  Time and good health are giving us the opportunity to explore this diverse continent, for which I'm most thankful.

Ironically, what began as a story about the Sky Islands of Arizona, led me to read about their unique history and from there my mind began to unravel. The information took me around another corner of my mind. I remembered author Byrd Baylor, and her literally connections to the desert Southwest. But those will be other stories. My mind, instead, settled on a childhood fear that I faced and rather enjoyed getting to know.  

Now, I hope that when we take our Alaskan cruise that the Pacific tectonic plates won't buckle and cause an earthquake and tsunami that will roll our ship. Ah, another fear is shivering inside of me, I imagine having to hold my breath underwater as long as Shirley Winters did in The Poseidon Adventure.

**On another note I'm writing a series of stories on the Imagination for Oklahoma Women Bloggers  in the month of April.  I hope you will click on the link and go read one of those stories.