Sunday, November 29, 2009

Greetings from Ponca City.

Greetings from Ponca City. The Lovely Bride and I are gradually making our way homeward towards Naruna. While visiting our first-born and her family outside of Omaha, we learned there was to be a book signing in Ponca City by Ree Drummond to help promote her newly released cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. If you are not familiar with her, a visit to her website is in order. 

She is a former ballet dancer and vegetarian who found true love in the prairies of northern Oklahoma with a homegrown cowboy. She now lives on a humongous ranch populated by cows, wild horses, cowboys and wild children. Renouncing her vegan ways after discovering the glories of beef, she has gone on to start a food-oriented blog where she posts some of the most wonderful recipes known to man. My personal favorites are her Creamed Spinach and Apple Dumplings, although pretty much everything the LB has tried on me has been wonderful. In her spare time, she home schools her four kids, produces some professional quality photography, and takes care of all the usual chores of a ranch wife.

After following her life via the web for the past couple of years, a chance to meet her face-to-face could not be passed up.  Although we had never stopped in Ponca City, it is close to the route we usually take.  We drove from Omaha and found a room for the night.  We then went exploring the wonders of dining out in northern Oklahoma on a Friday night, finding some delightful looking, yet curiously under-seasoned Italian food.

The next morning found us at the bookstore where the signing was to occur. We picked up our line tickets, assuring us a place in the first group of signees. A few minutes before the appointed hour hordes of eager fans began to gather, waiting for their first glimpse of Ree. Sure enough, she walked in right on time accompanied by her oldest daughter, and started greeting her public and autographing books. The LB and I got to chat with them for a couple of minutes and pose for a picture before the line moved us along and out the door to our waiting chariot. All in all, a pleasant encounter. So I was taken by surprise when the LB proclaimed she was disappointed. When I asked why, she revealed she had really been hoping to see Ree’s husband, the infamous Marlboro Man, to see if he was as cute in person as online!

Have I mentioned before that being married to a woman for 34 years doesn’t mean you ever get to understand her?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A child again...

What is it about certain places or activities which cause us to revert to those simpler ways of our youth?  Zoos are some of the places we visit which make us all feel like kids again.  When I was little and my parents first took me to the Houston Zoo, they expected me to focus in on the lions and tigers and bears (Oh my!).  If not the large carnivores, then they were sure I would be taken by the monkeys and their antics.  Instead, I apparently spent the entire day chasing pigeons, much to their amusement.

Fast forward fifty years and it is still the simpler side of zoos which bring out the kid in us all.  While visiting our grandkids and their parents who recently moved to a suburb of Omaha, we visited the Henry Doorly Zoo.  This is a really neat place, having some tremendous new venues for viewing animals in natural settings.  There is a Desert Dome, which actually contains biospheres from several different parts of the world, an IMAX theater, and new large cat and ape buildings. 

While strolling the grounds after seeing most of the exhibits, we happened up on a covered bridge leading back toward the exit.  The grandkids kept scampering back and forth across the picturesque structure, while the grandparents stopped in the middle to rest up a little.  The Lovely Bride discovered there were fish food dispensers, and sure enough, swarms of brightly colored koi in the waters below.  The adults spent 20 minutes watching over-fed carp climbing over each other in an attempt to grab the morsels falling from above.

Who says you can't recapture your youth?