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Progress!

As my Facebook follower knows (hi honey!) I FINALLY got the basement cleaned out and organized and boxed up the Halloween decorations. I even went through them all and divide up what is going to our next post (with little to no storage space), what is going to the house in Arkansas, and what just needed to be thrown out. After much internal deliberation (and advice from the hubs) I managed to whittle down my “post-kids, possible last post” Halloween supplies to one plastic tub and a smoke machine (still trying to decide on taking the smoke machine or not). The rest was reduced from several large packing boxes, down to 2 larger plastic tubs and one packing box of supplies. One would think that an empty nester has no need for Halloween decorations, but that person just would not understand my genetics and family dynamic.

Today is the day I tackle the Christmas decorations. Same process as above. What do I take? What do I send to the retirement house? What should be eliminated? It’s never simple for me, the person who spent 30 minutes trying to pick a cheap can opener at Walmart (there was not any good option!).

My biggest problem? Trying to convince myself to get rid of the Christmas tree. Bought in 2002, it was the biggest, most grand, most beautiful fiber optic/pre-lit tree we have ever owned. In the tipsy words of an embassy colleague at our first Christmas party in Ulaanbaatar, “That’s a damned fine tree!” This tree has traveled with us to Oman, Mongolia, Zambia, New Zealand and Belgium. It has been a constant for my family in a world where nothing is constant (even more so than in the life of the sedentary – so no lectures on how nothing is permanent, blah, blah, blah – I learned this lesson in full and harsh ways early and often in my life).

Some time in Zambia, the fiber optics died (think it just couldn’t handle the power spikes and the transformer use). One by one the lighted panels have flickered out, until just one remains. The more intrepid could probably track down the bulb causing the issues. Me? I just string other lights on the tree and it still looks awesome. The thing is, even without all the lights and features working, it’s a great, full tree that you don’t have to work hard to “fluff” out and hide the inner structure. It’s still gorgeous even without all the pre-lit stuff.

I’ve been going back and forth on letting it go. Last conversation with the other half ended with “then, just keep the darn thing!” In a phone conversation yesterday, my oldest had me convinced to just get rid of it, that a new and equally beautiful tree could be bought inexpensively. OK! Finally a decision made – the packing weight diminished. I then told the youngest when she woke up and she burst into tears. Oy vey, back to square one!

Whatever I decide on the tree, it’s now time to get stuck in and get to organizing! Thanks for listening and helping me procrastinate! As for the tree? I guess I could live by the words of the crazy missionary lady in Mongolia, who, as I was weepy selling my dad’s old bookcases said, “It’s alright honey. Everything’s eventually gonna burn up anyway!”

RIP My Lovelies

Of all the purges I have to make this spring, these are the saddest. These two shirts have been my favorites for years – the T shirt bought in Beijing in 2005 and the tank-top blouse in Johannesburg in 2007. Whether I have been fat or skinny, these two shirts have always looked great on me and were super comfortable. I have worn them longer than I really should have – those holes keep getting bigger with each passing day! –  and now the time has come to once and for all give them up. Sniffle, sniffle…

shirts

Goals for 2017

My first goal for 2017? Pack up the Halloween decorations that are still in my garage and hanging out on the basement stairs before my husband comes home from Baghdad in February.

 

 

Sven

Sven – the naughty child who didn’t make it. I’m sure the embassy handymen appreciate this guy’s presence on our basement steps.

 

 

I’m thinking I’ll keep the Christmas tree and decorations up until Easter…Or maybe I’ll let the packers handle them.

Christmas tree

I love this stupid tree – fiber optics died sometime in Zambia. The prelit panels have been dying out year by year until only one now works. I string other lights on it now, but I still love the way the damn thing looks!

Goals for This Year

This year while D is on TDY to B-dad, I have decided to sleep in the middle of my pillow-top, queen mattress to balance out the human shaped dents on either side of the bed. It’s a goal I think I can accomplish, unlike the goal to fit into my pants when there is a waffle truck in my neighborhood 3 days a week.

If you buy cheese, and then forget about it, it will eventually make its presence known.

I need a new backpack.

Technical Difficulties

SONY DSC

Being John Malkovich

 

Day 4 without my laptop. It has decided not to charge now, so I wait for data extraction and a chance to buy a new one. I am very, very sad!

So since I cannot add new, exciting pictures to my current blog post, go check out my latest entry at Arklahoma Muse or treat yourself to a Valentine’s Day gift and buy one of my prints at Fine Art America. Thank you for your support!

Going Home Again

In December we were able to take our home leave. Most of that was spent in Eureka Springs, Arkansas where our house

See that tower in the distance? It's really, really, really far away.

See that tower in the distance? It’s really, really, really far away.

is located, with my mom and brothers. But before I tell you about that I wanna share a little bit of my true home state and region – Northeast Oklahoma.

 

I didn’t get the chance to walk around and photograph my childhood home (well the land anyway – the house is long gone) and time was too short to make it to Tahlequah (the place where my love for Oklahoma was rekindled and the connection to my tribe deepened). But the hills above Denver’s home town of Ochelata were a huge part of my life and shaped my connection to nature and the world around me.

Hey look, a castle! Oh wait, that's just the power plant all the way over in Oolagah.

Hey look, a castle! Oh wait, that’s just the power plant all the way over in Oolagah.

 

Denver’s home leave started about a week before ours. I would call him from Brussels as he was taking in the sights from Graveyard Hill above Ochelata at sunrise. For him, the clouds provided an amazing backdrop for the land that stretches for miles and miles into the distance. He couldn’t wait for me to get there so I could capture that sight on something other than a smart phone. But the OK weather had other plans, and as the high temperatures plummeted from the 60’s to the 40’s the day before I arrived in OK, the clouds also took their leave. Each morning the sky was completely cloudless!

Watching the sun rise was definitely worth getting up and around and out into the cold.

Watching the sun rise was definitely worth getting up and around and out into the cold.

 

So making the most of the situation, and taking the opportunity to practice photographing sunrises, we got up before the sun, bundled up, and made our way up to the graveyard.

I still have a lot of practicing to do, but it wasn’t a bad first try. And I am much better at early rising these days. Not long ago, I would have taken someone’s arm off if they tried to get me out of bed early.

Early morning frost in the valleys of Osage County.

Early morning frost in the valleys of Osage County.

 

 

After watching the sunrise – and while waiting for my eyesight to return – we hopped back into the truck and drove around the back roads of Osage County that I know so well. As a kid, we used to drive from our house outside of Skiatook to my grandmother’s in Avant, through Ochelata, and onto Bartlesville for trips to the orthodontist – or just to go shopping. I even learned how to drive on those roads!

The roads of my childhood

The roads of my childhood

 

 

 

Going back home again, I am reminded just how much the post August/Winter palette of the countryside is soooo limited. Coming from green, lush Belgium, it was a bit of a shock at first. But this time I was finally open to seeing the beauty that is there, especially when you venture out when the world is just waking up.Beauty of the Grasslands

 

The gold of the prairie grasslands, illuminated by the rising sun is just gorgeous. I vaguely remember that from my early childhood.

 

And the presence of the oil pumps, tanks, and power lines, remind me of the promise that the land held (and still holds to some extent) for those who called Osage County home. These pumps dot the countryside, making a noise that used to remind me of drums in the distance and became as familiar to me as my own heartbeat.

Oil Pump

 

Then we found a llama. Not a common sight of my youth. This guy was transfixed on something in the distance. He seemed mildly annoyed that I was there.

An Uncommon Sight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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