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Technical Difficulties

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helpful Tip for the Traveler

Upon return from an extended trip, check your tires for proper inflation before driving.

Doel, Belgium – A Place That Time Has (Not Quite) Forgotten

So when last I left you, I promised a recap of this year’s trip to the Royal Gardens.

Um, yeah…

That didn’t happen.

A whole lot of other stuff did, some of which I might share with you if I get my blogging act together.

For now, here is a photo journey of my walk through (mostly) abandoned Doel, Belgium.

Doel 12

This 700 year old town along the Scheldt River has been scheduled for demolition many times in the 20th century, but protests from the residents and history buffs successfully saved it every time – until 1999.

Most of the residents were bought out by the Port of Antwerp, their houses and businesses scheduled for demolition, and abandoned.

25 Doel residents, however, said “Bite Me!” and have refused to budge. (I may be paraphrasing)

In 2007, a group called Doel 2020 started a campaign to turn the town into a haven for street artists and invited the countries best to decorate the city walls and streets with their work.

The results were impressive, but almost 10 years down the line and most of the original artwork is faded and/or destroyed by less capable artists and hoodlums.

It was strange to see the contrast between the abandoned buildings and those that were meticulously kept up.

I was definitely not brave enough to venture into any of the old spaces. At the end of the day I was glad I took a friend with me.

In a way, it was a lot like visiting a graveyard. Impressive, cool, but more than a little sad due to the loss of life and the impending destruction of 700 years of history.

I’m (not so secretly) rooting for the remaining residents of Doel to keep the bulldozers at bay. Go Doel! Beat Antwerp!

Tired of Being Tired: Reflections from a Native American Student

Source: Tired of Being Tired: Reflections from a Native American Student

Barcelona Advice

When you travel to Barcelona, only to discover that you forgot to pack one of the hundreds of plug adapters you possess at home, you do not have to pay the king’s ransom for a new one at FNAC or the other big department store in Place Catalunya.

After purchasing a seriously overpriced adapter at FNAC I was irritated to find out that there are these weird vending machines in the subway stations that sell, among other things, basic plug adapters for 6 euros.

How much is too much? How little is too little?

I wrote this blog post about a year ago after an offhand comment on a Facebook post. In light of the good news from SCOTUS, I feel compelled to post it again. My heart is bursting with joy that the law has upheld the right for my loved ones to love who they love and have it officially and legally recognized. We all have a long way to go in creating a loving, accepting environment for all, but these steps sure make it easier to move towards that goal. (and to those who say that chik-fil-a does not discriminate against gays and even hires them to work at their stores – well, maybe that is true in some eastern states, but not so much where I am from – the discrimination is real and palpable in some places).

observationsofanokie

Hello folks! I’ve been away from the blog for way too long this spring/summer, what with the visit of my mom, youngest brother, and my stepfather. But though they have been gone for a whole month now, my memory cards are bursting with pics to post and there are tales to be told of our travels, I haven’t been able to sit down and hammer them out for your enjoyment (or mine really. Who are we kidding here?). First, I just needed some down time to vegetate. But then a comment was made during a Facebook exchange that caused me to pause and reevaluate my stance on a particular issue. I wasn’t sure how I really felt about it, or if it changed my outlook/behavior. To be clear, the comment wasn’t malicious and I do not bear any grudge against the commenter.

So basically, I posted a news article about…

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