Journey 24: Fancy Flamingo Flea Market Frolic

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A few days ago at a local craft store, as I wandered the aisles, I searched for a representation of my symbol for 2015…an open door or at least an interesting door! I found pictures of doors and small doors that could hang on the wall. About the time I discovered full sized artistic doors (insert fake doors here), for $150.00, I decided that instead of looking for something that represented a door, I’d look for an actual door, preferably a vintage screen door.

Today I got to hang out with my mom, both sisters and my niece and two great nephews. This afternoon we enjoyed browsing at The Fancy Flamingo Flea Market, located at 5171 N Main, Joplin, with its many unique and fun booths. Greg met us there and strolled along with us.

I love this flea market. I entered through the doors with openness and curiosity, and the intention of having fun and seeing if anything grabbed my interest. If I found a screen door, perfect. If I didn’t I knew it would appear at the right time.

We enjoyed looking in each booth. The adults reminisced about objects that harkened back to our past, stirring memories and sparking conversation. My nephew Ethan stayed with Papa Walter at my mom’s, but my other nephew, 3 year old Kaleb, is a pro at shopping the flea markets. I have as much fun watching Kaleb inspect items that catch his interest as I do shopping for myself. Today he was drawn to Mickey Mouse memorabilia, objects that were blue, a tiny wrench and rotary dial phones! His gracious mom allowed him to pick out several items and Greg gifted Kaleb with an old rotary phone from home.

At the end of our shopping adventure my mom found a couple of novels, my sister Linda picked up the LP of Gigi to use creatively as wall art in her home and my sister Debbie bought an assortment of items that will be transformed into Halloween decor this fall. Niece Ashley paid for Kaleb’s purchases.

I collected a metal bucket and a candle holder adorned with acorns, my sub-symbol representing this year’s journey. And to my delight, I found my screen door, waiting for me in a booth in one of the last aisles we wandered into. It’s wooden, painted gray, and nicely aged, with intact screens. All these items will most likely grace my backyard garden. I’ll let inspiration guide me on how best to display the door.

It was a great afternoon, looking, visiting, laughing with family. I never know what I will find in the flea market and that’s part of the appeal. Each visit becomes a treasure hunt, without a map. I’m simply guided by knowing what I like and an openness to being surprised by beauty or intrigued by using an interesting object in a new way. Visiting a flea market parallels the way I journey through life….open to everything, attached to nothing, inspired by joy.

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Day 278: At Home Store

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For my first today, I visited an At Home Store, located in the Broken Arrow/Tulsa Ok area, with my sister Debbie, my niece Ashley and my great nephew Kaleb. Our outing today was to visit the store, since I had never been in one, and to see if they had any large metal garden cranes left in stock. Debbie had seen such cranes earlier in the season. I missed my opportunity to purchase a couple in Joplin. After seeing a pair of metal cranes outside the grand front doors at Thirlestane Castle, I especially want a pair for my backyard garden! I just love that connection.

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The At Home Stores are a superstore type stand alone shopping experience. The warehouse style interior is FULL of amazing products for the home and garden. They sell furniture, art, décor and pillows, patio and outdoor products, rugs, curtains and bedding, house wares and seasonal products. Being the time of year that it is, there were huge sections of floor space devoted to fall, Halloween and Christmas! Oh my. I could have wondered around all day. So many pretty and interesting items to look at! I’ve signed up to receive emails about their specials. I make it to the Tulsa area often enough to plan a future trip around a shopping spree!

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We browsed through the store. Kaleb, who was riding in the cart while I pushed him, was a trooper. He graced me with a serious face….and one of his funny faces for my iPhone camera! Occasionally we came across rooms vignettes set up to give an idea of what the product looks like, placed together in a room setting. Great idea. I intend to visit again before Christmas. So many themes and colors and a great selection of product for the holidays. Ashley and Debbie picked out a few items. Alas, we didn’t find the cranes. Sold out. I’ll have to check back next spring and not hesitate this time if I find them again. I look forward to seeing the garden and outdoor area in full display mode!

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I loved a painted wall at the back of the store, at the end of the main aisle. It read, “Welcome to the home of endless possibilities….” That phrase caught my eye, and snagged my heart. Great promo for the store. And, great sentiment for me. In my mind, I adapted it to, “Welcome to my home of endless possibilities….” That just works on so many different levels, for my home, my garden, and me, personally. What a welcome, indeed!

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At Home Store

Day 277: Sleepover with Kaleb & Ashley’s Chili

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Today has been spent with my sister Debbie and niece Ashley and her family. Weeks ago I promised Ashley’s small son, Kaleb, age 3, that I would visit soon and spend the night, sleeping in his room. This weekend, I was able to fulfill that promise.

As I drove toward Broken Arrow, OK my sister told me Kaleb was watching for me. That made me smile. This little boy, with the old soul, and I have a strong connection. I love all the children in my family. Grandkids, great nieces and great nephews, they are all precious children to me, full of promise and enthusiasm for life. My oldest grandchild, Dayan, and I spent many a late night when he was young giggling and whispering stories back and forth during sleepovers. I look forward to creating such memories with each of the younger members of the family.

Kaleb helped me carry in my overnight bag, pillows and sleeping bag, anxious to settle me into his room. He’s asked me several times today if I’m really sleeping in his room. I’ve got my sleeping bag rolled out next to his toddler bed. That seemed to reassure him.

We spent the day running errands with his mom and Meem, the kids name for Debbie. I got to see the new house my nephew Scott and his wife Nicole just purchased and moved into. They joined us back at Ashley and Jon’s house for dinner, bringing their adorable son Weston to join in the fun. It was a party now!

Ashley fed us her amazing chili with sides of cornbread and Fritos. Flavorful and spicy, the chili was a first for me as well as it was made of venison, pork and beef. I’ve never had chili with deer meat in it before! The rich sauce also contained tomatoes, garlic, a jalapeño from Ashley’s garden and a surprise ingredient, mushrooms. What a delicious treat.

After dinner I enjoyed reading books to Weston and Kaleb, who got himself ready for bed. Kaleb’s older brother, Ethan, joined us and asked me space and constellation trivia questions. The boys were playful, fun and active, the last burst of energy before settling down for the night.

Weston left with his parents. Ethan had a bedtime snack and headed to his room. Kaleb and I tucked ourselves in. He held my hand and we whispered in the dark. He asked one last time if I was really spending the whole night. I assured him I was. His eyes closed and just as I thought he had drifted off to sleep he stirred and raised up, peering at me in the semi darkness of his room. “I want to go with you to that castle,” he murmured drowsily and then he settled down with a sigh and sleep overtook him. I continued to hold his hand and whispered blessings over him and wished him a great night’s sleep. Earlier in the evening, Kaleb was playing with my iPhone and asked about the “big house” pictures that he saw. I told him a wee bit about Scotland and the castle. He listened attentively. And now he wanted to go. I smiled in the dark. Of course I’d love to take him, along with any of the children in the family who would enjoy going. I’ll join Kaleb in sleep soon. Perhaps we will both dream of castles and Scotland.

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Day 201: Plant Corn

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Today my sisters and I, great niece London, niece Ashley, her husband Jon and their boys, Ethan and Kaleb, met at my Uncle Rex’s farm to help out cousin Mike with planting. Mike works so hard every day on the farm, after putting in long hours at his day job. For us city girls, it is not only fun to help out on the farm but beneficial to Mike, as it shortens the time he has to spend out working the ground or harvesting. Today, for my first, I helped to plant corn.

I’ve had small vegetable gardens before. I think once I even planted corn but it didn’t do well. I don’t think I harvested a single ear of corn. Today, I understood better why. There is a process to planting corn. Mike showed us the steps and then we got busy. The only step we did not try was tilling the rows for planting. Mike expertly guides the tiller along, making straight rows. He walks off to the side as he guides the churning machine and I feared I couldn’t maintain enough control as I lack the arm strength Mike has. However, we performed every other step and by the last row, we had a good working system.

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After the row is tilled, plant food is scattered over the freshly turned earth and two of us used rakes to work the food into the soil and smooth. Mike showed us how to attach each end of a long cord to short pieces of rebar that stand at either end of the row. Then a metal tape measure is also attached to one rebar and held in place at the other end by a bucket full of dirt…or something. I never actually looked in the bucket! We would move down the row then, poking a hole in the warm soil with our finger, up to the second knuckle, at one foot intervals, dropping a single corn kernel in each hole. After the next row was prepared and the string and tape measure moved, one of us would move down the planted row with a yard rake, shallowly covering the corn.

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Planting corn is not hard, but it is wearing on the body. We stretched our backs often and we were very grateful for a large tree to the side of the field which graciously offered its shade. Although the day was the warmest of the past week, there was a good breeze to cool us. We drank ample amounts of water. Work shared goes faster and also gives opportunity for chatting and laughing. Mike supervised us patiently and couldn’t resist grabbing a handful of the precious kernels and helping to plant. I had a new appreciation for the word “cornhole” after poking holes in the earth today and dropping a kernel in! I recently played the lawn game by the same name and understood where the name is derived from.

After planting corn we moved to a long row of bushy green plants and grabbing buckets, picked green beans. The children, who had been splashing in a pool, and Jon, who had been watching them, joined us. Ethan made a game of picking, seeing who could pick the most. I think he won. Mike showed us the maturing eggplant, okra, squash and tomato plants. I can see that there is always planting, harvesting or preparing to do here.

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We also celebrated Uncle Rex today, as his birthday is the 22nd. He seemed to enjoy the company today, and the children made him laugh. We brought lunch in and Uncle Rex enjoyed the peach pie especially. He is a sweet and joyful man with a wonderful sense of humor. I look at his handsome face and I catch a glimpse of my dad as well, who was Uncle Rex’s younger brother. My dad has passed but being with my uncle is a bit like being with my dad. It is bittersweet, the familiarity and yet the missing of him.

Next weekend, my sisters and I will once again meet at the farm and assist Mike in planting watermelons and cantaloupe. It will be a plentiful harvest this fall.

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Day 180: Dig New Potatoes at the Farm

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What a fun weekend….big city first yesterday….today, this small city girl headed to the country. My Uncle Rex and Aunt Mary own a beautiful property in Oklahoma. My sisters and I met my cousin, Mike, at his family farm for a visit and to get our hands dirty. For my first today, I dug up new potatoes.

I’ve always been a city girl. I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma as a child, moved to a small town in Missouri during my teen years and have enjoyed living in Joplin most of my adult life. I like the conveniences of living in town. And yet, I am drawn to the earth. I love gardening and growing plants. While I tend to focus primarily on flowers and herbs now, I also enjoy vegetable gardening. I’ve grown the easy, traditional veggies such as tomatoes and squash and green peppers. I’m not as experienced with such plants as potatoes, peas and berries.

My cousin and uncle have a large kitchen garden on their farm. Mike works long hours at his day job and then spends his evenings and Sunday afternoons tending to the many tasks around the farm and garden. Since Linda and I were in Tulsa this weekend and headed home to Joplin anyway today, we decided that we would stop by the farm on the way home. Debbie joined in the fun by driving out with us from Tulsa and then returning home again later in the day.

Dressed in casual clothes and wearing ball caps to shield our eyes and faces, we gathered in the garden, eager to help out. Mike brought buckets for picking and we spent the early afternoon filling them with ripe, luscious blackberries. I’ve picked berries before. This was fun and we popped quite a few juicy blackberries into our mouths as we worked our way along the heavily laden bushes. We were grateful for cool breezes and an overcast day. It was perfect work-in-the-garden weather.

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Mike showed us all that was growing in the garden and patiently explained the growing cycles and what was finishing up and what he still needed to plant. We moved to the rows of Golden Yukon and Red Potatoes. This was something I had not done before, dig up potatoes. Mike demonstrated how to turn the plant with a garden fork. And then we each had an opportunity to wield the fork. It was very satisfying to sink the tines of the large fork into the rich brown earth and turn the soil, exposing golden or red potatoes. They were easy to pick from the roots of the plant. We carried large 5 gallon buckets along with us and plopped the potatoes into the containers. I loved the feel of the warm moist dirt on my hands and the fragrance of the freshly turned earth.

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Speared one, accidently

We enjoyed our afternoon of picking berries and unearthing potatoes. It was fun to chat with our cousin and catch up on family news as we worked. Mike not only let us take home a generous supply of blackberries and potatoes, but cooked an amazing meal for us all too. He grilled steaks, squash and corn on the cob and had prepared large pots of green beans and new potatoes and purplehull peas before we arrived. What an amazing meal and except for the steaks, it was all from the garden, this year’s and frozen produce from last summer’s bounty. He even surprised us with homemade blueberry and blackberry pies, from berries he had picked the day before.

I’m back in the city tonight, tired from an afternoon of harvesting and still full from that wonderful meal. It was so good to see my cousin and visit with my uncle and aunt, listening to family stories and laughing over my uncle’s escapades. They are kind hearted people full of grace and wisdom. I love and appreciate them and in a couple of weeks, I’ll be back! It’s time to learn to plant corn and drive a tractor.

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Cousin Mike and sisters, Debbie and Linda, on the farm

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A good afternoon of work

Day 179: Front Row Seats at Wicked

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I love musicals. I’ve seen several live performances, in Dallas and Tulsa, including Phantom of the Opera, The Addams Family, Jekyll & Hyde and Wicked. Today, my sisters Linda and Debbie and my niece Ashley and I attended a matinee performance of Wicked at the Tulsa Performing Art Center. This was my fifth time to see this amazing musical, however, it was my first time to see it from a front row seat. Special thanks go to Ashley for securing such spectacular seats.

Wicked is the untold story behind the Wizard of Oz. Long before Dorothy showed up from Kansas, two girls meet in Oz and form an unlikely friendship. One is beautiful, popular, ambitious and blond. The other is intelligent, fiery, misunderstood and green. The story follows the girls through high school and beyond. The relationship that develops between these two girls and how Elphaba becomes the Wicked Witch of the West while the other becomes Glinda the Good makes for “the most complete….and completely satisfying musical….in a long time.” (USA Today)

The musical premiered on Broadway in 2003 and has had a continual run since. The original Broadway musical launched the careers of Idina Menzel, who played the green skinned Elphaba and Kristen Chenoweth, who played the perky Glinda. The success of the Broadway production spawned a North American Tour that has played for more than 2 million viewers. I have had the privilege of being one of those viewers.

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The musical is the perfect blend of humor, drama, romance and angst. Cast members in this production include Gina Beck as Galinda/Glinda, Emma Hunton as Elphaba and Nick Adams as Fiyero. All had incredible voices. Gina captured Glinda’s bubbly blond personality while Emma’s powerful voice and expressive face brought depth to her portrayal of Elphaba. Nick was a handsome Fiyero with just the right amount of fun loving swagger and sensuality. Sitting in the front row was absolutely amazing. I could see every expression of the performers, which added considerably to the overall performance. When Elphaba sang, “I’m Not That Girl”, I could see tears glittering in her eyes.

Glinda, with her narcissism and use of made up words, contributes most of the humor to Wicked. She appears shallow and yet she genuinely comes to care for the green girl who has always considered herself an outsider. I love the scene with the song “Popular” in which Glinda endeavors to give Elphaba a makeover, attempting to ease the girl’s awkwardness and give her a measure of popularity. I can’t help but like Glinda. She sees the world simply and at heart, she is truly good.

But it is Elphaba whom I am drawn to. Her outward appearance frightens people and yet, she possesses a keen intelligence and a compassionate heart, and yes, a quick temper. She despises injustice and popularity is not important to her. My heart aches for her as she reaches out, tentatively, to connect with others. When her trust in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz is dashed, Elphaba embraces the wicked persona that everyone expects her to have. Her song, “Defying Gravity”, is the most powerful of the musical and the turning point in the story. Tears fill my eyes every time I hear it and see Elphaba’s transformation from misunderstood young woman to Wicked Witch of the West.

What a fun afternoon this was, watching Wicked and sharing time and space with my family. I never tire of doing either! Being so close to the stage allowed me to totally tune out the thousands of people in the audience and be immersed into the magic of the musical. I’m afraid the experience may have set a precedent for future musicals, as I would now like to see all of them from the vantage point of the first few rows. Ashley, work your magic, for Phantom of the Opera will return next April!

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Day 138: Goad’s Antique Mall

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My sister Debbie and her daughter Ashley, both from Broken Arrow, OK, spent the weekend in Joplin. Along with my other sister, Linda, and my mom, we had a great time chatting and laughing, sharing meals, dropping in on my daughter Adriel at work, sitting around my fire pit last night, and today, visiting flea markets. Wanting to check out a new store this afternoon, for my first, the five of us headed to Carthage, MO.

Carthage is a beautiful, historic town, and the ideal place for shopping in vintage shops and flea markets. Except, apparently, on Sundays! After our group enjoyed a fun lunch with my son, Nate, who was on patrol today, we drove around the beautiful town square. I had a destination in mind. But as we pulled up in front of the store, we spotted a large sign in the window stating, “No longer open on Sunday”. Not to be deterred from a first, we flowed, we rolled, literally on around the square. We found Goad’s Antique Mall open on the north side of the square.

Located at 111 E. 3rd Street, Goad’s is packed with antiques, collectibles, primitives, furniture and fun junk. I love browsing through a flea market or antique store. You never know what you will find. And there are so many treasures to sort through, pick over and examine. Each of us had specific items on our wish list: Linda was looking for a dresser or a small table and chairs set, my mom likes unique jewelry and garden finds, my sister Debbie and niece Ashley, who host an incredible Halloween party each year, were searching for items that could be transformed into decorations. And I was looking for metal containers and an old chair to use in the garden.

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Parked right beside the front door was a round metal washtub on a stand. Perfect! I love the first washtub I found and have it in my garden already, filled with plants. I was hoping to find another and here it was. I also found a slightly battered metal bucket and another tall metal container to use as planters. And there hanging on a wall in the marvelously crowded back room was an old wooden chair with a metal panel screwed to the seat. This wonderful find was only $10. I have a couple of enamelware basins that I want to use in the garden. Filling the basins with dirt and flowers, they will then be perched on the seats of old chairs and placed in the backyard. This was my first chair and I had found it at a bargain price. There were actually several $10 chairs. I selected this one because I liked that the woven seat had been replaced with a square of metal.

My niece, Ashley, provided much amusement as she searched for wicked looking objects to use as Halloween props. She began to remind me of the quirky character Wednesday, from the Addams Family movies , as she expressed glee over such finds as hay hooks, saws, tongs, and chains. I look forward to seeing how she uses these items at her party!

We left Carthage very satisfied with our purchases. Once again, I was directed onto a slightly different path and obviously ended up exactly where I was supposed to be. These seemingly insignificant experiences are teaching me so much about how life flows and how I can resist the flow and create discomfort and disappointment for myself, or I can be receptive, accepting the changes, and open myself to delightful surprises. I see how going with the flow brings joy. May I allow these experiences to continue opening me to the larger truths about life and walking the path of non-resistance.

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