Category Archives: Our World Tuesday

Our World – American Beauty Berries

During our hike in southeast Oklahoma’s Beavers Bend State Park last week, we saw some beautiful purple colored berries. Consulting my iNaturlists App later on it looked like they were American Beauty Berries. They are native to the area and apparently everybody but me knew all about them.

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Callicarpa americana

They are also known as the French Mulberry. Deer eat the leaves, birds eat the fruit. Humans can eat the berries which appear in late Summer or early Fall. A few my instagram and facebook followers report they have made jam and jelly with the berries. They reportedly have a slight medicinal taste. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center reports that Native Americans made tea out of the berries, foliage, and roots to treat various ailments. The Foraging Texas web site has other information about the plant and its berries including a recipe to make jelly out of them. (If you are going to do that, please do not pick your berries at a State Park or any other similar place.)

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I doubt that I will be eating any but I love the soft purple color. I think I have seen them on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness. They stand out among the various shades of green.

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Labor Day 2019

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Labor Day is here, the historical end of Summer. We went down to Chickasha and picked the kid up from college. He was in good spirits and his room wasn’t as messy as what we were anticipating. But then again he had only been in it a week and a half. I’m sure given time he’ll get it as messy as anybody else.

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Labor Day of course is a holiday to celebrate labor. We celebrate it by taking the day off and not working. Labor has a big history in this country. Labor Unions used to be a big deal but not so much any longer. For some reason they have a negative connotation in many people’s minds. In my career I was never a union member but I worked with all sorts of union contractors and crafts unions. I never had one issue with them. Unions have changed though. Above is a photo of a union protest of a renovation project downtown some years ago. Are they union members? Heck no, they are homeless people that the union hired to protest on their behalf. Where were the actual union members? Working I guess, I don’t know. I thought the whole situation was hilarious.

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Speaking of protestors and hilarity, here are my wife and son protesting at City Hall here in Tulsa about a move that was going to shut down a community theater. My son is an excellent protester with his loud booming voice.

We are not protesting this year at Labor Day. We have been going to movies and enjoying our son’s company until we take him back to school early Monday afternoon. When we come back I’ll celebrate by mowing our yard. It has been a couple weeks and I might need to hire a haying crew to come out and cut and bale it.

Have a great holiday, if you are celebrating it. I found a few quotes about labor on Al Gore’s interwebs that he invented.

  • My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.
    Indira Gandhi
  • No labor, however humble, is dishonoring.
    The Talmud
  • All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
    Martin Luther King Jr.

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Our World – Cruising Split Rock Creek in search of Jesse James

On our recent family reunion in South Dakota, a cousin arranged for us to go on a Jesse James Pontoon Boat Tour on Split Rock Creek at a park of the same name near Garretson, South Dakota. It didn’t cost very much and it didn’t take very long but it was a load of fun.

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We were about twenty or so people on this “Norwegian Cruise Lines” vessel. The guide and pilot is Norwegian by ancestry and was a total hoot. He gave everybody a nickname. His regular job is teaching Native American History and Language at a local high school. He knew his stuff.

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As we poked along in the boat he told us about the Lakota Native Americans and a little about their culture. He talked about the flora and fauna, he showed us flint tools and talked about what they were for. All the while asking us questions and making fun of us. He engaged the kids a lot, and didn’t make fun of them. I bet he is a great teacher.

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He grew up in the area and he knew my cousin very well. He also pointed out that the land on both sides of the creek was privately owned. The fine for trespassing is $105 per person. I don’t think he was joking about that.

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He showed us where Jesse James hid out for a while in a cave high up from the creek. He talked about how in years past the landowner let people go look at it. He’s been there apparently the cave is extensive and has ten foot high ceilings. No tours any more, no trespassing, stay away!!

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We got to the end of the creek’s dammed up portion and he pointed out the nice cottage. That looks perfect to me.

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On the way back he hailed the kayakers. Everybody was a target for this guy. Totally good natured and fun. The tour only lasts a half hour or so but he packs a lot of fun into it.

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Here’s the dam across the creek. Built by the WPA way back when. It’s amazing how much the WPA and the CCC built that is still being used today. What a legacy all these years later.

Here’s a link to the Jesse James Tour facebook page.

And here is some more information about Jesse James and the Split Rock Creek. And yet even more information about this beautiful creek in southeast South Dakota.

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Sioux Valley Baptist Church

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Earlier this month I drove up to southeast South Dakota for the annual family reunion on my father’s side of the family. It was fun, connecting with my cousin and his family and an aunt and uncle and met many other relatives. The day of the reunion it is tradition to attend the services at Sioux Valley Baptist Church, a small country church on a dirt road on land donated by my great great grandfather, Nels Norgaard, back in 1888.

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It usually has about six or seven people attend but on Norgaard Sunday it was full. Quite a testament to the church and its people that they have kept it going for 131 years.

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My uncle said that the interior is just like it was when he was a kid, the furnishings, paintings on the wall, and the decorations and he is in his 80’s now.

Sioux Valley Baptist Church family # Church #southdakota
Photo from 2013

The high point of the service has always been the singing. There was a family member who was really talented but he passed away. It was hard to replace him on piano but hey youtube was at the ready and so we sang “It is Well with my Soul”, “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”, and everybody’s favorite “The King is Coming” a great song about redemption. It starts out slow and builds to a climax. The lyrics include:

"Happy faces line the hallways
Those whose lives have been redeemed
Broken homes that He has mended
Those from prison He has freed
Little children and the aged
Hand in hand stand all aglow
Who were crippled, broken, ruined
Clad in garments white as snow"

Every stanza ends with, “Praise God, He is coming for me!”

I don’t care whether you are believer or not, the idea and the imagery is wonderful!!

Later on we had a picnic in Del Rapids with everybody. Here is a photo of some of us. Can you spot me? Or at least the top of my head?

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Visiting the USS Alabama

We are on vacation this week down on the Alabama Gulf Coast. We decided to stop on the way and check out the USS Alabama. A World War II era battleship now permanently docked at Mobile Bay as part of Museum honoring the ship, its crew and other ships and aircraft.

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My brother served on the a sister to the Alabama, the USS Missouri which was brought back to life and refitted during the Reagan years. The Missouri is now part of a museum and is anchored right next to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. I got on the deck of the Missouri during its christening ceremony in San Francisco but of course they were not letting civilians below decks. So I was interested in what the ship was like. Brother Bob said that space was extremely tight.

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And he wasn’t kidding. The passageways are narrow, and the steps are steep. It was hot and muggy and although the ship is well ventilated and has some air conditioned places, most are not and so we cut the tour a little short. I would love to go back when the weather is milder and explore more.

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They have an Air museum in the same complex that was interesting. All sorts of displays of old airplanes. They also had a display on the lives of the Vietnam POWs. Those men are true heroes.

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They had some outside displays as well, an SR 71 Blackbird spy plane, a Boeing B52D Stratofortress Bomber along with tanks, and personnel carriers. And if you are into geocaching, there is a virtual geocache on site.

The museum is right off Interstate 10 just east of downtown Mobile, on the other side of the tunnel under the bay.

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Our World – Tulsa Legends at Memorial Park Cemetery

As part of a solving a geocaching puzzle I had the opportunity to view some of the famous people buried at Tulsa’s Memorial Park Cemetery. It was really kind of interesting so who was buried there.

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Firsts up is Roy Clark. Those of a certain age, remember him in the television weekly comedy music show Hee Haw back in the 70’s. He was a great performer and projected a warmth while performing. He had hits on both the country and pop charts and was known as a great musician. He didn’t grow up in Tulsa but he called Tulsa home.

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And then Bob Wills, the godfather of everything musical in Tulsa and a co-founder of country swing music.

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He played for years at Cain’s Ballroom here in Tulsa which is still a music hall with quite a full schedule. His ghost is said to reside there.

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Leon Russell had the most elaborate monument and had coins, rocks, and other mementos from his fans on the front. (Roy Clark had coins on the back ledge of his monument for some reason.) He was active for over 60 years. Elton John called him a mentor. He was enrolled in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

He played with Frank Sinatra, Eric Clapton, and others he is a legend.

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Underneath one of the benches at his grave site sits a hat like the ones he used to wear.

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And Sam Kinison. He was one mixed up dude. Lots of talent and very outrageous. Watch the following video at your own risk!

Strangely enough he started out in life as a Pentecostal Preacher and had to quit because he wasn’t making enough money. He went into comedy and got several big breaks.

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Oral Roberts, the father of the “Name it, Claim it” Prosperity Gospel is buried in a common grave next to his wife.

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He might be the most recognized preacher in history. He was an innovator in several fronts, with his prosperity gospel, tele-evangelism, and was founder of Oral Roberts University which is still going on although they separated from the family years ago. He was a character.

His life and ministry is still a conundrum to me. On the one hand he appears to have been a bit of a huckster. On the other hand, his University has done a lot of good. He was colorful, I’ll give you that.

And so that concludes my tour of the Cemetery. I love cemeteries. I google names on the tombstones and you would be surprised how much information is available. For instance I saw a gravestone for a man and wife and it just had birth dates and no end dates. I googled the names and found out that yes, they died but are buried in another cemetery. I am not going to name them because it happened pretty recently and I think I am friends with one of their offspring. So what’s the deal, why would somebody order a double gravestone in advance of the need and have it installed?

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This last guy is my favorite. Waymon Tisdale was a basketball player who played at the University of Oklahoma and later in the NBA. He quit basketball after twelve years in the NBA to concentrate on his first love, music. He played bass guitar in a smooth jazz band that he led. My wife and I used to go to a Jazz Festival here in Tulsa where Tisdale frequently played and he radiated such a friendliness and warmth from the stage and was totally approachable and well grounded.

He and his family lived in a house not far from where we lived at the time. In fact I would go running by his house in the early morning and it was pretty cool. They had young kids and a huge play area for them. It was nice but not superstar gazillionaire nice. His diagnosis with cancer and subsequent early death was a huge tragedy. I still don’t get how somebody so alive can be so dead.

Sorry, I didn’t intend for this to be so long but here it is. It could have been longer, especially if I had elaborated on some of the more entertaining tales of Oral Roberts.

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Sunday Morning Hike on Turkey Mountain

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Sunday morning I let my heathen pagan self run loose and decided to go on a hike on Turkey Mountain. Nobody was there!! I started from the lower parking lot and and after soaking myself with DEET headed up the hill. After I got to the upper parking lot I went on a modified Snake Trail route.

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Turkey Mountain was a rowdy place back in the day. Whisky stills, oilwells, farms and ranches. There are still remnants of houses and oilwells there. This is the remnants of a oilwell. A pump jack sat on the foundation closest to us and the motor running it was in the back. There are no longer any operating oil wells on the Mountain.

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I was looking for color and I found these leaves turning color.

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Sorry for the fuzzy photo. Using the online wildflower id at discoverlife.org the nearest match was “Asiatic Dayflower.” Don’t know if I believe it or not. What do you think?

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The Snake Trail crosses this creek and then loops back across it again. This is in the vicinity of the last time I saw deer on Turkey Mountain. Sometimes when I am there late in the day when it is dark I can hear deer off down the creek. I guess it is deer, either that or a Sasquatch maybe.

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I have no idea, but I like the photo. Some sort of cluster of flowers I found.

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Black Eye Susan’s anybody?

I went a little over three miles and was exhausted. It was cool and overcast when I started but got hot and extremely humid before I was done. Like a dummy I didn’t bring any water. But hey, I had my Church on the Mountain. Congregation of one. We didn’t sing, we pondered, prayed and expressed gratitude for the many blessings that God gives us.

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Our World – Tulsa’s Downtown Churches

Tulsa is unique for having thriving downtown churches unlike many big cities where they are just barely hanging on. Here are three of them and a bonus photo.

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This is one of my favorite churches, the Catholic Holy Family Cathedral with its unusual three spires. This year it is 105 years old.

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Right down the street is the First Christian Church of Tulsa with its unusual tiled roof. It looks a little Middle Eastern to me.

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And my favorite, the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church on the very southern end of downtown. An zig zag art-deco masterpiece designed by Bruce Goff and Adah Robinson. It was barely finished when the Depression hit and church legend has it that the leading members had to work like crazy to keep it from being foreclosed and turned into a movie theater.

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This is the bonus photo. It is not of a church. It is the underside of the 21st street bridge over the Arkansas River in Tulsa. I caught it in the afternoon late enough to be lighted by the sun to the northwest (to the right roughly) and early enough where the light had some intensity to it. And I helped along a little with a Topaz Studio filter. It kind of looks like the inside of cathedral doesn’t it? Oh throw me a bone somebody!

There are several other very active vital churches downtown with interesting buildings. I’ll be posting about those later, maybe. I don’t plan my posts much.

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Our World – Drawing Inspiration from Jason Lee

Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art is putting on an exhibition of over 150 photographs by Jason Lee. I’d never heard of him before and he got famous as a skateboarder way back when, and then got into movies, and for the last decade and a half has developed quite a reputation as photographer using various film formats.

Philbrook commissioned him to do a series of photographs on Tulsa and Oklahoma. They are his vision of Tulsa and Oklahoma. So when I went to check them out recently I was like, well, okay. His vision is kind of bleak and a lot of shows the disparity between the haves and the havenots here. There a shots of dilapidated buildings with the high rises of corporate Tulsa in the background for example.

There isn’t like one single work that is a showstopper. Its not that kind of exhibition. I think you have to look at the whole work in its entirety. From that vantage the show is outstanding. The thing that really inspired me is that I sensed a confident photographer going about his business shooting photographs of various scenes based on his instincts.

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So, inspired by him, I am trying to figure out what my vision of Oklahoma is and make it more right brained than my analytical side. I found these images of various bison in a rural area of Tulsa. I kind of like them even though I had to park in the driveway of the property and just as I finished up since big loud dog showed up acting like he wanted to bite a piece of my leg off.

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They are colorful, what they mean about Oklahoma, I haven’t figured that out yet. I am just going with it.

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What do you think?

Turkey Vulture Osage County

I drove on out of Tulsa into the countryside and came across this Turkey Vulture. I didn’t bother him one bit.

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Across the road was a mainline block valve for some sort of liquids pipeline. It needs a little work I think.

So anyway, if you are in the Tulsa area go check out the Jason Lee exhibit at the downtown branch of Philbrook.

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Our World – Riding in a Tulsa Tough Grand Fondo

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I was so excited because my number 251 is a prime number. I love prime numbers.

Tulsa has a bicycling event called Tulsa Tough sponsored by a local hospital. It started out kind of small and has grown considerably. It consists of three days of criterium racing and a couple days of Grand Fondo’s and a Townie Ride. Criterium is racing around and around in a closed loop of a mile or two or three and the most famous of those is Cry Baby Hill on the Riverparks. The Fondos are longer distance rides from Tulsa to the boonies and back of at least 32 and miles on Saturday and Sunday. The Townie Ride is a free community event just a few miles long.

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The view from the parking at lot at 6:30 am.

I’ve always been a spectator at Cry Baby Hill but this year I went for something different. I signed up for the shortest of the Grand Fondo rides on Sunday. Thirty two miles. I had never rode a bike that far and thought about waiting until next year but I am kind of that age where it is wise not to be putting off stuff like that. You know what I mean?

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So I signed up and did some training on some hilly routes near out house and I was as ready as I ever was going to be.

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I got there early in the morning and got the bike ready and went to the starting line and waited. I am a slow rider and so I always get to the back, just like my running races!!

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And I got left in the dust. It didn’t bother me. I just kept going at my pace and pretty soon I passed a few people.

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So us back of the packers made for a congenial group of nodding acquaintance as we passed each other, and got passed.

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The race organizers had lots of SAG vehicles to help riders with flats, or first aid, or haul them back to the starting line if they can’t finish the race.

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At about mile 10 or so we had a rest stop. Lots to eat and drink. Our son, the banana nazi, forbids bananas in our house so I had my fill of bananas here, and water. Bananas are the perfect food for running or riding, lots of carbos and electrolytes. They also had gatorade, picklejuice, pickles, cookies, peanut butter sandwiches and all sorts of other stuff including fireball shots. I didn’t imbibe. I’d of had to stop every mile or so if you know what I mean. I’m not going to spell it out for you.

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Right across the road is a view of Holmes Peak which I have run up to a bunch of times during various Post Oak Lodge Trail Runs over the years. I am glad I didn’t have to ride my bike up to the top. I know that you folks from places that actually have mountains are in hysterics about our “Mount” but hey it is harder than it looks so get over yourselves.

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So then we went north. We wound through some beautiful back country with birds singing and water flowing in the streams and it was very nice. It reminded me of some early morning summer hikes in Oxley Nature Center. You totally miss it in a car.

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And then it started raining which wasn’t quite as much fun but I was wearing tech gear and the temperature was not too low so it was tolerable. My gopro clone camera ran out of juice so that is the last photo I got. I didn’t really feel like stopping and take pics with the phone because it was raining.

So everything was pretty cool until about three miles from the finish. I misread a sign and took off through the core of downtown instead of continuing straight to the west side of the Arkansas River. So I wandered through the core part of downtown Tulsa thinking, wow this is kind of a busy route for a big race. There were the purple race markers but now I know it was for the Townie Ride scheduled in the afternoon. Then I got to the Midland Valley Trail and it’s oh wow, this isn’t right.

So I could have backtracked but I was tired. So I just headed back to my car. I thought briefly about a 0.6 mile jaunt to the beginning of the finish line but that would have been cheating even though I would have ended up with more mileage than the official distance. And I was still tired and it was still raining, and I would have just had double back where I was and I would have an official finish and it would have been fraudulent. Nobody would know, except I always tell the truth on my blog and so you guys/gals/X’s would know!! Do you believe me? Seriously?

So I had an official timed start and a DNF. I hope that you are not too ashamed of me. Tell you the truth, I am not ashamed. If I had gone to the finish and got an official time then I would have to explain. And as a veteran of over 40 years in industry I always tell the youngins that if you are having to explain, then you are in trouble. Just tell it like it was is my motto.

So tell me, do you always tell the truth on your blog?

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