2022: 50th Anniversary

June 24, 1972, I married the love of my life at the ripe age of 19.  We were broke, living in his parent’s rent house, with a baby on the way and no idea what to do with it.  But we persevered. 

            We met our senior year in high school and began dating soon thereafter. Then after our freshman year of college we married. The baby came much too quickly, and we were both terrified.  But she soon taught us all we needed to know about how to parent her. Four and half years later we did it again—this one a boy.

By the time we were 25 we had two children and a mortgage on a cute little three-bedroom house where we lived for the next 20 years. The children thrived in spite of us, and we worked sometimes daylight until dark or later.  We tired to work opposite shifts, so someone was home for them, and we had two grandmothers and a babysitter in town to fill in the gaps.

Later in life we both went back to school to finish what we started and encouraged the kids to not follow in our footsteps. We knew the hardships of marrying early and being poor.  I think they listened.

But I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

It has been 50 years since we married in that chapel and began being parents within the first year. We took a little trip with some cousins to celebrate the event and hired some work done around the house to make life easier for us.  We never would have done that 20 years ago. The do-it-yourselfers have finally succumbed to having the work done for us and giving our aging bodies a break.  

We are now retired, and I know we have been blessed. Not many marriages last that long these days due to divorce or sometimes death.  I can’t imagine life without my husband, but I know one of us will probably go down that path someday. 

Happy 50th Anniversary sweetheart. I love you.

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2022: James L. Osburn – Happy Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day and since I wrote about my husband’s days as a father last year, this year I’ll talk about my dad.

            My father was born on a farm deep in the Arkansas Ozarks during the Great Depression. He was the youngest of five children.  With a ninth-grade education, he joined the Air Force during World War II and was trained as an aircraft mechanic.  Afterwards, on the GI bill, he acquired every license the FAA had available. He married my mother as soon as he returned from working on bullet-riddled aircraft on Guadalcanal and they had three daughters.  He hired on at Vance AFB in 1960 to teach maintenance. He spent some time in Houston with NASA as Director of Aircraft Maintenance. Then later returned to Vance and retired in 1989 after becoming the Director of Aircraft Maintenance for them.

            When he wasn’t working, his favorite past time was fishing.  He built a pontoon boat from plans he found in Popular Mechanics magazine out of Styrofoam pontoons with a wooden deck and only one seat—for the captain.  The rest of us stood.  We named it “Happiness is . . .” after Snoopy and the Charlie Brown series.  It brought the family together and soon he bought a place at Canton Lake for our weekends away from work.  It was the beginning of my love of the water. We ate gallons of fried fish and hush puppies because of his passion for fishing. (I’m the middle kid in front of him).

            Toward the end of his life, in the hospital for heart surgery while my mother suffered with lung cancer and chemo, his dementia increased.  His doctor smilingly told me Dad thought he had once worked for NASA.  I informed the doctor that the frail old man in the chair who couldn’t remember what he ate for breakfast that day did work for NASA and that was the one thing he still remembered.  It was the highlight of his life—next to his family.

He died fourteen months after Mom, his mind confused and broken.  He had survived the Depression, war, and long working hours. But all good things must come to an end.  His body had endured enough, and it was time.

I love you Dad and thanks for raising me. I know I didn’t always make it easy.

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2022: A Lazy Week

It’s been an uneventful week. I like those now and then. Next Sunday is Father’s Day and the following is a milestone anniversary for my husband and me. Fifty years—and they said it wouldn’t last!

This morning we took the dog for a walk around 8 o’clock. I planned to do it earlier but didn’t make it. It seemed less humid. It’s that time in Oklahoma when the temperatures soar just in time for harvest. It has quit raining and may not rain another drop until October. Welcome to Oklahoma. But that lack of moisture leaves the tornadoes with no fuel.

The cottonwood is about finished with it’s blizzards. It normally snows between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Now it is time to clean out the air conditioning system.

I mentioned earlier we had sprung for a water well and sprinkler system for the yard. We are loving having water at the touch of a button, and the yard looks better for it. I’m sure the well water is better for the plants than the city water was.

My husband will be having surgery number three on his shoulder soon. That will keep us indoors and under the air conditioning. While he’s recuperating, I’m working on the third Sandhill Island novel. This time there are smugglers!

So, you can see, the Chambers household is staying in under the air-conditioning and recuperating. What work is done, happens before the heat of the day or afterwards. We’re boring like that. But we still accomplish a few things.

I think in this heat a salad for dinner might be the ticket.

What are you reading this growing/week?

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2022: The Accidental Gardener

Several years ago, my aging neighbor across the street brought me some strawberry plants in a three-pound coffee can. He could grow anything, and they were overrunning his little area where they were planted. I was excited to grow strawberries in the front flower bed. They lasted a year and fed the birds. I was not a successful strawberry farmer.

But inside this coffee can lay the hidden roots of another plant that soon came up on its own. I showed it to the neighbor, and he said, “Oh those things are all over the place, I can’t get rid of them.”

I thought it was a Hosta. I had a few Hostas in my garden, some more successful than others, so I transplanted it to a shady area and fed it, watered it, and watched it grow. But it never spread as he said. I did a little research and found that some Hostas like shade and others prefer a little sun, so I moved it. It came back up the next year and did the same thing. It grew a little and then stopped. Maybe a little more sun.

Last fall I moved it closer to the front of the flower bed where the sun was stronger and again this year it popped up. My Hosta, an accidental gift from a neighbor, was still alive. The neighbor didn’t fare so well. He passed away. And though I couldn’t grow the strawberries he gave me; I could grow the Hosta.

Then it did a fabulous thing. It bloomed! And it wasn’t a Hosta at all but a Calla Lily! This is the third year I’ve had it and the first time it has bloomed.

When we went to South Africa, there were gardens of Calla Lilies outside out hotel. My daughter had Calla Lilies in her wedding bouquet. I’ve always loved them, but never grew any. Now, thanks to the generosity of a neighbor and an accidental planting, I’ll have some of my own.

Who knew I could grow a Calla Lily?

What are you reading this growing/week?

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2022: Cover Reveal

My husband should be having a third shoulder surgery soon. We’re waiting on a date. We had a well dug and a sprinkler system installed and waiting on sod for the back yard. We’re having a 50th wedding anniversary this year and a short trip planned. Such is the life of retirees. I remember my parents went to south Texas in their motorhome to stay for the winter and had many adventures. Our retirement seems to pale in comparison to theirs.

            But in the middle of all this activity, my writing club will turn one hundred years old in January. We’re planning some celebrations. One of which is an anthology of our works. We’ve been talking about it for some time and we’re finally putting it together. I’m gathering all the fabulous works of art and putting them together in a book to be published this summer.

            Slowly the documents are dribbling in. I’m impatient, I know. So, I started work on the cover. The title is “Prose Colored Glasses” voted on at the last meeting. And with that in mind, I went shopping for just the right pair of spectacles to go with the title. And I found them at a little discount store.

            The title is a spin-off on the phrase “rose colored glasses” like looking at life through rose colored glasses. I had the glasses, now I needed roses—and I didn’t have any. With all the rain we’ve had recently, one rose gardener said his had been beaten down by the weather. I needed to find some pink ones to go with my purchase of the glasses.

            I was off on another adventure. I will climb all obstacles when it comes to my club. I wondered if there were roses growing in a park somewhere in town. And I went on a hunt. My husband said to call if I got thrown into “flower jail” and he might bail me out.

            I found just the right color of roses in a park in town. With my rose pruners in a sack to not to be so obvious, I clipped a small amount of dainty pink roses, took them home and arranged them on the dining room tablecloth—artistically—and  began to take pictures. Above is my masterpiece. I wanted to capture the idea for our potential cover.

            If the picture is accepted when I upload it into the publishing website, this will be our cover. It came out good.

Consider this a cover reveal and be prepared for some fabulous writing from many different writers.

What are you reading this week? Get ready for “Prose Colored Glasses.”

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2022: Aging Gardeners

            I mentioned last week my husband is looking at another shoulder surgery. To say the least we’re not looking forward to it. It’s not his first and we know what he is up against.

            There’s no doubt about it, we’re in our golden years.

            He’s not ready to call a lawn service company yet. It’s a guy thing. So last year we bought a ZTR lawn mower even though we live in a residential area with a normal sized yard. It’s a small mower and he’s not happy with it, or maybe he’s not happy having to use one, but it’s a compromise. There is nothing wrong with the mower, it’s the stage in life.

            This year we went one step further. We hired a company to drill a water well and lay a sprinkler system. It is one more thing we can do with a flip of a switch and not push or pull the equipment around like we did when we were in our twenties. We’re more than a little beaten up physically, probably because we were always do-it-yourselfers, and now our bodies are paying the price.

            But with a riding lawnmower and a sprinkler system we should have a beautiful yard, right? We’re home all the time to look after it. If you see us running (ambling) through sprinklers this summer, join us!

            Perhaps we should have spent our money on an RV and traveled the world. It might have been less expensive and not as hard on our bodies. Awww, retirement.

So much for ageing gardeners. Maybe we should stick to books. What are you reading this week?

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2022: Cottonwood!

My husband had shoulder surgery this year and is looking at another.  He is not happy with the idea of being incapacitated and so we work together on the yard work. 

Yesterday he was certain he could mow the front yard with the new ZTR mower he bought this time last year.  So, I tried to help him. We moved things around in the garage so he could get to it and once it was out, he really had no trouble at all making wide circles and keeping the shoulder as inactive as possible. 

Until the Cottonwood began to fall in blizzards. It stuck to sweaty bodies, flew up our noses, and stuck in our hair.  Once it quits for the year, we’ll have to have our air conditioner serviced which will look like it is covered in thick woolen batting. We’ve been here before. The neighbor next door has a 100-year-old Cottonwood tree, and it loves the spring when it can show it still has what it takes.

After coming in covered in the white fluff I was inspired to write a poem to express my feelings.  

COTTONWOOD WRANGLER

Balls of white gossamer fluff roll across the prairie

And The gardener watches the blizzard in vain.

In true Oklahoma form a funnel of cotton rises into the air on my front porch

I watch knowing nothing can be done until the Cottonwood is spent.

Each spring between Mother’s Day and June, huge puffballs fall from the sky

And the neighbor’s 100-year-old tree once more springs to life to procreate.

Seeds set out on cotton wings – some the size of my hand – and drift into corners

Motivated to growing into a tree like its mother.

And I, the gardener, become a wrangler of Cottonwood babies

Scooping the balls into dust pans and securing them.

I slam down the lid as half escape into the air before they are dumped into trash cans

Headed for the landfill where their dreams of treedom might come true.

So much for gardening. What are you reading this week?

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2022: Mother’s Day

I’ve done a lot of things on this planet in my 69 years. Some smarter than others. But the best thing I ever did was to become a mother of two wonderful human beings. It’s Mother’s Day and I looked up some old pictures to prove to you I raised two children. Both of them live close and I see them as often as possible.

I started young, barely twenty, when the first one showed up. I was terrified I’d screw up and we’d all starve. I didn’t know what to do with the little bundle of joy—and it showed. But I had a mother and mother-in-law to help guide me. Even though I thought I knew better sometimes, I still learned from them.

I worked part time when the children were young and tried to avoid placing them in day care. Their dad worked early mornings so I worked part-time afternoons. It brought in a little money. When they were in school full time, I went back to work full time too. And I went back to school while I worked and mothered. And the years whizzed by.

We always had a lot of music and books in our home, though there were times when we had little else. And my kids remember that. They remember the classical music as I rocked the baby to sleep and later the bedtime stories when they were old enough to appreciate them. I often put the needle on the 33-rpm record while we danced around the living room, and I managed to get rid of some dust or fold another load of laundry. They are both good readers and music lovers. I must have done a few things right.

I now have five grandchildren and they too are grown. The one I kept on weekends sometimes when he was young is about to graduate college. I couldn’t be prouder. One lives around the corner and though he works out of town, he helps us with things we’ve become too old to manage. The others I only see on holidays, but I look forward to those times.

Of all the things I’ve done in my life, being a mother was my favorite, and I wouldn’t change a thing in the way it happened. Happy Mother’s Day.

What are you reading this week?

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2022: OWFI Conference

Last week was Enid Author Fest and this week is the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. conference. It’s conference time!

It seems like years (it has been) since we’ve been able to get together. The pandemic cut a notch out of our get-to-gathers for the last few years and I’m happy to be able to attend again. Virtual conferences just aren’t the same.

If you’re interested in joining us check out 2022 Registration — Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. (OWFI) and see what the excitement is about. There will be speakers from all over the country along with banquets and awards ceremonies. Old friends will get to see each other again and new friendships will be made.

I remember my first conference; I only went for the Saturday sessions. I drove down early and then home after the final speaker of the day. I had no idea how much I missed. But I was ready the next year. Now we drive to Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City on Thursday afternoon and home after breakfast on Sunday morning. We attend both of the banquets and sit in on as many sessions as possible. I don’t want to miss a minute.

And this year there will be smaller celebrations taking place in a room designated for that purpose. The Enid Writers Club will celebrate their 100th anniversary (next January) with cake. Come by and join us. The Oklahoma Romance Writers will have an awards celebration also. There will be many things for many writers.

The conference always brings in editors, publishers, and agents who are available by appointment so the writers can pitch their work to them. I have gotten to know all my publishers at this conference, and I am happy to say those relationships have worked out beautifully. There will also be book sales by the author and a silent auction going on throughout the hotel.

Come check us out Friday and Saturday at the Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City on Meridian Embassy Suites Oklahoma City Will Rogers Airport – Guest Reservations (close to Will Rogers airport).

What are you reading this week?

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2022: Author Fest!

It’s Author Fest time!

Each year for the past five or so, the Public Library of Enid and Garfield County has hosted an author fest. I’ve loved being a part of this group from the beginning and each year the library produces innovative ideas. You can interact with authors of all types, and you can always purchase a book from your favorite author.

It is National Poetry Month, and the library combined a love of poetry with all things literary. Many people donated an original poem to be combined into an anthology and available sometime after the festival. There was a typewriter (yes, a real typewriter) on sight and poetry on the fly was created just for you. I got one. It was great.

I met old friends and made some new ones. There were authors from all over the state at the festival and it was a wonderful time to catch up with friends from the past. I also met a lot of new people.

I always look forward to the Enid Author Fest and will continue to attend. I handed out a lot of fliers about the Enid Writers Club. There seemed to be a lot of interest from people of all occupations who would love to learn to write better. It is the 100th anniversary of our local club in January 2023 and we are starting the celebration early.

Literature speaks to all people as was evidenced by the wide variety of participants. Enid had several things to do yesterday with a barbeque cookoff and home show, but lots of readers came to the library also. We’ll do it again next year. Thank you Enid Public Library for your support.

What are you reading this week?

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