Archive for August, 2011

When it gets hard – smile.

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This summer I have practiced yoga religiously. Three times a week when I can. In a deviation from my normal behavior, I have happily left the farm for the drive to town for yoga. I’ve gone mid-day, with the lunch crowd, and have learned to do my own yoga, to accept my body’s limitations and its potential on any given day, and perhaps, most importantly, I’ve learned to breathe. Deeply. Rhythmically.

I go to YogaSol, housed in a deep purple warehouse in Columbia’s North Village Arts District. The new studio was finished this spring and you can tell it was designed with love. It is simple and uncluttered and perfect.

I not only learned the poses, improving my physical strength, balance and flexibility, but I learned how to unclutter my mind and to slow time.

I am used to feeling my schedule and to-do list balanced on my head like a burden, a heavy weight whose desire is to destroy me. Through yoga I have become unhurried, relaxed and more ready to take on challenges.

I got a lot done this summer, and I did it at a leisurely pace which meant I enjoyed everything more. I’ve kept up with this blog and started writing fiction, reminding myself that writing isn’t a luxury, but that it, like yoga, must be practiced religiously.

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Oklahoma Joe’s

John took a week of vacation that has included a lot of mowing and one foray to the big city to see friends. We rendezvoused in Kansas City, Missouri then loaded in our car to head to Kansas City, Kansas to check out a bbq joint called Oklahoma Joe’s.

I admit, I was skeptical.

Oklahoma Joe’s? In Kansas City?

Slabs of hot meat on a 110-degree day?

I went online to find it is a locally-owned business that had a store in Oklahoma as well as Kansas City. Its genesis was a group of competitive barbecue fiends – the Slaughterhouse Five (great name) – and when the Oklahoma store closed, the K.C. one remained Oklahoma Joe’s.

The ambience was everything a bbq place should be. It’s housed in a gas station – really, a functional, fill-your-tank gas station. On the restaurant side you stand in line and wait, and wait, and wait, to make it to the front where a guy takes your order. Without being told, the instructions are clear: Wait till he makes eye contact, place your order succinctly and completely, and move along. There are other customers waiting behind you. It was crowded and loud and two of our compatriots ended up with barbecue sauce on their sleeves.

The food was everything bbq should be. In our group there were a couple of rib plates and two sandwiches. I had the pulled pork special with a side of onion rings. My sandwich was delicious and tender and the sauce was spot on. The report on the ribs was that they were the best – this from carnivorous connoisseurs.

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This year the horseflies have been phenomenal. Not just the quantity, but the quality, of the beast has increased. As I’ve swept up the milking parlor in the evenings, I’ve noticed blood stains where their feasting has dripped off the cow and onto the concrete – like the spattered chalk outline at a homicide scene.

If you manage to smack one clamped onto a cow’s back, it spurts blood, covering the cow, your hand, your clothes, with the horsefly’s dinner. Disgusting.

They have also been really black this year. Black and huge and humming – the size and sound of a hummingbird. I get jumpy while I milk and I hear one buzz by followed by the scary silence when it lands on my back for a bite.

This year the hummingbirds have been phenomenal. They’re as thick as rain clouds around the two hummingbird feeders I fill once or twice daily. They greet me at the door, hovering at eye level while I replace the filled feeders on the back porch.

Many years ago I took a camping vacation with my dog, Murphy. I had never camped before, so I bought a one-woman/one-dog sized tent and practiced setting it up and taking it down on my parents’ farm. I made sure my over-sized Golden Retriever was comfortable with the idea of sleeping in a tent – he was comfortable sleeping anywhere, I don’t know why I worried – and then we packed up and headed out.

We went west, in May.

I learned a few things on that trip – such as it snows in May in Cimarron Canyon, New Mexico. I’m afraid of bears. I need extreme solitude.

We camped in New Mexico, stayed with friends in Arizona, and camped again on BLM ground in Moab, Utah.

The Moab campground was wind-swept and barren and beautiful. I set up my tent by a small bush and proceeded to explore my surroundings. That night Murphy and I slept well – the way you do when your lungs are filled with fresh night air. The next morning I awoke to a loud buzzing around my tent. It was intense and frightening and I worried I had staked my tent over a hornet’s nest. I didn’t look forward to finding out that I had.

Leaving Murphy safely inside, I peeked out only to find we were surrounded by hummingbirds.

Hundreds of them.

It was magical.

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