Posts Tagged ‘Arkansas’


This Land Is My Land

Little White House w Red Brick House Next Door NLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Napoleon once claimed this land, and sold it to Thomas Jefferson, but guess what, it’s mine now. I’m talking about my little half-acre of the world here in Arkadelphia; take note, I’m a homeowner now. There is a document dated March 31, 2016 recorded in the Clark County courthouse that affirms title to a particular piece of land in my name; ah, land, the bottom-line definition of commitment. For land is our most basic resource; from land comes security. Explorers have roved the world for land, wars have been fought over it, treaties governing its use have been signed, and sometimes, ignored. Surveyors sectioned newly-claimed land into measurable pieces, and realtors make a pretty good living to this day as people trade those pieces, back and forth.

01 My Front DoorAs for me, I just wanted to hunker down in peace and quiet, to paint-up fix-up as I please; even the vagabond in me needs a place to call home. But who, I wanted to know, lived here before me? Our Clark County Historical Museum has fragments of Caddo Indian pottery on display from earlier times; the path to the Ouachita River bluff has interpretive markers that tell of Caddoan life here a long, long time ago. Before, well, you know, before they had to leave. » read more


What Did Tennessee

2016.02.choochooLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, ArkansasWhat did Tennessee, boys, what did Tennessee? Remember that old Scout song? Entertainment around the campfire, roast a weinie, toast a marshmallow, sing nonsense till you pass out in your tent. What did Delaware? What does Iowa? Where has Oregon? These and other intellectual questions (What does Mississip?) kept me smiling as I sang my way across Mississippi into Tennessee and then back to Arkansas this month (she saw what Arkansas.) My turnaround point for a little vacation was Chattanooga, where I lived when my children were growing up, and again later 2016.02.betty and linda pwhen I became “Ms Chattanooga,” a spokeperson for a beautiful city; so precious to me I wrote a guidebook about it (Chattanooga Great Places) and a second guidebook about the surrounding area (SE Great Trips). And then (it follows) a weekly travel column for the Chattanooga Times entitled “Here or There” which focused on things to experience in and around that lovely town. (Me, left, with books and illustrator Betty Harrelson, Books A Million in Chattanooga, 1996.)

Those were very happy days, living in a place I loved and then pointing out to everyone how wonderful it was! That’s what we all should do, I believe. Just think, if every single person in the US of A really cared about their homeplace, and bragged about it, and worked to make it the absolute finest place in their part of the world, then – well gee! No urban blight, no rural downtrod, no crumbling infrastructures; you get the idea. So here’s my message, wherever you are. TODAY, do these three things: » read more


Am I Blue?

00.0.Box.cLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – When is the best time to put a jigsaw puzzle together? A rainy day seemed right, when Brother was visiting during Thanksgiving week. I pulled out the State Flags and Capitols box I’d been saving for just such a day and dumped all one thousand pieces onto the card table. Brother raised an eyebrow and shook his head. I let tiny puzzle pieces filter through my fingers, trying to think of a working plan. 00.27.Puzzle Pieces“What strategy should I use?” I asked. “Colors,” was his reply. Now, generally speaking, that is good jigsaw strategy. But when the picture is 50 state flags, well that’s when you discover that most state flags are blue. In fact, only four state flags don’t have at least a touch of blue in them – Alabama, California, Maryland, and New Mexico.

The puzzle pieces sat in a pile for several days, as I half-heartedly tried to sort blue from blue from blue. After brother left, I raked everything back into the box and headed for my sewing basket. Being heavily dependent on Excel spreadsheets to help me organize almost everything in life, I grabbed a spool of thread and the scissors and with a little Scotch tape turned the 02.Puzzle. Stringscard table into Columns and Rows. Then I put Post-Its into each section marking which state fit where. Aha! I dug into those thousand pieces again looking for words. “Mon” went into the Montana section, “sas” into the Arkansas slot; I was on a roll! How many flags have outspread eagle wings? Just two – Iowa and North Dakota. Plop plop. The palm tree went to Hawaii; the horses to Pennsylvania, the bison belonged to Wyoming. The challenge began to be fun, and (with magnifying glass in hand) I began to notice the details within the flags. I didn’t expect to have a learning experience, but that is exactly what happened. In my two-year Journey to 50 states, I didn’t pay much attention to the state flags. But suddenly I realized that flags are the story-telling devices of the state. And I love a good story! » read more


Pioneers and Pilgrimages

30.Figures (2)Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – I bought two figures at Hobby Lobby a few months back. One is a dark-skinned woman with plaited hair, her black braids draped over her shoulders atop a fringed shawl; the other a fair-skinned woman with slightly reddish hair, cut shoulder length, the hood of her shawl softly framing her face. Native American? Scotch-Irish? Wearing finely tanned animal skins and finely stitched linen? Both are carrying baskets filled with food – pumpkins, squash, apples, grapes. Both are beautiful, and serene. “The spirit of Thanksgiving,” I thought when I spotted them. “My heritage, and just right for the November dining table.” I added gourds from the grocery; odd-shaped greens and yellows; plus several round ones tinged with orange. Brother was coming for most of Thanksgiving week; coming to this place we’d found together by an accident of fate. Have I told you this before? The Journal? The Search? The Arkansas tragedy?

It’s a story of our country really; our own personal connection to thousands of stories of the great westward migration, stories of pioneers, of courage, and change. Ours centers on a little girl named Martha Jane, who rolled through Clark County, Arkansas in November 1849 at the tender age of four. What an adventure! » read more


An Invite From CRAG

24 P Linda Sliding 4Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas — I was invited to speak at the September 24 meeting of the Caddo River Art Guild (CRAG), an avid group whose mission is promoting art and artists in south central Arkansas,  My mission of course is capital cities, so I talked about “art in the capital cities,” that is, the community’s support of the arts. How Art Thrives was my topic, leading with the question: What does it take to have a thriving arts community?

It takes four things, I proposed, to nods of agreement from around the room:

• Money
• Artists
• Volunteers
• Attitude

I selected five uniquely different cities to illustrate:
Santa Fe, New Mexico, Population 67, 947 (about 6 Arkadelphias) because it supports and focuses on the artist more than any other capital city.

Montpelier, Vermont, Population 7,855 (about 3/4 of 1 Arkadelphia!) because it’s the smallest capital city and has the 2nd most artists per capita and the biggest group of volunteers.

And Helena, Montana, Population 28,190 (about 3 Arkadelphias), Lincoln, Nebraska, Population 258,379 (about 24 Arkadelphias), and Indianapolis, Indiana, Population 820,444 (about 77 Arkadelphias) to show it’s not the size of the city that matters, it’s the attitude of its residents. » read more


Song of the South

11.Sam Arriving AtlantaLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas –July was Sam Time. Sam is my youngest grandchild, born and growing up in the Pacific Northwest. He went to Juneau with me on the Journey back in 2012 (read all about it in Juneau) where we went whale-watching and dog-sledding and he got to know a capital city up and down. He flew into Little Rock last summer and spent three weeks with me in Arkansas, where we made a quick-trip into Oklahoma and Texas. But I figured it was time this boy had a bona fide real-time southern experience and learned about his roots. After all, he was teetering on the cusp of teenhood, and you know how fast that goes. I planned a full-fledged Journey through the south, worthy of a Fodor review.

I met Sam’s plane in Atlanta. His “unaccompanied minor” status required a direct flight, and we were headed for Gatlinburg anyhow, so that made sense. Did you know that Hartsfield International in Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world? 95 million passengers annually, coming into 7 terminals, exiting through 201 gates. Sam emerged through Alaska’s Gate D3 (at the far end of nowhere), a little taller than last year and wearing a Seattle Seahawks shirt. “Welcome to Atlanta, home of the Braves!” I grinned. And so began Sam’s Song of the South, Scott1stSteps66subtitled “Where Your Dad Grew Up.” I’d filled a notebook with pictures of family members he’d meet, and details about each stop we’d make. “First stop tomorrow is South Carolina,” I explained in our Atlanta motel room that night, “Ware Shoals, where we were living when your Dad was born.” I had a picture of his Dad taking his first steps, in our kitchen there on Dairy Street. My plan was to drive by and show him the house. You won’t believe how that turned out. » read more


My El Grande Lovebug

22 jack musicLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Today is the first day of autumn, normally a happy time, but today, it’s not. Jack died this morning at 9:01. This may be the hardest post I’ve ever written. It was a sad day when Alex died in March, but I didn’t write about it till more than a week had passed. “I didn’t expect to have my heart broken twice in the same year,” I told the family, as I explained the events that caught us all by surprise. Yes, he was too fat. And no, he didn’t exercise much any more. All visitors this summer were charged with getting Jack to “roll over.” Dangle the play-strings across his back, count how many times he’d respond with enthusiasm. Not many; he much preferred putting his 22 jack ellis lindahead in your lap while you stroked him. He was diagnosed with onset kidney disease in June, and we changed his diet, though his numbers weren’t that far out of line. He remained a people cat, snuggling against anyone who’d allow it. He followed me from room to room; cozy on the office sofa while I worked; taking one end of the living-room sofa while I took the other as we watched our favorite TV shows in the evening. When I got into 22 eyesbed at night, I’d call his name, and soon I’d hear his toenails clicking on the hardwood floor. He’d jump on the bed and start circling round, then suddenly he’d jump down again. Just like old folks. “Darn, I forgot to go to the bathroom.” He’d trot off to his litterbox and then jump up again, this time for the night. Jack never demanded anything; for the ten years of his life he was simply lovebug sweet. My big fat black cat, El Grande, someone called him once. » read more


A New Pencil Box

25 Linda schoolLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – A new pencil box and the first day of school. Who is old enough to remember the fresh wood smell of newly sharpened pencils? I’m thinking about that as I put on my hat and head out the door for my first day of classes at Henderson. The American West and Arkansas History; that’s my course of study this semester. Why? On the Journey I explored almost every inch of the “western” states but was left with more questions than answers by the end of it. I want to learn more about the legislation that opened those vast lands for settlement, the many treaties with the natives who were already living there, the creation of the new states; in other words, the expansion of our country throughout the 19th century. All to make this site more useful for everyone who accesses it. The Arkansas History class will help with that too, and additionally will provide insights about the emigration of my ancestors who died here in 1849 on their move from Alabama to Texas. Ancestors. A little family talk now. And “how I spent my summer 25 group at pianovacation.” Since I’m settled in one place with plenty of room for visitors, I invited, and they came! Grandson Andrew arrived June 21; grandson Sam July 12. Andrew left July 16; son Mike, and his Brenda, and her grandson Michael arrived July 31. Granddaughter Kayla and son Rick arrived August 2. Mike and Brenda and Michael left August 3; Sam left August 6. Rick and Kayla left August 16. Did you notice? There was a perfect alignment of planets on August 2. » read more


Ghosts of Christmas Past

25 Linda Tree ArlingtonLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Every year we hear about Bah Humbug Scrooge and the ghosts that visited him on Christmas Eve. I’d say there are just as many ghosts roaming around the Arlington Hotel, indeed, the entire city of Hot Springs. Oh what tales the tour guides tell! The most famous ghost of the Arlington’s past is Al Capone, and it is a fact he had a favorite suite on the 4th floor back in his gangster days. That way he had a clear view down Central Avenue. No sneaking up on Al. I went looking for the ghosts of Santa Claus today, however, and 25 Arlington buffettalented chefs, with plans to enjoy a lavish Christmas feast in the Venetian Room. Hot Springs is just 35 miles from Arkadelphia, the weather was sunny and fine, and after presenting my early-morning Christmas gift to Alex and Jack (a walking kitty-cat which they regarded with great disdain) I set out for Hot Springs and the Arlington. Did you know that Hot Springs was Arkansas’ capital city for a short period of time? Did you know that Hot Springs was a 25 Arlington buffet salmonfavorite spot for gangsters and gambling, back in the roaring twenties? Did you know that Bill Clinton grew up in Hot Springs, and graduated high school there? I didn’t, nor did I realize that Hot Springs was the spring training camp for Chicago’s White Stockings, or that famed Bathhouse Row still has spa services available. But back to the Arlington. The groaning-table buffet was worthy of the drive, and the gingerbread house in the art deco lobby was charming, but I confess to checking over my shoulder once or twice. You can never be too careful when it comes to ghosts. » read more


No Ignoramus Here

21 Genius puzzle at Cracker BarrelLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Today is the first day of winter. And I was blessed with two good omens. Have you ever tried to work one of those little Peg Puzzles that sit on every table in the Cracker Barrel? The goal is to end up with only one peg remaining, but it’s possible to back yourself into a corner and wind up with four pegs staring at you. Four! That means you are an ignoramus, on a level with pond scum. If you get it down to one however, you are a Certified Genius. Guess what. I got it down to ONE today, the first time ever in my life; I’ve tried to solve the darned thing in Cracker Barrels all across the land. I called my server over to see. “I take this as a positive sign,” I beamed. “This means I have made the right choice in moving to 20 ArkansasArkadelphia. I’m a genius!” She gave me a high five and told me my biscuits were coming up. The other good omen was a rainbow, but that was later, after I’d spent the day exploring my new environs. We arrived in a storyteller’s cliché yesterday; it was a dark and stormy night. There was a thunderstorm of such fearful proportions I didn’t even unload the car, I just grabbed the cats and their basic stuff. We’d had a long drive across Mississippi past all those catfish farms and cotton fields, till finally we made it to the defining line that splits the country’s drainage system, that muddy old Mississippi River. And 20 Exit 73 Arkadelphiathen, at last, Arkansas. So much water in this state! We crossed Bayou Bartholomew, and then the Ouachita River. At El Dorado we left Hwy 82 and followed the river north. An eerie fog crept across the darkening fields, rising off the waters of the Little Missouri. By the time we hit I-30 the visibility plummeted to near zero. “Don’t let me mess up now,” I prayed to the rain gods, “we’re so close.” My guardian angel intervened, the Arkadelphia exit appeared, and that was that. The cats and I slept sprawled in a pile across the bed; exhausted, but no worries, no more long-distance driving to do. » read more