Stick A Fork In Me

DSCN1274Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Today is the first day of winter. And you can stick a fork in me, I’m done with autumn, worn out. My dance card has been filled cover to cover these last three months, no time to spare. So what in heck has been going on? First there was the scare with brother Craig; heart problems, surgery required. I spent a week in Alabama, an anxious time. He’s recovering now, riding his exercise bike and gaining strength. His friends and neighbors rallied round, bringing smiles and encouragement and cheer; God bless them all. What would we do without our friends? And I’ve been reading and studying like a fool; the Paleo-Indians, the mound builders, the Spanish conquerors, the French traders, the British and their kings. The wars, and alliances. The grabbing for land, the motives, and the outcomes. Dizzying in scope, the 21 black ghostsettlement of our country, pieced together state by state. The Henderson campus was lively in October; students thumbed their cellphones as they rushed here to there; pressure building, papers due. Henderson Halloween allowed a little fun, the campus decorated from tree-top to fence-post with spidey-webs and ghosties and green-eyed witches wearing black hats. Every kid in Arkadelphia was invited for Trick or Treating, candy-laden tables 21 Art Ritaswere sponsored by campus organizations and manned by students. But the Round About Artist Studio Tour was even before that, the major Caddo River Arts Guild event of the year, when people come from everywhere to visit working artists’ studios in our Caddo River region. Do you know about miniatures, and Rita Earles?

21 Art RitaRita does portraits and oil paintings, but it’s her miniatures that set her apart. She has won awards all over the world for this specialized art form, exhibiting her work from Tasmania to Moscow. Other studios I visited were Odie Uhl’s, where I bought a mask created from handmade paper; Jerry Burrow’s, where I bought the most incredible fused glass creation; and T O Duncan’s, where I bought “duck cards” – he is a wildlife specialist and well-known for his driftwood sculptures and bird carvings. I stopped in at the Arts Center too, where James Langley and many other displayed their work. Oh yes, I bought a skinny Santa hand-painted by Farrell Ford on cypress knees (those growths that form above cypress roots in swampy areas, highly prized by artists for their unusual shapes).

21 Talker Rex w ToyOctober was the first month since November 1997 without a cat in the house. “The only thing that acknowledges my presence when I walk in the door now is the motion sensor Glade air freshener,” I tell my friends with a wry smile. “I’ve named it Squirt.” I’ve been urged to get another cat, a little kitty, but no, I’m still in grief. I gathered all the cat toys and cat carriers and cat beds and leftover cat food into a pile; some went to neighbor Janice, who has two cats; some I took to Paws. I put one of Alex’s old collars on little Rex there; he grabbed a toy right away and wrestled it around. It’s fun to watch a kitten play; I think on that.

Black HSU Sign closeI was looking forward to Thanksgiving, but before that the town had a Black-Tie Event, and a Two-Party Day. Black tie? So called because every iconic piece on the Henderson and Ouachita campuses was tied-up and covered over with black plastic. Not for mourning; for insurance. November 15 was the Battle of the Ravine, the only football rivalry in the world where opposing teams walk across the street to play each other. It’s been going on since 1895 and things get covered up because, well, there HAVE BEEN shenanigans. The OBU tiger tail has been stolen and once he was painted red (HSU colors). The HSU fountain has been filled with bubbles, and a purple solution added to the spray (OBU colors). Nowadays, no chance of that; both sides cover up! OBU won the game this year; overall, there have been 42 Henderson wins; 40 Ouachita, and 6 ties.

CCHA Old Tyme Party. Theda.Laverne.CarolynTwo-Party Day was (1) an Old Tyme luncheon at the Clark County Historical Museum where costumes were in order and books and ornaments were for sale. Wendy played Christmas carols, to get us in a shopping mood; Delisa played the video about Arkadelphia’s past (buy a book, buy a book). That’s Theda, Laverne and Carolyn in the picture, in Old Tyme dress. No time to turn around before the next party (2) a Reception at the Arts Center for the new Latino Exhibit, Estamos Aqui (We Are Here). Hand-pulled prints from the Latino perspective. Good food (guacamole, yes), and lively, colorful art Arts Center Party.Farrellbeautifully displayed. That’s Farrell in the picture, the tireless organizer of arts events in Arkadelphia, welcoming all. Thanksgiving was quite late this year, but I shared my traditional “Turkey Dinner at the Cracker Barrel” with friends Linda, Ellis, and Bertha; the place was packed. And oh yes, I had lunch at the Senior Center; I met Maggie Brewer in the grocery aisle one day (a great way to make new friends) and she invited me to come. “I’ve got my own band,” she said, “and I play guitar.” And so she does, every Tuesday!

12.02 Downtown Ice GlobeBook Club (part of the Arkansas Central Library system) met at Mike and Diane’s for a potluck Christmas party; I finished reading Peter Heller’s Dog Stars just in time (a fabulous first novel, we all agreed). Same day, the downtown Christmas parade, with three marching bands – the high school and both colleges – and Santa Claus, of course. I didn’t try the ice skating, or the snow bubble, I was content to watch the kids jumping around. Over the weekend I dressed up for OBU’s big concert of the year, Festival of Christmas, at the Jones 06 Stage OBU JonesPerforming Arts Center (a 1,500-seat venue rivaling any place I’ve ever seen). The standout number, for me, was Mary Did You Know?, sung by the Concert Choir with Molly Salmon and Mitchell Yost as soloists. Outstanding. And then the Primrose Garden Club Christmas party, no program this month, but a lovely Christmas feast in a beautiful home, down near Gurdon.

21 yard cleanedWhen to put up a tree? Christmas shop? I wanted redbirds on my tree this year (to match the ones outside). I found a skinny tree and some big fat cardinals at The Front Porch; I added red roses and a deer or two. Meanwhile, the tulip poplar in the side yard went buck-naked leafless in a day; my dead brown grass was covered in dead brown leaves. Quincy, please come and “manicure my lawn” I pleaded. He did, now the yard is spiffy and the (thank goodness) green holly tree is loaded with big fat red berries. The Christmas cards are mailed (did you get 21 tp playingyours?) and everything to the family has been sent; what else is there to do? Neighbors over for pizza, and an evening of Trivial Pursuit. A 50th Anniversary Party for friends. A visit to neighbor Margaret in the hospital, she’s very ill, God bless.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. But this lady is going to stock the pantry and take a little rest, now that winter’s here.