Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm geographically bi-polar

Am I a city girl? Am I a country girl? These were the questions swimming in my head on this beautiful "spring-in-December" day. That not-unfamiliar itch to get in the car and explore the landscape hit me very early this morning, but first I had to go to the grocery store to get supplies for the little open house I'm having on New Year's Day. (Whole Foods is dangerous! Keep me out of there! I'll be in the poorhouse by June my visits there aren't seriously restricted!) Anyway.... after stuffing everything in the fridge (and I do mean STUFF), I took off for somewhere undecided.

Although escape from the city was foremost in my mind, I had to go through all the stages of city-leaving. I meandered through the town of Broken Arrow. Once a small town several miles from Tulsa, it is now a connected and growing suburb. My first thoughts were how much I dislike new developments in new suburbs and how much I wouldn't care to live in one. But then, I saw three young women walking down the street with baby strollers, and that's what it took to remind me that I once lived in one such suburb with a small child, and how perfect it was for the child-raising task. Although I only lived in a development for a couple of years, it was an important rite of passage, I think. Ok, maybe this wasn't so bad....

Eventually, after a series of twists and turns on roads I've never heard of and never driven, I found myself WAAAY out in the country, and the roads kept getting narrower and occasionally turned to gravel. Twisty roads are the exception in this part of Oklahoma, and trees were closing in on the roads in a very un-Oklahoma way. I started listening for the Deliverance banjos after seeing a couple of seriously unstable looking characters in the yards of their none-too-well-maintained homes. My first inclination was to flee. But then..... I realized that I once lived on a road just like this. It was a wonderful place, and I totally appreciated living a bit away from civilization. It was one of the best times of my life. Ok, maybe this wasn't so bad.....

I found my way back to a road that was heading west toward Tulsa, or so I thought, but it went along for a while then dumped me onto the Muskogee Turnpike, and I hate turnpikes! The Muskogee Turnpike turned into the Broken Arrow Expressway (I hate expressways!), and suddenly on my left I saw the big stone yard where my husband and I picked out the rocks for the paths and gardens in the house we were building on the lake before the divorce. And that brought back a lot of happy memories , making me actually glad I was on that evil expressway. Ok, maybe this wasn't so bad....

Finally, back in the city, I got myself in a traffic snarl due to a pickup truck failing to put on the brakes at a light and plowing into the back of a poor little lady in a tiny subcompact. No injuries, but a lot of arm-waving and about a 5-minute wait for the officer to let our lane go past. I hate traffic jams. I had my fill during my life on the East Coast, and..... but wait a minute! One of the reasons I love Tulsa is that I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I've been in any kind of traffic jam here whatsoever. Tulsa is so easy to navigate. Ok, maybe this one little traffic jam wasn't so bad....

When I saw the beautiful skyline of Tulsa in the distance, I knew I was home. It's a home that I love.... for now. Who knows what I'll love next??

Monday, December 29, 2008

Meet me at the Ethanol Free Cafe

On the way to Afton yesterday, just outside of Vinita, we noticed this sign. I guess their food won't give you gas.

With all the talk of cows on this blog, I appreciated this Speedbump cartoon provided by Ron. Calves will be calves...

That's all, folks!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

First we played hooky, and then.....

.... we had visitors at Afton Station! On the way to Afton (Ron M. was with me) I had one of those unquenchable urges to drive right past the Station and take a ride somewhere. It was a beautiful, clear day, not to be wasted in a dusty old gas station with no visitors. Ron went along with the idea, since he's been wanting to see the new casino up on the OK/KS border, so we stopped briefly at Afton Station to put up a "Back Soon" sign (although at the time we had no idea how soon "Soon" would be) and off we went. We had a nice drive on some hitherto unexplored and very lovely country roads, and actually discovered that there are quite a few new casinos on the Oklahoma side of the state line. We were in three states in our little 2-hour ride, because we also crossed the border into Missouri at one point. We didn't go into any of the casinos (I hate casinos!!!), but we checked them out from the exterior. We also explored the little town of Welch, Oklahoma where we liked the folksiness of this sign:

When we got the wanderlust out of our systems, we headed back to Afton feeling a little guilty for having dissed anybody who may have come while we were gone. But we were back by just a little after 12 noon so it wasn't too bad, and there was no evidence of anyone having been there.

We sat around for a while, cleaned out the refrigerator, ate our "picnic" lunch, assembled the new easel my daughter gave me for Christmas, and complained about having no visitors. Discouraged, at about 2:40 I suggested we start closing up for the day. I must have said the magic words, because immediately two cars pulled into the parking lot at once! Yippee! Visitors!

One car contained a local mother with her son who was visiting from Norman OK. He was a super car guy, and had lots of comments and questions about the Packards. I love it when that happens. The other car held a family, also from Norman (by coincidence), consisting of mom, dad, and little 3-year-old David, who had been nagging them to take him to "the place where Lightning McQueen drove" in the movie "Cars". Y'know, that movie has brought a lot of visitors to Route 66, and those of us who are preservationists and business people are so thrilled by the interest it's generated. Although little David was camera shy, I managed to get a lovely picture of the back of his head.

The bonus of this whole thing -- second only to being able to greet some travelers after such a long, dry month -- was that the family purchased $40 worth of Route 66 merchandise, so my bottom line wasn't "0" for the month of December, which is where it was heading before today.

OK, here's the proof (for those who tend toward doubtfulness) that we had visitors today. Yep, real, warm-blooded, living, breathing PEOPLE!

ALSO: I wanted to mention that although I wasn't at Afton Station yesterday, Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones was kind enough to open for me and play host to my very dear friend Pat Bremer and his father, who were passing by on their way home to Indy from a Christmas trip to Amarillo. I'm SO sorry I missed them, but I'm glad Pat's dad was able to see the Station and the cars.

Friday, December 26, 2008


While taking a drive in the country this morning trying to clear my head after all the excitement of Christmas, I was listening to NPR as I tooled along. A repeat show came on which, although I'd heard it before, reminded me of something that's very important to me. Listening! The day after Thanksgiving was the National Day of Listening, started by StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving oral history and inspired by the King of Listeners, the late Studs Terkel, who made his mark by listening to the stories of the lives of others and being very good at compiling the interesting ones into books and articles. The National Day of Listening encourages folks to ASK their loved ones to tell them stories of their lives, and RECORD these stories for future generations. Oh, how much we can learn from our elders, things we may never discover until we ASK.

But my emphasis here is a bit different. The NPR show got me to thinking about the importance of good old everyday listening skills, not necessarily oral history. I have a friend named Molly (although because we live in different parts of the country, I haven't seen her for some years) who was the very best listener I've ever known. At the start of our friendship, I was a young newlywed and she was about 10 years older, yet we became great friends and remain that way to this day. I remember the first time I met Molly at a party, I was taken by the genuine interest she took in me, a total stranger. She asked so many questions about my life, my past, my feelings, that it took me a several hours to realize there were no ulterior motives in all of her queries. On the contrary, as the years passed, it became obvious that Molly just had a true and unselfish interest in other people. Her gentle nudgings were never intrusive, and yet my inclination was to open up to her. In fact, sometimes I felt inadequate because I wasn't very good at leading the conversation back to her. I always wanted to be as good a listener as she was, but even now, 30 years later, I can't begin to convey my interest in others (although I feel it!) with the genuineness of Molly.

There's no doubt that a person learns so much more by listening than by talking. Everyone has a story to tell, some stories more interesting than others. The important thing to remember is that the person telling the story wouldn't be telling it to you if they didn't care about you [except those folks who just like to hear the sound of their own voices, and you all know which ones they are]. One should be flattered to be the recipient of shared stories, and those stories deserve attention. I'm convinced that by learning as much as we can about one another, particularly those very different from ourselves, we can take giant steps toward peace and understanding in our world.

ADDENDUM: Wouldn't you know it? A friend of mine from Indiana will be passing through Afton tomorrow, and I won't be there! My dialysis appointment was changed from today to Saturday, so there'll be no Afton Station for me until Sunday. I'll report on activity there when I get home on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Warm Wishes

Back to the photo grab bag for this photo. I was looking for something Christmasy in Google Images and, having found nothing suitable for this blog, I remembered that in that big box under my desk (see yesterday's post) I had seen an envelope entitled Christmas, so I rummaged for that and found this picture of the kitchen in the Connecticut house where we lived from 1974 to 1993. It was the perfect Christmas house, built in 1705, low ceilings, huge fireplaces, every room warm and inviting. We raised our daughter there, and there were many happy Christmases within those walls. Wow, digging into that "some day" box is sure bringing back some memories!

All I want to do today is to impart my wish to each one of my readers for a most wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate in this season of so many celebrations. May your celebration be filled with the warmth of memories and the hope of a bright future.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Photo Grab Bag

I'm determined to keep this a primarily Route 66 blog, even though not much is happening in my life that relates to Route 66 right now. I'm deeply into Christmas preparations, which I guess is as it should be, but I don't want to forget the Mother Road as I run from place to place shopping for food, wrapping gifts, and all the usual holiday madness.

As I sit in my office at my computer, there's a very large bin of unsorted photographs at my feet. They're ... you know... the old-fashioned kind actually printed on photo paper, not digitally imprinted in cyberspace. This is my "some day" box. Some day, when I have time, I must go through all these old photos and get them in some sort of order. They range from pictures of old Route 66 trips, to photos of our Connecticut house being built, to pics of my daughter (who is now 35 years old) in various stages of childhood, etc. I'm convinced that everyone except the most anal-retentive organization freak has a box like this lying around somewhere.

Today, I decided to reach into the box and pull out some Route 66 photos, absolutely randomly, to present here. I just closed my eyes and grabbed two pictures. I think I did a pretty good job of grabbing. Here they are.Here's the wonderful iconic Lucille Hamons of Lucille's, on Route 66 in Hydro, Oklahoma. It was taken in August 2000, a few weeks before her death. Lucille ran a gas station and small motel serving Route 66 from World War II until her death. The legends of Lucille are too numerous to mention here, but there's a good article about her life and legend at http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1515510. I feel fortunate to have met Lucille three times. In this photo, despite being quite ill, she wanted to come outside to have her picture taken with our 1957 Packard Clipper.
Next, here's a photo of the first painting we commissioned from the wonderful Route 66 artist and historian, Jerry McClanahan. It shows the same '57 Packard Clipper as above, parked in front of the U Drop Inn/Conoco Station in Shamrock, Texas. The picture hangs in my guest room now, and I wish everyone could see it in person. I frankly think it's one of the best he's ever done. We went on to commission three more car portraits from him, but this will always be my favorite. McJerry66

Ok, back to the kitchen.....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Good morning!

My friends Jim Ross and Shellee Graham have just published a book of tear-out postcards called "Roadside USA: Route 66 and Beyond". I just placed an order for Afton Station, and can't wait to get my hands on a copy myself. For one thing, I'm a Route 66 postcard collector. But I'm most excited because Shellee is a world-class photographer and Jim is a renowned Route 66 historian and writer. This combo can't miss. They're a cute couple, too. ;-). http://tinyurl.com/8xe2y7

I'm headed to a Christmas brunch at a friend's house in a couple of hours. I look forward to Deanna's Christmas party each year because it always feels like my official intro to the holiday season. Furthermore, it's a bright crisp day today. Yes, it's the coldest morning of the year (according to the weather guy on the radio) but the sun is shining and, as I sit at my desk, I can see it gilding the buildings of downtown Tulsa. It's always such a pretty sight.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Back to Afton Station

No, this photo isn't upside down. A florist shop here in Tulsa hangs it's tree upside down every year, although I'm not sure why. However, it sort of describes my Christmas this year, since I'm not going to Chicago to be with my daughter and son-in-law. It just doesn't feel quite right -- upside down. I'm looking forward to being with all my friends here, but I'll sure miss seeing Sarah and Matt, doing the gift-opening-around-the-tree thing, and all the other annual traditions we cherish.

Ron M. and I were astounded when two visitors came through the door of Afton Station today! It's a very cold and gray day, and after a few hours we decided that maybe we ought to just go home, since seeing any travelers seemed hopeless. Then, lo and behold, a couple from Illinois showed up with lots of questions, a healthy interest in everything, and plenty to say themselves. He spent much of his young life on Route 66 with his parents, and was taken aback by how much it had changed from his childhood memories. Many people feel that way, and it's true in part. (In fact, I struggle with accepting those changes, too). But, I think most people are disconcerted by the changes as a result of their altered perspectives and recollections which are very different from those of our youth, not just the actual changes along Route 66. Granted, there are A LOT of changes along the Route, but there are still many, many places and things that live on in original, or close to original, condition. It's always interesting to hear folks' memories from years gone by.

Betty came by and brought us a plate of her home made peanut butter fudge. This has got to stop! Betty is TOO kind, and her cooking is TOO good! We finally closed up and went home around 1:30.

I had a call from a tour company in Minnesota that wishes to bring a busload of tourists to Afton Station on Oct. 19, '09. Although I think it's amusing that they're lining up stops so early, I understand the need to do so, and I applaud their efficiency. And, I'm flattered to be "booked" so early with a big tour company like this one. Onward to 2009!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Now that I've maintained this blog for several months and have attracted some new readers who don't really know who I am, I thought I'd tell everyone how I got started with my passion for Route 66 and my obsession with Route 66 postcards. (Also, I don't have much else to talk about today, I'm afraid.) :-)

The story of how I started collecting Route 66 memorabilia isn’t particularly unique, although sometimes I think I’ve taken my passion further than most people do, and for that reason it has shaped my life in many ways. When you ask a “roadie” how he or she got interested in Route 66, or the Lincoln Highway, or U.S. 1, or any of the old two-lane byways that crisscrossed our nation in its early days, 90% of the time the answer will be “because I have such fond memories of traveling those roads with my parents when I was a kid.” That’s my answer, too. I was blessed with a father who loved auto travel, and a mother who was patient and understanding of Dad’s and my passion for the road. We took numerous road trips, and I was often taken out of school for such adventures, since my parents always managed to convince my teachers of the “educational value” of our wanderings. My happiest childhood memories are of setting up headquarters in the back seat of our car (I was an only child) as we roamed the Southwest… the Deep South… the Canadian Rockies… the Blue Ridge…. the Grand Canyon… Central Florida… and points in between.

I started collecting roadside memorabilia before it was even considered memorabilia. I’d pick up the free postcards that were always offered at motel desks, I’d sweet-talk waitresses out of menus from diners, and I’d spend way more than I should have on pennants, plaques, ash trays, and other tacky souvenirs offered for sale at tourist traps. My collections alternately grew and shrunk depending on the housecleaning whims of my mother.

As the years passed and I became all grown up, I retained some of these early acquisitions and also added to them via antique shop and flea market purchases. Then, on a sailing trip to Maine with my husband in the early 1980s, I managed to acquire over 5000 roadside postcards in one bunch, and at a bargain price, too! While sorting this astounding find, I realized that a large number of the cards were from old Route 66, and they brought back such vivid memories of our yearly trips out to the Grand Canyon and California that I separated them out from the others and decided that, from that moment on, Route 66 would be my primary collecting interest. Now, years later, I have about 5000 Route 66 postcards along with an estimated 15,000 roadside postcards from other parts of North America. I specialize in motels, but also love cards that depict diners, tourist traps, wigwams, and Main Street scenes with old cars. On top of all of that, I also have another 5000+ postcards of other specific subjects such as cards showing smoking smokestacks, cards of 1950s Miami Beach motels, Cliff House in San Francisco, South of the Border in S. Carolina, Victorian erotica, cards showing chenille bedspreads, orange Danish modern chairs, and so on.

All of this led to us moving to Route 66 in Oklahoma, where we bought an old gas station in need of restoration in which to display my roadie memorabilia and his rather extensive vintage car collection. We're divorced now, but still own and run Afton Station together. It's all good!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Australian Boiled Fruitcake

Since my fruitcake posting attracted several interesting responses, I did some research. My friend Kat told me that her grandmother made Boiled Fruitcake. This sounded pretty weird, but since Kat is from Australia, where they actually eat Vegemite (LOL), I decided that she was probably serious. :-) And she certainly was! Here's the recipe, and it sounds very, very good to me. I was picturing it being boiled after the flour was already in the mixture, but this is of course not the case. Thanks, Kat..... I'll try it next year!


1/2 lb. butter1 1/2 c. brown sugar1 1/2 lb. mixed dried fruit (approx. 4 1/2 c.) : raisins, currants, peaches, etc. I also add maraschino cherries, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. cloves, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 1 c. water, 1/2 c. sherry, more for moistness, 3 beaten eggs, 1 tbsp. orange rind, 2 tbsp. golden syrup, 2 c. self-rising flour, 1 c. plain flour
Mix first 8 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring often. Allow to cool. Add eggs, orange rind and syrup. Fold in flour and mix well.
Place in a 9 inch square pan lined with brown paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. This cake is more moist if kept in an airtight container a week or more before serving.

Well, I'm about to venture out to mail a package off to my daughter and son-in-law in Chicago. I'm a little late this year, but some of the items I've ordered for them haven't arrived here yet. I guess I'll just have to accept that some of their gifts will perhaps get to them after Christmas. :-(

Here they are...

Monday, December 15, 2008


A friend sent me an inflatable fruitcake for Christmas. She meant it as a joke, and I truly love it, but what she didn't know is that real fruitcake is one of my absolute favorite foods. Yeah, yeah, I know I'm in the minority on this issue, but ever since I was a child I've been passionate about that much-maligned Christmas treat. When I was a kid, one of my dad's business acquaintances gave us a fruitcake every year. My father would pour rum all over it and reseal it in the tin in which it came. Then, a year later, we'd eat it. We'd repeat this each year. I'm sure it was my first introduction to alcohol, but I guess my folks figured that after a year it wouldn't have much potency. (Note: I think they were wrong.) My mom didn't like fruitcake, so my dad and I would polish off the whole thing between Christmas and New Years. I try not to keep fruitcake in the house now because I honestly could eat the whole thing in one sitting. It's important to note that I'm NOT talking about those nouveau "healthy" fruitcakes that just have dates and a few nuts in them. I must have the old-fashioned kind, heavy as a lead brick, and chock full of neon green and red chunks of candied fruit. It's making me hungry just to write about this, so I'm glad that now I have a beautiful, completely calorie-free, air-filled plastic replica to worship. Thanks, Sandy!
On the subject of baked goods, I have decided I must be the world's worst cookie baker. I'm actually a very good cook (or so I'm told), and I even taught cooking for a while, but when it comes to cookies, I have some sort of mental block. All I want to do this year is make a respectable assortment of cookies to give to all the nice people at my dialysis unit. But it's becoming a project rife with defeat and discouragement. The Amaretto cookies I made a week ago were 100% tasteless. I followed the recipe precisely, but later I realized that the recipe left out the Amaretto and I failed to notice! No wonder they tasted like a cardboard box. Then last week I made some Chocolate Espresso Balls, similar to chocolate truffles. They taste great, but as soon as I remove them from the fridge they turn into tiny pools of melted chocolate. How am I going to get them to the hospital without dry ice? Forget that! Today I'm making Raspberry Bars, which I've made many times before. I think they might be ok (except for those burned pecans on top). Oops! Tomorrow I plan to make Chocolate Macaroons. There are only three ingredients, but if there's a way to screw them up, I'll find it. I feel like drowning my sorrows in a 5 lb. fruitcake!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

That's more like it!

Today was far more encouraging at Afton Station -- a real "thumbs up" day! Last night I had a short, not-so-sweet dream in which someone was shouting at me because I had closed up Afton Station early and gone home. Until that dream, I had no idea that I was harboring such guilt about my winter hours. Today, things got a little bit better.

I arrived at Afton Station an hour early this morning (fueled by that guilt, perhaps, as well as by the fact that I woke up this morning at 4 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep). I was up so early that I stopped for gas ($1.37 today), went to the grocery store for some stuff I need for tomorrow's cookie project, and also stopped for breakfast at Eggbert's in Claremore. I could barely stay awake while driving, but forced myself to remain alert in order to avoid being blown off Route 66 by the ferocious wind gusts. When I got to Afton, our Packard sign was almost doing 360s, and I only put out the flags for a short time before deciding not to sacrifice them to the wind and bringing them back in again.

My mood was lifted enormously when I had two visitors from Minneapolis within 30 minutes of opening up. Hooray! People ARE traveling! This father and son duo not only showed up, but were a couple of the nicest and most interested guests I've ever had. After much chatting, I sent them off to do both segments of the Sidewalk Highway and other interesting places to the east. And since Ron M. is going to accuse me of lying about having visitors (LOL!), I asked them to pose for this picture.

Here are Ward and Jake, a rare species of Route 66 Winter Traveler.

Later, I had several more visitors. Betty stopped by for a while, and also another one of my "regulars" from Vinita. Then, another local couple stopped in to have a look at the cars.

Betty brought me the most thoughtful Christmas presents -- several pounds of Amish butter and old receipt book from the former Buffalo Ranch Western Store, just down the road. Both are just perfect! The receipt book is already in my display case, but here's a picture. There aren't many places that still use those paper receipts with carbon.
The Western Store was just one part of the old Buffalo Ranch. It sold all sorts of Western clothing, hats, boots, belt buckles, Indian moccasins, and jewelry, according to Betty. In the picture below (from one of my old postcards) you can see the Western Store as well as the Trading Post. To the right, but not visible on this postcard, was Dairy Ranch, Betty's drive-in from which she sold buffalo burgers and awesome limeades, among other things, for 41 years.
It's incredible how a couple of guys from Minneapolis, some butter, and an old receipt book were able to turn my mood around completely. All in all, a very nice day!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I didn't say it would be interesting!

I promised a report from Afton Station today. I didn't promise that it would be interesting. That's a good thing, because it won't be. We (Ron and I) drove to Afton (very windy). We had no visitors (except David, who was there working). We left early (about 1:30). We drove home (even MORE windy.... hard to keep the car on the road). We stopped at the Nut House on the way home and bought some stuff (nuts and fudge). I dropped Ron off at home. (I'm sure he was relieved). Now I must get into my festive duds and go to a Christmas party (sigh.....). And that's my day. Sorry about that, folks. Maybe tomorrow will be more scintillating.....

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nothing says Christmas like frozen Rockettes

The Radio City Rockettes have a show scheduled here in Tulsa beginning soon, and they apparently sent a few of them ahead to do publicity. Meanwhile, our local Channel 2, KJRH TV, has an annual collection of food items and monetary donations for the Food Bank here. It's a drive-through affair, with no need to get out of the car to make a contribution. When I went today to make my yearly donation, a couple of frozen Rockettes were there, shivering and greeting folks. The temp was only in the low 30s, so it can't be a very desirable gig for a Rockette, but I guess it's one of those things you've gotta do if you want to progress through the hierarchy of dance and get a spot in the front row on stage. I made that up, of course. I have no idea how a Rockette gets chosen for the dubious job of shivering on a streetcorner in Tulsa, Oklahoma, or what rewards (monetary or otherwise) are bestowed upon her if she lives through the ordeal. Anyway, I got this photo of the two dancers, smiling and pretending they're actually enjoying themselves.
Ron M. went by about an hour later to give his contribution, and caught the "tail end" of the Rockettes as they were finally retreating into their stretch limo. At least you get to see their legs, always considered their best asset, in his picture.
I tried the reflection thing again at dialysis today, but this time with a tiny tripod balanced on my stomach as I lay in my recliner. It worked a lot better.Ok, folks, you will be glad to hear that I'll be in Afton both tomorrow and Sunday, so instead of enduring these little vignettes about my life, you'll be able to read about what you came here to read...... thoughts of a Route 66 business owner. At last!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My "other" home away from home

As you know, I spend about 12 to 14 hours a week in a dialysis unit at our local hospital, receiving kidney dialysis for renal failure brought on by an overabundance of hospital-ordered antibiotics (for an infection) almost two years ago. It's a drag, but I try to make the best of it. We have TVs to watch, and I can clumsily read a book with my one unoccupied arm. Today I realized that my camera was in my purse, so I attempted to take some photos of the place. Since I only had the one aforementioned available arm and hand, I couldn't hold the camera very still. They're mostly a blur. On top of that, all of the pictures are reflections from the big window opposite my chair, not straight-on. They're pretty lame.... but then, so is dialysis! This is Joe, my dialysis technician. He takes good care of me. Sorry he's such a blur! :-)

A reflection of my dialysis machine.... fully computerized... I just wish it went faster!

Another reflection off the window, prior to sunrise.

Ron thinks I should try again on Friday, using his little tripod. I probably will, but since I have nothing else to report today, I thought I'd go ahead and post these.

More info, for anyone who is interested: My dialysis unit is in a hospital and consists of two rooms. The "big room" holds 16 patients and the smaller room holds 7. I'm in the smaller room because I requested a window. The big room has none. There are three sessions each day, beginning at 6, 11, and 5. I'm in the early morning session, Mon., Wed. and Fri. That's a lot of kidney patients, and ours is by far not the only unit in town. I know of at least 7 more in Tulsa. The personnel consists of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and renal technicians. We get doctor visits once every month, or as needed. Most people sleep during dialysis, but I don't sleep a wink. I just get impatient, to the point of wanting to jump out of the chair. But, I behave for obvious reasons. In reality, a dialysis machine is a technical miracle, and I have a great deal of respect for it as well as for those who work so tirelessly in the units.

Sunset from my front porch tonight.... about 5 minutes ago.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Glow in the dark

Since I'm never in Afton before sunrise or after sunset, I have never seen my own gas pumps at night, so I was thrilled to see a photo taken by my friend Jennifer Bremer from Indianapolis when she and husband Pat passed the Station late at night on a short Route 66 trip they took last weekend. She's a great photographer and keeps getting better. To see more of her work, check out http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadtripmemories/.

The weather outside is frightful, but inside it's delightful..... That song is pretty perfect for today. There's no snow (yet), but it's cold, windy, and drizzly... unfit for man or beast. I just got home from a day of running errands, followed by a meeting at a friend's house on the far other side of town, so being indoors -- and knowing I don't have to go out again tonight -- is indeed delightful! And yes, I'm very glad I didn't drive up to Afton today. I've managed to get most of my Christmas shopping done, so now all I have to do is wait for the stuff I ordered online to arrive, wrap it all, and pack up some of it for mailing. I've decided not to go to Chicago for Christmas this year because it didn't work out well with either my daughter's schedule or mine, so instead we'll be taking a long weekend together in January, when we're both more free to spend some quality time. Now I'm thinking of having a Christmas party here at home, so I have to get in gear mentally for that. Since I'm divorced, with only one living relative (my daughter), it could be possible for me to be very depressed at Christmas time, but thanks to good friends, that hasn't happened yet. The Christmases of my childhood, as well as those of my married years and motherhood years, were always so warm and festive and special. I'm determined to keep that going, and so far I'm doing ok.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ho hum!

I'm glad I have a few more pictures from yesterday to post, because certainly nothing worthy of a photo occurred at Afton Station today. I'm having trouble accepting this and I'm sure you're all tired of hearing it, but I've just got to face the facts. Tourist season is over.... OVER, OVER! So get a clue, Laurel!

We had one visitor today, and he was a local guy who drops in occasionally, so I didn't get to tell him anything, show him anything, or sell him anything. We had a nice chat, however. David and his 3-year-old son Patrick also dropped in on their way to a shopping spree, Betty came in after church and stayed for a while, and Ron was there with me as well, so we weren't really too bored, just a little discouraged. We made some popcorn, studied my camera instruction manual for a while, and watched a neighbor move around a lot of large crates with his fork lift. He just kept moving them back and forth from one storage building to another. Looks like he was even more bored than we were!

On the way home, we stopped at the Chelsea Motor Inn to drop something off, and we had a very nice chat with Frank, the owner. He is SUCH a good roadie, and his little motel is just about the neatest lodging on the Route 66. He told us that just after Halloween, his wife Trudy was feeding their pet bison (which they keep in the back yard of the motel, fenced of course) when she slipped and fell, whereupon the bison gored her squarely in the butt! We're not talking a little nick, but a 3-inch deep wound! She managed to drive herself to the hospital, where she got a bunch of stitches, both inside and out. Frank's description of Trudy trying to explain to the triage nurse that she had been gored by a buffalo in her back yard was the funniest thing ever. She had to repeat it three times before the nurse could process the information. What a hoot!

Anyway, here are some more pics from yesterday's big doings at the parade. I managed to lighten up a few more parade photos so you can barely see what we saw while we were there. Enjoy.....
Carriage pulled by white horses
Parade watchers
Miss Creek County drove a tractor in the parade

I took this pic this morning. This is Tripper's cousin who works at a local Harley-Davidson dealership.

Old Fashioned Fun

Yeah, that's exactly what we had yesterday. What could be better than a barbecue buffet with a group of friends, followed by a small-town parade, followed by a drive through a city park's "light show" (relying heavily on inflatables), followed by coffee and dessert at a warm local spot? Add a huge helping of inspired hysterical laughter (to be explained later). My only regret about last night's outing is that my procrastination in the matter of learning about how my relatively new camera really works caused my photos of the parade to be less than spectacular.

There were about 23 of us who participated in the Oklahoma Route 66 Association Christmas outing. As I've mentioned before, I was named a last-minute "leader" of the group, but I cleverly managed to foist that job off on several other people during the course of the evening, claiming incompetence to lead the caravan through dark and somewhat unfamiliar streets (despite the fact that I did a "dry run" earlier in the day... heh heh). So, I became just another follower, which is exactly where I wanted to be. :-)

I picked up LaSandra, the wife of Brad, who was supposed to be the leader of the group until he was called out of town for a death in his family. We then picked up Ron and headed for Sapulpa. We started on Route 66 at the Hickory House Barbecue, which has a very delicious buffet. I particularly liked the ribs, but I didn't taste a lot of the other stuff, so there may have been other yummies, too.

The City of Sapulpa Christmas Parade started not far from the restaurant, and one of our Association members who has a business in Sapulpa was able to secure us parking places behind his store, so we had good viewing spots for what was one of the longest and nicest small-town parades I've ever seen. They said it was 2 miles long, and I totally believe that. Every organization, church, club, and business in town had a float, I think. And Sapulpa must be a haven of beauty, because there had to be at least a dozen beauty queens riding in various vehicles, including one who was driving her own tractor! Damn, I'm SO upset about not having decent pictures of the parade!

After the parade, we wended our way back to Tulsa's Chandler Park, a huge city park which puts on a drive-thru light show each Christmas. It was on this leg of the trip that we decided to call Brad in Texas and tell him what we were seeing, since he was unable to be with us. This turned out to be such a great idea that Brad set up a conference call, and by the time we arrived at the park we had three of the cars in the caravan voice-connected such that we could exchange commentary with one another while describing every little detail of the light show to Brad in Texas. The bluetooth in my car allowed everyone in the car to share in the conversation, which became hilarious to the point that at times I was laughing/crying almost too much to keep the car on the road! Fun! The light show consisted of mainly inflatables.... hundreds of them.... and lights wrapped around the bottom 5 feet of just about every tree trunk in the park, but the view from the top of the hill, overlooking all the lights of Tulsa, was quite spectacular.

By this time, we'd all pretty much decided to forget the trip all the way across town to the Rhema Bible Church light show. It was getting late, and a lot of the people had well over 100 miles to drive home. So, we headed for downtown Tulsa to Baxter's Interurban Restaurant, which is great for dinner and even more well-known for it's after-hours desserts, exotic coffees, and cocktails, of which we partook. I just had coffee, but the desserts looked absolutely luscious!

After that, I just dropped my passengers off at their homes, then came home myself and crashed.
I expect to post more photos later, so come back this evening. For now, I'm in a hurry to get to Afton Station, so I've just posted a few that didn't require any cropping or fixing. Stay tuned.....

Friday, December 5, 2008

Let there be LIGHTS!

It looks like I won't be going to Afton until Sunday. I was going to go tomorrow but come back early to participate in the Oklahoma Route 66 Association tour of Christmas lights in Tulsa. But the leader of the tour was called away due to the death of his grandmother, so he asked me to fill in. That means I'll be leading a caravan of cars (not sure how many) all around Tulsa looking at various Christmas displays. We start with an early dinner at 4:30 at the Hickory House Barbecue on Route 66 in Sapulpa and go on from there. Since I have to pick up some people who are going to be riding with me, and then get to Hickory House early now that I'm the "leader", I'd only be able to spend a couple of hours at Afton Station before making the long trip back to Tulsa. So, I've just decided I'm not going. David said he might be able to spend a little time there tomorrow, so I hope he catches any stray winter travelers who may stop in.

One of the stops on the light tour is Rhema Bible Church, a place I've never been but have always wanted to see. It's a huge campus, and apparently (if the hype is accurate) has one of the Top 10 Christmas light displays in the country. There's a picture of a portion of it above. We'll also be stopping for dessert and coffee in downtown Tulsa after looking at the lights there. I expect it to be a festive evening, and I'll give a full report tomorrow.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Undiscovered 66: Airway Variety

Since I'm probably one of the older bloggers, I'll understand if most of you don't remember old-fashioned dime stores, or 5 & 10s, as some called them. Where I grew up, the one in my neighborhood was S. S. Kresge, and the thing I remember most about it was that as soon as you entered the store you'd hear the melodious chirping and singing of dozens of birds. At the rear of the store was the Pet Dept., which had lots of parakeets and love birds, hamsters and gerbils, and occasionally some turtles and kittens (which were usually free to anyone who'd take one.) The front of the store was a wondrous mix of everything under the sun.... nothing big, just small items which, these days, one must go to six different stores to find.

Unless you live in Tulsa.

At 8888 E. Admiral Place (the 1926-1932 alignment of Route 66) sits Airway Variety. That portion of Admiral is pretty run down, and is home to a number of seedy motels left over from the heyday of Route 66 travel. In the midst of it all, Airway Variety is the closest thing to an old-time 5 & 10 I've seen in about four decades. I don't visit there as much as I should, since it's quite far from my home, but I manage to get there about a half dozen times a year. When I enter the store, the loud chirping of birds tosses me right into an overwhelming nostalgic haze. Just like it's old counterparts, the birds and other small pets are in the back of the store. But the front of the store holds a magical concoction of every sort of goods. Don't let the sign over the door fool you. The "Crafts" items take up about 1/3rd of the store and "Flowers" refers to a small section of pretty tacky artificial arrangements. But the rest of the store has everything from small hardware items to cosmetics (ancient and dusty) to outdated party supplies. Where else can you still find Happy Days paper plates, hair nets, razor blades that fit razors that no longer exist, or yellowed paper patterns for shirtwaist dresses?

But don't get me wrong! There are wonderful things at Airway Variety, too. I go there every time I need ribbon for any reason, which is what sent me there today. The ribbon department is the largest I've ever seen. I'm guessing they have about 1000 different rolls of ribbon, mostly thrown together in a whole aisle full of boxes, so you mostly have to dig for what you want. But with most of the ribbon selling for around 19 cents to 50 cents a yard (for the very best!), it's a bargain, and there's nothing you can't find there. In the ribbon department, as in most others, one is given to wondering if the proprietors have bothered to change the price tags since the 60s!

The owners of Airway Variety are far, far from young. I hold my breath every time I drive past, because I know that some day there will be a sign saying they're closing their doors forever. Airway Variety is a gem of a virtually undiscovered business, and I want it to go on and on and on. If you live anywhere near Tulsa, I urge you to visit Airway and buy something. Please.
By the way, they had free kittens today.... two cute little black and white ones. And parakeets are 2 for $14.99 during the Christmas season. :-)

Did I mention that it's a dangerous place? Killer hamsters, perhaps? LOL!

Just down the road is the Booster Feed Mill, the last old style feed mill in the city of Tulsa....

... and possibly the only rhino on Route 66, too. I believe this guy is left over from a long-closed miniature golf course.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Day In Afton .... NOT

I'm still alive and kicking, but since I've done nothing Afton Station-related for several days, I haven't left a posting here. The way I see it, people come to this blog to hear about the life of a Route 66 business owner, not to suffer through a recitation of my day-to-day activities at home. However, I don't want anyone to stop visiting this site just because I don't write every day. Whenever something interesting happens, I'll be here to report it. If I take any interesting photos, they'll be here, too.

Today, David called around 1 p.m. He's been at Afton Station working on cars all day, and so far hasn't had any visitors. I'm not a bit surprised. But, since he told me he'll be working at Afton Station more often this winter than last, I have hopes that any passers-by who want to see the place might be lucky enough to have someone there to let them in. I'll be there Saturdays and Sundays, of course (except this Sat., when I'll only be there for a half day, since I have something to do in Tulsa in the afternoon).