Friday, December 28, 2012

Movie Night!!!

Well folks, we've just arrived back at the ranch. We were fortunate enough to have a good friend who provided us movie passes for Christmas, and tonight was the night to take them for a test drive.

We opted for a recent release, of which I know from it's #1 status on Broadway for an extended run, and which I would have liked to see live, if I could have afforded the $90 or so required for an upper balcony seat. Fortunately this performance is now available to the masses.

I know the build up is interminable, but permit me a few permit me a few words more. This movie truly falls in the category of a sweeping epic. The scope is enormous, the plot riveting, the performances tour de force and the conclusion both emotionally stirring and satisfactory.

Okay I've kept you in suspense long enough. The film of which I speak is none other than Les Miserables. This epic novel was originally translated to the stage in musical form in Paris in 1980, and began it's English language run at the Barbican theater in London in 1985, in which city it has run continuously ever since. The movie version sucks one in from the very beginning, and doesn't let you go for one minute until the end credits roll.

While transporting you into a story that began 19 years prior, one is quickly gotten up to speed on the protagonists, but the twists of time and circumstance keep the viewer wrapped in the action throughout.
The way in which the plot develops, grows in leaps and bounds from it's humble and hard beginnings into a thrilling passion play which inevitably carries an entire nation forward.

There is some comic relief interspersed by a few unsavory characters which pop up recurrently throughout the cinematic adventure. There is love, there is death and the well illustrated and epic struggle which is man's inhumanity to man.

In the end there is victory, hope and not a few tears. For those of you who have trouble with accents, go anyway. For those of you who don't like musicals, go anyway. For those of you who have trouble sitting in a movie theater for a little better than two and a half hours, go anyway!

Your heart will thank you for making the effort. 

You will not soon forget this one. IMDB gives it an 8.2 which I think is a few points low. I would give it 8.8 which easily puts it up near the top of the list. won;t regret it!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hi Diddley Ho---It's Off To The Mall We Go

Now as any sane thinking individual knows, going anywhere near the mall at this time of year is an exercise in sado-masochism,.......right?

Well that depends. Scooterchick and I were hungry and wanted to scout out a few things so off to the mall we went. say. Well. again....that depends.

We arrived at the mall, checked out the fast food and decided slow food sounded better. There was a new restaurant which we had not tried before, and after perusing the menu, we went in.

There were 6 or more big screens showing Basketball, Football and Soccer all at once but fortunately the volume was low and we managed to successfully ignore them all, and concentrate on the menu offerings.

They also have windows open onto the mall, so one can people watch from a booth.

This was my sandwich, a Clubhouse. I would like to report that this sandwich was excellent. Sadly that will not be possible. I would like to say it was good. Sadly that also will not be possible.

It was however passable, though the fries put in a particularly limp and unconvincing showing.

These were Scooterchick's Onion Strings. I suppose they are looking for a new take on Onion Rings. Unfortunately they failed miserably in their noble attempt. They were cold, greasy and unappealing. I ate a few so that I could give you a realistic impression. That impression is "give these a pass."

The one bright spot during this meal was my appetizer. On offer was a taste treat I had not previously encountered. Deep Fried Bacon. That's right boys and girls Deep Fried Bacon. It appeared that it was dipped in a batter of Flour and Cornmeal together with spices and served with ranch dressing. We both agreed it was the cholesterol spiking, artery clogging,  highlight of the meal. I wanted to get a picture for posterity, but I was too busy chowing down to click the shutter. Sorry.............not really.

This was Scooterchick's sandwich. She decided on a Monte Christo. Typically this is a taste sensation. The only sensational thing about this sandwich was it's lack of appeal. She didn't finish it.

After that deep fried fat-fest, some perambulation around the mall was!
We spied a jolly old elf and Scooterchick could not resist having her picture taken with him. You're never too old for a picture with Santa.

we stopped in Dillard's and looked around. In their seasonal department they had some trees that were spectacularly decorated. Too bad the prices on the trees are for naked ones, I like the full dressed version, and can never get ours to look that good.

Scooterchick couldn't resist photo-bombing me yet again. Well, at least she had fun doing it. So what if I can't take one of these trees home, I'll take her home with me instead.

Now there has been a great deal of emphasis on the judicial system of late, and many cases of verdicts that rankle the senses. Horrid crimes where the perpetrator is adjudged to be guilty and yet sentencing is ridiculously inadequate. Well, for those of you who like myself frequently cry " Is there no Justice?', apparently there remains one bastion of justice, and here is photographic evidence. And it's all on sale at 40% off.

One of the more interesting sights in the mall was a display of the new Toyota RS-A. For those of us who are gear heads nothing more need be said. For the uninitiated it's a totally new type of Toyota, and is powered by a Subaru Flat 4 "boxer" engine and has an excellent power to weight ration. Since the engine sits so low in the chassis, I have heard that it corners as though it's actually glued to the road!

In addition to that it's a drop dead sexy little package, and I would like one in my stocking on Christmas morning. Even for the weekend, even for a couple hours with a twisty road ahead......

After we left the mall we passed by a relic of Old Lawton, the Fairmont Creamery. The Fairmont Co. came to Lawton in 1905, and local farmers would set up carts and stalls on the weekend next to it as a sort of Farmer's Market. This building was built in 1929 and had 100 employees making butter, cheese and ice cream until the late 70's with Farm Fresh taking over and continuing production until 1985.

The building is being re-purposed by it's current owner. With 70,000 sq.ft. the possibilities are vast.

Our report comes to an end here, we have survived the mall, and now intend to go to Wal-Mart to do a little shopping, but not until after midnight when the crowds thin out. It will be madness at least until then, and we can go later. Between midnight and seven a.m. it is very quiet and peaceful.

Rest easy, enjoy your slumbers...we shall shop. Hasta manana!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December Pre-Store Prep.

As we prepare to put the scooters away for another year, we notice other things getting ready for winter. The bikes get filled with Sta-Bil and topped off with gas. I notice a flock of grackles farming on the lawn next door. The adults are arranged roughly in a circle with juveniles in the center and they are showing the "kids" how to turn over leaves which have been sitting in the sun and get to the juicy bugs hiding on the underside. Clever little buggers eh?

It's also time to make seasonal favorites like Scooterchick's incredibly hot sauce. To begin we start with a pile of peppers. There are jalapenos, poblanos, serranos, habaneros and anaheim peppers along with white peppers of unknown name. The next step involves chopping in food processor.

In order to prepare this dish, protection (Level 2) is required. In this case we see Scooterchick ready to do battle with the heat that is endemic to the procedure. Mask, gloves and eye protection are required. A strong exhaust fan is also a pre-requisite.

Here are the chopped peppers, seeds included simmering in a pan. Do not breathe the vapors.
The peppers are sauteed until soft in olive oil, with the exhaust fan on high, and the chef standing well back in case of incendiary splatters.

After the peppers have reached the right consistency the heat is turned off and fresh chopped garlic, around 6 cloves or so are stirred in, along with a tablespoon of buckwheat honey, some ground black cayenne, white pepper and salt are added.

The majority of the sauce is set into a jar capped and placed in the freezer to seal. The small ramekin has a few leftover tablespoons. I tried some as soon as it was cool. It felt as though someone had treated the interior of my mouth with a Bernzomatic torch, and the same someone had pulled the pin on a grenade, forced me to swallow it, then sat back with quiet satisfaction as my guts exploded.

LAVA LAVA LAVA.........!!!!!

When my mouth had subsided to guttering fits of flame, and my stomach no longer threatened to physically depart from my body in protest, it was time to deal with the bikes. First I took care of Miss Vicky, Scooterchick's mount and brought her home.  Oh yes, that Airhawk cushion is the bomb. Soooo comfortable compared to the stock saddle. Then it was time to take care of Maj. I thought perhaps a few quick pics would help. First I took a quick scoot past Dog Town. It's actually Elmer Thomas Park.
Elmer Thomas was an Oklahoma senator that passed away in Lawton in 1965.

I don't know what's so appealing about these little buggers but they are awfully cute.

Part of the park has a lake that is popular with fishermen. You can see the flag flying at half-mast in mourning for the children and adults senselessly killed in Newtown CT.

Here is a picture looking back towards Dog Town. You can see that the lake is pretty low at this time of year. All the leaves are off the trees now, except for the evergreens.

Okay, here we go again with the overpasses I can almost hear you say. I don't know what's so visually appealing about them, particularly when they are stacked, but I just get a weird thrill out of seeing them. photographing them and sharing them with you. Freaky....yes but cool freaky...not dangerous freaky.

Another picture from roughly the same spot, looking south. Notice the swoop of the pavement. The elegant way in which changes of direction are accomplished in excess of 50 m.p.h.

Here two overpasses swoop together to provide 4 lanes of north-south traffic. This sort of symmetry  and beauty is really engineering art.

Oh yeah, attention still must be paid even in the midst of this. Jersey barriers are ever waiting for the unwary, as these rubber marks attest. An unwary driver surely woke up to reality really fast when this happened. Probably had to pull over for a while to stop shaking as well.

The undersides of these overpasses also have their own special beauty. Soaring solid and permanent. To be out riding on the 15th of December...temps in the high 60's, exploring and seeing new things for the first time. I'm altogether good with that.

Nearby we find a water park, closed for the season. You can see numerous pergolas around the park. There is a very good reason for that. In the summer, nobody in Oklahoma lies around in the sun. If they aren't in the water, they are looking for shade. In the great North Wet, pretty well everyone tries to soak up whatever rays we get during the summer, and here everyone tries to get as little sun as possible. When the temperature is over 100F for months on time, sunstroke can strike quickly.

More pergolas, and the kiddie slide area. There is also a large wading pool for los ninos.

Riding back into town I noticed a statue and pulled over to investigate. This statue commemorates a group of Army cavalry servicemen that had been passed over for honor until local auto dealer Dan Mullins spearheaded a drive to commemorate their service. Finally a scant two years ago, this statue was unveiled. Mullins said many people deserve recognition for the installation and all Lawton - Fort Sill residents can be proud to honor these forgotten service members.

The statue itself is 9 feet tall and shows a soldier with his rifle and saddle getting ready to saddle up and head out on a campaign. It is very detailed and realistic.

On the plaza where the soldier stands, there are several ornamental plantings. The tree to the right is a type of chinese cypress that I have referred to as a heffalump tree ever since reading Winnie the Pooh and his adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood as a young child. I don't know I call it a heffalump tree, but a half a century later the name sticks. (Pay no attention to the gyrating air dancer in the background. He is most definitely not germane to our story.)

Here is a type of ornamental grass common to this area. They are waving softly in the breeze that's coming in from the South West. Very attractive.

Lawton also has some interesting older homes. This one looks like a hybrid. On first glance it resembles a classical craftsman style bungalow, typified by the wide porch to sit in the breeze and shade on a warm day, but it also sports an upper light story to bring daylight into the interior, which is a feature of the "prairie school" of architecture espoused by Frank Lloyd Wright.

This house has been converted into a law office. It's nice to see an older building preserved in such fine condition. It is evident that care has been taken.

So we bring another blog entry to a close. Thanks for riding along. Buenas tardes.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A trip to the big city - Oklahoma City

What have we here? There are clues in this picture, to the observant.
Some folks will recognize form and function, and others will simply say "I dunno", and wait for an explanation. Suffice it to say you won't have long to wait.

Here is as they say on the real estate shows is "the reveal". It's the dome of the State Capitol building in Oklahoma City. This is our third time here. The first time was on a was closed. The second time it was too late in the afternoon by the time we arrived.........denied.

This time we arrived at before lunch. We had about 1/2 hour to look around and then it was time for an official tour.

While we were waiting we looked at some of the art on the walls. There was a display of photographs by a local artist. This woman has a talent for capturing everyday life in Oklahoma.

This one is entitled "a pen full of longhorns". You don't want to get too close to those.

This picture of buffalo on the range is called " blue afternoon." Very apt, don't you think?

This is a statue of  Kate Barnard, the first woman in the United States to win a statewide election. She was elected to the post of Commissioner of Charities and Corrections, and in this capacity worked to establish mandatory education, unfair labor and child labor laws, and state support for widows. 

She was well regarded and honored for her work with the Corrections department, ensuring humane treatment of prisoners.

This is a picture detailing oil prior to statehood. The natives collected water where the oil seeped out, creating a sheen on creek waters. They used it as a cure for various skin ailments and "the rheumatiz". 

This is a painting by a prominent Oklahoma artist that show a lot of  Oklahoma centric information. It shows the state flower, the state tree and the discovery of oil. also of note is an astronaut, of which there have been 5 from the state of Oklahoma and a representation of a red man. Oklahoma is made up of 2 words meaning red and man.

This is the hall of governors.  Every previous governor is represented here with the exception of the current one and the two which were impeached!!!

This is the other side of the Hall of Governors.

This is the entrance to the Supreme Court. Although it is rarely used, it is nonetheless imposing. The next picture shows some details of the inside. The court was not in session, and the actual facility has only been used twice this year.

This is the courtroom, at a signal all the Justices enter from the rear of the court, and on another signal they all step through the curtains and take their seats at the same time. This is to demonstrate that they are all equal. The woodwork is all Mahogany, having been imported from British Honduras, which we now know as Belize.

This is the ceiling in the Supreme Court. It is very ornate, and detailed. The rosettes are cast in plaster of paris and hand painted.

On the next floor is a series of paintings by an Oklahoma artist. This is very typical of a sunrise or sunset on the Great Plains.

This is a picture of Riverboats on the Red River. Apparently the river was at one time navigable. Now if one goes to cross the Red, there is a long bridge over a bare trickle.

This is a picture of the stained glass in the ceiling of the Senate chamber. Apparently in the early days of air conditioning these windows were covered up, and by the time technology go to the point that they could be uncovered again, they were all broken. Fortunately the company that made them back in 1908 in St. Louis still had the original design and they were able to duplicate them exactly from the originals.

This is the new tote board. the old board is being replaced with an electronic version which will show the voting of the senators and their name will change from yellow to red or green depending on their vote. They are not allowed to abstain except by prior arrangement with the chairman of the Senate.

This is one of the murals in the 4th. floor rotunda. It illustrates the great seal of the state, and agriculture, including wheat and cattle and also shows a couple of prototypical Oklahomans, the man on horseback and the farm wife with long skirt and apron,

This mural shows the early days of trade with the natives. The mounted man is wearing a Mexican Army uniform, and the keelboat was representative of trade up and down the Red River.

This picture is of 5 ballerinas that achieved prima ballerina status in noted ballet companies. Oklahoma is the only state to produce 5 prima ballerinas and they were all natives from various tribes in the state

Here is a mural of the Oklahoma oil boom. In September of 2012, Oklahoma produced 7.94 Million barrels of oil. Oklahoma is also the only state capitol with a producing oil well on the grounds of the capitol.

This is the ceiling of the legislature. The stained glass is equally ornate compared to the Senate chamber. There are many more congressmen than Senators, and they vote in likewise fashion as the senior body, by flipping a switch on their desk. There are fans on the walls which were installed in the early 1900's prior to the advent of air conditioning which still work today. The rosettes and trim are all hand painted, and were recently regilded by the art department of Oklahoma State University staff and students.

This is a picture of the trim on the walls. The detail is very fine, even the fabric swags on the finials are cast in plaster, then painted.

This is a painting that was done and dedicated to the brave Oklahomans who went off and lost their lives in the Great War (WW1.)

This was our host for the tour, Bill Vaughn. He was a genial guide and a regular fount of information about the building and the habits of those who work there.

Here is a picture of Tracy, who wheeled her way around the capitol with deft adroitness. She didn't bump in to anyone or anything the whole time, although we did have to tell her to turn her speed control from "rabbit" to "turtle" on more than one occasion,

We proceeded from the Capitol to the Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum. Here is a shot which I call "old and new." A modern office building is flanked by St. Joseph's Old Church.

A visit to the memorial is always a sobering occasion, they have a chair for each of the 168 people killed of which 19 were children in the daycare. Due to the season, each chair was decorated with a Christmas wreath. Even more poignant when you consider the families whose every Christmas after the bombing has been affected by the loss of these loved ones.

This is a picture of the last remaining portion of foundation of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. I has been left as a reminder of the occasion when domestic terrorism hit home to all Americans and in fact to all people in western nations.

Here is a picture of Scooterchick and the reflecting pool. She is reflecting and reflecting and catching a few rays at the same time.

This is one of the portals at either end of the memorial. The Memorial is a very sobering reflection on the disaster. There is also an oak tree that was not killed when the blast took place. They have incorporated in into the memorial as "the survivor tree."

I caught a picture off the cathedral between the trees. You can also see the chairs on the memorial lawn. Interspersed between the adult-sized chairs are the children's sized ones.

Inside the children's portion of the museum there was a fireman's uniform. Scooterchick tried it on. That's my little flame. She can hose me down anytime!!!

After the somber and reflective time at the museum, we needed to find some chow. we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory. It's always worth a visit, reasonable prices and full stomachs everytime.

The decor is the same no matter where the actual location is. I have been in others and they are all very similar. The food is predictably fast and good, and the service is cheerful and deferential.

I decided on Southwest Chicken Lasagna. It came with a tiny Italian flag. I dub thee Mt. Lasagna.

Viva Italia. Let's eat   Mangia....Mangia!

I managed to leave room for dessert. I dived in and realized too late I never took a picture. You'll have to imagine the cake about 2 inches taller. I was too fast with the fork.

As we left the restaurant the sun had gone down and the lights were on. I like the way the lights reflected of the bench. It is a festive time of year in Bricktown.

Here's another view from the other side. I really enjoy the lights on the trees.

We took a couple pictures near the canal. The trees here are all decorated in Christmas colors. They are still running the boats on the canal, and I'm sure it's a pretty trip at this time of year.

You can see the canal and more decorated trees. The canal was a stroke of genius by downtown planners, and revived a previous warehouse and industrial area int the hottest tourist destination in town. There are restaurants, stores, hotels and theaters.

Our day was coming to an end and we headed back to Lawton. I really appreciate the freeways in the States. Even though we had to pay tolls we headed home at about 83 mph. Shortly after we hit the road we were home. Once we got back to Lawton we toured the holiday light park. This here is not a festive tree, nor is it a holiday tree. This is a Christmas Tree. Folks around here wish you a Merry Christmas and God Bless. They will look at you a little squirrelly if you wish them a Happy Holidays.

I close this blog entry wishing you a good sleep, and I'll see y'all soon!!