Friday, June 29, 2012

What's New With 612?

Now that I've graduated, I feel like I can finally focus on SixTwelve and I'm excited about all of the experiences coming my way. People have been asking about the project and what is going on, so I thought now might be a good time give an update. We are currently waiting for our next hearing, this time with the Urban Design commission. It's funny how often I've thought that we were ready to move on to renovating the interior. (The exterior is pretty much finished - we just have to paint the front door red, get a new light fixture and fix up the balconies.) I kept thinking, "After this get's approved, we'll be ready to move!" Hahahaha! So naive. But really, it's ok. I've needed the time to focus on finishing up my master's degree and this is just how long it takes when your building is located in an historic preservation district, when you want to do a lot with the property that hasn't been done before, when you have to go through rezoning from residential to urban design, and when you're learning as you go!

Sooooo, if all goes well next month with our hearing, I think we'll be able to move forward with the interior renovations but we'll see what happens. You never know. It would be easy to become impatient or frustrated with the time that it takes to move through all of these requirements, not getting to actually do the work you set out to do for years. One could possibly get bogged down in the red tape and lose faith, but I just see each meeting as an opportunity to tell people who care deeply for OKC about our project and mission. By the time we actually open our doors, we will have been through staff and commission meetings with Historic Preservation, City Planning, Urban Design and the City Council. That's a great thing! I feel like the more people that know about it, the more people we can serve. I've also heard that the Hardesty Arts Center in Tulsa took eight years from the time the idea was formed to the opening day. I know that our little building and lot aren't going to provide what they do and that their project is much bigger, but it made me feel better when Ken Busby, the Executive Director and CEO, told me about their timeline. It really does just take as long as it takes.

You have to be flexible and patient and you have to do whatever you can to remove fear from the equation when you are chasing your dreams. I'm getting better in all of those areas. In fact, getting away on that trip to the UK really helped. Since I've been home, I've been much more peaceful and each day I feel like I have more strength and confidence. There's just something about travel that can change your perspective on things, isn't there? When you find yourself outside of your little corner of the world and look back in, you realize how everything is connected and that in each country you visit, every building or park represents someone else's dream that was accomplished.  It helps me to have faith in our vision when I see that others have experienced the same process of dreaming, planning, building, and executing programs...and that they succeeded! I feel that way about OKC too. It's such an exciting time to be a part of change in this city. I love it here and want to do whatever I can to contribute to its greatness!

As soon as we get approval for all that we are hoping to do with our building and lot, the interior renovations can begin and I can't tell you how excited I am for that part. I'm one of those weird people that loves to pour over all of the choices in fixtures and appliances. I've been collecting ideas for decor and design for months and can't wait to get started! I have some fun ideas for the apartments and classrooms running through my brain. We're also pretty close to finalizing our board selection and then, once the paper work is complete, we will hopefully get official confirmation of the formation of the 501c3! Then we can really do some good for people. It's exciting to be so close to the tipping point. Things are getting ready to take off! Yessssssss!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Okie Noodling!

Last weekend I had the most awesome privilege of volunteering at the Okie Noodling Festival. I call it "the most awesome privilege" because it's just so much fun to be there. I grabbed my good friends James and Preston and signed them up to be my "posse," as the incredible Cacky Poarch called them. (While I'm at this point in this blog entry, can we just talk about how wonderful Cacky Poarch is? She organized the volunteers and who knows what else at the festival and can TCB like no one else. I have so much respect for that lady!)

Me and My Posse: James and Preston

Ok so back to the fest. James, Preston and I showed up a little early so that we could take in the announcements of the weigh-ins and man, I think the winner caught a catfish that weighed something like 78 pounds! Wholly Moly!!!! That's a big fish!

I don't know if that's the winner or not, but it's still a big ol' fish! Ha!
The things I loved the most about the festival was getting to see friends I haven't seen in a while, meeting new people and experiencing something that is unique to Oklahoma. A friend that I went to school with and graduated high school with in good old Ardmore, America, James Payne, is one of the guys who produced the Okie Noodling documentaries and who helped start the festival and tournament 13 years ago. I'm so impressed with James; plus he's just a really nice guy. He and his team (including Bradley Beesley, the director) have worked on all kinds of awesomeness, including Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo, Winnebago Man, and sooooo much more. I have to admit that I get a little start struck before I talk to them and then they just act like normal (as normal as you can be when you're that brilliant), hilarious, down-to-earth people who just appreciate all the quirky aspects of humanity. They are "good people" as my grandmother used to say.

So here are some pictures of my favorite peeps that attended the festival. I had the best time and can't what to do it again next year, if Cacky asks me back. Fingers crossed! :)

Preston and Kyle - The Best Staches in the State!

Kim and Katie- Love these Ladies!

Bryon is so awesome! 

Preston doesn't look too sure about this pic, but I had to add this pic of Steve. He and Chandra were there celebrating their "birthaversary." They were married on Chandra's birthday! 
What a way to celebrate! 
Chandra and I were photo bombed by one of the competitors! 
(and my bra strap, but who really cared? Haha!) Yes!

Preston was very official at our post in the information booth. (We didn't use this mic once. Haha!)

Did I mention that we were paid in beer? Thank you PBR! 
By the end of the shift, James had one of his classic hairdos. Love it!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Days 9-12: Sea Days, Monet's House and Garden, Rouen Cathedral and a First Class Journey Home

The last few days of the trip were restful, fun and full of goodness. We tried to dock in Edinburgh, Scotland, but the weather was so bad that we couldn't leave the ship. What I call the "gang plank" (haha!) would have thrashed about due to the high winds and people would have been thrown over, so instead of taking a chance with people's safety, the cruise captain and crew decided to just keep "sailing" on. We had two days at sea, which was so nice after getting up early each day for tours, pushing and pushing to see it all. When I go on vacation I like to keep a healthy balance between seeing new things and getting some much needed rest. So I was fine.  A lot of people were disappointed because they really wanted to see Edinburgh, and I understand that. I had heard it was a beautiful place, but I was grateful that we were all safe and that I just had a little more time alone with mom. You don't get a lot of alone time on a cruise ship with 3,080 passengers and 1,200 crew. Plus, because I had never been on a cruise before, everything I saw and experienced was new to me. I was grateful for whatever happened!

While we were enjoying our sea days, we entertained ourselves by going to movies in the theaters (or watching them from our beds in our rooms - NICE!). We also played bingo, attended wine tastings and went to the spa. Now that's what I'm talking about! Haha!

This was one delicious bottle of wine! 

While we were enjoying all of this fun, we were moving towards Le Havre, France. This is one of the main port cities of France, and was a convenient stopping point for many day excursions. Some of the people in our group took a tour of Paris, some stayed in Le Havre, and my friend Lydia and I hopped on a bus for Monet's House and Gardens in Giverny! I was really excited about seeing his grounds, not only because the artist has been so successful, but also because I love plants and landscaping. I wanted to see this place that he imagined, planned and brought into reality because I've done the same with my house and yards. It's always inspiring to see something and take back ideas to your own place. I was NOT disappointed. God, this place was beautiful.

Walking up the famous green bridge in the water garden

One of the gardeners cleaning the ponds - During his time, Monet employed someone to dust his water lilies so that they would look their best before he painted them. 

A view of the bridge

Water Lilies! Monet painted around 250 in his Water Lilies series and I was fortunate enough to see some of his larger, mural works in this series at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris in 2008. 

Had to capture the moment!

My favorite view in the water garden

Monet's Flower Garden in front of his house. He constructed the whole plan of his garden, based on placing specific colors of flowers next to each other. 

The rose arches!


Rose arches leading up to the house

So lush!

Monet's House - Unfortunately we couldn't take pictures inside, but it was beautiful too.

We could take pictures of the outside from the windows! This was taken from Monet's bedroom. What a view he had!

Love this flower and want to put it in my own garden. Phillip told me it would work! We're going to try to find them this weekend!


Entrance to Monet's Studio - Now the gift shop

Inside Monet's studio/gift shop
One of the things that touched me the most while seeing this artist's home and gardens was the fact that he did what he wanted. This wasn't always a good thing, such as when he rerouted a branch of the Epte River to flow to his grounds and supply water for his gardens. That's pretty arrogant in my book and the townspeople definitely disagreed with the plan, but Monet kept at it until he got what he wanted.

The thing I loved, though, was the fact that Monet also painted the rooms in his house with bright colors. One can see yellow and light blue throughout the house. I received a little flack about that when I was decorating my house, but now that I have a few years under my belt, I realize that it's my house. I can do whatever I want! And I love it and it makes me happy! I also loved the fact that Monet didn't give up on his dream. He knew what he wanted for his life and he went after it. This man's life inspires me as much as his art. I have such big dreams for my life and for my community. In order to achieve those dreams, I have to keep at it!

After our tour, we drove to a beautiful water mill/house for lunch.

The backside of the mill house - So quaint and beautiful

Inside the lunch spot!

I met a wonderful couple from LA, Jerry and Bobby. They were hilarious! We had a lot of fun on this trip!

After lunch, we travelled to Rouen. This is the cathedral that Monet painted in a series as well!

The Rouen town clock!

Church of St. Joan of Arc - The roofline is supposed to represent Joan of Arc's hat.

The place where Joan of Arc was burned - in the courtyard of the church.

Inside the church - our tour guide said it was built in the late 60s- early 70s. 

Leaving Le Havre's port at the end of the day. Sailing back to London to get on the plane home!
After a night on the ship, mom and I got up really early so that we could disembark and travel to the airport in London. When we arrived, checked our bags, made it through security and up to the gate desk, we were greeted with a great surprise! We were upgraded to first class. Heyyyooooo!!!! I've never flown first class and it will probably be a reeeeeeaaaaaalllllyyyy long time before I do again, so this was a big treat for me. When the lady at the desk told us, I looked at mom and said, "How did this happen?!?!?" She looked at me with a serious face and whispered, "Don't ask questions." Hahahahaha! God I love my mom. 

So we boarded our flight and found our seats. I'm sure I looked like a "hick-from-the-sticks" as I proceeded to play with every button and gadget available in my little pod. The seats could recline, with a leg and foot rest motoring up to where my legs were straight in front of me. That makes a big difference to a shorty whose legs usually dangle during the entire duration of a flight. We also received little pouches of goodies, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, eye masks, ear plugs, socks, and we also were given a set of pajamas that the sassy flight attendant told us we could sell on eBay. Haha! 

And then there was the fact that we had our own video monitors, dimming lights, a little desk, and we were given unlimited cocktails and food. I was stuffed by the time the flight ended. I told the flight attendants that I was just making the most of it because I never knew when I would be back in first class. Haha! Then they brought me two cookies. LOL. 

I had the best time and it was the perfect way to end such a wonderful trip with my mom.  The very best part about this trip was spending time with her. We talked, laughed, resolved issues, saw incredible things, and were given a chance to simply enjoy each other's company. I love my mom. She is kind, loving, generous, sweet, hilarious and beautiful. She's been that way with everyone she meets from the beginning.  I'm proud to call her my mother and couldn't be more grateful. What an incredible graduation gift this was. I will cherish the memories we made forever. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 8: Scotland! A Little Different Blog Entry. Ha!

After a full day and night at sea, we docked this morning at Invergordon, Scotland, and this morning mom and I ate breakfast, had a good talk and then hopped on a bus for the afternoon tour of Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. It was such a great day. (I have to say right now that this blog post will be colored by a few cocktails, so it will probably be much more entertaining than usual. Ha!)

Urquhart Castle

The Loch Ness I liked seeing the castle, I really enjoyed the drive to Loch Ness because I had the opportunity to see the traditional homes of the Scottish Highlands that looked like they were built a century ago, and the Loch was beautiful, but our tour guide was hilariously monotone. Mom and I giggled about it for at least an hour. As for the Loch Ness Monster, he was a no show. I have to admit that I was a pessimist today who didn't believe, but was still looking for signs of the curved neck or back every second I could see the water. Haha! Oh well. Maybe another day.

Tonight I finally let loose enough that I could laugh at the funny things other passengers have been doing. I think the vacation is finally working. To say that I have been a little stressed out over the past few months is to put it lightly, so my sense of humor has been a little compromised. Well folks, it has made a comeback. Tonight, my friend Lydia (the daughter of one of my mom's friends who is also on this trip) and I decided that we would take in the ship's "nightlife" after dinner. We attended a game night called, "Majority Wins," where people who wanted to participate were split into two teams. 13 questions were asked and each team member submitted answers. Whichever team had the most submissions that were the same as the majority answer won. Most of the answers involved the words, "Boobs, condoms, etc." Add in cocktails and we were entertained.

Then we went to karaoke. I was a little disappointed because we had chosen to sing, "Don't Stop Believing," from Journey, a la Romy Owens style, but didn't get there in time to sign up. What we did arrive in time for were thrilling performances from people who couldn't quite find the pitch and our favorite was a repeat performer on this trip, Steve from Kansas. This guy sang the other night and Lydia had told me all about him, including his 1984-feathered hair and his penchant for 70s and 80s music. (I don't judge. I obviously was going for the same style.) Anyway, Steve did not disappoint. In fact, this gentleman from Kansas chose a Kansas song, "Carry On My Wayward Son." It was scrumtrulescent, to use a Will Ferrell reference.

Steve from Kansas
After karaoke ended, Lydia and I visited every bar on the ship, finding that no one was left out and about. We suspected as much. There is a big crew party tonight that we heard about, and even though we had no intention of breaking the rules and attending, Lydia still asked every crew member she talked to if they would get us in. Haha! It was very "Dirty Dancing" - no fraternizing with the passengers. I was as entertained by Lydia as I was by the events of the evening. She told our waitress at Karaoke tonight that we were waiting on nice men to buy our drinks, and the lady replied, "Where?" Hahahaha!

I'm having fun and it's nice that there is no pressure to even try to attract someone. It's like camp for big kids. Who cares? We're going to Edinburgh tomorrow and I'm looking forward to whatever our last day in Scotland brings. We only have a few days left and I plan on living it up, laughing as much as I can, enjoying my time with mom, and relaxing even more. This trip has been really good for me. I'm so grateful for today.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 6 = Glasgow and Day 7 = Rest

We have really been pushing at a fast clip so I'm grateful that today is a day at sea. I needed a day to rest and take it easy. Yesterday, Day 6, mom and I slept in a little (woke at 8:30am instead of 6:30 am) in our port of Greenock, Scotland, ate breakfast and then instead of taking a planned tour, we jumped in a cab to the train station and got ourselves up over to Glasgow. Have I mentioned that I love taking trains recently? It was much less expensive than taking a cab and I loved the scenery we saw on our way.

We only had enough time to eat lunch and take a "Hop On/Hop Off" tour of the city, but it was worth it. Plus it was really nice to be alone with mom for a change. We had a great day! Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the third largest in the UK. I was most interested in the architecture and the Botanical Garden.

Glasgow Science Center

Scottish Exhibition and Science Center

A new arena is on the way!

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

City Chambers on George Square

Maybe someday I'll return and have more than a few hours to really experience all there is to see. For now, I'll just cruise along and enjoy this day of rest.