Family: July 2012 Archives

A peach of a day

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My wife wanted more blueberries.

She and the two younger kids picked an astonishing amount (18 gallons?) a few weeks ago at Thunderbird Berry Farm east of Broken Arrow. Nevertheless there didn't seem to be enough to cover pie baking, freezing for later, and random noshing. She wanted more, if we could get them.

Saturday she thought perhaps we could go and pick some more. Nope: Thunderbird's Facebook page said they ended the season June 30. Getting too hot for the berries. Owasso Tree Farm's website said they were done, too, not just blueberries but blackberries, too. The early hot weather had ripened everything earlier than normal.

So Saturday morning the six-year-old and I headed to Cherry Street for the Farmer's Market. We kept our eyes out for blueberries but found none.

I have mixed feelings about farmer's markets. I love the concept: A weekly community gathering, farmers bringing fresh produce straight to the consumer, no middleman to boost the price to the consumer and lower the price to the farmer, supporting our community's ability to feed itself in the event of a disruption to national and international food distribution networks.

In practice, I find it uncomfortable and expensive. I never have a clear picture of what I need, so I either underbuy or overbuy. I find myself tempted to make aspirational purchases -- buying food without a realistic idea of when we'll cook and eat it. It's awkward to look at produce at one booth, under the watchful eye of the farmer, only to excuse myself to see if the tomatoes are better or cheaper at any of the other booths. I rarely know what the price of the item is at the supermarket, and even if I did, the farmers tend to use a different standard to price each item than the supermarket does. Reasor's prices peaches by the piece, one farmer prices them by dry measure, another prices by the pound. So I leave feeling glad that I helped support a local farmer (particularly if it's someone I know), glad that I bought some fresh food, but frustrated with myself for not being a good steward of the family food budget.

Lomah Dairy had a sign at its booth that explained that their cows have names and are treated with love and respect. It brought to mind that Portlandia sketch where a hipster couple at a restaurant grills the waitress about the living conditions of the chicken they were about to eat for dinner. ("His name was Colin. Here are his papers.") Unsatisfied with the waitress's claims, they go to the chicken farm to investigate for themselves.

One booth sold us a bag of pickle cucumbers for $4 and 6 ears of corn for $5. (The pickle cucumbers were the six-year-old's idea.) The ears were a bit scrawny (already picked over toward the end of the market, I expect), so the farmer threw in a couple more on the house.

I stopped at the Bootstrap Farm booth because I recognized one of the farmers as a friend who is a philosopher and erstwhile barista. We were given a sample of golden, sweet cherry tomatoes, and we bought a quart container of them, plus a few pounds of vine-ripened, regular-sized tomatoes -- $11. (I had one of the big tomatoes that night with a little bit of salt -- wonderful!) Then a stop by the Council Creek Farm pickup, its bed loaded with fresh cantaloupe and watermelon. We bought one big watermelon ($6) and two canteloupe (@ $4) -- $14. I struggled up the hill to the car cradling the melon in the crook of my arm, carrying a plastic shopping bag with the corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes by the handle, and carrying a partly torn plastic bag with a cantaloupe. The six-year-old managed to carry the other cantaloupe in his arms.

We dropped off the goods, then headed back down the hill for a cup of coffee (for me) and a cup of fruit (for him, although I ate the pineapple, kiwi, and orange bits he didn't want).

Next stop: Hardscape Materials in Bixby. We've got a small pond, bequeathed to us by the previous owners, and I've tried to keep it in shape, but because of the big freeze of 2011 and a 15-month stretch when work had me out of town half the time, things got out of hand. Tall flowering plants, joined by a thick mat of roots, had completely taken over the pond. (We were told they were water hyacinth, but they aren't.) I cleaned all of them out, leaving the water lilies, but in the clean out process I apparently made a couple of small tears in the liner.

So we went to Hardscape Materials, which has an entire building devoted to pond equipment and supplies and several large demonstration ponds with waterfalls, fountains, rocks, and gigantic koi. Hardscape has developed many of the pond products they sell.

They had the patch kit we needed, and after we bought it, the six-year-old led me around the grounds for a while. (There are few more interesting ways to spend time than to follow the whims of a six-year-old.) Hardscape has acres of stone, rock, and gravel of all types. They even sell basalt columns. They come from naturally hexagonal rock formations, the most famous of which is Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

Back in the car and south on US 64. Next stop was Carmichael's produce stand, on the west side of the road just south of the river. They had plenty of Bixby corn, much healthier-looking than what we bought on Cherry Street -- a dozen ears for $6, cheaper than $7.50 for the same amount at the supermarket. Cucumbers were two for a dollar, sweet potatoes were 89 cents a pound (same price as the supermarket), so we bought some of those.

And they had blueberries from Nacogdoches, Texas -- $32 for a flat of 12 pints. That was much cheaper than the supermarket, where we would have paid about $48 for the same amount. Via text message, I was told to buy two flats.

They had peaches, too, but I intended to buy some peaches straight from the orchard in Porter, so we headed south again, but not before a quick drive around downtown Bixby. We noticed the removal of an ugly facade from a historic retail building in progress, a steeple for sale, and an interesting two-story gas station that now belongs to the local historical society.

South and east again along US 64 through Leonard and Stone Bluff, which reminded the six-year-old of Route 66, which led to questions about when towns were bypassed by highways and why the interstate highway system was built, followed by answers about pre-interstate bypasses and Eisenhower's post-World War I convoy across America and his experience with autobahns in Germany and how some bypasses (like Tulsa's Skelly Bypass) don't bypass anything any more.

Downtown Haskell has lovely new streetscaping, some interesting buildings with potential, and a couple of blocks where most of the buildings are gone, the result of a fires some years ago. (The Google street view imagery from February 2008 shows how much is now missing.) We stopped at Family Style Barbecue, in one of the old buildings, for lunch. The ribs were pretty good, a bit fattier than I like, but good flavor and no need for sauce. The beans had a nice smoky flavor. I tried a bit of their barbecue sauce but didn't care for it. The six-year-old enjoyed his ham sandwich, but not as much as he enjoyed the funny animal-video show on the TV in the corner.

After lunch we walked around a bit, noticing a sign ("HOME AND AUTO STORE") that had belonged to the OTASCO that once had been there, across the street from a building bearing the name ADELMAN (which, if memory serves, was the name of the family that built the Delman Theater at 15th and Lewis -- they dropped the initial A), an exposed native stone wall, a hexagonal tile floor (the only remnant of Broadway Cleaners), a pig statue in front of a butcher's shop and a mid-century modern facade on a defunct bank building. The six-year-old noted the irony of the painting on Family Style Barbecue's window: three walking pigs -- dad, mom, and son -- carrying balloons, one of which read "LET'S EAT!" "They shouldn't go in there. They'll be butchered!" he said with a grin.

East on 104 across the Arkansas River at Choska, then on to 231st Street, a gravel road between sod farms. We'd have probably been better off to go a couple of miles north, then east and back south, but I was following Google's directions. The six-year-old was grateful to get back on a paved road after two or three miles.

Livesay Orchards had lots and lots of fresh peaches, at least three different varieties, and a lady at a booth offered samples on toothpicks of each. They had a special on Scarlet Prince -- a half bushel for $18 (other varieties were $27 for a half bushel). They also grow apples. We drove past the orchards heading east, north on the first paved road into Porter proper, where the east-west streets are named for peach varieties. Porter is a town that could use some serious TLC. The town's famed Porter Peach Festival is July 19 - 21, 2012. This year they'll have carnival rides, mud races, a 5k run, and a car show, in addition to the peaches.

Home the easy way, on 51, and then the hard part -- finding some place to put 20 ears of corn, a big bag of cucumbers, a half-bushel of peaches, five pounds of sweet potatoes, two flats of blueberries, two cantaloupes, and a watermelon. I baked all the sweet potatoes, and we had watermelon, peaches, and tomatoes with a little bit of leftover ham for dinner that night.

My wife gently reminded me that the fresh produce is perishable, is best when you buy it, and you want to use it before it goes bad. So we are going to be gorging ourselves on fruit and vegetables for a week or so.

P. S. Anyone have a good pickle recipe? I'm thinking half-sour or maybe bread-and-butter.

Way back in 2003, when this blog was in its infancy, I wrote about a weekend visit to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for a reunion of alumni of the New Creations, University Baptist Church in Fayetteville's collegiate choir. My wife sang with the group throughout her time at the University of Arkansas. During the reunion, long-time director Tanner Riley led a massed choir of alumni in several oft-performed songs.

I needed to hear one of those songs again today; perhaps, at the end of a hard week, you do, too. It's by John Purifoy, and it's a setting of Jesus' words in Matthew 11:28-30. Here's the New Creations from their 1984 spring concert. The second clip has a few words of invitation from Pastor J. D. McCarty followed by a reprise of the song.

Come to Me All Who Labor (MP3)

Come to Me All Who Labor (reprise) with remarks by J. D. McCarty (MP3)

MORE: From Pilgrim's Progress

Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which CHRISTIAN was to go was fenced on either side with a wall; and that wall was called "Salvation".

"In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." Isaiah 26:1

Up this way, therefore, did burdened CHRISTIAN run; but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.

He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

Then was CHRISTIAN glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart,

"He hath given me rest by his sorrow,
And life by his death."

Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks.


We're getting rid of clothes we don't need and came across a couple of bright teal windbreakers from the 1990 International Science and Engineering Fair, which was held in Tulsa that year. My wife and I, then newlyweds, volunteered for the fair, marshalling buses and giving directions to visitors.

ISEF 1990 Tulsa embroidered Indian head logo on a teal windbreaker

I guess we took the windbreakers with us to Europe later that year, because in the pocket of the smaller jacket was a little wrapper, likely from a mint:

Mövenpick Marché Heidiland mint wrapper

Autobahnrestaurant N13

Mövenpick Marché Heidiland mint wrapperOn the back, a young female model holds something that looks like a Paris street sign, reading:


The Mövenpick Marché Heidiland is a roadside restaurant in Canton Graubünden, in eastern Switzerland. It's part of a chain, but more than just a fast-food place -- more like the Stuckey's and Howard Johnson's you used to see along Oklahoma's turnpikes, but much bigger and nicer. You'll still find this sort of thing along the some east coast turnpikes and British motorways -- restaurant or food court, convenience store, tourism info -- some of them approach the size of small malls.


But I've never been to one in the US or UK with a goat enclosure.

Marché Heidiland, on the highway A13, is one of the most well-known rest stops in all of Switzerland. The "Heidi and Geissenpeter Game" is waiting for you as soon as you walk in the front door. Two large game rooms provide an exciting experience for all kids. There is also an outdoor playground and a goat enclosure close to the entrance.

We would have come across this place on the way between picking up a rental car in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, and our stop for the night in Chur, Switzerland.

Our September 1990 vacation, facilitated by my wife's employment with American Airlines, started in Frankfurt and took us to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Mittenwald, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and Munich in Germany, Prague in newly freed Czechoslovakia, Vienna, Melk, and Salzburg in Austria, Liechtenstein, Chur, Glarus, Lucerne, Rüschlikon, and Zurich in Switzerland, whence we flew home. We had a Eurail / Hertz car/train package deal, used the car in Bavaria, took the train through Czechoslovakia and Austria (including a brief ride on a boat on the Danube), then picked up a car in Vaduz for the last few days of the trip.

I remember being disappointed that you couldn't find a cheap lunch in Vaduz, as you could in Austria, Bavaria, and Prague. So we likely stopped here for a meal.

I don't recall whether it was cheap then, but it certainly isn't cheap today. The website touts fresh baked goods and abundant buffets. The evening buffet (7 pm to 10:30 pm) runs $25, not including beverages. The lunch special -- dish, drink, and dessert -- is about $18, and the Sunday brunch buffet is about $27. There are size discounts: Under 110 cm is free, under 140 cm is half price. The bargain breakfast -- croissant, bread roll, butter, jam, and coffee -- is only $9. (The US dollar and the Swiss Franc are right about at par at the moment. When we visited, a dollar was worth 1.30 Swiss Francs.)

In addition to the goat enclosure, the Marché Heidiland has an outdoor playground, an indoor play area, a smokers' room, a conference room, and free WiFi.

The baby facilities are impressive: A microwave oven, bottle warmer, and hot water kettle for use in preparing your baby's food, built-in changing tables (not just pulldown tables in the handicapped toilet stall), and special strollers that give you a place to put your tray of food and your child's tray as you navigate the buffet.

MORE: Bill Clinton stopped here on his way to Davos a couple of years ago.

MORE reminiscing: Older readers will recall the midway rest stop on the Turner Turnpike, with a pedestrian bridge connecting eastbound and westbound rest areas. The eastbound area had a Howard Johnson's restaurant, a souvenir shop, a Phillips 66 service station, and a tourism display. One thing you couldn't get on the eastbound side was a bottle or can of pop. If you wanted anything other than HoJo Cola, you had to walk over the turnpike to the vending machines at the Phillips station on the westbound side.

Midway Station Overpass - Turner Turnpike, OK -1950s

MORE stuff that fell out in the dryer (should have checked the pockets more carefully): A chestnut and (found in the lint trap) a ticket labeled "RVO" dated September 26, 1990, at 16:00, for two people. RVO is a regional transportation company in the Bavarian Alps, so perhaps this was a ticket for our day train trip from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden with another American couple.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Family category from July 2012.

Family: May 2012 is the previous archive.

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