A Curious Life

I turned yet another year older this month (just a decade past 29), and, like I do every birthday, I did some soul searching.

I’m re-visiting Bromide (in my head & for real) because I recently came in contact with a Chickasaw Elder who is providing me with all sorts of information. If I didn’t follow my passions, I would have never known him or learned so much.

My soul apparently has ADHD, because my mind tends to wander when I genuflect. It meanders towards places I’ve been, sights I’ve seen, and old buildings I’ve discovered. I don’t really think, but simply recall pictures, and add new details to the locations in my imagination until I suddenly find myself daydreaming in a far off place. Trying to tap into my soul is like thumbing through a large photo album, actually.

Over the years, I’ve finally learned (allowed myself?) not to fight these kinds of thoughts. Instead, I’m letting the pictures in my head guide me. My “what I am a doing with my life” questions become more like “where do I want to go” and “what can I still explore.” The answers, while not earth-shaking, help me to understand that I am on the right path – for me.

I’ve learned from just listening to how I think that I don’t want a big career, a big house, or exotic travels. I shrug off luxury. I don’t need a fancy car, or be “fulfilled” by living a simple life or a spiritual life or a philosophical life or a religious life.  I simply want to see what’s around the next bend. Living a life “filled with curiosity” has become my guiding principal. Everything else (family, work, chores) either just kind of falls into place, or gets discarded onto the growing pile of chores and wasted energy that prevent me from doing what I love to do, and being who I like to be.

The open road beckons, I don’t wanna wait.

That’s why every once in a while, I have to de-clutter my life. I take a good look at the obligations that keep me curious, and check on the other obligations that hinder me.  So I renew my commitment to my fabulous family and friends (to me, they’re all the same!) and I renew my commitment to my website, readers, blog, presentations, books, and art work. Lately, other obligations- such as my full time job –  have crept into my world, and I have to see if they prevent me from following my curiosity.

I guess I’m rambling, but the point I’m trying to make is that, in the near 40 years I’ve been on this planet, I’m finally allowing myself to be defined by what I love to do. My younger self always tended to belittle my passions. I’d tell myself that taking road trips, writing stories, and learning history were silly, superfluous time wasters that didn’t make money, were impractical, etc (typical German protestant upbringing!). Now, I’m giving permission to tell that young whipper snapper to shut.the.hell.up.

Curiosity has brought me to some astounding places and allowed me to meet fabulous people.

I want to remain curious until I’m old and gray (okay, old-er and gray-er, har har). What about you? Are you finding it harder to ignore and suppress your true desires? Has turning older allowed you to accept who you are?

I hope so.

Published in: on February 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm  Comments (2)  
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Don’t Brick Me In

Texas history in my lil' ol' yard!

Texas history in my lil' ol' yard!

I lucked out the other day. As I was rooting around on Craig’s List, trying to find cheap bricks to use on the backyard walkway I wanted to build, I stumbled upon this cryptic message:

“Pavers for sale, $70 for 100, these are the heavy pavers used to pave streets in Dallas and Fort Worth.”

My interest piqued, I sent a messge and told the guy I needed 300 – he said he had over a thousand. But I’d need a truck, since the bricks weighed about 8 pounds a piece. The truck was no problem, and after recruiting my husband and son, we drove out on a Monday morning to pick them up.

Was I ever surprised to see what he had for sale:

This man  had over a thousand Thurber Bricks sitting out in a pasture, apparently culled from an old courthouse and the streets surrounding it. I thought I hit the historical jackpot. What a find!

After strenous lifting, we got the bricks on the truck, which groaned under all that weight (it’s an F150, which is a great vehicle, but its bed isn’t made to haul 2,400 lbs!) At home, my son and I proceeded to move the bricks to the backyard – thank the lord for wheel barrows – and set out to make a walkway.

Here's my son David with all the bricks.

Here's my son David with all the bricks.

I have a plan to get the walkway the way I want it with only half the labor. Laugh all you want, but I just put the pavers on the ground – raked, and fairly level – then I placed landscape frames around them. When the weather gets cooler, I will take dry concrete mix (maybe quick-crete), pour it all along the bricks, sweep it into the crevices, and then add water. If all goes according to plan (and why wouldn’t it? she questioned, famous last words echoing from across time), I’ll have a walkway without having to dig into the impossibly dry ground. See, ain’t I smart?!

When it goes well, I’ll post the finished pictures. If for some reason this plan fails, I’ll still post pictures, but with funny captions or something. (Evidently, the blogging software is having some issues with posting images. I can’t post any now, but I hope to do so soon).

But I think, all in all, it’s pretty nifty that I now have a Thurber Brick path in my backyard.

Published in: on July 20, 2008 at 9:09 pm  Comments (3)  

Summer Plans

Palo Duron Canyon

Image above is of Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the United States and the birthplace of the Red River. It is located near Amarillo, Texas. Hah, and you thought the Texas panhandle was flat!

This is turning out to be an exciting summer. I can’t wait to tell the very, very few people who stumble upon my site about all the planning that is going on here in Red River Historian-ville!

First, I bought a Volkswagon Jetta TDI (diesel), and I have begun putting biodiesel B100 in my tank. I now have ca. 80% less emissions than a gas car, and I also get about 40 mpg. Not too shabby! I found a great place for biodiesel in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area, http://www.dfwbiodieselinc.com . The station is located along Long Avenue next to 35 W in Fort Worth.  The Sun Travel Plaza in Denton also sells B20, and if you happen to own (or are considering purchasing) a diesel car/truck, you can find out where you can purchase biodiesel in your neck of the woods at http://e85.whipnet.net/alt.fuel/biodiesel.stations.html (this link lists Texas only, but you can snoop around and find your own state).

Summer is going to be busy, too. In June, I’ll be attending a workshop in Michigan on the history of the Ford company’s dealings with labor issues. This workshop is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (http://www.hfcc.edu/landmarks/). I’ve got a ton of reading to get done by the time of the workshop, which will last a week. Hmm, maybe I should be reading instead of blogging…?

I also have two, possibly three trips planned, in addition to teaching a summer class. I will be making my final Bonnie and Clyde (see: http://www.redriverhistorian.com/clydeart.html ) trip in June, where I’ll be visiting sites in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa. Then, I’m taking the annual pilgrimmage to Galveston to enjoy sun and surf at the Red Neck Riveria. Towards the end of summer, I’m hoping to take a week and a half to travel out west: I want to visit the Petrified Forest National Park (http://www.nps.gov/pefo), Grand Canyon National Park (http://www.nps.gov/grca) , the Bonnie and Clyde Death Car Exhibit at Primm Valley Casino in Nevada (http://www.vegas.com/attractions/outside_lasvegas/getawaycar.html) , Zion National Park (http://www.nps.gov/zion), Durango, Colorado (http://www.durango.org/), and Boise City, Oklahoma, where travelers and cattle drivers left their names on autograph rock along the Santa Fe Trail (http://www.nps.gov/archive/safe/fnl-sft/photos/okpages/phook.htm). I’ve planned the trip so that I can drive through Monument Valley (http://www.monumentvalley.com/), too. Man, I’m hoping that all works out schedule-wise and I’ll be able to do that.

Anyway… my books are coming along quite nicely, too. I should have them ready to go by the end of summer, hopefully.

Hope that whoever is out there (you are welcome to comment, I won’t bite!) will also have a great, safe, and not-too-hot summer!


Published in: on May 21, 2008 at 6:48 pm  Comments (2)  

List of Things to Do

I am trying to make my site into something bigger. I dont’ like to work for anyone except me, so my ultimate goal is to be self-employed by doing what I love. I’m sure I’m not alone in that wish! I’m going to try my darndest to make it a reality.

I guess the problem is that “what I love” just happens to be history and writing – not very lucrative areas. It’s not that I care about making a lot of money, but it would be nice to make a living off of my interests and not starve while doing it.

I currently have  a business plan in place that involves creating a small, regional press (Red River Historian Press) that will publish regional histories, travel guides, and vintage how-to guides. I also am slowly amassing inventory for a “mobile store” that I want to set up at area festivals. Further, I’m hoping to create a “mobile classroom,” which involves offering fun classes to retirement homes and such.

It just seems like all my efforts are in slow motion. What with work, the house, and the constant “What ifs…?” swimming in my head, it seems like I’m not doing enough to really make a go of this.  So, I thought that if I put all this out on my Blog – even if NO ONE is reading it, which is okay – I will find myself a lot more committed.

  • For my site: I need to update and revamp my bookstore; add a page about the Cane River National Heritage Area; add links to Louisina and Arkansas on the Itinerary Page. 
  • For my store: I need to buy a color laser printer; more books, maps, and postcards; and some trinkets to sell.
  • For my classes: I need to mail out the brochure and cross my fingers!
  • For the Press: I need to finish the two books I’m writing; get a proof reader to go over them; take an In-Design class and then tweak the books using that software; find a printer; and then find more authors who I can publish!
  • Marketing: once the Press is underway, I want to get the word out through columns, giving presentations, sell the books to museums; and having a PR-kind of person help me with press releases.

Aargh. I’ve got big plans and time’s a-wastin’.

Published in: on April 5, 2008 at 4:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Would a Rock by Any Other Name… Still be a Rock?


One of the archeologists at the Gault Site explains carvings found in the sandstone.

This past weekend I attended a three day class sponsored by the Texas Archeology Society (TAS) (http://www.txarch.org/). I wanted to learn more about archeology and maybe even get a few pointers on how to identify sites, and what to do with them once I did identify them. The academy was held in Belton, TX, a pretty little town with a river running just west of the Main Street.

Several archeologists taught a class of about 60 how to probe, map, and survey a site. I was highly amused by the many men at the academy (at least those in my group) who almost had heart attacks when mapping – they were so set on having everything measured precisely to the exact millimeter that we never did get much accomplished. I am not the most detailed person in the world, and when I said that it probably isn’t going to hurt to be a little off, after all it’s just holes we’ll be digging- I think I probably set their hair on fire.

On Sunday, we got to put our newly found skills to the test at the Gault Site where all sorts of items from the Clovis culture who inhabited central Texas about 12,000 years ago have been excavated. We’re talking arrow heads and inscribed rock and spear points and the like. At least I think that’s what we were talking about, although I never saw any fully formed artifact. Instead, as these were stone age sites we were probing and surveying, and this was very rocky terrain, everything started to look the same to me! So I ended up mapping random pebbles. Sometimes (and I’m ashamed to admit this), I just kind of ignored a few rocks. I don’t think I was the only one to do that, either, although I must have looked like I knew what I was doing when a woman took me aside and in a hushed voice asked me, “Can you tell the difference between a rock and an artifact?” I really, really, really wanted to say “Of course!” and receive the admiration that is due a serious student of the Archaic period, but I just ended up shrugging and shaking my head.

On the plus side, the weather was excellent. There was also a lot of food. The TAS catered breakfast and lunch, with free drinks all day. I realize that if there’s one thing archeologists don’t do, is starve.

I also got to spend Friday and Saturday night at a good friend’s house, which saved me hotel money. On Saturday night, because we’re so wild and crazy, we watched “Volver” with Penelope Cruz and directed by Pedro Almodovar. Excellent movie, by the way.

I haven’t really made up my mind yet if I want to attend any more academies. On the one hand, it’s very informative. On the other hand, it’s rock. I think I’d be a lot more fascinated by historical artifacts. There’s only so much enthusiasm one can catch for burnt rock middens with crushed mussels littering the pits, and unfortunately I didn’t catch much.

Published in: on February 15, 2008 at 3:47 am  Leave a Comment  

An experiment in self-indulgence

Well, I guess there was no way around it… I decided to add a blog to my website. I don’t think the blog will be updated frequently, as it takes times to write and time is what I have such little of! But I do want to talk to my readers, and I want to at least pretend to be “with it,” plus I am a little self-involved, anyway, so here goes!

Published in: on February 3, 2008 at 6:32 am  Leave a Comment