This week’s One Word Photo Challenge is, eigengrau. This was a color I had to look up so that I could help you understand the color better by describing it.
For this week’s photo challenge, share a photo of something fresh.
My daughter and I spent the first day of Spring, visiting the alligator farm in Hot Springs. We followed that with a short stack of pancakes at IHOP, her request, then came home just in time for it to start raining.
I love Spring. To me, it represents a fresh start in life; everything blooming and waking up. The vibrant colors popping out, adding color to the grey bleakness that represented Winter. Birds chirping, squirrels chattering and their newborns cry out for food. It’s a fresh, new life in another Spring season.
Today’s Daily Prompt is: We Built This City. What do you love most about the city / town / place that you live in? What do you like the least about it? If you were mayor, what would be the most important problem you’d tackle? How would you tackle it?
The city that I live in, Bryant, is a fast growing city. It covers nine square miles and has every fast food chain you can think of. It also has a Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, Kirkland’s, two Starbucks, Lowe’s, and numerous other small and big businesses. I loved how people in our community was once generous, friendly, and hospitable. Now, you can look forward to sitting in a turn lane forever as no one is considerate to not block driveways to businesses. Or you’ll sit at a stop sign, forever waiting on someone to let you into the flow of traffic.
The problem with this city is that all the businesses are in one area, clustered, making traffic a nightmare to endure in the mornings and when school has let out for the day. Instead of clustering all businesses into one big area, why not spread them out? It makes it very difficult to get in and out of those businesses, as everyone is rushing to get some where and would not think twice to let you cut in front of them.
When I first left for the Navy in 2000, Bryant only had a Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, and a small grocery store, as well as three gas stations. The population was a little over 9,000. Bryant was better known as the ‘bedroom community’ due to it mostly being houses and not the huge booming town it is today. After I got out of the Navy, Pizza Hut was demolished and a gas station was put in it’s place. We still have Wendy’s and McDonald’s, but the grocery store went out of business due to Walmart moving in just down the street. The current population is over 16,000. Almost doubled from when I first left in 2000 for boot camp.
There’s construction going on presently, albeit they’re building another fast food restaurant…that we don’t need. There was a town meeting the other day for a millage tax, requesting money to build another middle school and elementary school, to upgrade the middle school’s cafeteria, to build more things that our ever growing town needs for its community, yet the millage tax didn’t pass. Guess the towns people don’t see the things we need here or they believe the new High School that was finished last summer was enough as far as educational buildings go.
This city literally has grown immensely within the last fifteen years, that someone like me would have a hard time recognizing it. When I had gotten out of the service, I moved to Colorado to attend college for aviation. I stayed there for almost 4 years, then moved to Oklahoma for a few years, then moved back here in late 2009. I had been gone for 9 years and was astonished as to how much my hometown had changed. The service roads weren’t even two way anymore. They had changed to one way service lanes…good thing my grandmother warned me about that or I may have made a huge error by going the wrong way.
With the current mayor we have, our city has built on a new Recreational Center with an indoor pool and more fast food buildings. What our city needs is less fast food and more buildings for the community. The new rec center was nice, though the indoor swimming pool is mostly for swim teams. I had taken my daughter swimming to the new indoor pool and there were five other parents, gathered in a five by ten area that was sectioned off for ‘free swimming’. Ten of us collided into one another in the tiny space, just to allow our kiddos some time to cool off from the hot summer heat.
The other swimming pool that we have here, is a tiny pool, yet it is overly crowded every summer. We do need a bigger pool that is open to the public and not used for swim teams. Yes, we have a splash pad, to which you have to pay for, but my daughter is terrified of it, due to her autism.
There aren’t enough things here for special needs children. Or I should say, there isn’t anything for special needs children at all, other than a couple of daycare centers. We could use more parks with playgrounds; we only have one playground. There is a park currently being built that is accessible for disabled children. It isn’t here in Bryant, but it’s a twenty minute drive, without traffic. It’s actually a first of its kind park, which is sad as we need more parks that are accessible for all walks of life, disabled or not. (Click here and here for details on that park)
I would love to see a park with outdoor exercise equipment. Gyms may have dropped their prices so that us poor people can go workout, but what about daycare services? There’s only one gym here with a small childcare service while mom works out, yet it’s pricey. Some parents may only have a few minutes to workout after work, yet that’s when they have their kiddos with them. So, why not have an ‘Adult Fitness Playground’ along with our kids playgrounds? Family’s would be more active, would they not? It’s free and open to the public, so there would be more people out there working out, getting healthy.
As a mayor, the community and environment should be the most important things to think about and not what goes in and out of our pockets.
Today’s Daily Prompt is for us to share a joke, or a funny story.
I’ve shared this story before, but it’s still one of my many favorite memories of my grandpa, who has been gone from this world five years in September. It’s a story of a pair of red foxes that once lived in the small patch of woods, behind our house. My grandmother likes this story and has me tell it to close friends and family when they visit, or at family reunions.
A Pair of Red Foxes
I was helping my grandmother clean one of the rooms one day and casually glance out the window at the clearing behind our house. I saw movement at the edge of the tree line. Suddenly whatever it was came out into the clearing, a red fox, and following behind it was its mate.
I was mesmerized, watching the pair of red foxes chase one another, playing. I told my grandmother, “Look, red foxes.”
She looks up to see what I was staring and smiling at. “They must have a den close by,” she says.
It was a few years ago when I first heard what I thought was a panther. I was in the backroom, rocking my daughter to sleep; she was about a month old. Laying her down in her crib I decided to check my email real quick before going to sleep myself, when I heard a loud screaming sound in the distance, behind our house. It got closer and closer and then it got quiet. Suddenly I heard it again, but even louder and it sounded like it was right in our backyard.
I had remembered what a panther scream sounded like as I heard one on our family’s homestead when I was a little girl, and I thought that was what I was hearing now. I quickly got up and woke my grandma, telling her there was a panther in our backyard.
“It isn’t a panther, go back to bed,” she said. Just then it screamed again.
“Call the police,” Grandpa hollered at me from his room.
“No, don’t call them, they’re only going to laugh at you and think you’re crazy,” Grandma said with a laugh.
“Well, what do I do then?” Panic flooded me, I was being serious and she was making a joke.
“Go back to bed. You can’t do anything, its outside.” It screamed again, but it sounded like it was a little further away this time.
“That isn’t a panther,” Grandma claimed.
“It sounds like it.” I peer through the window blinds of her bedroom, trying to catch a glimpse of this creature that has me petrified with fear.
“It’s that red fox calling for its mate.” She rolls back over, pulling the covers back up to her neck, a sign saying that this conversation was over.
I walked out of her room, pulling the door quietly behind me. “Did you hear that thing grandpa?” I asked, peeking into his room.
“Yeah, I did.”
“What do you make of it?”
“I don’t know.”
“I guess I’m going back to bed, night.”
I went back to the computer and quickly searched the internet for sounds a red fox makes and sounds a panther makes and I found both; they sound so much alike. I understood how I got confused. I’m sure anyone would make that same mistake.
I laughed at those little foxes, watching them as they play on the hillside behind our house. They made me think back to the first time I heard them. I will always remember that night and I think grandma will to. She always has me tell this story to others when they visit. I enjoy sharing the memories I’ve had with my grandpa. I think it helps to keep his memory alive.
For more of this week’s photo challenge, wall, check out The Daily Post.
Last month, I visited one of my favorite book stores, Gingles Books and Baubles. It had been awhile since I’ve been there and I had stopped to search for a few books for a couple of classes. When I arrived, I noticed a huge, beautiful wall mural, covering the entire wall of the building (old Bell building) across the street from the book store (South Street). I walked over towards it and noticed that it’s actually a painting of the history of Arkansas and quite possible, some of it depicted history in the town of Benton (Niloak pottery).
Spanish conquistador, Hernando de Soto traveled through Arkansas in 1541-42, when he had encountered the Quapaws, in the city known today as Parkin. For more information on de Soto’s travels through Arkansas, click here.
*Please note, the tribe depicted in the mural is Caddo. In Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca’s book Castaways, he was the first Spaniard to encounter the Caddos. Hernando de Soto died in May 1942, having never met with the Caddos. It was his successor, Luis Moscoso de Alvarado, who after de Soto’s death, followed along the Red River, into Southwest Arkansas, where the Caddo tribe flourished. For more info on the remainder of the de Soto expedition, click here.
Arkansas is also known for it’s timbers and timber mills, as well as it’s diamonds in Murfreesboro, and bauxite ore found in Bauxite. Arkansas had a hand in helping the US military during both WWI and WWII. Aluminum comes from bauxite ore and the town of Bauxite has an abundance of it.
Arkansas was also known for its pottery called Niloak, which is kaolin spelled backwards. Kaolin is the type of find grade clay found here in Benton, Arkansas. It was popular in 1909 to 1946. Niloak had a hard time making it through the depression, but it was successful during WWII when they produced over a million clay pigeons for the military. After the war, the company hit another downfall and it sadly went out of business.
The mural artwork was done by Dianne Roberts, who was hired by the Gann Museum to paint the mural. You can check out their FB pages by clicking on their names and see pictures she used to help her create her beautiful mural.
Last week it had snowed…again…but this time, it was a good snowfall, well, for us here in the centralized part of Arkansas it was. Sad thing about this round of white powder is that it was just that, powder, which isn’t snowman building type of snow. After several minutes of effortless trying to build one, she finally understood, yet still found a way to enjoy playing in it.
I admire my daughter’s infinite love for snow. I’m sure the movie Frozen gave her a bit of a nudge in that direction, especially after hearing Anna’s famous line, ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’. And there’s also a song she sings about it too. After watching the movie a few dozen times, then hearing it play in the background of your home…on repeat…then tolerating the CD in the car, also on repeat, you would have a slight understanding as to why snow and the movie Frozen can start to really bug you.
Not to mention, the numerous pictures of Elsa circulating on Facebook, issuing a warrant out for arrest, blaming her for causing our lovely winter snowstorms, kind of a bit overdone.
The only time I like snow is when I get to play in it. I used to snowboard regularly when I lived in Colorado. I actually kept my board and gear, just in case I get the chance to snowboard again. Yet, when my daughter repeats Anna’s famous line, of course I’m all into building a snowman, I’m just not going to burst into song or anything like that. I’ll also refrain from mentioning anything to do with the movie.
Though the sky was kind of bleak and everything surrounding me was white, I did snap a few photos here and there. I kind of find my neighbors broken fence somewhat interesting. I call it his fence since he’s the one who put it up, he just fails to maintain it. Of course the wheelchair ramp tends to end up in my pictures. Plus, I had to take a picture of the tall pines that surround us in their version of a tiny forrest. I feel like an ant standing next to these massive giants. They were here before the house was built back in the 50’s, so that should give you a rough estimate on how old they are.
This week’s photo challenge is, orange; anything to do with the color orange. Orange just happens to be my favorite color. It’s bright, colorful, and is cheerful.
Below are a few pictures from my 2001 Navy Deployment, as well as a few pictures from the past few months around here in Arkansas.
My daughter and I have only been to school one day within these past two weeks. It continues to snow, or we receive more freezing rain, or it melts then freezes, making the roads slick, to which all school close for the day. Either way, I’m getting further behind in my classes due to there not being any…classes. Plus, it’s hard to get any homework done with my daughter at home. I mostly get it finished when I’m at school, sitting in the library, where I can sit in a quiet spot and work.
It isn’t easy being a single mom and a college student at the same time, especially during the winter. There’s only so much whining to go outside and play in the snow that a mom can take before she gives in. I’m trying to be the model college student and work on my research papers and other homework assignments, yet my inner child is screaming at me to listen to my daughter and go build a snowman.
Of course I couldn’t say no to that! My inner child jumps for joy and my daughter does the same. She rushes around the house looking for her hat, gloves, and shoes with all the excitement of a five year old. I proceed to change out of my pj’s and into some jeans.
Of course it was still snowing when we walked outside. It was also mushy and melting, though relatively slowly. Guess it was too warm for it to actually snow, yet it was still coming down.
I was surprised to find that this round of snowfall was easy to work with and it didn’t take much effort for us to build a snowman. I showed her how to roll a small snowball around in the snow, allowing it to grow bigger and bigger until we had the size we needed for the bottom half of the snowman. After we had the middle portion and then the head placed into it’s proper spots, she found a stick that was then used for arms and a mouth. I found a rotten pecan that I busted open, placing the two halves as eyes, and the pecan as a nose.
We stood back and looked at it. It was almost as tall as she was.
Or is it ‘Cabin Fever, Winter Blues’?
Either way, it’s another fine winter day, stuck indoors. I’m actually being a bit sardonic, but who wouldn’t be unless you could be outside enjoying the weather. Though there aren’t any slopes here for me to grab my snowboard and head out to. Nor is the ground covered in snow, for mini me to go sledding. Instead, the ground is covered in ice that has been melted and frozen, again, and again, over the past few days. Today, our forecast called for a snow and rain mix, which didn’t began falling until late morning. It just made everything that much more slippery. I decided to stay home with my daughter, since I have to drive North where the roads would be much slicker.
Though I have driven in wintry conditions, it is very different here in Arkansas, especially when you’re surrounded by drivers who cannot drive on ice and/or snow. Some cannot even drive when it’s raining, so I find it best to stay clear by staying home. My daughter finds serenity in watching the snow fall. We have a large picture window in the living room with a wide window sill for her to lean on and to also give her plenty of space to play with her toys.
On days like this, I find myself in the office, on the computer, trying to finish up homework, or work on the next research paper for a class or two, or do a bit of writing. I think if I redecorated this office, it would have more of a calm, soothing atmosphere where I can be more creative. I think it’s the only room that still has the fake wood paneling from the 1960’s, covering it’s walls. Plus, the photos that cover the wall space above grandpa’s desk are decades old and could be upgraded.
I think I may have found my next summer project…to redecorate and rearrange the office.
I mostly find my creative energy in a mixture of places, such as, bookstores, coffee shops, libraries, front porch. Sometimes, the recliner in the living room, next to our picture window is a perfect spot for writing, especially on days like today. Anywhere my mind can roam freely.
Lately, I’ve been spending most of that free time between classes, in my college library. Just yesterday, I had my headphones on, music going, and I was able to finally finish editing chapter one of my young adult novel. This is the same novel I had tried querying agents last summer for, but without success. It’s a tough job, being an author. Tough market, actually. Some of them were very close in saying yes, adding tidbits of helpful info that would make the next round of querying a bit more successful.
So, I began working on it….again.
There was originally a prologue, but I had cut it out entirely. Now, I added it back into the novel, but instead of it being a prologue, I made it the beginning of chapter one’s story line. I then moved some of chapter three into chapter one, so the next on my to-do-list is to edit chapter three.
I’m coming up on 60K words total…on the manuscript that is. I’m going to make that a goal that I must achieve. Once that’s done, I am finished…I hope, cross my fingers and knock on wood. I’m looking forward to seeing it finalized once more and also hope that I can send it off to the publisher very soon. I think I’ll try querying agents again, if not, I know a few small publishers that wouldn’t mind publishing it for me.
This week, the weather has been rather crappy. We rarely get a good snow fall here in the southern part of Arkansas, so when it does snow I get as excited as my daughter does and we head outside to play. What we usually get almost every winter, is sleet and freezing rain, which leads to icy covered roads. Which also leads to people driving around like crazy trying to buy up all the bread and milk in every store. Twice, I almost got ran into from people driving erratically and the storm had not even arrived yet.
I had prepared for being kept indoors by stocking up our cabinets and freezers. So, if we don’t leave the house for several weeks, we’re good. If the electric goes out, that’s fine too, as I have a small charcoal grill and plenty of batteries, flashlights, and lanterns.
A few years ago, or was it last year, a horrible snow storm hit us, knocking out our power. Then our giant Magnolia tree in our front yard was weighed down from all the ice and snow that it split in two; one giant limb covered the drive way, thankfully missing my car, and the other giant limb fell onto the wheelchair ramp, which blocked any method of getting the cars out. Our wonderful neighbors showed up with chainsaws and a few friends brought their trucks over and we all took care of our poor tree.
Tuesday, it had snowed a few inches, that Wednesday morning my daughter and I went outside to play. I helped her build a snowman, as she’s been aching to do. I watched her run around the backyard, then watch her as she tossed a few handfuls of snow at me. Then after thirty minutes had elapsed we went back inside and proceeded to watch everything melt from our picture window in the living room. It was a great day and most of the snow and ice has melted away. Just in time too, as we’re to get another round of freezing rain tonight and tomorrow. Fun!
For now, it’s catch up time on homework, research papers, and novel edits.
Stay warm all!