twenty-sixteen

In twenty-sixteen, I:  Gazed in WONDER at the Renwick.  Traipsed around the City of Brotherly Love, ate Philly cheese steaks, and admired the Mural Arts decorating the city’s walls and parking lots. Inspected the crack in the Liberty Bell and imagined our forefathers in Independence Hall.  Toasted to Mike’s 62nd birthday. Worried about our youngest son’s lack of direction.  Partially de-cluttered our house, using The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (the Kon-Mari method), successfully weeding out clothing, accessories, kitchen appliances and books.

Flew to Dallas, Texas and then drove to Oklahoma City to attend a friend’s second wedding.  Walked on the grassy knoll and along the route where JFK was assassinated.  Stood beside larger-than-life statues of George W. Bush and his dad at the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.  Walked among tulips and sat with Benjamin Franklin at the Dallas Arboretum.  Stood under a rearing horse and saw a fake rodeo at the Cowboy Museum.  Grieved near a field of empty chairs for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Stood by as contractors demolished our deck, laundry room and kitchen and then slowly built them again, in much nicer form.

Attended my first husband’s book talk in April at Politics and Prose in D.C., where he discussed his newly published book, Mathews Men.  Celebrated our daughter Sarah’s graduation, with a B.A. in English, from Virginia Commonwealth University in May.  Enjoyed a spread of bagels at Sarah’s house, and later dinner and dirty martinis at Lucy’s, with both families in attendance. 🙂

Wandered through tulips and sunflowers at Burnside Gardens in Virginia.  Visited four gardens around Philadelphia for my second trip to that city this year.  Imbibed in Cabernets and Pinot Grigios at several Virginia wineries.  Let our son’s lease in Richmond expire and watched with trepidation to see what he’d do next; fretted because we didn’t know where he would go or what he’d do.  Felt relieved when we found he took off for a Tribal Design retreat in Vancouver and finally went Hawaii, where he is now leading tours for a hostel in Maui.

Drove around the Ring Road in Iceland over a breathtaking 11 days (in search of a thousand cafés).  Climbed around, behind, and to the tops of waterfalls. Admired sweeping vistas from our Polo VW rental.  Hiked to the edge of ashy glaciers.  Poked around inside turf-roofed houses. Ate cod, cod and more cod, as well as langoustine, lamb and gas-station hot dogs.  Drove over 2700 km and walked 166,100 steps, or 70.4 miles.  Returned home with walking pneumonia, from which it took three weeks to recover.

Laughed at the “Kurios” of Cirque de Soleil.  Had a family reunion at our renovated house for my dad’s 86th birthday in September, where everyone except Adam attended.  Enjoyed sushi and sake with my sister Stephanie, who came from California.  Drove along the Skyline Drive amidst flame-colored leaves to West Virginia in early November to celebrate my 61st birthday and our 28th anniversary.  Enjoyed delicious pizza and craft beer at Pies & Pints. Strolled through the eerie ghost towns of Thurmond and Nuttallburg.  Hiked along the Endless Wall.

Barely survived our contentious election and felt heartbroken over the results.  Boycotted Facebook for a month and a half.  Realized I have nothing in common with 62 million Americans.

Read/listened to 35 books/audiobooks (meeting my Goodreads goal!), my favorites being All the Light We Cannot See, State of Wonder, Circling the Sun, The Ambassador’s Wife, and The Glass Castle.  Saw 39 movies in the theater, especially loving Joy, Eye in the Sky, A Hologram for the King, The Man Who Knew Infinity, The Music of Strangers, Dheepan, Hell or High Water, The Light Between Oceans, Sully, Girl on the Train, A Man Called Ove, Manchester by the Sea, and Lion.  Dined on Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, French, Japanese and Italian food.

Weighed 5 pounds more at year-end than at the end of 2015, despite continual attempts to lose weight.  Took Pilates and dropped out because of utter boredom.  Walked nearly 251 hours during 276 @3-mile workouts, or about 813 miles of dedicated workouts.

Passed the Virginia Real Estate Licensing Exam but never signed with a broker. Sent my novel to 23 agents to no avail.  Applied for 32 jobs, 23 abroad and 9 stateside.  Came up empty-handed on the book publishing and the job front.  Got discouraged.  Completed a Memoir class and wrote seven chapters of a memoir.  Dreamed about how my future might look.

Celebrated Thanksgiving with Alex and Sarah, and Christmas with only Alex (Adam was in Hawaii through the holidays, jumping off waterfalls, body surfing and leading tours). Felt dismayed at our shrinking family gatherings.

Returned to Philadelphia (third time’s a charm!) to see “Paint the Revolution” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Admired the Gates of Hell and Crouching Woman at the Rodin Museum.  Wandered through the Magic Gardens of mirrors and mosaics and found objects.  Walked and walked through the outdoor gallery of Mural Arts to shake 2016 out of our psyches. Drove home through Amish country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, amidst the clip-clop of horse-drawn buggies and faded laundry flapping on clotheslines.

Cleared our heads in preparation for 2017, when we are hoping for love, peace, healing, direction, confidence, boldness and endless adventure. 🙂

oklahoma city: the national cowboy & western heritage museum

Friday, March 25:  This morning, we drive into Oklahoma City to see the sights, namely the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Bricktown, and The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.  Louise, who retired from her career at the Virginia Zoo, wants to visit some people she knows at the Oklahoma City Zoo, so we drop her off there, while Martha, Charlene and I go to the National Cowboy Museum.

Entrance to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Entrance to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

We first encounter a sad and defeated statue of a Native American slumped on a horse in an atrium-like room.  In 1894, when James Earle Fraser completed his model of The End of the Trail, America stretched from shore to shore and most Euramericans believed the frontier expansion period was over.  Many viewed Native Americans as a vanishing race with no place in the 20th century.  Popular literature portrayed Indian people as “savages,” noble or otherwise.  Fraser’s End of the Trail reflects this legacy: a nineteenth century Indian warrior defeated and bound for oblivion — frozen in time.

The End of the Trail
The End of the Trail

By the 1890s, Native Americans were confined largely to reservations ravaged by disease and starvation, and the Indian population declined dramatically.  Indian children were forced to attend federally supported boarding schools that attempted to replace traditional tribal values with American culture.  WWII brought changes to most Native American communities as many of them enlisted with the armed forces and others moved to urban areas for employment.  From a low of about 250,000 in 1890, the Native American population in the U.S. now numbers slightly over two million.  Modern Indian people combine the best of traditional tribal values with the opportunities afforded by contemporary American society.  Unlike Fraser’s sculpture, “being Indian” has never been cast in stone  (R. David Edmonds, Ph.D. – Cherokee: from a plaque at the museum).

First we walk through a fascinating photo gallery where we’re not allowed to take pictures.  No photos are allowed in several other galleries, but we’re finally able to take pictures without flash in the Native American Gallery, where we find native clothing, headdresses, and teepees, as well as a weaving in memory of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Next is the fascinating Western Performers Gallery, which explores the ways the west has been interpreted in literature and film. Honoring western performers who have contributed to the making and preservation of western legends, the gallery displays, among others, the John Wayne collection of personal firearms, artwork, and memorabilia. It’s fun to wander through the extensive collection of movie posters and portraits.

We first encounter Robert Redford’s costume from the 1979 film, The Electric Horseman, in which he played a retired rodeo king who sells his soul to the devil to be a spokesman for a breakfast cereal.

Robert Redford's costume from The Electric Horseman
Robert Redford’s costume from The Electric Horseman

Here’s a link where you can see Robert Redford in this get-up: Robert Redford in The Electric Horseman.

The American Cowboy Gallery interprets the cowboy’s history and culture from Spanish colonial times to the 20th century, especially his clothing and equipment.

The American Rodeo Gallery celebrates the history, people and events of the West’s truly indigenous sport.

The American Rodeo Gallery
The American Rodeo Gallery
The Red River Rodeo
The Red River Rodeo
bucking bronco
bucking bronco
American Rodeo Gallery
American Rodeo Gallery
Martha goes to the rodeo
Martha goes to the rodeo
required attire
required attire

The Joe Grandee Museum of the Frontier West presents the legacies of diverse peoples and historical currents in the 19th-century American West. The exhibit reflects Native American, early frontier, military and hunting activity.

Frontier scene
Frontier scene
the view of the plains
the view of the plains
Cavalry
Cavalry

Prosperity Junction is a replica of a turn-of-the-century cattle town with its own history and its own location ~ somewhere in the West. With the railroad’s arrival, the days of the raw frontier are fading as goods and services from the East transform it into a settled community. At its northern edge lies the town’s industrial section, including a railroad depot, blacksmith shop, and livery stable. At the south end are the social elements ~ the school, the church, and residences. Between those two extremes lay the bulk of the town’s business structures (National Cowboy Museum: Prosperity Junction).

The Norma Sutherland Garden, flanking the museum and the children’s interactive center, is a quiet oasis where one can sit and contemplate our western heritage.

The Norma Sutherland Garden
The Norma Sutherland Garden
The Norma Sutherland Garden
The Norma Sutherland Garden
The Norma Sutherland Garden
The Norma Sutherland Garden
The Norma Sutherland Garden
The Norma Sutherland Garden

The Western States Plaza

The Western States Plaza
The Western States Plaza
Looking at "The End of the Trail" statue from the Western States Plaza
Looking at “The End of the Trail” statue from the Western States Plaza

The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens are a wonderful place for a stroll, especially on such a pretty day.

The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens
The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens

We find Buffalo Bill perched high atop Persimmon Hill.

The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens
The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens
The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens
The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens
The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens
The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens
The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens
The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens

The statue below is adjacent to the parking lot: Code of the West.  Says a plaque: “The horse age lingers, and the ranchers still hold with the idea that a man works for what he gets, helps his neighbors and takes care of his own, and that a handshake and a man’s word are as good as his bond.  Maybe even better.” — Spike Van Cleve.

Code of the West
Code of the West
Code of the West
Code of the West

We love this museum and wish we could linger longer.  There is another whole wing we don’t even have time to visit, but Louise is finished at the zoo and we have several other places we want to visit today.  Plus, we’re hungry for lunch.  After picking up Louise, we head to Bricktown to eat some Italian food. 🙂