Happy Holidays from Haggard’s
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22 ICE ICE BABY
Watch as Oklahoma’s master ice sculptor, Ken Burkemper transforms 300 pound blocks of ice into unbelievable works of art.
FEATURES 20 Disaster Relief
32 Suicide Survivors
Swadley’s Emergency Relief Team giving hope and transforming the lives of disaster victims.
Holidays can be incredibly painful for survivors of suicide. Three local moms share their journeys toward healing.
26 Vets all Smiles
35 Rockin' Gifts
Local dentists donate their time and services to take care of Oklahoma’s veterans in need.
Jackie Wilson shares how her love of horses led to a unique hobby which led to a new business.
30 American Dream
37 My Edmond Outlook
CAREER TRAINING IN CULINARY ARTS, MEDICAL & NURSING
Russian ice dancer, Dmitri Logoutine’s Edmondite Brad Stone tells why he uses Oklahoma journey to success and U.S. 16,000 lights, 3 music videos, and citizenship. a 15’ screen to celebrate Christmas.
DEPARTMENTS 6 ARTS
The Bobby Wheat Gallery
The Puck Stops Here
Heavenly Christmas Red Velvet Bakery Holiday Helpings
China Healing Massage Victory Church Edmond
A Storybook Christmas
24 Tis the Season
Holiday Events & Attractions
Great Gift Ideas
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(Volume 7, Number 9) Edmond Outlook is a publication of Back40 Design, Inc. ÂŠ 2011 Back40 Design, Inc. Articles and advertisements in Edmond Outlook do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or Back40 Design. Back40 Design does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by Edmond Outlook does not constitute endorsement of the products, services or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service that is fraudulent or misleading in nature. Edmond Outlook assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials.
Out of the Ashes
obby Wheat stands in the dark, waiting for that moment when the sun slips into the sky. The black cloth from his 4x5 large-format camera covers his upper body, providing some warmth against the pre-dawn chill. A tripod supports the camera, which is super-glued in the middle and has holes in the bellows that stretch between the lens and the viewfinder. He can smell the rain on the horizon and can hear the wildlife waking up around him. His goal is to capture all of this on a two-dimensional image, to bring the viewers of the image to this time, to this place, to this one perfect moment. Suddenly the sun is there, and the artist recognizes the instant when magic happens. Click. “My goal is to capture the beautiful moment at the moment when it couldn’t be more beautiful,” said Wheat, former Edmond resident whose photography gallery is one of Las Vegas’ newest and most successful. “In photos, people aren’t there to see and to hear what I do, so I have to take the viewer into the scene in a different way by capturing a truly magical moment.” Visitors to the Bobby Wheat Gallery in Tivoli
by Dena A. Edwards
Village, in the heart of the west retail district in Las Vegas, would agree Wheat is successful at doing just that. The breathtaking scenes of nature show a clarity and vision that have won 29-year-old Wheat seven international photography awards, and have allowed him to make a living out of his passion, which began when he was a child going on road trips across Oklahoma with his dad. One particular trip extended beyond the state’s borders, to the Colorado Rockies, the Pacific Coast and the Southwest desert. “I wanted to have some ownership of these grandiose places and the best way to do that was through my photographs,” Wheat said. Wheat grew up in Oklahoma, and attended both Oklahoma State University and University of Central Oklahoma. He met and married his wife, Haley, in 2004 and the couple lived in Edmond where Wheat served as music ministers for both Acts2 and New Covenant United Methodist churches. They then moved to Jackson, Wyoming where Wheat began teaching elementary school. It’s also where mentor photographer Scott McKinley took the time to advise and instruct Wheat, turning him on to vintage film cameras, following in the footsteps of legend Ansel
Adams by using old shooting techniques with new printing technology. Tired of the long Wyoming winters, the Wheats moved to Las Vegas, where they continued to work as teachers while Bobby dreamed of opening his own gallery. That dream came to fruition in April. Now he spends his time with his family, especially his daughter Eisley, and enjoys being immersed in the world he loves. His latest work, the Caribbean series, was released at the end of September, and portrays a lighthearted feel of the ocean. “When you see (the right image to print), you just know it. It captivates you. A moment that will never happen again,” Wheat explained. The Death Valley shoot was one of Wheat’s more memorable. He was leaving a Wyoming winter and anticipating desert climate, so brought only jeans, short-sleeved shirts and flip-flops. However, the temperatures were uncharacteristically cold, and Wheat spent the three-day-trip eating nothing but bananas and granola, and freezing in his car at night. But out of that trip came an image of a tumbleweed sitting high on a ledge in Antelope Canyon, Arizona captured in “Fiery Altar,” and the crossed paths of
The Bobby Wheat Gallery in Las Vegas, Nevada two mysterious moving rocks in his black-and-white image taken in Death Valley entitled “Serendipity.” Wheat’s favorite piece remains “Out of the Ashes” — a forest scene shot in Bridger National Forest in Wyoming. More than 1,100 acres had been destroyed in a 2003 fire and this scene of scorched trees surrounded by the brilliant oranges, yellows and greens of new ground foliage shows the refinement process of nature, Wheat said, showing “that beautiful new life and growth come from pain.” Wheat uses the finest grain and highest color saturation film, metallic paper and even olive wood frames. He also limits his pieces to 350 prints to maintain exclusivity, he said. Wheat just finished a photographic trek through Zion National Park in Utah, and is constantly searching for places and things that inspire him. He is also finalizing a business plan that includes new gallery locations. “I want to continue to make a living at what I love to do,” he said. “I want to use my resources – my talents and skills — to inspire others, to draw them into the bigger story. To show them there is life outside of themselves.” To learn more visit www.bobbywheat.com.
THE PUCK STOPS HERE by Nathan Winfrey
Matt Donovan - Photos provided by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers
t’s no surprise to hear of a local sports star going pro. Oklahoma grows tremendous athletes — people who rack up gold medals and win national championships — and Oklahomans love hometown heroes who achieve the international spotlight. However, when Edmond native Matt Donovan was drafted to a professional league in 2009, he made history. At age 19, Donovan was drafted by the National Hockey League, an extremely rare occurrence for an Oklahoman. Born and raised in a state with a
climate disagreeable for skating on frozen ponds, the defenseman was selected by the New York Islanders in the fourth round. The list of other Oklahomans in the NHL’s history is a short one. Tyler Arnason, who plays for the Chicago Blackhawks in the AHL is the only other player and he was only born here. Arnason grew up in Canada. Donovan is currently assigned to the Islanders’ top AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He explains that the way the drafting system works is not like football, but more like baseball. For a hockey player, being drafted isn’t a sure ticket to fat paychecks and lucrative product endorsements. Hockey players have to work their way up. While Donovan’s eyes are set on becoming a full-time NHL player, he’s more than just biding his time with the Sound Tigers. When he joined the team last spring, he had time for just six games with them before the season ended in April. In the off-season he got to know his teammates and when he started the new season in October, after joining the Islanders for three preseason games, he returned as an even more
invested Sound Tiger. “It’s awesome knowing all the guys now,” he said. “We’ve got a good group of guys so it’s been fun so far.” Donovan hopes to help the Sound Tigers, named after the Long Island Sound, win games and make it to the playoffs. Plus, he hopes to be called up to play at least one game with the Islanders this season. His team members are mostly from northern U.S. states, Canada, and countries like Russia, Finland and Sweden — places known for perpetual cold weather. “Everyone gets along. It’s fun to hear all the different languages,” he says. Apart from being the only Okie, he’s also one of the youngest on the team. “We’ve got a pretty young team,” says the now 21-year-old. The oldest player is 30 and Donovan values the experience of the guys who have some years on him. Some have been playing pro hockey for about a decade. “They’re veterans,” he says. Donovan grew up with hockey in a way few Oklahomans have had the privilege. Over the years, his dad has helped run an ice-skating rink in Bethany, Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Edmond and the Blazers Ice Centre, which meant much of Donovan’s
At age 19, Donovan was drafted by the NHL, extremely rare for an Oklahoman.
formative years were spent near or on the ice. “It was pretty easy getting into hockey,” he recalls. “I’ve loved it ever since I started.” As a freshman at Edmond North High School, Donovan played AA hockey for the OKC Junior Blazers. When he was 16, he moved to Dallas and played AAA hockey for the Dallas Stars. He finished his high school career in Iowa, playing for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the United States Hockey League. There, he was named to the USHL All-Rookie team. His college career consisted of two seasons with the University of Denver Pioneers, after which came his historic NHL draft. Another career landmark came in January 2010 when Donovan won a gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Canada. Now living in Connecticut, ice is easier to come by than it was in Oklahoma, but he misses his family and friends in Edmond. “I grew up there and know everything around there,” he said. Donovan picks the ocean as the biggest difference between his dry home state and where he’s been transplanted, and it will be a while before he’s home again for a significant length of time. The Sound Tigers are well into the new season and Donovan is optimistic. “It’s going well so far,” he says. “It’s awesome to be drafted. I hope it proves to the kids in Oklahoma playing hockey that they can make it to the NHL.” To follow Donovan’s first full season with the Sound Tigers, go to www.soundtigers.com.
HEAVENLY CHRISTMAS by Louise Tucker Jones
can’t believe it’s December with Christmas around the corner. Another first without my husband. Just got through Thanksgiving and now comes the “holiday of all holidays.” To tell the truth, I would like to skip Christmas. In fact, I’d like to skip the whole month of December with all its festivities. I’m not feeling very “merry.” Not ready to shop, string lights on my house or even put up a Christmas tree. I’d rather hibernate through this season and come out when life is full again, whenever that might be. Last month I spent a few weeks in Arkansas, getting reacquainted with my grandchildren. My first trip without Carl. And as I sat in my little rental house in Bella Vista, I kept thinking, “There must be more!” Grief is so difficult. Just when you get through one layer, another presents itself. I vacillate between being angry with God and searching books on Heaven to see what believers can expect. Though I marvel at the biblical description of streets of gold and gates of pearl, I am more intrigued by the fact that every person will have a place and a purpose fitted perfectly for them. You will feel more at home in heaven than on this earth. And time? Well it’s so unique that when you arrive in heaven 10, 20, or even 30 years after your loved one, it will be as if you had never been separated.
It’s like the two of you were strolling down the sidewalk together and you stopped to do a little window-shopping while your mate walked a few steps ahead before realizing you weren’t beside him. Suddenly, he turns just as you walk up and he says, “Oh, there you are!” So it will be in heaven. The time lapse will be shorter than the time it takes to grab a Coke during a TV commercial. Years ago, when my young son, Travis died, I worried that he would think his mommy abandoned him. Then I realized he would be in the arms of Jesus and feel much the same as when he stayed home with Daddy while I ran to the grocery store. Today, I believe the time lapse is even shorter and that heaven is very near, possibly right beside us rather than a far away place that we can barely fathom. Our hearts need to know our loved ones are near—that their love and presence lingers with us forever. So what does all this have to do with Christmas? Well, everything, especially if you are missing someone you love as desperately as I am missing my husband. You see, Christmas isn’t really about presents and decorated trees. That’s strictly commercial. The real Christmas is about a Savior who came from heaven to earth—to walk where we walk and tell about a heavenly kingdom fashioned especially for us. But there is a huge caveat! This kingdom is perfect and only those without blemish, no imperfections, can enter. That excludes all of us,
"Our hearts need to know our loved ones are near."
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About the Author Louise Tucker Jones is an award-winning author and inspirational speaker. Author and co-author of four books, her work has been featured in numerous publications. Contact her at: LouiseTJ@cox.net or LouiseTuckerJones.com.
so Jesus, the Christ child we worship at Christmas, perfect in every way, came to earth to sacrifice his holy life for us, the unholy. He placed our past, present and future sins—all our imperfections—on his own shoulders and hung on Calvary’s cross so we might enter God’s heavenly kingdom. Is there a greater gift? No tinsel, no ribbons or bows. Just Jesus. A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes became a Savior discarding grave clothes.
Our Last Family Christmas The Lord of Lords, resurrected and resplendent in a glorified body! Because of Jesus, our loved ones who died are in heaven today. We will see them again! So I think I will celebrate Christmas after all, but you can be certain it will be a “Heavenly Christmas” without the usual holiday trappings. Jesus is the only present I need, and I accepted his gift of love years ago. I hope you will join me in this holy celebration!
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RED VELVET BAKERY by Melanie Phillips Clemens
Owner, Tammy Morgan
ften the most treasured family heirlooms are recipes handed down from generation to generation. At the heart of Edmond’s Red Velvet Bakery, owner and baker Tammy Morgan tells the story behind their homemade confections. “I grew up on a farm in southern Oklahoma watching my mother make pies. Red velvet cake and coconut cream pie were the family favorites. Whenever she made a pie or cake for a church dinner, she made two; one for my dad and one to take with her. Before my mom passed away, she helped me bake while my dad ran the cash register. When I make a pie crust or chocolate pie, I imagine her here. Red Velvet’s pies and sweet cakes come from my mother’s and grandmother’s recipes,” said Morgan. Red Velvet Bakery’s specialty is, of course, red velvet cake and cupcakes with cream cheese frosting that Morgan says “is the real deal and has to be refrigerated.” “Our recipe is the same one we used growing up. Recently a customer from Georgia said ‘we had the best red velvet she’d ever tasted.’ Coming from a southern lady, I took that as a compliment.” Red Velvet is also making a name for themselves with their new take-out Mediterranean food and delectable meat
pies. Gourmet flatbreads, soups, dips, salads and pastry pockets make for exotic cuisine. “Some popular items are the spinach stuffed triangles, shrimp flatbread and Egyptian lentil soup,” said Morgan. “Zena Attia and Kathy Jones help cook our delicious menu items daily.” Cooler weather has customers craving their homemade meat pies, especially their traditional beef and chicken. Other choices like southwest chicken, Mexican and gyro, may prove finding a favorite difficult. “Our meat pies are available all the time and fully cooked. Simply reheat them for dinner,” said Morgan. The holiday season debuts a variety of dessert pies featuring her grandmother’s flaky old-fashioned pie crust. Choices include fresh apple, cherry, chocolate crème, lemon, key lime, pumpkin, mincemeat, coconut and pecan. “We use pecans from Luther’s Couch Orchard because fresh pecans make all the difference,” said Morgan. Red Velvet bakes fresh daily their assorted cookies, lemon bars, brownies, pumpkin bread and bonbons. Beautiful Christmas baskets filled with an array of these desserts are available during the holidays. Red Velvet Bakery is located at 2824 E. Second St. in Edmond. Call 330-8127 or stop by Tuesday - Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or Saturdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
HOLIDAYHELPINGS by Krystal Harlow
Old School Bagels
The Meat House
While most of us are sound asleep, the guys at Old School are hard at work preparing delicious bagels. The process starts at 3 a.m. each morning and you can taste the freshness in every bite. Choose from a variety of specialty sandwiches like the Reuben, Sooner Club, Pizza Bagel or Old Smokey piled high with smoked turkey, chive & onion cream cheese on an everything bagel. Or create your own favorite! Stop in for breakfast, lunch or dinner at 3209 S. Broadway Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. Or call 285-2233.
The Meat House has everything you need to dazzle your friends and family with a delicious holiday meal. Choose from their wide selection of expertly butchered premium meats, poultry, veal, lamb, and pork, prepared proteins, fine cheeses, fresh produce, hearty breads and even prepared side dishes. They also have Boarâ€™s Head Deli products, delectable desserts and pastries, and other gourmet grocery items. Gift cards make the perfect gift for the foodie in your life. Visit their brand new location at 2249 W. Danforth or online at themeathouse.com. 509-2900
Let's Do Greek
Spice up your holiday noshing with a taste of the Mediterranean. Signature delights like gyros meat layered with veggies on pita bread or piled high on a bed of Basmati rice satisfy every craving. Warm up with Curry Chicken Stew or homemade Falafel. Take home gyros meat by the pound and a bag of pita for quick, delicious party fare. Don't forget sides of tabouleh and hummus, plus amazing desserts to complete the fun. Stop by 180 W. 15th in Edmond, or their new location at 120 N. Robinson in downtown OKC, call 285-8898 or visit letsdogreek.com.
Wake your holiday house guests with the aroma of Pecan Praline French Toast in the oven. Millie takes the guesswork out of menu planning with delicious holiday breakfast entrees, appetizers and complete dinners, ready to heat and enjoy. Order now and feast on a chicken or pork dinner for 8, just $85, or a turkey or ham dinner for 6-8, just $95. Meals include meat, vegetable, potato, rolls and dessert. Stop by for quick party foods, entrees and sides from the freezer and donâ€™t forget gift certificates! Call 330-9156 or visit 1333 N. Santa Fe or milliestable.com.
Treat your holiday guests to the laid-back luxury of a self-serve feast with Hobby's Hoagies' spectacular party trays. Warm up the crowd with made-fromscratch Italian rolls and a spread of delicious Boar's Head deli meats, plus fruit, veggie and cheese trays. Or create your own sandwich platter with their famous Philly Cheesesteak, Reuben on Rye, or pastrami sandwiches. 2', 4' or 6' party subs and New York style pizzas are also available. Visit in Edmond at 2nd & Santa Fe or at hobbyshoagies.com. Call 348-2214 a day ahead for party trays and party subs.
Gather your loved ones for an exotic experience at Blue Nile Ethiopian Cuisine. Discover the flavors of Eastern Africa. Authentic preparations of Vegetarian Dishes, Chicken, Lamb, Beef and more, using traditional herbs and spices. Owner/Nutritionist, Selam Abebe invites you to join her on a culinary tour of her home land. Break bread with friends and family, sharing from the same plate signifying the bonds of loyalty and friendship as is done daily in Ethiopia. Located at 3209 S. Broadway, open Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m.-10 p.m.
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China Healing Massage Ancient Techniques Relieve Stress by Melanie Phillips Clemens When the stressors of everyday life, whether it’s a tough day at the office or an afternoon packed-full of the kids’ activities, start to impact one’s physical comfort, China Healing Massage in Edmond is there to help provide pain relief, relaxation and promote overall wellness. Manager Tracy Lu opened the Edmond store after watching her parents provide six successful years of service to the Oklahoma City community. “My parents moved to Oklahoma in 2005 because of the great opportunities here and opened their first massage parlor in Penn Square Mall. After I graduated with a business economics degree from the University of (California) Irvine, I moved here to help my parents start this new business,” said Lu. China Healing Massage hires only licensed, experienced and professional massage therapists with strong work ethics. “Our massage parlor is legitimate massage therapy, not a stereotypical Chinese massage parlor,” said Lu. Services offered by China Healing Massage include familiar therapies such as full body, couple and pregnancy massages. Other unique
services include their ancient Chinese acupressure techniques, reflexology foot massages and fumigation therapy. Acupressure treatment is noninvasive, gentle pressure applied to specific meridian points on the body. “American people work hard and need massages that relieve tension and pressure from head to toe,” said Lu. Their reflexology foot massages combine natural Chinese herbs with techniques that, according to the Reflexology Association of Canada, “relieve tension, improve circulation and promote the natural function of the related areas of the body.” Lu echoes these claims. “My mom has insomnia and reflexology has improved her sleep quality. We highly recommend it for stress relief.” Similar to the benefits of a sauna, fumigation therapy for your feet sweats out toxins from your body. “We have a customer that uses this therapy weekly because he believes it helps the arthritis in his knees. My dad uses it nightly to help with his arthritis. Arthritis is a chronic disease. This therapy has relieved his pain and he’s able to walk,” said Lu.
China Healing Manager, Tracy Lu China Healing Massage offers membership cards with no joining fees or contracts. Members also receive a free massage after their tenth massage. Lu shared, “In our six years in Penn Square we haven’t had one customer complaint. If you’re not satisfied with our massage, you can get a refund. We believe everyone deserves a great massage.” China Healing Massage is located at 104 E. 15th St. in Edmond and open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. To schedule a massage, call 285-8215. Walk-ins are welcome. For a list of services visit www.chinahealingmassage.webs.com or find them on Facebook.
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Victory Church Edmond 18 Years in the Making by Melanie Phillips Clemens More than 18 years ago Pastor Mark Crow believed God was directing him to start a church in Oklahoma. But a months-long search in Edmond for lease opportunities proved unfruitful. “Literally four weeks before we left south Texas, Putnam City offered us their original high school to begin Victory Church,” said Crow. As the church began to grow, relationships formed with pastors from local churches including Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv and Marty Grubbs of Crossings Community Church. These relationships just fueled his initial direction to be in Edmond. “Craig, Marty and I have talked over the years about Victory Church coming to Edmond. One thing that makes America wonderful is the different expressions of worship. The reason we came to Edmond is that I strongly believe we’re supposed to be here,” said Crow. Jon Chasteen, Edmond campus pastor, leads the staff under the direction of Crow. “I attended Victory Church in Warr Acres when they asked me to oversee the Edmond campus. I laughed because as a preacher’s kid I had no plans to go into the ministry. I was vice president at Southwestern Christian
University and pursuing a doctorate degree. After I prayed about it, I knew this was where God wanted me,” said Chasteen. Victory Church believes in great music and stylish decor that’s relevant to today’s generation yet it doesn’t define who they are. “At the end of the day it’s about changing people’s lives. One of the coolest things about Victory is we love through whatever they’re going through. If we can do our part, then God will do his part. Being in Edmond is part of our passion for people,” said Chasteen. The Edmond campus had their first services October 16 and more than 800 people attended. “Our first weekend about 400 from our (Warr Acres) campus came because they actually live in Edmond. There was a need for us to be here,” said Chasteen. Since its inception, Victory Church has been involved in the community through various avenues. One way is through tutoring underprivileged children weekly in five different governmentsubsidized housing locations. “We’re establishing relationships within the community,” said Crow. “To us, church isn’t Sunday. It’s everything we want to
Pastors Jon Chasteen and Mark Crow be, seven days a week.” Pastor Crow described the heartbeat of Victory Church. “We figure that love covers a multitude of sin. If we love enough for a lifetime, the responsibility for people is still in the hands of God,” he said. “My job is to love, bring hope and enough scripture that pathways are illuminated. Whatever God wants to do, my responsibility doesn’t change. We’re simply bringing another pair of arms to Edmond to say we love you.” Victory Church Edmond is located at 1515 N. Kelly Ave. Services are held Sundays at 9 a.m. (video feed), 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. (Pastor Crow live). For more information, go to www.victorychurch.tv.
A STORYBOOK CHRISTMAS
by Dena A. Edwards
uests need not wait for sleep to dream of sugar plums at the Meinders’ home in Edmond; Christmas visions assail their senses from the moment it comes into view. A vignette of a hot air balloon scene dangles from a tree, its reindeer-filled basket held to the ground by a desperate Santa clinging to its rope. The scene is countered with an elegant full-sized sleigh nearby, lined with lush greenery and filled with wrapped gifts. The sleigh sits behind a statue of a bronze horse — a permanent decoration on the rolling lawn of the two-and-a-half acre lot. The bronze horse gives ride to the headless horseman at Halloween, said Phyllis Meinder, who is passionate about holiday décor. For Halloween, she turned her three-car garage into a haunted
house, her backyard into a huge cemetery and her pool and enclosed cabana into a pirate’s cave, complete with floating ship and ugly mermaids. Then Meinder takes a small break until Thanksgiving night, when the Christmas decorating frenzy begins in earnest. “I’ve always gone all out for the holidays,” said Meinder, whose husband, Dan, is a builder and developer, and built their home in 2006. “I’ve collected (Christmas décor) for years. Some are antiques; some are just from Hobby Lobby or Walmart. I just pick up whatever I see that I like. I just love Christmas,” she said. “I enjoy decorating every year. It never gets old.” The Old World-style home is the perfect setting for a foray into Christmas fantasy. The sprawling 5,600-square-foot home with its layers of steeplypitched gables, rough hewn buff stone surface, graceful arches and pair of rooftop spires could have come straight out of a fairytale. That illusion is emphasized by the concrete balustrade enclosing the front porch, which is now the stage for a trio of 6-foot-tall nutcrackers wielding instruments. Many of Meinders’ pieces are from Katherine’s Collections, such as the pair of dolls that sit on her antique settee in the entry. The dolls are decked out in holiday finery, complete with ornaments tucked
"The Old World style home is the perfect setting for a foray into Christmas fantasy" into their hair and full festive dresses spread across the leopard upholstery. The three different Christmas trees in her
home exemplify her holiday decorating styles. The downstairs living room, with its high vaulted ceiling crossed with rough beams reminiscent of Old English timbering, and its floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, is dominated by a large red and gold traditional tree, filled with glittering ornaments and topped with curling gold glitter branches. Rivers of shimmering ribbon cascade down the tree, which rests on the hand-scraped hickory floor found throughout the home. Another holiday focal point of the room is a
Santa riding a full-size antique carousel horse. Draped around the horse’s neck is another antique — a patriotic banner Meinder said was made more than 150 years ago. A Fitz and Floyd Santa and four of his reindeer make up another traditional style piece on a couch table, flanked by antler candelabras and poinsettias. The Christmas tree upstairs brings in the sentimental side of Meinders’ decorating. It sits in her theater room, which is western year-round, and cowboy-style ornaments adorn this tree. “This is the tree my grandkids always decorate,” said Meinder, who also puts in this space a print of Santa wearing a cowboy hat, riding a horse. The third tree is all about whimsy. It’s nearly
sparse with curving branches, but festooned with polkadotted and feather-topped ornaments, and has a pair of cartoon women’s feet as its stand. This tree sits amongst a collection of Department 56 Christmas Krinkles collectibles in an open balcony niche at the top of the stairs. This Whoville-esque look is carried throughout Meinders’ home — large silly wooden frogs wearing Santa hats, curving sparkling Christmas trees with spiral tops, and even a lime green stocking with big curling toe that hangs from the staircase newel posts. The majority of Meinders’ holiday décor is in the public areas of her home. The expansive kitchen with its tumbled marble floor and massive center island is set off with Santas and Christmas candles. The eating area’s built-in china hutch has a special set of red and white holiday dishes. Dan Meinders’ home office, with its deep wood bookshelves and coffered ceiling, is perhaps the most traditionally decorated room in the house. A beautiful golden reindeer stands between a pair of glittering gold trees in front of Dan’s desk. Two toy soldiers stand at attention on the stone fireplace hearth. And the Phyllis Meinder wall sconces cast soft light on the bookshelves, which are seeded with classical Christmas tales, photos in holiday frames and small pieces of art. The phrase “Merry Christmas” can be seen throughout the home. And it is this merriment that makes this house a storybook Christmas home.
SWADLEY'S DISASTER RELIEF TEAM by Grant Zellner
he old-fashioned corded phone his wife would never get rid of jolted Brent Swadley awake. It was 2 a.m. on an eerily quiet, frigid night. One of the worst ice storms in state history had caused massive power outages across central and northern
Brent Swadley overlooking the S.E.R.T. operations Oklahoma, so nothing made a sound. If the couple had owned only wireless phones like everyone else, they’d still be snoozing, warmed only by the natural gas-powered stove and fireplace in their Bethany home. “Is this Brent Swadley?” the voice said. “Uh, yes.” “The same ‘Swadley’ that has the catering business?” “That’s right. Who is this?” “You probably don’t know me, but you once catered a barbecue in my backyard. I work for OG&E and I need 750 breakfasts at our Enid location in five hours. Can you help?”
“I said yes and began to ask the man a few more questions, but he had already hung up,” chuckles Brent, president of Swadley’s Barbeque Corporation, as well as Swadley’s Emergency Relief Team (S.E.R.T.). “We were there at 7:30 with hot food. And we provided meals for the next 11 days.” Many metro-area Oklahomans are familiar with Swadley’s Catering, and more recently, Swadley’s Bar-B-Q restaurants. The family corporation has a decades-long history that began with Brent’s grandfather Rupert and his smoked meats, sold out of his general store in rural Texas. Over 80 years, the seed grew into a catering business capable of feeding 10,000 people, as well as four restaurant locations, including one on West Memorial Road. But, the ice storms of 2002 and other catastrophic events created situations where Swadley’s expertise and equipment could fill a desperate need. More importantly, they sparked Brent’s interest to help, and employees followed his example. “We were there at the aftermath of the May 3 tornado in 1999 with nothing more than a pickup truck, a smoker and food we purchased at Sam’s Club. We told Sam’s what we were doing, and they actually donated more food for us,” Brent adds. “These emergencies taught us what we needed to know on the fly, and eventually showed us the need to form an official organization to respond to natural disasters.” S.E.R.T., which officially formed in 2003, has grown far beyond a truck and a smoker. During Hurricane Rita, S.E.R.T. served 21,000 meals in a
single day – and it has the capacity to serve up to 9,000 more if the need arises. The fully customizable menu includes everything you might expect to find at a full service café. “We believe in great-tasting, non ‘institutional,’ food. Emergency workers putting in 15-plus hour shifts deserve good home cooking,” says Ron Swadley. However, S.E.R.T.’s food service is only the tip of the iceberg. Everything S.E.R.T. provides has been developed through a simple process. First, they determine the need. Then, they figure out how to fill that need. Local governments or corporations such as utility providers usually enlist S.E.R.T. and fund their vital operations. In the past 8 years, S.E.R.T. has constructed 58,000 square feet of lodging for volunteer workers at Hurricane Ike, set up a temporary kitchen for 45 days for an Oklahoma City hospital whose kitchen was destroyed in a flood, and has provided an extensive (and always growing) array of equipment, from light towers to portable toilets to on-site showers and full-service laundry for disaster workers and volunteers. “My father, Ron, and grandpa, Rupert, always taught us that we were in the people business, not the restaurant business,” says Brent. Being based in Oklahoma City is a significant asset for the organization. Only a handful of similar organizations exist in the United States, and many are located “in the line of fire.” When a hurricane or similar disaster hits their area, they may receive damage, or have their own supplies cut off because
"At Hurricane Rita, S.E.R.T. served 21,000 meals in one day."
of the devastation. S.E.R.T.’s suppliers are based in Oklahoma, and they truck in everything they need to set up operations in the disaster area. Their central location allows them to be on-site anywhere in the continental United States within hours of a catastrophe. The Joplin tornado is the most recent example. Within five hours of the storm, S.E.R.T. was getting into place at Joplin’s city hall. During the next 7 days, S.E.R.T. helped manage the infrastructure for the heavily damaged city, operating 28 locations that provided emergency shelter, drinking water, electricity, bathrooms and lighting. After the first week, city leaders recommended S.E.R.T. to the administration at St. John’s Mercy Hospital, whose facilities were destroyed. S.E.R.T. constructed a M.A.S.H.-like hospital in the shadow of the condemned building, providing tents, a dining hall, a kitchen and equipment, a blood bank and a pharmacy. They located an empty dairy barn and supplied it to serve as a morgue. Large or small, they found a solution to each discouraging problem. S.E.R.T. continues to work in Joplin and will remain there through March. A visit to www.swadleysemergencyreliefteam.com provides even more insight to the organization. The photo gallery shows examples of tent cities, big-rig supply trucks, and even Faith Hill and Tim McGraw’s former touring bus, now repainted, remodeled and serving as S.E.R.T.’s mobile command center. It’s that knack for acquiring and adapting equipment, and getting it into place that allows S.E.R.T. to do its work. But, it’s the people at S.E.R.T., with their whatever-it-takes attitude, that tirelessly support disaster aid workers and transform the lives of victims by giving hope when all hope seems lost.
ICE ICE BABY “What do you see when you look in here?” asks chef Ken Burkemper as he stares into a large metal freezer full of water so clear it could have come straight from a spring. The obvious answer is “clear water,” but Burkemper laughs. “That’s what everyone says. I like to joke with them. I tell them I’ll give them $100 if they can touch the bottom.” With that, the master ice sculptor and owner of Ideas in Ice reaches one hand into the freezing water. It stops halfway down. “That’s ice, see,” he boasts, demonstrating that when ice is made for commercial sculpting purposes, it freezes from the bottom up. There are no ice bubbles, no white streaks, nothing that gives away the fact that half of that freezer is a solid chunk of ice. For 25 years, Ideas in Ice and its founder have been deep-freezing 300-pound blocks of ice and creating sculptures ranging from wedding hearts and doves to elaborate recreations of the Eiffel Tower, airplanes and everything in between. With clients ranging from brides-to-be to restaurant owners to universities, Burkemper is known for
by Heide Brandes
being a master of ice, a cold-sculpting ninja. Yet, the master never dreamed ice dreams. He dreamt of food. “For me, ice sculpting was part of my culinary training; that’s where I picked it up,” he explains. After training as a Culinary Institute of America apprentice in Kansas City, Burkemper became a regional chef for Gilbert and Robinson and then as the executive chef for Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club. “That’s where I did a lot of food art,” he said. After opening Down Under Deli in 1989 in Oklahoma City, Burkemper found himself taking on ice sculpting jobs on the side. For 14 years, both the deli and the ice sculpting businesses were booming, and the chef had to decide which business to focus on. “I decided to sell the restaurant and grow this business,” he says. Nowadays, Ideas in Ice stays relentlessly busy. Every month and holiday bring a new batch of
ice ideas. “We do seasonal stuff, corporate logos for corporate parties, baby showers, anniversaries, weddings – you name it,” Burkemper says. “We do a ton of stuff up in Edmond with the colleges and the Boulevard Wedding Chapel.” Each sculpture in ice starts as a solid 300-pound block of frozen water. Kept at 15 degrees, the ice has to “temper” before a chainsaw cuts into it. Tempering is allowing the ice to warm up and become stable. If it’s hit while in a hard frozen state, the ice will shatter like glass. Burkemper then moves on to other basic hand tools that shave or chip layers of ice off in sprays of snow. Over the years he’s created templates for many of the popular and standard carvings, but he also creates custom pieces of work. With his experience, he can whip out two large ice turkeys in an hour. “It takes me 25 years and 45 minutes to do a sculpture,” he says. “That means I’ve got that 25 years of experience that
"It takes me 25 years and 45 minutes to do a sculpture."
allows me to sculpt in 45 minutes.” And this hard work has paid off. He has been honored in ice sculpting competitions and is Oklahoma’s only National Ice Carving Association certified ice sculptor. “We still enjoy what we are doing,” he says. “We get to be a part of people’s best days.” To learn more, call Ideas in Ice at 495-4423 or visit ideasinice.com.
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VETS CAN BE ALL SMILES by Dena A. Edwards
atriotic pride is particularly high to go to Korea when he injured his knee, making him right now in Oklahoma, with the loss undeployable. He left the military life and joined his of 14 of our own soldiers from the brother’s practice in Edmond in 2009. “It’s sad when Oklahoma National Guard since their they get out (of the military), because there aren’t deployment to Afghanistan earlier this year. For any government programs Edmond brothers, dentists Mike and Joe Sebourn, for dental insurance, so military pride always has been a way of life. And they are just out of luck.” they are doing their part to support the military by Harris said the elderly donating their dental time through an Oklahoma are in the same boat; program called D-DENT. Medicare has no dental A nonprofit organization, D-DENT (Dentist for provisions, and Medicaid the Disabled and Elderly in Need of Treatment) only provides for tooth was established in 1986. More than 500 Oklahoma removal. Veterans sometimes can have dental dentists participate in the program, 28 from the coverage if they are 100 percent disabled, but that Edmond area. The Sebourn brothers of Tower also only provides for removal options, she said. Dental, located at 1333 N. This issue hit close to Santa Fe, are two of them. home for the Sebourns when “D-DENT serves the their father, Harold Sebourn, developmentally disabled, a decorated veteran, had those 60 and older, and now dental issues of his own, and veterans throughout the faced the same problem as state,” said Shirley Harris, other veterans — no coverage. who has served as D-DENT’s Harold Sebourn had served director for the past 15 years. in the Army during the “We find dentists who are Vietnam War. He worked in willing to donate their time, surface to surface missiles, and we pay all the lab fees so riding around in helicopters those who need dental care to determine the necessary can have it.” missile coordinates. In March, D-DENT was “He once jumped out of awarded a $30,000 Access a helicopter to retrieve an to Health Care iFund grant injured soldier in the middle from the Oklahoma City of fire from both sides,” Joe Dr. Joe Sebourn working on veteran, John Kelly's teeth Community Foundation. said. A two-time Bronze This enabled D-DENT to include low-income and Star with Valor recipient, Harold also received the uninsured military veterans in their program. “A Vietnamese Medal of Honor for pulling Vietnamese lot of veterans need (a program like this),” said Joe soldiers from a downed helicopter under fire. The Sebourn, a veteran himself. He served in the Army captain was up for a promotion to major when he 1995-1997 as a Korean linguist, and was preparing returned home at age 23.
Harold Sebourn is one of a long line of Sebourn military men. Every generation of the family has served in the military, all the way back to Jacob Sebourn in the Revolutionary War. The family legend says Jacob emigrated from Great Britain and fought with the American rebels in America’s Revolutionary War. His father disowned him, and that’s where the Sebourn name originated. “Jacob supposedly chose Sebourn because he said he ‘came from the sea,’” Joe said. The military legacy continues into Joe and Mike’s generation. Out of the pair and their seven other siblings, four have served in the military. Now, Joe and Mike serve the military men. Harold suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and is considered 100 percent disabled. When he got infections in his mouth and needed dental work done, he was looking at an expensive bill that he couldn’t pay. That’s where D-DENT stepped in. “Dad was my first D-DENT patient,” Joe said. The program allowed for Joe to perform a bridge to give his father the dental health he needed. “That’s what really got me interested initially (in D-DENT). I’ve always been impressed with what (Dad) has done and helping him got me interested in helping others like him.” Mike said one of his most dramatic cases was a man named Robert. Robert had ground every tooth down to the nub, even a few down into the nerves. What he needed was a crown on every single tooth, at the cost of about $20,000-$30,000, Mike said, which Robert couldn’t afford. Typically, with the lack of insurance coverage, Robert would have had his teeth pulled and would have had to live with
"What he needed was a crown on every tooth, at the cost of $20,000 - $30,000."
Back: Dr. Joe Sebourn, Lab Tech Mike Ryan, Dr. Mike Sebourn Front: Veterans John Kelly & Robert Spunaugle dentures. But through the D-DENT program, Mike was able to give him the smile he deserved. Mike has been a volunteer dentist for D-DENT since before they were able to serve veterans. “I grew up in an under-served community,” he said. “Frankly, we were pretty poor. I got out of that (environment) and got a college degree, and I’ve always intended to help others who grew up in my situation.” Harris believes the lack of dental provisions in insurance stems from the belief that dental health isn’t that important. But that’s just not the case, she said. “If you don’t have good oral health, it affects the rest of your health,” she said. Joe agrees, quoting an American Medical Association publication stating that dental health is one of the top things that improves quality of life. And D-DENT is here to give that to as many needy Oklahomans as possible. For more on how to participate in D-DENT as a patient, a dentist or a donor, go to www.d-dentok.org or call 424-8092.
Ladybugs and Lizards is an upscale children's clothing boutique where the whimsical and classic come together. We offer traditional and classic lines like Biscotti, Cach Cach and Feltman Brothers and carry the newest lines out of Europe like Jottum, KidCuteTure, Scotch R'Belle and Dino e Lucia. Located in the Spring Creek Shopping Center, NW corner of 15th & Bryant • www.ladybugslizards.com • Find us on Facebook! • 348-2121
The Lime Leopard is your holiday haven with designer fashion, gifts and home decor from Citizen's of Humanity, Ella Moss, Tracy Reese & Patterson J. Kincaid. Step out in style with Alice & Trixie & Paige Premium Denim. Open Mon-Sat 10-6 & Sundays in December 1-5. Located at 12204 N. May, in OKC (Northpark Mall) • 755-3456 www.TheLimeLeopard.net
Kern's Interiors is moving! Come visit us at our brand new location, 3409 S. Broadway Ste. 500, next to Charlestons. Enjoy 40%-70% off upholstered furniture and 20% off all Christmas accessories. Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. www.kernsinteriors.com
Holiday gift ideas? Look no further! Let Sacred Gardening customize the perfect holiday wreath. We offer beautiful wreaths for every occassion. Celebrate the holidays, welcome a new baby, or show your team spirit you name it, we can make it! Find us in King Emporium on Danforth and Santa Fe, call Valerie at 818-3847, visit sacred-gardening.com, or find us on Facebook! Mention this ad for $5 off of your order!
Put some Moxie in your holidays with Closet Moxie, where our passion is fashion. Let us help you find your unique fashion style! Whether you're 20 or 80 or some where in-between we strive to have something for all ages and price ranges. Open Mon-Sat 10-5:30 and Located at 12036 N. May (Northpark Mall) Find us on Facebook & Twitter! www.closetmoxie.com 286-3760
Stella & Dot is an amazing accessories line sold through independent stylists offering trunk shows in their homes. Host a party and indulge your friends with a casual, fun, no pressure evening and receive an average of $250 in free jewelry & shop 1/2 off! Mention this ad & get an extra $50 in FREE jewelry! Interested in becoming a stylist? Call Sara Michael 517-3081 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.stelladot.com/sites/saramichael www.facebook.com/stellabysara
Beacoup Boutiques is Edmond's newest boutique market with over 25 vendors offering an array of gorgeous clothing, purses, decor, hand-made jewelry & children's items with even more vendors to come. Interested in renting booth space? Call us at 471-9127! Located at 14400 N. Lincoln in Edmond 242-6451 • www.beacoupboutiques.com
Our Sisters’ Closet, is an upscale Edmond resale shop benefiting battered women and children receiving services at the YWCA OKC. Quality resale women’s wear, shoes, purses and jewelry at incredible prices. Shop, donate clothes, money or volunteer. Located 3 blocks North of 2nd, between Broadway & Boulevard at 101 E. Hurd. Open Tues-Fri 10-5:30 and Sat 10-5. • 348-2442 Also in OKC at I-240 and S. Pennsylvania www.ywcaokc.org
Elizabeth & Ashley @
Anabelle's Galleria has amazing gift ideas like these Waxing Poetic necklaces and charms. You'll also find gorgeous home decor, children's items, shoes & purses. Enjoy great sales, new arrivals and extended hours all month long! • 1201 NW 178th (2nd & Western) 359-1189 • Find us on Facebook!
Hair Designers, Elizabeth and Ashley, wish you a Merry Christmas with a Special $10 off any service for new clients through Dec. when you mention this ad! Enjoy the freshest ideas and latest techniques in cut, color and style, years of expertise, personal client attention and a private salon suite. Located at Bella Strada Salon 513-5757 • 3224 S. Broadway, Ste. 100 • www.bellastradasalon.com Find us on Facebook and Twitter!
Look great this holiday season when you shop at Hip & Swanky. You'll find an amazing selection of trendy tees, hats, jewelry, boots and accessories. Located at 1247 E. Danforth • 341-3066 (Kickingbird Square) www.hipandswanky.com
Co-Motion Group Exercise & Health Counseling is now open in Edmond! Join Kelly, Julie and Mina sweat off those extra holiday pounds. All levels, ages and sizes welcome. We offer ZUMBA, Cardio, KickBoxing and Health Counseling with convenient work out times and a great location, 2100 S. Broadway. Enjoy 20% off with this ad! Exp. 12/31/11 Find us on Facebook or call 580-320-5743. Your first class is always free!
Nothing says welcome home, like a colorful entry bench with cozy pillows. At True North Living, you get to be the designer. Our customizable, hand crafted, solid wood products come with a lifetime warranty. Or dazzle up your home with our carefully selected rugs, pillows, throws, bedding, lamps, glassware and tabletop necessities. Open Monday-Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-4. Visit us at 7318 N. Western in OKC or at www.livingtruenorth.com • 843-3900
Call Melissa, Amy or Jordan at Edmond's newest & cutest salon, Cut'n Loose, for a great new look. Enjoy a women's cut & color for only $85. First 10 calls to mention this ad in December receive $10 off! Enjoy a Keratin Complex smoothing treatment for a straight, sleek look for just $200. Call us at 340-HAIR. Gift cards are also available and make a great gift! Located at 708 W. 15th between Kelly & Broadway. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.
One of L.A.’s hottest boutiques is now open in Edmond! Terra specializes in women’s designer brands in apparel, footwear, handbags, jewelry, gifts & more. Weekly arrivals are just in time for your holiday shopping & party attire! Enjoy 15% off your total sale with this ad. (Exp. 12/31/11) • 17200 N. May Ste 200 in Edmond (across from Rose Creek). www.terraonthird.com • 367-0880 Find us on Facebook (Terra of Edmond)
Need a last minute holiday gift? We have several OU and OSU warmers as well as car candles, travel tins, perfume sticks, scent packs and other warmers all in stock and ready to go. Host an online Scentsy party and receive FREE and 1/2 off products! Call Nancy Dobbs, Director Independent Consultant at 341-3107 or visit online at elegantcandlegifts.com for monthly specials and to order online.
Visit Edmond’s only plus-size consignment shop, ReDesigning Women, for quality clothing in sizes 14 & up, shoes and accessories at great prices! With new inventory arriving daily, you’ll want to shop often. Open Tues. - Sat. 10 a.m. towww.edmondoutlook.com 6 p.m. at 2nd & Kelly • 844-0505 29
AN AMERICAN DREAM “I am a dreamer. I am an athlete.” That’s how Kazakhstan native and ice skater Dmitri Logoutine describes himself. He’s also a successful businessman, recently opening three rinks this year alone, including Edmond’s very own Outdoor Ice Rink at Festival Market. But Logoutine’s journey started back when he was a teenager. At the young age of 14, he left his family to pursue his dream of ice skating and moved to Moscow where there were more opportunities to get on the ice. In no time, his talent was paying off and he was a Junior World Champion in ice dance. He continued to succeed, becoming a lead ice dancer performing classical artistic productions with the Russian Ballet on Ice; that is, until one fateful night in 1994. The ballet company scheduled a United States tour but their sponsorship failed and they were stranded in Oklahoma City in October that year. They scrambled for housing and
by Erica Smith
unharmed, their dreams were shattered. the full realization of your talent in serving others,” But hope was not all lost. The Russian Ballet he explains. “In order to succeed, you must meet on Ice and some very people’s needs,” which is why he is spreading generous Oklahomans his talents to the entire area. provided for the 24 skaters And his work doesn’t stop there. For the for more than seven past 16 years, Dmitri has taught ice skating months. Six of the 24 at Arctic Edge in Edmond, Blazers Center were fed, clothed, housed, in Oklahoma City and Oilers Rink in Tulsa. given medical and dental Not to mention he is also a single dad to two assistance by the people very active daughters, Sasha and Dasha who of Edmond. Logoutine are champions was one of them. He in gymnastics spoke no English but was and ice skating. eventually granted a work And the icing Last performance - 1989 permit. on the cake? He Although offered lucrative skating and coaching recently obtained his opportunities elsewhere, Logoutine chose to remain U.S. citizenship. in Oklahoma. He believed that God wanted him to Logoutine has never remain here to repay the kindness of Oklahomans shied away from his who had helped the Russian skaters. dreams and has already “I believe we have to grow where God seen many come to plants us,” he said. fruition, but he says it He also said he believes that doesn’t stop there. “If hard work pays off and he sets I do only one thing, it that example. Logoutine operated is to inspire people to the Devon Outdoor Ice Rink for be physically active in Oklahoma City’s Downtown in life and to understand Dmitri Logoutine with daughters Dasha and Sasha December project for the past eight the value of physical years with more than 26,000 paying activity to their health and their future,” he said. skaters last year. This is his fourth Although it seems Logoutine has enough year to operate the BOK Center’s rinks on his plate, he does think one place is a bit Arvest Outdoor Ice Rink in Tulsa. lackluster without some ice. “Wouldn’t it be cool to And this is the first year to operate put an ice rink in the White House for the winter the Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink, the holidays?” But in all seriousness, Logoutine wants Marc Heitz Outdoor Ice Rink in people to know him as someone who has used his Norman, which benefits the Regional talent to help others, as others have helped him with Food Bank, and another outdoor rink their own generosity. “If I will follow my heart, I will Junior World Champion in Ice Dancing, December 1988 for a car dealership in Frisco, Texas. have no regrets,” he says. “I wish to create. I wish to some of them were even in the YMCA at the time of “I believe that true success of a person lies in the plant seeds.” And we’re fortunate that he’s planted the Murrah Building bombing. Although physically ability to serve others with your very best talent — one right here in Edmond.
SUICIDE SURVIVORS Left in the Wake of Loss by Dena A. Edwards
Luis "Angel" Lopez with mother Norma Jean Johnson
ith turkey leftovers filling refrigerators, and Christmas songs echoing throughout every store and restaurant, most Oklahomans are filled with holiday spirit. But for some, Christmas cheer mocks their own holiday realities — quiet lonely evenings, missing loved ones, or a growing mountain of bills. For Edmond resident Norma Jean Johnson, this holiday season is particularly difficult. Only eight months ago, on April 29, her teenage son Luis “Angel” Lopez committed suicide. Angel had been a well-adjusted, happy-golucky young man who loved football and lit up a room with his smile, said Norma Jean Johnson. “He was compassionate, and wanted to help others, always putting them before himself.” As a senior at Santa Fe High School, Angel played defensive end and was active in the youth group at Quail Springs Baptist Church. Then his world changed. In December 2010, his best friend for more than a decade, Dylan Bays, hung himself. Lopez was despondent. “We saw
a change in Angel,” Johnson said. “He grew more and more angry, more and more sad. (Dylan’s death) affected him tremendously. He went to a dark place (inside). We would ask him to tell us, to talk to us, and he would say, ‘I can’t talk to you the way I used to talk to Dylan.’” Lonely and struggling, Lopez began dating a
Her grief still raw, Johnson has few answers for why her son took his life. girl, but Johnson was worried that the relationship was unhealthy for him. She and her husband asked Angel to consider ending the relationship, but he wouldn’t listen. As time went on, Angel’s mental health seemed to worsen. The girlfriend told Johnson that Angel was threatening suicide. Johnson confronted her son about it, but he claimed his girlfriend was making it all up. And since he
had never made the claim to others, Johnson believed him. In March, the girlfriend broke up with Angel after a big fight. He came home and began punching everything in his room, breaking his ceiling fan and dresser, and cutting up his hand. Johnson received a forwarded text from the girlfriend in which Angel had said “I’m going to take my life if you don’t come back to me.” Johnson again confronted Lopez, but he claimed it was just threats, all talk. A few weeks later, Johnson pushed him about the cuts on his arm, and he admitted to having cut himself, saying it was the only time. Less than a month later, he followed his friend’s example and hung himself. Her grief still raw, Johnson has few answers for why her son took his own life. The family had just spent a happy Easter weekend together. Angel had been taking steps to re-enroll in college, and had expressed desire to get his job back, which he had quit in a fit of temper earlier that spring. “Things seemed normal again,” Johnson said. Cathy Bates understands her pain. She lost her own son David to suicide in June 2009. Bates was familiar with grief, having lost her husband, brother and both parents, but said this was a different type of grief. “It’s complicated. There is a social stigma to (suicide),” she said. “And it leaves so many questions. Questions there are no answers to.” Bates went in search of a suicide support group, and wasn’t able to find one that met close and regularly.
So she started one herself – Survivors of Suicide. (SOS) “It helps to be with peers who have gone through the same situation,” she said. “No one else can understand. Within hours (of my son’s death) my house was full of people and almost everyone said to me that they can’t imagine what I was feeling. They were right. But in support group, they have been there and they do understand.” Bates said the holiday season can definitely be difficult, and SAD (seasonal affective disorder) can cause a spike in depression or “the blues” which goes away when spring arrives. But she also said it is a long-standing myth that the suicide rate increases during that time. “It isn’t completely unheard of, but it typically takes much more than
Cathy Bates son, David Wesley Dillon ‘the blues’ to cause someone to end their own life,” Bates said. “It takes a much deeper level of depression.” Major depression or untreated bipolar disorder result in nearly 70% of all suicides, according to Mental Health America. Such was the case with Jean Wood’s husband, Loyd Bottoms. Bottoms had dealt with bipolar disorder most of his life. In addition, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from his days in Vietnam. Bottoms worked as a registered nurse in the psychiatric field at the Oklahoma Youth Center in Norman. He was one of 15 siblings, four of whom committed suicide, three of them murdering their own child before they killed themselves. His father also committed suicide. In 1991, Wood and Bottoms had been married for 10 years and had one son together, Adam, along with two older children Bottoms had from a previous relationship. The last year of their marriage, Bottoms had stopped taking his medication and his bipolar disorder spiraled out of control. He became dangerous, and Wood once woke up during the
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continued from page 33 night to find him holding a gun to her head. When April, in which he discussed his failed marriage and Bottoms refused to seek help, Wood took Adam and how it was all Wood’s fault. The recording ended moved out. Loyd then began stalking her, leaving with two gun shots and April’s death. Bottoms dead animals on her porch, then searched for Wood and constantly filling her and Adam, and when answering machine with he couldn’t find them, messages, regardless of the he called and left her a victim’s protective order voicemail, saying goodbye Wood had against him. before he shot himself. “He was (exhibiting) Today, Wood blames signs of suicide — giving much of this tragedy on away his possessions, society’s lack of education, saying things like ‘the something which she feels family would be better off has changed dramatically without me,’” she said. “I since her husband’s spent months trying to get suicide, but still has a long someone to understand way to go. “Physical health Loyd Bottoms with daughter April in 1991 that he was ill. But no one and mental health always believed me. Loyd was well-liked and everyone have been separated. That doesn’t make sense to me; thought I was just an estranged wife and was out the brain is part of the body. We need to start treating to get him.” it all the same,” she said. “The strongest aspect (of On March 22, 1991, Wood called the police suicide prevention) is respecting the illness, but multiple times because Bottoms was watching her don’t fear it. Treat it like a health condition.” house, but he would leave before the police arrived. This includes not being afraid to say “suicide,” Finally, she took Adam and went somewhere she said.“When you say it, it makes you less afraid she knew Bottoms wouldn’t find her. That night, of it. When you bring voice to it, you get it out of Bottoms audio recorded a conversation he had with your head and it gives you power over it.” his 14-year-old mentally handicapped daughter, Norma Jean Johnson wishes she had given more
credence to the text Angel had sent his girlfriend. She’s learned that every threat must be taken seriously. Wood, an SOS board member, agrees. “(When someone threatens suicide), don’t take it as attention seeking or ‘crying wolf,’” she said. “Threatening it alone is a dysfunctional mental process. It’s a cry for help.” Loyd Bottoms had another son by his first marriage, Anthony, who had inherited his father’s bipolar disorder. But Anthony has faced his illness. He respects the fact that he is at higher risk for suicide because of it, and openly discusses his feelings, Wood said. He also takes medication regularly. “He stopped the cycle,” she said. Others can follow Anthony’s path. Whether you or a loved one who is dealing with the holiday blues, depression, mental illness, or the aftermath of suicide, there is help. There are support groups, like SOS, with people who have been there — who have experienced the same feelings and fears, who understand and can help. SOS Oklahoma meets 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. every Monday at Crossings Community Church, 14600 N. Portland Ave., and on the first and third Thursdays of every month at Integris Southwest Medical Center, 4401 S. Western. For more information, go to www.sosoklahoma.org.
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by Radina Gigova
n Main Street, in the heart of Edmond, the store - pine for the bodies and red oak for the legs and stands a store with a beautiful rocking the rockers. She glues the pieces together in a pattern for horse in the window. It is the very first the particular model. Then she shapes the body, chisels the rocking horse the store’s owner Jackie eyes, the mouth and the ears, paints it, puts on the saddle Wilson made before her love for horses and sometimes adds real horsehair for turned into a hobby and eventually the tail. The horses are different shapes became a business. and sizes. Some are to be ridden and Wilson always wanted to have a some are simply for decoration. “If horse. When she was 12 years old her somebody has a particular request, I father bought Chiquita and soon the would love to accommodate them.” graceful pinto was Wilson’s best friend. Wilson can also make a wooden horse “I remember every spare moment I was from the photo of a real one. out there brushing her, I just thought “I like the thought of the rocking that was wonderful,” she said. “I used horses being heirlooms that somebody to ride her in the forest preserves, the would want to pass on.” She believes farmers’ fields and the gravel pits.” what makes them special is the feeling Wilson got the idea of making of nostalgia that they evoke, “the feel rocking horses while she was pregnant of days gone by when time was a bit with her first child. She saw an article slower, when kids weren’t playing in a magazine with instructions on computer games all the time, but had Jackie Wilson in her workshop how to make one. “I just immediately rocking horses that their grandfather thought, oh, I have to do that for this baby.” Wilson or dad made out of whatever he had around the barn,” drew horses while she was growing up and did some she added. woodworking. “I’ve always had a flare for artistic stuff.” Currently Wilson Rocking Horses is a one-person She changed the pattern of the horse a little, added business. Wilson has a volunteer who helps her cut the a western saddle that a friend gave her and the first legs and the rockers a few times per month. She hopes Wilson rocking horse whinnied into the world. “It will her business will grow in the future but wants to make always have a special place in my heart. It was my first sure the quality and the special touch remain unchanged. one. I love the face and I’ve been trying to duplicate it, “I want the name Wilson Rocking Horses to be associated but haven’t made another face quite like it.” She started with well-built, nice, rocking horses that people want to making rocking horses for fun and in May, 2011 opened have in their family. I am not looking for fame or fortune. her business, Wilson Rocking Horses. I just want to be a successful business that is well known The horses are built using the same process but for good rocking horses.” each one has its unique characteristics. The faces are all And if you decide to stop by her store, Wilson might let different, because the finishing work is done by hand. “I your children ride some of the horses on the floor. She said find myself talking to them when I come in the morning, she loves to see the pleasure from riding horses in children’s I pet them. I think each of them has an individual eyes. It is the same pleasure that she experienced while personality. I love them and I really hope they bless the growing up and feels every time she looks at one of her family they go to, because they are special to me.” wooden beauties. For more information you can call Wilson uses conventional lumber that she buys from 227-6417 or visit www.wilsonrockinghorses.com.
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OUTLOOK by Krystal Harlow
Name: Brad Stone - IT Sales, Photographer, Musician, Husband, Father and Christmas Light Enthusiast What made you start doing this incredible light show? We have always lit our house in some way but added automation, music, and video last year for the first time. It combines all of my passions into one and it's a way of showing love for others by giving them an opportunity to build a memory with their loved ones. It's truly a month long celebration of Jesus' birth. Gotta ask, how many lights? And how long does it take to put up? We have around 16,000 lights going into the display this year. Assembly runs most of November though planning the media elements and new features happens throughout the year. Can you break down the audio visual and other effects you use? We are using a product from Lightorama to control the lights via a computer. The video is rear projected onto a 15 foot screen from the same PC. Audio is transmitted through a low power FM transmitter allowing our guests to tune in from the warmth of their vehicle. How much does this increase your electric bill? We are 100% LED so we really see no increase at all. We are very "Green" when it comes to energy consumption. How does your display benefit foster kids? How can people get involved? This year we are partnering with OK Foster Wishes to raise money for Christmas gifts for the 8,000+ children in the Oklahoma Foster program. 100% of the funds collected will go directly to their organization. (www.okfosterwishes.com) This year your display features local recording artists? Yes, three very talented individuals that I've had the privilege of performing with over the years. I shared the idea with them and they jumped at the chance to help. We are excited to share music this year from Dameon Aranda (Lifechurch.tv MWC), Larry Harrison (2nd Baptist Houston), and Jami Smith (Worship Leader) It's rumored that the display can be seen from space? Is that true? I'm not sure about space but think it would be amazing to see it from the air. Now you've got my wheels spinning. Are all your neighbors on board with the display? They are good sports and though they think I'm crazy, haven't hid my extension cords yet. What do you do about traffic jams? Crowd control? Everything ran very smoothly last year. Though we don't anticipate traffic issues we are prepared to hire additional help if needed. The weekends are definitely the busiest so stop by on a weeknight if you can. And where are you located? We are near Kelly and Waterloo in N. Edmond. Directions and a map are posted on our website. www.stonechristmaslights.com
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