A JOURNAL BY FOR ABOUT WOMEN
MY CAUSE WHO KNEW 80 WOULD BE SO MUCH FUN
MY TASTES THE COMFORT OF FAMILY FOOD
MY ART CONFESSIONS OF A RELUCTANT SEAMSTRESS
MY HERITAGE CADENCE FROM THE PAST MY HEALTH PEDALING A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
“Life after triple bypass surgery.” Mary was getting ready for a shopping trip to New York
when she experienced shortness of breath. • Mary is a diabetic and decided it would be smart to see a doctor before she left. She was immediately referred to Hillcrest Medical Center where she had triple bypass surgery. • Just a few months after surgery and with the support from the Cardiac Rehab Team,
The difference is our doctors.
Mary can’t believe how good she feels. • She has lost weight, no longer gets short of breath and is ready to begin hiking and biking. • Right after her shopping trip to New York, that is.
1120 South Utica, Tulsa Oklahoma • tel. no. 918.585.8000 • TodaysHillcrest.com 2
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
SUMMER2010 Mia Magazine A journal by, for, and about women Publisher The Leslie Group, LLC Managing Editor Jan Weinheimer Editor Lisa Tresch
Several months ago we received an article submission from someone who remembered where she put her list. In fact, she decided to mark Last summer, on the evening of something off by taking a hot air July 20, I was playing tennis with my balloon ride. As I read through the husband when I heard the back of stories for this issue of Mia, I realized my left calf make a horrible pop. To that each of our writers is a woman use a cliché – it stopped me in my who isn’t just going through the tracks. At first, I thought a stray ball motions, but has determined to fulfrom an adjoining court had hit my fill her dreams and goals and really leg, but we were alone on the courts live. The stories remind me that our and the ball I missed was lying days are filled with opportunity and against the court fence. Something promise and that we have a choice inside my body had snapped, and to make: what will we do with each my foot was suddenly and comday? I’ll never take for granted again pletely useless. I hobbled home, and the ability to walk, or the blessing of called a friend who told me to run having challenges and opportunimy fingers across the tendon above ties before me. And yes, I’ve made my heel. I was horrified to realize it another list, and this time I’m keepwas gone. Until that moment, I had ing it in a safe place. not given one thought to the necesI hope you enjoy this issue of Mia. sity of my Achilles tendon and what This is our second year of publiit had given to me for four decades: cation and we still believe in the the ability to walk. power of storytelling to draw us A rushed surgery three days later together, change us, and send us repaired my tendon, but complicaon our way to challenge and inspire tions from that surgery meant that others. We are more committed I was on crutches for three months, than ever to sharing stories like and unable to do rehab for eight these with you in each quarterly ismonths. I had been a runner for sue. In fact, it’s on my list. years, and now I could only sit at the front window of my house and watch others run by. I did quite a bit of thinking during Lisa Tresch, Editor those months, not to mention ranting, praying, swearing, and attending my own countless pity parties. I also made a list of things that I would do when I could walk again. It gave me the determination to begin my own rehabilitation, and I’m finally walking, and gradually running again. But now I can’t find the list.
Graphic Design Lina Holmes Finance and Website Juli Armour Contributing Editors Sheilah Bright, Linda Watanabe McFerrin Writers Linda Phillips Ashour, Charlene Giles, Charlotte Guest, Steffani Lincecum, Monica L. Mullins, Annie Paige, Monica Roberts, Georgia Snoke, Holly Wall Advertising Michelle Presley Photography LSD Photography Lisa Dunham, Sophia Litchfield Mia is published quarterly by The Leslie Group, LLC P.O. Box 35665, Tulsa, OK 74153 (918) 978-5567 Mia accepts full-length (1,000-1,200 words) manuscript submissions and queries. For writers guidelines, visit our website at miamagazine.net Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited. Copyright © 2010 The Leslie Group, LLC. All rights reserved.
Mia Magazine P.O. Box 35665 Tulsa, Oklahoma 74153-0665 www.miamagazine.net
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www.miamagazine.net/subscribe Mia Magazine, Spring 2010
photo submitted: Nancy Edwards
Rosemary Daugherty of Prairie Rose Studio Tulsa artist and Mia cover girl, Rosemary Daugherty, is the owner of Prairie Rose Studio, where she says you’ll find a lot of glitter, paint, and collage. Rosemary discovered her passion for art as a young girl and has matured as an artist who captures the female form both accurately and abstractly. She attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she pursued her love of fashion design and illustration. Upon returning to Tulsa, Rosemary landed her first art-related “real job,” as studio assistant to nationally known painter, P.S. Gordon. It was under his tutelage that she was able to observe his technique, work ethic and business practices, inspiring her to continue her career as a fine artist. She has since become a key fixture in the local art community. Rosemary’s paintings proclaim a strong sense of feminine identity that is not afraid of the power of a highheel, perfect grace or a whimsical sense of realism.
She often uses familiar elements, such as sheets of aluminum and salvaged house windows, adorning them with an array of paints, crayons, nail polish, and her signature favorite, cake glitter. In one body of work, she puts a modern “Americana” spin on the Flemish realism movement of the fifteenth century, capturing a non-judgmental glimpse of life in the lower middle class. Her work in this series evokes peacefulness and security often reflected in spite of the most transient of situations. This Mia girl has accomplished a great deal in her 35 years, but claims she still has a few items to check off her life to-do list. In addition to seeing the world, Rosemary would like to learn to play the guitar, write country songs, and grow grapes! Mia View Rosemary’s work: www.rosemarydaugherty.com Cover photo: Nancy Edwards
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
SUMMER 2010 CONTENTS 6 8 10 12 16 18 20 22
26 37 38
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
The call of common genes
The beauty of slow sewing
Taking a new route
Not ready to grow old
MYJOURNEY Keeping it weird
The emotional tug of food
From one wild place to another
Secondhand doesnâ€™t have to mean second best
Eight months pregnant and needing some space
MYLIFE TO-DO LIST
Up and away
AFTERTHOUGHTS Conquering the throne
Meet our storytellers.
Cadence from the past MYHERITAGE by Georgia Snoke
I was young, just out of my teens, the first time I felt that sudden shudder. I was sitting in a tiny stone church in Wales, listening to a sermon spoken in a tongue that bemused the ear with yns and yrs and dydds and gwyls. It came again. I jerked, and the hair on my arms began to rise. While I understood not a word of the minister before me, the rhythms, the cadences, the singsong patterns were as familiar to me as my life. It was my dad’s linguistics I was hearing. My dad’s musicality, heard a hundred times when my dad spoke before assembled audiences throughout America. Somehow, pervading his native English, an untaught, unacknowledged, ancestral Welshness sang. Gave rhythm to his words. Color to his consonants. Like blood or genetics, it was an unseen product of ancestry. What is cultural memory? What is atavism? That tiny church in Prengwyn, Wales was the center of life for generations of my forebears. My great-great-greats – parents, uncles, aunts – worshipped there. Some also preached there, either with formal divinity training or with simple divine conviction. In time, the well-educated Lloyds and the simple farmer Joneses combined as Lloyd-Joneses to make the daring leap across the Atlantic. Our branch of the family settled in a small Wisconsin valley with six Welsh-born children (a seventh died en route) and a final American-born four. Determination was deep in their bones and the music of Wales flowed from their lips. Gradually, the English of their surroundings filtered through the language of their parents, but the musicality of the Welsh cadences remained. It is that second generation that I know best, the ten (living) children born to Richard and Mallie Lloyd Jones. For years, indeed for decades, I have studied their stories, wept at their tribulations, rejoiced at their achievements. Why am I so fascinated? Why does blood call to blood? I have spent hours squinting at faded newspapers from a century ago. Each story recounts events foreign to our day, and yet these stories are so tragic, strong, admirable or sad that bare newsprint gives them life long after the people involved have crumbled away to dust. Continued on page 32 See MY HERITAGE
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
photo submitted: Timothy Hughes
by Steffani Lincecum
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
I’m three-years-old and in a shop in McAlester, Oklahoma called The Bobbin. Even at this age, I’m enthralled by the rows of fabric and threads. Mom has chosen a plaid fabric to make matching skirts and ponchos with gold fringe for my stepsister, Daina, and me. As The Bobbin lady cuts the cloth, I crawl into the hollow area under the round fabric display table. I have a pair of scissors and in my fabric cave, I slowly lift the chunk of hair in front of my eyes and cut my bangs. I emerge to show off my creativity and Mom, a hairdresser, is briefly horrified. This is the first lesson of sewing I learn: Scissors are powerful. Mom took that fabric, fringe, and matching gold frog closures and made those skirts and ponchos; and I took my lesson about the power of scissors and learned to sew at an early age. All the women in my life were great at cooking and making things. Holiday meals were planned for weeks before and talked about long after. At Christmas, Mom, Grandma (we called her Mego), and Aunt Donna would get together and make huge batches of fudge, divinity, peanut brittle, and butterscotch chow mein noodle Hay Stacks. Mom made me dresses, and Aunt Donna made Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls for me, along with exquisite gourds of Italian cheese from the milk cows she raised on their farm. Mego made satin monogrammed pillowcases, and together we entertained ourselves by breaking apart some of her costume jewelry and gluing it to a plain, white alarm clock. Growing up, I was always fidgeting with my hands, making dolls, playhouses, and taking classes in painting, sewing and embroidery. In fifth grade I made a blouse at the McAlester Girls Club, and later in sixth grade home economics class made an A+ on the required pillow. But in middle school and high school it wasn’t exactly cool to sew, and so in eighth grade I shunned home economics class and opted for shop and art classes instead. I’m not sure where I got the idea that sewing was dowdy and dorky, but it caused me to lose interest in sewing during those years. When I went to college, however, I found my sewing useful in the theater department’s costume shop and was soon designing for shows and working summers at the Oklahoma Shakespeare Festival in Durant. I was learning how to pattern and fit clothes, and after graduation I went to Tulane University to pursue an MFA in costume design. I had a passion for sewing again, and had finally found my tribe of fellow artists. After graduate school and working for a few years in theater, I moved to Los Angeles and was working on my first movie. Several of us costumers were waiting for our next project and one of the assistants brought us a towel so we could sew Velcro on it to make a wrap for an actor. I proceeded to change the color of the thread on my machine to match the towel. “Don’t change the thread; no one is ever going to see that,” a co-worker and friend said. I flushed with embarrassment and told her, “I’m just doing it for me. I
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
want it to look nice.” My friend hesitated for a moment, then told me, “You’ll get over that.” We laughed. But I guess I didn’t get over it, because I sort of became known for taking extra time and effort. I really liked sewing. But even after I’d established myself as a patternmaker/fitter and was working on the sitcom Will & Grace, I still bristled at the term seamstress. When the show won an Emmy for Best Comedy, the whole crew got certificates for their contribution. I never displayed mine because when I opened it, my name was there and underneath it was the title… Seamstress. I had gone to college for seven years to be a designer, not to be a seamstress, and yet here I was. (There wasn’t and still isn’t a job title of “seamstress” in the Motion Picture Costumers union.) What is it about that word that makes so many of us bristle? I’ve seen many derivations of it lately: seamster, stitcher, sewist, tailor, maker. I am in the process of writing a book about sewing, so these days I’m thinking a lot about how we celebrate the act of careful craftsmanship and embrace the art of making things. Sometimes, I catch myself thinking: No one is going to want to baste in a zipper here. Maybe I should just tell them to use a glue stick or tape. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve basted many a zipper using glue stick or tape. I use press-on interfacing in making beautiful tailored menswear jackets. But I love using a needle and thread when I’m basting, or pad stitching hair canvas into a tailored jacket. There is something magical about doing something like it’s been done for hundreds of years, and realizing that I’m part of a thread running through some sort of garment-making history. I’ve read books and articles for years on slow food, slowing down, and simplifying your life, but when it came to sewing and teaching sewing, it seemed like the world was too busy to bother. There are tons of books about how to sew faster (or better yet no sewing at all). Sewing? Who needs it! And if you must sew, then by all means do it as quickly as possible and be done with it so you can move on to something that is actually enjoyable and more worthy of your valuable time. Before moving to my current home in Madison, Wisconsin, I spent nine years building a career in Los Angeles by making one-of-a-kind clothes for people. I mined the tailors and seamstresses that I worked with for all the old-world sewing techniques I could get out of them, like re-creating the double welt pocket of a pair of Armani pants, adding the little embroidery details of a Richard Tyler jacket, and mitering a sleeve vent on a men’s suit coat. When I moved to Madison, I got a job designing costumes for a play at a local theater. One day, I walked into the costume shop and one of the young women who was working there as a stitcher was sitting at the cutting table knitting. She was taking a break from sewing and had pulled out a Continued on page 30 See MY ART
Pedaling a Healthy Lifestyle
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
MYHEALTH by Monica L. Mullins
“Are you going to eat that?” Most of my childhood meals provided occasion for my dad to ask that question. As I drew my arm protectively around my plate, I began to eat more quickly for fear that he would pilfer yet another favorite morsel before I had a chance to enjoy it. My dad loved food. In fact, he loved it so dearly that it cost him his life by age 35. Sounds like a wakeup call for a teenage girl who was already overweight and struggling with high blood pressure. But it wasn’t. By the time I reached the age at which my father died, I was obese and making no effort to improve my health. I had a great job and my life was consumed by it. My career had been the focus of my life. I worked and lived on a college campus while pouring my energy and passion into the lives of the students I served. My journey to that point had been narrowly focused, and I worked tirelessly to impress upon my students the need to live holistic and healthy lives. I sought to model responsible, healthy, mature behavior, or so I thought. I paid no attention to my physical health and failed to recognize the impact that had on my mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. Then I arrived at a crossroads of sorts; an existential crisis brought on my rapid descent into 40! My relationship with food had grown increasingly complicated. I ate to ward off boredom, to find comfort for loneliness, to celebrate, to mourn. And, most dangerously, I ate mindlessly. Occasionally, I allowed a friend to draw close enough to voice concern for my weight and health. “You don’t understand how hard it is!” I typically exclaimed. “This is the way that I am. I can’t change!” Ironic words, since my life was devoted to guiding students to experience the transforming power of faith and education. Five years ago I lingered at that crossroads considering my need for change but convinced of the impossibility of it. Eleanor Roosevelt declared, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I examined my life and realized that I had neglected my health for long enough. I acknowledged that change is difficult, impossible even. It requires choosing a different path; creating new patterns of living and thinking. And it comes at a cost. Knowing I would have to make sacrifices, I chose to change my story, my journey, and my mind-set. Small changes became profound ones. And then I saw it: my bike, gathering dust in the garage. That bike became the vehicle for my radical transformation. I pulled it out of the garage and began to ride it around town for simple errands. I
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
thought, What’s good for the planet is likely good for my body. I began taking short jaunts, which brought on exhaustion and fatigue, but I persisted and soon began to ride for fitness. Eventually, some friends invited me to ride with the local cycling club. Within a year, I had ridden as far as 80 miles in one day and had lost 100 pounds. I celebrated my fortieth birthday with new friends, renewed health, and a new wardrobe! My story could easily have ended there and yet, the journey continues. Change has been relentless as I keep finding the drive to do that which I think I cannot…and to do it on a bike. After completing my first century (cycling’s equivalent to a marathon), I called my brother to share my accomplishment. “You sound like an athlete. We’re not athletes!” He didn’t know what else to say. He was dumbfounded. Was this his sister? I had never considered myself an athlete and yet I was becoming one. I didn’t ride my bike out of obligation to a fitness regimen, but rather out of sheer joy. Nevertheless, I realized that I also rode out of fear. When I first started riding and lost weight, I felt as if I was attempting to outrun my old self. I thought that if I stopped or slowed down, I would revert into that person. Every ride was about being chased, and about escaping what I had been. I could have easily continued upon this path, but the journey never ceases to surprise and challenge as I seek to achieve what I previously thought impossible. By last summer, my cycling had lost a bit of its intensity. The casual observer was unlikely to notice, but I knew. The changes that I had made previously were well established, but I had lost my focus. I increasingly became aware that while surrounded by a community of friends, I felt relationally isolated. Loneliness had contributed to poor habits in the past and it easily could again. In June 2009, I invited a colleague to join me for a local ride that I had established for women in our community. Much to my surprise, Gina agreed to ride that night, and the bicycle became a vehicle for a friendship that has further altered my journey. Over thousands of shared miles, Gina and I have discovered that we push each other to achieve more than we could alone. Off the bike, we encourage each other to balance our vocational, spiritual, and physical lives. Just yesterday, I realized that I no longer live to work. My career continues to be essential to me, but it no longer defines me. Continued on page 33 See MY HEALTH
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
by Linda Phillips Ashour
A couple of years ago, when one of my brothers sent me a photo he had taken of our mother standing triumphantly on top of Pikes Peak, I wondered why her hair looked so good after scrambling up the side of a mountain. I later learned she had opted for the historic Cog Railway, but the alternative wouldn’t have surprised me a bit. The word obstacle has never figured largely into my mother’s vocabulary, and certainly not in 1989, the year she moved from Tulsa to Los Angeles. Divorced for many years and struggling financially, she decided to take me up on an offer to establish a new base camp in my dining room. The snow tires on her old beige Cutlass rumbled on the way to pick up my daughter at her dance class or my son at one of his Little League games. All the togetherness gave Mom a chance to know her grandchildren and reacquaint herself with a grown daughter who hadn’t lived in Tulsa for many years, but space was tight. Four months later, my mother rented an apartment near the Hollywood Freeway that gave her the independence she craved at the right price. But when the view of skull and crossbones graffiti wore thin, she turned to the community library in Hollywood to help find another arrangement. “I’m not ready to go home yet,” my mother explained when it was suggested that Los Angeles was awfully expensive for someone on a serious budget. With the librarian’s help, my mother got in touch with Alternative Living for the Aging, an organization dedicated to providing seniors with affordable housing. In my mother’s case, affordable housing meant Dorothy Mandel, a retiree who had a spare second bedroom in her apartment and economic issues of her own. Neither woman imagined that they would be roommates for the next ten years, or that they were destined to become poster girls for shared living as well as media darlings. My mother and Dorothy addressed the Hollywood City Council twice to offer testimonials for the organization that had paired them and conducted a radio interview with NPR about the mechanics of their arrangement. The ladies fanned out on Dorothy’s living room sofa for an interview with Betty Friedan for her book The Fountain of Age and chatted with Dr. Art Ulene on Gary Collins’ Home Show.
Mia Mia Magazine, Magazine, Summer Summer 2010 2010
Through it all, the challenges of earning a living persisted. My mother took courses in childcare at a community college in Santa Monica and there were intermittent bouts of nannying and work as an aide at Universal Studio’s Child Care Center. She reached the pinnacle of a retail job at Geary’s gift store in Beverly Hills with a single sale of $80,000 worth of Fabergé eggs. In the meantime, my mother bumped along city sidewalks with a crotchety shopping cart to do her marketing since the Cutlass had finally breathed its last. Her initiation to public transportation came when the MTA driver challenged her request for the senior discount. “Don’t I look like a senior?” she asked, in a dramatic appeal to fellow passengers on the crowded bus. My mother turned bright red when she found her driver’s license and discovered that she had miscalculated her own age. Around the time that she truly did become a senior, life took an unprecedented turn. “But I’m not a companion,” my mother said, resisting another of her daughter’s harebrained ideas. “Just call the number and find out,” I answered, reading the announcement of a job opportunity in my church bulletin once more over the phone.
My mother’s next employer turned out to be the owner of Chasen’s, the storied celebrity restaurant where Ronald Reagan asked Nancy to be his wife. Rumors of movie stars and swells of all kinds drifted through the Lincoln Town Car that my tiny mother navigated through crowded Los Angeles parking lots with an equally petite Mrs. Chasen in the passenger seat, her knees nearly up to her chin. “We look like two little old ladies in this big car,” my mother said, steering neatly into a tight parking space. Childcare formally shifted to eldercare over the next decade as my mother helped manage the affairs of Mrs. Chasen in the condo on the Wilshire corridor. She drove Mrs. Chasen to lunch at her restaurant and picked her up, helping with shopping and errands, trips to the dentist and doctor and hairdresser. She had fallen head over heels for her companion and her new profession. My mother decided to return to Tulsa in 2001 and went straight to work in eldercare for clients at University Village and Saint Simeon. But an idea that had first taken shape during the West Hollywood days began to coalesce when my mother went to Target in search of a shopping cart.
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
“I decided if I wanted the perfect cart, I’d have to build one myself.” She began watching television programs about inventors and studied the models already available. Groceries got squashed at the bottom of deep, vertical carts that were difficult for seniors to maneuver, the people who needed them most of all. When she showed my brother a sketch she had made of her ideal cart that would glide smoothly down store aisles and fold neatly into the trunk of a car, he suggested meeting with his friend Don Schlafke, a retired engineer. Their collaboration took off, and it wasn’t long before Don had constructed the prototype for a utility cart that would soon become the talk of the Mansion House, my mother’s apartment building in Tulsa. As residents stopped her in the lobby to ask where they could buy one like it, my mother wondered whether the cart was something that could be mass-produced and marketed. So did Chip McElroy, president & CEO of McElroy Manufacturing. He suggested my brother contact the
University of Tulsa Mechanical Engineering School with Mom’s prototype as a possibility for their senior class project, a collaborative annual enterprise in which students design and manufacture a product based on specs generally submitted from corporations. When she learned that her cart had been chosen from a crowded field of applicants, my mother was over the moon. “I never thought being 80 would be so much fun!” she said before hanging up the phone, in a rush to find a comfortable sweatshirt for her 91-year-old client. My mother’s career in eldercare continues, and further fundraising is needed in order for TU to bring the project to completion, but she’s too busy meeting with youthful engineers and providing them with homemade cookies to worry. She dreams of seeing her product for sale one day in Walmart, but for the moment she has what she wanted all along: a shopping cart that handles as smoothly as Mrs. Chasen’s Town Car. Mia
Will Help Fund University Engineering Project When my brother Brian took our mom’s prototype of her shopping cart to the University of Tulsa’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, he approached the venture with guarded optimism. Competition was intense for the senior class project, in which mechanical engineering students would design and manufacture a product from specs submitted by companies vying for selection. Our mother did have a great utility cart and the tenacity of someone half her age, but she was hardly a corporation. Mom shrieked when her cart was selected. “I’ve read through your materials,” one of the professors said simply, “and I think your project would make a very nice fit with our program.” Morale couldn’t have been higher the day she got the news. But there was an addendum we hadn’t considered. Money was required to fund projects generally submitted by companies better positioned to contribute the $2,000 required, plus the estimated cost of materials needed. The total came to $4,000, a sum our mother couldn’t afford.
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
Still hard at work as a caregiver, my 80-year-old mom mused about setting up a lemonade stand and moonlighting on her days off. My brother stepped up once again to spearhead a fundraising campaign through his website. His appeal has been successful with commitments totaling almost $2,000. It’s still possible to make a tax-deductible contribution to this project. If you would like to participate, you can make out a check to “University of Tulsa Mechanical Engineering.” Write “ME Senior Design Project” in the memo section, then send it to TU at: The University of Tulsa Department of Mechanical Engineering Att: Steven M. Tipton, PhD 800 South Tucker Drive Tulsa, OK 74104 For more information contact Marilyn at email@example.com.
MYJOURNEY by Annie Paige
I’ve never been a fan of change. I like to think of myself as an outgoing individual, a free spirit with a desire for adventure who is prepared to hop on a plane to Europe at a moment’s notice, or strike up a meaningful conversation with the bohemian on the corner. To a certain extent, I am this girl. I love to travel, to be pushed outside of my comfort zone, to experience something new. But truthfully, I’m also terrified a majority of the time. I’m a modern American, a big fan of comfort. So when transitioning from high school to college, I was afraid to leave the comfort and safety of my hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma. My college decision process was a time of stress and anxiety. I remember lying in my bed for hours, worrying. Sometimes I would become so anxious that I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Okay, I know I freaked out way too much, and my memory is probably playing the scene with high drama. But I really didn’t want to decide my entire future as a senior in high school. During this time, it seemed like there were so many different opinions coming my way, just none of my own. My high school was competitive and encouraged kids to pursue Ivy League and other elite schools across the country. My best friends were all staying close and they wanted me to do the same, encouraging me to go to a school in Oklahoma. My parents, even if they’d never admit it, wanted me to attend their alma mater and be an Oklahoma State University cowgirl. My brother and sister-in-law, the most vocal of the group, desperately wanted me to join them at University of Texas where they were both in graduate school. But none of these ideas seemed quite right for me. Then I went to Austin for Thanksgiving and attended my first Texas Longhorn football game. I felt right at home and completely at peace. Right? No, that’s a total lie. I was so overwhelmed by a stadium of 100,000 people that I called my mom from the bathroom, crying and declaring that I had to go somewhere smaller. The closer I got to the May deadline during my senior year, when I had to actually commit to a college, Texas kept showing itself to be the logical choice. It wasn’t too far away from home, but far enough. The school had a good reputation and was located in a fun and urban environment. Despite my first disastrous visit, I did eventually feel a peace and a strange sense of knowing when I visited the campus at a later date. So, I eventually ended up becoming one of the thousands throwing up my horns in the stadium of 100,000, and keeping Austin weird. I prayed about the situation and tried to figure out what to do. When I thought more about it, I realized that, for some reason completely hidden to me, I was supposed to go there. So I did.
As an out-of-stater at a predominately Texan university, I had trouble meeting people and making friends. This is something that had never been difficult for me. I was used to forming quick and strong relationships, and I was never lacking friends. During my first semester of school, I spent a lot of time eating lunch alone and doing homework on Friday nights. I also struggled with school, which was something new for me. I had loved learning from an early age and academics had never been an issue for me. Don’t get me wrong, I had to work hard in high school and didn’t always make A’s. But I always did my best and was usually able to accomplish my intellectual goals. However, college was a different experience. I got my first D on a test and had to drop a class. Not my best work. This continued to add to my feelings of failure. The things that had always been second nature to me were suddenly becoming my greatest challenges. I struggled with feelings of loneliness and depression during my first few months at college, and felt like I would never emerge from the desert. But eventually, I did. Many tears and a few freak-outs later, my collegiate experience began improving. I realized that just because people were from in-state, it didn’t mean that they came to college with their best friends. Slowly, I found friends. While I wasn’t one of the most successful in my classes like I had been in high school, I did better. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, the one-year anniversary of my first scary and stressful experience - I was genuinely happy. College was different from high school in many ways, but I learned that different isn’t always bad, and change doesn’t have to be scary. For me, this change was a necessary and essential step. If I had remained in Tulsa, or even attended a school nearby, I might be the same person today that I was a year ago. I needed to travel, to be pushed outside of my comfort zone, to experience something new. By going to an uncomfortable place where I didn’t have a lot of friends, I had to learn to become independent and outgoing. Not to say that going far away is best for everyone. In-state schools are great and my friends who stayed in Oklahoma love college. But for me, the University of Texas was the right decision. College comes at an important time in every young person’s life. It’s often the first time we get to decide who we want to be and what we want to do. I had to make these decisions and no one could do it for me. I needed to push myself out of my own comfortable bubble. The lessons I’ve learned in Austin the past two semesters have been vital to my development as an individual. In the next three years, I will continue to grow through my failures, my adventures, and by keeping it weird. Mia
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
photo submitted: Jamie Sall
Where Iâ€™m supposed to be
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
MYTASTES by Sheilah Bright
The Comfort of Family Food
A little bit of this. A little bit of that. A layer of goodness sprinkled with a sweet dusting of yesterday. Family recipes may originate on yellowed index cards or battersplotched cookbook pages, but these culinary gems sparkle for years in our memory banks. Hand-scrawled instructions for Grandma’s yeast rolls or Aunt Edna’s stew become treasured family heirlooms passed down from oak claw-foot table to a glass dinette and back to a refinished oak table once again. Along the way, the Sunday pot roast or the lemon meringue pie or the perfect sweet potato casserole season both holidays and every day with one universal ingredient: love. “When I was a boy, I would wake up and smell my mother cooking rice and chilies so I would lie there just breathing it in,” says Sangay Khandu, a Bhutanese father of two daughters. “I knew we would eat some of it for breakfast, some of it for lunch, and the rest for evening so when I smelled rice in the morning, I knew it would be a good day.” When the woman who would become his wife cooked for him the first time, he tasted the memory again. Love was telling him to marry the beautiful woman. The bowl of rice and chilies sealed the deal.
Annabelle Breakey, a San Francisco food photographer, makes a career out of capturing the emotional tug of the taste of home. Whether creating a warm, cozy backdrop for a soup story or casting bright light onto lettuce to highlight its green goodness, Breakey and her team of food stylists create appetizing textural experiences by blending color with contrast and shading it with emotion. “Ultimately, we are being art directed to make a really appetizing image that looks like you just made it,” explains Breakey. “In reality, we may take a whole day to create just one image so we make the food look real but behave a little longer, if we can. And we make a lot of it. Hello, food shelters, would you like 300 pounds of frozen food?” As a food photographer for both product advertising and cookbooks, Breakey sees firsthand how people connect with their food. Sometimes, she must refocus those memories to convey the client’s message. For example, remember when prunes were for old people? The name was changed to dried plums, and their market share blossomed. Everyone comes to the table with their own agenda, explains Breakey. Sometimes, we have to change more than the tablecloth to set the right tone.
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
“With every project I learn something new. The food industry is about so much more than eating,” says Breakey. “It is about our planet and living on it sustainably with our neighbors. It’s about primal needs and endorphin pleasures (like chocolate!). It’s also about healthy relationships with our families and our own bodies. I am not sure we can get closer to home than food.” It’s why just the smell of pumpkin pie can lull me into a memory of the autumn of 1974 and why Christmas isn’t Christmas unless I make peanut brittle or divinity or sugar cookies shaped like holiday trees. On a recent trip to Thailand, I walked through the open-air food market and watched families sort through the mountains of chilies, dried fish, vivid vegetables and unusual fruits used in traditional Thai cooking. As we walked by a stall selling rotten fish, I winced and tried not to gag. “Thai people think rotten fish smell good. We use our nose to help us find the best food to buy here,” said our guide, Sam-Ang Choochaiya. “It is like the durian fruit. It smells like hell, but it tastes like heaven.”
Despite the fact that the thorn-husked fruit is dangerous to peel and banned from airports, hotels and all enclosed public places because of its odor, it remains popular among the Thai people who have been eating it for generations. Time will tell if tradition and memory can keep it off the endangered list. Someday, the durian fruit may be pushed to the back of the Pantry of Unpopular Food where fruitcake, potted meat and hardtack biscuits wait to find favor once again. Discovering people’s food favorites sheds an interesting light on their backgrounds. I grew up eating squirrel, rabbit and quail because my grandfather and father were both hunters. My friend, Chere, experienced a little more refined taste because she lived in the big city of Tulsa. We call her “the cake eater.” Another friend thought all food came from a box because her mother hated to cook and relied on Ham-
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
CHOCOLATE GRA VY
(best served ov er biscuits fo r breakfast) 2 cups sugar 1 cup milk 3 Tbsp. cocoa 1 tsp. vanilla flavoring 1 Tbsp flour 1 chunk butter Mix dry ingred ients in a sau cepan. Add milk and cook until thick. Ad d vanilla and a chunk of butter. Serve over hot biscuits.
burger Helper to put supper on the table. Every holiday, it stakes its claim as a side dish. White or brown gravy on mashed potatoes, waffles or pancakes on Saturday mornings, or beans or no beans in chili – these are all examples of how tradition drives our appetites for the taste of home. In my family, breakfast often meant a rich helping of chocolate gravy over biscuits. It isn’t the healthiest of breakfast choices, but it remains on our family menu list to this day. Not long ago, a friend reminded me about the old story of one woman’s determination to cook a ham in the family tradition. As a newlywed, the woman watched her mother place the raw ham on a cutting board, whack off both ends and place it in the roasting pan. So that’s what she did for years, just like her mother, who learned the trick from her mother. Fast-forward many successful hams later, and the woman is in the kitchen preparing Sunday dinner for her grandmother. “Why are you whacking off the ends of the ham?” her grandmother asked. “Because that’s the way you always did it,” said the woman, realizing that she might finally learn why this culinary trick always turned out such a succulent meal. “Oh,” said the grandmother, “I only cut off the ends because I didn’t have a big enough pan.” I am certain this story is repeated and lived out in many variations, and it probably surfaces again and again when the family gathers together for a meal. The ends of the ham are still being cut off although the pan is plenty big. It’s a recipe that has worked for generations, and no one really wants to reinvent the meal. Perhaps the sweet, sour, bitter, savory seasoning of memory is what keeps us trying to bake a cake like Aunt Frances, baste a turkey like Uncle Joe, or coddle an egg like Grandma Helen. Succeed or fail, blending the taste of yesterday into our family meals enriches our lives and connects us to home. Mia
by Linda Watanabe McFerrin
From Tokyo. . . I am lost, swimming in the soft light of the bison’s umber eye, where I feel myself reflected. Above me, the sky arcs in an incredible big top of robin’segg-blue that dips down to meet the vast carpet of tawny grasses on a distant horizon. I do not think it is especially wise to be staring into the bison’s brown eye. This shaggy creature looks to be about six feet at the shoulder and must weigh over a ton. But I am rooted to the spot, suspended in time, breathless and jubilant about coming back to the tallgrass prairie and what remains of the herbaceous ocean that, as little as 100 years ago, covered 142 million acres of this continent. I fell in love with the tallgrass prairie many years ago when I was introduced to it by Francine Ringold, a poet and Tulsa resident who is truly generous with the treasures she shares. It was a warm autumn day and the grasses—big bluestem, little bluestem, Indiangrass, switchgrass, compassplant— surrounded us in breeze-tickled curtains of varying height. The heat, the slow swish of the tallgrass, the occasional chirp of insect and bird, and the vague vegetable scent mesmerized us. I thought I could feel the pulse of oil far below me, feel the spirit of the fiery Plains Indians: Comanche, Apache, Pawnee, Wichita, Kiowa and the Osage. I was one with bramble and branch, with bison and brave. I experienced a sense of connectedness so profound that it seemed almost sacred.
I have always been entranced by nature. When I was a girl, my father, an outdoorsman, made it a point to take his children to national parks around the world. My mother was always the willing accomplice, standing aloof in her sunglasses and scarf, with her hamper of sandwiches and cold drinks, a stock of wet towels with which to clean dirty faces and hands at the ready as we tumbled and danced through the forests and streams that were our playground. I remember clover-filled meadows and long walls of blackberry bramble in England; bruise-colored mountains and towering pines in Montana; badlands in the Dakotas, deserts in California, and crystal clear lakes in northern Japan. We put up tents in Glacier National Park, skipped rocks across rivers in Yellowstone, and fashioned hats from giant fuki leaves in the parks in Akita, Japan. When I grew older, I blazed my own trail from one wild place to another. From the Okefenokee swamp to the plains of the Serengeti, from the 24,000 islands and skerries of the Stockholm Archipelago to Costa Rican rainforests, I traipsed and trekked in search of that same swept away magic of place, the arresting sense of wonder and connection that the natural world can engender. But it wasn’t until I was revisiting Tokyo, one of the cities of my youth, and hardly a place anyone would expect to connect with the natural world, that I understood exactly what I was feeling. Tokyo today is a city of around 12,790,000 souls. It is one of the most populous urban environments on the planet, a maze of mainly high-rise residences
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
and businesses through which trains and subways thread in an intricate and fast-moving web. Three million people a day flow through Shinjuku Station alone, and the various wards of the city—Shinjuku, Shibuya, Minato, Chiyoda, and others—teem with traffic of every kind. In spite of the constant hustle and din, it’s a city of unusual peace. Unfold a city map and you will see the large splashes of green that indicate Tokyo’s numerous parks and gardens, many of them labeled with little goal post icons that mark them as Shinto shrines. In these shrines, or jinja, Japan’s folk deities, the kami (both natural forces and humans are counted among their number), are believed to reside. Nature’s sanctity and man’s harmonious coexistence with it are such an important part of the Shinto belief structure that its places of worship are largely outdoors and almost always incorporate some homage to the nature of this relationship. Whenever I go to Tokyo, I visit them. There, while the roiling, fast-paced, 21st century life spins around me, I can ignore the chaos, displacement, and insecurity the mad whirl produces. Not far from Shinjuku, which is a short train ride on the Yamanote line, is Meiji Shrine –Tokyo’s grandest. The shrine was completed in 1920 in memory of Emperor Meiji, the ruler credited with the modernization of Japan, and his empress. Only a two-minute walk from Harajuku Station, Meijijingu is impossible to miss, the thirty-three-foot single cypress pillars and the 56-foot crossbeam of
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
its monumental gate dwarfing everything around it. People, looking small as ants, stream through the gate and down the wide walkways. Right behind the shrine complex, 133-acre Yoyogi Park is the perfect spot to sit and ponder. Clouds of hydrangea float in the patches of shade that frame stone picnic tables. But my last journey to Meiji-jingu was not to picnic or play. I had visited the shrine shortly after my mother’s death as an homage to my Japanese ancestors (my mother was Japanese and Welsh) and as the last stop on a personal pilgrimage. It was a perfect summer day, the sky bright and cloudless, the grounds full of tourists and locals. Although I am not Shinto, unless by virtue of being part-Japanese (they say the Japanese are Buddhist by belief and Shinto by virtue of being), I performed the few rites that are considered respectful before climbing the steps to the shrine. As I stood at the top of the stairs, I felt suddenly blissful, uplifted. Then, unexpectedly, a blustery whirlwind swept around me. Warm and soft, it wrapped me in zephyrs, lifting my skirt and messing up my hair in a way that was almost playful. What was astounding is that everywhere else in the plaza, not a leaf trembled, not a flag flapped. All was still, breezeless, the crowds oblivious, enjoying their unruffled sunny day pursuits. My travel companions found it remarkable, standing at the foot of the stairs and watching. I consider it a blessing. I felt as though my mother and my grandmother took it upon themselves to give me a hug. And that is how I feel in the tallgrass, and in nature anywhere. Mia
MYMONEY by Holly Wall
Shopping for the Secondhand It’s tradition. When a woman becomes pregnant for the first time, she spends much of the sixth month of that pregnancy planning for her little bundle — designing the nursery, choosing the miniature-sized wardrobe and picking out a bevy of baby equipment. Then she heads to the local big box chain where she’s given a ray gun and encouraged to waddle around the store, scanning to her heart’s delight the bar codes on all of the items she and baby will need. In about the eighth month, her friends and family drive to the store, buy the items on the wish list, wrap them and give them to her at the baby shower (following, of course, three rounds of due-date guessing games, diaper-related shenanigans and a plateful of cake). Many of those goodies will see their fair amount of use during baby’s first year of life. But a good fraction of them will go untouched, stowed in a closet collecting dust. Most new mothers have no idea what they need for their first baby. They read books that tell them they’ll need 12 one-piece jumpsuits that snap at the crotch, six flannel receiving blankets and 52 baby-sized washcloths. So new mothers register for everything — and usually get it — only to find out three months after their babies are born that they didn’t need half of it. That’s what I did two years ago when I was pregnant with my son. When Isaac was about six months old, another mommy dragged me to Tulsa’s Expo Square for an event called “Just Between Friends,” the ultimate garage sale for babies and children.
Upon entering Expo Square’s Exchange Center, I found myself staring into a sea of baby gear, faced with hundreds of walkers, strollers, cribs, furniture, clothes, and thousands of toys. It exhausted me just to look at it all. It was as if someone had merged together four or five big box stores. JBF offered everything the big stores did, except the inventory was gently used and between 50 and 75 percent off the prices of the new items. JBF’s founders, Shannon Wilburn and Daven Tackett, say they founded JBF in September of 1997 “with the hope and dream of making a little extra money and clothing our children as well.” Had I known about the sale earlier in my pregnancy, I would have foregone the baby registry and sent my friends and family to JBF with a list of items to buy. Because babies outgrow many things before they have the chance to wear them out, most of what you find at JBF is in terrific condition. So, not only are you getting great items at a reasonable cost, but you’re recycling and you have less guilt about the things you don’t use. Later, you can sell them yourself, earning a few extra dollars to stash in your savings account or to spend on something new. Since I discovered JBF, I’ve used the biannual sale (one in the spring, one in the fall) as an opportunity to stock up on a season’s worth of clothes and toys for Isaac. I sell the stuff he’s outgrown or never used, and I usually end up breaking even – making as much as I spend at the sale.
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
I got so used to getting great deals on Isaac’s wares that when I needed things for Isaac in between seasons, I just couldn’t bring myself to pay full price at a department store, or even a discount store. I began scouting secondhand and consignment shops that specialize in kids’ clothes. You can also try thrift stores, but I often have less luck there. You really have to search for the items you’re looking for, and when you find something, it tends to be in worse shape than at consignment shops where items are held to a high standard and inspected to ensure they meet this standard. The store owners want to be sure that what they’re selling is in good condition and meets current safety standards. Thrift stores accept anything, so it’s your job to do the inspecting. I thought if it worked for Isaac, maybe it would work for me. I started visiting consignment shops and thrift stores for my own clothing. I rarely shop for new clothes, mostly because I have yet to lose the last 30 of the 60 pounds I gained during my pregnancy and can’t bear to
look at myself under retail fluorescent lights. Also, I have this idea that eventually, I will lose the weight and finally fit in all of my old clothes. And until then, I don’t want to spend money on new, larger ones that (hopefully) I won’t be able to wear in six months. When I find myself in need of a pair of pants or a nice top to wear to an event, I stop in my favorite consignment stores. Sure, it takes a little extra effort to find just the right article of clothing, but the payoff comes when I have that extra cash in my pocket, less guilt, and an item that feels more unique than anything I could have found in the mall. Mia
I did some shopping in order to show you the potential for savings when you shop at consignment stores versus discount retailers or department stores. At each store, I shopped for items similar in size and style. At the consignment shop, where prices vary a bit, I chose the average price found on the nicest items.
Sneakers Dress shoes Jeans Coat Sweater Dress Skirt Shorts Pajamas T-shirt Button-down shirt or blouse
$ 5.99 $ 3.99 $ 6.99 $12.99 $ 7.99 $ 4.99 $ 4.99 $ 4.99 $ 3.99 $ 1.99 $ 1.99
$17.99 $14.99 $12.99 $19.99 $14.99 $21.99 $ 6.99 $ 6.99 $ 9.99 $ 5.99 $ 9.99
$12.00 $11.00 $ 6.00 $ 7.00 $ 7.00 $17.00 $ 2.00 $ 2.00 $ 6.00 $ 4.00 $ 8.00
$25.00 $30.00 $30.00 $35.00 $35.00 $39.50 $25.00 $25.00 $22.50 $17.00 $25.00
$19.01 $26.01 $23.01 $22.01 $27.01 $34.51 $20.01 $20.01 $18.51 $15.01 $23.01
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
MYRELATIONSHIPS by Charlene Giles
“I sure wish Rod and I had the money for our own room,” I muttered as I dragged my suitcase through the doorway. Weren’t husbands and wives supposed to sleep together on overnight trips? “What did you say, honey?” my mom called from across the motel room. “Nothing,” I sighed, flopping onto the saggy twin bed. I was eight months pregnant and my raging hormones and aching legs were hassle enough, but now I had acquired swollen feet and ankles during our flight from Iowa to Arizona. I had grave doubts that these throbbing feet would fit into the bridesmaid’s
shoes I was supposed to wear in my brother’s wedding the next day. At least my sister-in-law-to-be had kindly chosen loose empire waist dresses for all of the bridesmaids. I longed for Rod to rub my back and reassure me that I would be fine. Instead, he was on some different floor of the hotel with our five-year-old son and my dad. Someone had suggested that to save money, the men should take one room and the women another. Sharing a room with my mother and grandmother was not my idea of fun. After all, they had it made! They were through with this tough job of having babies. Besides, I knew for a fact that both of them snored.
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
Exhausted from the hectic day of travel, we got ready for bed early. Modesty was impossible in our tight quarters, and I couldn’t help but notice (and flinch at) the obvious effects of gravity upon the two older women’s bodies. Surely that will never happen to me, I thought with the arrogance of youth. “This is kind of like a slumber party!” Mom chirped as she handed out chewy homemade chocolate chip cookies. Well, hey, chocolate couldn’t hurt, I mentally conceded as I took in our surroundings. Our slumber party setting included just two beds, a twin and a queen, a cheap desk with an old-fashioned desk lamp and one chair. Mom and Grandma were bunking together. Interesting that they thought nothing of sharing. Maybe that was because they both have sisters and shared beds all their lives. I’m an only girl and used to my own space. Come to think of it, most of the makeup, lotions and electric rollers crowded on the small bathroom counter top were mine. All Mom and Grandma ever used was lipstick, which they housed in their purses along with chewing gum, Kleenex and assorted receipts and recipes on three-by-five cards. After Mom turned out the light, I found myself sinking in self-pity. Finally, near tears, I whispered, “I just feel so achy and vulnerable.”
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
The responses were immediate. Mom admitted that she’d forgotten how tiring and frustrating pregnancy can be. Grandma confessed that she, too, was dealing with swollen ankles from the flight, and her arthritis was acting up. Then she reminisced about when she was a young pregnant mother. I’d heard the amazing tale of the home birth of my mom and her twin, but never from the lips of their mother. Grandma painted a picture I’ll never forget of what happened in that large frigid farmhouse on an icy December night in Iowa. Her girls, five-yearsold and 18-months-old, were asleep upstairs while the doctor who came to deliver the baby spent the night playing the player piano to make time pass more quickly (driving Grandma crazy in the process). Then the unexpected birth of not one, but two babies! Mom only weighed two and a half pounds; Jeanette five. The doctor massaged them with mineral oil while Grandpa kept the fire stoked for the kitchen/incubator. Grandma’s wedding ring fit over Mom’s wrist, and a teacup fit on her head. What a miracle that my mother survived, and such a sobering thought. Continued on page 31 See MY RELATIONSHIPS
MYLIFE TO-DO LIST
by Charlotte Guest
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
In Rob Reiner’s 2007 film, The Bucket List, two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a to-do list. I had not thought much about my own bucket list until our family’s visit to Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Inspired by the recent release of the Pixar film Up, and the fact that a majestic hot air balloon ride was advertised on a colorful flyer where we were staying, I decided to check “ride in a hot air balloon” off my list. I’m glad I did. It was a surreal, almost indescribable experience. I roped my family in on the ballooning adventure and off we went. At 7 a.m., we met our balloon pilot and a few other vacationers at the designated lift-off spot near where we were staying. A retired couple from Honduras, two sisters from Maine, and a daring, older single woman named Jane joined us. Jane was on a life quest to fulfill her bucket list and was photographing the journey. Our pilot was an amiable man named Mike who, over the course of 23 years, had flown over 5,000 voyages in Pagosa Springs. Matt, the “balloon-chaser” assistant, and Mike’s 12-year-old son, Austin, accompanied him. Those of us braving the journey were instructed how to help set up and take down the balloon, the basket, and other equipment. We helped prepare the balloon by unrolling it, spreading it out and holding it open while Mike partially filled it with enough heat, expanding it to a breathtaking size. Watching the group before us take off first was reassuring. They were the guinea pigs. If they made it, certainly we’d make it, too!
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
Group one lifted off, slowly, delicately, and, to my surprise, loudly. The propane firing up was much noisier than I’d imagined. It sounded like a burly blowtorch, blasting intermittently. We continued to watch our new friends ascend into the air, far above us. As they drifted up, Matt explained to us that we’d lift off in about 30 or 40 minutes…from where, though, he didn’t know. He told us that the pilot can never be completely sure where he will land, due to the changing wind currents. In the novel The Twenty-one Balloons, William Pene du Bois says, “The best way of travel… if you aren’t in any hurry at all, if you don’t care where you are going, if you don’t like to use your legs, if you don’t want to be annoyed at all by any choice of directions, is in a balloon. There, you can decide only when to start, and usually when to stop. The rest is left entirely to nature.” We learned firsthand how this is true. I wasn’t planning on this uncertainty, which made fulfilling this bucket list item all the more exciting. Soon, it was time to “chase” our friends and watch them land. Gently and safely, down they came into a wide, open field near a beautiful farm. We watched along with some ambivalent horses who had probably seen this before. Our new friends had survived, and now they were clapping, smiling, and cheering. Mike motioned for us to come over. Our turn had arrived. As we passed our fellow ballooners, they said, “It’s amazing! You’ll love it!” The gratified Jane said, “There simply are no words…enjoy!”
Soon after the elk appeared, it was time to land. Mike radioed the “chaser” and said, “I hope to set it down in a bit…head west.” (Being a planner, I still was amazed that the whole process was uncertain.) My only fearful moment was when our pilot said under his breath, “This isn’t good…” as we hovered over the treetops, coming in for our landing. He quickly threw a rope over in case the chaser needed to assist us. Mike deftly maneuvered us into safe air space, breathed a slight sigh of relief, and down we started, instructed to bend our knees and hold on tight. After a thump and a scoot, we were back on the ground. During the descent, I enjoyed watching our children’s faces along with the understanding smiles of those below who had preceded us on the journey. After we were on the ground, we listened to Mike share the history of ballooning, and then he recited this heartfelt balloonist prayer: “May the winds welcome you with softness, may the sun bless you with its warm rays. May you fly so high that God will join you in laughter and set you gently back again into the arms of Mother Earth.” Ah, yes, we were safe. And who knows? Maybe we had just flown where no man had gone before. Mia
photo submitted: Timothy Hughes
My family of five piled into the sturdy wicker basket, which looked like a large silverware separator, and off we went. The lift-off was peaceful, the air still and cool. Huddled together, with only enough room to turn around, we began to rise. Patchwork farmland below and the majestic mountains encircling us were breathtaking. It was as if the balloon stood still in the air while the earth whispered by below. Beneath the occasional blasts of the propane fire, a picturesque panorama opened before our eyes. Embracing the silence and enjoying the stillness, I felt as if I were dreaming. When we reached a height of 500 meters, we floated across the air with ease. Unless we spoke to each other, all we heard was the faint breathing of the wind and, now and then, a necessary gasp of hot air. We floated above the treetops and below the clouds for about half an hour, covering five to 10 miles. The continental divide proudly spread itself out for us. Horse farms below were dotted with life. Our favorite sight was spotting a few elk that had bedded down, assuming they were out of view. Startling them as we sailed above, the frightened herd escaped out into the open. Even our pilot was excited and exclaimed, “You don’t see that every time!”
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
Life to-do List Live in a house with only one floor so I can entertain and host family visits, pay off all our credit cards and loans, stay healthy and be a fun, happy old woman like so many I have had the privilege of knowing. -Judy Stay in a thatched roof cottage in the Cotswolds, balloon over Chenanceau in France, attend evensong on Christmas Eve at Kings College Cambridge, and turn 60 in Venice. -Margie I want to get my husband and all three of my grown boys together for a hiking vacation, and get together with my old band and sing! -Anita Take flying classes, get a black belt in karate, and be James Bond by the time I’m 50. Seriously. -Ada To see my birthplace, Drayton Valley, Canada, ride the train through Banff, Canada during the winter, see my ancestor’s homes in Ireland and Italy, and take all these trips with Steve my forever sweetheart. - Mariana Make a quilt, become a chef, attend seminary, write a book, have a cafe or soup kitchen, learn to paint with oils and acrylics, paint my hall and utility, become a yoga instructor, and crack suduko. - Vickey Drive on a NASCAR racetrack. - Pierangela
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
It’s all about
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MY ART Continued from page 9 personal project. I looked more closely at what she was doing. She was working several little wooden knitting needles on very fine yarn. “What are you making?” I asked. “Gloves,” she said. I loved her immediately. I had made gloves before and knew how meticulous the process was. There was something special about a person who would take a break from sewing 1940s costumes to knit gloves. I could tell that she loved what she was doing as much as I did. I had found a kindred spirit. The tribe was here, too. There is comfort in the art of craftsmanship and taking the time to appreciate it. It’s like the difference between mass-produced yogurt and artisanal local yogurt that was made by a dairy five miles from my house. It’s why I’m writing this article in its original form – by hand – in my friend Mary’s coffee shop, eating that artisanal yogurt with blackberries, drinking locally roasted coffee out of a mug that was also made by a local. It’s just better, more enjoyable, and more sustainable. I think I’m going to get that Emmy certificate framed.
Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit: Using the Rub-off Technique to Recreate and Redesign Your Favorite Fashions will be released in October, 2010 from Watson-Guptill Publications.
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Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
MY RELATIONSHIPS Continued from page 25 My focus was redirected as we discussed other times of joy, new life, and love, as well as sorrow, death, and conflicts. Mom was working full-time and felt overwhelmed. Grandma was still struggling to adapt to life as a widow, as Grandpa had died several years earlier. As I listened, my perspective of life was extended far beyond my own limited experiences. Three souls crossed generational boundaries and were entwined. I drifted into a deep, peaceful rest, lulled by the slow, rhythmic nasal rattles and wheezes of my two favorite women in the world. More than 30 years have passed since that night, and so much has changed. Several years ago, Grandma died at 101 after a very short illness. Mom is 81, and she and Dad still make cross-country road trips to attend celebrations of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. My children are grown, and I’m still working many hours a week. I have two grandcats, a couple of granddogs and several grandhorses, but no grandchildren yet. The drama of life continues to unfold, and only God knows what lies ahead. Still, I face the future with more patience and confidence because of what I learned at that three-generation slumber party so many years ago. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Mia
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Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
MY HERITAGE Continued from page 6 Somewhere, in bodies separated by a century, common genes lurk. Somewhere in our minds, we share a common unity. While they never dreamed of me – these ghostly shades from a shadowed past – I know them and learn from them. Appreciate them. Honor them. There was quiet, inarticulate Uncle Thomas, the eldest, the “family builder” whose diaries could be so sparse: “Oct. 18-22nd, 1888: Enos has a new baby boy.” “Baby not doing well.”“Baby very sick.”“Enos’ baby died today.” Such minimalist words for such personal tragedy. And yet, from this same laconic writer was wrung: “The light of my life has gone out” on the day his wife died. The Thomas lesson: the deepest emotions may hide within terse terms. His younger, bigger brother, Uncle John, became a true Wisconsin pioneer. As a teenager, he hacked fields out of forests, chopped logs for the mills, built roads and cemeteries. Denied education in his early years, he educated himself with newspapers passed from hand to hand, and lived a religion that reached out to all, especially the indigent and needy. The tiny family cemetery he built soon embraced his beloved youngest son, dead from a disease that a round of today’s antibiotics would have cured in a week. He persevered through heartache; was strong, stalwart, determined. Uncle John taught the lesson of the oak. Spread wide your branches. Give shelter. Protect. Sisters Mary, Margaret and Anna differed in look, temperament and experience. Mary was the caregiver, tending her aged father with patience, love and compassion throughout the final, lonely years of his life. She taught the warmth of a smile and the upholding of a failing spirit. Her sister Margaret was the family peacemaker. Of all the siblings, she was the one with the most to mourn. Before her death, she buried two husbands and her two brave and brilliant boys, one of whom died trying to save the life of a companion, the other just after the birth of his only child. Aunt Margaret’s lesson: dignity in despair, and the determination to live on. And then there was Anna, fired with ambition. Her husband gave her three children, but no security. In a day when divorce was unheard of, out the window he went. He left her to lavish her amazing drive and intellect on her only son, the boy who would become the 20th century’s most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Anna’s lesson: tenacity, focus, and indomitable strength of will. But of all the siblings, I turn most naturally to the next three for inspiration. The Reverend Jenkin Lloyd Jones was my great-grandfather, and what a lesson in living he was. He followed the footsteps of his Welsh ancestors and became a man of the cloth. Amazingly, his influence on the indigent of Chicago continues to this day through his Abraham Lincoln Center, founded in 1905. One hundred years later, it still provides training, education, comfort and guidance to the city’s poorest citizens. When a contemporary newspaper reporter was sent to chronicle one of Jenkin’s sermons, he wrote: “The sermon? Why, he is the sermon!” And so he continues to be for me. The two remaining sisters, Eleanor and Jane (Aunts Nell and Jenny) created a coed home school in the middle of
the same Wisconsin valley their brothers farmed, and so superior was its education that graduates were automatically accepted into Wellesley, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and the like. But far more than education, students were nurtured to be caring, giving, responsible adults. They debated, sang, acted together. They studied languages and sciences, manual arts and homemaking. They knew the names of every bird, every flower in the area. They gave sermons, read widely, and helped their neighbor as a matter of course. The final two brothers, James and Enos, were farmers extraordinaire. They experimented with genetic breeding, acted as county officers and university trustees, and lived deep in the fabric of an ordered society. Calamity struck with the accidental death of James and a nationwide economic disaster that caused family bankruptcies and disruption. The lesson: whatever the challenges, climb over despair and continue down the road to tomorrow. They follow me, these ancestral shades. They admonish, nourish, warn and inspire me. They were teachers, preachers, creators, artists, and today, scattered throughout their progenies’ progeny, are teachers, preachers, creators and artists. Is there a linking line somewhere? An internal eternal thread? I have five grandchildren. This summer we will walk together through the valley of our ancestors. In the shadow of century-old graves, we will pause and thank those buried for their lives and lessons, knowing that their ancestral pasts will ever be an unseen part of our futures. Mia
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Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
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MY HEALTH Continued from page 11 At the suggestion of a mutual friend, Gina and I joined Exfuze Women’s Racing Team, the first and only women’s cycling team in Oklahoma. Recently, we were training for a duathlon. Gina completed the first threemile run, the 18-mile bike leg, and the second threemile run well ahead of me. As I rounded the final corner, I was suffering tremendously from my efforts. I looked up and a few blocks ahead, I saw Gina waiting. She was there to finish the run with me and to enthusiastically cheer my efforts. I no longer have to travel alone or run from some past self. I have a training partner; a kindred spirit; a best friend who encourages me to strive for what is beyond the finish line and to pursue the things that seem out of reach. My bicycle has become the vehicle for my journey, and it frees me from the lingering fears of regression and isolation. While the journey is often hard and can be painful, I am not alone. Now I am driven by what’s ahead, by the next obstacle, and by a friend who pushes me to be a better athlete and person. Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement has become my mantra…I find that I must do the very thing that I perceive to be impossible. I am pushed and pulled and cheered and celebrated by an amazing friend who believes in the power of bicycles as much as I do. And therein lies the beauty. Mia
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Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
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www. adgenieoftulsa.com Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
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MYAFTERTHOUGHTS by Monica Roberts
“ ” Such a small thing was a triumphant moment for me.
37 Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
WOMAN vs. TOILET SEAT The toilet seat cracked. I’m talking the actual seat of it cracked through completely, across the right side of the thing. I have no idea how this came to be, since we rarely drop heavy objects onto the seat (backsides do not count), nor do we slam it down. Except when our 16-month-old gets hold of it. Then I’m too busy searching for the hand sanitizer to give a hoot about the toilet seat. But there it was, mocking me. I was appalled when guests came over, since the awful seat was in our downstairs powder bath for all to see. Of course, I bought a new seat – one of those fancy “slow close” types that won’t bang shut no matter how hard the baby might try. And there our new seat remained, comfortably shrink-wrapped next to the toilet for a few more weeks. This is a chronic domestic problem seen ’round the world. As much as we love our homes, they’re often the albatross around our neck. The constant upkeep, maintenance, cleaning, sprucing and redecorating start to overtake us. At least the womenfolk. It’s true, however, that some men could walk by the chipped paint/leaking faucet/broken toilet seat for months or years without getting ruffled in the slightest. Such is often the case in our home. My husband has wonderful traits, strengths and attributes that many women would highly prize. But (and he’ll tell you this if you ever meet him) handyman repairs are not his strong suit. I tell everyone the secret to a strong marriage is, among other things, the good sense to call a professional to fix things. After 17 years, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. With the cracked seat still enthroned in my powder bath, I went to relieve myself and–I’m not joking here–it pinched me. Just enough to really get my attention. Naturally, my first instinct was to get a little ticked off at my husband for not handling such a simple task. Honestly, how hard could it be? Sure, I had a running list of other small home repairs waiting for a handyman’s expert touch, but this had to be handled now. With my preoccupied husband working late on a deadline, the job was up to me. So with three kids on my watch (one with strep throat, mind you), I grabbed a pair of pliers and began investigating how the thing came off. In less than three minutes, I was carrying the piece of crap (pun intended) out the back door to the trash. My two older kids cheered me on, especially after all my bragging of “Look what Mommy just did!” In another two minutes, the new, silent toilet seat was installed and looking like a million bucks. Such a small thing was a triumphant moment for me. Some of you reading this are thinking, “Big freakin’ deal…I changed my own oil last week!” and to you I say, “You’re way more amazing than me!” It’s not just that I switched out the pincher seat for a glossy new quiet model, as great as that was. The bigger victory is that I handled it without getting angry about my husband’s not doing it. Maybe that’s the other secret to a strong marriage. Who knows? After 17 years, I’m still sorting it out. Mia
Mia Magazine, Spring 201037
OURCONTRIBUTING EDITORS Sheilah Bright is a published writer/photojournalist/wannabe gypsy who blends her love of travel with the creative art of storytelling. Her work has been published in hundreds of newspapers and magazines. Whether learning to trek in Bhutan or counting penguins in Antarctica, this adventure junkie turned travel writer is hoping to visit her remaining two continents - Africa and Australia - in 2011, the year she turns 50. Currently, her travel photography is featured in a National Endowment for the Arts exhibit at the Sand Springs Museum. It can also be viewed at brightjourneys.com. Sheilah wrote My Tastes: “The Comfort of Family Food,”page 18.
Linda Phillips Ashour has written four novels published by Simon and Schuster and book reviews for The New York Times. She has written about boutique laundries and field trips with her hungry husband for the The New York Sun. Her non-fiction has been anthologized in My Father Married Your Mother: Writers Talk about Stepparents, Stepchildren, and Everyone in Between. A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Linda has lived in New York City for the past 10 years and is the mother of two grown children. Linda wrote My Cause:“Marilyn Phillips: Who Knew 80 Would Be So Much Fun,“ page 12. Three of Charlene Giles’ passions are spending time with family, encouraging strong marriages, and reading. She and her husband, Rod are celebrating their 39th anniversary this summer and are both enjoying the“empty nest”years. Their three children live in different parts of the U.S., which makes for fun road-trips. Someday when she retires she looks forward to more writing and singing in the church choir. Charlene is a licensed marital and family therapist who attempts to corral several hundred volunteers in care and marriage ministry at a church in Tulsa, OK. Charlene wrote My Relationships: “Never Too Old for a Slumber Party,” page 24. A wife, mother of three, creative writer, communications consultant and PR specialist, Charlotte Guest enjoys seeing what each new day brings. She’s recently started working as manager of marketing and public relations at OSU
Poet, travel writer and novelist Linda Watanabe McFerrin (www.lwmcferrin.com), has been traveling since she was two and writing about it since she was six. A contributor to numerous journals, newspapers, magazines, anthologies and online publications, she is the author of two poetry collections, an award-winning novel (Namako: Sea Cucumber) and short story collection (The Hand of Buddha), and the editor of a travel guidebook (Best Places Northern California, 4th ed.) and four literary anthologies. A past winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction she teaches and leads workshops in fiction and creative non-fiction. Her latest novel, Dead Love (www. deadlovebook.com), is due out from Stone Bridge Press in September, 2010. Linda wrote My Travels: “From Tokyo to the Tallgrass,”page 20.
Medical Center, returning there after almost 20 years. Charlotte loves spending time with her family and friends, summertime, playing tennis, oil painting, movie theater popcorn, and funny greeting cards. She is learning how to play golf (despite her type-A temperament.) Charlotte wrote My Life To-Do List: “Flying High,”page 26.
Annie Paige is a proud native of Tulsa, a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, and an International Baccalaureate diploma recipient. She just finished her Freshman year at the University of Texas, where’s she’s still trying to figure it all out - majors, careers, the future, life. She’s currently an English major and will possibly add a double major of Radio-Television-Film in the future. These educational experiences will prepare her for her future as either a successful screenwriter (the dream) or a starving, unemployed artist (the more likely reality). Either way, she’s ready for the journey. Annie wrote My Journey: “Where I’m Supposed to Be,”page 16. Monica Roberts is an Oklahoma native and Tulsa is her adopted hometown. When she’s not being a mom to Jack, Lucy and Oscar (children, not dogs), she writes, works as a marketing consultant and tries to take a nap, which rarely works out. She enjoys cooking, reading, long walks and entertaining. Monica writes the column,“My Afterthoughts,“ page 37.
Georgia Snoke is a wife of one, mother of two, Steffani Lincecum was born grandmother of five, former and raised in McAlester, OK and newscaster for KOTV News, attended Oklahoma Baptist and former Tulsa Tribune University in Shawnee. She has weekly columnist. She was been a costumer for over 25 also a dancer with Tulsa Civic Ballet and has years and has made clothes just finished terms as president and Board for theater, film and television, including 3rd chairman of Tulsa Ballet. She taught character Rock from the Sun, Will & Grace, and the feature dance and has trained three decades of Tulsa films Nixon, Primary Colors, and Inventing Ballet Nutcracker children (with more to the Abbotts. She currently lives in Madison, come). In her“leisure”Georgia has co-written Wisconsin with her husband and daughters. a book, Roman Jasinski: A Gypsy Prince from Her first book, Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit: the Ballet Russe, a biography of the Tulsa Using the Rub-off Technique to Re-create and Ballet founder. She travels joyfully with her Redesign your Favorite Fashions will be released husband, and has a decade of serious family in October, 2010. You can learn more at www. historical research under her belt. What stitchcoach.blogspot.com. Steffani wrote My Georgia does not do (willingly) is cook. Hence Art: “Confessions of a Reluctant Seamstress,” she has two Cop-out Cookbooks to her name. page 8. Georgia wrote My Heritage:“Cadence from the Past,” page 6. Monica L. Mullins was raised where the“wind comes Holly Wall is a journalist and sweeping down the plains” mother living in Tulsa. At her and finds great beauty in day job, she flexes her left brain red dirt, tumble weeds, sage writing for the Tulsa Business brush, and wide open spaces. Journal, while, in her spare She experiences the most profound sense time, letting her right brain run of freedom and joy in the company of her wild writing about art for Urban Tulsa Weekly, friends, the sun, and her bicycle. In following Intermission and ArtFocus Oklahoma. She also her vocational calling, she has lived half of her writes a column for Tulsa Kids, in which she life on a college campus and now regularly pretends to know enough about parenting commutes by bike to the campus. Most of to advise others. She is a new homeowner, her leisure time is devoted to training and mother to the coolest two-year-old on the racing with Exfuze Women’s Racing (www. planet and working up the nerve to begin exfuzeracing.com). Monica wrote My Health: an exercise regime. Holly wrote My Money: “Pedaling a Healthy Lifestyle,” page 10. “Shopping for the Secondhand,” page 22.
Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
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Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
Experience. Wellness. Everywhere.™
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Mia Magazine, Summer 2010
Published on Jun 10, 2010
Mia Magazine, a journal by, for and about women. Read inspiring stories of women of all ages, in all walks of life, who are making a positi...