Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Saturday of the "Mini-Moon that Wasn't": The Oklahoma City National Memorial

We began our day with a visit to Petsmart. Okay, so actually, we began our day with a visit to Denny's but Petsmart was right around the corner. We bought a carrying bag for Sydney (can't have the little darlin' bruising his paw pads with all the walking we had in mind for the day!). We also bought him a new toy (as an apology for the torment we put him through the previous evening) and some Snausage treats (that he decided weren't worthy of him). Then we headed to Bricktown. Since we're such spring chickens, in the prime of our lives and as physically fit as any Olympic runners, we decided to walk the 347 blocks from the ballpark to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Yeah, okay. So maybe it wasn't really 347 blocks, but it sure felt that way by the time we arrived. I've got to tell you, though - all kidding aside - it was well worth the effort. I was amazed anew at the sense of serenity and respect I fell there. All of the adults, with the exception of 2 women who were chasing 3 or 4 young children all over the place, were quiet, respectful and somewhat subdued by the memorial. It's so beautifully done. The skyline of the memorial is dominated by what are called "The Gates of Time". These twin gates "frame" the moment of destruction - 9:02. The East Gate represents 9:01 on April 19th, 1995, marking the innocence of the city before the bombing. (Click on the pictures to enlarge)The West Gate represents 9:03, the moment we were all changed forever. According to their literature, it also represents the hope that came from the horror in the moments and days following the attack.In between the gates is the Reflecting Pool (see two pictures down for a better view of this). It occupies what was once N.W. 5th Street. The shallow depth of gently flowing water is intended to help soothe wounds, with calming sounds providing a peaceful setting for quiet thoughts. Visitors may see their own reflection, "a face of someone changed forever". Very, very touching. Next to the gates is the "Field of Empty Chairs". The 168 chairs stand as a reminder of each life lost, symbolizing the absence felt by family members and friends. The chairs are placed in nine rows, representing the nine floors of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The chairs are placed according to the floor on which those killed worked or were visiting. They're designed in two sizes, the smaller size representing the absence of 19 children. Each chair is crafted of bronze and stone; it's glass base is etched with the name of a victim. By day, the chairs seem to float above their translucent bases. By night, the glass bases illuminate as beacons of hope. The field's actual perimeter matches the footprint of the former Murrah Building. It's lined by a granite path - granite that was salvaged from the Murrah Plaza.
Across from the Memorial is something that actually isn't an official part of the Memorial itself. It's a statue built by a church across the street from what was the federal building. Most of this church was destroyed by the bomb. When they rebuilt, they placed this statue at the corner. It's of Jesus, head bowed in sorrow, with the words "And Jesus Wept" engraved into the base. It's probably one of, if not THE, most touching piece of statuary I've ever seen. Randey and I both choked up and shed a tear or two. The only other piece of rock that's brought this much emotion to the forefront of my mind is our grandson's headstone. I felt the same sadness, pain and melancholy looking at this statue as I feel whenever I see Conner's grave site and yet also the same sense of peacefulness and comfort that God doesn't leave us to feel hurt alone.
Along one side of the Memorial is this chain link fence where people still leave mementos and messages for those who were lost in the attack. I saw the pictures of two little boys, brothers apparently, who died that day. I saw the pictures of two beautiful young ladies in their teens...the pictures were left for their mother, who died when they were but 3 years old and 22 months old. I saw the picture of a woman with her sister, a sister who went to work on April 19, 1995, and never came home. The stuffed animals left for those innocent children, the flowers, the wreaths, the odd bits of things like a set of car keys, a pair of shoes, t-shirts, license plates...all of it was incredibly gripping and poignantly sad to see.
I will never understand the minds that decide killing is the way to make a point. So many people lost, so many families shattered, so many tears shed...and even after reading all about the warped person who "masterminded" this tragedy (whose name I will not mention - he doesn't merit that), I still can't even begin to see the reasoning behind this.

We didn't make it into the Museum - they don't allow pets, obviously. We plan to do that next time. We'll be taking the boys with us then, too. For better or worse, the Oklahoma City bombing is a part of our national history now and I think the boys should learn about it. I was sort of shocked to learn that they don't know that much about it. I forgot how young they were when it happened so while it's been a huge part of my conscience, it hasn't been a part of theirs. I want them to know about this, though. Sure, it's a horrible statement about the cruelty and evil human beings can be capable of, but it's also a glowing testimony of the resilience and goodness of human beings, as well. If you're ever in OKC, I urge you to visit this Memorial. There's so much more to it than I've spoken of in this post. I felt like I was in the presence of something spiritual and healing and good - so much beauty and love from something so horrific and evil. Despite the sadness, the loss, the nightmare of that day, good has triumphed there. And it's laid out for everyone to see. If you want proof of a higher being, of a greater plan, or a meaning of life...go experience this Memorial. You'll see how indomitable the human spirit is and you'll see how good us humans can be. This last picture is of Randey and the Johnny Bench statue at the Bricktown Ballpark. Yeah, we didn't get to see the game (notice who Randey is holding!), but I still got to say hello to JB (his likeness anyway!). Oh and see that bag on the ground to the left of Randey? That's Syd's new travel "purse". I was so bummed out that we didn't get to go to the ballgame or shopping or on the canal boat ride because we had the dog with us, but he didn't seem bothered by any of it as long as he was being carried. I think it's safe to say that Sydney liked riding around in his bag. Take about the "Life of Reilly"! That dog's got it made. And as soon as his doggy door is installed, so will WE!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lessons Learned: Loud Music, Expensive Tators, Angry Dogs and Two-Toned Hair

Hello everyone! We're back from our Mini-Moon. Considering this was our first foray into the Land of Couple's Who Get Away Together, let me just say that it was every bit as unsatisfying as Murphy's Law would dictate it could be. lol It started out well (famous last words, eh?). We took the boys to my dad's, visited for a few minutes and then headed downtown to our hotel. We wanted to stay at one of the many, lovely Marriott's dotted around that area, but....we're stupid people and brought Sydney the Wonder Dog with us on our Mini-Moon because we couldn't bear the thought of leaving him at home. This sort of thinking basically translates into "We're really bad pet parents!" and here's why: A) Two's company, three's a crowd! (there's a reason that's such a well-known cliche'), and B) What idiot (besides us!) thinks a dog would be happier cooped up in a hotel room all day long instead of lounging in the familiar comfort of his own home? Since we were dumb enough to bring the dog, we ended up staying at a Best Western (and why is it that Randey thinks a Best Western is A-Okay, I wonder???) instead of a Marriott because of the pet deposit. So anywho, we get to the hotel, drop all our stuff off, get Sydney settled (we thought) and decided to try out Toby Keith's restaurant, I Love This Bar and Grill. But first we had to go to Bass Pro Shops. Can't even begin to tell you what a thrill that was for me! (That's sarcasm speaking). Randey was very considerate, though and we were probably only in there for less than half an hour. He was looking at a particular pair of shoes - they didn't have them in his size, but the salesman assured him they would be receiving a shipment the very next day and would have his size then (they didn't). So anyway, we left Randey's Mecca (aka Bass Pro Shops) and wandered on down the canal walk. This is one of the first views we saw: And here's Tobe's place, from the rear (which is how we entered):
Tobe's place was packed, but what the heck. We were on a Mini-Moon, right? What's the rush? So we got ourselves put on the waiting list and headed to the bar. After a few minutes, I noticed a gift shop along one wall and went to check it out. Desiree', our daughter, is a Toby Keith Freak (that's her official title - she even named her dog after him!). I found her a cute little t-shirt as well as a picture of Toby. The t-shirt says "high maintenance" on the front which I guess means something to those in TobyLand - I didn't get it, but it does suit Des and that's all that mattered to me. I took my purchases and back to the bar I went. Where we proceeded to wait some more. And some more. And then yet even more. Just as it looked like we had to be coming up on the list soon, the band started up. Now when I say the band started up, I don't mean they launched into a pleasant rendition of a soothing little ditty. No, no, no. It was more like...well, you know how it is if you happen to get into a car after a teenager has been driving it and you turn the key and this weird, discordant music immediately blasts you out of the seat? Yeah, it was more like that. I don't know what or who that band was but I think Toby should seriously look a little harder into getting a better sound for his place! We tried going out to the patio, but the music was still grating loud enough to register on the Richter scale so we decided to heck with it. There was no point in eating at a place where we couldn't even hear each other talking from a foot away. So we headed down to Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse, across from the ballpark. Anybody else ever been there? It's quite nice. And quite expensive. An appetizer of Fried Asparagus went for $17.95 an order. A ribeye was $39.95, a New York Strip was $ get the picture, right? But again, we're on our Mini-Moon. Things like sticker-shock don't apply! And besides, it was fairly quiet and after the noise pollution and pain over at Toby's place, it seemed like heaven to us. I ordered a filet mignon in pepper sauce. I swear, it was probably the most tender steak I've ever eaten in all my born days. The flavor wasn't the best I've ever had, but it was good nevertheless. Randey had a sirloin, I think. We both decided against a baked potato because, well heck...I've never eaten a baked potato that was worth the $5.95 Mickey's people were charging. I mean really - unless that potato was laced with fine wine or Godiva chocolate, it couldn't possibly have contained anything making it worth that kind of jack. We did order onion rings and fresh fried okra, both of which were fabulous! Those were, without a doubt, the best onion rings I've ever eaten in my whole entire life! But who goes to a steakhouse just to eat onion rings? So, while Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse was a very pleasant experience, I must admit I prefer the fun atmosphere of McGuire's in Destin and Pensacola. I prefer their peppercorn steak, too!
Anyway....we ate our dinner, stopped for a latte' afterwards and then headed back to the hotel. We got off the elevator, laughing and talking - ahhhh, life's just grand - and about halfway down the hall, we heard him. Syndey the Wonder Dog. Barking and whining and yapping and howling. What the heck????? He's never done that before. We've left him in hotel rooms before. But come to think of it, that was almost 3 years ago....And sure, he's a yapper, but not like this! So we run/walk down to our room and get the door open and there he is...looking like an abandoned little orphan dog. With an attitude. It was obvious that Sydney the Wonder Dog was not going to tolerate sitting in a hotel room the rest of the weekend while we honeymooned our little touristy hearts out. So much for the plans we'd made! Here's the thing, though. After pouting for awhile and after thinking the situation over, we realized that we were pretty much torturing Sydney every time we took him with us whenever we went out of town. Every time we've taken him to my dad's house, we've stressed him out (he has to be either held, put in his carrier or locked outside due to the circumstances). Every time we've taken him to Florida, we've tortured him because he has to sit in a car for hours on end, he's limited in what he can do whenever he gets where we're going and he's generally miserable because of that. All this time, we've been so worried about "hurting his feelings" and making him feel abandoned when we leave town that we've been causing him more harm than good! So, we decided that A) we're getting a doggy door installed and B) the next time we go out of town, we'll pay the dog watcher to come over everyday, twice a day if need be, to give him some human interaction and check to see that's he's happy and his own home! We always have her come over for Blu, anyway. Geez. I can't believe we've been so stupid. I can't believe we became those kind of's who think they're doing the best thing for their pets without really thinking about the pet! But, the important thing is, we've learned from our mistake. And tomorrow I'll tell you more about our visit to Bricktown. Including the limitations imposed by having a dog with you. And all of you out there saying "well, duh!" about our little revelation on pet parenting, zip it! I'm feeling stupid enough as it is. Don't need your help on this one! lol
Now I'll leave you with this:
See my two-toned hair? As I've mentioned in the past, I've decided to just "go gray". For those of you who have ever done this, you know how hard the "transition" period is. I actually went about 6 weeks ago and had low-lights put in to help blend the old with the new. I think it's time to have that done again. lol I've worked so hard at ignoring the difference between the hair coming in and the hair growing out that it just doesn't phase me much anymore. Until I see a picture, that is. Or until someone says something. Like my dad. This was so we were sitting around visiting Friday evening, I noticed Dad kind of looking at me funny. Finally he said, "Did you add that white stuff to your hair on purpose?". LOLOLOLOL I think he thinks neither he nor I are old enough for me to be that gray naturally. Dad, Dad, Dad. I wasn't sure if I should be offended or flattered. Either way, it was funny. I'm still laughing about the look on his face! :)