Monday, December 31, 2007

We're singing those holiday recovery blues

It's an annual event hosted by the Mother of an old friend of my Wife's, celebrating the end of the shopping/entertaining/holiday season madness, where invitees are welcomed to show up in their most comfy sweats while they gab, snack, sip tea and reminisce on Christmas pasts.

It's called the Poop-out-Party and for the first time ever, S was definitely going.

So we packed up the brood, hitched up the 125 imported horses to our largest stagecoach and barreled up the Turner Turnpike for Tulsa.

Driving straight through Tulsa, we found ourselves in the little big town of Claremore, Oklahoma - population around 19,000.

While S wined and lounged at the Poop-out gathering at a lovely old house set up for rented entertainment called the Pink House, the girls and I got caught up with our old friends from Burbank who were visiting their relatives in Claremore for the holidays.

Long about dinner time, the poop-outs were petering out and wanting a real meal, so off we went to meet our respective significant others at a local Italian eatery, highly recommended by our local hosts. The joint was called...sheesh, I don't recall.

It was semi-Italian sounding, stared with a G...Grimaldi, or Gripaldi, or get the idea. Owned by a tall and jocular Claremore native named Carlos whom I was told is a retired NBA player from the 60's or 70's - not sure what era. Perhaps someone familiar with the area could fill in the blanks for me.

Anyhow, the grub was first rate, the atmosphere spacious and relaxed, and once our girls and all the offspring of our hosts and their assorted siblings were happily situated at their own table with plates of spaghetti and meatballs in front of them, the adults got to relax, unwind, and enjoy the meal.

The following day found our family unit walking the quaint downtown environs of historic Claremore, ducking into several antique malls to peruse the booths of consigned merchandise and grab momentary respites from the crisp northeastern Oklahoma wintry air. We eventually found our way to the Lynn Riggs Memorial statue and museum to 1) view the original surrey with the fringe on top, and 2) get a shot of the girls standing beside the Lynn Riggs memorial statue.

Of these, 1) the museum was locked up tight so no chicks and ducks went scurrying, no surrey and no fringe and 2) why is the playwright of "Green Grow the Lilacs" on which the musical "Oklahoma!" was based, surrounded by mutant overgrown cauliflower?

Perhaps they're lilacs. Go figure. No art critic am I.

For more info on this very prolific and talented native son of Claremore, click here.

To round out the afternoon, we had noon tea at a local historic home and landmark, the Belvidere Mansion. Legend has it the place is haunted by it's previous owner and offspring, which provided eye-darting distractions for our anxious-to-see-a-ghost 8-year old while we toured the majestic 3-storied mansion, shopped in their gift store, and dined on scrumptious house specialty chicken and ham salad sandwiches, killer bowls of homemade soup, scones-a-plenty, and multiple pots of steamy peach tea. The B mansion is a do-again and again kind of place.

And yet, our day outing in Claremore wouldn't and couldn't be complete without a visit with Oklahoma's favorite native son, the late, great Will Rogers.

Up the hill we drove, to what had to be the highest point in the country, for several hours of reflection, recollection, education, and enjoyment at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum. Of the venerable Mr. Rogers, I can only say that he would have a reserved seat at the head table at my "Meeting of the Minds" fantasy deceased dinner party -- along with Elvis, Mr. Lincoln, Akira Kurosawa, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Wifey and I left the hallowed grounds with a new appreciation for the wit and wisdom of Mr. Rogers, while the girls came away wanting to become trick ropers.

Next up, we once again take to the Mother Road to see what can only be seen off the interstate.

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