Seagulls in Oklahoma? Fifty years ago the seagull would not have been on a list of Oklahoma birds, now they are common wherever there are lakes or rivers of any size and that includes the Arkansas River as it passes through Tulsa.
From 1963 to 1971 a series of locks and dams made the Arkansas River navigable to barge traffic from the Port of Catoosa just east of Tulsa all the way across eastern Oklahoma through Arkansas to the Mississippi River, and from down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.
Flying in the other direction were a variety of water birds not previously found as far inland as Oklahoma. Now it is common to see seagulls, pelicans, and several new varieties of herons, including the Cattle Heron. Humans are not the only species to have migrated to Oklahoma.
Christmas was on a friday and we had plans for a traditional Christmas Service beginning at 11:00 PM with carols and music and ending after a Eucharist just after midnight - Christmas morning. There would be cookies and treats afterward with coffee, or punch and noisey greetings of Merry Christmas.
However, we had 8 inches of snow on top of ice last night and Father Rick prudently cancelled the service. So like the practical folks we are we sang our carols this morning and enjoyed the cookies after church. The roads were still bad in some places but we had a hardy few who showed up ready to sing and had a fine time. The music was fine, or at least enthusiastic, and a most joyful noise was raised.
Afterward Susan and I went to the Olive Garden for a nice lunch in recognition that today is our 7th anniversary. Truthfully, I think we have come to love each other even more as time has gone by.
Sure enough, Santa came while we slept and left lots of presents. Most of them are for Sue's family when they come over for Christmas dinner this afternoon.
Did we get snow? Oh yes, we got lots of snow. In Oslo this would be just a light dusting, but in Tulsa it is a blizzard. 12 inches of snow on top of a thin layer of ice basically shuts everything down.
I got a nice new leather coat, new hat, scarf, and gloves. Merry Christmas to me.
Susan got a new stove with high capacity top burners, self cleaning oven, and digital time and temperature control. Merry Christmas to Susan. Smokey got a strip of bacon. He is easy to please.
I love this little creche. We got it several years ago at a church gift shop.
It is Christmas Eve and I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that Susan's special Christmas present was delivered today. She has a brand new Kenmore cook stove with high capacity top burners and a big self cleaning oven. She has tested it by making a batch of my favorite cookies. Tomorrow she will further test drive it by cooking a nice roast of beef and potato au gratin for our Christmas dinner. She is very happy. When Susan is happy I am happy.
The bad news is that the weather is terrible. It is well below freezing and sleet and frozen rain has coated streets and sidewalks with ice. It is predicted to continue all night. It is too dangerous for me to get out. I am unsteady on flat dry pavement. Ice is out of the question. That is a shame because it will interfere with our plans for Christmas Eve church services.
We were to take grand children Molly and Will to be part of the Christmas Play and I have been working with our music ministry on lots of special music. Now I'm afraid that not many will be able to attend. Sue's daughter and family are just down the street so they can walk over and we will feast no matter what the weather. Someone must have prayed for a white Christmas. You need to be careful what you pray for.
Trinity Episcopal Church at 6th and Cincinnati is set for Christmas in classic understated fashion. The exterior doors to the nave are red, the color of the Holy Spirit, and garnished with simple wreaths of evergreen tied with a red bow. Last Sunday was the fourth Sunday of Advent and the time for preparation is almost over. Inside there are touches of cedar highlighted by sprigs of holly with bright red berries. The time has come to decorate the church for the festival of Christmas -- the "Christ Mass" in honor of the birth of Jesus the Christ.
All across the world the faithful gather to sing and pray and wait to receive the birth of the Christ child, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the lamb of God, God made man and sent to live among us.
Dost Thou in a manger lie Words: Jean Mauburn
Dost Thou in a manger lie, who hast all created, Stretching infant hands on high, Savior, long awaited? If a monarch, where Thy state? Where Thy court on Thee to wait? Royal purple where? Here no regal pomp we see; Naught but need and penury; why thus cradled here?
“Pitying love for fallen man brought Me down thus low… For a race deep lost in sin, came I into woe… By this lowly birth of Mine, sinner riches shall be thine, Matchless gifts and free; willingly this yoke I take, And this sacrifice I make, heaping joys for thee.”
Fervent praise would I to Thee evermore be raising; For Thy wondrous love to me Thee be ever praising. Glory, glory be forever unto that most bounteous Giver, And that loving Lord! Better witness to Thy worth, Purer praise than ours on earth, angels’ songs afford.
(This is my most favorite Christmas carol, sung a Capella in beautiful four part harmony)
Each year for the past 30 years the winter solstice has been celebrated by a long concert organized by Paul Winter and performed in the cavernous Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York City. Sue and I make a point of listening to it every year and promising each other that next year we will make arrangements to go to New York and attend it in person.
Another year has gone by and we will make a pot of nice tea and listen to it on the radio again. It is broadcast over National Public Radio and can be listened to live on the internet. It is a wonderful night of song and celebration. Perhaps you would like to tune in and join us. If you miss the live performance you can download the music for free at the link above. Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas.
Some of you may know that my secret identity is Santa Claus. For six seasons I was Santa at Woodland Hills, Tulsa's largest shopping mall. From 1997 to 2002 I took the chair and asked about 15,000 children per season about their Christmas wishes. It was fun until some health problems forced me to give it up. However, I still have the suit and still do a few gigs for churches and charities.
Saturday I channeled Santa for my favorite charity, New Hope Ministry of Oklahoma. This started as a summer camp experience for children who have a family member who is incarcerated. These kids are a risk of the same fate without some positive experiences and good role models. The summer camp grew into a series of year round experiences and is making a real difference in the lives of these children. Click the link if you are interested in knowing more about it. Santa talked to over 150 delightful children this time.
This spritely elfe is Judy Gann, Episcopal Deacon and the founder and leader of New Hope. As you can see, she is having a very merry Christmas. She has been very nice this year.
Today President Obama received the Nobel Prize for Peace in Oslo, Norway. In his blog our friend Renny asked his readers for their reaction. Here is my response.
As an American I am proud that this prestigious award was given to our president. It was awarded based on the man’s potential and not on his accomplishments. It is like providing a very gifted young violinist with an exceptional violin. The hope is that the student will fulfill his promise and rise to the caliber of the instrument. If the committee has chosen well, the world is the beneficiary.
Something a little different this week. Here begins a series of pictures from the Whittier Square District. This ramshackle place sells quirky antiques and renovates furniture. Susan had a broken chair repaired here.