Saturday, July 30, 2011

Old Wire Road Tunnel Bridge

Summer is getting away from me, two more weeks and school will start. I had big plans the beginning of the summer to take some little jaunts away from Granny Mountain. Then the heat set in... and still hasn't gave up it's grip on us. Every day it's almost 100 degrees, too hot to hike or sightsee or have a picnic. It's even too hot to get out on the lake. I can't believe I've said that, I didn't think it was ever too hot for lake fun. So when GRANDson Gavin spent the night this week I
"Let my fingers do the walking"
on the Internet and found someplace close to Granny Mountain that might be fun to go visit.

It didn't take long to find a great website Bridge Hunters, an amazing database of historic bridges, past and present in the US, complete with pictures to peak your curiosity. Less than 20 miles from here was the Old Wire Tunnel Bridge, a concrete arch where the Arkansas-Missouri Railroad goes over and road traffic can go through! Built in 1920, it's a history lesson and fun excursion all in one fell swoop!

We drove out to Avoca and turned off highway 62 onto county road 1703. It twists and turns for several miles, snaking it's way back toward the community of Brightwater. You won't find it on a map... if you are too small to have a post office then you aren't a city or town, you're just a community. That's not to say you aren't noteworthy, there are neighbors and churches and happy families there.

It's where someone calls home and for many it's the only place they would ever want to live. Rural America is where some of us can't imagine ever leaving, and where some people could never imagine making home.  

 Wherever you live, there are interesting old bridges just like this one waiting for you to discover them. Sometimes you find them when you decide to drive down a road that you've always wondered, Where does that go?" Taking the time to do this is a little harder these days, it takes time to kill+gasoline. I often can see old bridges here in the Ozarks just off the main roads we are travelling. Every year tourists flock to see the beautiful covered bridges of New England, but the old truss bridges across the US offer beauty, history and they are still being used... a testament to the men who built them.
A horse-drawn wagon crosses a bridge in Arkansas in 1939
(Photo courtesy AHTD)
"It may seem silly, but this is where the study of historic bridges can prove useful. Some of these structures have stood unaltered for decades, just as our great-great-great-ancestors would have seen them. They may have been originally designed to carry horse-drawn wagons, but some are still capable of handling heavier automobiles today... if they receive proper maintenance and repairs.
Railroads have disappeared. Whole towns have vanished or relocated. Buildings have come and gone, or been remodeled beyond recognition. But bridges have remained intact, a silent reminder of our ancestor's way of life, and a tribute to skillful engineers who had no comprehension of modern school buses or SUVs -- and yet were able to build structure capable of standing the test of time."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Five Pounds

Five Guys Burgers opened here this week, we haven't been yet but will have to go and try them out. They are the fastest growing chain in the US right now, many say they are the best fast food burger you can get. My "benchmark" is Red Robin, I love their Bleu Bacon Cheeseburger, the one with a whole day's calories in one meal. That one! They cost $8.49 but it comes with endless fries, not a good me!

I don't know if I ever mentioned, but my family didn't eat out a lot when I was growing up. Mom made healthy meals and fast food was just not something they did. I was married before I ever had a McDonald's burger. Really! I think they were a quarter in 1970, it wasn't nearly as good as I thought it would be. It was plain and dry and skinny. I've heard that Five Guys is a little pricey for a fast food joint. A burger and fries are in the $12 range, add a soda and tax and that's what a steak costs at some restaurants.

It's ironic that in 1970 when we were newlyweds we could "afford the calories" but not the burger. Now, we can afford the burger but not the calories! Life is not fair...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Granny's Li'l Green Butter Beans

No matter where you live this summer, the main topic of conversation is the hot weather. We like to complain and whine, human nature. Lord knows, I do my share. If I have to get out and do anything that gets me melted down to a pool of sweat, I'm ruint for the day!

When we were kids people set outside in the summer,everyone did it... it didn't mean you were old or lazy, it was an ACTIVITY. Setting out under the trees or on the porch or patio was something one did in the afternoon on Sundays or after supper any old summer day. When the last dish was washed, really kids we used to wash them with a dish rag and put them in a dish drainer on the side of the sink, we'd go outside and sit in folding chairs and do nothing until bedtime. The tv would have to set alone in the itself!

If  I was at Grandma's house, the chairs were rockers... made for serious sitting. Oh how I loved to go and stay in the summer. It wasn't all fun and games though, I had to help out in the big garden that ran along the west side of the house. It had long rows of corn, tomatoes and beans that needed picking every morning. We'd bring them in buckets to the back porch where they would be washed, then after supper she always had a pan of Kentucky Wonder beans or black-eyed peas in her lap to shell or snap. Even when she was relaxing she was working. As much as I loved to snap beans, it never suited Grandma. She required all the pieces to be the same length and no tails or strings were allowed. I'd help a little while, then she'd shoo me off to go play. My brother and I would run around catching lightening bugs until it was deemed "time to settle down," then I'd set on Grandma's lap until I'd fall asleep and Grandpa would carry me off to bed.

Granny's Li'l Green Butter Beans
From My Southern Food~A Celebration of the Flavors of the South
1 slice of bacon or 1 tablespoon of bacon grease
1 pound fresh baby lima beans, or 1 (16 ounce) package frozen lima beans(we call these butter beans)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
In a medium sized pot, cook the bacon for about 2 minutes on each side until there is bacon grease in the bottom of the pot (keep the bacon in the pot), or melt 1 tablespoon of bacon grease. Add the lima beans, sugar, and salt, and bring the beans to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and allow the beans to simmer about 25 minutes, just until the beans are tender. Stir gently after 15 minutes of simmering to make sure the seasonings are evenly distributed. The juice should be a brothy texture, and the beans should be tender but not mealy.
Makes 4-6 servings
*Cornbread is a "given" when you have butter beans!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A little Kinky

The "road" I've been travelling recently has got me all kinked. I feel like a pretzel, twisted and pinched. Whenever that happens, there's just one thing to do. Having a good massage takes the kinks out and makes me feel like this road...
It's a luxury that Hubby gifts me with, maybe I might just drop a few hints along the way like breadcrumbs! Sonya had to knead me like a big batch of wheat bread...
After I was properly kneaded, she gently pulled on my arms and legs like  I was on a taffy machine in a candy store. When I was stretched back to 5'4" she moved onto the next area!

Onto the "big guns," the hot stones that massage out the places that won't budge even with pulling and prodding. In no time at all, I'm good as new... all the kinks are gone.
 I no longer feel like an Origami Money Shirt...
All ready for the rough road ahead!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Norberta Philbrook

I've blogged often about Eureka Springs, the quaint little artist's community nestled in the Ozark Mountains just a few miles up highway 12 from me. Even with the heat we've been having, the lush green of the trees and grass make you feel cool as you make your way over mountains and around the curviest curves you've ever seen! Eureka is like no other, hard to explain it's uniqueness. Small town America yes, but it has a heartbeat like NYC. The residents here were drawn to the ever changing seasons of the mountains to feed their art. From springs' rock and roll storms to winter's soft blankets of snow, those who call Eureka "home" have plenty to spur their creativity.

Arkansas native Zeek Taylor is known for his award winning watercolors, he uses a dry brush technique to create detail that's rarely found in this medium. His latest watercolor above is titled
"Norberta Philbrook Returned From The Farmers Market With Something For Everyone."
They say art should speak to you... this definitely does to me!  I had a fascination with monkeys when I was little, in fact I had a pretend one that I would push around in my doll buggy!
Norberta IS that childhood fantasy on canvas!  
Zeek Taylor's work hangs at my husband's corporate offices. I can imagine that on a very stressful Monday, filled with meetings and budgets, these may be the only thing that brings a smile to the faces of workers! Somehow, they say to me that the clothes we wear only partly cover the real monkeys underneath! That's purely my interpretation...
The vibrant colors of these flowers are so close to what Mother Nature is able to accomplish.
While looking snooping at his Facebook photos I saw an iris in his garden the very same color!
Oh, to be able to put on canvas what the eye sees...

 I love these intricate American Indian works.
Each of his paintings have meticulously hand-painted borders that complement the artwork.
 STELLA SCHULTZ, mixed media shadowbox,
watercolor, acrylic, amersand board, mirrors, wood,
sworovski crystals, rhinestones
23x28x3.5 inches $2200
If you are planning a trip to our neck of the woods, you can see Zeek Taylor's works in many of the local galleries, like Poor Richard's here in Rogers, during the May  Festival of the Arts at his studio/gallery in Eureka Springs at 12 White Street or his website

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dirty Little Secret

I'm so proud to show you pictures of Arkansas' beauty. I hope you never think I'm braggin', I just want to entice to to come visit us here in the Natural State! This gentleman was trout fishing this week just below the dam on White River with his great-grandson. The temps were in the 90's but the water was a cool 60 degrees. They were from Sulphur Springs, not far and like us they had came over for the day, to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature... and if they caught a few trout, then all the better!
I've been keeping something from you though... a dirty little secret that embarrasses me and makes me furious at the same time. Less than half a mile from our house is a public swim area on Beaver Lake that looks like this.
You can see our boat dock in the distance in this picture. Just across the cove, people come everyday and swim, have snacks and meals,  change babies diapers, drink a little too much and then leave it all for us to pick up. Twice a year our POA walks the road picking up trash. You don't want to know what we have to see, trust me.
I can tell they had a good time by what they leave behind... 
Glass bottles everywhere- 
I can tell these people have "expendable income," food is spilled everywhere. 

They had good luck catching a fish-
-then cleaned it and cooked it over an illegal campfire.
They spend the day defacing corp of engineer property to make their own "lake toys."

They destroy culverts that the county just installed last year by parking alongside the road clearly marked "Do Not Park on Shoulder."

Somewhere out there are people who are missing shirts and shoes... 

-and a pair of red underwear! Any takers?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Crystal Bridges

It's coming... and we can hardly wait! Opening 11-11-11,
the dream of the Walton family come to fruition. When Sam and Helen Walton operated the Five and Dime on Bentonville, Arkansas' tiny square no one ever thought that a world renowned museum would be just a short walk away.  
 The Museum sets on 120 acres of pristine Ozark land, owned by the Walton family and nestled around Crystal Springs that runs through the property. The glass and wood building was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions flank galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large auditorium. Sculpture and walking trails link the Museum’s park and gardens to downtown Bentonville.
To say we are excited and proud to live close to this magnificent project is an understatement! Crystal Bridges will undoubtedly spur the growth of Northwest Arkansas. 
Crystal Bridges will house a permanent collection of masterworks of American art ranging from the colonial era to contemporary work. Guests will be able to enjoy the collection within the state-of-the-art galleries and throughout the surrounding park. 
Ploughing it Under, a painting that defined the uncertainty of Depression-era America, is a part of the permanent collection. Alice Walton, philanthropist and chairman of the museum board, made the announcement regarding this well-known work by long-time Kansas City resident and Missouri native Thomas Hart Benton...

“Telling the story – especially stories that haven’t been told or have been forgotten – is one of our primary goals,” said Walton. “It is the intention of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to build meaningful connections between art and life and to make sense of the forces that define the American experience. This painting by Benton certainly does just that and, in fact, enlightens and reminds us of another era of economic uncertainty in our history.”
The natural beauty that surrounds the museum are a work of art as well. A mature forest that looks as though it might be in the Ozark wilderness is actually property in downtown Bentonville.
The many trails that surround the museum will allow visitors to enjoy the native trees and plants.

Beautiful Crystal Springs trickles over limestone rocks and you feel as if you are the middle of a unfound forest, birds twittering and the silence of nature make this a place to come and take a deep breath from life's busy schedules.

 One thing for sure, the sleepy little hamlet of Bentonville, Arkansas is going to change. Projected visitors for Crystal Bridges first year are in the 250,000 range.
 The gift that the Walton Family have given us will allow generations to see American History through art, possibly the best interpretation of all.

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