Category Archives: Women

My Gypsy List — 8 Places I Love

One of my early experiences with travel was written up by my dad and published in a travel magazine.   At the time I was mildly impressed that our family vacation was put to print, but now it’s wonderful to look back on his pieces as I reflect on the magic of travel.  My case of wanderlust, no doubt, is in the genes.  Travel is beyond visiting interesting spots on the globe.  Travel is a way to view life and culture.  It becomes a chance to feed the soul.  As my dad wrote,  travel allows us to experience the vibrant environment of a new destination where we can linger almost too long, drinking in the pleasure of feeling like a roaming gypsy immersed in the vibe and people at hand.   My gypsy “short list” of place I love and a bit why…

  1. Paris, France — Centre Pompidou,  hot chocolate at Angelina’s, walking along Champs Elysees. Pont Neuf,  Rive Gauche and the galleries,  the Grande Arche, the TGV to Nice
  2. Taos, New Mexico — Taos Mountain, a tuna sandwich at Michael’s Kitchen, dancing at the Sagebrush Inn, the turquoise shops, Ghost Ranch, the High Road to Santa Fe
  3. Honolulu, Hawaii —  outrigger canoes rowing the Ala Wai Canal, Tahitian hula dancing, lunch at the Halekulani, North Shore, Haleiwa Bridge, lanais, Hawaiian quilts, puka shells necklaces
  4. Venice, Italy— water taxi across the Grand Canal, Hard Rock Cafe,  Peggy Huggenheim’s Villa, the gondolas,  Prosecco, Piazza San Marco, Carnivale masks, the Rialto, macchiatos
  5. London, U.K. —  the Thames, the pubs, Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge, the Tube, walking in Richmond Park, Hamm
  6. Newport Beach, California– Crystal Cove, Balboa Island pier,  the bay, surf shops and beach boutiques, the ferry, koi pond at Fashion Island, the Lido, Pacific Coast Highway to Laguna Beach
  7. Prague, Czech Republic — the steeples,  the crystal, walking the Charles Bridge, the jazz bars, hat shopping, the Astronomical Clock
  8. Medicine Park, Oklahoma — the one-way wooden bridge, the bikers, their hogs, burgers at Meers, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, cobble-stone cabins with screened-in porches

August: Osage County — Not Far from Home

When I heard Tracy Letts  was developing his Pulitzer prize-winning  play August: Osage County for the big screen, I was thrilled.  I saw August: Osage County when it played on the LA stage.   “All roads lead to home.”  I could see the country, the sweeping prairie, the old hills encrusted with huge boulders, the gnarled oak trees and the miles and  miles of blue sky with breathtaking sunsets.   I knew the place Letts revealed.  The conflicted characters and how they have endured heartbreak while looking for  happiness seemed like people I knew.

Tracy Letts is the son of Oklahoma writer, Billie Letts, whose works many of us know and love.  Her best-selling novel Where the Heart Is was made into a movie starring Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd.  Both mother and son write about women, women who stare down fear and bitter disappointment to journey forward and rebuild their lives.  The expectant teen mom abandoned in an Oklahoma Walmart by her boyfriend is mother Billie’s beloved story.  After the unexpected death of the family patriarch, Tracy’s story centers around three sisters who have come home to Pawhuska, Oklahoma for their father’s funeral and to witness their mother’s sufferings.  During the course of the play Letts explores the depth of intertwined familial bonds.  Letts readily admits he used the title of a poem by dear family friend and mentor, the late Howard Starks, for his title, August: Osage County.  Starks’ poem reveals a strong sense of family and place.

My own story begins in a place not far from Osage County.   Comanche County in the summertime when I have come home to visit is hot for days and then it will rain.  Days become cool and breezy.  The local Wichita Mountains are full with flowers of Indian blanket and Mexican sage among the tall grass.  The buffalo and longhorn are lazy after finding shade among the oak while clouds lay low and gather.  My sisters and I have walked along the trails and made picnics of wine coolers and pimento cheese.  We have escaped to Austin and Santa Fe to savor summer’s last days, to listen to music and hit the dance floor, to buy turquoise and share the beauty of Western art.

Just like the women of Where the Heart Is and August: Osage County, my sisters and I, the three of us, have stared down fear and we have rebuilt lives in the face of loss and grief, celebration and joy.   Life remains wondrous in every moment.