Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The nice lady who does the web site for luddite me is on leave. Our email has changed-- I'm so sorry for this. The telephone number, happily, hasn't changed.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Volunteers Need to Eat, Too

Though there were nights they were so tired that forks barely made it to mouths--even when the DBR's Fudgey Ice Box Pie was on the menu-- our Newcastle UM friends shared dinner at the Dancing Bean three nights of their stay.

Correction: some of them were too tired to eat. The boys pictured in the bottom photo didn't have that trouble, plus then they even had enough energy left to take a late night time swim in the pool. Who was it who said that youth was wasted on the young?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Can You Say About People Like This?

How would you describe people like this? People who would drive from their home in Newcastle, Texas, 50 miles south of Wichita Falls, to Pawnee Oklahoma--at their own expense--and spend their summer vacation working 10 to 14 hours a day in 105+ temperatures to put a new roof on a building for people they will never see again?
What can you say about them? Crazy comes to mind.

But on the Dancing Bean, we know them as the people from the Newcastle United Methodist Church on their annual Volunteers in Mission (VIM) trip.

VIM is a program of the United Methodist Church, affording people the opportunity to be a missionary for a little while. The Oklahoma Conference of the denomination coordinates projects in, logically, Oklahoma. The Indian Methodist church, part of the Oklahoma Indian Conference (OIMC) needed a new roof on their old parsonage as a first step in their plan to convert it to the fellowship hall the church desperately needs. The Newcastle UMC needed a project for the summer. The conference VIM office played matchmaker and, Bob's your uncle, our Texas UM brothers and sisters were on their way north.

Mr. Dancing Bean and I, with our creaky old joints, have never felt up to a VIM trip but always wanted to contribute. Through a stroke of good luck, Debbie Whitely, one of the volunteers, called the 'Bean to inquire about lodging for 4 nights. As she explained how many would be in their party, my brain starting calculating. Can I accommodate 14 people? And what would I charge? Then Debbie said the magic words: we're up there to do some work on a Methodist church. "Well, why didn't you say that before?" was my answer.

While I was working with Debbie, our pastor, Susan Ross, was working her end. By the time we were done, all 14 people were having lunch at our church, Pawnee First UMC, where a few of them also took a well-earned siesta. At night they had dinner at the 'Bee and slept in the Bunkhouse. It was a little crowded, but nice and cool and, equally important, equipped with showers.

Left side, Pastor David Ray. One year out of seminary. Newcastle UMC breaks their preacher in hard.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The DBR and the PBR

"Discover Oklahoma" did a show about the wild west attractions of the Pawnee Bill Ranch and recommended "bunking down" at the Dancing Bean. Nice mention. Thanks, "Discover Oklahoma."

And the photo? Just a way to celebrate the butterfly weed, still blooming madly in spite of this brutal weather. Speaking of, that's a butterfly atop it, back in June when Oklahoma wasn't yet engulfed by drought and heat.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Summer Is Too Hot

What more can I say? Except, the swimming pool beckons.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Naughty Adventures of Inga and Torvald.

The big dog is Torvald. The little one's named Inga. They came to us the way all our animals have: dumped by some tender soul.

Torvald came out of the woods the morning of one of the coldest days of the year, last winter. He was just a pup. As with all our dumpees, he was at the doctor's office less than 24 hours later. (No litters on the Dancing Bean, thank you very much). Dr. Gilliland told us he was a very fine example of a pureblood labrador, but warned that the breed "can be a little rambunctious. " (The Doc is a master of understatement.)

Torvald's antics have driven us half mad, caught somewhere between laughter and anger. Take the morning Bill opened the door of his carpentry shop where the dogs sleep and heard an unfamiliar buzz. Searching out the source of the noise, he discovered that Torvald had pulled a power sander off a work table that Bill had thought even the big lab couldn't reach. Somehow, he'd manage to turn it on.

Just as I'd decided he couldn't be any naughtier, a partner for his crimes appeared. A very small partner. (To be continued).

The Only Place To Be When It's 100F.

This delightful young family enjoyed Fathers Day Weekend with a low key mini-break at the Dancing Bean Ranch for Wild West Show weekend. As befits the start of a holiday weekend, they stopped by Click's in Pawnee for a fantastic steak dinner and pie with "the highest meringue I've ever seen," according to them.

Because the little girl's hair is wet, you can't see the ringlets that give her a natural-born angelic look.

This business may not make me rich, but meeting people like this is half the fun.

PS: Families welcome, also singles, couples, partners, life partners, friends or anyone else looking for a peaceful retreat. Or a noisy splash in the pool on a hot day.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Park Too Far

These Victorian flowers are violets, from my smallest garden. I'm interested in all things Nineteenth Century but, since Bill and I watched Ken Burns' "Civil War" the first time it aired, we hadn't intended to watch it again. Yet the minute David McCullough's voice began the narration, we were hooked all over again.

Civil War buffs are famously devoted students of our nation's great war. One of my most delightful vacation memories is about just such a young man.

Years ago, my daughter and I were returning from a holiday in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (my rates are a half or less of what you'll pay there for comparable accommodations--just sayin') and on the way home stopped at Pea Ridge Civil War Military Park. We pulled into a parking spot at one of the outlook points where markers describe the action that took place in the valley below.

At the same time, a very attractive young couple pulled a car with Arizona plates alongside us. The man behind the wheel parked, grabbed a camera and started racing from point to point, stopping only long enough to get a photo. Why the hurry, I wondered. Especially since the day was hot. Then I saw his partner, slumped in her seat, arms folded tightly over her chest and a big, angry frown on her face.

I have a hunch that wasn't their first Civil War park.

While we have no military parks or natural springs nor mountains, we do have a colorful cowboy mansion and museum to offer, a Wild West Show in the summer and a big swimming pool that makes summer heat a joy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Just How Real Can It Get?

That's me and our Norwegian Forest cat, Sally, spending a snowy winter day enjoying the first draft of Jeri Westerson's new series, Oswald The Thief. If you've read my previous posts, you'll recognize Jeri as my guest blogger in the piece on crime in the Middle Ages. She's a terrific writer, and her new book is no exception. Having reinvented medieval mysteries by writing the first medieval noir series, she's doing it again by creating the first caper mystery set in the period.

Why do I get to read the first draft? Because I write mysteries, as well, (No, not published; I'll let you know) and we are two of four parts of the online critique group we've fondly named the Vicious Circle.

My story is a cozy mystery set in a small Oklahoma community. The protagonist is a middle aged, beekeeping, B&B owning widow. Write what you know, amirite? Except here on the Dancing Bean Ranch, the Top Hand (my husband, Bill) is alive and well and kept busier than he would like with my many projects. Pippa McMaster, my amateur sleuth, isn't so lucky and has to manage the fictional Dancing Bee Farm all on her own.

But back to Write what you know. How far can that old chestnut be taken? In a county where the Grand Jury just handed out indictments to various county officials, it's tempting to turn the situation into something more spectacular than it is. And with a little scandal brewing in an upcoming election for a local office, the temptation only grows worse. I don't write true crime, so I'll leave the details to the justice system. For local color, however, the allure of our little crime wave is irresistible.

And how about this one: a set of identical twins, two women in their eighties, who still dress exactly like each other. (At least in public, where I see them). Seriously. Not only do their respective clothes and shoes match, so do their eyeglasses, hair styles, jewelry and even shade of lipstick. Replace the smiles on those identical faces with a vacant stare , and you're looking at Children of the Corn: The Adult Years.

When the inspiration for colorful characters is as abundant as it is here in Pawnee County, it leaves only one question: how real can it get?