The Shawnee News-Star Weekender July 27 2019 Becky Emerson Carlberg This July has been quite dry at my house (0.32 inch the last 29 days) with some interesting temperature variations.  Who would guess the Jet Stream would dip down, bringing cooler northern winds with it?  Some mighty large cracks have developed in the Japanese Garden […]

The Shawnee News-Star Weekender July 27 2019

Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs Arkansas

Becky Emerson Carlberg

This July has been quite dry at my house (0.32 inch the last29 days) with some interesting temperature variations.  Who would guess the Jet Stream would dipdown, bringing cooler northern winds with it? Some mighty large cracks have developed in the Japanese Garden that onecould pole vault over.  The nine newtransplants including a Mimosa, two Rose of Sharons and Weeping Yoshino Cherry arebeing watered along with a few other drought-stressed plants.  My three tomato plants are sucking theirEarth Boxes dry every day, but as long as the Plumeria gets a good drink, thistropical is loving life in the heat.

Think this is a Hawaiian plant?   Think again.   The Plumeria's home is Mexico and Central America, but it also grows in Brazil and Florida.   Wilhelm Hillebrand, a German physician, took Plumeria to the Hawaiian Islands in 1860.   The scent of the flowers fool the night flying Sphinx moths into pollinating them, but the blooms have no nectar. The Pseudosphinx moth larvae are called Plumeria caterpillars.   Oklahoma has over 20 different Sphinx moth species and this moth is one of them!   Like the Monarch caterpillar, the Plumeria caterpillars taste horrible because Plumeria latex is toxic.  

Plumeria Blossoms

Where the Plumeria is native (tropical and subtropicalAmerica), the caterpillars can defoliate a Plumeria tree.  Each larva can eat three 20' long leaves per daybut it does not kill the plant.  My Plumeriais either Plumeria obtuse or Plumeria alba.  Both species have white flowers with yellow centers, but P. obtuse topsout at 25 feet while P. alba soars ever higher to 40 feet in height. 

My 8 ft tall Plumeria was chopped up (pruned) in earlyspring and four stems were distributed to other gardeners.  Some are now blooming.  The mother plant continues to grow in expectationof reaching the sun, producing lots of leaves but no beautifully scentedflowers.  The good thing is the leaveshave remained untouched, except for the sun, wind and the occasional raindrop.

Four Toy Story movies have been released since 1995.  Don Rickles was the voice of Mr. Potato Headin the first three but died before the 4th movie was made.  Nevertheless, the director combed through allthe outcasts and pieced together Don's voice for the last movie. My favoritecharacter was Buzz Lightyear and his 'To Infinity and Beyond.'  I have not missed a Toy Story movie.  On the bookshelf stand a Buzz Lightyearbobble head and fully suited-up Buzz astronaut. Last time McD featured Toy Story was in 1999 when Toy Story 2 wasreleased.

This June McD began their Toy Story 4 Happy Mealinstallments.  Ten different Toy Story 4characters were to be released, each with a section of the Toy Story RV,chances to win instant food or even be one of the eight lucky families to win atrip to Disney World near Orlando Florida. What an idea.  My son is not one to frequent McDonald's, buthe does have a 3 year old daughter.  HerOklahoma grandparents began ordering Happy Meals wherever they were in hopes ofcollecting all the pieces to make the RV featured in Toy Story 4.  Each meal had a dual toy/RV panel designed tobe stand-alone action toys or components of the RV.

Small cheeseburgers, chicken McNuggets, tiny pks of fries, and yogurt tubes were dispersed to friends and family during the construction process. At one meal McNuggets became appetizers and the yogurt went into the freezer to become freezer pops.   We managed to get 9 of the 10 toys, but missed Woody that had the last side panel of the RV.   Woody was located on EBay.

The Infamous Toy Story 4 RV

When he arrived, the RV was assembled.  Sort of. The side bits snapped together quite securely, but when it came time toadd the ends to connect the entire RV together, my feeling was we needed some balingwire and duct tape.  It was a ricketycontraption any 3 year old could immediately disassemble, never to be puttogether again.  A Humpty Dumpty RV.  Well, it did have movable wheels.  Once I linked the entire contraption togetherwith a thick rubber band, it almost seemed solid.  Small knobs on the top were for the placementof the various toys:  Bo Peep, Woody,Buzz, Forky, etc.  Apparently the littlepeople were also designed to help hold the parts together.  Problem was the action toys did not stayattached and fell off with the slightest jolt.

On the table now sits the Toy Story 4 RV with its detached entourageon top.  Inside the guts of the vehicleare different games tied to each of the figures.  If one wanted to play with individual parts, offcomes the rubber band and to the junk yard the RV goes for deconstruction.

McDonald's is assuming each child has an active imaginationand will grow up to become a mechanical engineer.  This 'toy' was actually cool and could havebeen offered in adult meals since adults would be the only ones to be able toassemble or appreciate the spectacular design of such a clever composite toy.

Eureka Springs. Tucked in the northwest corner of Arkansas in the Ozarks, this quirkytown is full of craftsmen, artists, interesting old buildings and some powerfulhills.  We were there for the Eurekanweekend, three days of triathlons, bike rides and running races.  Earlier Friday we found the Fiesta Mart wasselling moon pies for 11 cents in honor of Apollo 11's 50thanniversary.  No pies were left.  Undaunted, small moon pies were discovered inSiloam Springs.  When Saturday arrived,everyone got a moon pie.

As we neared 'Little Switzerland', a 6 point buck stood in the middle of the road, curious yet defiant.   He slowly strode off and we slowly drove the rest of the way to Eureka Springs.   Our little abode, the 'Becky Thatcher,' was next to the 6 acre Lake Lucerne.   We were surrounded by trees, birds, frogs, moths and other wildlife.   The cooling system was minimal.

Lake Lucerne outside Eureka Springs

Saturday morning I walked up and down a steep hill. A foot-long copperhead had been killed on the road. The bike riders had gone when I got back to the cabin. Two chose to ride 30 miles, one decided on 62 miles and four tackled 100 miles.   After the race, we became tourists and visited shops as well as the historic five story Crescent Hotel, built in 1886. The stairs and fireplace were constructed of native wood.   In the early 1900s the hotel became Crescent College.   The school was purchased in 1937 and converted into the Baker Cancer Clinic.   The charlatan was jailed for mail fraud in 1940.   Several owners followed.   The Crescent has been renovated and returned back to hotel status.   Here is where the ghost tour begins each night.   The Crescent is said to be America's most haunted hotel!

The Dragon lives in Onyx Cave

Sunday was Onyx Cave. It could have been called Calcium Carbonate cave, since Onyx is asemi-transparent agate of the same chemical. This cave had experienced human damage, but still retains activeformations.  The huge plus: 57 degreesday and night. The entire weekend, temperatures had hovered at 100degrees. 

Onyx cave was cool!