The Shawnee News-Star Weekender Dec 28 2019 Becky Emerson Carlberg The cat toy was designed to give endless hours of pleasure.  The dissected ball wrapped in jute rope was capped by a lid decorated with three Koi swimming around three egg-sized holes.  A red plastic ball with small jingle bell inside was hidden within.  It […]

The Shawnee News-Star Weekender Dec 28 2019

Bald Eagle watching from the cottonwood

Becky Emerson Carlberg

The cat toy was designed to give endless hours ofpleasure.  The dissected ball wrapped injute rope was capped by a lid decorated with three Koi swimming around three egg-sizedholes.  A red plastic ball with smalljingle bell inside was hidden within.  Itjangled as it rolled about in its chamber. Cleo, the white and black spotted tailless wonder, played for a fewminutes, amusing herself with patting and rolling the ball as the entire toyrocked on its base.  Done.  Off she went. Tabby Sammy gave the toy a try that night.  After one whack with his paw, he snagged theball with his claws and removed it from the housing.  Much more fun to use the floor. Prettyamazing for Sammy to figure it out.  Hadto have been serendipity, so I retrieved the ball and dropped it back insidethe toy.

Next day I discovered the red ball in the hall.  Back in the toy.  While standing in the kitchen I watched as Sammypeered inside, took his paw, lifted out the ball and dropped it to thefloor.  One hit and the ball disappearedbehind a cabinet. This must be an interactive cat toy.

Charlotte, my #2 Orb Weaver, bit the dust.  She detached from her web during the last cold snap and December 19th was quietly resting on the porch floor in the corner of the brick wall.  December 21st she was gone.  Two large egg sacks are attached high on the wall.  Her legacy next spring.

University of Tulsa Autumn Graduation

University of Tulsa (TU) held their autumn term graduation onthe winter solstice.  TU has five collegesand a graduate school which offer degrees in more than 90 programs. The past tenyears has been marked by construction of several new facilities.  Last year the restructuring of academiccoursework led to friction and tensions still being resolved with littlecooperation from the administration. Seems to be an on-going battle.

Working and studying for years hopefully paves the way tograduation.  This is usually an anxiousbut happy affair for graduates and offers a way for family and friends to showtheir support and cheer on their people. 

The morning began with a buffet breakfast of fresh fruit,quiche, muffins, juices and coffee.  Peoplefound chairs and tables in various classrooms where they clustered to talk witheach other and many of the faculty.  Withmost folks in their seats by 10 am in the Reynolds Center, the 144thCommencement began.  The TU SymphonyOrchestra began playing 'Pomp and Circumstance.'    

The Grand Marshal carried the mace as he led in the procession of academia. The four-foot-long mace is topped by an 8' engraved glossy pewter cylinder with inlaid semi-precious stones.  A small TU seal was attached above.  The shaft supporting the pewter barrel is carved from rich reddish-brown heartwood of the tropical Central American cocobolo tree.  The mace was a symbol of academic authority and added authenticity and interest to the ceremony.

University of Tulsa Ceremonial Mace

Greetings and presentations were made.  The 'Charge to the Graduates' was given bythe President of the Student Association. She talked of going home (as a student) for the holiday.  Conversations were of clothes (mom) and howwas the oil in the car (dad).  ThePresident of the TU Alumni mentioned TU has twelve chapters and 22 clubs spreadacross the world.  Keynote speaker wasthe Deputy Mayor of Tulsa. A true University of Tulsa Grad, she earned aBachelor of Arts in Political Science and Juris Doctor from TU.  Her message was inspired by the University ofTulsa seal:  Have faith, seek wisdom,give support and offer service to others. Learn how to sail your own ship.

After the conferring of degrees, the graduates moved theirtassels from right to left, rose in groups according to their college and walkedacross the stage to receive their diplomas, shake hands and have their picturetaken. Several had decorated their grad caps. The super tall Mechanical Engineer rigged his hat with a fan on the top toblow strips of shiny colored plastic upward. To maintain such greatness, he had run a thin wire from his hat down hisneck, under his clothes to a battery. 

After the ceremony ended it was time to ring the bell.  The ringing of Kendall Bell is a traditionthat goes back to 1949 and signifies the completion of the new graduates' finalexam.  The bell had been mounted fivestories high on the top of Kendall Hall, first campus building completed in1908. The cupola and bell were later moved to the Bayless Plaza in 2006.  Easier to reach, but still it took thestudent effort and perseverance to make the bell chime.

The Gathering Place was a good place to go after the morning's event.  Our middle-schooler chose to put on rollerblades and cruised to the skating park.  Next thing we saw was her feet sliding out from under her as she fell flat on her back in a dip between two small concrete mounds.  Her ego was bruised, but she picked herself up and skated away from the course to flatter terrain.

Wooly Bear

While walking back to the car on sidewalk nearly washed awayinto the Arkansas River, I saw a black fuzzy tube crawling along the edge.  It turned and began a slow downward descent,clinging to the concrete, until it touched the ground.  The caterpillar stopped to survey itssurroundings.  When it bent, I noticedthe body between the thick bands of hairs was bright red. Many call thesecaterpillars wooly bears. Old timers say wide segments of black bristles(setae) indicate a mild winter but harsh weather if the bands are narrow. 

The hairy winter caterpillar is the larva of the GiantLeopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia) found in the eastern half of NorthAmerica.  It has been dining ondandelions, honeysuckles, magnolias, sunflowers and other plants now in autumnmode.  Quite soon this caterpillar shouldspin its cocoon and overwinter inside. Next spring a good-sized moth will emerge, its pure white wings dottedwith black circles and spots.  Sexualdimorphism is strikingly displayed by the Leopard moth.  The males may exceed two inches in length butthe females just over one inch. Don't tell them they are good sources of foodfor small birds.

At the car we heard 'eck, eck, eck'.  In a cottonwood was perched a Bald Eagle.  Spreading its wings, it took off over the Arkansas River.

White Winter Wonderland

Saturday night was chilly, but the lights on roofs, aroundhouses and in yards gave warmth and beauty to the darkness.  Some neighborhoods had little glow whileothers were power company delights. Large inflated Santas, snowmen and reindeer puffed up their chests.  Simulations of falling snow and magical fairylands were next to precisely edged roofs in white. 

Although we had no snow, the mystery and atmosphere of adifferent time still prevailed.  Hopeyour Yule was filled with magic.

Happy 2020!   

House of Many Colors