One family's adventures in the Great Plains

Welcome to

Oklahoma sunrise 2After a couple of decades of hosting a genealogy site, we are making some changes. Genealogy is still a primary pursuit, but we’ve also begun a new adventure — retirement — and moved across the bosom of America to the Great Plains.

Oh, then there is the fact that I did not updated the previous website’s obsolete software, and it crashed. Terminally. So this is the all-new, redesigned version of Tom and Kathy’s great online adventure.

In the weeks ahead we will be restoring the genealogy data (about 8,000 names and about 1,200 photos), so please be patient as I find new plugins to sort and organize that data.

Also, through our new blog and other pages, we are compiling information about what we are learning in this latest chapter of our lives — a move from the maritime environment of the Florida Keys where we spent the past two decades, back to the agrarian Great Plains environment in which I grew up. (Funny how things come full circle, eh?)

The first thing we did upon arriving in Oklahoma in 2013 was build a greenhouse. That enabled us to keep a little bit of Florida — orchids and other tropical plants — in a place where there are actual seasons other than hurricane season and tourist season. We’ve also resurrected my parents’ vegetable garden and planted an orchard.  These ongoing adventures, and maybe a few useful tips, will be documented here. Jump over to our blog pages for latest updates.

Learn more

New Roots, Old Home

Kathy tends her orchids

A greenhouse was our first project after settling in at my family home in Duncan, Okla. Next we tackled a small orchard and a tractor shed for Dad’s assortment of lawn tractors, tillers, shredders, weed-eaters and even a concrete mixer. This now was beginning to feel like home.20141017 Tractor Shed 014


DiMascio family


Our families have markedly different histories. My ancestors arrived from England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, eventually moving west to the Great Plains and beyond. Many of Kathy’s ancestors are relatively new arrivals — her paternal grandparents both immigrated from Italy —while others in the Bowen and Smith lines arrived centuries earlier, settling in and around Pennsylvania.  We delve into ancestry on our genealogy pages.

Learn more

Of Home and History
Frost Homestead

This was the Frost homestead, built around 1895 in Erin Springs, Oklahoma Indian Territory, by my great grandfather (and namesake), Dr. Thomas Joshua Frost. While the house is long gone, it sat near a cemetery where many of my ancestors are buried.

How Grows It?

The GardenMy parents’ vegetable garden had been idle for years. It was so overgrown with Bermuda grass in some areas that Dad’s big honkin’ Troy Bilt rototiller would just bounce across the surface. We finally got it tilled that first year and it produced a wealth of melons, tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, okra and zucchini squash — oh man, did we overdo the zucchini! But just as we were on track for continuing crops, we launched a seven-month renovation project on the house. Because of that major distraction, plus rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder, we opted to skip a year. Now we’re again facing a plot overgrown with seeds and Bermuda.

Learn more

A Berry Good Time
20141017 Berry Beds 006Blackberry vines produced a couple of pounds a day during their second year. The raspberry harvest was disappointing, but we’re more optimistic about this year.

La Casita Bonita

Kathy, Mae and I are almost ready to pull out of the driveway. Tom TuellAn important part of our Oklahoma adventure is getting away from it from time to time. So when a group of old friends who have scattered across the Southwest over the past three decades decided on a camping reunion in the mountains near Cloudcroft, New Mexico, we were quick to join in. Then we remembered the bygone days of Jeep camping in the Rockies — lumpy sleeping bags on lumpier ground, huddling in a tiny nylon tent during rainstorms, perpetual dampness and the lasting visual of Kathy trying to shave her legs in a cold mountain stream.

It definitely was time to invest in a casita on wheels. We found a nice little secondhand trailer just big enough for the three of us, and after a quasi-disastrous trial run to a nearby lakeside park, we were off to New Mexico. This summer we’re hoping to visit Yellowstone National Park, then swing by Montana to visit my brother near Red Lodge. We’ll chronicle that and other adventures (and inevitable misadventures) on our RECREATION page and in our blog.

Learn more

Welcome to New Mexico!

The sign at a roadside rest stop not only cautions motorists to drive slowly, but also to “Watch For Rattlesnakes.”