In Memorium

I Visist Your Grave

Many times I visit your grave,

but I do not go

where the inscribed stone lies

in the grass or the snow.

I visit your grave

when Western music brings

memories of by-gone days.

When at the stock-yard barns

the auctioneer sings.

When deer season opens

and ducks are on southward wings.

When the range cattle are in

with the first snow fall.

When Spring is announced

with the first meadow lark’s call.

When the summer’s warm sun

smiles on the grass standing tall.

When the Christmas holidays

with memories abound.

When the New Year’s bell

rings it’s familiar sound.

When a hard winter leaves

and Spring rolls around.

In so many memories

that are happy and gay –

memories of a prairie home

in an earlier day.

With a heritage of riches

along life’s pleasant way,

I visit your grave.

This poem was written many years ago by my mother, Lillian Burns Weaver, in memory of her older brother, Jeff Burns, who passed away far too young.  Mother was the second of ten children who grew up on a homestead in northern Montana in the early 1900s.

I am posting this poem in memory of both my parents, sister, brother, grandparents, and my aunts and uncles who I thought when I was a little kid,  would live forever.  May they rest in peace.

Blessings to you and yours,  Cookie

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Meeting My First Neighbor

City pick-up services (trash and recycling) are performed in my neighborhood every Monday.  You roll your two containers out to the street on Sunday night and the first one is emptied bright and early in the morning.  The other container is emptied sometime in the afternoon.

I had an appointment on that first Monday afternoon and when I returned home, both my recycling container and my trash container had been rolled up my driveway and were sitting neatly in front of my garage door.  I really didn’t know what to think!  Before I could even ponder this good deed, there appreared a lovely lady who said, “I brought your containers up to your garage door for you.  I do it for several of my neighboors every Monday and I’m going to do it for you, too.  My name is Ruthie.  What’s yours?”

Excuse me, Friends, I have to take a little break here…..I have to go get a tissue to dab my eyes…..  Thank you, Lord, for directing me to this neighborhood.  For directing me to the neighborhood where Ruthie lives.

Blessings to you and yours,

Cookie

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House Hunting and Beyond

Late last spring, while I was living with Aaron, Alicia and John, Aaron and Alicia started talking about selling their house and building another one in a different area.  Even though they have a super house, they wanted an additional bedroom, bigger garage with space for a work shop, bigger yard, some nice up-grades.

When you build a house, it’s best to have your former house sold so that you aren’t looking at making two house payments per month, with the additional dread of not having your house sell for an indefinate period of time after you’ve moved in to your new house.

So, there was discussion among us as to where the four of us would live for the time period after their house sold and moving into the new house.  A few ideas were bandied about, but I sensed that there was not going to be an ideal solution or even a slightly less than ideal solution.   And this solution would last for three, possibly four months or more.

Buying a house had always been my plan.  I just hadn’t done anything about it up until this point because things were going well at Aaron and Alicia’s.  Living with my son, Aaron, and daughter-in-law, Alicia and another son, John, was a pleasure.

Aaron and Alicia contacted a Realtor (Tina) and put their house on the market.  They spent numerous weekends looking at model homes in new additions and we had some fun discussions on what they wanted in their new home.

I wondered what I would do if their house sold lickity-split and we had to figure out living arrangements.  That’s when I called Tina myself.

“Hello, Tina.  This is Cookie,  Aaron’s mother!  I’m interested in buying a house too!  When can we start looking?”  At that point, I told Tina what I was looking for in a house (great kitchen, three bedrooms, two baths and good curb appeal) and how much I wanted to spend.  We got started right away.

The internet is a wonderful tool in house-hunting.  Tina was able to send me links to houses that matched my criteria and I could take a virtual tour on the web.  Some I said no to right away and some I told Tina that I wanted to look at in-person.  There was even another web site where I could access all of the homes for sale within a certain radius of a certain point and in my price range.  I took many virtual tours on this site too.

Tina and I rendezvoused at quite a few houses.  I found that I knew within a minute or two of entering a house whether it was a “no” or a “yes.” There were no “maybes.”  There ended up being 13 no votes and 2 yes votes.  The first yes vote was a wonderful house – granite countertops in the kitchen.  I made an offer and we found out the house had already been sold and mistakenly not reported to the listing service.  Ugh – that hurt.   That offer was made on a Friday afternoon and then on Saturday, Tina and I looked at another house that got my “yes” vote.

Of course, I planned on Aaron, Alicia and John seeing a house before I made an offer on it.  That just made sense – four heads are better than one, right?  Aaron and Alicia were out of town that weekend and John was working that Saturday……so, I had to make a decision.  The house had been a foreclosure and had been on the market for a couple of months and was sold, pending the buyers getting financing (they were given three months to get their financing).

The buyer was unable to get financing and the house had gone on the market again two days before I looked at it.  It was a great house.  I didn’t want it to get away and I knew I was making the right decision when I said, “Tina, this is the one!”  I went to Tina’s office later that afternoon and made the official offer.

Aaron and Alicia came home from their weekend out-of-town and after telling John and me all about the fun they had over the weekend, they asked me what I had done that weekend.

“Well, I bought a house!”

“Of course, I wanted you guys to see it first, but I felt that I had to make an offer on this house immediately.  I think, when you see the house, you’ll say, “Mom, you did the right thing.”

Within a few days, Tina met me at the house again.  This time I had Aaron, Alicia and John with me.  The purpose of this trip was to show the house to my family.  I was so excited!

And guess what?  When they saw this house that I had made an offer on, they said, “Mom, you did the right thing!”

Blessings to you and yours,

Cookie

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Truly Different Cupcakes

When I first moved to rural Cedar County with my little family in 1977, I was introduced to a neighbor woman who would remain my friend for many years.  Her name was Dorothy.  Her husband’s name was Hib (short for Hilbert).  Hib had a twin brother named Hub (short for Hubert).  At first I had a hard time telling the two apart, except that Hub was missing two fingers on his right hand. 

Hib and Dorothy lived about a mile from us, and Hub, a bachelor, lived in a house across the road from them.  Hib and Hub farmed together and Dorothy was the typical farm wife.  Dorothy raised chickens, which she and Hib butchered and sold.  She also sold eggs to a lot of folks in the area.  I got my eggs (and also eggs for my parents) from Dorothy.  Back in the 1970s, Dorothy sold her eggs for 50 cents a dozen.  They were beautiful, large, brown eggs.  I saved the empty egg cartons to give back to her.

Dorothy didn’t drive.  Notice that I said “didn’t,” not couldn’t.  Dorothy knew how to drive, I saw her do it in the farm yard, but for some reason she chose not to drive, even though I offered to give her additional driving lessons.  No matter, Hib or Hub or any one of her numerous relatives or many friends was always willing to take her where ever she wanted to go, and go she did!  Dorothy was always on the go, astonishing to me for a woman who didn’t drive.  And I was Dorothy’s willing chauffer on many occasions.

We both belonged to the Farm Bureau Homemakers Club and I, along with my young son, Matt, would pick Dorothy up and go to our monthly meetings, and any other in-between events.  I was the youngest Homemaker in our county’s group and the ladies totally welcomed three year old Matt at all of our meetings and get-togethers.  He was well-behaved and went with me anywhere I went.

When Matt started kindergarten, I had a new little buddy to bring along with me – my second son, Aaron.  And Dorothy and the other Homemaker ladies doted on him like they did Matt.   

Dorothy liked to collect things and had an amazing array of knick-knacks throughout her home.  Most were remembrances from trips she and Hib had taken, or little things that her grandchildren had given her.  Astonishingly, I never saw a speck of dust in her house, and I say astonishingly because anyone with all the do-dads that Dorothy had, you would think that dusting would be something easily put off until another day.

Dorothy’s main focus in the collections department was a fabulous cup and saucer collection.  Hib had installed two large, built-in, lighted cases in the living room.  I would say that Dorothy had, at the least, 150 sets of cups and saucers in those cases.  It was quite a lovely collection.

One of the best things about Dorothy was that she was a wonderful cook and baker.  She shared many of her recipes with me.  Truly Different Cupcakes is one of my favorites.  These cupcakes are like little brownies and you can frost them or not – I usually don’t.   Or you could just dust them with powdered sugar.   Here is Dorothy’s recipe:

Truly Different Cupcakes

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, or 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate

1 cup butter (2 sticks), or 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup margarine

1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules  (my own addition – not in the original recipe, but if you have the instant coffee granules on hand, use them)

1 cup chopped nuts, optional

1 3/4 cups white sugar

1 cup all purpose flour, unsifted

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt chocolate chips and butter/margarine in a saucepan over low heat.  Remove pan from heat.  Add instant coffee granules.  Stir.  Add eggs, one at a time, stirring after each egg is added.  Add vanilla.  Stir til blended.  Add nuts if you are using them.  Stir until the nuts are well coated.  In a large bowl, combine sugar and flour.  Add the chocolate and nut mixture to the sugar and flour mixture.  Mix carefully, not beating.  Pour batter into muffin tins, lined with paper liners, filling each about 3/4 full.  Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 30 to 35 minutes.  Makes about 18 cupcakes. 

Blessings to you and yours,         Cookie

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Homemade Cajun Seasoning

If you like Cajun flavor, you should try making your own Cajun seasoning.  If you’re not familiar with Cajun, why not give it a try?  As with other homemade seasonings, the recipe can be adjusted to suit your own preferences.  I came across this recipe some time ago at SimplyRecipes.com.

Homemade Cajun Seasoning

1 Tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Store in a jar with a light fitting lid or a plastic resealable bag.  Label and date the container.

Use this seasoning to sprinkle over grilled chicken or pork chops.  Try it on other meats too.  It is good sprinkled in soups also. 

Blessings to you and yours,         Cookie

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Homemade Taco Seasoning

It’s so much more economical to put together your own seasonings, especially if you use alot of them.  You can also adjust the amount of one or more of the spices to suit your individual taste.  Tacos are always welcomed by kids and adults.   This recipe is from Tasty Kitchen.com, contributor BrightBakes.  Tomorrow I’ll post a recipe for Homemade Cajun Seasoning.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

1/4 cup chili powder

1/4 all purpose flour

3 Tablespoons dried minced onion

1 Tablespoon garlic powder or dried minced garlic

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Combine all ingredients.  An empty peanut butter jar works well to store the seasoning in.  A mason jar would work also.  Even a plastic resealable bag.  Label and date the container.  This recipe makes about 1 cup seasoning.

When you are ready to make tacos:

Brown 1 pound of ground beef, turkey or your protein of choice.  Drain.   Add 1/4 cup of the taco seasoning mix and 1/2 cup water.  Stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.

I hope that you enjoy the recipe.  🙂

Blessings to you and yours,         Cookie



 

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The Games People Play

Aaron, Alicia, John and I play the card game Hearts.  We usually play on nights when no one has to get up early in the morning and go to work or school.  Aaron and John have jobs and Alicia has school.  I try and pry myself out of bed by 8 or 8:30.  (I sleep so late because I’m a night-owl.)

We played many games of Hearts with a regular deck of cards and as much fun as it was, it was always a major pain in the kiester trying to handle 13 cards, get them sorted into suits, then sorted from low to high or high to low, whatever your preference is. 

Then you have to deal with choosing three cards to pass either left, right or across and that means that you have another three cards passed to you that you must fit into the already sorted cards you are trying to hold, trying to make sure that none of them are overlapping and that you haven’t got a card from one suit hiding behind a card from another suit.

Surely, I thought, there must be an easier way to handle all these cards!  Well, another trip to the store (Amazon.com) was in order.  There I found some colorful plactic card holders and I ordered a set of four.  They were triangular in shape and held the cards between two chunks of plastic held together in the center by not the tightest spring in the world.  Price, about $4.00 for the set of four.

Alicia and John used the card holders maybe two or three times and that was it.  Aaron used the card holder probably six times.  I used the card holder about ten times. (You can see that I gave the card holder the longest chance!)  The card holders were, I would say, only about 20 per cent better than wrangling with the cards like we had been doing.  We still had to deal out all 52 cards for each hand, which we considered a minor pain.  So…….

Aaron and I taught Alicia and John how to play Euchre.  Euchre is just as much fun as Hearts and there are only five cards to hold!!!!!  This was a big advantage. 

We’d been playing Euchre for several weeks when John suggested that we play Hearts online, using our laptops, eliminating the need for dealing, sorting, holding, etc. 13 cards in your hand. 

That idea really didn’t impress anyone.  He suggested it again a week or so later and I guess by that time we thought, why not give it a try?  So we all sat down at the dining room table, each of us with our laptop in front of us and logged in to Yahoo! Games.  We all already had Yahoo! accounts so we each just had to log in with our user name and password. 

We found the Hearts game section.  Then we chose a “room” with no players in it.  After we were all in the virtual “room,” we clicked the “private” tab and then clicked the “play” tab and there we were – 13 virtual cards dealt to each one of us, all sorted nicely in to suits, low to high.

All we have to do is click on each card as we want to play it.  After each hand is played, the score is tallied and another hand is dealt!  If you “shoot the moon,” you can decide if you want to give each of the other players 26 points or deduct 26 points from your own score.

No card dealing, no card sorting, no card handling, no scoring…..no cards!

And we have just as much fun as we did before.

I think that the four of us would agree that Yahoo! is great for the games people play.

Blessings to you and yours,         Cookie

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My Best Interests at Heart

Have you ever heard the expression that a person has “a good ear?”  Now everyone would like to have a good ear, most likely two good ears.  But as I understand it, the expression doesn’t have anything to do with having nice or attractive ears.

There have been numerous times when I have heard a word mispronounced and I thought the person speaking didn’t have such “a good ear.”  I know I have done it myself.  I try not to mispronounce words and if I learn a new word, I make sure that I know exactly how it should be pronounced.

When my children were little and mispronounced a word, I always corrected them.  I wanted them to develop “a good ear.”  (And as their mother, I hope they can still say,  “Mom always has my best interests at heart.”) 

Here is an example of a mispronunciation and I will begin with myself:  I used to think that the word “opportunity” was pronounced “opPROtunity.” 

I was talking with someone and said “opPROtunity” and they (I don’t remember who it was, but it was someone with my best interests at heart, like my mother) said, “How did you pronounce that word?”  I said, “opPROtunity.”  They said, “It’s pronounced opPORtunity.”

I said, “Oh.  Are you sure?  How did I miss that all these years?”

Here are more examples, beginning with 2) since mine was 1).

2) My son and I were in the que at the movie theater waiting to get our tickets for a movie and a couple was directly behind us, discussing which movie they should see.  After a bit of conversation, the woman said, “Let’s just see The Bourne Supremany.”

3) I was listening to a local talk radio show and they were discussing insulation.  A woman called in and said that styrophone worked well.

4) Same radio show.  Different day.  Winter respiratory problems were being discussed and someone called in asking a question about bronical pneumonia.

5) Saved the best for last.  I was at Hobby Lobby in one of the scrapbooking aisles and two other women were standing near me.  Scrapbooking embellishments are the little brads, clips, and other typically three dimensional do-dads that we use on our photo lay-out pages.  One woman said to the other, “Let’s go look at the embezzelments.”

So if I am talking to a family member or a close friend and I mispronounce a word, please feel free, feel freer than free, to correct me with a sweet smile on your face and I will know that you have my best interests at heart.

Blessings to you and yours,     Cookie

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Texas Morning, Lonesome Dove Style

It’s a lovely morning in the Dallas metro-plex.  Spring has been here for several weeks actually, and it is amazing to wake up to Spring-time weather in March.  Not what I’m used to.  But I like it.

Have you read any “tell-everyone-about” great books lately?   Don’t your books usually come your way by several means?  As gifts, borrowed, purchased new, used book stores, dollar stores, Book Clubs, Salvation Army stores, Goodwill stores – these are where most, if not all, of my books come from. 

Some of the BEST books I’ve read have come from the last two places I mentioned.  I have found, though, that the Salvation Army and Goodwill just don’t have the selection and quality of books that they used to have.  (I’m such a high-class shopper.)

I love books and I love to read.  One of the the most amazing books that I purchased was from Goodwill.  When selecting a book, I usually just go by 1) if I have heard of the book and it seems appealing, 2) if the book has been recommended by a friend and it seems appealing, 3) if I am familiar with the author and like his/her work or 4) if it is about a topic that might interest me. 

I was at the Goodwill store specifically to find a book.  The selection was horrible and I was feeling like I would be leaving without making a purchase. (I don’t buy just anything and hope for the best.)  About to give up, I just happened to notice a really fat paperback and looked at the title. 

It was Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.  Of course, I had heard of Lonesome Dove – who hasn’t?  It won the Pulitzer prize (in 1986) and there was a  mini-series on TV a number a years ago.  (Hadn’t seen it.)   Now, I don’t care so much for westerns.  But the Pulitzer prize!           

I didn’t really care that there had been a mini-series – I was just impressed with the Pulitzer!  

What did I have to lose?  Paperback – it was only 50 cents.  (Hardbacks are a dollar.)  So I paid for the book and left the store.  Believe me, that was the best 50 cents that I’ve spent in my life! 

Lonesome Dove is a tale about a cattle drive from Lonesome Dove, Texas (on the Mexican border) to the Milk River in Montana in the 1870s.  The two main characters, former Texas Rangers, Woodrow Call and Augustus “Gus” McCrae, will be with me forever.  

A reviewer of Lonesome Dove said it perfectly – “I envy the person who is just reading Lonesome Dove for the first time.”

After finishing Lonesome Dove, I learned that it was part of a four-book series.  Larry McMurtry had found so much success with Lonesome Dove that after writing Lonesome Dove, he wrote three additional books around it, with Lonesome Dove being the third in the series.

Well, at that point, I went to Amazon.com and purchased the other three books in the series.  Then I read them all in order, reading Lonesome Dove for the second time.  The books are titled, in order of the series:  Dead Man’s Walk, Comanche Moon, Lonesome Dove and Streets of Laredo. 

The other three are well worth reading, but my favorite, of course, is Lonesome Dove.

I saw an interview Larry McMurtry did where he talked about writing Lonesome Dove.   He said that he always liked to have a title while writing a book.  He had started Lonesome Dove without a title and just couldn’t come up with one.  So he put the unfinished manuscript in a drawer because he didn’t feel he could write any more without a title. 

A Texan, McMurtry happened to be on a trip to Oklahoma and was sitting in a restaurant.  He looked out of the restaurant window and saw a church van.  On the side of the van was written, “Lonesome Dove Baptist Church, Southlake, Texas.”  He said that the minute he read what was on that church van, he knew that he had the title for the manuscript in the drawer.

After a bit of  investigation he found that this church and adjoining cemetery had been in existence since the mid 1840s. That would fit in the time line of the book.   (By the way, Southlake, TX is just two miles from where I live.)

Call and Gus are based loosely on two real-life Texas cowboys, Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving.  I had heard the names and maybe you have too.  You can read about them on wikipedia.com and other sites on the internet.  (There are many.)  Just Google their names.   A beautiful story of devoted friendship.

My youngest son, John was reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy at the same time I was reading Lonesome Dove.  He was really into The Road and said to me, “Mom, you really should read this book.”  Even though it was a Pulitzer prize winning novel, the cover looked rather bleak and I said, “I don’t think so, John.” 

He kept insisting that I read The Road, so I said, “Okay, John, I’ll make a deal with you.  You read Lonesome Dove and I’ll read The Road.”  He agreed.  After I finished Lonesome Dove, I read The Road.  No further comment other than it was awful. 

So I said to John, “Well, when are you going to read Lonesome Dove?” 

“I will.”  A few weeks go by. 

“John, have you read Lonesome Dove yet?”

“No, but I will.”  

“We made a deal, John.”  Another few weeks go by.   Still hasn’t read Lonesome Dove.

 Now another few months go by.  “John, we had a deal.  I kept my end of the deal and you better keep yours,” I said with a smile.  “I will.  I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.”

A few months later:  “John, have you read Lonesome Dove yet?”

“Mom, it’s amazing.”

Blessings to you and yours,  Cookie

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Hello World!

Hello and Happy Spring to all of you!  Thank you for stopping by to check out my blog! 

I hope you like it and return now and again.  I will be sharing some of my thoughts and a few of the happenings going on with me and my family.   I may even post some of my favorite recipes.

A little about myself – I am a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, mother-in-law, daughter-in-law and aunt.  (I hope that I haven’t left anything out.)  In addition to my family, decorating, crafting, gardening, cooking and creative things in general interest me. 

I also am interested in politics and current events (although I try to never get into big discussions on politics).

I do some surfing too – of the web, that is, and have come upon some amazing blogs – I will plan to share some of them with you also – a very diverse group of fun and interesting blogs.

 Again, thanks for dropping by.  🙂   

Blessings to you and yours,     Cookie

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