Monday, October 7, 2013

I've had a little excitement the past few weeks. At the end of the summer,  I got "Best of Show" at the county fair on my story I wrote about my grandparents, which of course is only truly meaningful for my family. Also in the same time span, I learned I had a recipe selected to be published in the latest Mary Engelbreit's dessert cookbook. It was my Berry Frozen Yogurt recipe that I made up a while back. Since it was an original recipe, that was pretty exciting. I had already given up that it would be selected. I had checked and checked my email account numerous times and had decided I hadn't made the cut. I had even stopped bothering to check my email for a notice, as I'd decided my recipe wasn't going to be accepted.

My mother's house got broken into and they stole all the TV's - which has been both a complication and scary. Although, the worst physical thing was the carpet getting ruined from broken glass in the carpet in 2 rooms, emotionally, it's unsettling to keep going to a house that's been broken into. You feel so violated, and wonder if it could happen again. Since I live the closest, I was the one that dealt with the insurance company. She has recently gotten her settlement, but we still have to tear out the ruined carpet. So, I guess I know what I'm going to be supervising soon.

We had our high school alumni event, which used to be a yearly event, but in recent years has become an every other year event. Plus, the event has been changed from Thanksgiving weekend to the weekend of our Fort Cobb fair which should help attendance and will give people an extra activity and reason to come home for. My sisters and I will be taking over as the secretarial committee. I have a feeling that's going to turn into a big deal - but we have 2 more years before it happens again, so we don't have to do any mailings right away.

My biggest deal of this summer & fall is that I decided to become a Pampered Chef consultant. I have read and reread the policy. If I interpreted it correctly, I don't think I'm allowed to advertise it on this page, so I won't unless I learn otherwise. However, I did start a facebook page for my business, which is allowed, in addition to my regular Pampered Chef website. I think I'm going to do my first vendor booth activity in early November and am trying to get organized for that. Also, I'm up to 440 Pinterest followers, which seems kind of amazing, since I have done absolutely nothing to recruit anyone, other than pinning stuff. I do have a funny story about that though. The last time I went to the big hobby and craft store in Lawton, I ran into a woman I used to work with at the Dept. of Human Services. I called out to her and after we said our hellos, she said, "I've really enjoyed following you on Pinterest!" I told her I probably had a serious addiction to the thing. She said she did too. I told her, that I guessed that was why we were where we were. That day, I was just trying to get some information on a better way to make a mesh wreath. For some reason, I usually can't get videos to play on my computer and most of the tutorials on the internet involving mesh also involve videos, so I had been batting zero when it comes to figuring out how to work with mesh. But I found a very helpful clerk at the big hobby and craft store that helped explain it to me and I think I've solved my problem on what didn't make sense. To be so crafty, I really can have a mental block when it comes to understanding directions.

And then...there's the consignment store booth. That store ended up opening about 1 1/2 months later than originally anticipated. All I can say is I've started and I've still got a ways to go before I'm going to be finished. But, it can't be too soon, because I've been driving myself nuts hanging onto things that I need to get sold.  
               Elaine, aka the Red Dirt Cowgirl

Monday, August 12, 2013


I don't know where this summer has gone...but I've had some good news on the Western Front. A guy called me a few days ago and said he's going to try and open my kind of junk store in Carnegie, Oklahoma (consignment booths) and he wanted to know if I wanted to do a booth. As I still have stuff stashed here and there as I'm driving my husband crazy, what could I say but "Yes." He should know something towards the end of the week. It seems there was a little matter of a leak at the building that he was having to get the city involved in. Here goes hoping the leak gets fixed because this would be the perfect time of the year to set up a booth. The days will start getting a little cooler (I hope). Maybe we could even have a decent length of fall - it could happen. So here's to the re-emergence of my BELLE AMI FLEA booth. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Flea Market Booth That Died

I've made reference a couple of times about opening a flea market booth. For reasons I can't go fully into here, or at least I choose not to go into - the store where I had my booth is no more. Sad to say, but the owner called and said she was loosing her lease. I've looked hither and yon trying to figure out another location, but the only place I could find was only large enough for about 6 booths and was in a one horse town with no stoplight. (Translation: too small to do enough business to merit the effort required.)  So I've crammed my stuff here and there until I can come up with a solution. It was kind of sad, since I thought all things considered it was going pretty well. Oh well, que sera sera and all that jazz. It couldn't be helped and it is what it is. It was fun while it lasted. So, now I'm back to driving my husband C R A Z Y with my collections. Needing a solution that isn't called "selling it at a garage sale for 25 cents". 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

He Will Always Be The Father Of The Year For Me

Riding "Tony" with my father, Glenn Millwee
To us, our father, was one of the last great Okla. cowboys. He loved horses, raising cattle,  family, storytelling, funny quotes, and all things rodeo. His favorite horses were Tony, Old Blue - who really was kind of bluish grey, and Cyclone, who would throw everyone but Daddy... and sometimes he would even throw Daddy. For the sake of time and space, I will leave out the stories related to the horses, except to say that Cyclone deserved his name and since Daddy's death, every time Hollywood releases a new family horse movie I am sad there's another movie he would have loved. He came along after the great cattle drives and probably never slept on the ground in a bedroll around a campfire, although he did have to sleep under a tarp in the daylight during hay baling season and there were times he had to sleep in the stall with his animals at a stock show. None of those experiences were particularly comfortable and were a contributing factor in our family never going on camping trips. 

Daddy had no use for poultry. He not only raised beef, he preferred eating beef. When I was about 9 years old, the rules for dairy farms changed and chickens were no longer allowed on dairy farms, in an attempt to get control over the salmonella outbreaks plaguing Okla. farmers. Being one that hated plucking chicken feathers, this made me happy. I bet  Daddy was even happier, because he didn't like to eat chicken and we probably ate less of it when Mother and Grandie Millwee weren't buying a hundred baby chicks apiece to raise for cooking purposes. 
My Aunt Lena Mae at a family chicken coop
Daddy advertised his feelings for the beef industry by always making sure his pickup truck displayed National Cattleman's Association bumper stickers, such as "Eat More Beef".  Mike's favorite was "Help The Beef Industry, Run Over A Chicken". My personal favorite sticker of all time was "Eat More Beef, The West Wasn't Won On Salads". 

As mentioned, one of his best skills was storytelling. 
On vacation in Texas. My Aunt Billie is holding me. Daddy to right.
I guess my sisters and I thought he had a pretty 
exciting life. He was always coming into the house with a new story, or he would share them while driving us to town. Where to start? Let's see...There was the time he had a pickup wreck with a horse in the back and the horse jumped out over the pickup. I'm not sure, but I think that was the time the person he collided with was his insurance agent. 

Another time, there was a house on the lease across the road that the family had moved from suddenly. The teenage daughter had covered her bedroom walls with movie magazine pictures of Elvis Presley and when they moved, Daddy said that the family went off and left those pictures. We could not imagine this. First of all, why would you want to paper your walls with Elvis, but if you were going to go to that trouble, wouldn't you want to take them with you when you left? Then there was the time he was driving a tractor on the old Hartwell place south of Oney and a tornado touched down across the property line northwest of where he was plowing. Did he go hide, did he get off that tractor? No he did not. He just sat on the tractor and watched the tornado. When Mother asked him why he didn't get off and go somewhere safe, he asked, "What was I supposed to do, hide under the tractor?" 

At one of the many family reunions
He also loved old family stories. At a family get together, a group of his aunts were sitting and talking about some people that he didn't know. Finally his curiosity got the best of him and he asked what branch of the family they were discussing. They explained they weren't talking about family; they were talking about their soap opera that they followed faithfully. He was shocked; he could not believe his aunts even watched soap operas.

He had great common sense and a philosopher's approach to life,
A long ago birthday at the "chicken coop house".
but he could be funny in getting his point across.  If one of us were complaining, his response might be, "You'd probably gripe if we beat you with a brand new rope." Or the other companion statement, "You'd gripe if we beat you with a brand new board." Of course, there were never any beatings. 
Daddy did have a couple of bad habits.  He was always covering every Kleenex box and  paper scrap available with his math figures related to crops and cattle. The other habit was a bit more inconvenient. I think at one time or other he drove off and left every one of us somewhere. I really think he was just so preoccupied with all his farming & ranching obligations, and thinking about everything he needed to get done, that it was hard for him to remember mundane things like picking up various family members.                                           

                                               1975 Oklahoma Farm Family of the Year

It is difficult to sum up someone in a few paragraphs. You have to leave out so much that seems essential and important. Daddy did lots of wonderful things. He was both Oklahoma Farmer Rancher of the Year and the reason we were even in the running for Oklahoma Farm Family of the Year.  He received an OSU award that got his picture on a wall in the College of Agriculture at Stillwater, he was a past president of Rotary, and he was a faithful usher at church for many, many years. He was funny, he was enduring, and he was probably pretty much driven. He was well respected and well loved. He was a friend to many. He hardly said anything negative about anyone, except for one person he always referred to as “the sorriest white man that ever lived”. He had a phenomenal memory for history and dates. Not the kind you learned about in history class, but the dates important to a family, a church, a town. Since his death, there have been so many times someone has said, "I wish your Dad was here, he'd remember such and such."

In closing, I thought I would mention, that in his life between 1926-2005, he only lived in 4 houses, and 3 of them were on the same farm. He was only married to one woman, and he not only supported all 3 children he parented, he also sent them to college without the assistance of student loans or grants, and later paid for 3 nice weddings. His favorite dessert was apple pie. And he still hated chicken at the end of his life, although, he had made the concession to his wife and heart doctor, that he would eat it for the sake of his health. He was immensely proud of the fact that none of his daughters or grandchildren were divorced. 
The 1st house Daddy lived in. It was a small frame house on an Indian Lease, that 3 generations of my family farmed.  
Daddy's 2nd house, at the dairy farm
Towards the end of the depression, my grandfather bought a dairy farm. It eventually became the first electrical dairy in Western Okla. He built the white frame house in the upper left corner of this picture. The house was much larger than this picture shows, but this was the only handy picture of my grandparent's house that I think I have uploaded on my computer at this time. That small porch on the right side of the house led to the kitchen door and the door to my grandfather's office. I can still smell the smells of my grandfather's office in my memory. I figure it was probably some horrible chemical or fertilizer that has since been outlawed, but that smell a deep early childhood memory of standing in my grandfather's office. This picture was taken the first day of 2nd grade. Mother was big on teaching us about having traditions. One was that she always made us one new dress to start the fall semester in and another was that she would take our picture the 1st day of school. I was facing our house, which would have been behind my mother, who was taking my picture. Please note the paper bag of new school supplies. Yes, I'm so old, I went to school before backpacks. Oh, how I wished we'd had backpacks, instead of carrying that stack of books back and forth every day. 

The 3rd house Daddy lived in, also on the dairy farm.
The picture to the right is not my family, it's my Aunt Lena Mae's family, standing with our house in the background. As you can tell, there were 2 large yards, some vegetable gardens, and a road between my grandparent's and my parent's houses. Evidently, we used the houses as backdrops for a lot of our pictures. Although, we also have pictures with dairy barns and hay barns in the backdrop also. Our house was unique because in a previous life, it had been a chicken coop. As you can see, it no longer looked like a chicken coop. The picture taken above with the birthday cake was taken inside the chicken coop house. The year Daddy won Farmer Rancher of the Year at the Okla. State Fair, we knew he was a winner in the first line of the speaker's introduction, because he said, "this man started married life in a chicken coop". I still say, you would never have known it was a chicken coop. We had sheet rock, electricity, and plumbing - all the works. And that house worked, until Daddy decided he could afford to build Mother's dream house. 

Daddy's 4th house,  built in 1967 on the north side of the same section of land as the original dairy farm.

From my father's toddler days.... resting from long days of farming.So, in closing, this Father's Day, 2013, I'd like to say that everyone's life should count for something. Because of the examples and guidance my father gave his family, it has been a wonderful gift for our family that keeps on giving.

                     Elaine, aka, the Red Dirt Cowgirl

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Make Mine Irma's Easy Perfect Pancakes...

It seems like winter is taking forever. It's March 23rd and I'm at the computer desk with a fire going in the wood stove nearby. At least it didn't snow, like the weather people were originally predicting.  I made Irma's pancakes for a late breakfast and that means it won't be long before someone is going to get the idea we need to eat again. It just seems endless sometimes, people always wanting to keep eating. But, I've got that figured out...leftovers! We just have to go pick them up. My mother has some Mexican casserole she needs  used up. Irma was our church choir director for many years. She had studied at the Julliard School of Music. She had definite ideas about how things were to run, and was not shy about sharing those ideas. Our church could not have made it without her and she was greatly missed after she died. (Picture to left is Irma and her husband, W.D. "Jim" Finney.)
Irma & W.D. Jim Finney

But, I recommend the pancakes. We had a sort of controversy recently at church when we needed to have a fund raiser. Someone suggested a pancake supper. I said we need to make them homemade with Irma's recipe. Everyone else vetoed the idea and said they thought you couldn't tell the difference with a mix. Finally, I volunteered to make the pancake mix, so it wouldn't be an issue. I think I ended up using 20 lbs. of flour. Yes, I know, I should have kept better records for future planning. I did keep a sort of record on my Blackberry, which I need to transfer somewhere else before the next pancake supper, because my blackberry will probably be history by then. To make a long story short, people raved about the pancakes and some of the biggest supporters of using a bought mix were able to say they thought Irma's recipe was the best.

The "interesting" part was mixing up 5 lbs. of pancake mix at once. I don't really recommend it, but it was doable. For those who like a smaller amount of flour, try 2 cups.

Irma's Pancakes (A better title could have been Irma's Easy Perfect Pancakes)
To 2 cups flour: add 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp. soda, 1 TBSP. baking powder, & 2 TBSP sugar. Sift everything together before proceeding to the liquid ingredients.

Melt 2 TBSP. margarine, add to 1 cup buttermilk, & 2 beaten eggs. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir together. Test batter with hot skillet or griddle and make one pancake. If too thick, gradually add up to 1 more cup of buttermilk. The original recipe actually called for 2 cups buttermilk, be we don't like our pancakes so thin. Tips for a perfect pancake: I like to use a spray release to cut down on extra fats. After putting a dipper of batter on skillet/griddle, allow bubbles to rise and "pop" around the pancake, this will insure your pancake will get done and not have any moist, undone spots. Flip and cook on the other side. 

The beauty of this recipe is you can make it the day before and store in the refrigerator, so if you're in a hurry  you don't have to get around so early to mix it up. My mother, who got the recipe from Irma, swears that it keeps for a week - but I would have my doubts about keeping it that long. However, I did keep some to use  at Wed. Kids 5 days later. I did freshen it up with just a little more homemade mix, a couple of eggs and some milk and the kids thought the pancakes were WONDERFUL. As I didn't have an abundance of containers with snap on lids, I had what I thought was a rather genius moment. I bought the 97 cent Easter baskets with snap on lids. They were just about perfect, although I was careful not to fill them to the top, I don't think the handle could have born the weight.

Until later,Elaine, aka, the Red Dirt Cowgirl

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bee (center), w/ sisters Charlotte & Mildred
We've had a sad month. My wonderful mother-in-law died last the week before last and we had her funeral last week. As funerals go, it was a wonderful one. I've written a little thing about her, that I think I will post here as my tribute to her.

Bee Eugene Bellamy moved as a small child to the Fort Cobb, OK area with her family.  She rode the train with her family to Fort Cobb from Arkansas with their household belongings and moved to land south of Fort Cobb. At the time the family moved to Ft. Cobb, the Washita River Bridge at Ft. Cobb had not yet been built and the only way to cross the river was by ferry boat. Bee attended school at a little country school and graduated from Fort Cobb High School. One of her many treasured memories of childhood was when her father made her mother a homemade pioneer washing machine from a barrel, that was built along the lines of a butter churn. Bee said that it made their life so much easier on wash-day  Her most miserable memory was the time she broke all of the family eggs that were sitting on the bed being kept safe until they could ride to town to sell them. As a result, her older sister Mildred who was not much older than Bee, received a whipping 
and the family was unable to buy the groceries they needed with the lost egg money. Bee never forgave herself for causing Mildred to get a spanking, but did not hold a grudge against her mother for having what we would now think of as unrealistic expectations of a 5 year old. It was a different day and age and we cannot comprehend what it was like at that time. 

John & Bee with their first child, Pat.
She married her one and only true love, John Bellamy in the middle of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl days. They farmed south of Fort Cobb in the Hopewell Community, later moving to a farm closer to the Washita River where they lived the remainder of their married life.  When Bee could no longer live at home by herself, she moved to her daughter Pat’s, where she remained until she entered the Binger Nursing Home in May, 2010. Bee and John had 4 children and taught them that attending church, receiving an education and hard work were the most important things they could do with their lives, but if you enjoyed ball, that was ok too. Bee worked outside the home at the Fort Cobb school lunchroom for several years. She also received training in upholstery at the Okla. College for Women, back in the 1950’s, because her son, Mike (my future husband) was attending the School for the Deaf and she wanted to not waste her time while she spent her days in Chickasha, waiting for him every day. Because of this training, she was able to have a successful home upholstery business for a number of years. She enjoyed sewing and quilting. She especially loved sewing for her granddaughters, even including their wedding dresses. She received the Golden Thimble award from the Daily Oklahoman in after Granddaughter Lori’s wedding.                            
She also used to make her daughter, daughter-in-laws, and all her granddaughters some sewn item every year for Christmas, such as flannel nightgowns or aprons.  She was a good cook and loved nothing better than cooking and entertaining her family. 

John & Bee with their 2 oldest children, Pat and Larry @ the old Hopewell church, no longer standing.
This is one of my very favorite pictures of Granny Bee. It was probably taken 35 - 40 years ago, because she's walking without a crutch. Everyone that knew Bee knew she suffered from arthritis for many years, but she did not let it stop her from continuing to attend church, community events, and the many ballgames and school activities of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was an inspiration to her family in the way she responded to her illness, she did her housework walking on a crutch for years, but you would never hear her complain. She always looked on the bright side and tried to be useful with her life. She was very giving and generous of herself. One year when she had to spend many months in bed due to a hip replacement surgery, she made a scrapbook for every single child and grandchild for that year’s Christmas gift. Even at the end of her life, she said, “I wish I could have done more.” Bee was a member of the Hopewell Baptist Church, until she transferred her membership to the Fort Cobb First Baptist. She had been a member of South Pioneer Home Demonstration Club.
Granny in her favorite chair for visiting family.
During later years after grandchildren came along, she acquired another dining room table and they would push the 2 tables together to make one long family dinner table with special white tablecloths she made. Some of the family’s favorite recipes were the old school recipes she continued to make, such as the homemade cinnamon rolls and bread she had made as a school cook. She enjoyed not only having her grandchildren come for visits; she also babysat several of them so they didn’t have to go to a day care center when they were little. The “city” grandkids loved to come to Fort Cobb in the summer and spend time with their Fort Cobb cousins at her house, going to Ratliff’s Grocery, playing on the farm, and creating many loving memories of times at their grandparents.

This is how we remember Granny in her recent years, patiently sitting in her chair through every family event that she was able to attend. Even up until the last few days, she knew everyone's names and birthdays and where they lived and worked. 

At the time Mike and I married, mother-in-law jokes were popular with comedians on TV. I have said for years if everyone had a mother-in-law like I had, that mother-in-law jokes would never have been created. She leaves behind 94 children, grandchildren, great, and great-great grandchildren, and a host of other relatives. Although she will be sadly missed, we are happy for her, for she is finally where she has wanted to be since John died in 2005.  No one could have asked for a better role model, and we can take comfort we will see her again some day. 
 Until later, Elaine, aka, the Red Dirt Cowgirl

Monday, February 4, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy, and Almost Nothing To Show For It

It seems like I've been constantly busy since Christmas. But, you'd never know it to look at my house, car, or anywhere else I've been. I've been doing those things that evidently look worse before they look better. I fell into this pattern the week after Christmas when I started putting my store booth together, and it's like those old TV commercials..."Help, I've fallen and I can't get up."

I thought it would be a simple matter to set up my consignment store booth. Boy, was I wrong. It's been a month and I'm still trying to make it look homey. However, I know I'll get there. I just haven't finished adding all the layers I need to. 

Mainly I've been recovering from my mother's downsizing project. She's starting to go thru everything she owns, which has significantly impacted my life, because as I have accepted things, I've had to decide where to put what. Also, I've taken on a photography organization project as a result. She had all her pictures of kids, grand-kids, great-grands, and the other photos of life that were in frames on the wall and in envelopes here and there. At first, she said for me to just divide them into pictures to return back to my sisters and for myself. But, it just seemed too soon to do that. So, I suggested that I put them in a scrapbook. I've already worked on it 3 different times and am not finished yet. However, she seems pleased with what I've done. Only thing is, this afternoon she said there's a bunch of pictures in the basement. Lordy, Lordy, I'm getting a sense of not getting finished with this project. So far I've almost filled up an 8 x 10 scrapbook that was empty when I started and finished filling up 2 of the 2x2 albums that were only about half full this time last week. 

All this has put me on my own investigative trail of going thru drawers to sort them and filling up plastic tubs with things Mother has given me. I would have probably made better progress if it hadn't been so bitterly cold. Darn that tendency of January to be cold. However, I have run across some fun things, such as this picture of my Great Grandmother the only car she ever owned. According to our father, she was quite the gadabout. She even drove her family to Kansas one time to visit her son.

I loved going to her her place. By the time my sisters and I came along, she had built a little duplex in our town where she rented the other side to her good friend Alice. The two sides of the duplex could be reached via a little back porch type hallway that was reached thru the back doors off the kitchens. She was always a very practical person, I remember telling her when I was very little that I needed a drink of water. She asked me what the magic words were. I think I looked at her like she was crazy, and told her there was no such thing as magic. She finally explained, the magic words were please and thank you. 

I also found this picture of my Great Great Grandmother, Almedia Morrison with her Sunday School Class. It was taken in 1931 in front of her house, which later burned - something I have in common with her. We had a house fire in 1981, something I NEVER want to happen again. 

As I reflect back on the past month, it occurs to me I probably do have more to show for it than I had previously thought. I just need to step it up and get more done.
Until later, Elaine, aka, the Red Dirt Cowgirl