Sunday, November 30, 2008

Found an ancestor!

My husband has a great grandmother who we were told was part Indian. She lived in Texas and was able to get allotment checks during her later years from the tribe she belonged to in Oklahoma. Searching for her records for years we weren't all that sure what her name was or which tribe she belonged to. We had looked for her under the wrong name but we discovered her real name after talking to my husband's uncle Bill at Thanksgiving dinner.

This uncle Bill remembered hearing about his great grandmother and told us her name. Born in Missouri, her name was Catherine Bryant. She married John Knox Polk Weaver and they moved to Texas from Oklahoma. We still don't know if she was adopted or which of her parents or grandparents were Indian-usually the mother. We did discover her name in the Dawes Commission Index which was a registry of Indian people trying to reclaim their citizenship in their tribe to receive allotments from the government for their tribal land and mineral resources. She belonged to the Cherokee tribe according to this list. Now we will try to get more records and try to put her life story together. (Photo above is of Catherine's grand daughter Gladys Floyd-my husband's grandmother. With her is an Indian uncle named Walter Winfield who is definitely Indian and probably from the Cochtow tribe. So now we'll look for his parents.)

Genealogy is fascinating and habit forming. I've always loved jigsaw puzzles as a child and perhaps that explains my interest in tracing my ancestors.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gatesville, Texas

This is my husband's hometown, where he was born and raised-his roots. Interesting to watch his enthusiasm as he tells me he caught crawdads in that pond or went to scouts in that building, etc. It helps me get to know him better. Then going with him to visit the graves of his parents and grandparents on back makes me feel closer to them even though I never met them. Their names are familiar from the genealogy I have done in their behalf over the past 15 years since I married into the family.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Texas and its beauties

For my friend Caryn who wonders if there is any beauty in Texas-yes there is!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Article #32 Thanksgiving Traditions

Unable to return to home after our deer hunting trips in October, we gathered our family to celebrate Thanksgiving in sunny California. Our thoughts were focused on our grandmother now unable to travel, and family in Utah. Using her recipes, we tried to duplicate Grandma’s Thanksgiving dishes. Doing our best, we recreated the traditions that we’d enjoyed when younger. Grandma would start baking days before the actual holiday as homemade pumpkin and raisin pies were made in advance to have room in the oven for the huge turkey needed to feed extended family-aunts, uncles and cousins who came from miles around. Plenty of food was prepared in order to have leftovers to enjoy for days on end without any more cooking. 

Grocery stores did a big business that time of year. Many ingredients could only be bought in cans and weren’t available fresh in rural Utah. Canned yams, corn, and pumpkin for pies as well as jellied or whole cranberries completed our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Desserts included Grandma’s homemade pies, and fruit salad with whipped cream made from fruit cocktail, fresh apples, bananas, and sprinkled with chopped walnuts. 

Each family has its own special traditions for Thanksgiving dinners. My husband is from Texas and his holiday meal wasn’t complete without cornbread stuffing with celery, onion, lots of sage and chicken broth for moisture and a green bean casserole. Enjoyed by all families everywhere were gobs of whipped mashed potatoes and succulent turkey gravy, tasty hot rolls with real butter, and a relish dish of homemade pickles. Yams sweetened with brown sugar and topped with melted marshmallows rounded out the feast. There was hardly room on your plate for the different kinds of food. 

If the guests gathered for dinner were many, the children sat at separate card tables in the living room. Before prayer, the tradition was for each person to express what he or she was most grateful for. Family, health, food, church or America were blessings always named, and are probably the same answers we’d give today. We ate until we were stuffed, then the men folk retired to the couches or recliners to sleep while the women assembled together in the kitchen to visit, store leftovers and tackle the heaping mound of dirty dishes. I’m sure Grandma was most thankful when the dishes were done. She could take off her apron and finally relax till the Christmas feast. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Austin, Texas

The capital city of Texas has skyscrapers, freeways and the University of Texas at Austin with 50,000 students. My husband graduated as a civil engineer here about 32 years ago. It was fun to walk on the huge campus with him and see where he went to college. Much as changed since he was a student here. He's standing by a large live oak tree below. Behind the fountain above is a stadium that holds 98,000 football fans. They are playing their rival Texas A & M Thursday night on TV. Guess what we'll be watching while we visit with Texas relatives after the Thanksgiving feast?

How strange it is to visit an old high school or college years after graduating to find everything has changed especially yourself. Walking amid young students with their dreams and energies it seems like a long time ago that you were in their shoes worrying about the future-what to do for a career or who to marry. But they will follow in your footsteps and one day their children will be the young ones walking the campuses. Life continues an interesting pattern for us each to learn in our own way and in our own time period.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Western Texas

Flat horizons that go on forever
Hundreds of roads cross the land
Passing by oil wells, quiet windmills
Ranches, farms and abandoned towns
That tell stories of the oil boom days 
Cowboys and trucks are everywhere

Live oak trees that don't lose their leaves
Cactus, mesquite and pecan trees, 
Raccoons, opossums, deer and goats
Share the range with long horn steers
An occasional road runner rushes by
This state has it all, only Alaska is bigger

We are in Texas, the long star state
Birthplace and home of my husband
Welcome back ya all, and stay awhile.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Carlsbad Caverns

Never been here before, it's located in south-east corner of New Mexico next to Texas. An amazing place, though I'm been to Lehman's caves in Nevada and Timpanogos Cave in Utah, Carlsbad is huge in comparison. We only went on one guided tour but saw lots of formations in huge rooms. Then they turned off the lights and it was so dark. Amazing tour!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Yucca cactus dot the barren landscape
Thirsty livestock search for relief
Bleached wooden blades turn
Slowly driven by dusty winds
As precious water is carefully pumped
From deep reservoirs underground
Stored in a tank for the watering trough
This is the high desert of New Mexico

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On the road again

My husband took a photo of me below by a hogan that traditional Navahos lived in, made of mud and pine lumber, the door always faces the rising sun in the east and there is an stove pipe opening on the roof for the smoke to escape from the wood stove inside for cooking and heating. What a life our early native Americans lived.

We drove to Canyon de Chelly near Chinle Arizona to see the cliff dwellings but they were far below us in a deep canyon built on ledges. (The last photo below shows some of their dwellings on a dark ledge, look on the middle right side of the photo.) We only saw them from up above, to walk through to them you either have to hike down then hike back up or hire a guide to drive you in the river bottom where it's closer to hike to them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Patience with ourselves...

Ever listen to your self talk for any length of time or write down what you are saying inside? It's too easy to be critical of ourselves-our hair style, weight or behavior. It's a rare person who speaks positively to themselves. "You can do that, just try a little harder, etc." That's practicing patience with ourselves. Some of us may be into saying mantras like "Today I will be happy..." but how powerful is that really? I'm one who believes in optimism but also being realistic. Having been a perfectionist or idealist most of my life, I find myself changing in my more mature years to a practical realist. 

If something is not working for me then I try to analyze how to change it and what the consequences of not changing it would be. Example-trying to take stress out of my life by learning to say NO when asked to do something that I really don't want to do or realizing when I need to make a change of routine and find a new way of operating. Hope you know what I'm saying or rather thinking. A blog is a fun place to try out your thoughts and get reactions from others on life with its complexities.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Topic is Patience

Yesterday was one of those frantic days with a long "to do" list. One item was to buy a new planner to replace my lost one which is somewhere in sunny California...Probably left in a motel room but neither place we stayed had seen it when called about it. The mystery of the lost planner. So how can I, the master list maker and lover of writing all things down, survive? With PATIENCE my husband suggests...maybe someone will find your planner and mail it to you. But we are leaving for Texas this Friday and I have to get organized before then...which brings me to the topic for today PATIENCE. We never have enough if it ever....just when we think we do, something else will unexpectedly arise to test it and prove to us our incompetence in that area.

So what is PATIENCE?...well, I looked it up and it is an amazing principle...which includes: enduring, tolerance, uncomplaining, long-suffering, and serene. Able to endure waiting or delay without becoming annoyed or upset. Persevering calmly when faced with difficulties and able to tolerate being hurt, provoked, or annoyed without complaint or loss of temper. Sounds like a SAINT or ANGEL to me. Other words used are: endurance, staying power, persistence, fortitude, serenity to preserve calmly when faced with difficulties and not loosing one's temper.

Anyone out there want to claim they are patient? I'm usually pretty laid back but today I had so many errands to run-get maps from automobile club, return some sale items, buy a new planner, see the doctor for new blood pressure medication then I ended up at my most unfavorite but most convenient pharmacy in Walmart to get new pills. Okay, so I managed to do all of my list written on the back of an envelope with patience until I got to Walmart.

My doctor had faxed my prescription over, so I waited in the pickup line for about 10 minutes to get my pills. But they weren't ready, they did have my papers but it had to be input in the computer and then the pills labeled and that would take 25 minutes. I was told to take a seat and wait and they would call 35 minutes later I'm wondering where are my pills? I get back in the pickup line and ask the salesperson...she says "oops-someone had put them on the shelf instead of by the cash register."..she was sorry BUT I was irritated, impatient, close to expressing a little bit of anger...time to take a deep breath and realize waiting for no good reason does happen to all of us at some time but incompetency is so frustrating to me. Of course getting upset doesn't help my high blood pressure!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Article #31 Chores at Home

Just the word chores brings back memories of the good old days on the farm: milking the cows, feeding the chickens or cleaning out the barn. Although I never lived on a farm but in mining and railroad communities, there were still daily chores to do at my grandparent’s homes. The most important work was chopping kindling and wood for the fires needed year round for cooking, heating, and warming water for bathing or washing clothes.

Each family member was important and needed to help with the chores everyday. Dad and/or the boys generally did the hard work like chopping wood or carrying kindling or coal in, and ashes out from the home. The girls’ work was domestic––helping Mom: cooking, washing, babysitting, ironing, canning, sewing and mending. My grandmother was a widow and had to work outside the home, that necessitated her oldest daughter Esther taking over as the babysitter. Ethel, the youngest child in the family, grew up calling her sister mom. 

The older boys gave their substitute mother a hard time with their constant fighting. That’s probably why Esther was the first to leave home before finishing high school. She escaped to Salt Lake City with two of her girl friends from Silver City. She shared a small apartment and found employment in the local laundry for about $3/week. It was drudgery work, but she was on her own and being paid to work. Esther sent some of her money home to assist her mother. This enabled her mom and sisters to have their first nylons and perms, and her brothers to have a radio to listen to ball games. 

During the summers, Esther’s sisters would come to the city and spend their vacation riding the streetcars, buying penny candy, and going to Liberty Park or Saltair. When Esther married and started her own family, she still worked outside the home to supplement her husband’s income. Her household chores were never done. Cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing plus raising the children still had to be accomplished in the time available after her day job.

Women today have smaller families, but more of them work outside the home. Gone are the days of chopping wood and milking cows for most families, but there still are chores to be done daily. Hopefully, each family member helps out with the work and contributes whether mom works outside the home or not.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We're home again

After too many hours on the road-(that's not the way to vacation but we did enjoy getting away for a little while), I snapped some more photos of Vegas-got in their rush hour traffic on the freeway and we barely moved. No one commented on my last blog photos of the GOD billboard-no info just the word. Not sure if it's religiously inspired or related to a show on the strip. Did see another billboard advertising the aquarium that said GO Deep-maybe connected?

Vegas is a strange place, intriguing, fascinating and grating on the nerves at the same time. Here's some more photos from the car as we drove slowly by. Observation tower similar to Space Needle in Seattle, Skyline of New York City, A pyramid with hotel rooms inside, Excalibar castle, and there is much more-Effiel Tower and Venetian Canals of Italy. It's worth a trip just to take it all in. Plan to walk lots.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Driving through Vegas

Views from our car as we drove through Las Vegas, an amazing place...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Field Trip

Well, we just finished an exciting field trip to Little Petroglyph Canyon near China Lake Naval Base in Southern California with the Dixie Archaeology Club. A fascinating place, we saw myriads of petroglyphs as we walked along a dry creek bed. Lots of long horn sheep and other symbolic art carefully chiseled into the rocks. Click on bottom photo to see it larger.