Oh! Berries Are They Safe To Eat?



a berry

Ahhh! Berries present themselves as tempting and appealing, but before you pop them in your mouth you should know certain berries are toxic. Yes some berries if eaten cause death. The berries on certain ornamental plants are dangerous. It only takes a few daphne berries to kill a child. Jessamine berries and red sage berries prove fatal if ingested. The berries and foliage of the Yew are fatal bringing death suddenly without warning. The berries of the mistletoe are medically recorded killers of both children and adults. All parts of the Nightshade are fatal, but it is their beautiful berries which deliver the most toxin. Growing up in rural Oklahoma is a challenge to the exploring pallette. Looking back at my childhood and remembering drinking the honeysuckle’s nectar I fully understand that it was God guiding those little hands.

Caution! Careful When Putting Bulbs To Bed



a bulbDid you know some common flower bulbs are toxic? As a child I remember my grandmother digging up her garden bulbs, drying them and storing them in cardboard flats out on the screened in back porch to freeze all winter and readying for spring planting. I’m certainly thankful that curiosity never created in me the desire to taste daffodil, narcissus or hyacinth bulbs. We had all 3 and they are all 3 toxic.

Must Be Rhubarb/ Leave the leaves Alone



a rhubarb pieOne of my Grandmother’s favorite desserts was rhubarb straight out of the garden sweetened with sugar and thickened with tapioca. Depending upon the season she might make a strawberry-rhubarb or a blackberry rhubarb pie. During my childhood when there was grief in our community, Estella, Oklahoma all of us came together to help. Box dinner and pie auctions were my favorite fund raising events. My dad Bob Cox was an auctioneer and he was often called on to motivate friends and neighbors into giving beyond their comfort zone.

Kitchens filled with wafting aromas of chicken frying and coconut cream pies coming fresh out of the oven. All those goodies were then placed in boxes, sacks and baskets and decorated with frilly ribbons and bows. If he knew that a box came from a celebrated chef he would disclose that driving the price sky high Grandma’s boxes always brought a pretty penny because folks knew there would be a rhubarb creation or a 7 layer orange cake or something of equal mouth watering goodness inside.

Many kids and even some adults have never heard of rhubarb let alone seen it growing in the garden. Today there is little talk about the safety of or the toxic reaction brought on by certain plants. I knew what oxalic acid was by the time I was allowed to go to the garden alone to cut the rhubarb. I knew not to put the leaf blade surrounding the stalk into my mouth as it contained that acid and if enough of it was ingested could bring on convulsions, kidney stones, coma and even sudden death.

Today we teach about traffic, strangers, big dogs and more but I doubt that many children have ever been told don’t eat the rhubarb leaf. What a difference 50 years has made

Zeno Merritt Sr. & Emma Jane Beck- Cox



Grandpa Zeno Merritt Cox & Grandma EmmaJane Beck-Cox & my brother CorkIntroducing myself: I was a Tulsa/Claremore/Chelsea/ NE Oklahoma real estate agent from 1987- 2004,  a home mortgage lender from 2005-2009, semi-retiring to Chelsea as a police and ambulance dispatcher until fully retiring in 2012. I loved new construction sales selling homes in Marlar Farms, Rose Glenn and many other subdivisions. My childhood readied me for a job in sales. My Grandmother was a Cherokee Medicine woman Emma Jane Beck-Cox. My father Bob Cox was an auctioneer and grocery store owner. Now I live in a new senior development called Claremore Village. It is the perfect retirement village with pool, exercise gym and fishing pond. All apartments are ground floor with all the amenities you could ask for including lovely large front porches. I enjoy keeping up with the real estate, mortgage & law enforcement industries. I hope you enjoy my posts and articles. Feel free to ask my opinion on anything that I’m knowledgeable about including flower and vegetable gardening, fishing, canning, old recipes, candy & cookie making, crocheting, religion, the Cherokee Nation, et al.   Photo of my Grandparents Zeno Merritt Cox & Emma Jane Beck-Cox. The child is my brother E.W.  Corky Cox

Saving The last 880 Wild Mountain Gorillas



a gorillaa gorilla 3It was Reported by Mark Jenkins, Gorillas VS Guerrillas, Natural Geographic Adventure, March 2009 that there were 720 (give or take) live wild mountain gorillas left on this earth. Today October 2017 The World Wildlife Organization reports 880 alive in Virunga National Park and across the border in Uganda and Rwanda.

In 2009 ten gorillas were killed in Virunga and Mark Jenkins went to investigate and report live for National Geographic. At that time the park was besieged in war by rebel guerrillas who were killing each other and butchering elephants to survive on. This war traces back to 1994 and the Rwanda genocide where more than 800,000 Tutsis were brutally mutilated and killed by Hutu warriors. During the 10 year period from 1999-2009 120 park rangers were killed caught in the crossfire of not only rebel warriors but also poachers. This was the largest loss of rangers ever reported by a national park in the world.

A faction headed up by Laurent Nkunda held the area of the park where the gorillas lived making it impossible to protect them or keep accurate records. Park director and Belgian anthropologist Emmanuel DeMerode negotiated with Nknda and regained access to this area.The progress with the gorillas numbers has been made as a direct result of “Wildlife Direct” a program put together by Emmanuel DeMerode and conservationist Richard Leakey.

DeMerode is a hero not only for the gorillas but for the forest land and the people. Over 2 1/2 million people lived in the area all cutting trees for fuel. DeMerode put 30,000 people to work making charcoal briquettes out of grass and dead leaves saving trees and bringing an economic boost to the area. One man with a brave heart, determination and a dream to improve the situation in a war torn land made this caliber of impact. What could be accomplished if we joined together in a common effort to educate ourselves, negotiate in war, save the animals and the planet while providing jobs for a nation in need? He is living proof that the possibilities are limitless.

Play On Words/ A Rhyme



a word 2Written words on a printed page wisely inscribed by an ancient sage,

Or simply mumbled and rolled about, rhyming phrases tumbled out.

Millions of words from which to select filled with wonder or sheer neglect,

Chosen precisely? Chosen well? Random choice? Now who can tell?

Only the soul that placed them there can define per chance or with great care.

So go figure then or not. The only 2 choices that you’ve got!

Ayers Rock, Australia




a cooberRobert Earl Howells On the Way to Oz Nat Geographic Adventure:

There is 1 person per every 2 square miles in Australia’s 1925 mile wide outback. From December to March it’s too hot to travel through the “red rock gorge” If you’re gonna live in Coober Pedy you’re gonna live underground ( underground hotel featured in photo). The “Desert Cave Hotel” offers rooms 150 feet beneath the surface of the earth. Ayers Rock glows brilliant red giving the aborigines cause to believe it is holy. There are 15 foot long “Sweet Water” crocks running the rivers in Kakadu National Park making friends with huge monitor lizards and komodo dragons. How’d ya’ll like to live there? Don’t ask. I’m not going!!!!!!

How Did We Get Here?/ A Rhyme



a caterpillar

When I was young my biggest query was where did I come from? It left me leery!

Who made the earth? Who hung the moon? I never bought “Big Bang Kaboom!”

From a slimy amoeba, a hairy ape? These theories offered slight escape!

Thinking of a dragonfly or waterfall, it seemed that back behind it all,

I’d find artistic mastery of majestic capacity!

Watching a great green caterpillar crawl I glimpsed the mystery of it all.

There was a source for rustling leaves, the busy buzzing of the bees.

Behind the thunder and the rain. Who created everything?

It left no inkling of a doubt. God is what its all about!

The Big Piney/ My Heritage


a mill

On January 16, 1852 Zeno Merritt Cox Sr. was born in Illinois. As a young adult he set out for the “Big Piney” which is what Arkansas was called back before statehood. Huge pines lined the banks of the Big Piney River. He dug in and built and operated a water wheel lumber mill in a spot where the trees were the densest. Over the next few years he developed mills all along the river. As a middle aged man he sold his mills and settled in Estella, Oklahoma.

Estella is a small rural community half way between Vinita and Nowata. Accurately 21.9 miles northwest of Vinita on Highway 60. Estella then was predominantly Indian with the Cherokees holding the majority populace. There was a small black community there and heirs of German and Irish immigrants rounded out the makings of the community. Zeno was predominately English and had not 1 prejudice bone in his body. His wife Emma Jane Beck-Cox was a Cherokee medicine woman who went into the countryside with a pail and a trowel and returned with roots and bark capable of treating everything from warts to pneumonia.

Zeno built a rural grocery store and became the local postmaster. His store had gas pumps and a sweet water well. It housed the local voting precinct and general delivery mail drop. He built the most beautiful wooden post office box cabinet ever seen. He was gone before I came into the world as the youngest daughter of one of his 5 sons. I grew up in that store and was afforded life experience that I could never have received elsewhere.

There was a large coal excavation site with many employees close by so one of the things we did was provide breakfast and lunch, beside offering the best variety of fresh lunch meats and Wisconsin barrel cheeses. My mom and both grandmothers cooked. Dad paid to have electricity ran out from Vinita so we were set. We had water coolers, television and indoor plumbing. The rural water lines weren’t established yet but dad and grandpa ran water for washing up from the ponds through hundreds of feet of buried charcoal filled pipe. Drinking water came from a well witched by Grandpa Reiter (mom’s father) with a peach tree bough just a few feet behind the house.

The circus came from Nowata on its way to Vinita right in front of the store stopping to water animals and I had a 1st hand view of the elephants and lions. Every July fourth it was dad’s habit to take customers and a couple dozen eggs to the highway right out front, after it had been paved where he put on a 1 man display of how the pavement was hot enough to fry eggs. People driving by would stop and watch in awe. A six foot tall (from the English side) Cherokee man bent over scrambling inedible eggs as a hobby.

Of course, really nothing unusual there….after all it was Oklahoma.

a mill