Pictures from West Texas

birds sunning themselves, Delaware Mountains in the background

Today I will show you some nice pictures from far West Texas. Most are on the ranch in the Delaware Mountains in Culberson Country. My nephew Earl goes there often and always has his camera handy. (a favorite quote from his dad~Sam Calhoun was,” Mother Nature was in her prettiest dress”). I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I have, that is a beautiful part of the country and so many interesting things going on. It is alive with wildlife and is unspoiled. 

the cow seems to enjoy the birds on her back, maybe they are finding lice

these are acres of yellow with the Guadalupe Mountains in the background

I am not sure where this picture was taken but it is out in West Texas

these are interesting and beautiful desert plants

the mule deer are big, there are lots of trophy deer out there.

I like this picture, the yellow flowers and the cactus apples are a pretty combination

and here is Earl Calhoun and his faithful traveling companion Ajax. Thank you Earl for the great pictures

Schlotzsky’s Type Sandwich

don’t take orders, make them and serve them, if someone doesn’t like the cucumbers, they can pull them out themselves~

This is a great sandwich. It looks complicated but is easy and fun to make. The bread recipe is the easiest of all yeast breads. You just need to go through the list of ingredients and have everything sliced, laid out and ready, then it goes together fast.  

these are 6 inch cast iron skillets, you can find them on the internet for under $10 each. They will last a lifetime~

Years ago, I bought a dozen 6″ cast iron skillets to bake these buns in and also for  my hamburger buns. I live 45 miles from the nearest real Schlotzsky’s place so this recipe works for me. It is a great meal even when you are having company. They will remember it~ 

these make a big sandwich, it is a full size meal~

you can cut them in quarters and serve as company snacks~

 Schlotzsky’s Buns  (copycat)
note: this is the easiest of all yeast breads to make!
1/2 c warm water
2 tsp sugar
2  1/4 tsp dry yeast (or one package)
1/4 tsp soda (dissolved in 2 tsp warm water)
3/4 c warm milk
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 c bread flour
2 T cornmeal
Stir together the warm water, sugar and yeast,
let sit for a few minutes.
In large bowl, combine dissolved soda, warm milk, salt
and one cup of the flour. Beat until smooth. Beat in the
yeast mixture and remaining flour, Batter will be sticky and
smooth.
Prepare six little 6″ skillets by spraying with Pam, then sprinkle
bottoms with cornmeal. Divide dough  between pans, it
will spread during rising time. Spray tops with Pam
and let rise for one hour. Again spray tops with Pam,
bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Split buns with knife when cool.
You can use two cake pans if you don’t have the 6″ pans
and after making the sandwiches, cut them into thirds
for 6 sandwiches.
Filling
mozzarella cheese, grated
cheddar cheese, grated
parmesan cheese, good sprinkle of it
mustard,
onion slices
tomatoes, sliced
cucumbers sliced thin
lettuce shredded
black olives, sliced in half
creamy garlic dressing, about like spreading mayonnaise on bun
salami  (it makes the sandwich~
2 slices of boiled or smoked ham for each sandwich
Assemble the sandwich~ 
1. spread garlic dressing on both halves of bun
2. sprinkle top bun with parmesan cheese
3. spread mustard and mozzarella on top bun
4. spread cheddar cheese on bottom bun
5. toast to melt cheeses
6. heat meats and place on buns, ham on bottom, salami on top
build with olives, tomatoes, lettuce, onions and cucumbers
Enjoy the Schlotzsky’s (copycat) Sandwich with a few chips~

Mertzon Road

I like rock tanks, I know of many that have been here longer than I have, they are beautiful. I would imagine rock masons would go through the country building tanks and rocking houses. They were master craftsmen~

Here is another place between Eldorado and Mertzon. I think I painted every scene from here to there at some time. There are a few pretty live oaks, some windmills and rock tanks, and only about three houses in the 32 miles.  A woman who lived on a ranch out there was at a bridge party one time and we were all telling funny stories, she told us that one freezing day she went out to see if ice was forming on the water in the tank and dropped her car keys in. She had to do what was necessary so she ran to the house. put on her bathing suit and went back and jumped in the freezing water. She found the keys and was climbing out when Mr. Halbert drove up in his butane truck to deliver gas. She said she headed straight for the house like nothing had happened. She was sure he must have thought she had lost her mind. It was a good story and I know none of us ever forgot it. When I look at the paintings from Mertzon, I think of her.

Birthday Dinner

this is Debbie’s famous chicken noodle soup, it only needs crackers and a glass of iced tea to make a perfect meal~

he wanted a pie instead of a birthday cake this time. Debbie baked this one,  beautiful and absolutely delicious. While we enjoyed dessert, we remembered all the birthday cakes through the years, Aunt Tricia made most of them and came up with elaborate ones~

Today is my oldest son’s birthday, I will post this on my blog tomorrow. He was born in 1956 and what a thrill to remember all these wonderful years. We had his birthday dinner yesterday after church. Debbie made his favorite soup and a beautiful coconut cream pie. (she is the gourmet cook in our family) That was the menu he chose.                                   It took me 24 hours “to born the boy”. The afternoon before, I had taken my 2 mile exercise walk down Rabbit Road in my summer clothes, it was a hot fall day. Then the next day when he was born we had a famous West Texas blizzard blow in and for the next five days everything was frozen solid, tree limbs were breaking from the weight of the ice. I always remember that hard freeze on October 22 but most of all how wonderful it was to have that brand new baby boy.

this picture is when he was almost two, he was a happy baby and had lots of grandmothers~it is one of my favorite pictures~

Kenya East Africa

this is the road going toward Kitale, the elevation is 7,000 feet so even though it is close to the equator, it is cool and lush with vegetation. I am excited that I was able to go there last year.

I never knew much about Africa. I had it pictured as a country with a parched and dry landscape as far as you could see, and maybe one old gnarled, water starved tree with an elephant kicking up dust. In the last year, I have learned it is not that way at all. I have enjoyed seeing hundreds of pictures of Kenya with it’s lush and beautiful green countryside. It is on the equator but the elevation is 7,000 feet so it is cool, green and wet. There are small gardens everywhere with maize, tomatoes, greens and all kinds of fruits growing. The city of Kitale is in the eastern part of Kenya and has a golf course, modern hotels, large banks, supermarkets and then the unique market places on the streets that sell all kinds of produce. It is much like parts of Mexico.  My heart is over there with someone I love very much.

Beautiful Pyracantha

 

this plant has been trimmed to become a small tree, they can also be left as a bush. As with so many of the showy plants, they have lots of thorns~absolutely beautiful

The pyracantha bushes are covered in beautiful orange berries around town. The plants grow to 10 feet tall and are showy and beautiful. They tolerate heat and cold and even drought, in fact they like it dry and can live for many years.

in the spring they will be covered in beautiful fragrant white flowers. They liked to be pruned, that keeps them producing~

In the spring, they are covered in white blossoms and then the berries come on in later summer. Good food for the birds, they eat everything that falls on the ground. It is also a safe nesting place. The branches are a mass of thorns so they are considered a good barrier against predators. They bring lots of pretty color to the landscape with little effort. Now is a good time to plant them, start with a gallon size and it will grow into a nice plant in a hurry. This one I found in Tricia’s yard this afternoon and decided to show it off. She will be surprised to see it in tomorrow’s blog.

Buttermilk Pound Cake (Revised Version)

the lemon icing makes this cake extra tangy and special, it is an easy cake to make and is 12 or more servings~

I like a pound cake because you can slice it, pick it up and eat it, or you can have it with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. It isn’t sticky, you don’t need a napkin or a fork. But of course you can sit down and eat it quite properly if you like. The slices can be wrapped and frozen and ready for drop in company. Real pound cake is made with real butter. I like the little bit of lemon icing on it too.  Pound Cake must be good, it is in every recipe book, and has been handed down for generations from good cooks~   Note! Since I first placed this on my blog, I had a failure on one cake so this recipe has been changed slightly. After testing it today, it turned out very nice~

   Buttermilk Pound Cake

1 c ~soft butter (2 sticks)
2 c sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 c flour
1 c buttermilk
1/2 tsp soda
Cream butter and sugar together
Add eggs, one at at time, beating well
Add vanilla
Stir soda into the cup of buttermilk
Add flour alternately with buttermilk,
batter should be smooth.
Grease bottom of tube pan, (not sides)
Bake one hour and 15 minutes at 325 degrees, test with toothpick,
it sould come out clean when pushed into center of cake
Cool for 10 minutes, then run knife around the
sides to turn cake loose, Shake pan to loosen
cake, then remove to plate.
Lemon Icing
Mix grated lemon rind, juice from one lemon and
1 1/2 c powdered sugar. If icing is too stiff, add a
few drops of water. Drizzle over warm cake~, use only
this amount of icing, don’t overdo it~

                                                                                                               

 

Scarecrows

here she is in her last stages, she held up for years, guarding the garden and entertaining the deer

This is Miss Lilla, our scarecrow. She guarded our garden for many years, as you can see, she was just about finished. She had a sister Sarah who took care of the garden at the river. She faired much better, she went to the barn in the winter time. They were both life size dolls who wore size 8 clothes. Several times they got new outfits but the shoes held up for all those years. Miss Lilla’s arms would swing in the wind and when my neighbor drove down the road, she said she always waved back. It made me sad when I finally put them to rest, I felt like I was loosing an old friend. One of these days I will start over and make a new one, they were sculptured out of flesh colored sheer nylon fabric, with real wigs and stuffed with plastic bags filled with newspaper. It worked. The deer stayed out of the garden for a short time, until they caught on~

Deer, Turkeys and Quail

here are seven of the turkeys in the back yard yesterday. I keep corn and sunflower seeds out for them

all of the turkeys are hens, I don’t know why they stay together and the toms are seldom around, I have only seen a tom once or twice in all the years here~

It looks like the wild life is back in my yard again. I am happy! Yesterday there were ten turkeys eating the corn and making dust bowls in the dirt. They may be the same ones that were babies here in the spring. I love the turkeys, they don’t fly away in a panic if they see me, they just walk over the rock fence and out under the oak groves.

these were are few of a covey of about a dozen quail under the bird feeders this week. They move around a lot and it is not easy to get a good picture. They are darling~

The quail have been coming too, they eat the sunflower seeds under the bird feeders. They are such sweet birds, all fluffy and pretty and stay together in a covey. It is hard to understand how they survive since they have their nests on the ground, sitting ducks for snakes, cats and other varmints. Somehow they do.  

these are three young deer here this week. I keep a mineral block out for them and then always throw corn out every day. Everything likes the corn~

Then the deer have started coming back, there were three this week and several more last week. The great thing about wild life, you can enjoy them and if something happens to them, it is not like losing a pet, you can just believe they move on to another place and will come back later. It is always a thrill for me when I see them out in the back yard.

Oil Painting~Cowboy Driver

this scene is from Irion County in West Texas, not far from Mertzon and after some nice rains

I can’t just paint a man on a horse, I need a photograph to go by, it is the same with animals. I have so many pictures I have taken of sheep, cattle and horses, even pigs. I just single out a few and paint them into a picture. Proportion, color intensity and detail is important to give the painting it’s third dimension, otherwise it will look flat. In this painting, the horse is as tall as the windmill, the prickly pear is the same height as one of the cows, the rider and the horse are as tall as the tallest tree. Also, the sharp details need to be at the bottom of the painting, and should  fade out toward the horizon. You paint what you see, not what you know. If you have something way back in the pasture, you know he has eyes but if you paint those details in it will bring him right up front and you will end up losing the depth. Same with bluebonnets, those at the bottom of the canvas will show the detail and the brilliant colors, they need to start fading fast into the background to a faint pale blue. (An interesting way to see the depth is to make a fist and look through a hole at the painting on the screen). Knowing proportions has made it easy for me to carve all the  little miniatures, I made the first chair for instance and proportioned everything else to it’s size. 

58 Years of Guitars

 

this is the Martin, acustic f-hole bow top guitar that I started with. It had steel strings that killed my fingers for a while

In 1953, after Dan and I were married, I missed having a piano but felt like that was too much to ask for. Our friend Raymond Schrank could play guitar so I told him I had thought about getting one but  wondered if I could ever learn. He said he could show me just two chords to start with and I could sing lots of songs with just those. The next week Dan and I were in San Angelo and went by the Houston-Clary Music Store and I picked out the prettiest guitar on the wall. It was an arch top f-hole acoustic. What a thrill! Later that day, Raymond showed me the two chords in the key of G. I could now play and sing ‘Down in the Valley’. (oh, and he told me there would have been  easier guitars to play, like the classical with nylon strings). In just short time I could play all the chords in the key of G. I bought a kaypo, it is clamp that fits on neck to squeeze the strings and change to any key while still using  the same fingering. I was in business. We used to stay at the river in the summer and Dan’s brother and his family were there, so at night I played the guitar and we sang. The song most requested was Marty Robbins’ ‘Devil Woman.  

this is the Yamaha classical guitar I bought at the pawn shop for $125. It is easy to play and sounds good, it has been my Bingo Singer guitar for 20 years

  Though the next 58 years I have had several guitars. Some from the pawn shop, that must be the first thing someone has to get rid of~my favorite one was an almost new Yamaha, someone had carved on the neck ‘True Love Is Forever’.

This guitar has a great sound but the fat bulge on the back gets in the way of my stomach~I almost sold it for $15 but the woman changed her mind~

Once Stacy and I were on our way to Albuquerque and saw a community garage sale in Lamesa . I saw a guitar with a case. We went back and I bought it for $25. We took turns playing it the rest of the way. I put it in a garage sale later, I didn’t need that many guitars. A woman kept looking at it, she thought her husband would like it, I finally told her she could have it for $15, and played it for her to help with the sale. She bought it, drove off and then I could hear her car backing up. She brought it back and said she decided not to get it after all. Just a few weeks ago I sole it for $35 so it is gone. When my granddaughter ZZ was 12 years old, I showed her how to play several chords that made made a pleasant tune, she learned it quickly. We named it ‘ZZ’s Ditty’. When I took her home to Albuquerque, I bought her a nice classical guitar and then she took lessons for several years. She learned the real way, it is exciting to listen to her play that beautiful music. 

this is my newest and first fine guitar, it is a Takamine and can be used with an amp system, it has a crisp, beautiful sound~

I love music, Dan loved music, he was a great audience. After every song, he would clap and yell, ‘Yee haw, more more!’  I didn’t even have to be good at it~;and one more thing, I did finally get my piano~

 

Eldorado Volunteer Fire Department

the truck on the right was Eldorado’s first fire truck, it was a 1939 Ford. At one time the  fire hall burned after a coffee maker overheated~

The picture today shows Eldorado’s first fire truck, it was a 1939 Ford with a Seagraves 500 pump. Before this the merchants of Eldorado had set up a forerunner of the Fire Department when they bought a 40 gallon chemical extinguisher which was hand drawn. When needed,  people turned out to help fight the fire. In the summer of 1939 there was the first recorded meeting of the Eldorado Fire Department. Palmer West was elected Chief. All the early men are gone now, in the last 72 years the faces have changed but what they started has grown and stayed strong.  They are always ready to jump out of bed in the middle of the night, leave their jobs, or leave their dinner tables to answer the call. Not only to fight fires in our community and county, but to go help fight big fires in surrounding counties  when needed. There is a lot of pride in this organization, they are the best of the best.

the  38, parked behind the fire station, fire trucks are beautiful, the fire boys keep them clean and polished.

a picture from a parade in the 1960′s with Bob McWhorter and two little kids, can you imagine the thrill for a child to get to take a ride in a real fire truck

This is a modern truck of the mid-century, it is sixty years old and still part of the fleet,  there are plans to have it restored in the future.

I will show you pictures I took today down at the fire station of some of the new trucks.They are awesome~ state of the art.

you have to stand beside this one to really appreciate it’s size, its a four door and takes two giant steps to crawl inside~

a front view, the station is filled with all kinds of trucks and rescue vehicles, there is even a  sandwich truck~

this one was an old army truck that was converted into a water truck, like all the others, it is massive

I have had to call the fire department on several occasions, most times it was my fault, other times~ not.  Twice I called for help when some aggressive bees were in my big oak tree. Jerry Jones came out, dressed to the hilt in a bee suit and got rid of them. He didn’t get stung but I got a couple of stings. Always greatest thanks to all the fire boys, they are the Hometown Heroes~