The one thing that we think about or talk about at least once every single day is food. It is one of our greatest pleasures. I always knew what Dan liked~it was everything~ but I have to say his all time favorite was eggs. He liked them fried~hard or soft~ omelets, scrambled, deviled, even hard boiled. We always had our big meals at breakfast and dinner at noon, we all sat at the table and ate together, then for supper it was left over’s, or popcorn and apples, or eggs. Either an omelet or grits and eggs were his first choice. (He lived over 90 years so the eggs never hurt him). Creamy cheesy grits are delicious and satisfying, and go great together with the eggs. Now you need to choose your grits carefully when buying~if it says ‘Instant’ on the package back away and don’t take those home by mistake. No good!
Here are pictures from my 74th birthday get together at Christoval eight years ago in 2008. We ate at Shanda’s Cafe in town.
Our family always has big birthday celebrations for everyone, even the dogs. One time I told Stacy I had only one birthday party when I was growing up and in the third grade and what a thrill that was. So when she was about 13 years old she wanted me to come and spend the night, she had a big slumber party for the two of us in their back yard. She had a record player playing the oldest songs she could find, banners and streamers, hot dogs, (she even baked me an angel food cake), and she had even moved the mattress’s outside. Our dogs, Spook and Schatzie Kay were there too. What a party, the one I will always remember, the best one ever! That was a special time, I love birthdays~
These are a pair of landscapes that worked well together, just right for a small space. The paintings are 9×12’s and I painted them in a few hours, with drying time in between. First coat is to pretty well to finish the sky and hill, then put in the dark green where the trees will go, and the calache colored ground, road, and brush. No details at this point. After the canvas is covered and it is time to let it dry, I pull my pallet knife over the wet paint to make it smooth. That way when I come back to do the finishing work, the canvas is nice and easy to paint on. (If it is rough, it is like trying to paint on a cinder block). After it is completely dry, it’s time to paint in all the details, the heads on the grass, the gnarly limbs coming out of the tree, hit it with highlights, and don’t forget to sign your name~
I was required to take a life drawing course in college where you sketched life sized models on a big 4 foot pad with charcoal. It was fun but I couldn’t see any practical need for this in my future. Several years later, I saw an old world painting of a nice nude and wanted to paint it on canvas. When I was finished, there was the problem of what to do with her. She stayed in the garage closet, in the attic, under the bed, always out of sight. Dan was trading on the market at Uhlman Grain in San Angelo and had friends he ‘shot the breeze with’ every day. Jimmy Gouras (Jimmy the Greek) was one of his best friends. Jimmy knew I painted and was always sending someone down to buy a picture. One day a guy came (I will call him Duncan) to buy a painting for his wife. Dan showed him the nude and he decided that is what he wanted. They struck a deal and the deed was done! I was a happy girl that day. A long time coming but at last the nude was out of my house and out of my life. The next day Dan and Jimmy were visiting and he told Jimmy about Duncan buying the painting and said he thought he “sold it too cheap, how he REALLY hated to see it go” etc. etc. etc. A couple of days later, here comes Jimmy into Uhman Grain carrying the nude, he had bought it back from Duncan! So Dan had to come home with that picture and face me, I was shocked, I was stunned and I was mad! Yep, she’s back~
Good end to this story, it now has a place in a stunning home in San Antonio, showcased by a couple who recognized it’s beauty.
This fat and very wet little chihuahua walked into the front door at a bridal shower one Saturday at the old bank building in downtown Eldorado. It was pouring rain outside with lightning and claps of thunder. No one knew who he belonged to but he came and sat by my feet. When it was time to go, I took him to the car and read a phone number on his tags. I called the number and ask the lady if she was missing a chihuahua. She said she had one but didn’t know he was gone. She told me where she lived, (that little dog had walked a mile in the rain), I said I would bring him home. Then she said “oh, I am not at home, we are here in San Antonio for the weekend”, then told me I could just leave him in their back yard. When I got to his house, I found a black cocker spaniel on the back steps, soaking wet with water pouring off the roof. I ran home and got some garbage bags and an old comforter to take and try to make a shelter for them, (I also wrapped my head in Saran Wrap and put two hoodies over that, then changed into my shorts and old shoes). When I got back to the dogs and walked in the gate, the big black one shot out past me and took off. For the next hour and fifteen minutes, I chased that dog all over that end of town. We went through car ports, back yards, down the Mertzon Highway, over porches, down to the practice field at the school, he always managed to stay about 40 feet ahead of me. Charley Nibblett stopped his pick up and started to get out to help but I said I could do it. It was still pouring rain, he told me I was going to get wet (no I was already soaked to the bone), he went on to town and after a while he came back and I was still chasing. He offered to go get his shot gun~not funny Charley! Finally the the dog stopped to smell of a bush by a porch and I slipped up behind him grabbed the hair on his back and held on until I could get my fingers under his collar. He was too heavy to carry so I held onto his collar and lead him all the way to his house.
The next morning after church, I went to see about them and took them some dog food, I took these two pictures, they look great today, a totally different story from yesterday. I am sure if anyone saw me running through their yards yesterday they would have thought it was just some crazy old lady~ (they would be right) This is another re-run from a previous blog, since then I have become great friends with Minnie Love, the sweet young woman who owns these dogs. She rescues dogs and a cats and is a foster parent for them. She has a big heart~
I like milk shakes, I mean I love banana milk shakes. This recipe is one we came up with years ago and it is my favorite.You can make if from “craving to drinking” in 5 minutes.
You need to start yesterday though, the banana slices have to be frozen solid. I always keep sliced frozen bananas in my freezer ready for the drink or for banana nut ice cream. The great thing, besides being the best you ever tasted, is this 16 oz drink (enough for two people) has a total of around 200 calories while the small one at Dairy Queen or Sonic has over 500.
Start by slicing a bunch of ripe bananas, put them on paper plates and freeze them. (they need to be ripe, not over ripe and not even slightly green).
This is one of several of Dan’s paintings while he was taking art lessons. He liked bight colors~
In the summer of 1953, I was home from UT, and working at Blake’s Electric. Not much happening. Mother kept books for my daddy’s business and gave art lessons twice a week. She said ‘Dan’ came in the station one day and sat around for a while then asked her if she would teach him to paint. She was surprised, most of her students were women but she agreed to give him lessons in the evenings. After a few weeks, she couldn’t meet with him for a couple of sessions but told him that I might help him instead. He was serious about learning to paint and he was doing a good job. That was the start of a whirlwind courtship.
First real date was going to San Angelo to play miniature golf one afternoon, then to Garner State Park for a Sunday afternoon, every evening we painted or went to a movie. It was a fun summer. When it was getting time for me to go back to school he started trying to talk me out of leaving. I had pre-registered, my room at SRD was reserved and it was all set. I thought maybe he would come to Austin once in a while and we could see each other. One afternoon we went out to the farm on Rudd Road to shoot his new pistol. No shooting that day, instead he proposed to me. He went to meet with Daddy and ask for ‘my hand’. Oh my goodness how very proper. Daddy told him all the reasons it would never work, too much age difference, (12 years), I was not going to be easy to live with, (a silly girl) and I wasn’t finished with college. (Daddy, will you please be quite!) But the stars were right and it happened and Daddy was wrong, ( a few times I had some doubts though)
We were married for 57 years and had two wonderful little boys. Dan quit painting after a few years and just helped me haul my paintings to shows. He liked art just as much as I did. (he also liked music, food and cigars)
Today’s picture is another one from the ranch in Culberson County~in the Delaware Mountains in far West Texas. I was on this trip, it made me uneasy because the boys were already out there at the camp and Dan I were going to meet up with them. There ranch roads were no more than rough paths that Mr. Ronsaville scraped out with his bulldozer ever so often, and we had no real idea where we were on this 12 section ranch. Dan just sort of knew the general direction to the camp. On this day, we had a flat. Dan honked the horn to see if the boys were anywhere nearby and sure enough we could hear them honking back. They figured out which road we were on and found us after a while. Oh my! When they drove up I nearly had a fit, they had a three wheeler and the Kawasaki in the back of the pickup and I had no idea they had taken them out there, certainly not safe for ridding in the mountains.
Matt fixed the flat, he was always the first to jump in there and help. There was a rule that no women were allowed out at the ranch, it was meant to keep wives and mothers from coming every year at hunting season and messing up the men’s fun. Dan told me for sure I could go, and I got to go several times after that. We never went during hunting season. It was just the four of us and of course I was the cook~
Dan and I used to go to Johnson City often where he visited with Harold Wood who was in charge of the LBJ Park . One day we finished early and Dan asked Harold where was a good place to eat. He told us he liked a cafe that had pretty good old German food in Fredericksburg. We stopped there and ordered our lunch. Dan was eating his salad and found some shrimp shells in it. I said, “Don’t Eat It and Just Don’t Make a Scene!” In a little while a kid was cleaning off the table next to us and held up a bowl of half eaten jello, he yelled to the back, ‘Hey Erna, Do We Save This?’
On one of our trips to Mexico, we were in a market in Zacatecas and Dan was visiting with this young boy. Dan liked to speak Spanish, buy what they were selling, and then tip them well. He wanted to buy us some peanuts, he handed the boy a pack of pesos and waited for him to give us 4 bags. The boy got up, picked up his toe sack, put the money in his pocket and started to walk off. Dan said, “wait, I need my peanuts” and the boy pointed the big pile on the sidewalk and said, “escos son los cacahuete.” (those are your peanuts). One other time, he was going to buy oranges from a woman on the street. She had a neat little pile stacked up on a towel. When he paid her, she tried to give him change. He said, “para usted”, so she pulled her towel out from under the stack, thanked him. I always believed Dan would have moved to Mexico if I had said the word. What a wonderful country it was back then~
This is about a new peach orchard in Christoval, it is small, only 12 trees that they put in five years ago. (remember, 2011 was the year of one of Texas’ worst droughts, no rain at all, hard time to start this venture) There are two apples, two apricots and the rest are different varieties of peaches. Since it is on a rocky hill up there, dump truck loads of dirt had to be brought in, it is about two and a half feet in new dirt, and the whole orchard is 40×50 feet. The new dirt was fluffy with no rocks and digging the holes was easy. Everything had to be watered daily and every tree has survived except one apple tree is having a problem.
This year is turning into a great year for the orchard, the first year the trees rest, the second they come alive and the third year they flourish. We call this Anna’s Orchard~They have had a bumper crop of apricots and the peach trees are loaded. The project this year is to improve the soil with compost.