The Art Lesson

Dan’s first painting was a small desert scene with blue sky, sand hill and yucca plant in the center, later he painted this larger one with more detail. Not bad at all~He was liking the art lessons and liking the girl~

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 then asked her if she would teach him to paint. She was surprised, all 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.

We went to Garner State Park for the afternoon, it was a pretty place near Uvalde, I thought he was just pretty neat~

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 Sept. 20, 1953 in my Grandmother Christian’s home and went to New Orleans on our honeymoon. I love remembering all of this~

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)

Durango Colorado Live

there is something different about mountain towns, there is a special feel to them, cool, crisp air and everyone is having a good time.

My kids were hundreds of miles away in Durango Colorado a few  weeks ago on vacation and they called me on the cell phone and told me to go put the live cam in my browser. I did and up came this picture of the street in Durango Colorado and they were standing on the right hand curb, waving at me. We kept taking and they pointed out things to see if I could find  them and I could. I am still living in the dark ages so this was exciting for me. I have the address on my desktop and look at it every day, even though they are back home again. What fun. There are the same live cams in other cities too. To bring up Durango just type this address into your browser and it will be live. It makes me want to go~        http://downtowndurangocam.com/

Texas Peach Orchard

In West Texas, a fruit tree does better on a hill than in the low spots. A  late frost in the spring, usually settles in the lower places and can kill many of the blooms ~

This is about a new peach orchard in Christoval, it is small, only 12 trees that they put in three 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.  

this Loring peach was one of three that got ripe in June. It was the size of an orange, juicy,sweet and delicious~everyone got a taste

The first peach that year was from the Loring tree and got ripe in June. There were three peaches on that tree, simply delicious.
The Princess tree has lots of peaches which are going to ripen  in a couple more weeks. Anna thinned more than half of them out since the tree was young. It is a sweet white honey peach. Some of the trees were 3 year old bare root, some came in 5 gal buckets, and others were from seeds grown in buckets for 4 years. These seeds were from Granddad Jack’s original old Indian peach trees that he started in 1937, he was well known for his fine fruit trees. He would be happy to know the tradition is still going.  

the Princess is a sweet white honey peach, it is freestone. These trees can live for about 25 years, the apricots and apples live even longer.

Next year should be 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~

Big Dog Chase

he walked into the party, uninvited, soaking wet, shook off and made himself right at home

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 out of town 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 back to where all we had been, and finally to his house.

he didn’t understand ‘come here NOW!. do you want to go bye~bye, want a treat, let’s go in the car, lie down’, I tried all those magic words but nothing slowed him down~

This 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)

Banana Milk Shake

 

this is thick and creamy tasting even though it is made with fat free milk. you can use low fat if you like but it tastes the same~

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.

here is the blender, I have had a food processor but this tool is my favorite for everything~

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.

Slice bananas and spread on paper plates, cover in gallon size plastic bags and freeze. When time to use, break apart how ever many you need. Don’t let them thaw!

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).

Banana Milk Shake
1 c skim or low fat milk
2 T sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla (scant)
 2 c frozen bananas (about 2 or 3 bananas) Don’t let them thaw, work fast~
Put milk, sugar and vanilla in blender and get it going, then break apart the frozen bananas into chunks and add to the milk.
 Blend on high speed until it is thick and creamy, less than a minute.  If you want it even ticker, add a few more slices of bananas.
This makes one huge milkshake, share it with someone~
I will have my famous banana nut ice cream recipe another time. It has almost the same ingredients, very low calorie and rich and creamy.   

Wild Turkeys

the mother turkey and one of her babies sitting on the bird bath, I hang the hose in the tree and let the water drip

here is one of the mothers of the two mothers who came this week, they will keep coming back for the food and water~

 

all kinds of birds like the bird bath. Last year a deer laid her head in the water to cool off~

Some of us had been wondering if there were going to be any wild turkeys after the terrible drought in 2011. They won’t nest unless the condition  is just right for them to at least have a chance. Two hens had been coming up to the water trough and I had been throwing corn and chick feed out for them. One week, they both walked in with 15 babies.They were on the driveway by the garage. I managed to get a picture and then today I got  some of a hen and her baby sitting on the bird bath. What a thrill, I like the wildlife. I can enjoy them and as with the deer, if one in the bunch doesn’t show up that day, I don’t worry, I just suppose it is over at the farm eating at the deer feeders. Not like if a chicken or peacock goes missing and you look until you find it. I am keeping the windmill running to wet down the oak grove, the turkeys like to get in that cool wet place.

The New Rain Gage

 

this is the garden after a big rain, I lost one of Dan’s boots out there that day, it was buried in the mud and never seen again~

Our rain gage had been  broken for a quite while, (when someone ask me how much rain we got, the answer was “not much, quite a bit, or I heard the Spinks about got 2 inches”).  Years before when I was at a Hemphill Well’s Sale, I saw nice rain gage  for half price and bought it. When I showed Dan what I found,  he had a not so tiny fit! He said you could get those for free anywhere, the bank~ the gas company~ everyone gave them away. (‘Free’ for him meant ask for two). Anyway, my feelings were hurt so I kept it in the drawer for  a long time before I put it up. One day I screwed it to a board and wired that to a post on the fence out across the road from the house. It  was level and secure,  I did a fine job. When I was walking back to the house, I saw a  rock in the driveway, picked it up and threw it over my shoulder. Then I heard “ping”. You guessed it, perfect shot~

Guard Llamas

this is the safest and easiest way to shear a llama, they are gentle but don’t like to be fooled with.

Guard llamas are used in goat and sheep ranching operations to protect the animals from predators~like coyotes, dogs foxes etc. They are not attack animals but fend off the intruder by making an alarm sound, then stalking or chasing it, kicking  it or pawing it. It is usually scary enough that the intruder will leave. Predators can be a real problem with sheep and goats, especially when they are lambing or kidding. Llamas have been know to kill dogs while protecting the flock.The picture today shows a llama being clipped, the wooley hair is too  hot in the summer and they need to be sheared, otherwise they will get in the water troughs to cool off and mess up the water. This one is in a squeeze chute with Claire sitting on top and shearing the hair. She told me you have to stay away from those back legs or they will kick the thunder out of you.

here, Cole and Megan are sacking up the hair~ one llama done, one to go~

 

Little Girls and Friends

every friend had a name, some of them were very old, all of them were her friends, she taught them everything she knew~

Little girls are sociable creatures, they can have a party any time  there is a dog or kitty or stuffed toys. They can have a school be the teacher, and share everything they have learned themselves. It is fun listening to the conversations with their ‘friends’. Two chairs and some blankets and they have a wonderful little house for  their babies. Then when real live friends come, they know how to entertain them. What fun. Here is ZZ and Spook, then some of the stuffed toys, she danced for them and sang and put on a good show. No one left the room, she had a captive audience. This was our living room and we didn’t use it often, but when she was here, it was hers. She called it the blue room and she brought it to  life.  Little girls know how to have fun.

Mexican Boy Selling Peanuts

he had a big pile of peanuts, I notice he was wearing nice shoes. The kids in Mexico were nice and polite, friendly too. They seemed older than their years though~

On one of our trips to Mexico, we were in a market in Zacatecas and Dan was visiting with this young boy. He 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 and left. I always believed Dan would have moved to Mexico if I had said the word. What a wonderful country it was back then~

Chicken and Dumplings

this has lots of flavor and the dumplings, (my favorite part), are just as good as the chicken,  It goes great with biscuits and a salad, and buttermilk~

This is a real old timey dish. Years ago, families tended to be  big and food had to go a long way. With this meal, you could cook a chicken and add more dumplings and gravy to fit the crowd. The meat was left on the bone, that way, it took longer to eat and  you could see if someone else got your favorite piece. My daddy had something he always said when we had company, “eat plenty of  gravy, it’s just s good as the meat”.

You start with a large pot, and a whole whole chicken (fryer).  Cut into serving-size pieces (you will have two legs, two thighs, two breasts, a pulley bone, back, neck and ribs). Put it in the pot, cover with water and 1 tsp salt, 1 med onion and one one rib of celery. Cook  for an hour and a half. When done, put the chicken pieces in separate bowl, discard onion and celery , and thicken the broth. ( put 3 tablespoons of flour in a cup, add 1/2 cup of water and stir to get the lumps out. Then add several spoons of the hot broth to cup and stir to mix. Put this back in the pot and cook until it starts to thicken, stirring the whole time). Add more salt to taste if necessary. While it is cooking you mix up the dumplings.

Dumplings
2 c flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c shortening
3/4 c milk
Combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in shortening until mixture
until mixture is size of small peas. Add milk and mix well. (dough will
be  firm) Turn out on lightly floured wax paper, knead lightly, roll
out to 1/8 inch thickness, cut into strips. Now drop the dumplings in
the simmering broth, one at a time, put the lid on and simmer for
20 minutes ~ med. low heat. Watch or it will boil over!
Put the chicken back in the pot and for a few more minutes to re-heat.
You can sprinkle with ground black pepper and a few parsley flakes.
I like to serve this meal with hot biscuits and a salad. The whole meal cost
about the same as one  barbeque sandwich and a drink, and feeds 6 or more.
It is a lot more fun too, you end up with everyone happy and little stack
of bare bones.

Oil Painting and Friends

I had no plan when I started this one, I wanted to demonstrate “how to” on a sky, tree and road and had a nice group of ladies (and two men) who watched all afternoon~

I painted this picture while I was demonstrating at the Fat Stock Show in San Angelo one year. That was always fun because I knew many of the women who came to watch, most of them  were painters too. For several years I judged art shows at the Kendall Art Gallery and had many friends from there. There is a lot of great talent around this area. And as I have said before, painters are nice people. You can’t paint and not feel good. This painting I am showing you today is one I did from start to finish in one sitting. It was a large 24X30″. I always say you need to let the paint dry after putting on the first coat and not put wet paint on wet paint or it gets muddy. It can be done but it is not easy. I worked on this one for four or more hours that day, the time flew by. Lots of lively conversation, it is surprising but I can remember what they were talking about that day.  Mostly telling on themselves. Good stories. I can almost always remember what was going on in my life when I painted any picture~almost like writing in a journal.