This is a painting I did in 1976, bluebonnets have always been my favorite subject. In the spring time throughout Texas when the country has had rain at just the right time, everything turns blue. The best is always in the Hill Country around Mason, Llano and Fredericksburg. This should be a good year. Everyone looks forward to a day trip on the winding roads to see all the wild flowers. They last for several weeks. It is a sight to see and one of Texas’ most beautiful treasures. It will take your breath away.
I copied a chair that had belonged to Dan’s grandmother which was over 100 years old. The real chair was hand made and uncomfortable, the seat was too high, so I cut off the legs and made new mortise and tenons, put it back together and it is now (like in The Three Bears story) just right. The miniature is 12″ tall, my first attempt at carving. It is made from dowel pins and oak wood. Ron Sutto came one day and told me how nice it was, in fact he bragged so much about it, I was feeling just pretty good! After he left, I picked it up and said something like, ‘it is a darn good piece of work’ ~ then dropped it on the tile floor and it splattered into a dozen pieces. (pride before the fall) I put everything in a shoe box and left it for a couple of years before I had the energy to rebuild it.This was the beginning of a passion for making miniatures.
Today I have one of my favorite pictures. It was taken on the Concho River north of Christoval, a place we called Camp Rock. Daddy and I took our two boys there almost every summer, starting in 1963, the year we bought our little Airstream trailer. The pecan trees made a dense canopy over our side of the river, the bank sloped gradually so it was a good place for the kids to swim, Roland had a nice diving board on the opposite side and everyone was welcome to use it. There was always a tree swing where you could sail off out to the middle of the river. Then there were the rapids, get on a tube and go on a short and very fast ride that would take your breath away. We had several dogs through the years. Big Spook was the smart one. He would hide behind a tree and watch for the flies to get on his bone, then go after them. He knew the difference between, bone, bowl and ball and would bring which ever one you sent him for. Once when we were in the row boat, we heard him howling and running through the plowed field like he had been hurt. Then we smelled the skunk. In just a few minutes he was in the river, swimming toward us to get in boat, (and shake off). The boys had their friends come up for camp outs. They had a big tent with nice beds, a night stand with a small TV, (they got to see the first landing on the moon). One night, I heard Paul calling, “I think there is a rattle snake in the tent”. I went to look and found a black widow spider under his bed but no snake. In a few minutes he called again and I told him there was no snake, to go back to sleep. Then some of the family who was camping nearby said they thought the heard a rattler2. I found it this time under the night stand. We had several encounters with snakes through the years. Almost every afternoon there was a water moccasin that came slithering through the swimming hole. What a wonderful place though, the best summer time fun for two sweet little boys and their dogs. It is always there, waiting for the next family get together.
This is a painting of the swimming hole at Camp Rock on the beautiful South Concho River. I took artistic license in several areas, the water hole isn’t quite this big and the hills in the background are actually the double knobs near Grit in Mason County. I painted this one to hang out on my screened porch, it has been there for almost 40 years with no fading or weather damage, (the secret in oil painting is to use linseed oil to mix the paint colors and never ever use turpentine, that is for cleaning brushes). There is something so special about water, I always wondered if people who grew up in a town with a lake or river could appreciate what they had. I almost always put water in a painting, if not a river, then a puddle in the road or a windmill with a rock tank. I always need to be able to get a cool drink~
Fort McKavett, population 45, is set in a beautiful area of Menard County with the San Saba River running near by and the restored Fort McKavett State Historic Park is within a mile. It served as a post (Buffalo Soldiers) protecting settlers from Apache and Comanche Indians raiders in the 1800′s. It is an interesting place to visit and a hunter’s paradise with all the wildlife, wild turkeys and white tail trophy deer. We used to go fishing under the huge trees at the river and gathered water cress at the low water crossing. Today I am showing pictures my friend Frankie Lively sent of her family enjoying an afternoon at the ‘Fort’, which is a little hamburger joint in town. A great way to spend a few hours seeing the sites. It is pretty part of the country.
This is a portrait I painted of my great-grandfather A.A. McGill. My grandmother really loved her papa, I think she must have been his favorite child. Since she loved him so much, I did too. I doubt if he even knew my name, by the time I came along he was an old man who sat in his rocker all day and didn’t want to be bothered by children. He and Big Mama lived in San Angelo,Texas on Rust Street, by the railroad overpass, where Rio Concho Manner stands today. They had a pretty two story house with a long porch on front. There was even a metal porch swing and you could swing really big! (get it going good and it would bang into the wall, and that brought Big Papa out to run you off!) I never got to see the upstairs, it was my dream to go roam around up there and see all the rooms. The nearest I came was once when I made it to the first landing, he came into the hall and grumbled and sputtered at me and down I came. There was a large bathroom downstairs, a dark room with no window. A chain hung down to turn the light bulb on but it was too high for me to reach, it was a scary room. Big Papa had a wine cellar, I think he made his own wine. There was a decanter that sat on the buffet in the dinning room, I could pull a chair up, lean way over to take the stopper out and smell the fumes. The whole family gathered at the McGill’s for New Years every year. The grown ups ate a huge meal, and talked while the kids had go off some place and be quiet~we would eat later. A pitiful thing,( that made me be a better mother though. Any child in my house ate when we ate, at the same table or at one close by.) Big Mama had a maid who came to help with all the work. I never knew her name, but behind her back, all the uncles called her “Feather Legs”, and of course, I shared this information with her. Big Papa died when he was 94. I painted his portrait as a gift for my grandmother. I think she liked it but when she was ‘studying it’, the first thing she said was, “Papa never wore a tie like that”. Now Big Papa has been hanging on the wall in my bedroom for several years. I like the painting and hope he knew I did love him as much as he would let me. The great thing is I ended up with that swing from his porch. It is one of my treasures.
When my Uncle James Montgomery was with the Air Force in North Africa during World War 11, he was in the Cantina one day and picked up a magazine where he saw this picture of his Big Papa and Big Mama McGill at the San Angelo Fat Stock Show in San Angelo Texas. It was a huge surprise. It must have made his day!
The last few years, deer were wiping out my garden. They could eat every green bean plant in one night. I decided to try planting in kiddie swimming pools, the ones with the hard sides. I cut slashes in the bottom so they would drain and I put them close to the back door. It must have been too confined for the deer, they didn’t bother anything. I was able to raise tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, bell peppers, okra and onions. The next year I bought more pools and now have seven of them. I use the same potting soil from year to year adding more as needed. I had no problems with weeds, I just ran the weed eater around the outside of the pool if grass grew tall. Watering was easy, put the hose in and run it for 10 minutes. This has been going on for 7 years now. Since it was terribly hot and we had no rain this past year, the garden was pretty sad. I only raised cucumbers. The first warm day and I will be excited to get started again. We are born with the urge to grow things. Spring gets us stirred up, a package of seed just begs for dirt and water, and when the garden centers start getting in their new bedding plants, we all come alive. What a wonderful feeling~and there is nothing like a red ripe homegrown tomato. Some one said, “in Texas there are only two seasons, summer and winter and they show up in the same week. again and again.
My friend Pat and I were talking about biscuits this week and were wondering how it would work if you made up a recipe of buttermilk biscuits and froze them to cook later. There are times when I would like just one or two, but not a whole batch. Neither of us liked the ones in the dairy case, those leave a ugly aftertaste, and we liked the frozen ones they sell in the frozen foods section but those are pretty pricey. So I made a recipe of my buttermilk biscuits and froze them (without cooking them first), and the next day took a couple of them out and baked them and listen~ they were good. Better than anything you could buy. They have a crunchy crust and are tender inside, just slightly different from the regular ones I make, but especially delicious. I had them last night for supper with two of Anna’s fresh eggs from Chickie Town~ what a nice meal.
If you are cooking for company, an easy meal is Barbecue Chicken. I buy the 10 lb. bags of chicken hind-quarters, the best buy in the market. It cost anywhere from $3.90 to $6.90 for the whole thing. What other meat offers you so much for the money~I use hind-quarters for my tamales, pasta dishes, dumplings etc. and they are my favorite pieces to fry. This is where I get my chicken broth, when I boil chicken. (breast meat is good for some dishes, but tends to be dry and tough) This barbecue dinner is simple and easy. I serve it with rice, a vegetable and salad.
This is the guest bedroom. The bed is about 18″ long. The posters are made from dowel pins and the solid pieces are mahogany. It sits in the corner of my bedroom. Once when Elizabeth Ann was two years old I was reading and heard her say “my bed’. When I looked up, she was sitting in the middle of it, patting the pillows and saying, ‘bed, my bed’. I was sure it going to come cashing down~ but it held her. When she got up and went to get something, I put some books under the mattress to prop it up so there would be no weight on the legs. It always made me happy when she liked the little things. All of my dogs have been on the that bed, they recognize what it is. Missy would take naps there and hang off on three sides. I like little things. We all have that child side in us forever. Elizabeth’s 25 years old now. She is halfway around the world in Kenya and I miss her. What a sweet and wonderful blessing she is. Love you ZZ!
Old What’s His Name
I grew up in Eldorado and never thought twice about nicknames. I just knew people by what everyone called them. When someone new came to town, they noticed! It is odd that there were so many since there were less than 1.500 people living here. There were some strange and humorous ones.
Here are those I remember: Greasy Sweatt and his son Fat, Dog Eye, Pecos Pete, Poochy, Rocky, Still Water, Rooster, Speck, Whiskey, Red, Two Bits, Toot-um-up, Turkey,Cotton,Duck,MeanMan,Cap,Cowboy, Slick, Slim, Shorty. Burro, Mousy, Scooter, Poncho,Pistol Pete, Skeet, Possum, Pitcher, Hap, Whip, Sangie, Pee Wee, Sonny (his sister was Sis), Boots, Beep, Tucker, Nigg, Hump, Buddy, Sambo, Uncle Dink, Skinny, Top,Tip &Tiny, Ed Meador was “Two Bits” and I like that name. I have no idea where he got it.