Texas Sumac Tree

 

It isn’t too easy to transplant a sumac, they grow up on  roots from other trees, sort of like a sucker. They can be grown from seeds but that is even harder. We did get several to grow, once they are started, they do well.

This is a companion picture to the bluebonnet painting on my blog a while back. It is a sumac tree beside a creek. When the days start getting shorter, the leaves start to turn a fiery red. They keep the color for a few weeks in the fall and are beautiful. They grow along the road in the bar ditches and there can be a long string of them in a cluster. These are natives and can make it on their own. I like this picture, it has water and bright color.

Spaying and Neutering Pets

Getting a dog spayed is what a responsible person does. The world doesn’t need two litters of puppies from their dog every year to add to the pet population. So many precious dogs end up in the pound and don’t find a home. Most of our pets have either come from the pound or were abandoned on our road.

this was the day after Spook got fixed, she was in pain and miserable, I felt terrible for her, it made me cry~

This is Spook, I have written about her before because she was such a fine little dog, she made me happy for almost 19 years. The day we found her on the Mertzon road was in early 1980. The following week I took her to Sonora to have her fixed. It was a horrible experience, she was miserable for several days, she was in so much pain. 

Spook turned into the sweetest and happiest little dog ever, she was the perfect one

She recovered and didn’t seem to dwell on her first days at her new home. Later, when we took our dogs  to have them fixed, the procedure was easy and they didn’t seem to suffer any pain.

Schatzie was a baby girl from the pound, she helped drive home after her surgery

 

(Dan and Debbie had Schatzie fixed at Ronnie’s and she sat up in his lap going home and helped him drive the pickup, same with Kobi, he helped with the driving.) 

 

 

here is Kobi with Missy, he was straight out of the pound that day, what a little prize!

the only trama with Jitter Joe was my fault, I am so so sorry Sweetie~

Now with Jitter Joe, it was 8 years ago and I had an appointment with Ronnie to get him fixed and decided to ‘shave’ him myself because he was used to me and didn’t mind me grooming or working on him. In a little while, he started scooting on the carpet and licking himself and I saw that he was all red and irritated where I had done my thing. It got so bad, I called Ronnie’s office to see what I should do and they said to put antibiotic cream on him. Poor baby! I took him the next day to get fixed and they were rolling their eyes up there, inside his whole hindquarter, shaved slick. When I brought him home, I saw that they only had to make a tiny half inch incision in his abdomen and all the shaving I had done was for nothing. Anyway, the good thing is that spaying and neutering doesn’t cause our pets any distress, they are just a little sleepy  afterwards. At church the next Sunday, Scott McGregor told me he had heard the story about ‘my dog’~  word got around~  

White Tail Deer

I was all happy this week when three deer came up in the yard. In the spring there were lots of them and turkeys too. Then they all left~I hope they will be coming back now. I love the wildlife

I had so many starving deer in 2011 during the drought and even with me feeding them 150 lbs of corn a week, seven of them died in the yard. The next spring there were quite a few back again, looking healthy and fit. There were 12 does that came during the day and  then 7 bucks came at night. About three months ago I noticed the corn was still out there every morning and I wasn’t seeing any deer. They usually come every year when the jujube tree has all of the fruit, they kept it clean underneath, even ate the seeds. This time, nothing was eating the fruit, it just piled up on the ground under the trees. Three does came up this week and it was exciting to see them out there. I am just hoping they will come back to stay.  Sometimes life is hard, three years before was a heart-breaker~

Family Dinners

this is one of Debbie’s fabulous dinners, she always makes enough for everyone to take plates home for the next day

Debbie is a wonderful cook, I am always amazed at the size of her bowl of potato salad. She fixes special dinners for our family, she has Christmas Eve supper, then the big Christmas dinner, and the 4th of July get together. Anna does Easter and other special dinners throughout the year. I mostly cook Sunday dinners after church. Anyway, we are ”sit down at the table together people”. Today I thought I would show you one of our meals at Dan’s and Debbie’s. Elizabeth was getting ready to go back to Africa so this was a goodbye party too. There were 10 of us there. Debbie had smoked a pulled pork all night, and cooked all good things to go with it. This is just one of her usual company meals. She can put it all together, we eat on time and sit down to a beautiful table.

all kinds of desserts, something good with coffee later

I brought the pies, Stacy brought a cake, Tricia had the cantaloupe, Anna brought things out of the green house. No matter who is cooking the meal, we always have homemade hot rolls, lots of them. There is music later, Tricia plays the piano, Mark brings his guitar and sings to us and  sometimes I do my Mexican songs. What fun. When the boys are sitting on the patio later, they remember Daddy, this was his favorite time, a good meal and then to smoke his cigar and visit with the boys~

General Robert E. Lee

one of my favorite paintings, it was a pleasure to paint this great man, I knew his history and felt like I knew him personally by the time I was finished.

I painted this picture of Gen. Robert E. Lee in 1984, from a photograph by Mathew Brady~ published in Harper’s Weekly at the time, the caption read:  “This photograph shows shows a picture of Robert E. Lee. The picture was taken shortly after Lee’s surrender. The photograph was taken by Mathew Brady, and shows the General in his uniform. Despite his recent loss in the War, the General still stands tall and proud. ” I enjoyed painting this picture of the General  tremendously, he was one of the really great men of all times. The painting  belongs to one of my sons, he found a mistake, he said “General Lee did not have blue eyes.” 

Homemade Corn Tortillas

You make the balls of dough the size of golf balls, don’t worry if they are a little ragged on the edges, they are home made, not machine stamped~

Home made corn tortillas are not necessary for good Mexican Food but they are delicious and fun to make. They have a real corn flavor, more like the ones you get in Old Mexico. The masa is pure ground corn flour, that’s it.

press it flat, you will learn how hard to press after a couple of times

I have had a tortilla press forever, I have bought them in Mexico for other family members and friends. You can find them on e-bay, priced $8.00 and up. You want a cast iron press, 7 inch size. Or you can roll your tortillas out with a rolling pin. Put the ball of dough between two one gallon size plastic bags, roll it thin, then peel the plastic back and lay it in the skillet.

it is ready to lay into med. hot skillet, 30 seconds on each side, then stack and keep covered

I realize not everyone has as much spare time to do these things but for those who do, it is worth it. (Now the press isn’t for flour tortillas, you need to roll those with a rolling pin). I just finished eating six tortillas, I have certainly enjoyed making this blog~

at this point, they are like store bought ones, they are not ready to eat. Never just  heat in a microwave, you need to soft fry them, that is the secret of great tortillas and great Mexican Food, remember, to soft fry first!

     Corn Tortillas
2 c Masa Harina  or Corn Flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/8 c water
Mix flour, salt and most of the water for about 3 minutes. Add more water a little a time until it is firm but not sticky. Unlike pie dough, you can’t hurt it by overworking.
Divide into 16 pieces, form each piece into a ball, golf ball size and lay on wax paper.
Flatten slightly with hand and using a tortilla press. place between two heavy pieces of plastic. (I use two gallon size bags). A little dusting of the flour helps keep them from sticking) If you don’t have a press, you can use a rolling pin. Carefully peel off top plastic, lay tortilla in your hand and peel off the bottom piece of plastic. Flip out of your hand into the med hot ungreased cast iron skillet and cook for 30 seconds on each side. Continue until all are cooked. These should now be soft fried. To soft fry. put a small amount of oil in skillet, med hot for, about 6 seconds on each side. Pat grease off on paper towels. These are better than any corn tortillas you can buy, they have a real corn flavor because you use fresh masa. You can hard fry them by using more oil and cooking longer. I don’t hard fry mime, there are so many good corn chips out there, I use those for my nachos etc.

Texas Prickly Pear

when the pasture is thick with pear, you have to choose your path carefully or you will end up with ankles full of tiny painful thorns and stickers

prickly pear fruit  is filled with seeds and covered in more of those annoying stickers

Prickly pear is a thorn in a landowner’s side. The problem is they can take over a pasture in a few short years, they are almost impossible to get rid of. It takes constant work. Hot dry weather doesn’t faze them. One leaf can drop and start growing roots immediately. They have long needle like thorns and under those are hair like stickers that catch hold if you brush up against them~ hard to get out of your skin.

They are quiet beautiful, the petals are  like tissue paper~

The other side of this cactus is that in the spring they have beautiful yellow blooms, with delicate petals~almost like an orchard. 

all of this prickly pear is in the pasture behind my house, I know they are not desirable but I love them in secrete~

During drought ranchers can use a pear burner to get rid of the thorns and stickers and end up with clean thick green leaves that the cattle love. If you are burning pear the cattle hear the roar of the burner and come running to eat it even while it is still hot. (The first modern burner was invented by a man named John Blackwell in Moore, Texas in 1914, it was an improvement over the ‘rag soaked in kerosene on a stick method’) When you are walking through the pasture, you pick your path carefully to try to avoid the cactus and watch out for rattlesnakes.

Creamy Cilantro Soup

this is a delicious and satisfying meal~and you don’t feel like you ‘ate the cow’~

Soup is good any day of the year, it is a light but filling. This one is Debbie’s wonderful Creamy Cilantro Soup. It is a good summer time meal, she sometimes brings soup for  dinner when they come for church on Sundays. I make the dessert, Tricia brings the cantaloupe  and Debbie bakes the corn bread just before we eat.  A lovely meal with our family. Sometimes there are four of us, sometimes seven or eight, but always a great meal and time to get together once a week. Most of the meals I have been posting on my blog are our Sunday dinners. We treasure these times together~

                    Cream of Cilantro Soup
                         Debbie McWhorter
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 32 oz packaged fat free chicken broth-divided
2 T butter
2 T flour
8 oz package fat free cream cheese
8 oz container light sour cream (save some for garnish)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Remove stems from cilantro and chop
Process cilantro and 1 cup chicken broth
in food processor or blender
Melt butter in large pot over medium heat,
stir in flour. Gradually add remaining 3 cups
broth, stiring constantly until it is smooth. Boil
for one minute. Stir in cilantro mixture, cream
cheese and next 5 ingredients. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs and a spoon full of sour cream.

  Are you still there? I need to tell you my story about the soup. I have a new blender and filled it pretty full  with the soup, put the lid on TIGHT, turned on the pulse switch and it blew the lid off, blew soup all over the kitchen, under the upper cabinets, the cabinet doors were open so it even filled up the bowl on the shelf where I keep my vitamins. There was just enough soup left to take a picture for the blog. Don’t you do this!   I sat down and enjoyed the soup and left the mess for ‘Rita’ to clean up later~                 

Madam Alexander Dolls

these beautiful little dolls have been some of my favorites, they are fine and dressed beautifully. The one in pink was a huge surprise~ and no one got arrested that day

Madam Alexander has always made fine dolls, they have the sweetest little faces and are dressed beautifully. I got my first one at the Hoover’s Drug Store in 1954. She was wearing an aqua cotton satin dress with white rick-rack trim and had white leather shoes. I bought her for myself and thought I could give her to my little girl some day when I had one. (it didn’t happen) She cost $4.49 and I loved having her.  

Here is Dan at 3 months with my doll, he would be shopping for another one for me 13 years later~

I made her a red velvet dress after the original one wore out. Later when I had my two boys, they knew how much I liked the little doll so  they  gave me a couple more on special occasions. One year Dan was going shopping for my birthday gift and had me to take him to BW Merchandise (I was to ‘stay in the car!’) It was hard for them to surprise me, I always managed to guess~he was gone for a long time, but finally came out with a sack behind his back. So this was one time I didn’t have any idea what he had bought, it was a total surprise that year. He had gone in BW, then through the store, out the back door, down three blocks to Home Hardware, bought the doll, then back to BW, and got a sack from them to hide it in. I have often thought how suspicious it would have looked if security had been watching this 13 year old~Since that time, I have had many nice surprises, Daddy and I both received unbelievable gifts from these two boys~

Angora Goat/my favorite

goats do well in hilly, rough country where most ranch animals would not~

I painted these two goats in 1969 down near Camp Wood, some of the roughest country in this part of Texas. Goats do well there, (it might be a problem with predators though). I wonder how they round them up to shear them or doctor them~ not a good place to drive  a four-wheeler. I like goats, they are the cutest of all little ranch animals. The kid goats play and climb trees and just can’t stay still. They make good pets but they will get the top of the car.  

they were great friends, they were never more than a few feet away from each other, except for that one time~

We raised Hank from a baby, he was an angora goat and ag project at  school. He was smart and sweet, the boys even brought him in the house a few times when I was not home. He took up with our neighbor’s horse Polk, and from then on, they were always together. The first time Hank got sheared, he disappeared for three days. Polk ran circles around our fence looking for him and was terribly upset. We looked all over the place and thought maybe Hank had been stolen. We finally found him hiding in the barn behind a pile of boards, he was ashamed that he was naked. Someone told us that happens sometimes. Anyway when he got back with Polk and was happy again~ Polk didn’t even recognize him for a couple of days~ those two were together for years~I like goats, I loved Hank.

Mexican Children

 

 

this little boy was five years old and his name was Bebe Tomas, he was there with his three sisters

This is a little Mexican boy I painted in 1969. I saw him In Valles Mexico at Christmas time. He was with his family and was staying at the hotel across the road from the trailer park where we were staying. He told us he was “cinco anos”  and his name was “Bebe Tomas”.  

here he is with two of his sisters, the smallest girl slipped on the wet patio and bumped her head so she was taking a nap~

He had three sisters and his mother was expecting another baby soon~ His parents were visiting with their friends and sipping wine in the Cantina while the children played in the pool all day.  It was scary and made me uneasy, the smallest girl would jump in and swim underwater to the other side, bobbing up for air when she needed to. She was probably about two years old. She was like a little cork, I never saw anyone swim like that. I liked having the picture of the little boy, he was a beautiful child and probably lived a privileged life but I am not all that sure. He was watching Dan smoke his pipe, and he was fascinated by it,  he wanted to know if Dan smoked cigarettes too, and if he owned many horses~   “no and no”

Baby Doll

I couldn’t spell her name so we just called her Jackie, I filled her panties up with Johnson’s baby powder, my favorite smell~ then and now too~

The Christmas when I was 7 years old, I found this beautiful baby doll under the tree, it was a gift for me AND my sister Tricia (together, to share, or half a doll, we were joint owners, the ‘take turns’ doll) We worked it out, we named her Jacqueline.  

her hair has survived all these years. it was tight and kinky and smelled like leather. I loved this doll more than any toy I ever had, which was not that many~she will be 72 years old this Christmas

She had red hair that was made from real mohair. Not only could she open and close her eyes, if you tilted her head her eyes would look from side to side.  When you leaned her her over she said ‘ma ma’. And no wonder she was so fine, she was an Effanbee doll. Mother showed us her maker’s name on the back of her neck and forever more, we showed everyone her ‘birthmark’. We took good care of her and  I played with her for years. Pretty soon she more or less turned out to be my doll, I made her a bed out a wooden lettuce crate, it was even strong enough for me to sit on. She slept in my bed at night though, and I couldn’t understand why her side never got warm.  About thirty years ago, when her cloth body was fragile and beginning  to wear out and needed a work-over, I made her a new one. I made her a new dress and bonnet too. (we had never taken the original dress off, she was dressed just as she came for all those years). I noticed a lot of the dolls later on had  hard bodies, they could crawl, walk, talk, spit up, drink and wet, sing and dance. That is too bad, a little child needs something to cuddle that is soft and limber like a real baby. Thank goodness they never stopped making teddy bears and stuffed animals. There was also the Cabbage Patch era, not only were they soft and cuddly, they actually came with adoption papers~