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.
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.
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~
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.
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.
My nephew Earl sent me this picture a while back. It is of an old bumper gate near Del Rio. For many years, the bumper gate was a modern luxury, no one had to get out and open a gate, drive through and then get back out and close it. Sometimes there might be 7 or more gates between town and home, some gates no more than wire mesh stretched between two post and you had to hook them with a wire loop to the fence posts. No fun~ My friends who lived north of Eldorado had a bumper gate, it was a little scary to drive through, you had to hit it just right to push it open and then go through in a hurry so it wouldn’t swing around and hit your back fender, (then watch that it closed before a goat could follow you through). For Father’s Day a few years ago, their kids gave them new automatic solar operating gate to replace the bumper gate. You drove up, waited and in a few seconds a sensor would make the gate open. (modern wonders). They had a man who worked for them for years, and his daughter would often come for a visit. The first time she came after the new gate was installed, she drove up like always, and went right on through with her car~oops! there went the new gate, off it’s hinges, flat on the ground, gears and arms twisted and broken. So they had to get their second fancy automatic gate in less than a month.
Another place to hang out was in the Delaware Mountains in West Texas. Dan was welcome to come too, he brought his own car in case Matt’s pickup had a problem. (and it did). There were no cell phones or mobile phones back in the 1980′s. Bad to be 70 miles from the nearest town, which was Van Horn. Several times the truck got stuck in a ravine.
The really bad time was being stranded for 5 days in one of the worst snow storms ever, so bad the interstate between Fort Stockton and El Paso was closed. There was no way to get them out during the storm, it was a scary time for those of us back home.(my worst nightmare) The former Sheriff (Mr.Upchurch) from Van Horn flew his plane out to look for them but couldn’t locate the camp. Our sheriff here in Eldorado got two other men and they headed out to Culberson County to see what they could do. Finally after trying for several days, the old ranch foreman was able to drive his bulldozer through miles of snow to reach them. They said when they heard him coming, they were yelling and celebrating. Cabin fever had almost done them in~
Here are some little Mexican boys at a market in Guanajuato, many years ago. The first three boys belonged to the tomato lady. I always loved the markets, they had wonderful smells~ tomatoes, oranges, mangoes and leather. I learned about things I had never heard of before, all kinds of squashes, exotic fruits, strange melons. The women always had time to explain the different types and how to fix them. Once I was talking to a woman who had a few vegetables for sale, and she was explaining how to cook a green round chayote squash. She was sitting on the ground on a blanket and had a small child close to her holding onto her arm. After a few minutes, I noticed she had a cardboard box next to her and there was this tiny tiny baby, wrapped up in a soft blanket. I was filled with mother feelings. It brought back all the sweet memories of having a newborn baby. Mexico is a country of mothers~
If I can wake up with a project every morning, I am happy. I hope it will be the same all of my life. When my first baby boy was born, one of the greatest things was to realize I would be totally committed to taking care of him for years. Having two babies was the best of all projects~ Today is about a sunflower afghan, it took longer than most things, in fact I made two of them, each taking about 3 months. It was so much fun working with all the beautiful colors. I made them in 1969. My friend Billy had showed me how to do the afghan stitch, using a long crochete needle, it was easy to do and made a good background for the embroidery work on the flowers. Once when we were at a school picnic, a teacher saw the one I was working on and wanted to know where to get the thread and pattern. Billy wanted to show her the simple afghan stitch but she was not interested, she said she “already knew how to do it”. So Billy didn’t insist, even though there was a trick to doing it right. Later at the end of school, we saw her handiwork, it looked like a big loosely made fish net and was about 10 feet long. She told us she realized it was not right but she liked it anyway. It was sure something different~ The two I made were for my boys and stayed on their beds while they were growing up, I liked the bright colors, it was a decorated place in our house. Much later I showed each of my two little left handed granddaughters, (Stacy Mae and ZZ) how to crochet. I showed them the ball of yarn that was no more than a colored string, then had them hold an afghan and see how that string could turn into something beautiful and warm and wonderful. They learned quickly.
Today I am showing you a painting of a scene near Fredericksburg Texas. It is large, a 24×36. (I have painted a couple baptistery pictures that are larger, 5 ft x 8 ft ) This one I painted over 40 years ago and when I pass by this place, I am amazed that it looks the same today. Used to when I painted something Dan liked, he would buy it from me so I wouldn’t ‘let it get away’. Every Christmas and birthday, he would want a painting, so that is how I ended up with a lot of those I still have. Many of them are hung at the Schleicher County Hospital and Nursing Home. It is a nice clean safe place to keep them. I will show you more of those Dan “owned” later, I know which ones were his, I have a list of them all in a file he kept, when he acquired them, how much he paid and where I had to sign them over to him. ~many for $35, he liked a bargain~
I showed you this little den before it had been restored. Now I have changed out the carpet, carved a new coffee table, and cleaned the clutter up. All of the little stuff has to be dusted so I am making it easier to keep clean.
When I took the book case down, I got a good look at the sailing ship on top and had almost forgotten even making it. I had copied it from a larger one the boys had so that made it easy. I remember painting the sails with Elmer’s Glue to make them stiff so I could make them ‘billow out in the wind’. The shelves are loaded with books, photographs of the boys and a black & white TV set. Nice storage cabinet underneath it too.
The world globe was one of the more realistic pieces. The wood turnings were made from sanded down tooth picks, the ‘globe’ was a small ‘roll on’ deodorant ball, and as always, paint did the magic on any carving.
I like putting a door in the little rooms, it keeps you from feeling trapped. The only thing I ever lost out of one of the rooms was a Life Magazine from the magazine rack in the den. I didn’t mind, I was so happy when someone liked the little things. Back when I made it, there weren’t computers with printers to reduce the size of a cover and make a realistic copy, that one was hand painted. Usually these little rooms and the covered wagon have been in my exhibits~most times displayed in the open so people could get close and see things~
A few days ago, I put Pinto Beans on my blog and for less that $10, there were enough beans and tortillas, cantaloupe and iced tea for 6 people. (some left for the freezer too) Today I want to show you my Shish-K-Bobs. This is a great company dinner. I served them with Armenian rice, cantaloupe, homemade French bread, and for dessert, I made a cherry cobbler with ice cream. My kids come for church and dinner on Sundays, so there were five of us~My grocery bill for this meal was $66. (gulp) It takes sirloin steak, lamb, red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, and a few other things. Give yourself plenty of time, it takes some preparation. You can cut up the meat, vegetables, and the cantaloupe the day before, and have all of this in the refrigerator.
It makes a wonderful meal and is something everyone looks forward to. I call this my Greek Dinner. Anyway, I hope you will try it some time if you have an unexpected windfall~