Miniature Covered Wagon

this wagon is one foot tall, ready to roll

We were in Mexico in 1968 and  I found a beautiful miniature Conestoga wagon. It was well made and I was excited to buy it. After I had it for a year I kept thinking about trying to take the measurements and copy it, but in oak instead of the light wood it was made of. At that time I had no power tools so the wheels were a challenge. I used a coping saw. This project took several weeks but everything was coming together and I could see it was going to work. It was a good feeling when I  put the ‘canvas’ cover over the bows, which was a  dish towel that I painted several times to make it stiff. It just seemed to turned it into a little house. Although the wagon is completely made of oak, I needed to make parts of it look like metal, I mixed silver paint with burnt umber oil paint and it did look like steel. I started adding everything a person would need, traveling across the Great Plains to Oregon in a covered wagon. A ladder, sacks of feed, a crate of ‘live’ chickens, a quirt, an anvil, tools, a lantern, and of course a muzzle loader. I used a rooster spur for the powder horn, perfect size. Then I found a little mule in a shop and knew this was going to be my one ‘bought item’. (I named  her Molly) I loaded her with sacks of feed, garden tools, and a butter churn. Now all I needed was a story to go with the wagon, so I named the fellow Mr.Thomas McCann. He was leaving his sweetheart Blossom Blue in Boston for the time being and would return for her later when he was established out west.  A package of miniature letters, each hand written, tells their story~ more on this later~    This has been my favorite blog to post, I suppose building this wagon and all the little stuff for it was was the most fun, but I always like whatever  project  I am doing at the time.

the envelopes are smaller than a postage stamp, all the letters are hand written~they are quite proper

 

Barn in Virginia

this barn was in a beautiful setting, I feel sure it had an interesting history

Traveling with Dan was always interesting, he would not stop to see Ruby Falls, or for a helicopter ride, and no more that four bathroom breaks in a day~but pulled over for a picture of any old barn, old house or a cigar store. I like all the pictures though, I used so many of the barns in paintings later. This one was on a trip to Pittsburgh in 1964. The barns in that area are larger than those around here, they needed room to store winter hay and probably protect the livestock too. Everything was so lush and green up there.  I like old buildings, they make an interesting painting. I will have more barns later~ On this trip when we went through Washington DC, they were having a big ticker tape parade for John Glenn~huge crowd.  It is a beautiful city, places I had seen only in books. The cherry trees were still blooming, (over 3,000 were a gift to the US from Japan in 1912).

Runners and Joggers

Calienta Classic 1984 , some of the winners: Monty Montgomery, Jim Hardy, Richard Sterling, Lynn Meador, Rita McWhorter, Pat Elder, Lindy Hardy  and Katy Hardy-cheerleader

In the early part of 1980, my uncle Monty was visiting and he told me I should start running, he had run in races for years~the big ones~ even the Boston Marathon several times. After he left, I decided to run to the gate and back, 200 yards or so. When I got back, I came in and fell on the sofa, (collapsed) and it took a while to recover. OK, so I wasn’t in good shape after all. That was the day I started jogging. It took me one year to run a mile without stopping to rest. (I was almost 50 years old). When I could do two miles, I joined the Road Lizards in San Angelo and ran my first race out on Gun Club Road by Lake Nasworthy. I had no idea what to expect, I wondered if I would get swept up in the crowd of runners and do OK. I was running in the two mile race and before I got to the turn around, the 10-K runners were on their way back. When I was almost to the finish line I started feeling like I would throw up. I made it though and got a medal for 2nd place in my age category. (there were three of us in that group). There were races several times a month and I went to all of them. Soon I was running the 10 Ks, not fast but always back to the finish line before they packed up the barriers and went home. That was my favorite distance, it felt good after those. I got my sister Tricia interested in running too, she was hooked like I was. We received lots of medals in our age groups. There were big races like Run In The Sun, Stroh’s Run For Liberty with over 600 runners, Texas Rattlesnake Run in Sweetwater, and then all the many fun runs. I jogged every single day just a few weeks shy of 10 years, then one day when Dan said I was compulsive, I didn’t run the next day to prove him wrong. These were some of the most fun years. 

Alan and Harriett Borger, Tom Mayfield, Pat Elder, David Herreman

 Runners are nice people, they run to win but they are friends getting together to have a good time.  

National First Class Runners, Brenda and John Stukey,   first place over all in every race

 

This beautiful lizard was carved by Masters National Running Champion, Tom Mayfield. It was named the ‘Fighting Monty Montgomery Award’. (I am sure I received it because I always took peanut butter cookies)

here are some of the runners getting ready for the gun

We all recognized and appreciated the real talent, some were really top athletes  and it was an honor to run behind them~

Candi was five years old and ran in a 5 mile race in Ozona

10 year old Justin Edmiston won first all around in the youth category at Wink Hill, the hardest of all races. Shanna  just watched~

 

 

Beautiful Crepe Myrtle

this was a hand-me-down from the cemetery when they were doing a make over on a lot out there~what a wonderful gift~

these are showy mass from the road and a beautiful bouquet close up

every cluster is perfect, the color is unbelievable, thank you Lord and thank you Fred~for this wonderful gift

My grandmother had a large bushy bush in her yard that had beautiful lacy flowers all summer. It was a Crepe Myrtle and was the oldest plant she had. I can still picture her standing out there in the evening with her garden hose, watering it. The blossoms were a deep pink color. About 35 years ago, my neighbor Fred, who did cement work at the cemetery (as a job after retiring), called and ask me if I would like a Crepe Myrtle tree he had just dug up. It was very old and he said it was big but would be fine to transplant. His wife Marie didn’t need another tree, her yard was full to the brim. Fred brought it and put it in the ground for me out near the water trough. It never knew it had been moved, it took hold in a few weeks and was blooming when the weather warmed up. It has bloomed every year since. It takes no care, only needs watering when we are in a dry spell. Mine is about 18 feet tall now. These can be trimmed to make a tree or left as a big shrub. Absolutely stunning~and by the way, I have always had wonderful neighbors out on my road. I think of Fred every time I am watering my plants~he never knew what richness he added to my life~

Horse Portrait

 

I practiced painting horses like this one, then someone would occasionally have me paint their horse~

This horse portrait is one I did for practice, I don’t know his name. I painted in whiskers, which my horse ‘expert’  told me not to do, this one must have gotten past him. I like painting horses, but my favorite large animal is a cow. I have known cows personally and have been fascinated with them. You can get up close to them and watch them while they eat. They have beautiful eyes and nice features. (they can whip that tongue out and just about wash their whole face). They are fun to paint, every face is different. Back to the horses, they seem nervous and jittery. I am afraid of them. I went off the back of Spark Plug, my Granddad Montgomery’s horse, when he was at a full gallop. The girt broke and the saddle slid  off and so did I. I was hurt for several weeks. That was the last horse I ever rode and it has been over 60 years. Yep, I flat out quit~

Miniature Attic Room Restored

this room is for relaxing, snacking, and painting. It was one of the most fun to make and to restore, it had everything except my sewing machine~

Today I am showing the miniature attic room. It is also the painting room. I never had an art studio even though Dan wanted me to have one when we were building our house. I liked to paint on the kitchen table in the middle of family life. I would work for several hours after the boys went off to school, then put everything away to cook dinner. It was always nice to start out with a clean space again.

The sandwich here is 40 years old. (I have since made a fresh one), my favorite~ham, cheese, tomato and lettuce on soft bread~

Back to the attic room, there is a real card game going on, and place for someone to have a ham sandwich, bag of Fritos and a Coke.

In real life, I never used an easel or stool, I propped the canvas on my lap and painted at the kitchen table, I usually had a Dr. Pepper that lasted me all day~

Then a place with all the things I needed to paint pictures. The paint box has lots of tiny tubes of paint, brushes, turpentine, and yes it is a mess just like in real life. A stool, paint rag, pallet, and easel with a work in progress.

Finally a cozy bed, I like beds. I had lots of good feelings when I was restoring this room~

Mexico, Cactus, Lizards and Condors

this prickly pear was over 10 feet tall, the pastures were full of it.

Dan and I drove to Mexico City in 1956, our first trip down there, and went through an area where the prickly pear was enormous, this is one of the pictures we took. Some Mexicans used the big cactus leaves for the  roof on their houses. There was a lot of this pear in the pastures. There were also giant lizards that little Mexican boys sold along the road, and there were huge  condors the largest of all flying birds, nothing like the buzzards we have around here. Years later, I was trying to get rid of prickly pear on three acres in front of our house. I had to take a course to get a license to buy the Surmount poison to kill it. I was using a one gallon pump sprayer and had to haul water in jugs from the house so it was a lot of work. After a few weeks, it started to turn yellow and die. It has been twelve years and it is coming back, it needs to be killed again and my license is running out. This time I think I will get someone to come and do the job. I will always remember the cactus in Mexico, and the lizards and condors. Lots of big scary stuff~ 

Grist Mill in Glen Rose Texas

Charles Barnard built this grist mill in 1860, it is now an art gallery~

My friend Pat brought me an snap shot of an old grist mill in Glen Rose, it was built back in 1860  and at one time owned by her Great Grandfather Price. She wanted me to paint it for her. She told me the story behind it and I found more information on the internet, so while I was painting, it was interesting to know the history. She remembered visiting her grandmother there when she was growing up so it was part of her young life. Once when she was six years old, her mother put her on a bus in Ballinger, sat her behind the driver and told him not to let her off until she got to Glen Rose where her grandparents were waiting to pick her up. Times were different back then. After I finished the painting and she had it for a few days and came back and wondered if I could add some children playing in the yard.  I asked my little Edmiston neighbors to come over and pose under my oak tree, with a wagon and the swing, then  painted them in the picture. It brought it to life. This old building still stands in Glen Rose, it has been a grist mill, cotton gin, hospital and now an art gallery, many changes in a century and a half.  Pat has this little bit of history hanging on her wall. I enjoyed painting it~

Bougainvilleas

I bought several bougainvilleas in gallon size pots and they grew into huge plants in one year~start small, they grow fast. Shown here was  my sweetheart Missy~

 

this is a terracotta pot holding a bougainvillea, Debbie keeps it on a shelf on top of her fence~these plants make beautiful hanging baskets

Bougainvilleas are beautiful, showy plants that grow well in big pots. I have several that I have had for years, I move them into the garage before cold weather and cut them back so they don’t take up so much room. Then in spring, I bring them back out and fertilize them once a month with Bougain, (which you can find at Home Depot). These are my favorite of all plants, they bloom all summer and have no problem with bugs. They do like to be watered every three days or so. In South Texas and Mexico, they grow into 18 foot trees that are everywhere, they are outstanding. As with many flowering plants, these have thorns~they will get your respect. 

Green Pastures

This was a place between Llano and Burnet Texas, I have seen this same spot covered in wild flowers

Today I am showing a green scene. We are pretty green here right now because of wonderful rains in the past month. The great thing about this part of the state, if we get a little rain, everything turns green in a few days. The pastures have buffalo or mesquite grass, it can survive almost any drought and come right back with a rain. I painted this picture from down around Llano. I like a road in a picture, or a trail, something to let you imagine being able to get into it. A gate needs to always be open or it stops you dead in your tracks. Now in real life you would never leave a gate open. If you find it closed, you close it behind you. An Eldorado character (Jim Runge) who has a ranch north of town had a gate standing beside a country road, not connected to a fence but just a gate standing there. He had put a sign that read, “Keep Gate Closed”. Pretty funny~ Have a nice weekend~

Pride of Barbados

these plants can grow to be 6′ tall in one season, they can be cut back to the ground after frost but will come back every year~

they will bloom all summer, butterflies flock to them~

Pride of Barbados are beautiful  flowering plants. They will grow into trees if the frost isn’t a problem in your area, otherwise they die down to the ground every winter. They do come back up on their own in the spring though. The leaves are small and fine, almost like a lacy fern and the flowers are a fiery brilliant orangey red and make a great statement in the landscape. They are easy to grow, the first year they need to be watered every few days but after they are established, they need water when they start looking thirsty or once or twice every two weeks in my case. (dry hot West Texas) These are the big showy plants you see at entrance gates to homes, banks and other businesses, places that have been professionally landscaped. You can easily do the same thing on your own. You can start with a two gal. size plant from the nursery. They produce seed pods and you can share those with your friends. These are truly spectacular plants.

Miniature Dining Room

I don’t have a formal dining room, I never wanted one. When I was a child and someone passed away, they often put the casket in the dining room for viewing~yes and men came and sat up with the body all night~

this little tea cart is 2 1/2 inches tall, the paintings are scenes from Bourbon St. in New Orleans, copies of real ones I once painted . (We spent our honeymoon in New Orleans in 1953)

At first I thought this little dining room do-over would be the easy one. It took me more than two weeks. Everything in the china cabinet was in good shape, no repairs there.  The fruit bowl on the buffet has apples, oranges, and bananas that are carved from wood. I started by whittling a piece of fruit on the end of a dowel pin, this way I had something to hold to, then  sanding and shaping it with an emery board. Finally I cut it loose and painted it. The grapes are mustard seeds rolled around in Elmer’s glue to make a clump, dried and then painted. They are still good after 40 years. Pile it all in a bowl (perfume lid) and it is done. Copper wire is great for so many things, I hammered it out in a flat ribbon and made the arms for the chandelier and the drawer pulls from that an then painted them with gold leaf. The dining chairs got new covers. Glue has always been a problem for me. It needs to be tacky so it will  hold the pieces together and then dry strong. There is no way to join the parts and then hold each tiny piece for 20 minutes until it bonds, it has to be sticky.  I think I have finally found the perfect glue, it is Loctite Stik N’ Seal. The carpet is the original, velvet fabric that I painted a design on.  I  re-varnished all the little furniture in each room, it made a big difference. I use polyurethane satin, everything looks   brand new again. This project was almost as much fun as it was the first time ~except nowdays I get tired and think about a nap~