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~ 

High Fashion Doll

her dress is peach velvet and organza, she has petty coats and pantaloons, Billy and I always enjoyed doing projects together~

This is a fashion doll or dresser doll. Billy had a catalog of china dolls, painted or unpainted, you could just buy heads, hands and feet and make your own doll.  We both ordered something. Mine was just the parts, unpainted and there was a pattern for the body.  

when you are working with a doll you get to know them, by the time you are done, you have bonded~

I used my oil paints to paint her features and hair color like I wanted. It was fun putting her together and then making her dress. This doll is almost 40 years old. When I was a little girl, there was a lady who lived across the street from my grandparent’s in San Angelo. Her name was Mrs. Bellings and I got to go to her house often. She had a beautiful fashion doll in her bedroom on the night table and  I never got tired of looking at it. She didn’t have any children but had a niece and we played together. ‘Nancy Ruth’ told me that her aunt said someday that doll would be hers. (I have a feeling that everything her aunt owned was going to be hers). Anyway, when Billy showed me her catalog, I was excited to make a doll and tried to copy the one Mrs. Bellings had, as I remembered it.  It took a while to make her, she had pantaloons, petty coats, and the dress had handmade roses. What a fun project, I enjoyed doing things with Billy, we had a lot in common, we both liked handwork.  And I certainly remember Mrs. Bellings, she was a petite woman with red hair, and a sweet voice, her husband was a happy man who always sat in his big chair and was bald headed. I hope Nancy Ruth got that beautiful doll.

Steak Fingers

It is fine to eat these with your fingers, one thing I almost always serve at ever meal is cantaloupe, to me it just says ‘summer time’~

Steak Fingers  are a good summer time meal. They are easy to fix, easy to eat and everyone likes them. Today I served them with gravy, fried okra salad, mashed potatoes, hot biscuits, cantaloupe and red, yellow and orange peppers and radishes. I made a chocolate cake last night so that with ice cream and coffee was dessert. I have the recipes for the cake, the fried okra salad and biscuits in earlier blogs~

Steak Fingers
1 1/2 lbs tenderized round steak, cut it in 3/4 inch strips
1 c flour, seasoned with salt, garlic powder and pepper
Roll the strips in flour and lay on a sheet of wax paper
let sit a little while until meat absorbs the flower, then roll
it again in more flour.
Heat canola oil in skillet,(about 1 inch deep) set on Med.
When hot, add the steak fingers and turn after a few minutes
It doesn’t take long to cook them, don’t overcook, you want them
just crunchy on the outside and soft and tender inside.
To make cream gravy, pour off all but about 3 T of the oil
add 3 T flour, cook for a minute, then add 1 1/2 c milk. Cook
until thickened, salt and pepper to taste.  

Shearing Goats

the goats were calm and gentle, they were in the pen, waiting their turn

Texas is the largest producer of Angora goats in the US and third in the world. They are raised for their fine mohair. They are shorn twice a year, in February, just before kidding and then again in August.  It looked like they were penning about 50 goats at a time, while a large number were in other pens near by. It took about 5 days to do the job.

he was unhappy~and making lots of noise, it wasn’t hurting him~in a few minutes, he is going to loving life again

The shearing crew showed up at the Pfluger Ranch early to set up and get started. It takes about 4 minutes to shear a goat, with lots of bleating and protesting, but then they calm down and and happy to be rid of all that hair. Temperatures have been triple digits this summer, in a few months when cold weather rolls around, their hair will have grown back.

the hair is taken to the grading table

Here is Sharon grading the hair, she is a real Texas rancher~

The hair is collected and graded, then stuffed  into large wool sacks. It was interesting to watch. Ranch work is hard work but no one would trade it for anything~

Old Gate to Nowhere

this old wooden gate is south of our house, it is not used by anyone except the windmill men. They have to make a trail through the brush when they come~

I like this old gate, I have painted it several times through the years but here it is again, needing a coat. Recently I saw someone down there taking pictures of their friends, sitting on the gate with the windmill in the background. I know it must have made a nice picture. We never came in  the back way, our driveway runs in front of the house. The only people who come through the pasture are the Henderson’s when they come to work on the windmill. In 1974 when we were building the house and it had been poring rain for several days, Ruben Minor was helping with the work and was delivering the attic stairs from City Lumber, it was in huge wooden crate. He walked through the ankle deep mud and slush, carrying that heavy thing on his shoulders through the pasture all the way to the house. He thought that was was the way in. It hurts me to think about it~ he was the master cabinetmaker, the very best!

Kendall Art Gallery

this was a large 24×36 landscape I painted during a demonstration, at first people are quiet but soon the hush goes away and there is lively conversation and comments. Quiet makes me nervous, I like the happy chit chat~

This is another painting I did years ago while demonstrating. This time at the Kendall Art Gallery in San Angelo, their first membership meeting of the year. There were 60 artist present that evening. This is a scene out of my head, no real place. Someone wanted to see how I painted rocks and then a cactus. Again, I was painting wet on wet paint, not something I like to do. There needs to be a drying time in there so the detail goes on just right. Later at home, when the paint was dry, I went back and was able to finish it up. The gallery has so many beautiful paintings in all mediums. There is unbelievable talent in this part of West Texas. They have several special art shows throughout the year. The gallery is over near the City Auditorium, go by and see it.

Birthday Parties

 

we all went over to see the new house, then went to Shanda’s Cafe to have lunch~here are ZZ, Sandra, Pat, Stacy and Debbie

Here are pictures from my 74th birthday get together at Christoval almost seven years ago in 2008. We ate at Shanda’s Cafe in town.  

this was a nice little cafe in Christoval but like many businesses, it was only there a short time~

here is Stacy with me, she threw me a wonderful birthday party when she was 13 years old

Elizabeth Ann and Sandra, we had a nice meal and an expensive meal~

Our family always has big birthday celebrations for everyone, even the dogs. One time I told Stacy I had only one birthday party when I was growing up and in the third grade and what a thrill that was. So when she was about 13 years old she wanted me to come and spend the night, she had a big slumber party for the two of us in their back yard. She had a record player playing the oldest songs she could find, banners and streamers, hot dogs, (she even baked me an angel food cake), and she had moved the beds outside. Our dogs, Spook and Schatzie Kay were there too. What a party, the one I will always remember, the best one ever! That was a special time, I love birthdays~  

we have been friends for almost 40 years

 

this was my 74th birthday, time flies~Sandra, me and Debbie

 

I like small parties, this was special, good family and good friends~Anna and Pat