Pasture Cats

 

Kitty Girl was a Manx cat that showed up one day to take a nap with Dan, she stayed with him the rest of his life. He was the real cat lover~

They’re back~ cats that is. Years ago I had 21 cats, three mothers with babies and a few others that were just part of the crowd. I made a nice place for them under the cabana with old blankets and pillows, fed them Meow Mix and kept the water bucket full. We enjoyed watching them play but knew we had to do something with them before the kittens were old enough to start having babies. They were wild and they scattered when we walked out in the yard. Finally I called the dog catcher to come and trap them, there are lots of ranch people who like to get barn cats to keep the mice and snakes down. It took several weeks to catch them, when there were only two left, Dan was able to get them gentle enough to take and get fixed. Those we kept. We had them de-clawed so they could come in the house~they were Mary Kitsy and Kippy Koo.

Kippy Koo got to be a fat cat, he weighed 21 lbs. He was beautiful and fine in every way~

I had another batch of pasture cats I had been feeding away from the house. I took their food down the road every evening at 5:00. For two weeks, I had been putting their food in a live trap with the door propped open so it wouldn’t snap closed. That got  them used to going in it. I caught two of the gentle ones and gave them to someone who wanted yard cats. We no longer have animal control here so I had to do this myself. I am showing you some of my kitty pictures, cats are beautiful and come in all colors.

Here are Smoky, Callie Wag and Squaline, there were three more waiting for me to leave so they could have some supper. The older they got, the more wild they got~

The Siamese is the mother of the two little grey kittens, she was the wildest of all of this bunch~

I took the one I caught that next week up to the vet in Christoval and had fixed. The tortoise shell calico cat and a spotted one  found a good home. My friend Gloria took both of them because they were from the same litter and would be happier together.

River Mouse

Abandoned Boat

In 1992, one of my boys and I were out at the place at Hulldale taking pictures and we found several old boats in the barn. He told me I should restore one. One look and I knew I didn’t want to get into such a big project. He persuaded me, he told me how much fun it would be for my tiny granddaughter at the river. Oh my goodness, what a mess~ there were, gaping holes and gashes and they were buried in dirt and silt. I was dragging my feet but finally decided I would try, I picked the best one of the bunch. I had to learn to fiberglass, make the electrical harness, find all the hardware, bumpers, rails, make the seat cover, make a template for a windshield, and I found a place in San Angelo to rebuild the electric motor. Nine months later, the deed was done. The RIVER MOUSE was born.     This was the hardest and most wonderful project ever.

ZZ driving the boat

 

Stacy and Dan at Shady Lane

Stacy Mae, Schatzie Kay and Dan going for a spin at Shady Lane

ZZ and her granddad

Granddad and ZZ, making plans

Ready to roll

I bought an old wielding trailer and restored it to use to haul the boat

ZZ loving the flag

the flag was the final touch, it flew proudly any time the River Mouse sailed, there is a light at the top of the flagstaff.

Texas Bluebonnets

scene between Mason and Llano in the spring time

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.

Miniature Rocking Chair

this chair is 12″ tall, it was my first attempt at carving, I tried carving and was hooked~the bluebonnet painting is 3″ X 4″, the globe on the lamp is a ping pong ball

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.

Camp Rock Fun

 

Suzy floating in the river with the boys

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. 

Swimming Hole

swimming hole at Camp Rock

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~

Old Fort McKavett Texas

Frankie  is great with her camera, she shares some of her pictures with me. She has some good subject matter too~

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 hamburger/beer joint has been the town’s main business for 60 or 70 years. It has had a reputation for being pretty wild sometimes~ 

Apple Brownies

Apple Brownies

simply delicious

Apple Brownies

Heat oven to 350 degrees
2/3 c butter (soft but not melted)
1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1  1/2 c flour
1/2 cup white raisins
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans (to toast place on paper plate and microwave one minute, stir, microwave for another minute then chop)
1 cored and chopped tart Granny Smith apple (leave skin on.)
Cream butter and sugars, add vanilla and eggs and beat until well mixed.  Mix flour, salt, baking powder together and add to first mixture. Add apples raisins and pecans.
Spray Pam on 9×9 inch pan, then pour in batter, bake in 350 degree oven for 55 minutes or until done, be sure to test with a toothpick until it comes out clean.
Topping,
1/2 c powdered sugar
juice from half a lemon.
Stir together and spread a very thin layer on brownies while they are warm.
 Let cool in pan for about 15 minutes, then cut into squares, remove from pan and let cool  on a rack. These freeze well.

Big Papa

while painting, I saw where the family noses, eyes or  hair came from~

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.

Big Papa & Big Mama

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!

Kiddie Pool Gardening

I set out way too many tomato plants here, the next year I only planted four

 

 

the squash grows fast and is a big producer

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.

Buttermilk Biscuits (Frozen)

This made a nice supper time meal. The biscuits turned out great even though the dough was frozen. It only took 15 minutes to put it together~

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.

Buttermilk Biscuits  (frozen)
2 c flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
2 heaping T. Crisco
1 c buttermilk
mix dry ingredients well, add Crisco and cut in
with pastry blender or two knives, add buttermilk
and stir only to mix, a spoon-full more if too dry. 
Roll out on floured board and cut with biscuit cutter.

Nice thing is you don’t have to mess up the kitchen but once, and you have biscuits for several meals~

Place on cookie sheet and put in freezer until frozen
hard, pop off of cookie sheet and put in gal. bag, then back
into the freezer.
To bake, take out how many you need and place on
baking pan that has been sprayed with Pam.
Don’t need to thaw before baking~
I cooked mine in 450 degree toaster oven for 15 minutes.

Barbecue Chicken

I bake my chicken inside, then smoke it after it is done. I don’t have enough control over the outside cooking thing~

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.

                Barbecue Chicken
10 lb. bag of chicken hind-quarters
Hunts Hickory Barbecue Sauce
Wash hind-quarters, one for each person and lay as many as you need on a large baking pan, skin side up. Sprinkle with a little garlic powder and salt. (no barbecue sauce yet!) Bake in oven set at 350 degrees for about an hour, check to see when it is done. The top will start to turn golden. While it is baking you can start a fire outside in the barbecue pit. It doesn’t need to be a big one, I use a few sticks of oak or mesquite wood, it isn’t going to be a cooking fire, it is going to be for smoking  with no flames, just embers.  Now brush the barbecue sauce on the chicken  lay it on the grate, close the lid and leave it for about 15 minutes. When the juice drips down on the coals, it will smoke it up good. Watch to be sure it doesn’t flame up and burn the meat.
Also while you are baking the chicken in the oven, you can make the rice.
               Rice
2 c rice
1/3  c canola oil
1/4 tsp celery seeds
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c cooking wine 
Put rice in large pan with corn oil, celery seeds and salt and stir as you cook until it turns golden. Then add the chicken broth and wine, stir well, put the lid on and bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until rice is done, or about 20 minutes.