This is Debbie Pina, she grew up on the farm where we lived. She was one of the sweetest children I ever knew and simply adored by her grandmother Goya. Her mother was a nurse and her daddy worked for the city, her parents were tragically killed in a bus accident a few years ago while on a tour with a group from the First Baptist Church in Eldorado. Debbie lived with her brother Danny and his family after that. She and Danny were often the subjects in my paintings. A farm is a wonderful place for children, always something interesting going on. There was a storm cellar, tractor, barns, two ponies and a goat. We had a tree house, there was the ‘Peacock Club’ in the garage room, and there was a cave in the pasture. (Even after my boys were in college, their friends, several from other countries, came to spend the weekends and savor the country life). Those are sweet memories
When I was in seventh grade, our teacher gave us a list of names and addresses of kids from other countries who we could have as ‘Pen Pals’. It was right after WW ll and I chose a boy from Germany. He sent me a picture of himself, standing on a rock ledge with beautiful mountains in the background, wearing leather shorts with colorful suspenders. It didn’t hurt one bit that he was fine looking with blond curley hair and a nice smile. His name was Freider Schmidt but nicknamed Bio. His father taught at Baden-Baden Württemberg University. I wrote him a letter and sent a picture (not of myself but of the prettiest girl in school). He wrote back and for several years we corosponded. Mother often sent his family care packages with things like chocolate and coffee, things they didn’t have available at this post war time . She even sent a woolen blanket from the Eldorado Woolen Mill. Bio asked if there was anything he could send me and since Mother was a china painter I told him she would like a tea pot or something in undecorated china. A few months later a wooden crate arrived on the train and it was (had been) a complete set of Bavarian china. Every single piece was broken except for a cream pitcher and six dessert plates. I never told him about the disaster. Mother painted the the plates, and trimed the pitcher with pure Roman gold, fired it and it has been my treasure for 67 years. Some of my friends didn’t fair so well with their Pen Pals, but I always remembered my handsome friend and wondered what happened to him. Many years later I told my children about him and the picture I sent him of that pretty girl who was ‘not me’, and they told me that the picture I had kept of him all those years was probably ‘not him’ either.
Here is a picture of a Mariachi band in a park in Valles Mexico. We found groups of musicians everywhere we went. They were quite good, sometimes they had only a few players and other times there were six or more. Their instruments were interesting and different and each added it’s own rich unique sound.
The River Walk in San Antonio is a great place to hear Mariachis, it is festive and the music is beautiful, it is as close as you can get to being in Mexico. My favorite song is ‘Solamente Una Vez’, I have read that it is the the greatest love song ever written. The tune is the same as ‘You Belong to my Heart’. Mariachis really put their hearts into their music, these are ‘Maraichi Maximo’ from San Antonio, they were great~
One Easter Sunday, at least 50 years ago, we were sitting in church waiting for the service to began, it was quiet, the church was filled with Easter Lilies, picture perfect. The choir had quietly slipped into the back of the church and Helen Marie started singing ’One Early Easter Morning’, her splendid soprano voice crystal clear, like a sweet sound from heaven. The choir joined in and they sang the last verse together. They all came up the aisle with a thrilling ‘Jesus Christ is Risen Today’. I get a chill when I remember, this was my best Easter ever. It has become a tradition in our church, sometimes with a flute solo, other times another sweet voice, but always the thing I look forward to. Praise the Lord, for He is Risen Today.
In the summer of 1941 our family went to Port Aransas on vacation. Mother and Daddy fished off the pier while we played in the water. My little three year old sister Nancy was a beautiful child with long honey blond hair, big blue eyes and skin like porcelain, everyone always noticed her. (Now Tricia and I had a zillion freckles, which came from our red headed daddy and not within ten miles of pretty.) One morning on the pier, Mother and Daddy were fishing for tarpon and there were several servicemen fishing with rented poles (it was during the war.) They had a big pile of angel fish they had caught. Of course, they noticed Nancy, she was really eyeing those fish. Then out of the blue, she started singing, never missing a note~
This miniature chair and table was a project my little granddaughter Elizabeth made a few years ago. She had watched me carve and was sure she could make a chair. When it was starting to look good, she was hooked. She kept going and made the table and all the accessories. She decided she would make this for my friend Pat, because ‘Pat didn’t have a little chair’. The gift box is filled with pictures she scanned and reduced down to a tiny size, they were mostly of her and her good friend Natalie, Pat’s granddaughter. There is a Hershey bar, a phone, a note pad, reading glasses, and a coffee mug. She was able to do the whole job with little help. Pat was thrilled with her special gift. Later when Elizabeth went back home to Albuquerque she made bunk beds, tables, and all kinds of miniatures.
This old cowboy wasn’t really a cowboy at all, he just put on the hat for me that day. He usually wore a hard hat, he worked in the oil fields in West Texas on drilling rigs. He was my daddy, Jack Elder, and was the subject in several paintings. When someone has a wrinkled and weathered face, those are the best to paint. He could be a farmer, roughneck, sea captain, or cowboy, rough and rugged. I could just put him on a different hat and in a different setting and make him whatever I wanted. My favorite painting was always the one I was doing right at the moment. I have always been a landscape artist, all the other things were just for fun. If you can wake up every morning with a project, you will be excited all your life. (This morning it is to make some peanut patties.)
In 2007, a friend got sick and a fund raiser was held to help with his medical expenses. There was a delicious bar-b-que dinner and an auction. I made 10 recipes of Peanut Brittle, put it in baskets with pretty fabric liners, and they auctioned this candy off for over $500 . Big surprise! People like peanut brittle, they like homemade candy and they like to help their friends. You might want to try this for your next fund raiser, it only took me two afternoons to make all this candy~
I told you about Junior Monkey in an earlier blog, he was more than a one trick pony. It was something new every day. He was a Java monkey and had a long straight tail and his hands had prehensile thumbs, just like a human hand. (some monkeys just have five fingers and no thmb) He used his tail for balance only. He was able to do everything with his hands and do it well. When he had grapes, he would carefully peel each one, remove the seeds and fill his jaws up, then take them out and eat them. He liked grasshoppers and crickets. Whatever he ate, he worked on it quite a bit, he enjoyed playing with his food. It was easy to read his moods. If he was happy, his hair went flat on the top of his head, he tilted his head back, half closed his eyes and made a sweet chattering sound with his teeth. Sometimes he got mad, when he had your car keys or sun glasses, and knew he was in trouble, that hair on his head went straight up, eyes wide open, pupils tiny as pinholes, screeching and showing his teeth. Pretty scary, you didn’t make eye contact, just looked away and started ’talking to someone’ who wasn’t there. Once I brought him to Austin to be in the water carnival at UT and afterward took him to a vet clinic to spend the night. The next morning when I went to pick him up, that guy was SO mad! Junior had opened the latch on his cage, then opened doors on several other cages. The room was destroyed. (I wasn’t the one responsible for locking him up) Once he ruined Mother’s kitchen with a sack of flour. The room was white and he was white. Junior liked his clothes and sat still while I painted his nails. He was interested in those nails, he would work all day on a hangnail. Monkeys like to groom each other (or anyone who is holding them). They are not looking for fleas, they don’t have those, but are picking tiny flecks of salt. This was always a loving time. When Junior went with Daddy to deliver fuel to the oil rigs, he wore green Phillip 66 overalls, and sat in the truck while Daddy was busy. He rolled the windows up and down, locked the doors, pushed all the buttons, (pulled the buttons off the radio) and sat on the steering wheel to watch and wait. He tore the rubber blades off the windshield wipers more than once. He was sweet and fun and we loved him, but as I said before, don’t ever consider getting a monkey. A puppy is a better choice~
Hemphill Wells in San Angelo invited me to have an art show and demonstration at their store in 1973, (the same time the San Angelo Roping Fiesta was being held at the fair grounds, the men roped, the wives shopped). I painted for a week and enjoyed every minute. People came to look and other artists came watch me paint the bluebonnets, landscapes and water scenes. By the third day, they were bringing their folding chairs and staying all day. (Mr. Russell wasn’t too happy, he had planed for it to be a time they would be shopping for pretty things on the fourth floor). This is one of the paintings, it is 24″ X 36″. Since I was painting under florescent lights, the colors seemed pale, I had to work to make them brilliant. Later when I came home I found all the pictures were extra bright and a little different from the norm. I was happy with the end results. I was invited back several times for demonstrations, something I looked forward to. I never taught art lessons but gave demonstrations along with the art shows. When people watch, they are inspired and they learn a lot of the tricks and techniques. I learned from an early age by watching my mother Elizabeth Elder. She was wonderful painter. If you pick up a brush and squeeze paint out on a pallet, I will be cheering you on!
Thank You for my Blessings~
I had a Bridge party about 40 years ago for our little group and everyone came in their wedding dresses or something pertaining to their weddings. Nancy Powell had on her bridal nightgown and veil, Sandra Helmers was dressed in her wedding gown but could only button it up so far because she had just had Stacy, Sharon Mittel’s gown fit beautifully, Becky Moore and Dixie Bell wore bridesmaid’s dresses, Holly Brame was dressed in a wedding suit and hat, Tooter Dunham wore a black maternity dress, (she’s always full of fun) Madolyn Mertz was a mother of the bride, Lucille, Geneva McWhorter and Susan Stark were wedding guests. I served shish kabobs and Armenian rice. I made the wedding cake, it was the prize for high score, then another one for our dessert. We even had a bottle of Champagne. ( I didn’t have one of those cork screws but finally found a hook that holds a porch swing up and screwed that in the cork to get that thing out. We had several people come out to see what was going on, I remember County Judge Dick Bearce was there to check on us. Nancy won high and Jimmie came in the SUV to take it home. Here are some of the pictures~ since I was the camera lady, I am not in them. These are some of the nicest and most beautiful people I know, friendships are forever~