Texas’ Delaware Mountains


Culberson County Ranch

This is a remote place in Culberson County, Texas, rugged and unspoiled, I have painted several pictures with Guadalupe Peak in them~

This is a picture of  the ranch in the Delaware Mountains in far West Texas. It is 70 miles from Van Horn so is about as remote as it gets. You see Guadalupe Peak  in the background, the highest point in Texas at 8,751 ft. It is a magical place, the ranch has been in the family for around a hundred years. One day Dan’s Grandpa Pelt was in the coffee shop at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio when he got to  visiting with a man sitting there and they started talking about their ‘white elephants’. Grandpa had property in the Valley near Edinburg and the other man had a large ranch in Culberson County. When they were finished  that day, they had made a a trade for each other’s land, sight unseen. Back in those days, deals were struck like this all the time. The ranch has been  wonderful for 5 generations  to enjoy.   It is a favorite family hunting place with big mule deer, antelope, and every kind of wild life. The first time I saw it, it took my breath away, coming up to  the rim and seeing for a hundred miles, it was like the Grand Canyon of Texas. Thank you Grandpa, sweet trade~

Flood on the South Concho River


This boat needed lots of work

the boat was in much worse shape than the first one I restored, but it only took four months on this one


The new River Mouse

This is the River Mouse ll after I finished restoring it. Missy is ready for a ride. All the dogs love the boat, so do children~

On Sept. 10, 1994 Paul called me from the river. He said, “we have had a flash flood,everyone is alright but the River Mouse is gone.”  I took off for Christoval, Dan was on the porch yelling, you can’t go! I couldn’t believe it, there wasn’t a cloud in sight, all the way up there there was no sign of a storm, not until I was three miles  away and I saw all the patrol cars, a helicopter, water in the ditches, water everywhere. I drove in on the East side, down Moore Road as far as I could, then walked in water on up to the river. It was raging. I had my video camera going,  (later when I watched the video, I could hear sobbing, I was completely crushed). We looked for the River Mouse for days, all we found was the trunk lid. Paul and Anna had to go back to Albuquerque and the last thing he said was, ” go get another boat and start over”.  I did, this one only took 4 months to restore since I had kept all the drawings and plans from the first one. When it was finished, it was exactly like the original River Mouse (except for a small brass plaque on the dashboard~ ‘Please Lord,  Bless This Tiny Ship’).

Baked Chicken Breasts

Sunday Company Dinner

this recipe came from my friend Pat Pfluger, it makes a delicious company dinner

This is one of those really easy to make dinners. It is great with hot rolls and a fresh fruit salad. For my Sunday company dinner yesterday I served it with Debbie’s green beans and a corn dish, dinner for eight, everyone enjoyed it. ~in the oven when I left for church, ready for the table when I got home~ Always a good anytime meal but makes a special dinner for company too, simply delicious~

Baked Chicken Breasts
8 or 10 chicken breasts
1 8 oz. can mushrooms
1 can mushroom soup
1 can Pet milk
1 8 oz. carton sour cream
1/4 c. sherry
Split breast so they will be serving sizes
Lay chicken breasts in a large baking dish, mix all
other ingredients except paprika and spread over
chicken, then sprinkle top with paprika. Do not cover.
Bake at 350 for about 1 1/2 hours

The Sheriff’s Car


Driving Aunt Allie

Greasy’s car looked like this one, it was big, black and impressive.

When I was 13 years old, my great aunt Allie was having to go to San Angelo every few days to the doctor for treatments. Usually my grandmother took her but she couldn’t go this one time. Aunt Allie’s son Greasy, who  was the sheriff here in Eldorado asked my daddy if it would be alright  if I drove  her up there. Oh YES, great day in the morning! Greasy’s car was a nice shinny black four door sedan, and a mighty pretty one. I picked  Aunt Allie up and we were off. There was no traffic on the roads back then, you hardly met a single car coming or going. So we are blazing down the highway at 30 miles an hour, windows down, doing a lot of talking, all the while I was checking out the dashboard. Lots of buttons and switches I wasn’t familiar with, ” wonder what a throttle is’~ There was a dimmer switch in the middle of the floorboard, all I had ever seen was over beside the clutch. I stepped on it and a siren went off!  It was an  ear piercing low whine that got louder and higher until it was screaming.  It got to it’s top note and stayed there. After a minute Aunt Allie said, (yelling so I  could hear her) “Oh Dear,  maybe we should shut it off”,  but who knew how! In a little bit she said, (again yelling)  “maybe we should pull off the road”. Good idea, I was already worried that we would be going though Christoval  pretty soon. I slowed down and stopped,  I turned the key off but it didn’t turn the siren off so we sat a while.  I finally decided the only thing  left to do would be try pushing that dimmer switch again. When I did, slowly the whine started to come down until it was just a long  low deep growl and then it quit. I was a wreck, Aunt Allie was so sweet, I knew she never told, it was our secret ~ I would have gotten in really bad trouble with Daddy.    

Guitar Lessons

Five Gold Stars for Sandy

For the past three weeks I have been helping a lovely lady from Arlington, Vermont learn to play guitar. She is leaving today and I will miss this time of fun and music with her. She caught on fast. The first day she learned to play ‘Down in the Valley’ (just two chords, G and D) and by yesterday, she could play 12 chords and a dozen songs. We were really rocking the place! She will be back next year, her husband Bob is the champion turkey caller in Vermont and has been here as a turkey hunting guide for Magnum.

 I am happy I thought to grab the camera before she left. She never stopped smiling~

I am happy I thought to grab the camera before she left. She never stopped smiling~

sandy studio

This is the fine music studio. There is also a piano, tambourine, recorder flute, and even an oboe in the attic. We just need more people


~Sandy took this page home with her. She will be able to refer to it when she is learning new songs. Now I don’t play an F, it is too hard so I just hummmm that note.

Billy Graham’s Prayer

The Rev. Billy Graham

my cousin sent me this prayer today, I want everyone to be as moved as I was, words spoken and thoughts to be embedded in our hearts~

Billy   Graham’s Prayer For Our Nation  
‘Heavenly Father, we  come before you today  to ask your  forgiveness and to seek your direction and   guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those  who call  evil good,’ but that is exactly  what we have done. We have  lost our  spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.  We  have exploited the poor and called it  the lottery. We have  rewarded laziness and  called it welfare. We have killed  our  unborn and called it choice. We have shot  abortionists  and called it justifiable…  We have neglected to  discipline our  children and called it building self   esteem. We have abused power and called it  politics. We  have coveted our neighbor’s  possessions and called it  ambition. We  have polluted the air with profanity and   pornography and called it freedom of expression.  We have  ridiculed the time-honored values  of our forefathers and  called it  enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know  our  hearts today; cleanse us from sin and  Set us free.  Amen!’
With the Lord’s  help, may this prayer sweep over  our  nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so  that we  once again can be called ‘One  nation under  God!’

My Pen Pal

China plater

these seven pieces were all that survived the trip from Germany

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. 

Debbie Pina

Sweet little Debbie

Here is a painting of Debbie with two kid goats.

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

Paper Doll


Nancy, Tricia and Rita on the beach at Port Aransas

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~

” I’m gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own
a doll that other fellows cannot steal”
              She brought down the house!  Lots of clapping and laughing~
                                     They gave her all their fish~

Mexican Mariachi Band

Mariachi band in Valles

these men were playing wonderful music,  and they were good singers

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.

Mariachi Maximo from San Antonio

this group came from San Antonio for a celebration in honor of Dan

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~

Miniature Carved Chair


When she started on a project, she didn’t want to stop, she never got tired, sometimes I needed a nap~

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. 

twine is great for chair bottoms on the miniatures, it is the fun part~


Old Cowboy


The Cowboy Hat

you can make anyone what ever you like just by changing their hat

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.)