In l963, I painted this picture from a snapshot my good friend Helen McAngus gave me of her daughter Lisa and nephew Willie. Their horse was Sally~ This picture was one of the most enjoyable to paint that I can ever remember. I knew these kids well, they had fun growing up in the country, there was always something to do. About five years ago, I had a letter from Helen’s granddaughter Shannon, telling me she had the painting now and how much it meant to have something from her mom’s childhood. Since then I have written her notes about Lisa and Willie growing up. Shannon has a beautiful little daughter named Morlee who looks a lot like Lisa. This picture has been on Face Book but I wanted to put it in my blog, it has come full circle for me, fun from 1963 and on up until today. I love this story, I loved those kids~
My kids were hundreds of miles away in Durango Colorado on vacation and they called me on the cell phone and told me to go put the live cam in my browser. I did and up came this picture of the street in Durango Colorado and they were standing on the right hand curb, waving at me. We kept talking and they pointed out things to see if I could find them and I could. I am still living in the dark ages so this was exciting for me. I have the address on my desktop and look at it every day, even though they are back home again. What fun. There are the same live cams in other cities too. To bring up Durango just type this address into your browser and it will be live. It makes me want to go~ http://downtowndurangocam.com/
This is about a new peach orchard in Christoval, it is small, only 12 trees that they put in four years ago. (remember, 2011 was the year of one of Texas’ worst droughts, no rain at all, hard time to start this venture) There are two apples, two apricots and the rest are different varieties of peaches. Since it is on a rocky hill up there, dump truck loads of dirt had to be brought in, it is about two and a half feet in new dirt, and the whole orchard is 40×50 feet. The new dirt was fluffy with no rocks and digging the holes was easy. Everything had to be watered daily and every tree has survived.
This year is turning into a great year for the orchard, the first year the trees rest, the second they come alive and the third year they flourish. We call this Anna’s Orchard~They have had a bumper crop of apricots and the peach trees are loaded.
I like milk shakes, I mean I love banana milk shakes. This recipe is one we came up with years ago and it is my favorite.You can make if from “craving to drinking” in 5 minutes.
You need to start yesterday though, the banana slices have to be frozen solid. I always keep sliced frozen bananas in my freezer, ready for the drink or for banana nut ice cream. The great thing, besides being the best you ever tasted, is this 16 oz drink (enough for two people) has a total of around 200 calories while the small one at Dairy Queen or Sonic has over 500.
Start by slicing a bunch of ripe bananas, put them on paper plates and freeze them. (they need to be ripe, not over ripe and not even slightly green).
Some of us had been wondering if there were going to be any wild turkeys after the terrible drought in 2011. They won’t nest unless the condition is just right for them to at least have a chance. Two hens had been coming up to the water trough and I had been throwing corn and chick feed out for them. One week, they both walked in with 15 babies.They were on the driveway by the garage. I managed to get a picture and then today I got some of a hen and her baby sitting on the bird bath. What a thrill, I like the wildlife. I can enjoy them and as with the deer, if one in the bunch doesn’t show up that day, I don’t worry, I just suppose it is over at the farm eating at the deer feeders. Not like if a chicken or peacock goes missing and you look until you find it. I am keeping the windmill running to wet down the oak grove, the turkeys like to get in that cool wet place.
Little girls are sociable creatures, they can have a party any time there is a dog or kitty or stuffed toys. They can have a school and be the teacher, and share everything they have learned themselves. It is fun listening to the conversations with their ‘friends’. Two chairs and some blankets and they have a wonderful little house for their babies. Then when real live friends come, they know how to entertain them. What fun. Here is ZZ and Spook, then some of the stuffed toys, she danced for them and sang and put on a good show. No one left the room, she had a captive audience. This was our living room and we didn’t use it often, but when she was here, it was hers. She called it the blue room and she brought it to life. Little girls know how to have fun.
On one of our trips to Mexico, we were in a market in Zacatecas and Dan was visiting with this young boy. He liked to speak Spanish, buy what they were selling, and then tip them well. He wanted to buy us some peanuts, he handed the boy a pack of pesos and waited for him to give us 4 bags. The boy got up, picked up his toe sack, put the money in his pocket and started to walk off. Dan said, “wait, I need my peanuts” and the boy pointed the big pile on the sidewalk and said, “escos son los cacahuete.” (those are your peanuts). One other time, he was going to buy oranges from a woman on the street. She had a neat little pile stacked up on a towel. When he paid her, she tried to give him change. He said, “para usted”, so she pulled her towel out from under the stack, thanked him and left. I always believed Dan would have moved to Mexico if I had said the word. What a wonderful country it was back then~
I painted this picture while I was demonstrating at the Fat Stock Show in San Angelo one year. That was always fun because I knew many of the women who came to watch, most of them were painters too. For several years I judged art shows at the Kendall Art Gallery and had many friends from there. There is a lot of great talent around this area. And as I have said before, painters are nice people. You can’t paint and not feel good. This painting I am showing you today is one I did from start to finish in one sitting. It was a large 24X30″. I always say you need to let the paint dry after putting on the first coat and not put wet paint on wet paint or it gets muddy. It can be done but it is not easy. I worked on this one for four or more hours that day, the time flew by. Lots of lively conversation, it is surprising but I can remember what they were talking about that day. Mostly telling on themselves. Good stories. I can almost always remember what was going on in my life when I painted any picture~almost like writing in a journal.
Another place to hang out was in the Delaware Mountains in West Texas. Dan was welcome to come too, he brought his own car in case Matt’s pickup had a problem. (and it did). There were no cell phones or mobile phones back in the 1980’s. Bad to be 70 miles from the nearest town, which was Van Horn. Several times the truck got stuck in a ravine.
The really bad time was being stranded for 5 days in one of the worst snow storms ever, so bad the interstate between Fort Stockton and El Paso was closed. There was no way to get them out during the storm, it was a scary time for those of us back home.(my worst nightmare) The former Sheriff (Mr.Upchurch) from Van Horn flew his plane out to look for them but couldn’t locate the camp. Our sheriff here in Eldorado got two other men and they headed out to Culberson County to see what they could do. Finally after trying for several days, the old ranch foreman was able to drive his bulldozer through miles of snow to reach them. They said when they heard him coming, they were yelling and celebrating. Cabin fever had almost done them in~
Here are some little Mexican boys at a market in Guanajuato, many years ago. The first three boys belonged to the tomato lady. I always loved the markets, they had wonderful smells~ tomatoes, oranges, mangoes and leather. I learned about things I had never heard of before, all kinds of squashes, exotic fruits, strange melons. The women always had time to explain the different types and how to fix them. Once I was talking to a woman who had a few vegetables for sale, and she was explaining how to cook a green round chayote squash. She was sitting on the ground on a blanket and had a small child close to her holding onto her arm. After a few minutes, I noticed she had a cardboard box next to her and there was this tiny tiny baby, wrapped up in a soft blanket. I was filled with mother feelings. It brought back all the sweet memories of having a newborn baby. Mexico is a country of mothers~
If I can wake up with a project every morning, I am happy. I hope it will be the same all of my life. When my first baby boy was born, one of the greatest things was to realize I would be totally committed to taking care of him for years. Having two babies was the best of all projects~ Today is about a sunflower afghan, it took longer than most things, in fact I made two of them, each taking about 3 months. It was so much fun working with all the beautiful colors. I made them in 1969. My friend Billy had showed me how to do the afghan stitch, using a long crochete needle, it was easy to do and made a good background for the embroidery work on the flowers. Once when we were at a school picnic, a teacher saw the one I was working on and wanted to know where to get the thread and pattern. Billy wanted to show her the simple afghan stitch but she was not interested, she said she “already knew how to do it”. So Billy didn’t insist, even though there was a trick to doing it right. Later at the end of school, we saw her handiwork, it looked like a big loosely made fish net and was about 10 feet long. She told us she realized it was not right but she liked it anyway. It was sure something different~ The two I made were for my boys and stayed on their beds while they were growing up, I liked the bright colors, it was a decorated place in our house. Much later I showed each of my two little left handed granddaughters, (Stacy Mae and ZZ) how to crochet. I showed them the ball of yarn that was no more than a colored string, then had them hold an afghan and see how that string could turn into something beautiful and warm and wonderful. They learned quickly.
Today I am showing you a painting of a scene near Fredericksburg Texas. It is large, a 24×36. (I have painted a couple baptistery pictures that are larger, 5 ft x 8 ft ) This one I painted over 40 years ago and when I pass by this place, I am amazed that it looks the same today. Used to when I painted something Dan liked, he would buy it from me so I wouldn’t ‘let it get away’. Every Christmas and birthday, he would want a painting, so that is how I ended up with a lot of those I still have. Many of them are hung at the Schleicher County Hospital and Nursing Home. It is a nice clean safe place to keep them. I will show you more of those Dan “owned” later, I know which ones were his, I have a list of them all in a file he kept, when he acquired them, how much he paid and where I had to sign them over to him. ~many for $35, he liked a bargain~