This beautiful old live oak tree is a landmark between Christoval and Eldorado on the Helmer’s Ranch. There no way to guess it’s age. It has even been larger than this but it has been trimmed of many massive limbs that bowed over and touched the ground. Goats could walk up a limb and over the fence into the road so it had to be cut back. It is very near the highway on the west side. This is a favorite place for people to pull over and stop in the shade and take a rest. There is a gate on the right that leads to Sarah Hall’s old rock ranch house. It is one of the two most beautiful oak trees in Schleicher County.
When ZZ was eleven years old, she decided she wanted to paint a big picture. She had been painting since she was a little girl, mostly 9X12 scenes of adobe houses, parrots, and cow’s portraits. I told her it would take a long time on a large one since she could only paint a couple of weeks every so often when she came to Texas.
She picked a bluebonnet to copy, looking at another painting is a great way to learn, you can see the brush strokes and mix the colors to match. The first day she had the sky pretty well done, start at the top of the canvas, that way you don’t get your hand in wet paint while you come toward the bottom. She started painting the dark green where the tree would go. Later when it had dried for a couple of days she put some of the highlights on the big tree and the lighter bushes and trees in the background.
Today’s picture is one from Culberson County, with a chuck wagon and ranch hands having their morning coffee. It is a large 24X36 I painted in 1982. That is Guadalupe Peek in the background. Joe and Henry Rounsaville were brothers. Joe was a ranch hand for the big KC Ranch and married Velma Casey. Henry worked on the ranch for as long as I can remember. Henry was quite a character. The story goes that Henry had been in some ‘trouble with the law’ and that the State allowed him to go and live on the ranch while serving probation. (He reminded me of Slim Pickens, who was in the movie Dr. Strangelove.) A part of the interesting things about this ranch had to do with him, he had a different take of life. He was killed in a rollover in his truck, swerving to avoid hitting two horses. I have painted several scenes from this remote part of Texas. It is a mystical place with a great family history that could fill volumes. For all the years since the 1930’s, it has been a hunter’s paradise for family and friends. I call this the ‘Grand Canyon of Texas’. Unbelievably beautiful, another of the Lord’s masterpieces~
The story goes that Thomas McCann met Blossom Blue at a social affair in Boston and had to act fast, he was on his way to Oregon to stake his claim on the new frontier. He didn’t have a real commitment from Miss Blossom but would woo her with letters until he could return for her later. He loaded up his wagon with trunks, bedding, tools, cooking utensils, and everything he could carry to set up housekeeping.
He would be packing his six shooters and a muzzle loader. The gun powder is in the powder horn, or in this case, a rooster spur.
Next he gathered up all the tools for building a place to live once he got there.
A crate and gardening tools, they would be stored in a tool shed when he gets one built. The lantern is one of the most important things he owns
Some treasures are packed too, the telephone was ahead of it’s time but will be handy in the future
Off to Oregon and their new life together~
This is a recipe ZZ sent me from Kenya. I tried it yes and it is absolutely wonderful. (one plate for me and 7 plates for the freezer). It makes a lot. It was easy to make and took less than 20 minutes.
We were in Mexico in 1968 and I found a beautiful miniature Conestoga wagon. It was well made and I was excited to buy it. After I had it for a year I kept thinking about trying to take the measurements and copy it, but in oak instead of the light wood it was made of. At that time I had no power tools so the wheels were a challenge. I used a coping saw. This project took several weeks but everything was coming together and I could see it was going to work. It was a good feeling when I put the ‘canvas’ cover over the bows, which was a dish towel that I painted several times to make it stiff. It just seemed to turned it into a little house. Although the wagon is completely made of oak, I needed to make parts of it look like metal, I mixed silver paint with burnt umber oil paint and it did look like steel. I started adding everything a person would need, traveling across the Great Plains to Oregon in a covered wagon. A ladder, sacks of feed, a crate of ‘live’ chickens, a quirt, an anvil, tools, a lantern, and of course a muzzle loader. I used a rooster spur for the powder horn, perfect size. Then I found a little mule in a shop and knew this was going to be my one ‘bought item’. (I named her Molly) I loaded her with sacks of feed, garden tools, and a butter churn. Now all I needed was a story to go with the wagon, so I named the fellow Mr.Thomas McCann. He was leaving his sweetheart Blossom Blue in Boston for the time being and would return for her later when he was established out west. A package of miniature letters, each hand written, tells their story~ more on this later~ This has been my favorite blog to post, I suppose building this wagon and all the little stuff for it was was the most fun, but I always like whatever project I am doing at the time.
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~This is a blog from last year but it got the most lookers so I thought it was worth doing again. It is one of my favorites~
My grandmother had a large bushy bush in her yard that had beautiful lacy flowers all summer. It was a Crepe Myrtle and was the oldest plant she had. I can still picture her standing out there in the evening with her garden hose, watering it. The blossoms were a deep pink color. About 35 years ago, my neighbor Fred, who did cement work at the cemetery (as a job after retiring), called and ask me if I would like a Crepe Myrtle tree he had just dug up. It was very old and he said it was big but would be fine to transplant. His wife Marie didn’t need another tree, her yard was full to the brim. Fred brought it and put it in the ground for me out near the water trough. It never knew it had been moved, it took hold in a few weeks and was blooming when the weather warmed up. It has bloomed every year since. It takes no care, only needs watering when we are in a dry spell. Mine is about 18 feet tall now. These can be trimmed to make a tree or left as a big shrub. Absolutely stunning~and by the way, I have always had wonderful neighbors out on my road. I think of Fred every time I am watering my plants~he never knew what richness he added to my life~
Today I am showing the miniature attic room. It is also the painting room. I never had an art studio even though Dan wanted me to have one when we were building our house. I liked to paint on the kitchen table in the middle of family life. I would work for several hours after the boys went off to school, then put everything away to cook dinner. It was always nice to start out with a clean space again.
Back to the attic room, there is a real card game going on, and place for someone to have a ham sandwich, bag of Fritos and a Coke.
Then a place with all the things I needed to paint pictures. The paint box has lots of tiny tubes of paint, brushes, turpentine, and yes it is a mess just like in real life. A stool, paint rag, pallet, and easel with a work in progress.
Finally a cozy bed, I like beds. I had lots of good feelings when I was restoring this room~
Dan and I drove to Mexico City in 1956, our first trip down there, and went through an area where the prickly pear was enormous, this is one of the pictures we took. Some Mexicans used the big cactus leaves for the roof on their houses. There was a lot of this pear in the pastures. There were also giant lizards that little Mexican boys sold along the road, and there were huge condors the largest of all flying birds, nothing like the buzzards we have around here. Years later, I was trying to get rid of prickly pear on three acres in front of our house. I had to take a course to get a license to buy the Surmount poison to kill it. I was using a one gallon pump sprayer and had to haul water in jugs from the house so it was a lot of work. After a few weeks, it started to turn yellow and die. It has been twelve years and it is coming back, it needs to be killed again and my license is running out. This time I think I will get someone to come and do the job. I will always remember the cactus in Mexico, and the lizards and condors. Lots of big scary stuff~
In the early part of 1980, my uncle Monty was visiting and he told me I should start running, he had run in races for years~the big ones~ even the Boston Marathon several times. After he left, I decided to run to the gate and back, 200 yards or so. When I got back, I came in and fell on the sofa, (collapsed) and it took a while to recover. OK, so I wasn’t in good shape after all. That was the day I started jogging. It took me one year to run a mile without stopping to rest. (I was almost 50 years old). When I could do two miles, I joined the Road Lizards in San Angelo and ran my first race out on Gun Club Road by Lake Nasworthy. I had no idea what to expect, I wondered if I would get swept up in the crowd of runners and do OK. I was running in the two mile race and before I got to the turn around, the 10-K runners were on their way back. When I was almost to the finish line I started feeling like I would throw up. I made it though and got a medal for 2nd place in my age category. (there were three of us in that group). There were races several times a month and I went to all of them. Soon I was running the 10 Ks, not fast but always back to the finish line before they packed up the barriers and went home. That was my favorite distance, it felt good after those. I got my sister Tricia interested in running too, she was hooked like I was. We received lots of medals in our age groups. There were big races like Run In The Sun, Stroh’s Run For Liberty with over 600 runners, Texas Rattlesnake Run in Sweetwater, and then all the many fun runs. I jogged every single day just a few weeks shy of 10 years, then one day when Dan said I was compulsive, I didn’t run the next day to prove him wrong. These were some of the most fun years.
Runners are nice people, they run to win but they are friends getting together to have a good time.
We all recognized and appreciated the real talent, some were really top athletes and it was an honor to run behind them~