Traveling with Dan was always interesting, he would not stop to see Ruby Falls, or for a helicopter ride, and no more that four bathroom breaks in a day~but pulled over for a picture of any old barn, old house or a cigar store. I like all the pictures though, I used so many of the barns in paintings later. This one was on a trip to Pittsburgh in 1964. The barns in that area are larger than those around here, they needed room to store winter hay and probably protect the livestock too. Everything was so lush and green up there. I like old buildings, they make an interesting painting. I will have more barns later~ On this trip when we went through Washington DC, they were having a big ticker tape parade for John Glenn~huge crowd. It is a beautiful city, places I had seen only in books. The cherry trees were still blooming, (over 3,000 were a gift to the US from Japan in 1912).
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~
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~
My friend Pat brought me an snap shot of an old grist mill in Glen Rose, it was built back in 1860 and at one time owned by her Great Grandfather Price. She wanted me to paint it for her. She told me the story behind it and I found more information on the internet, so while I was painting, it was interesting to know the history. She remembered visiting her grandmother there when she was growing up so it was part of her young life. Once when she was six years old, her mother put her on a bus in Ballinger, sat her behind the driver and told him not to let her off until she got to Glen Rose where her grandparents were waiting to pick her up. Times were different back then. After I finished the painting and she had it for a few days and came back and wondered if I could add some children playing in the yard. I asked my little Edmiston neighbors to come over and pose under my oak tree, with a wagon and the swing, then painted them in the picture. It brought it to life. This old building still stands in Glen Rose, it has been a grist mill, cotton gin, hospital and now an art gallery, many changes in a century and a half. Pat has this little bit of history hanging on her wall. I enjoyed painting it~
Bougainvilleas are beautiful, showy plants that grow well in big pots. I have several that I have had for years, I move them into the garage before cold weather and cut them back so they don’t take up so much room. Then in spring, I bring them back out and fertilize them once a month with Bougain, (which you can find at Home Depot). These are my favorite of all plants, they bloom all summer and have no problem with bugs. They do like to be watered every three days or so. In South Texas and Mexico, they grow into 18 foot trees that are everywhere, they are outstanding. As with many flowering plants, these have thorns~they will get your respect.
Pride of Barbados are beautiful flowering plants. They will grow into trees if the frost isn’t a problem in your area, otherwise they die down to the ground every winter. They do come back up on their own in the spring though. The leaves are small and fine, almost like a lacy fern and the flowers are a fiery brilliant orangey red and make a great statement in the landscape. They are easy to grow, the first year they need to be watered every few days but after they are established, they need water when they start looking thirsty or once or twice every two weeks in my case. (dry hot West Texas) These are the big showy plants you see at entrance gates to homes, banks and other businesses, places that have been professionally landscaped. You can easily do the same thing on your own. You can start with a two gal. size plant from the nursery. They produce seed pods and you can share those with your friends. These are truly spectacular plants.
At first I thought this little dining room do-over would be the easy one. It took me more than two weeks. Everything in the china cabinet was in good shape, no repairs there. The fruit bowl on the buffet has apples, oranges, and bananas that are carved from wood. I started by whittling a piece of fruit on the end of a dowel pin, this way I had something to hold to, then sanding and shaping it with an emery board. Finally I cut it loose and painted it. The grapes are mustard seeds rolled around in Elmer’s glue to make a clump, dried and then painted. They are still good after 40 years. Pile it all in a bowl (perfume lid) and it is done. Copper wire is great for so many things, I hammered it out in a flat ribbon and made the arms for the chandelier and the drawer pulls from that an then painted them with gold leaf. The dining chairs got new covers. Glue has always been a problem for me. It needs to be tacky so it will hold the pieces together and then dry strong. There is no way to join the parts and then hold each tiny piece for 20 minutes until it bonds, it has to be sticky. I think I have finally found the perfect glue, it is Loctite Stik N’ Seal. The carpet is the original, velvet fabric that I painted a design on. I re-varnished all the little furniture in each room, it made a big difference. I use polyurethane satin, everything looks brand new again. This project was almost as much fun as it was the first time ~except nowdays I get tired and think about a nap~
I painted this picture of an Indian boy with his goats in 1965, I found the photograph in an old National Geographic Magazine, it was taken somewhere in New Mexico. There were so many interesting photographs in the old magazines, they were black and white so easy to sketch and paint. Some of them dated back to the 1930′s, I got a big stack of them at a library book sale. Congressman O.C. Fisher owned this painting and in 1973 when he retired to his Kimble County ranch in Texas he brought it home with him. It was lost when his ranch house burned. If I might add, he was a great statesman, author and one of Texas’ finest~he passed away in 1994 at the age of 91.
Here is a painting of the Hughes home in San Angelo. My friend Kitty Trigg grew up there and asked me to paint it for her. Later she decided she would like one for her sister, Mrs. Crews. The second one was a spring time scene so it was different. The house sits on Beauregard Avenue and used to be in a quiet neighborhood at the edge of town but San Angelo has grown until it is now a very busy street. It is an old home that has been well cared for and loved by this family. It should be there forever. I have noticed that the house has recently been repainted in a beautiful soft gray green color. I also painted Mrs. Crew’s rock house in Mertzon and later their camp house on Spring Creek. There was a little log cabin there that was a play house for all the Hughes children. I loved these projects, I can just imagine what fun those kids had growing up.
When our kids were coming to the river for vacation, I was busy for days clearing brush, mowing and getting ready for them. I always made River Tacos that first evening, I cooked the chili the day before, shredded the cheese, and chopped the onions. Then on the big day, the last thing to do was soft fry the tortillas and cut up the salad. When they drove up, there was lots of sweet hugging and squealing, time to love each other and relax for a few minutes. For supper all I had to do was pour the bubbling hot chili over the salad and we ate. It was a wonderful, easy and delicious meal. Even now when I fix River Tacos, I remember that excitement I felt while waiting for my precious kids.
1 lb. very lean ground meat
3 T Gephardt chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground oregano
3 c water
Brown meat in skillet with spices, then add water. Cover and cook on med heat for 25 minutes. Skim off all the grease.
Mix together in nice serving bowl
3 c. lettuce, shred fine
3 tomatoes, cut in small cubes
1 avocado, cut in cubes
½ a cucumber, chopped fine
½ bell pepper chopped fine
Soft fry corn tortillas, 4 or 5 for each person plus a few extras) Note: no short cuts here, you need to soft fry the tortillas, don’t just heat them in a microwave~
Heat about ½ c corn oil in skillet, fry tortillas, one at a time, only about 4 seconds on each side.
Drain on paper towels to get off all grease. (I put thick newspaper on the counter, top with three layers of paper towels, lay each tortilla on it as I fry it, and pat it to get all the grease off)
Stack and cover with a towel to keep warm.
Just before serving, heat chili bubbling hot, pour over salad.
Have some shredded cheese, chopped onions and sour cream dressing on the side.
Let everyone make their own by spooning taco salad onto warm tortilla and rolling it up. Messy but hey, pass the paper towels.
This is an unbelievably delicious meal.