Drums for Kenya Orphans

I would like to show you a blog from 4 years ago. I like to go back and remember that remarkable trip to Kenya. There is a group from the College Hills Baptist Church in San Angelo who are on their way to Kenya and should be landing in Nairobi shortly. It made me think of this blog and wanted to repeat it. I wonder where all these children are now.

you had to be fit to keep up with these kids, their dances were fast, like doing Zumba for an hour.

The first day we were at Children’s Rescue Centre at Miali Saba in Kenya, the kids went out to play after Bible Study. There was a soccer game going on and the rest of the kids were playing games. With everyone in a circle, the one who was ‘it’ wove in and out around the others and whoever they stopped by had to get in the middle and do a dance while the others chanted a song. It ended with a big wiggle, bend down, pull grass and throw it, then a kick. It was a real dance with real steps. Pretty soon I was in the middle and did the best I could. They laughed but were nice about it. (Lisa and Benton were good at this!) Then they got in a circle and beat on the ground and sang while someone danced in the center. Afterwards Paul told me I needed to buy them a real drum.The next day Elizabeth and I shopped all over town looking for one. Everyone told us the Coffee Shop had some but they were closed. Then someone suggested the book store. As we passed by, Elizabeth saw two drums in the window. How exciting! They were big around and covered in goat skin, really nice ones. I chose one and asked the man how much~1,000 shillings, or only about $10.

Elizabeth is holding the two drums we found. We spent quite a bit of time looking for them and it was worth the effort.

The man who owned the book store was laughing, he said the children would enjoy them. They had a big sound!

What a surprise, I would have thought at least $30 each. Anyway we bought both of them, then found some large wooden spoons to use for drum sticks. The next day we took them to the orphanage and two of the older boys started playing them, not just bang bang bang but like real tribal drums. When everyone got in the circle to dance and sing, the ‘head drummer’ beat his drum, the other boy held his hand on the head of his drum to mute it and played another beat. It was wonderful.

Keven and his friend could really play those drums even though he said he had never tried it before.

We noticed when they went to eat their dinner, they put the drums away in the store room so they were going to take good care of them.

we met this group on the road beside the Rescue Centre on New Year’s day, they had drums and colorful clothes, they really celebrate New Year’s in Africa

When we went out there on New Years, there was a parade coming down the little road beside the orphanage and this group from town had drums, they were colorful and were celebrating another ‘year of life’. You could hear the drums from a distance. Something special about drums since the beginning of time~

Junior Monkey


Port Aransas  Pier

My day to watch Junior Monkey, everyone liked him~

In the summer of 1952, I was in Port Aransas, Texas (on the Gulf of Mexico) with my parents and two sisters. The monkey belonged to Daddy, some friends gave it to him as a prank. Junior was sweet but then he had another side~he could bite! (no one got bit that time though). Everyone was fishing from the pier, Mother and Daddy fished for Tarpon and we fished for supper.That day I was in charge of Junior. I put on an old swim suit and shower cap and spent the day entertaining everyone, Junior could draw a crowd. He was wearing his swimming trunks but he took them off after they got wet, or should I say, he wet them~ Every day he would get in the water with us and  run on the beach trying to beat the waves. He was curious about everything, he picked up every shell he found and worked on it to see if anything was inside.  Several weeks after we came back home, a big brown envelope came in the mail. A photographer from the San Antonio Express newspaper had snapped the picture and they ran it  in their magazine. Someone recognized me and Junior and sent it to us. What a fun time to remember. A few years later, Junior went to live at the Zoo in San Antonio. Don’t get a monkey, get a sweet puppy instead.

Peach Cobbler

The easy dessert.  just start in the summer when peaches are ripe right off of the tree. Freeze them to enjoy months later.

The easy dessert. just start in the summer when peaches are ripe right off of the tree. Freeze them to enjoy months later.

Apricot and peaches are my favorites. Apricots are the easiest to prepare. You just break it in half and drop out the seed. No peeling. Peaches are wonderful, a little more time to prepare them though. They need to be peeled and quartered, then a little sugar sprinkled on top and they go in the freezer in quart bags. They will keep well for over a year. Best of all is eating the fruit right off the tree. There are people in the world who have never eaten a fresh peach or apricot, nectarine or plum. All of these fruits are possible to grow in most areas. You just pick native stock that is right for your zone. If your neighbors have success with a certain peach, you can take some of those seeds and start your own trees. The fruit will come up true to the mother. Same with apricots and nectarines. Here is my easy recipe for Peach Cobbler. I cook it before I start dinner and then serve it slightly warm with ice cream for dessert.
                                        Peach Cobbler
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Melt 1 stick of butter in 8×8 baking pan, set aside
1 c. sugar
1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Mix these four ingredients together in bowl then add
3/4 c.milk
Mix until smooth
Pour batter into buttered baking pan but do not stir
Put about 3 cups of slice peaches on top of batter but do not stir
sprinkle 1/4 c. sugar over top.
Bake at 350 for about one hour or until golden brown

Abe Lincoln

this took several weeks to paint, I loved every minute of it. Only two weeks after this event took place, President Lincoln was  assassinated.

I painted this picture from a black and white Mathew Brady sketch. I was not excited to do it but someone wanted it. Since the sketch had very little detail, I painted in faces that were not there. I ended up with people I knew, members of the family,  I had to improvised. When I thought it was finished, I had to go back and take out the 30.30 rifles, they didn’t have any of those in the Civil War, and replace them with muzzle loaders. I also had to repaint the Mexican people with black people. There was a lot of painting going on with this one. It was a huge challenge, all the faces are the size of a postage stamp .I was loving it by the time I finished. The guy who ordered it traded it for something else. (Some day it will be his again).

Buttermilk Biscuits


These are great hot out of the oven but also later in the garden with a fresh green onion. My all time favorite is homemade apricot preserves~to go with a fresh hot biscuit

Biscuits are easy to make, my grandmother Montgomery made them every single morning for breakfast for her family. One of the sweetest things I remember about my childhood is waking up at her house with the smell her biscuits baking. She always had homemade fruit preserves,  back then everyone made their own preserves and jellies. I got to have a little coffee with cream and sugar too. (I poured it my saucer just like Granddad and let it cool and drank it from there). I liked being at their house, it just wrapped itself around you with good smells, soft cuddly beds, the sound of the train whistle, and all of that sweet love from Grandmother and Granddad. 

Buttermilk Biscuits  (preheat oven to 375 degrees)
2 c flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. soda
2 tsp. baking powder
4 T. Crisco
3/4 c. buttermilk

mix dry ingredients well, then using a pastry blender
or two knives, cut in the shortening until it resembles                                                coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir only until mixed.

Form dough into a ball, roll out on a floured board 1/2″
thick and cut with biscuit cutter.  (I sprinkle a few drops
of water on counter, place a piece of wax paper down,
flour it and roll my dough out on that. It is easy to clean up.
Place biscuits on pan that has been lightly greased with
Canola oil. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.

Ranching and Farming in Kenya

This was the farming implement place, they had three tractors to choose from. I would think with the good deep red soil and no rocks, a tractor would last for a long time.

There is farming and ranching in Kenya. The growing season for corn or maize, which is the big crop there, was over for the year at the time we were there.   Someone said even with the mild climate and plenty of rain, they only grow one crop of corn a season. They do have modern tractors and equipment, but more like ours were back in the 1950’s. No air-conditioned cabs or fancy stuff and they had no need for it.

Here is the lush green vegetation along the sides of the main road on the way to Eldoret

 Someone with cattle would not necessarily need a big spread of land. All along the main roads, we saw people herding their animals, maybe 10 or 15 cows with one person watching them or moving them along the road. It was sort of like free range.

they don’t seem to mark their cattle, the males stay bulls~

 Sometimes they tether their animal’s front legs together with a short rope to keep them in one place and come back for them later 

There was a variety of animals in this group

On the street in Kitale that led from Mili Mani to downtown, there were always cattle or sheep grazing. They all looked healthy and were gentle.

more cattle on the Mili Mani road

They somehow managed to stay out of the street and traffic but I didn’t know, they looked awfully close to the passing cars. We didn’t see any horses but lots of burros.

this is one of my favorite pictures, I may have shown it before. This is the place where the new believers were being baptized but work had to go on, the men loaded their barrels with water.


Not like loading the stuff in a pickup and taking it to market. This looks like women’s work~

They are  truly beasts of burden and were used to haul heavy loads on their backs and also for pulling wagons and carts. I enjoyed seeing the cows most of all, I have always liked cows.

Jitter Joe Gets Mail

Jitter Jo received important mail this week

Jitter Joe has been getting mail lately, he is pretty important~

Jitter Joe has been having health issues lately and I asked the vet to call  his prescription in to the pharmacy in Sonora since they deliver every day here in Eldorado. His pills came that afternoon. A couple of days later a letter was in the mail from the pharmacy addressed to Jitter J. McWhorter. It started out, Dear Jitter~ and went on to thank him for choosing  to do business with them and hoped they could continue to serve him in the future. I thought that was pretty nice!  Then this week he received another letter from a Prescription Savings Club, in Orange California, to welcome him and thank him for enrolling in the Good Neighbor Prescription Savings Club. It came with an impressive plastic card with his name, ID# and some more important looking stuff. Is he is supposed to carry it with him at all times?   All of this for one little bottle of pills. I am impressed! He is my little doll and yes, he likes to go to the Post Office with me. 

Free Shih Tzu

this is our beautiful little Marci and her story

Dogs are a huge part of our family. Several came from the pound, one we found on the road, two were Give Away’s. Early one  morning I was reading the paper and saw the ad, ‘Free Shih Tzu to a good home only’ . I waited until 6:00 to call, but I wanted to be the first on the list. Thomas Mallow answered the phone. I told him I wanted that puppy, that we had recently  lost Spook who lived to be almost 19 years old and  we needed a new baby. He asked a lot of questions and said they would hold her  until I could get to San Angelo at 10:00 to be interviewed. When I rang their doorbell, I heard barking and when I was inside, there was this precious little black and white dog, all happy to see me.( I also noticed a beautiful little baby boy in a jumper seat on the floor.) So the story unfolded, Pamela and Thomas got Marsha when she was a few weeks old and she had been their only baby.  Then 18 months later, Blake was born.  Marsha did not like him, he was taking her place in her mama’s lap. She would just look at him and growl, they knew that wasn’t going to work so decided they had to find another home for her. They chose us. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Coming home she  rode in Dan’s lap and that was the beginning of great times for us.  Pamela and Thomas saw Marci several times after that and she still growled when she saw Blake. We have kept in touch  and I get pictures of Blake often, he is a big fine handsome 13 year old boy now. Marci was one of our most wonderful gifts ever! She is an old girl now, she has been with us for a long time. Thank you again a  hundred times  sweet friends!

Little Folks Figurines

Little Folks

the girl in the blue dress is mine

When ZZ was growing up, her favorite toy was her play kitchen. One year she even got an E-Z-Bake oven and was able to make cakes and cookies. She had her Papa’s little table and two chairs and all kinds of dishes and cookware. She could put a real meal together for her little friends,( both real and play like). It was fun watching her. Most of her other ‘toys’ were how-to books. One was on sculpting and making figures. They were made from polymer that was baked in the oven and came out strong and hard. The figures had finest detail, ribs on the socks, buttons and buttonholes.  She gave one away  to someone special every year . What a thrill to be “the one”. These two pictured are a little boy with his fishing pole, Dan and Debbie got that one for Christmas one year,  the girl in the blue dress and sandals is mine. What a treasure~

Boy Going Fishing

The rod and reel have perfect detail.

Grooming Old Sally


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 six 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~

Texas Longhorn

This longhorn was named after Bob Oglesby,  a Schleicher County rancher back in the 1960’s

Meet Bob, he is big, he is gentle, he is beautiful, he is a Texas Longhorn Steer. Their horns can extend up to seven feet. They were highly prized in the old days for their ability to survive on the open range with little care. Many people who keep them now days do so for their historical value and just the pride of ownership. Longhorns are important to Texans just as the bluebonnets are. They deocrate the pastures but especially the state parks and  the Hill Country. People are fascinated by them. Schools name their teams for them,  the University of Texas has always had one  (Bevo) as their mascot. They are a great subject for Texas artists. Longhorns are our connection to the Old American West. If you ever have the chance to stand beside one, you will be overwhelmed by it’s size, they are enormous. If you want to own one, you will need a good fence!

Angel Wings


this is the truck Daddy took the crew to work in at Cooper Gas Company

When it is someone’s turn to drive a crew to work, they show up in a big four door truck with leather seats, air conditioning, everyone even has his own cup holder. (how’s about getting 10 mpg) Today I want to introduce you to my daddy’s truck, ‘Angel Wings’. He carried his crew of four out to work at Cooper Gas Company in the early 1940’s. He painted it silver, (the paint smelled like bananas) he built a wooden frame for the back and covered it with water proof canvas. Always thinking of his men’s comfort, he fitted the back with a seat from an old car. To add a little fun, he rigged  the seat springs up to a wire connected to the battery and with the push of a button, he could make them come alive back there! They didn’t like it but were anxious to pull the prank on any new guy. This  picture shows Daddy pulling Nancy and Tricia on a sled behind Angel Wings after one of our rare snow storms. This was 75 years ago, I still remember this fine little truck, and snow  that day. (someone who would also remember this crew truck is a fine San Angelo Attorney, George Stanley Finley).   A sad note to this blog, George passed away yesterday at the age of 89, he was a great man and loved by all who knew him.