New Girl in Town

Here is Nancy leading the exercise class at the wellness center. She and Bob are into just about everything in town~

Here is Nancy leading the exercise class at the wellness center. She and Bob are into just about everything in town~

Mother used to can fruit cake. It had pineapple, maraschino cherries, raisins, some dried fruit and loaded down with lots of pecans. She cut pieces of wax paper which she lined the cans with after greasing and flouring them. In went the cake dough up about 2/3 rd full, sealed the cans and into the pressure cooker. That is all I remember. When we wanted fruit cake we only had to open both ends of the can, slide the cake out and cut it  in nice round slices. Delicious.

I canned things but didn’t know the time and temperature for fruit cake.I called Nancy Baumann, our new Schleicher County Home Demonstration Agent to find out if she had a canning recipe for cake. No, but she got in touch with A&M Extension Service and they sent her a whole packet of information. So that is when I met Nancy, she came to my door with the answers. There she was, so so young, so enthusiastic, all bubbly and happy and excited. She invited me to a demonstration she was having so she could meet with the ladies in town. There was a nice gathering of women who came, young and mostly old, (you know those who already knew everything). I sat between Ola Ruth and Mrs. Jeffery. Nancy starts out explaining basic rules of canning and equipment needed. She was holding a long thermometer and said it was very expensive but we could borrow it if we needed to. (she was being animated with it as she stressed her points).  Mrs Jeffery leaned over and said, “she’s gonna break it”  and that is exactly what happened, she hit the pan with it and it shattered. Mrs. Jeffery whispered to me, “see I told you!” Then for most of the next hour, everyone was telling her how they did things. Nancy was explaining how important it was to know how to can properly so you wouldn’t make anyone sick. Water bath was for things like tomatoes with their high acid content, and most everything else needed to be canned in a pressure cooker. Now Ola  Ruth ‘took over’  to tell how SHE canned her green beans. It called for 8 lbs of pressure so she weighed 8 lbs of bricks and put them in the oven, put the lids on the cans, put them in a pan of water and and after the right amount of time she set them in cold water to cool. The lids popped down and sealed but it was just a perfect recipe for killing someone. All l could think was poor Nancy, she had her work cut out for her. She stuck it out and worked at this job for years. She especially liked working with children in 4 H, teaching them to cook and sew.  Everyone loves Nancy. She married a great hometown guy named Bob (Elvis) Lester. Thank you Nancy!

Picture Worth a Thousand Words

Everyone busy getting dinner ready, someone is already on the table~

Everyone busy getting dinner ready, someone is already on the table~

Several days ago I had a blog about Our Secret Forever and could never put the blame on Kobi Joe for knocking the music box in the floor that day. When I was going through other Kobi pictures, just enjoying remembering that little fellow, I came across this one which we must have all missed. Anna and Debbie busy getting dinner ready to serve and there was Kobi in the utility room up in a chair and going through the stuff on the table. Miss Molly was being a good girl, just trying to tell us something was going on. One of my favorite Kobi stories is when someone gave him a treat and he took it in the den on the carpet. His papa told him he had to go get on this bed in the kitchen, so he dragged the bed in the den~ got on it and ate his treat. He was so smart.

Refinishing Old Teak Deck Chair

I refinished a teak wood deck chair years ago and once again it was needing some real work. The bottom of the legs had started rotting from sitting on a wet patio while the rest of the chair was in good shape. This was a special chair because they got it about the same time they got Schatzie~ their sweet wonderful little pound dog in 1989.. She loved to sit out in her chair.

Here are Marcus and Stacy Mae with their new pound puppy, Schatzie Kay. She loved her chair!

Here are Marcus and Stacy Mae with their new pound puppy, Schatzie Kay. She loved her chair, we all loved her~

Teak wood comes from Indonesia, it is great for using on boats and for making outdoor furniture. When new it has a beautiful golden brown finish and after about 6 months, it starts to turn a sliver grey color. Some people don’t mind it being grey but to keep it looking new you can do one of two things. Either use a teak oil and rub it on once a year or use a polyerethane varnish, which will have to be removed and and refinished after about 8 or 10 years.

This is the fun part, you start seeing some real results.  I am using Crown Handi_Strip from Lowe's and thnk it is the best  I have ever tried.

This is the fun part, you start seeing some real results. I am using Crown Handi-Strip from Lowe’s and  think it is the best I have ever tried.

Since I had used the varnish the other two times, I am doing it again this way. It is a big project since there are so many parts (46  pieces of wood)  and every single piece has to be striped, scraped and sanded.

Ready to begin taking apart, I made sketches to help remember how it goes back together later~

Ready to begin taking apart, I made sketches to help remember how it goes back together~

I worked on this chair for over a week to get to where I could see that it was going to turn out. The good thing is when you get tired, you go get a Dr. Pepper and rest a few minutes, then it calls you back. It is a wonderful  thing for someone who has a compulsive disorder, or maybe it is a blessing for someone who just loves to work.

All the parts that have to come off need a strong screw driver and lots of arm power. I have been spraying them with WD-40 and letting them soak  for a while and so far, I have  not  to drill any screws out. All the metal parts, screws and bolts are brass.

All the parts that have to come off need a strong screw driver and lots of arm power. I have been spraying the screws and bolts with WD-40 and letting them soak for a while and so far, I have not had to drill any screws out. All the metal parts, screws and bolts are solid  brass.

This was the most damaged of all the wood, it  was the leg on the leg rest.  All of this had to be sanded so we could make an accurate pattern for the new legs.

This was the most damaged of all the wood, it was the big leg on the right side, so rotten it was two inches shorter than the left leg.  All of this had to be sanded so we could make an accurate pattern for the new legs. I will put little gliders on the bottom of the new legs to keep the wood up off the patio.

The leg rest had to be taken completely apart part and morties & tenons  cleaned inside and out.

The leg rest had to be taken completely apart and morties & tenons cleaned inside and out.

You can see how nicely this leg rest cleaned up, all of the rungs had to be taken out and cleaned. When I put it back together, there will be a little dab of Elmers Wood Glue to hold them in place.

This one last leg  is the only thing that hasn't been removed.  After it is off, all the damaged parts will go to Dan's since he has a  Shop Smith and the drill press. Oh yes and the router.

This one last leg is the only thing that hasn’t been removed. After it is off, all the damaged parts will go to Dan’s since he has a Shop Smith and the drill press. Oh yes and the router.

 

Damaged legs and pieces, ready to copy and cut~

Four new legs and three cross pieces have to be cut now. Every screw hole and channel has to be exact. There are holes for the dowel pins, it takes real equipment to do this work or it won’t go back together. Fingers crossed and it is his chair and he will be responsible.

My part is done up to this point. After the legs come back, I can start staining and varnishing. It is looking pretty nice right now. I have been protecting the head rest with Schatzie’s name on it.

I am being careful to keep the head rest original. I don't want to try to paint in the name again.  It has stayed in good condition for 28. years.

I am being careful to keep the head rest original. I don’t want to try to paint in the name again. It has stayed in good condition for 28. years.

 

Cleaned, striped and sanded, top to bottom and underneath, just waiting for the new legs~

Cleaned, striped and sanded, top to bottom and underneath, just waiting for the new legs~The head rest is covered in heavy plastic until the the staining and varnishing starts. 

The last part of this blog will be posted when the job is completed.

Out Of Business After The First Day

This was in 1943, the year the R&N Cafe opened for business. Here we are, Rita, Nancy and Tricia, all ready for church. we had been to the beauty parlor~

This was in 1943, the year the R&N Cafe opened for business. Here we are, Rita, Nancy and Tricia, all ready for church. We had been to the beauty parlor for perms~

Nancy was about six years old and I was ten.  One day we found some stuff in the alley that Tutt and Dorothy Ellis had thrown away. There were a couple of old fancy wall lamps, a matching light fixture, and a pair of green draperies. We had found a gold mine~ we took it home with no real plans but decided to spruce up the garage. There was a floor in the back with one window and a door, it was mostly filled with junk. The two lamps went on the sides of the window and we hung the fancy light fixture from the rafter. It was looking good. (except for all the other mess which we hauled out to the alley). There was an old ironing board and two bar stools and this is when our plans came to life. That is when The R & N Cafe was born. (aka Rita’s & Nancy’s Cafe). There was a big trunk that held all the old Life Magazines that we were never allowed to look at, it was during the war and there were pictures too horrible for children to see.   (We looked at them many times) Anyway, with a drapery covering the trunk and the other one on the ironing board, it was coming together. We moved a few dishes out from the house and a stew pan. Now, ‘What to serve our customers?’. Mother canned most of our food, there was a closet full in her kitchen. We picked cans of  strawberries and hominy. We took a turn being the waitress and raved about the fine food. Delicious!         Now  Monetta Bradshaw and Linda Jones lived on the next block so Nancy ran down to see if they wanted to come and eat at our new cafe. They did and it was free and we had a cheerful crowd. There was still most of the pan of hominy  left but we were tired of this venture and all went over to grandmother’s house to play on the swing. We forgot about our cafe for  a few days and when we went back the hominy was green and had fuzzies growing on it, we just threw the ‘pan and all’ out in the pasture.  Our grand opening had only lasted about 30 minutes but it was fun.                                                   Nancy and I talked about these old times often, it was one of the things she always remembered.

Goodbye to My Old Redbud Tree

Forty three years ago when we built our house our neighbor Doy Mittle gave us a Redbud tree sapling from her yard. It grew into a nice big tree in just a little while and had beautiful blossoms every spring that lasted several weeks. This is more like a pasture tree, they grow out in the wild with no special care. Just nature takes care of them with a few rains~ they are hardy. Fast growing trees are short lived trees though, not like a live oak, slow to grow but can live a hundred years or more.

This is how I found it after the thunder storm. Pretty sad sight~

This is how I found it after the thunder storm. Pretty sad sight~tree verses storm and the storm won this time~

Mine gave up the ghost this last week after a rainstorm with wind. When I went to town later, I saw it lying on the ground, it had bit the dust and took some near by oak limbs with it. I am a little bit sad but it did it’s time and made me happy for all those years. Now for the cleanup.

A Redbud tree usually have two or three trunks that are joined down about 3 feet from the ground.  They have nice shiny leaves and are pretty even when they are not blooming.

A Redbud tree usually has two or three trunks that are joined down about 3 feet from the ground. They have nice shiny leaves and are pretty even when they are not blooming.

A friend came with his chainsaw and cut it into manageable pieces, he even cut me a path through the pasture with his weed eater so I could drag it off. (he is afraid of snakes so I told him I would finish).

 

One thing on a brighter note, now I won't be hanging my hair when I go by on the ridding mower

On a brighter note, now I won’t be hanging my hair when I go by on the ridding mower

I never knew why they were called Redbuds, their blossoms are a beautiful deep rosy pink, much like the crepe myrtle and bougainvilleas~ anyway, goodbye to a sweet old tree, I will be hauling you to the pasture in the morning.

Helmer’s Ranch Oak Tree

this is a wonderful old live oak tree ~ to stand under a tree like this is to feel a connection with our Creator~The fellow under the tree is Mark Harrington one of my favorite people.

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.

Young Girl Painting

she started working on the clouds and had the first coat on in a couple of hours

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 is taking a break, that didn’t last long and she was back at it again

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.

this was almost a year later, here she is putting in the finial touches, the details are the most fun of all~

 She had the first coat on the whole canvas in about a week, then let it dry and worked more on the clouds, pretty well finishing those up. If she was having a problem, I would paint a clump of bluebonnets, or a rock or grass on a pallet and she watched, then did what I did. When she came back to see us, she went back to work on it. It took her several trips to finish. Dan put it in a beautiful frame and it has been hanging at home since 2001. 

all done, she was excited and ready to start on another one~ these are the favorite times , doing things with ZZ.   She cooked, sewed, drove the pickup and played cards with Granddad~

Babysitting Two Granddoggies

TJ and Abby came for a nice little visit with their Grammy~

TJ and Abby came for a nice little visit with their Grammy~

These are the two sweet precious babies who come to stay with me when Dan and Debbie are taking a little trip. They get along with Marci and Jitter and don’t bother the kitties. I was really looking forward to having nothing to do but have fun with them. Here are another couple of pictures, life is good~ (at this point)

They tried out all the beds. They have a kennel in the sun room and go get in it when I tell them to, like when I am going to get the mail. These babies mind.

They tried out all the beds. They have a kennel in the sun room and go get in it when I tell them, like when I am going to get the mail. These babies mind.

"are you there Grammy, when did you say mama would be back?"

“are you there Grammy, when did you say mama would be back?”

Well so much for the baby sitting, things got serious on the second day. (I wanted to be sure you heard this story because you might click off before I got to tell it). I started smelling something awful and tracked it down to a small closet in my bedroom. I thought it might be where someone went potty but crossed that thought off because that would have been fresh up beside this odor. I mean stink! All I could do was start pulling things out and piling them in another bedroom.

Alll of this stuff was laid out in a bedroom while some closet work was happening.

All of this stuff was laid out in a bedroom while some closet work was happening. Just try working in a closet and having to hold your breath the whole time.

The closet is small but it stores 'survival food' (in case of a disaster), tools, left over boxes of hard wood flooring, sofa cushions and even a hospital bed.  ( I save everything).

The closet is small but it stores a hundred pounds of rice and pinto beans, a dozen gallon cans of hominy, you know~ ‘survival food’  (in case of a disaster), then  tools, left over boxes of hard wood flooring, sofa cushions and even a hospital bed. ( I save everything).

This is the circuit board in the closet, it has a large conduit running from the outside boxes into the house. It brings in the wires and other things~

This is the breaker box , it has a large conduit running from the outside boxes into this closet. It brings in the wires and sometimes ‘ other things’~

I suddenly remembered once when I thought there was a smoke in my closet and someone came and found it was a burned fuse in the electric box on the outside of the house. The odor was coming down that big conduit into the breaker box. “Could something be dead out there in the box?” I had to wait until this morning to call the Co-Op and see if it was OK for me to open the box ‘if I didn’t touch anything’. Yes, that would be fine so I opened it up and there was the Big, Stinking, Foul, Horrible,   Sickening problem~

5 inches long and 4 days of trouble. My life is hard~

5 inches long and 4 days of work when I was expecting a week of fun. My life is hard~

So now I am all happy again, I can just think about the good part and be thankful for Febreze,  I can breath deep again~ ahhh

So now I am all happy again, I can just think about the good part and be thankful for Febreze, I can take a deep breath  again~ ahhh

No matter how trying things get, there is something better in our lives that makes up for the few hard days. Those things are called blessings. I am missing those sweet dogs today~

Chicken and Dumplings

this has lots of flavor and the dumplings, (my favorite part), are just as good as the chicken,  It goes great with biscuits and a salad, and buttermilk~

This is a real old timey dish. Years ago, families tended to be  big and food had to go a long way. With this meal, you could cook a chicken and add more dumplings and gravy to fit the crowd. The meat was left on the bone, that way, it took longer to eat and  you could see if someone else got your favorite piece. My daddy had something he always said when we had company, “eat plenty of  gravy, it’s just s good as the meat”.

You start with a large pot, and a whole whole chicken (fryer).  Cut into serving-size pieces (you will have two legs, two thighs, two breasts, a pulley bone, back, neck and ribs). Put it in the pot, cover with water and 1 tsp salt, 1 med onion and one one rib of celery. Cook  for an hour and a half. When done, put the chicken pieces in separate bowl, discard onion and celery , and thicken the broth. ( put 3 tablespoons of flour in a cup, add 1/2 cup of water and stir to get the lumps out. Then add several spoons of the hot broth to cup and stir to mix. Put this back in the pot and cook until it starts to thicken, stirring the whole time). Add more salt to taste if necessary. While it is cooking you mix up the dumplings.

Dumplings
2 c flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c shortening
3/4 c milk
Combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in shortening until mixture
until mixture is size of small peas. Add milk and mix well. (dough will
be  firm) Turn out on lightly floured wax paper, knead lightly, roll
out to 1/8 inch thickness, cut into strips. Now drop the dumplings in
the simmering broth, one at a time, put the lid on and simmer for
20 minutes ~ med. low heat. Watch or it will boil over!
Put the chicken back in the pot and for a few more minutes to re-heat.
You can sprinkle with ground black pepper and a few parsley flakes.
I like to serve this meal with hot biscuits and a salad. The whole meal cost
about the same as one  barbeque sandwich and a drink, and feeds 6 or more.
It is a lot more fun too, you end up with everyone happy and little stack
of bare bones.

South Concho River

The South Concho runs from south to north, which is almost unheard of~

This painting is on the South Concho River near Christoval. You can get in a kayak and paddle almost to the ‘head of the river’ where it starts as a small gravely spot and water bubbles up out of the ground. Like Magic, it turns into this wonderful river that flows all the way to San Angelo 19 miles away. When you are in a boat, every bend in the river is a new scene, one thrill after another. I like painting water, not only rivers and ponds, but  a puddle in the road, or dark clouds building up before a rain. I have seen paintings of the surf, with waves tumbling over each other, white foam and aqua colored water, I tried it once but it was a failure. I can appreciate anyone who can capture all of that wonder. I have to stick with the calm water of the river. Air, water and food, in that order, we can’t survive without all three~I am grateful~

The New Trail One More Time

This old gate is interesting so I will leave it like it is.

This old gate is interesting so I will leave it like it is.

I realized I had left out one of my favorite pictures from the recent blog about the work in the pasture. So today I am showing it. I went down to the big tree again this morning and started breaking dead limbs out so I can walk under them without getting scratched and bruised and poked. I will run my 200 feet of extension cords down there and use the chain saw on the big limbs next week. I bought two 50 ft cords and one 100 ft cord, all are either 10 or 12 gage. The man a Lowe’s told me those would handle a a chain saw or weed eater without burning them out.(the lower the gage number, the more power they carry). They were expensive but I have had them for 10 years. I like all my tools~