A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011, Howdy 2012

2011 had its ups and downs like most years. Our mom passed away in April but we lost her a year and a half before that when her Alzheimer's got really bad. We siblings stuck together and saw her through to the end and in doing so found a closeness that often escapes grown siblings.

My friend Faye (our son's mom-in-law) lost her mother too. And we each received a new grandchild in 2011 to help heal our hearts. Faye's granddaughter CC being born on the day of her mother's funeral and my grandson Bixby coming to us in August.

It was a year of extreme drought and wildfires. But we saw people pull together like never before and our state survives. We had a little rain in the last months of the year to encourage us as we reached the end of our rope.

My grandson Anthony safely finished his tour of duty in the Navy and came back to Texas with his little son. He was able to find a job right away.

As far as I know all my loved ones that want a job have one. It may not be the job they want but its always good to have one and maybe 2012 will bring a better one for those that want it.

All the kids have a roof over their heads and a place to call home. All the grandkids are safe and the grown ones are working toward their life goals. I am thankful for each and every one of them and the unique individuals they are and the love they bring to my life. We have made some good memories this year.

2011 was the year I more or less moved to the Hill Country I love. I've seen some beautiful days and done some work I was not sure I could do. I've learned some things and seen some things that are new to me.

I am thankful for all these blessings of 2011. I hope that you all are safe and happy and that 2012 brings us all peace and smiles.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Deck the halls 2011

The little cabin is ready for the holidays!

This drill on the mantel belonged to Rickie's dad. It's screwed into a block of wood using a large drill bit. This supports it upright. I saw one like this for $200 on a website. Mine was free.

The little snowman on the right was bought at a craft fair. It is paper mache and reminds me of Bixby with his little smiley face.

A friend of mine made the felt angel cone. She makes a lot of nice Christmas pillows, ornaments, and photo books.

The boys put the lights up on the pumphouse for me when they were out. The little fence in front of the pumphouse protects the water cutoff valves in the ground from being run over!

We hang our cards on twine at the end of the daybed. 

The large Santa is made from a cypress knee. I got in on a trip to Nachitoches, Louisiana with some friends.

The little mittens hanging on the old window chalkboard used to be part of my office decorations before I retired. 

I added a little skinny artificial tree to the counter this year. I think it needs some lights so I will get some and add to it. It has small mercury glass ornament balls on it and tiny Santa ornaments. They are kind of lost in the tree without lights. Everything is better with lights!

One of the tiny glass Santas on the little counter tree.

A friend gave me this glass block with lights last year. It had a fancy bow on it which was beautiful but a little too fancy for the cabin. I replaced it with a wooden ornament and put it on the spice rack in my kitchen. I love glass blocks and lights!

These inexpensive snow globes belonged to the kids when they were little. The red ones are almost 40 years old.

I love the Santa pillow some friends gave me and would leave it up all year if I could get by with it! 

Last year I added this beautiful multi-colored throw by daughter-in-law Lisa made for me for Christmas! The small Santa with sleigh pillow is one my friend Belinda made. She also made the felt angel cone in the first picture.

We've gotta have a little camo for the hunters! I made this stocking many years ago. The trim is part of an old shell holder Rickie had. The feather was found on our place and the ornament is from the Dollar General!

We cut a little cedar tree for the back porch again this year, as we always do and it is covered with lights. And we also have the fence post tree again with lights in the front yard. One year I am going to get busy and made several of those! 

I also make a cedar wreath each year and put it on the gate. I haven't done that yet. I was waiting until it was closer to the holiday so it would stay green until Christmas.

And as always we have the lights on the   porch. Zac and Cam put those up for me when they came out to go hunting.

Give thanks for all you've been blessed with and hold your loved ones tight.......

One more picture. It doesn't have anything to do with cabin decorations. It is of my mom last year at her last Christmas. I wish she could have spent that at my little cabin and I wish she could have been healthy to enjoy it and know where she was. I miss her and Daddy as the holidays approach. But as Elvis says, maybe I'll see you tonight in my dreams.

Monday, November 28, 2011

There's a fire softly burning, supper's on the stove......

For 23 years we have spent at least part of the Thanksgiving week at our place in the Texas Hill Country. Sarah was 7 years old when we purchased the property and for the first couple of years Sarah and I stayed behind in the city to have Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and then we drove out that afternoon to finish the week with Rickie. It is unusual in my family to be absent at the holiday gatherings. But we soon realized we not only wanted to spend the time with Rickie but to spend as much time as possible here. 

(Photo - Sarah the week we bought the property) 

Rickie has always taken this week off from work to come out. It is a long drive and only at Thanksgiving, Christmas and summer vacation did we get to spend more than a couple of days at a time here. We didn’t spend much time here in the summer because of the heat.

For all but the last 6 years we stayed in a little travel trailer. It was in shape to qualify as a hunting camp but not much more than that. The many holes in the floor were patched and Rickie had to patch the roof every year where it leaked. It had leaked in the past before we had it and the kitchen ceiling was falling in and the cabinets were badly damaged. Much of it was held together with duck tape. We had only a small air conditioning unit to cool it and you could not stay inside during the day; it was just too hot. The A/C unit barely cooled it down at night.

So our favorite time of year to come was the fall and winter. When we all started coming out together we would eat Thanksgiving dinner at the one restaurant in town that had dinner that day. They prepared a turkey dinner with all the trimmings! We couldn’t cook much in our trailer. We only had a two burner camp stove. We found that we were not alone in spending this week out here! The place was overflowing with hunters who had come out to their leases. Most were from the Houston area, some from San Antonio and Dallas, and a lot of them brought their families since the kids were out of school that week. We had to make reservations to be sure we would get in!

One year we decided to cook at home and bring the food out here but that didn’t work too well. It was hard to heat the food up only using the stovetop. So we gave up on that idea. And one year when Sarah was in college we cooked and stopped by her apartment and ate then came out. And a couple of years we went back to have Thanksgiving with my parents.

But our hearts were always here. We long ago grew weary of living in the big city. What we found exciting there as young people had long since lost its appeal. We were held there only by our jobs which we needed to pay for the place out here. 

(Photo - Rickie makes his famous chili!)

We spent the time cutting cedar, Rickie running the chain saw and Sarah and I stacking the cedar to be burned later. Rickie would hunt and Sarah and I would go to Fredericksburg Christmas shopping. It’s a beautiful little town and was decorated and lit up for the holiday. It always got us in the Christmas spirit! At night we had a big camp fire and sat around it cooking, roasting marshmallows, and looking at the stars. When you live in a big city you have no idea how many stars there are and it was amazing to see the milky way overhead. We tried to learn the names of some constellations we didn’t know and we watched for meteors and falling stars. We learned where Orion would be in the sky as the seasons changed and where the Seven Sisters were.

Sarah kept a box of art supplies and she and I read when rain or snow kept us inside. At night we would put a Louis L’Amour audio tape in the cassette player and all lay in bed in the dark listening to his tales. We had a tiny television but you could only get one channel and that only if conditions were right. 

Sometimes our boys Larry and John (in photo), who were grown, would come out and bring the grandkids but they usually came when we weren’t here. There wasn’t room in the little travel trailer for more than 3 people so we would have to alternate when we came. Once when John and Natalie came it snowed and one of the little electric space heaters we used for heat went out. Nat remembers it as the time she almost froze inside the trailer and the time she made a little snowman on the picnic table! 

(Photo - Sarah and a deer rub)

Six years ago we built the little cabin. It was as if we had acquired a mansion! If we had been able to just come out here and buy property with a nice big house on it at the beginning I don’t think we would ever have appreciated it as much. It’s a small 464 square foot cabin, one big kitchen/living area combined where we also have our bed, at least for the time being, and a bathroom. We have a screened back porch and a front porch. It has a nice stone fireplace, which we usually get to use beginning the Thanksgiving week. I decorate for the holidays on a scale fitting the little cabin.

We keep a little tiny toy travel trailer on the bookshelf to remind us how it used to be in case we ever get to feeling sorry because we don’t have more room. 

This year Rickie took off early and we were here together for a week and a half. John and Zac and Cam came out the first weekend to hunt. They helped Rickie cut and stack cedar while they were here. One day Rickie and I went to visit Sarah and Justin and Bixby and have a late Thanksgiving with them. 

Rickie had to leave to go back to work just before the cold front blew in. We covered the tender plants in the garden and winterized the water system before he left. He filled the firewood bucket up for me and filled the hay rack for the longhorns. 

I grew up in a big family where relatives were always around. And yet I’m not generally a person who gets lonely. I like my own company just fine and I like to do solitary activities like reading and walking the woods and working on whatever project I am doing at the moment. I’m comfortable with myself.

But I felt a sadness when Rickie left this time to go back to work. I’m thinking on those days long ago we spent in the trailer when Sarah was small and we lay at night listening as Tell Sackett went where The Lonely Men go or Texas Ranger Chick Bowdrie followed the trail of an outlaw.

As I sit by the fire tonight with the temperature outside dropping and the wind howling, I look forward to the time when Rickie will be back. 

There’s all the news to tell him, how’d you spend your time, what’s the latest thing the neighbors say. There’s a fire softly burning, supper’s on the stove…..

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shoulda Been A Cowboy........

When I was a little girl I wanted to move to Texas and be a cowboy. I didn’t want to be a cowgirl because Dale always had to wait outside on Buttermilk while the fighting was going on. I wanted to be in on it! I’ve since learned that there were and still are cowgirls that did real “cowboy” ranch work, like Hallie Stillwell in Big Bend. If you haven’t heard of her, read her book I’ll Gather My Geese. She was one tough woman!

(Photo - me and my trusty six-shooter)

Roy Rogers was my favorite and I also liked Gene Autry and Cisco and Pancho. While John Wayne made movies as a cowboy, Roy and Gene were real live cowboys all the time. They had ranches and rode horses and sang cowboy songs. They did things the “cowboy way”. They lived by the code of the west!

One time when I was about 7 or 8 I told my dad that I wanted to move to Texas and have a ranch. He said I could have a farm in Louisiana but I told him that was not the same thing! He didn’t understand.

As far as I know I was the only one in my family that did not like living in Louisiana. I didn’t like the muddy bayou, or the tall pines that blocked the sky out and suffocated me. I didn’t like to have my feet wet unless I was swimming! I didn’t like the humidity.

(Photo - David, me and Kathy)

And I didn’t like Louisiana history. I romanticized Colonel Travis, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett as they died at the Alamo.  When I heard that Davy said to his fellow Tennesseans “Y’all can go to hell, I’m going to Texas” I thought yes, here is someone who understands! I still cry whenever I read Travis’ letter from the Alamo. And the men from Gonzales that would not let their friends die alone and rode to join them knowing they rode to their death. These were the heroes I wanted to study. I wanted to learn about the Comanches and Apaches. The fierce men who rode wild and whooping through the open countryside!

I longed for the dry hills I saw every Saturday morning on TV. The big rocks and the small oaks and the cedars. The rolling hills and the limestone cliffs. The open spaces. The small creeks and rivers with clear bubbling water. The big starry skies and the far away views.

I learned that these shows were filmed mostly in California. But I also learned that the Texas Hill Country looks a lot like that area. I never made it to California to join up with Roy and Dale and Pat but I made it to Texas. My dad moved us to Houston when I was 14 years old.

(Photo - View from Shotgun Ridge at back of our place)

Eventually I made it to the Texas Hill Country, thanks to a farm boy from Mississippi who fell in love with the area when he came here. We don’t have a big ranch or a big herd of cattle. We have 54 acres and a small cabin and a couple of longhorns and lots of wildlife. We get around in a pickup truck not on a horse. We’ve stood together and fought life’s troubles and I’ve never had to go wait outside while the fight against hardship was going on. 

My favorite part of each western was when the heroes rode up to the ranch house. They always approached from on top of a hill that overlooked the ranch headquarters. They would pause and look down on the ranch house. Smoke would be coming from the chimney, the corrals would have a horse or two in them and the cowboys would be working quietly repairing a saddle maybe or maybe having lunch or taking a rest in the bunkhouse. It was always dry and dusty. Roy and the boys would always stop for a minute before going down. Just to look the place over and make sure everything looked alright. Then they would ride on in.
When you drive in on our road you top out on a hill just before you drop down to our place. If there weren’t so many oaks and cedars you could see my little “ranch” house.  For 23 years I have been pausing at the top of that hill and looking out at the great view of the hills and toward my cabin. Just to look the place over and make sure everything looks alright. Then I ride on in. 

(Photo - You can see the road that runs behind our place in this photo taken from Shotgun Ridge)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spring Came Late This Year.......

We got 3.6 inches of rain the other day! Almost what we had for the whole year up to then. We were out of town on a family visit and missed the big event but our good neighbors, Scott and Martha, kept us up-to-date. They understand all too well that we live for the weather report since they do too!

(Photo - one salvia the deer didn't eat!)

Back home this week, I have been out every day in a different part of the property, leaning over close to the ground trying to spot something growing. It requires a magnifying glass at first. But slowly little green forbs and some grass are beginning to grow. In the yard there is a green haze now across the ground. The pastures are slower but starting to make us hopeful. The soil has retained enough moisture to get things going. The difference between 3.6 inches of rain and .1 or .2 inches.

I hope we can get another rain before it goes too dry again and all this dies. The deer will benefit from the winter forbs. And Woodrow and Gus spend a lot of time out of the pen looking for a tasty green treat! With the days getting shorter I'm not sure how much green grass they will have but we are happy with anything.

The trees seem greener and I keep walking up and pulling a branch down to see if they are new leaves. They don't seem to be; just seems likes the tiny ones that were there when the trees went dormant with the drought have greened up more. I went for a walk yesterday and standing on high ground could see across the draw. It seemed like Spring with all the different colors of green! The dead cedars are still there but they almost seem like fall color from far away.

A nice cool front blew in last night and the weather is gorgeous. The garden is happy. Rickie's Russian Kale seeds are up and the green beans are blooming. Our one Cinderella pumpkin is turning orange. The fall aster is blooming and I planted the ginger lilies I brought back from Mississippi and the Winter Savory that tastes so great in hamburgers and pinto beans. Our Winter Savory plant we have had for about 15 years died last winter. Multiple attempts to grow new plants from seed failed miserably but Rickie found some small plants in Austin at Dromgoole's Natural Gardener Nursery.

It has been a long hot summer. (I kept meaning to find that Paul Newman movie and watch it in the spirit of the times.) Many times I have looked out the window with tears in my eyes at the suffering and the dying. But this week I smile. This week I see green and in that green I see revival and recovery. And I see hope.

(Photo - one small tree in yard we watered has acorns)

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fall is in the air....................

We are finally getting some cooler weather and a little rain and things are looking better in the garden. 

The Maximillian Sunflowers are starting to bloom, we have one Cinderella pumpkin, and the green beans are about a foot tall.

The small nursery in Junction is selling pumpkins to benefit the CASA program to purchase Christmas presents for the kids in the program and they have some beautiful pumpkins and gourds. I went into town and got a few to decorate the porch. 

A couple of weeks ago we had a small amount of rain. The clouds were beautiful, although we had a lightning strike down the road and a fire. Fortunately, our neighbors saw it and called it in and it was put out before it caused a lot of damage.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where the deer and the antelope (make that jackrabbits) play........

Baby Bixby

We have a new grandbaby in our family! Lucky number 7. Number 8, counting one great-grandson; but Anthony Jr has his own special category! Bixby comes 14 years after the last grandchild so he will be sort of a “stand alone” grandchild for our family. Much in the same way his mom was, being born 12 years after her youngest brother. Both of her brothers were gone from home by the time she was in first grade.  She came to us at a different time in our lives.    

When her brothers Larry and John were small, my siblings and I were very young ourselves, most of us still in our teens. The boys grew up in a rowdy rambunctious family, full of numerous cousins their age and grandparents and great-grandparents and aunts and uncles and great-aunts and great-uncles. Every holiday was a family gathering, overflowing with family and friends who congregated at our parents’ house.  Makeshift tables were set up all over the house. One year my mom even took her bed down to set up a table in her bedroom.  

Kids were everywhere. We are a large family. Someone always had a baby in their lap as they ate. Babies were passed around the table, giving the moms a chance to eat with both hands and to drink iced tea that did not have baby slobber in it! Older cousins took the younger ones under their wing, pushing them in cardboard boxes around and around the circle of the living room, dining room, and kitchen in my mom’s house. My dad headed outside after we ate, trailed by a crowd of grandkids, all making noise at the top of their lungs. My sisters and I stayed inside to clean up a restaurant-size kitchen mess, glad to have the time to ourselves without a little hand pulling on our shirt wanting something. Even if we had to do dishes to get that reprieve.

It was truly a village raising a kid, back before that became the overused phrase of the day.

But it is a changed family world that Bixby enters. On my daughter’s side of the family, things have changed a lot. My parents are gone, as are her great-grandparents. Sarah has only one grandmother now and she lives a couple of states away. Sarah lives in a different town than either of her brothers.  Some of Bixby’s cousins are grown, and his oldest cousin Anthony has a young son of his own.  Family dynamics have changed and it is hard to get the whole family together. Extra-curricular activities take up most of the free time of the school-age grandkids. Disagreements about politics and opinions seem to matter more than they did when my siblings and I were young parents. Or most likely we needed each other more and had so many problems we stayed away from those things. Our little cabin is several hours drive from most of the family and should everyone come to visit at the same time, we don’t all have a place to sleep and have to overflow into motel rooms. All these things conspire against having the big family gatherings we used to have.

But before I drift off into what Bixby won’t have, I want to say what he will have. He comes to us when our lives are more settled. His Pampaw is still working but his Mamaw (that’s me!) is retired. We have a place in the Hill Country that we refer to as “the ranch” even though by West Texas standards, that is laughable. But, hey, by Hollywood standards, it is a ranch, being the same size as Tom Selleck’s  “ranch”. My son-in-law has already promised me that we can have Bix to ourselves for a week every summer. And I intend to make a ranch hand of him. He may not want to be; he may grow up to be a city boy at heart and love concrete and loud noises, but I have hopes for him!

I look into his sweet little face and I wonder if he will like the ranch. Will he want to know how to be an organic farmer like his Pampaw? Will he get up every morning anxious to go feed Gus and Woodrow? Will he learn to watch the sky for rain and to wait for that first north wind each fall? Will he like going to the feed store and will he want to know what type feed and hay to buy? Will he watch the whitetail fawns appear each summer and understand that the bucks lose their antlers each year and they grow back covered with velvet? Will he love the wild Rio Grande turkeys that are my favorites? Will he like helping me with stone and carpenter projects? Will he learn the difference between a mesquite and a live oak and a cedar elm? Will he know that the mesquites in the hills often grow along a ridge of caliche and if you need caliche for your driveway, this is the place to look for it? Will he want Pampaw to teach him to hunt and how to process a deer he has harvested? Will he understand his part in providing for the wildlife with water and supplemental feed? Will he learn the different footprints they all make and will he be able to tell what animal was here by looking at their poop? Will he learn to talk to the ravens and that the buzzards will come to the yard when you throw bacon grease out? Will he understand that you have to manage the land and do your part to preserve it? Will he see the need for rainwater harvesting? Will he understand that we don’t own the land, it owns us?

Will he love to breathe in the smell of caliche and cedar? And will he come to need this smell like he needs food and water, just to stay alive? Just like his Mamaw does.

Some earlier ranch hands: grandson Zac ready to go hunting and grandson Jeremy helps burn brush.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Meanwhile back at the ranch.......

Looking out the window I see a doe with her little fawn wander by. Inside the yard fence. Good grief! How did that fawn get in the fence and will he remember so he can get out? They head for the other side of the yard where mom jumps the fence to get into the longhorns’ pen. This is the most popular eatery this time of day, with leftover alfalfa hay being the main attraction. 

Mom hops over the fence into the pen leaving the fawn in the yard. No problem there, he just hangs out. But then it’s closing time at the alfalfa buffet. The fawn starts to realize the predicament he is in. Mom’s over there and he’s over here and he can’t jump that high. Hmmm. What to do. As all the other whitetails head out of the pen, she comes back up to the fence and he goes over to her. They exchange an unspoken communication. He begins to look for a way out of the yard. She goes out of the pen by another open gate and circles around to be outside the yard fence.

He paces all along the fence. There are places on each side of the driveway gate that even I could crawl through to get outside. He goes back and forth past these but doesn’t seem to understand he can get out that way. He goes on around the fence and passes another large hole under the fence, one I enlarged last year by moving some rocks so the little deer could get through. He passes a walk-through gate. I leave the chain on the gate loose so the fawns can squeeze through. I figured this was how he got in in the first place but if it was he has no recollection of it. 

Mom waits for baby
His mom stays with him for the next hour and a half waiting patiently for him to figure out something. I watch the whole time. It’s always the best policy not to interfere with does and their fawns. They have their own way of doing things and usually work it out ok. But it’s starting to get dark and I’m beginning to wonder if he will ever figure it out. So when he heads along the back fence, I go outside and open wide the walk-through gate. The mom sees me and doesn’t run off. We have an unspoken communication also. 

The fawn sees me and gets a little edgy and runs away a little bit. I circle around the cabin to herd him back toward the gate. He runs right past the wide open gate. I am losing hope that he will live to grow up if he doesn‘t get a little wiser. He goes back to the front near the driveway gate. 

I go up on the front porch and figure I’ll leave the gate open and sooner or later he will realize he can walk through it. But it stresses him a bit that I am on the porch and he makes a wild and fast dive under the fence and rejoins his mom. She turns to me and gives me a last look as they walk off together. 

He is a beautiful little fawn and she is a good mom. Texas Parks and Wildlife has said that many does are walking away from their fawns this year in order to save themselves. And when I look at the thin bodies of the moms that live here, I can understand it. I believe we have lost one twin here already. I see two moms with single fawns.
We do have a new set of twins here. Their mom is the little “yard deer” who since last year always hung out close to the cabin and wasn‘t quick to run off. These are her first babies. They were born a few weeks ago; later than any other fawns we have seen. She keeps them right with her.

I went to the feed store yesterday to get a couple of deer blocks for her. I confessed to the feed store owner that I am breaking down and trying to keep one of the moms alive. It’s a road that once you start down, it’s hard to get off and it is a losing cause more often than not. He tells me that I’m not the only one; he has other customers, some in town, that are doing the same thing.

She ate a good chunk of the deer block yesterday. Tonight there are two other bully does fighting each other over the block. They don’t have babies. The yard deer is in the longhorns’ pen eating cedar leaves, her tiny babies at her side. This is a last resort for starving deer. Once the bully does leave she will come into the yard and eat on the deer block. Maybe this and the extra corn I put out for her and the alfalfa the longhorns leave will be enough to help her and her babies survive. And maybe not.

This part of the state has way more deer than it can support even when conditions are good. The whitetail here are always small. If only the strong would survive, there would still be plenty of whitetails. I’ve known the way of nature since I was a child. 

But when nature is your close neighbor and you watch the same animals each day it’s not always easy to remain neutral. Sometimes you have to try to give the underdog a little advantage and hope it tips the scales for them. 

And that’s a good policy for people too. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You Get A Line, I'll Get A Pole......

Daddy drove the car down the gravel road, the deep, loose gravel crunching under the tires. The tall trees hugged the side of the road leaving a thin slice of sky above us. We went deeper and deeper into the woods. I was starting to feel claustrophobic, although I didn’t know what that word meant at the time.

We weren’t sure where we were going or when we would get there. Daddy was taking us to a friend’s camp house on Horseshoe Lake in Louisiana. We would fish and spend the night there.

My memories of this trip are blurry. I’m not sure how old I was. But there are a few things that stand out in my mind, all of them creepy! 

The camp house had a wooden deck on the side near the lake. You had to walk out onto the deck to get to the bathroom. I remember I had to get up during the night to use the bathroom. It’s not clear in my memory if it was an outhouse or if it was just outside the house. 

As I walked down the deck I looked out at the lake. A bright moon shone and the lake was covered with duckweed in places, or “alligator water” as we called it then. And sure enough, there were what seemed like hundreds of pairs of alligator eyes floating on the surface of the water. The moonlight reflected off their eyes. The Spanish moss hung from the trees. A mist rose from the lake. I can see it even today in my mind. It was horrifying and beautiful.

I began to question whether I could “hold it” until morning, or did I really have to use the bathroom!

Earlier in the day we kids took a walk through the woods. We had gone a good ways from the camp house when we heard grunting and snorting noises. We stopped and looked at each other. A group of large wild hogs entered the open area where we were. Yikes! Time to make a hasty retreat. We ran in fear for our lives! We made it back to the camp house with everyone accounted for. 

Daddy used to love to fish. He often took us to scary “dangerous” places to fish. The boys were taught to cast and fish for bass. For some reason we girls only used cane poles and fished for bream. I guess he thought we couldn’t grasp the complexities of casting or maybe we didn’t show an interest. When I was grown up I wished that I had gotten to bass fish as it seemed like more fun and had more action.

Sometimes Daddy would take us out in the jon boat. We never had any other kind of boat that I remember. One time Kathy and I went out in a boat by ourselves and we had trouble trying to get back to shore. We only had paddles, which was ok since we didn’t know how to use an outboard motor, or any kind of motor for that matter. We kept paddling against each other and going in circles. Daddy stood on the shore and gave us instructions and waved his arms a lot, and we made it safely in but it was touch and go for a while!

I used to think I liked to fish. When people asked I said, sure, I love to fish! But when I went as an adult I found it boring. I had no patience for it. I wondered if I had gotten tired of it. I reluctantly admitted that I didn’t really like fishing. 

One day it dawned on me that it wasn’t the fishing I had liked, it was being with Daddy. In spite of the horrific places we went to and the phobias that I acquired from those places, I loved being out with Daddy. He would take me out in the boat and teach me how to put worms and shiners on my hook and how to gently take the hook out of the fish‘s mouth. When we got back with the bream, he taught me how to use a spoon to scrap the fish scales off, and how to cut the heads off and gut the fish. I asked him one time if it hurt the fish and he said, no, they didn’t have any feelings. I never have researched to see if fish have feelings, but I believed Daddy when he told me they didn’t. Because who wants to cut something's head off and know they are feeling it.

Mama would fry up the fish we caught. The bass were filleted but the bream were fried whole. If you were too little someone had to mash up your bream and remove all the bones before you could eat them. It was a tedious chore but we did it with patience, rubbing the meat between our fingers until it was so shredded there was no place for a bone to hide. We must have been good at it because no one ever choked to death on a fishbone!

Daddy has been gone for 6 years and we lost Mama a few months ago. We continue to have fish fries with the family gathered together. My brother Andy is the supplier of fish. He switched from bass fishing to saltwater fishing many years ago and always has a freezer of redfish and trout. He brings his equipment and fries them up outside, usually at my sister Kathy’s house or my brother Lee’s house. Those of us that can make it come and bring side dishes and desserts. He takes requests for fish fries, as he did for my daughter Sarah’s wedding shower and Kathy’s 60th birthday party. As we did growing up, the cousins join us when they can.

(Photos - Granddaughters Natalie and Lexi)

Our grandchildren don’t know about the fish fries we had growing up, when we would all catch fish for supper, and clean them when we were no bigger than the littlest of the kids now. And go out in the boat with our dad and learn how to fish. But my children have taught their children to fish. And the girls how to cast. And I hear tell they’ve even been to some pretty creepy camp houses to develop their own phobias. 

This website has a list of alligator eyes at night. You get the idea!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Here's Your Sign!

I finally got the signs made for our outbuildings. Have been putting it off hoping my niece Esther would come by and I could talk her into doing it! She is the best sign maker! Mine are not the best, but at least we can direct someone to a building easier.

Used an old garden tool and iron star on this one. Hung it from an old green faucet handle.

The plow share and pitchfork came from Rickie's family place in Mississippi.

The pump house is the only building my husband lets me get close to with a bucket of paint! It is colorful. A couple of years of living in San Antonio and I was in love with the bright Fiesta colors! 

Attached a couple of old faucet handles and an old nozzle to the sign.

(Photo - pump house before the sign was added)

This was one of the first tools my husband bought many many years ago. 

I threw a handful of caliche dust on the signs to instantly age them. Haha!