Thursday, August 28, 2008


Today I am thankful that I started oil painting lessons last January. I have completed several pictures and have had a great time learning new techniques. I strain; I work hard; I get paint all over my hands and sometimes my clothes; I load up everything every week and go to class where I have made some great new friends; and I am having fun doing this. Now for the "show and tell" part.

The first painting I did is on the left--I had it framed and it is hanging in my den and I LOVE it! It makes me yearn for another trip to the beach when I look at it.

The picture on the right was a photo from New Mexico that I liked. I have it hanging in my hallway and look at it every time I leave my bedroom.

This next picture on the left is one that I did on my own at home. I found the picture at church and was fascinated by the hands. I wanted to see if I could get the skin right. I was also fiddling with the concept of the painted "frame" around the edge of the picture. It turned out okay, but I am still hesitant about beginning a portrait, although I have one ready to draw on a canvas. Anyway, I am not sure what I will do with this picture of the hands.

After bluebonnet season came and went, I had some lovely photos of bluebonnets and decided to paint a single bluebonnet. It was an interesting project. At first I made the background very dark, but later went back and made the background a little more misty. I liked the picture when it was finished and planned to paint a companion picture to hang over the bed in our blue bedroom, but gave the picture away instead.

I fell in love with a photo from a Santa Fe plant magazine and decided to paint this picture on the right. I loved working with the weathered old wooden door, the brick step, cobblestone walk and the stucco wall. The pot of flowers was tedious and time consuming to paint. Those grasses above the pot really were a challenge to get curved just right and keep them even. However, the art instructor taught me to use a specific brush that made the task much easier. I learned a lot with this picture.

A neighbor asked me to paint a picture of a sunset that we took in Hawaii a couple of summers ago when she invited me to go with her at the last minute. Our painting classes had been postponed for the month of July so I thought I would just whip the sunset picture out while the teacher was on vacation. Wrong! I struggled the whole month with that picture and finally gave up. I just could not get the sky colors right, so I put the canvas up and bought a new one for our first class in August. First of all, the teacher told me to use a limited palette of colors--a new experience for me. I was to use just 4 or 5 colors, plus white, to create the picture. She also said that I was being too tentative with my colors--just splash them on and make them vivid! Whew! That was hard for me. But the picture turned out okay and my neighbor LOVES it. I kept the other one which is softer and I like it also. She has put hers in a big gold frame and put it in a favorite place over her TV. Mine is still unframed but sits on my mantle.

The last picture is one my husband took of two pictures I was working on. I am still working on the poppy on the left and all but given up on it. I gave the bluebonnet picture to my sister for her birthday in August.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Yesterday all of my school-age grandchildren went back to school. Four of the seven are now in school. I talked to three of the four in the afternoon after school and they sounded like they had a good start. One had gone out with friends, so I missed talking to him. The picture on the left shows Em and Soph in front of their school--all ready for their first day.

I remember when my boys went back to school each year. There was the rush to get all the school supplies needed for their grade level. And new clothes and shoes were purchased. I had to be careful about buying too many pairs of jeans for those rapidly growing boys because a couple of them seemed to outgrow their pants on the way home from the store. Our last one was especially bad about that. In his sophomore year he literally grew almost an inch every month. I just could not believe that he could outgrow a pair of jeans before I had even washed the stiffness out of them. I guess that is why he is now 6 foot 7 inches tall. He outgrew his pants, his brothers and our clothing budget. Now he has children and will probably experience the same thing!

I wish all of my grandchildren a wonderful year of school, interesting classes. lots of learning, and smooth sailing along the way.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Don't know what is happening, but I forgot my Thankful Thursday post on Thursday, but remembered it today. So, I guess you might call this my Thankful Thursday submission or my Thankful Friday submission--or maybe just absent-mindedness.

Today I am thankful that we have finally had some rain. Earlier this week we had two days when we had about an inch each day--our first significant rain event in several months. Today looks like rain, but I do see some blue sky between the clouds, so am hopeful that our yard will be under the rain again today. And the chances for more rain look pretty good for the next two days. The best part of all is that the temperatures have not been in the 100s all week! Whee! With September just around the corner we can begin to look forward to cooler temperatures in 3-4 weeks. That will be nice!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Lately I have been watching my daughters-in-law and the remarkable courage they show in the things they have been doing with their children. Here's three cheers to mothers who go the extra mile for their children. And now, I want to tell about an extraordinary thing that my mother did while my dad was in the Army during World War II--this is My Tonsils Story:

Our small Panhandle town of Pampa only had one or two doctors in the early 1940s and when World War II started the doctors were drafted. When I developed very infected tonsils at about 2 1/2 or 3 years of age, Mother took me to Lubbock to a well-known pediatrician, Dr. Overton, who practiced there. Dr. Overton took my tonsils out in a hospital in Lubbock and then Mother took me back to Pampa. However, my throat hemorrhaged when we got back to Pampa, so Mother put me in the car in the middle of the night and drove back to Lubbock.

The year was about 1943 and the trip was a longer one than the current three-hour trip because there was no IH-27 and the road passed through a number of small towns between Pampa and Lubbock. The road was narrow and winding, gas was rationed, tires were terrible, and cars were not that dependable. Mother must have had a strong guardian angel with her as she drove through the night with a child bleeding and coughing up blood in the back seat. I remember seeing her shine the flashlight on me from time to time as we rushed back to Lubbock where they used radium on me to stop the bleeding.

We then stayed for a while with Grandmother and Granddaddy in Amherst, which was about an hour from Lubbock. I recovered and live to tell this tale. The story of my tonsils is one of my "war” stories. The picture on the left shows me with Grandmother and Granddaddy in Amherst.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Just wanted to check in and say that I am working on my book--a collection of stories about my growing up days. I have downloaded a number of the stories (some that you might have read on my blog plus some new ones!) into the files of a self-publishing company and am anxious to see how they turn out. Perhaps I will have a book before Christmas! That sounds exciting!

And I had another lesson in furthering my technological knowledge this morning. Yesterday I read Susan Albert's blog and she talked about downloading a book on her Kindle. I had no idea what she was talking about and I intended to look it up on the Internet, but forgot. Today I was talking to a friend about forming a book club at our church and she mentioned a book that she had just downloaded on her Kindle. She offered give me a quick lesson on the newest way to acquire and read books through at a fraction of the cost of buying the book. She told me that she had recently gone on a vacation with 25 books loaded on her Kindle that is about the size of a paperback! She was jumping all around on that thing, showing me different books, how she could underline and highlight passages, store her notes, and upload a book onto web storage for future reference. Mercy! I have a lot to learn to keep up with all these advances in technology!

Saturday, August 16, 2008


When I turned fourteen I got my driver’s license. This was almost fifty years ago in the Texas Panhandle. We lived a long way from my high school and I had to ride downtown very early in the morning with Daddy as he went to work. He dropped me off and then, after school, I would either walk a few blocks to my grandmother’s house to wait for him to pick me up or my mother had to come downtown to pick me up. A third choice was to walk a mile or so through the warehouse district of town to my dad’s office and wait for him to leave in the evening. That was a choice that I did not make very often.

Because of this transportation arrangement, I began to hint broadly that I would be more than happy to drive myself to school if my dad would let me use his car or if I had my own car. However, in the late 1950s not many high school students were privileged enough to have their own cars. Therefore, my hints were only a half-hearted effort.

During my junior year in high school, my grandmother had a stroke and was no long able to drive. One afternoon she suggested that I take her car and drive on home. I had never driven her 1948 Plymouth, but I was delighted with the offer. I went to her garage and climbed into the seat but I was a bit dismayed to discover that the rear window was about the size of my hand. However, undaunted I began to back the huge, lumbering old car down her long driveway and past her portico with its large white columns. Suddenly I heard a big crunch and an even bigger thud. I jumped out of the car and looked around. I discovered that I had hit the steps of the porch with the back fender of the car and dislodged one of the big white pillars that, luckily, fell onto the grass. My grandmother and her housekeeper came out onto the front porch with looks of horror on their faces. Their looks only added to my own dismay at what I had done.

I called my dad and he very graciously came to my rescue. He surveyed the damage, probably muttering under his breath. He put the car back into the garage, propped the pillar back up under the portico, and took me home. In the following weeks, he had the fender of the car fixed and my grandmother’s porch repaired, but he never said a word to make me feel any worse about what I had done.

Eventually, the old, dark green Plymouth made its way out to our house. Occasionally my dad drove the Plymouth to work so that I could use his car for my own transportation needs while I was in high school. I steadfastly refused to drive the old green Plymouth again because I thought of crunching fenders and falling columns every time I looked at it. Because of my fear of driving that car, it often sat in the driveway at our house while I continued riding into town with my dad and having my mother pick me up after school. You can see the dark green car parked outside my dad's workplace in the picture to the left. It is the third car from the left. The picture must have been taken on one of those days that Daddy relented and let me drive his car to school.

When I left home for college my dad offered to let me take the Plymouth with me but I refused. I told him that I would rather walk than drive that old thing, so he said I could walk. I was on a small campus, and I felt very comfortable walking until the cold and snow and icy Panhandle wind came along. Then I began to have second thoughts about needing a car, and the old green Plymouth did not seem like such a bad idea after all.

Finally, during the Christmas holidays, I decided to take the Plymouth out for a test drive. My dad gave me much needed instructions on the art of using the choke in that car. Much to my surprise, I found that it was a very easy car to drive as long as I remembered how to manipulate the choke and was aware of the diminished view to the rear. I practiced driving it around town for a few days and decided that it was not such a bad car after all.

When I returned to school in January, it was with some pride at having my own set of wheels but a little embarrassment at having such a big old car. However, no one made fun of it, so I relaxed and began to enjoy being able to drive my friends and myself around town. One particularly icy, snowy morning I came out of the dorm and the weather was too frigid to walk across campus to the cafeteria. Several girls went out to start their cars and it was evidently too cold for them to start. I got in my car, adjusted the choke, turned the key and the motor began to purr as usual. I loaded everyone into my car and we headed off to the cafeteria. There seemed to be no limit to the number of people I could load into the spacious innards of my car.

Somewhere along the line, I began, with great affection, to call my car “Shifty” because of its standard transmission. I had several arguments with various friends that cars usually had girl’s names because they were temperamental. My argument for keeping the name “Shifty” was that my large green Plymouth was very strong and dependable like a man.

I drove my first car, Shifty, for about five years and had very little trouble with it even though I drove it back and forth across Texas several times a year while I was in college. I put nearly 100,000 miles on that car while I had it. When I finally graduated and got a job, I was able to buy a car of my own. I then gave Shifty to my brother, who was just beginning college. He drove Shifty for another few years before selling it for a better car. I have often wondered whatever happened to Shifty—such a wonderful, dependable old friend.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Well, last week I missed my Thankful Thursday because I was helping with new grandson #2 and time just got away from me. This week I had a "routine" colonoscopy on Thursday and they gave me a "forgetfulness" anesthesia so that I would forget the experience. Well, seems like I forgot a few other things also. However, I am thankful that the experience is behind me now and even more thankful that the doctor said everything looked normal and I could wait another ten years before having the experience again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Daddy first bought our American Flyer electric train for my brother the Christmas he was two. We spent that Christmas at our grandparents house in Amherst. On Christmas Eve I was supposed to be asleep in the bedroom next to Grandmother's living room, but I was not asleep. I climbed out of bed and peeped around the door to see Daddy and Granddaddy down on their hands and knees having a wonderful time putting the electric train together on Grandmother's floor. We had fun with my brother's present that Christmas.

When we got home, Daddy made a big plywood board for the train. He took the dining room table and chairs out of our small dining room and stored them in the garage. The dining room became our "train room." We started with a steam engine that put out real smoke (sometimes) and a few train cars. The train became a huge family project. My dad sold electric trains through his hardware company, so he took great joy in bringing home new cars, a new diesel engine with a real headlight, neat lighted passenger cars with people in them, a circus train complete with animals and crossing signals with lights.

Daddy loved all the action parts of the train set. He liked the switch that uncoupled the cars and he eventually made the track large enough that we could run two trains at one time with two control boxes at the edge of the train board. Mother was the electrician in the family and she often crawled under the train boards that Daddy held up to wire and rewire the accessories that Daddy brought home. We children scampered across the train boards to decorate with small buildings and bushes, toy people, and railroad signs that Daddy brought to us. Note my brother's western village in the picture on the left.

Looking back on the experience, I think it was wonderful the way our family took the toy and made it a family project that pulled us all together much better than the dining room table ever did.

Self-Publishing Your Writing

I have been pondering gathering all of my stories about growing up in the Texas Panhandle and self-publishing them. Mainly I would want to put them into book form for my family members to enjoy. Perhaps my grandchildren will one day pick up a book of my stories and be amazed (or amused?) at my stories of growing up in a small Texas town in the 1940s and 1950s.

Today I read Marlys Marshall Styne's blog entry on self-publishing and decided that I needed to get moving in that direction. She has self-published several books and I just recently received a copy of her latest collection of rictameter poetry. It is really an impressive book and gives me the incentive to go ahead with my own project. Now all I need to do is get myself in gear and take the first big step--getting organized and getting moving!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Another Graduation in Our Family

Last night Son #4 graduated from college. It has been a long road for him but he finally made it across that stage. His wife, 2 year old daughter, 1 week old son and I watched on a live webcast from the college as he marched into the auditorium and later walked across the stage. It was quite moving. Daughter-in-law sat in the recliner with their two children and a small laptop, while I watched on their larger computer. We hollered and screamed when he walked across the stage. I took a picture of the computer screen and it turned out

blurry at best, but we really felt connected by being able to see the actual graduation as it happened--thanks to modern technology!

A family friend wrote the following rictameter poem in honor of his graduation.

At last!
It's happening
The struggle is finished
Graduation is accomplished
It is a fait accompli; it's all done
No more burning midnight oil
No bibliographies
It is over
At last

--L. Seeger

Congratulations, Son #4!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I'd Forgotten

After having four children of my own, you would think I would remember what the first week after the birth of a child was like. Nope! I had erased those tapes from my memory until this past week.

Young Grandson #2 will be a week old tomorrow and I have spent the week with Son #4 and his family. Whew! What a refresher of memory. Daughter-in-law is hurting in all those places that I had forgotten. She has no energy, but the two-year-old had enough energy for all of us--if only we could tap into that energy source.

And Grandson #2 has his days and nights all mixed up. He sleeps blissfully all day and is awake and fussy all night. Last night was a breakthrough, though, when he slept 4 hours between feedings. Whee! We all got 4 hours of quality sleep and felt much better this a.m.

Progress is being made and I will leave in a few days confident that this family will continue to learn all the lessons that I learned through the process of building a family. It is tough to learn new lessons with each new child, but I would not trade those years for any treasure in the world.

Write about life lessons that you have learned during the tough times in your past.

Monday, August 4, 2008

More on New Arrival

Grandson #2 came home from the hospital yesterday and is doing very well. Mother and Dad are trying to catch up on their sleep. It will take a while, but Grandson #2 seems to be taking it all quite calmly--just eating and sleeping.
Here are a few updating pictures.

Granddaddy holds him for the first time.

Aunt Tammy came to visit.

Grandson #2 arrived at home and rested in Mom's lap. Then he checked out his new bed and fell asleep on Dad's chest. Today Miss Ella Bella returns home from her other grandmother's house and the family will be complete.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Son #4 now has a son, born at 12:01 p.m. today and weighing in at 7 lbs. 9 oz and 19 inches long. He is just adorable! He is so tiny and quiet and sweet. He just lay in my arms and went to sleep. Ahhhhh! His so cute! And now we have Miss Ella Bella who has entertained us all evening and is in her room now, singing herself to sleep--so far I have recognized several verses of "Old McDonald" and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Now, IF I can figure out this computer, I will add some pictures fresh out of my nifty camera.

Son #4 (proud Papa!) with his new son:

Grandmommy (that's me!) with #2 Grandson:

#2 Grandson after his first bath:

Mother and child. I believe he looks a lot like his mother in this picture:

First visit from Big Sister. She loved him!!

Miss Ella Bella holding
her new baby brother.