Thursday, December 26, 2019

As we sail into the new year

Just wanted to say hello and apologize  for my absence. I am recovering after my fall and have also been out of town for the Christmas holidays. Tom and I were in Austin with our youngest daughter and family. I haven’t been taking very many pictures. Although...

This is a colorful image on some notecards my little granddaughter Hannah designed for me. A sailboat bobbing along with whales and sharks below and sea gulls above (complete with legs and feet). Hannah is seven years old and so enjoys painting. 
I am hoping all of you had very happy and festive holiday !

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Lights of Christmas

Hello friends. I am back from North Carolina, although I will not show you a picture of myself. It appears I have been in a fight....with the bandage on my face and all of the bruising. Heck my neighbors probably think I have really had a face lift HA! That is not going to happen. Tom and I did ride around town a bit tonight...yes on the way to the ice cream parlor.  tried to take some pictures along the way of the Christmas lights...They are not very good.....but here goes.
This pretty old house had lights up the drive and their trees wrapped in white lights.Tree wrapping is very popular here. There are services that do it for you for a tidy sum.
This one had a mixture of trees wrapped in white and green.
These large Live Oak tress were amazing with red trunks and red and green balls hanging from the limbs,
and this house had so many red lights that there was a red glow over the whole block.
The gates to this estate are always very welcoming, although I feel sure they are locked.
This house had rather simple decorations...but be nice, that's my door!

Friday, December 13, 2019


I have been in North Carolina visiting my daughter. Had a wonderful time until I had a run in with her stairs and ended up at the hospital. No broken bones and the stitches will be taken out on Tuesday.

I will return...Janey

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


It is such a busy time of year! I promised myself that I would simplify, simplify, simplify.. but I think I have failed. We have a large artificial tree that we were not going to put up since we aren't hosting Christmas....but guess it it!

We both love the holidays....and the thought of no tree seemed dismal. I usually do a lot of baking, but held to my promise here. .. I did attend a luncheon yesterday and I knew the ladies would bringing little favors to exchange, so this is what I took....not a lot of baking required for these:
You start out with a bag of little square baked pretzels.
Next unwrap a  Hershey's Kisses(I needed two bags for the number I was to make).That was the labor intensive part...I put Tom to work. Of course I had to watch and make sure he wasn't eating every other one.
I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and loaded it with pretzels, putting a Candy Kiss on top of each square. Put into a preheated oven (200 degrees F, or 93.3 C) for only about 4 mins. Test one to see if the chocolate is soft. Remove from oven and top each one with another pretzel...pushing down gently or else the chocolate squishes out the side. Put into the fridge to chill for about 15 mins.
I put about 14 salty and sweet pretzel sandwiches in each little cello bag and fastened with a small rubber band.

All done up in matching bags with cute tags, they made a nice treat to put on the luncheon table.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

A How To

We are starting to decorate for the Christmas Holidays
and I find I use a lot of votive candles. Problem is I want new candles in the holders. How to clean them out? I usually just go buy new holders....but with the Internets help I have discovered a new way to salvage them.
Turn them upside down on a piece of aluminum foil. Make sure to scrunch up the outer edge of the foil so you won't have a waxy mess in the pan. I use a heavy duty jelly roll pan that has an edge. Next heat your oven to 200 degrees.
Put them in the oven. I put them on an upper shelf.

Set a timer for just 15 minutes
Not easy to see with these white candles, but after 15 mins. the wax will have melted and fallen on the foil.
Remove from the oven.. using a mitt to lift the glass holder. They will be hot.
Wipe what is left of the wax with a paper towel. Again using the mitt as the glass will still be hot

Cleanup is easy. Carefully gather the foil and dispose of.
So there. Your votive holders are sparkling clean again, ready for a new candle.
I suggest only doing a couple at a time, since you need to wipe them out before the wax starts to harden again.
Please only do this with holders made of heavy glass. Not sure what would happen to your fine crystal..

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


From our house to yours. Happy Thanksgiving!

Although I do realize most of my friends that come here are from other countries and do not celebrate this holiday!

So, why am I not in the kitchen cooking for the big meal tomorrow. Well, it is because our next generation have taken over the holiday celebrations, and we will go over to my niece's house tomorrow for turkey and all of the trimmings. None of our children will be home this holiday, so it is nice that my side of the family all live close.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Pioneers In Aviation

Another blogger posted some old photos, so I guess I am copying her, since I haven't been out and about recently.
You may click on photo to enlarge

Above is a very small graduating class ...of a very small airline back in 1965.
The two men in the picture are pretty interesting guys. Lamar Muse 1923-2007 on the right (president of this little carrier)  was the co-founder of today's Southwest Airlines. He was a  long time executive with several airlines, and even started his own with his name on the planes, but I think Southwest was his crowning achievement. If you have a chance read his obituary in the NY Times.HERE Yes, he really did give away bottles of whiskey to attract passengers.

The other gentleman is Bud Herring 1923-2011 (VP). Bud being a nickname. He too had a long airline career, joining Muse as a VP at Southwest in the early days. I think the most interesting thing about him is that he landed at Omaha Beach on D day...and survived. 

Is this class graduating from Southwest Airlines? NO, it is Central Airlines that no longer exists and you won't read about it in either of their obituaries. Why do I have this picture and know all of this, because that is me front row right :)

Saturday, November 16, 2019

What A Photo Op!

Yesterday I saw in the local news about this guy who was constructing large-scale weather vane sculptures, featuring native Texas animals. In all there would be twelve. They were being installed way north of town along a three mile corridor.

This picture accompanied the article. Seems the artist was asking the public to donate scrape metal 
like hubcaps, old bikes, metal get the picture.
It was such a pretty day that Tom offered to drive me up there to photograph the two he had completed. We are still not familiar with all parts of this city, but hey GPS could surely get us there.
Oh my, it turned out to be a very long drive and when we got to the specified location there weren't any sculptures.I barely got back in time for my class at TCU. First thing I did when I got home was to read the article again. I missed one important detail. The part where it said "will be installed". Apparently this picture was taken in his work yard....where ever that is.
What do you think my chances are for me to get Tom to drive me there when they really are installed.?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Texas Modernist

Another of the paintings from Mr. M's Texas art collection:.

I didn't have a lot of time to take pictures when we were touring Mr. M's art collection, but this seemed to be one of his favorites. A painting by modernist Marjorie Johnson Lee.(1911-1997) I say a favorite because this is the painting he chose to be on his business card.

Not sure you can see but Marjorie only put an initial for her first name. Apparently women artists were not as widely appreciated in the early 20th century.

I did take a few notes and learned that she came to Ft. Worth in the mid 20's to study at Texas Christian University and in 1943 became a Navy Wave.

The see a photo of Ms. Lee and more of her art, go HERE

Friday, November 8, 2019

A Bit of a Controversary

Continuing with my visit to view the Texas art.

Mr. M, our gracious host took us from room to room to view his vast collection of paintings and sculptures all done by Texas artists.
This painting by Don Brown (1899-1958) who was from what we call the Piney Woods of east Texas is titled Swamp Girl, but I have also seen it called Ruth. Brown painted numerous works depicting the  swampy waters and landscapes of Louisiana and north east Texas. Caddo Lake near where he grew up in Marshall, Texas was a favorite subject. A celebrated regional artist, his paintings are in museums across the U.S. and also in Paris, Copenhagen, and Warsaw. He studied in New York in the early 20s and moved on to Paris in 1923. The early 50's found him as head of an art department in a small college in Louisiana...and that is where I think it gets interesting.

Ruth was a janitor at the small college where Brown taught. You must remember this was way back in the early 50's, a time when racism was the norm. Hopefully we have come a long way since then. Anyway, the staff at the college was shocked that Don Brown, a white man would paint such a painting and on top of that, hang it in his office. What is wrong with this painting? According to his superiors she wasn't being depicted as the janitor, but to their horror almost being posed as an elegant lady in somewhat  the same position of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. I am not sure how that controversy ended, but word has it that of all of Brown’s paintings he considered this one of his best works.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

There is a Story Here

As usual, I will try my best to condense this story:

Those that stop here often know that I belong to a special interest (art) group connected with the University.

Our most recent  outing was to meet a locally famous art collector who invited us to his home to see his Texas art collection. I could write a whole page about our very interesting host, but for now let's just say he is presently 91 years of age and still going strong.
Mr. M not only showed us his collection, but had interesting anecdotes about how each piece was acquired.. Many times he had stories to share about the artists themselves, some of which he knew personally. I liked all of the paintings,finding some the art to be very unusual. Almost as unusual as the artists themselves.
Like this painting by Esther Pearl Watson. Her work which is sometimes described as having naive flatness and awkward scale brings to mind work of Grandma Moses. Esther has become quite famous with her whimsical folk art designs. Unlike Grandma Moses, she does have a masters in fine art, and has done illustrations for The New Yorker Magazine and The L.A. and N.Y. Times..

Why the flyer saucer you ask? Well, Esther grew up in small town outside the Dallas Ft. Worth area in a rather unconventional family. Her childhood brought to mind the childhood of Jeanette Walls author of The Glass Castle. I wonder if she goes by Esther Pearl.... this is the south you know...Anyway, her father quit his job, during her youth, with a worldwide tech firm to build a spaceship in their backyard. He was so convinced that it would fly that he tried to get Ross Perot, Steven Spielberg and every sitting U. S. President on board (sic) with his plans.
So Esther paints a spaceship in most all of her paintings. One very similar to this one previously hung in The Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth. If you would like to read more about Esther Pearl, go HERE.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Meanwhile Back At Home

I'll bet you thought I would never get home to Texas but here I am, where I have resumed  taking classes at TCU and attending special interest groups connected with the University. One of my favorite groups is The Art of Fort Worth. We meet about twice a month to tour various places in the metroplex that may have something in the way of art to share.
Which brought us to Acme Brick Headquarters in the newly developed Clear Fork area.. Their 7,000 square foot building has three floors all with unusual displays of art.
Starting in their lobby with a soaring brick tablet of sorts, that is a time travel through their history.
Their original home office southwest of Ft. Worth, in the late 19th century, was a far cry from today's showy, beautifully designed building.
This photograph shows the many colors of Ame Brick, a brick company that became the largest in the U.S. history.
The walls are adorned with art for all tastes. Modern of course as above,
and more to my taste, the panels depicting a local pond,
or the somewhat whimsical painting, Bricks on the Trinity.

This sculpture was actually made up of discarded pieces of equipment from their old brick plant.
 Who knew that you could find so many museum worthy pieces from the scrap metal pile that was left behind.

There were also many photographs of area buildings built of course with Acme Brick. This being our famous Will Roger Coliseum.
One of my favorite displays was the brick collection of Walter Bennett , son and successor of George Bennett founder of Acme. Walter collected bricks from all over the world and they are on display along a long hallway.
A brick from the Roman Forum, Great Wall of China, Hitler's Eagle's Nest,and the U.S. Capitol just to name a few. Our outings always includes going to lunch together which I have found to be a great way to meet new friends.
Next up, an invitation to a private home to view early Texas Art

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Micio

My last several posts have been about Monte Oliveto Maggiore, a beautiful monastery that I recently visited in Tuscany (Italy).
After touring the monastery, my friend Jenna and I walked into the small gift shop. A children's book caught my eye, for two reasons. One was that there was tabby cat on the cover, which reminded me that one of my granddaughters had a tabby cat, and secondly the fact that the book was written in English. I am usually not a souvenir shopper, but I did buy the book which was written by an American author, Sharon Wooding.
Leafing through the book while eating our picnic lunch, I discovered that it was a fictional story Ms. Wooding had written to try and explain why (supposedly) there was a tabby cat (referred to as Micio) inlaid at the base of the monastery's lectern (book stand). So naturally I scrolled back through my pictures to see if I had taken a picture of the lectern. Surely this part of the book was also fiction
sorry about the poor quality

but to my amazement, there it was! In reality, no one knows why in the fifteen century this cat was so painstaking applied to the lectern using hundreds of pieces of wood from various types of trees. Hopefully my granddaughter will not only enjoy the book, but my story of discovering that a tabby really is at the base of the lectern!!

Micio (mee'-cho) is an Italian word loosely translated meaning kitty or pussycat in English.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Eccentric Artist

On the previous post, I posted a picture of the fresco's in the  cloister (or hallway) of the Abbey Mont Oliveto in Tuscany. I wish I had done some research before my visit and not after, which seems to often to be the case. If you have time to read all of may find it interesting...
There were numerous fresco's which I did not photograph, since there was an escorted tour in the hallway, and I was trying to stay out of their way.
What I did know, at the time, was that the scenes were  following the life of St. Benedict (480-547) a religious reformer, who was  referred to as the Patron Saint of Europe. These fresco's were painted by two artists Luca Signorelli in 1498,
and Giovanni Antonio Bazzi better known as Sodoma beginning in 1505. Sodoma was a bit of an eccentric. In this particular fresco he painted a self portrait of himself into the scene. Turning his back on the subject at hand, so that he could forever make eye contact with the viewer. The clothes he wore were not his own, but those of a nobleman who had left this elaborate getup with the Abbey Prior (superior). Note too, that he added his pets, two badgers, a chicken and a tame raven.

If you would like to read more about Sodoma, who actually was a very talented artist, go HERE

One more post on the Abbey to follow.
Why the MICIO? 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Abbey

Continuing with our recent visit to Tuscany......
Toward the end of our trip, and on a beautiful Fall day we visited the Abbey Monte Oliveto Maggiore, a Benedictine Monastery which is 10km south of Asciano. You are greeted by a drawbridge at the beautifully cared for 15th century structure. You then walk down a rather long alleyway flanked by tall Cypress Trees.
 Where you arrive at the main complex.
You know that you are at the right place since there are monks about, some even passed us driving a car. They are called to prayer six times a day in the main church, and they will let you sit in the church while this is going on, provided you are respectful (and quiet).
There is no entrance fee and you are free to walk about. We smelled what we thought was soup cooking as we peered into the dining hall, where the tables were set for lunch.
Like so many monasteries, they make and sell their own wine and you are free to walk down into cellars,
Which I found to be very interesting.
Back at ground level there was a sunny courtyard
surround by hallways with magnificent  fresco's 
More on that Later!
Which brings you to the church which like all churches and cathedrals in Europe are extraordinary.
There were of a couple of things I discovered at the Abbey that I found most interesting...which I will post later.