Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Calvert Thanksgiving

Conitz Family Thanksgiving
Calvert, Texas
Family Photos
Top Photo
Hulda Conitz Keeling in the dining room of the home she shared with her husband, A.L.
Several years ago, I started a large watercolor of a family dinner at this table, in this dining room. I had it drawn and ready to paint, before I was to have surgery. In preparing for recovery, I put stacks of books, pictures I wanted to work on, and art and writing materials beside my bed at home. The family dinner watercolor was one of those that I intended to finish.
I never have found those pictures again. The pain meds they gave me didn't stop any pain or even knock me out. I just kept wishing that it would hurry up and be 4 hours later, so I could take more medicine, and hope for some relief. Meanwhile, I took a lot of hot showers, or sat in the den in front of the tv, sort of in a stupor, I guess. The only thing those pills seemed to do was to make me forget where I put things when I needed them later. They didn't even make me forget the pain.
I have intended to start over on my family dinner picture, but I'm a little frustrated because I liked the drawing that I had. I don't think that I can do the same thing again, as it was. I drew it from the viewpoint of someone coming into the room through the swinging door to the kitchen. The sideboard stuck out a little bit for a 3-d effect. I showed the children playing under the table, as we did when the grownups talked. Toot was serving as was the maid hired for the day. Honey was at his place at the head of the table, Grandpa Conitz on the other end. With their backs to the living room were Mamie and Henry,Asta and Maurine and Owen, Alfred and Ellen, Irvin, and a guest. On the opposite side were Grandma Conitz, Thelma, Pappy and Uncle Tom, Katie and Uncle Dennis, Emma Dee and Uncle Doc with his sister and Grandma Miles, (I can't remember if I had Grandpa Miles in my drawing or not. He was there, while his health allowed him to travel). And there was an empty chair next to Honey, where Toot would sit when she was between serving. Sometimes there was a card table set up for extra guests, and some ate in the kitchen at the breakfast table.
The food was always good. We decided that Toot's secret ingredient was a little sherry or wine, which she kept hidden in the kitchen china cabinet.
One of these days, I need to get my nerve up and try this again, since I haven't found any photos of the group in this house.
Middle Photo
This was the family photo that was used in the newspaper in the 1970s. One man is not family. He is someone who was working in his antique store downtown and Daddy insisted that he come have Thanksgiving dinner with us. This was in a different great-aunt's home, Pappy and Uncle Tom's home. We had some great food while Pappy was still alive, too. This photo was taken after Pappy and Uncle Tom had died and my parents moved into this house , so we continued the Conitz family dinners there. Thelma decided that we should use the new technology of small tape recorders and have everyone give their name on tape, since our numbers attending were down due to deaths in the family. We were not too thrilled about doing it, but I guess it is valuable as a part of our family history. I don't know what happened to the tapes.
People were already sad and talking about those who were no longer with us, and how sad it was to see how much smaller our family had become. We all got a laugh when Jamey had his turn to speak his name, and he slipped and said Conitz for his last name, since everyone before him had said their name was Conitz.
We still had the big turkeys, roast, ham, and all the trimmings, despite lowered numbers of people who were eating.
Bottom Photo
This photo was in the same house, same family, but about 10 years later. The dining room is in the background behind the figures, and the kitchen is through the door to the right. Barbara's dog made it into this picture. By this time, Toot was in the nursing home, but we brought her home for the family dinner. We had lost more family members. It was getting too sad to record names on Thelma's tape recorder, and to listen to the voices of those were no longer with us.
The food was still good, and we continued the same traditions. The Aggie-Texas game on tv, getting together in the kitchen after the meal to do the dishes and put some of the food away while the men retreated to a comfortable chair to loosen their belts. Mama and Emma Dee usually washed dishes and put food away while Irvin dried dishes and Thelma dried the silverware and supervised. Going back for "just a bite" of the food from dinner. After everything was put in order in the dining room and kitchen, Mama and Emma Dee would play the piano in the living room. Each would play pieces and share music, then they would play duets. Sometimes, we would have some singing, along with the piano. Going out to the pasture to check the cows, and look for a Christmas tree, or going for a little ride until time for supper. The grownups sitting around the table, talking, while the kids wanted to be with their friends or out in the yard. The underside of the dining room table made a nice blackboard to decorate with crayons when we were told that we had to stay there. Boy, were some ladies surprised when they turned the tables over years later, and saw some crudely written names, alphabets, and childish drawings in crayon!
And Now we are Six
Today, when we have family dinners, there are six of us, including our oldest member. Out of the photos above, there are a total of ten people still living. We don't all get together anymore, although we tried to do that for a while. Some went their seperate ways with their own families, and with high food and gas prices, and some of us aging and not being able to do all the heavy lifting and long hours in the kitchen preparing a wonderful meal, we just gave in to the commercialism and will be going out to Luby's to eat for Thanksgiving. The last couple of years, we went to Golden Corral, but the lines were just entirely too long and it was too crowded.
It's really sad, though, to not have those great leftovers to make turkey sandwiches with or to have all the wonderful family recipes, and good china, crystal, and silverware, and time at home.
We plan to watch the Aggie-Texas game on tv at night. I'm glad that has returned to Thanksgiving. It just didn't seem like "Turkey Day" without the big game that day.
Good luck, Ags! Whoop!
Wish I could see the Corps march and Midnight Yell in Austin at the Capitol, but I guess we will have to wait until the Christmas parade here to see the Corps. I also wish that the broadcasters would shut up at half time and show the best part of the game-the band!
I wish that there would be more movies about Thanksgiving. This afternoon, I've had the History Channel on with a movie about the Mayflower. I've seen it a couple of times before. But, as that ended, we have gone on to programs about the history of American Indians, including the story of Cynthia Ann Parker.
I will always remember one memorable Thanksgiving dinner, held in the dining room in the top picture. My dad was so impressed and talked, for years, about the time we had Thanksgiving with a real American Indian. That year, I brought a friend home from college to share our dinner. She said they didn't celebrate Thanksgiving. I was surprised because, having been in school in Texas, I didn't know how anyone could have missed Thanksgiving all their lives. She was such a beautiful, gentle girl who lived on the Alabama Coushatta Reservation at Livingston. Little did my dad, or the rest of the family, know that my mother's grandmother was part Cherokee. I guess we had some Native American blood with us at those Thanksgivings all along, ever since my parents married, and they didn't know it. I only found out a few years ago when I started working on family history. I remember asking my mother about our heritage, and she didn't know about the Native American ancestors. She said we were from England, Scotland, Ireland and, on my father's side, Germany and Sweden. We didn't know that countries also included Prussia (Poland), and Bavaria.
At our family dinners, we had some words that were always used, that we thought were German. They would say, "Please pass the cush, or pootie, sawdust, gunwadden, etc." Eventually I learned that, what they had told me was German, turned out to be words that my dad had picked up at A&M in the dining hall, when he was a student there. There went my foreign language skills! Cush was dressing, pootie was turkey, sawdust was sugar, gunwadding was bread, skyjuice was water, and more that I don't remember. I think those are in a book called "Good Bull", along with a lot of Aggie stories and traditions.
I hope that you enjoy looking at a few of our old family pictures. And that you are able to enjoy many of your own. Make some wonderful memories, have some delicious food, and have a safe and happy holiday.
A special wish for a great Thanksgiving goes out to our troops and our veterans. We are thankful for you! Another special group to be thankful for, and who are getting way too little recongnition and respect are our Border Patrol Agents, and especially the agents who are wrongfully suffering in prison for trying to protect us. Our prayers are certainly with them and their families. May you soon be able to enjoy life and special dinners, in peace, with your families again.
A get well wish goes out to Barbara Bush as she recovers from surgery. It's amazing that her doctors didn't find her problem sooner. Hope you are well and back in College Station for a visit real soon, Mrs. Bush.
And, of course, I am thankful for you-my readers and wish you and yours a wonderful day.
Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

Saturday Treat

Members of the Texas A&M University Orchestra
photo by Joan
Pictured left to right: Evan Cherry, violin, Arlington; Jenn Chu, violin, Dallas; Colin Bryson, violin, Arlington; Katie Burke, violin, Denton; Kelly Locke, violin, Dallas; and Alma Lahnum, cello, Midland.
Saturday was a busy day.
Ashton represented his school in Picture Memory at the UIL meet at Bryan High in the morning.
We heard that the Aggie orchestra was going to perform at the nursing home where Thelma is a resident, also on Saturday morning. Friday afternoon, when I was visiting, I had asked Thelma if she would like to go see the orchestra from A&M play on Saturday. She wasn't talking, or looking around that day, but she did say, "Yes", enthusiastically. She would love to go see the orchestra.
Parents couldn't watch the competition, so the plan was for me to make sure that Thelma got to enjoy some good, live music and Ashton's mother would drop me off there, while she dropped Ashton off at Bryan High. She went back to go to lunch with the group, then returned to pick me up at the nursing home before the awards ceremony for UIL.
Some of the third floor residents gathered in the dining room at the nursing home, eagerly awaiting the orchestra. My daughter stayed for a while, until she had to go to lunch with the group from Ashton's school. We thought that they may not come and wondered how they would get all those students in this small space.
Soon, six students set up their music and instruments, and performed beautifully as morning sun streamed through the wide windows. They played such classics as "The Hungarian Rhapsody" for a most appreciative audience.
Thelma seemed to sleep through the performance, but she was listening. One man rolled his wheel chair right up by the cello and kept perfect time with his head and his foot. I wondered if he had once played in a band or an orchestra, or maybe had been a director. I thought at first that he wanted to look at the music, or maybe sit in the middle where a director would have stood. He did seem to enjoy the music.
I was trying to remember which foot we used to keep time when we were in band. I think it was the right foot, and the left foot went forward, as we played for concerts. Or was it the opposite position? I remember that, for UIL band contest, we were told to pat our toes in our shoes to keep time, instead of allowing people to see us patting our feet. I thought of this, especially, as I watched the young orchestra members, tapping their toes to the beat.
After the concert, I talked briefly to the members. I asked them if they knew of Joe Tom Haney, who had been our band director in Calvert, and was a long time band director of the famous Aggie Band before he retired a few years ago. They said the name was familiar but didn't know who he was. So, I told them. You can't go to an Aggie game or hear the band without hearing some of Haney's songs, and the drill field was named for him. And, now, there is a room with memorabilia from him in a new music store in downtown Bryan.
It's always so nice to be around the students. They are all so smart, talented, well-mannered, and full of life. And they do so much to share with the community.
One man asked if they had any trumpets. I thought that it would have been nice to hear some flutes, too, since Thelma and I had both played flute in the band.
Thelma did talk to the students as they were leaving. Just a little bit, but she did communicate. I asked her which song was her favorite and she told me "The Hungarian Rhapsody #2". I think she was doing better than I was in remembering the names of the music. They didn't announce the titles, so I was trying to remember. I believe that one was by Bach and I kept thinking of "Bach's Air On The G String" (my favorite), but I decided that it was another similar piece.
I hope that they, and others, will return to share more of their talents. I know the residents enjoyed it. That's so much better than tv, radio, or even a CD. And, I'm sure that many people were used to going to concerts, or played instruments themselves, when they were able to do so.
A big thank you to the students who took time to brighten the day for a lot of people.
After the program, I visited with Thelma for a while, then went with my daughter to the UIL awards ceremony. The cafeteria was packed with parents and students from the elementary schools. We hoped that Ashton would do well. He was nervous about it.
He was disappointed that he got 6th place, but we told him that he should feel good because a lot of kids didn't get anything. I felt like he should have practiced writing the titles and artists' names more. Last year, he didn't practice that at all. In fact, they didn't know they were going to have to write anything, then. I told him that the important thing was that he participated and represented his school, got to get out and be with other kids, and learned a lot.
Another activity in town Saturday was the big International Festival in downtown Bryan. Ashton and I wanted to go, but his mother was tired and wanted to go home. So, we came home, and she took a nap. Ashton worked on building boats with Legos and I worked on my blog during the rest of the afternoon. Pictures on tv, later, looked like it was really interesting. Maybe next year. As I've said before, it is so inconvenient to not be able to drive and just go when you want to go somewhere. I guess we had a busy enough day.
And, of course, the evening was topped off with watching the British comedies on Houston PBS. "Keeping Up Appearances", "Last of the Summer Wine", and "Are You Being Served", and looked forward to "EastEnders" on Sunday night.
If you would like to say "Thanks" to a soldier, you can go to . Xerox will give a card that you select to one of our service members. You can select from cards designed by children. That would be a good thing to do at this time of giving thanks.
I looked on the NASA website to see if the space shuttle/station will be going over us again anytime soon. It doesn't look like they will be going over us for a while. Maybe they will before the Endeavor returns. I'll have to check again later.
If you want to check to see if they will be passing over your area, and when, go to .
You can also see where they are, live, at .
While you are on that site, you can see who the astronauts are, what they are doing, and there are interactive things to do, things for kids, teachers, parents, the media, etc. I was looking at some of the photos of this area, taken from the space station. It's a strange feeling, to think of what they were seeing while we were looking up at them.
I was amazed at the photos of the space station and shuttle. Despite my warped view, due to my Macular Degeneration and cataracts, what I saw looked a lot like the space craft photos, just thinner and smaller, and with rays around it. I didn't see just a dot or moving light across the sky.
I hope that you are preparing to have a big, memorable Thanksgiving with family and friends.
I miss those big family dinners, with all the favorite recipes, the good china, silver, and crystal, although it seemed kind of boring at the time. The ladies bustling around the kitchen and dining rooms for days, people gathering and visiting, everyone eating until they were thoroughly stuffed, then going back for "just a taste" during the afternoon, kids trying to find something to do and just hanging around while the grownups worked or talked, the crew gathering in the kitchen to wash and dry the dishes, going out to the pasture to pick out the Christmas tree, or watching the Aggie-Texas game on tv, going for a ride, then having turkey sandwiches for supper, along with more left overs and more dessert.
My dishes will sit in the china cabinet again this year while we go out to eat. Less work but not so memorable, or tasty.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stars Over The Brazos Valley

Stars Over The Brazos Valley
9" x 12"
Ashton and I have been watching two bright planets in the west while we were out watching the space station and shuttle fly over. Two spectacular groups of orange lights in the west, just south of the sunset, attracted our attention. He mentioned wanting a telescope, which is something we have all wanted. However, we have never found one that worked any better than a camera with a good zoom lense. At least one that was anywhere near affordable.
Friday night offered us a wonderful opportunity to actually see some decent telescopes and related equipment.
The Brazos Valley Astronomy Club, along with some students from A&M and Blinn, set up telescopes, computers, and a large screen on the grounds of the George Bush Library Friday evening. We arrived a little early, while there was still some light from a gorgeous sunset. Ashton and I wandered around the telescopes, along with an interested crowd of adults and children. We were given a star chart so we could determine what we were seeing. Children were given a deck of star cards with pictures and information concerning the current exhibit at the Library. The current exhibit is on space exploration and is coordinated with other displays at presidential libraries that include the LBJ Library in Austin.
We wandered about on the dark grounds, that had just a little light from a temporary building in the parking lot, the airport tower, and the lights on the Library. As it grew dark, though, I was a little concerned about not being able to see where I was putting my foot, due to my eye problems and the fact that they had just installed a water pipeline and there was still quite a bit of clumps of dirt around. One of the nice things about the George Bush Library is that it is one of the few places that I know of where you don't have to worry about fire ant stings.
We enjoyed listening to the discussions of the stars and planets above us. The two "stars" that we had been watching are actually Venus and Jupitar, and we see them best when they are setting. It's too light before that time.
Ashton asked a question about the twinkling star that we saw above the Library. The astronomer, who was working with one telescope, told us that the star appeared to be twinkling because of the atmosphere. I felt like this was "Mythbusters", or something. I always heard that, if it twinkled, it was a star, if not, it was a planet. Of course, most of my science classes were at a time when we were just learning that there were such things as atoms! (Well, actually, I did take a few classes after that in subjects like Microbiology, and I was around people interested in science. Of course, we hear quite a bit on tv, now. So, I wasn't totally ignorant of new things in science. I just had not heard this about stars.)
We got to view Jupitar and 4 of its moons, Venus, and the Ring Nebula, before we had to leave. We were told that the Ring Nebula is what our sun is going to look like thousands of years in the future. A couple of computers were set up near the small building and there was a screen with one computer that we could view a larger image of the sky.
We didn't stay but about an hour so I'm sure that we missed other stars that appeared later.
I had to laugh when they asked if we could see things. I told them that they would be amazed if they could see what I see. It looked like a carnival midway, with all the colorful lights moving around. The airport tower and planes landing looked like a midway with a fireworks display. The stars looked like smudges or bursts of fireworks. Through the telescope lenses, the planets and stars looked like small suns, very bright, but they didn't have the lights shooting out as I see them, nornally. I was surprised at that. I thought I would see the wild lights, but larger and more detailed.
We enjoyed the evening, but had to leave early so Ashton could get to bed early. UIL was the next morning. It was a little on the cool side, but a beautiful night for star gazing. I was a bit surprised that they didn't meet somewhere further away from lights from the city. But they seemed to have a clear view of the heavens.
In the painting above, I used Winsor Newton watercolors on 65 # drawing paper. This is too thin and the wrong texture for watercolors, but it is in my sketchbook. I started with a pencil sketch, then outlined with a waterproof drawing pen. I added watercolors, then did a wash of thin black watercolor to dull and darken it all.
I showed the George Bush Library in the background, with the glow from A&M in the distant sky. A pink glow from the red lights on the portable building strike the figures by the computer and telescope in the parking lot. There are three black metal barrels of large telescopes set up in the field. Actually, there were about 3 more behind us and to the right. A group of students teased us at one telescope and laughed as they said, "That will be $5, please." A man dressed all in black, with a black cowboy hat, stood back and waited his turn to look through a telescope. Children begged to look, and stools were brought out so they could look in the eyepiece. Groups of adults ushered children around from telescope to telescope. One older lady walked around with a pink jacket that had a fur lined hood. She seemed to be with the group. Beside her, "our" astronomer (the one we talked to most), was looking for an allen wrench to adjust his telescope's eyepiece. He told us we could move the telescope around, we couldn't hurt anything. It was just a metal barrel.
I haven't added the twinkling star or the airplanes landing, or Jupiter and Venus, yet. I may use acrylics to add those in the sky, although most of them were actually behind the view I painted or to the right.
We are really fortunate to have so many groups from the University willing to share their time, talents, and interests, and the facilities at the George Bush Library and A&M to host things.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Second Space Ship Flyover

Wednesday Night Flyover
9 x 12"
Wednesday night, we had the best view of the space shuttle Endeavor and the International Space Station that we have ever had as they flew over us. We had watched it fly over in a lighter blue evening sky just south of us on Tuesday night. Bob French on KBTX tv told us that we would have a second chance on Wednesday night. Usually, when those things are announced, the first night is the time that the best views are available. Later viewings are often further away or dimmer.
Wednesday night's time was at 6:19 p.m., an hour later than on Tuesday, so it was darker. On top of that, the outside light didn't come on at dusk as it always does, but delayed until the space craft had passed. So we had a very dark night to watch the skies.
We had been advised that it would come more from the west, so we walked out into the street, away from trees.
"Is that it?" I asked Ashton as I spotted some orange lights in the west, just over the oak tree . It looked a bit like the shape of the craft we viewed the night before, only much smaller. I couldn't tell if it was moving. It was near what we decided was a planet, but looked, to me, like the Texas Longhorn symbol with rays coming out of it.
That shape didn't move, but, soon, Ashton directed me to look over the pasture to the north, just above the pale glow from the sunset. Here came a steady moving group of orange lights that appeared to be connected by a slim orange tube. There were lights on it, some extensions, and orange rays coming out of it.
"That's it!" I shouted as it moved to almost overhead.
As I said it, there were echos up and down our country lane of "That's it!" from neighbors who were also out watching the space crafts passing over.
"It looks so close!" "Wow!" "Isn't that amazing!" "Just think! There are people up there!"
Just as it got over us, it turned a bright white. So bright that I had to look away.
As it moved on to the east, it seemed to be orange again, then disappeared into the darkness over Bryan.
Later, on the news, we heard that one of the astronauts had lost her tool belt while working outside the space station. We couldn't help but wonder if that happened while they were flying over us.
The stars that were so bright in the west are actually Jupiter and Venus.
We came in and I sketched out the shapes of the space craft as it appeared at different points over the pasture. I also added the planets as they appear to me. Later, I added color with Winsor Newton watercolors with a bit of white acrylic for the white rays on the center object. This is in a sketchbook on white acid free drawing paper, and not on watercolor paper. You can't get that kind of paper as wet as the watercolor paper, so the color doesn't blend and flow as well. It's okay, but you just can't get the same effects.
Tonight, at the George Bush Library, an astronomy group from A&M is going to have telescopes set up so that the public can view the planets. It starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m.
It's going to be a bit cool, though. But, bundle up, and go out, if you can. It isn't something that we have an opportunity to do very often.
After watching the space ships, Ashton wants a telescope, as most kids do. However, we have had terrible luck with telescopes and microscopes. ( He was excited about that, too.) The things never work. The microscope set he got last year, even the science teachers couldn't work it. It looked to me like the hole to let light through didn't line up with the hole that you looked through.
Telescopes didn't work, either. We bought what seemed to be a really nice telescope for Christopher. Never could get it in focus to see anything through. We had better views just with the old Cannon camera with the zoom lense.
Enjoy sky watching with bright stars and gorgeous sunsets while we have these clear skies. I know, it may not be that way everywhere. But, here, it has been really outstanding, lately.
The featured exhibit at the George Bush Library has to do with space exploration, and is being coordinated with a similar exhibit at the LBJ Library in Austin. So, you may want to check it out, if you are interested in space.
Here's a trivia question.
Do you know who the astronauts are on board the space station and the Endeavor? And what countries they are from?
Calvert will be having their Christmas Homes Tour December 6 and 7. You can click on my photo of the bandstand at the top of my sidebar and that will take you to the brochure that tells more about the Tour.
There is one old home on the tour that I haven't been in. And that is the one that looks like the house on the opening of the tv program, "Designing Women".
Be sure to check out the events that I have in my sidebar.
Those of you who have been waiting for the slideshow of the Plein Aire Painting workshop with Virginia Vaughan in Calvert, it's coming! The tech people are still trying to help me get it to work. The guy said that he will put it on here for me. So, I am going to let him do that. I still am getting an error message when I try to do it, but it works for him. I need to figure out the problem, though, so I can do it myself in the future. I haven't forgotten!
Brazos Valley Art League members need to get your entries ready for the upcoming juried show. The dates on that are December 1-19.
I know that sketching, drawing, observing, practicing, experimenting, studying, researching, are all so important in being able to produce art. But, sometimes, I think that maybe I am doing too much practicing and sketching and not working enough on more finished things. However, at this stage of my vision problem, I am having to figure out some adjustments and directions.
I'm just having trouble getting things to connect and, sometimes, after a while, in seeing anything at all. What others see as straight lines may look wavey, curved, disconnected, or blurry to me. Just the physical act of bringing lines together or putting a brush into paint or water is difficult. I miss, often, and have to keep repeating until I finally hit something.
At the plein aire painting workshop, I felt like a bumbling idot at times because I just couldn't see things right to connect them, whether that was lines or picking up paint, or cleaning a brush, or packing or latching and unlatching hooks on equipment. Vaughan was demonstrating and while we painted, I thought I could see when she seemed to paint a nice curved line. So, I did that. When she came over to me, she pointed out that this was a straight line. I was surprised, because it looked like a big curve, to me. We fixed that. But, my rooster still looked like a cartoon character! (Most of my animals and people end up that way-cartoons!)
The other day, I made some tomato soup for lunch. The Campells Kids soup mug (which is white with pictures of the kids on it) that I usually use got broken, so I was using another cup that is black. I rinsed the cup and put it beside the stove. When my soup was hot, I proceeded to ladle my soup into my cup, or so I thought. Soup went all over the counter because I had my cup upside down. I was pouring it all over the bottom of the cup, and not inside. But, I couldn't tell the difference. Another mess to clean up, but, at least, this time, I didn't drop something on the floor instead of putting it on the counter because the edge of the counter disappeared into a purple fog.
I'm kind of slow and careful in doing things, anyway, but this eye problem (Macular Degeneration with cataracts) makes things take even longer.
A lot of people have this. I guess that I am actually lucky because I only have AMD in one eye. I just hope that the other one doesn't get it. As it is, I can get closer to things, close the bad eye, and see things. Not as they should be, but it isn't all just a big purple spot or dark, where I am trying to look. I can't imagine how terrible it must be for people who have this in both eyes. I guess that you have to adjust, but I have heard that some people are never able to adjust to losing their central vision.
Get well wishes go out to Linda M., Vin, Carole P., and Gwen. And a special get well wish to Christopher. I hope that everyone will recover and get some relief, soon.
Keep warm! It looks like summer and hurricane season are finally about over.
Good Luck to everyone who will be participating in UIL tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Space Station Fly Over

Space Station Flyover
9" x 12"
As the sun was setting in the west, last evening, Ashton and I went outside to wait for the announced appearance of the space station and the shuttle Endeavor. We were told that we would be able to see them go over in our backyards at 5:52 p.m. Right on schedule, we looked to the south from the street in front of our house, and watched the space station move just above the treetops, from southwest to southeast.
"It doesn't look like it is that high up, " I said.
I'm sure that, with my Macular Degeneration and cataracts, I didn't see the space vehicles the way others do. I told Ashton that it reminded me a bit of the oil well "pumper" behind us, but it was long, and slim, and had a silvery bluish tint to it. On one end, it looked like a flashing red light was attached to it, with other white lights in various places.
Usually, when we have seen the space station and shuttle go over, they went from north to south, so this was a bit different.
In my little painting above, I showed the shape of the space station and shuttle, as it appeared to me. However I changed things a bit. After the space vehicles passed over, we turned to the west to come in the house, and watched a clear, gorgeous sunset. I just had to add some of those colors to remember that we had a beautiful sunset, along with the amazing display from space.
I also added one of the planets in the evening sky, as it appeared to me.
"It looks a little like the Texas Longhorn symbol, but with spokes or rays coming out from the top and bottom," I remarked to Ashton as we walked in the road.
It reminded him of the North Star.
The space station and Endeavor are supposed to go over us again this evening, but I haven't heard a time, yet. Pictures of it on the local news were gorgeous, last night. We will go out again. I just heard that it will go over at 6:19 tonight.
Notice the changes I have made on my sidebar. Lots of new things.
I just joined the Every Day Matters group. Click on the picture at the top of my blog and you will be taken to their website. Each week, they issue a topic, and people sketch and journal about that topic. Then they submit their sketchbook/journal entries to the website. There are some really interesting sketchbooks on that list. If you need a nudge to sketch or journal, this would be a good site for you. They are on the 197th challenge. Number 1 was to draw a shoe. Number 197 was to draw noodles. (Funny, my daughter cooked spaghetti for supper that night. I drew my supper instead of eating it right away! I'm still working on that, and my sketch of a shoe. New challenges come out each Sunday. You can go to their website at .
I really don't need that nudge as I have plenty of ideas of my own to draw. But I thought the idea of journaling along with sketching was interesting. And it is inspiring to see what everyone posts.
Another site I am looking into is Virtual Sketch Date . On this site, they give a photo to work from each month, and then people can submit their own interpretations to the site.
I haven't joined that one, yet. I'm thinking that I really have enough to do already. Of course, you don't have to do every challenge and there is no pressure.
Saturday there are a couple of events coming up here. The big International Festival is in downtown Bryan Saturday. You can see more through the link in my sidebar.
It's also UIL Day (University Interscholastic League) for students. Ashton is going out for picture memory again this year. He's just a little nervous.
The Brazos Valley Art League meeting is Wednesday December 3 at noon at the P. David Romei Art Center in College Station. This will be a Christmas party and gift echange of a small piece of art.
Members Show will be December 1-19.
I just received the date for the next Sketch Crawl.
The 21st World Wide Sketch Crawl will be Saturday January 10. Click on the logo or go to their website for more information or to sign up.
And, one exciting new thing is that they are having special Sketch Crawl t-shirts made! They will be galaxy blue with the Sketch Crawl logo on the front and a pencil on one sleeve.
Okay, everybody. I'm signing up for Bryan/College Station/Brazos Valley Area. So, let's plan to draw the Brazos Valley. Let me know if you want to join us here!
If you are in another area, sign up or find a group for your area. A lot of people are already signing up, all over the world!
And, of course, the big news is that we have set the next Plein Aire Painting Workshop in Calvert with Virginia Vaughan for Saturday February 21, and spilling over into Sunday morning Feb. 21.
You can see more on V...'s website . Click on her name in my sidebar to go to her website or go to or .
For a supply list or to sign up, you can contact me at

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Revolutionary War

Elizabeth P. Davis Miles
Family Ambrotype

The fifth grade had tests on the Revolutionary War yesterday. I thought that it might help my grandson to relate more to what he was hearing about, if he knew that some of his ancestors were involved in the events of that time.
The thing that I remember most about history from my days in Calvert High School was the time that I took my great-grandfather's sword from the Civil War to school to show my classmates that I really did have someone who served in the Civil War. Of course, I had things all mixed up, and it wasn't until a few years ago that I took the time to figure things out. The sword was actually my grandfather's father's sword. But, to me, I saw my grandfather polishing it, every time he came to visit, so I assumed that it was his. And, since my grandfather walked with his knees bent, I assumed, again incorrrectly, that this was due to the fact that he was hit behind his knees by another sword in a Civil War battle. It seems that he actually was injured by an axe while cutting wood as a boy. I asked about Grandpa, his knees, and the Civil War, but no one corrected me, so that is what I always believed. Not having a great sense of time or ages, it never occured to me that my grandfather would have been too young to have been in the Civil War. And no one ever talked about his family and my grandmother's family was heard about even less.
My mother and a neighbor decided to do the research to get into the DAR, the Daughters of the American Revolution. I think that Mrs. Porter got in. My mother said that she had all the work done, but my dad was not happy about spending money on that sort of thing. So, she put all her information away and turned to her painting and her music. All those names and dates gave me a headache, so I didn't pay attention. However she said that we do qualify, if we ever want to belong.
As I began my search for family history, after my mother died, I thought that all the research had been done and that everything we needed to know was in two books. One book on my mother's family is "Your Inheritance" Vol. II by Robbie Lee Gillis Ross. The one on my father's side is "A History of the Conitz/Keil Families" by Dione Smith. However, as I started trying to label old family pictures, I realized that I didn't know who many people were, and that there is a lot of information not included in those books.
The above picture is of Elizabeth P. Davis Miles, my great-grandfather's mother. This is an ambrotype on glass and is in a little case. My mother had this picture in a box, and, at one time, displayed it on a little round curio table in our living room. There is also a picture of her husband, Aquilla Miles, their son James DeGraffenreid Miles, and another man who I assume is another son. There were two more ambrotypes, but one is only glass now, with no photo, and the other only had two eyes left on it.
James DeGraffenreid Miles is my great-grandfather, the one who really did belong to the sword. Elizabeth is J.D.'s mother.
The relation to the Revolutionary War is that Elizabeth's father was Lewis Cookson "Old Club Axe" Davis of Autauga County, Alabama. Davis was a "fire and brimstone" Baptist preacher and, went into the Army during the Revolutionary War. He was not much more than a teenager when he went into service. He is listed as a private in the Virginia State Troops. He enlisted in the main army under General George Washington a few days after the Battle of Germantown and he was with the army in winter quarters at Valley Forge. He was also in the battle of Chesnut Hill, the battle of Monmouth, marched into New Jersey, and was at the storming of Soney Point. He served for three years, according to his pension application.
I don't have a picture of others in the Davis family, but I do have this one picture of Elizabeth. And, thanks to Cousin Larry, I have photos of the tombstones of Elizabeth, Aquilla, daughter, Josephine, the church and cemetery where they are buried.
With 16 children and two wives, there should be a lot of descendants of Lewis Cookson Davis. Hopefully someone out there has some pictures of them and their homes.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Davis and his second wife, Sarah Perkins. His first wife was Sarah Anderson.
There is quite a bit about Davis online and in old records. I thought that the story about his nickname, "Old Club Axe" was interesting. I've read this in several places, but this was posted by one of his descendants, Linda Davis.

"On a Sunday in an Alabama Baptist church, Rev. Davis was presented with a problem by his deacons. It appeared that someone was stealing livestock right out of their pens in the middle of the night. No one could catch the thief.
Rev. Davis listened carefully to the complaints and thought for a while to consider what should be done. He then stood up, walking slowly toward the pulpit to start his sermon.
"The Lord has given me the wisdom to find a thief," he said. With that statement, he lifted a huge axe above his head and started swinging it in a circle, over his head.
"Lord, I am going to let the axe go and I know that You will let it hit that thief", Lewis cried in a prayer.
At this point, the thief jumped up from his pew and ran toward the door. The deacons were waiting for the thief, thus the thief was caught without throwing the axe.
From that day on, Rev. Lewis Cookson Davis was called "Old Club Axe Davis".
While thinking about veterans, reading again about Lewis Cookson Davis, and looking at old photos yesterday, I thought that this poem by Linda Davis would be appropriate. I asked for and received her persmission to share it with you. This is a poem that she wrote for a D.A.R. competition. Thank you, Linda, for writing this and other poems that remind us of our heritage.

They Simply Fought
Linda Davis

Oh, how our history has written about the tea,
in far Boston Harbor wasted for you and me,
You know, there were others who fought?
Yes, Southern men with fredom's thoughts

Brave men who paid their dues...
No uniforms of red, white, and blue
Militia brown this patriot's attire
Simple farmers, no country squire

While plowing fields, heard the call
Freedom is waitin' for us all.
Kissed the wife, grabbed the gun.
Thoughts of freedom for everyone

They too had their place in history
To them, neither honor nor courage was mystery.
God fearing frontiersmen in every way
Carolinians, Virginians, Georgians had their say.

In blood and ink 'twas penned,
The greatest document that has been
A battle called the Hornet's Nest
Each gave it their very best.

Gwinett, Jefferson, Lee, Lyman Hall,
Walton, Middleton, Penn, and that's not all.
They put in words their freedom's thoughts,
But please remember, the heroes who fought.
I feel sure that we have more ancestors who were in the Revolutionary War. So far, however, I have found more about Lewis Cookson Davis. I haven't gone into researching the Miles, Day, Beckwith and other families who came to the United States in the early days of our country. We do know that there were Cherokee ancestors who were here to greet the others when they arrived.
We backed out of going to the dedication ceremony at the Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial last evening. Rain was moving in and there were tornadoes spotted by radar to the south and east. I didn't want to get caught outside if it should start to rain as I wouldn't have had a car handy where I could seek shelter. This morning, the local paper reported that, due to the weather, the event was being moved to a pavillion at the park. I wish I had known that before the ceremony!
Oh, well. Uncle Eddie's name has been added to the Memorial and, one of these days, we will get over there and take pictures.
I really would have liked to have seen the Aggie band, the Ross Volunteers, and listen to Chet Edwards speak.
I'm sure it was nice for those who attended. I hoped that my grandson would have been able to see it. We don't have enough patriotism today in school. He did say that they had a short video at school to celebrate the special day. Not nearly enough, to my way of thinking.

Elizabeth P. Davis Miles (detail)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day

The 11th hour, the 11th month, the 11th Day. Armistice Day. The end of the Great War, the war to end all wars.
I wonder where (great) Uncle Eddie was that day? What was he doing? And what about the rest of the family? We know that most of those were in Calvert, with the exception of those who remained in the Old Country (Prussia and Germany) when Eddie's parents came to the United States in the mid 1800s, after the Civil War. (And we don't know who those are.) I always wondered how Eddie and others might have felt, knowing that they were going to have to fight people from their parents' homeland, and possibly their own relatives.
Eddie's name is one of the over 170 Brazos Valley area veterans whose names have just been added to the Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial. There are over 4,000 names on the Memorial now. There will be an unveiling and dedication at 6 p.m. today at the Memorial, complete with the Ross Volunteers and others participating in the ceremonies. Chet Edwards is going to speak. And there will be a barbeque, all to pay tribute and honor to our veterans.
In the rotunda at the George Bush Library, a chorus will be singing starting in just a few minutes.
There was a parade downtown on Sunday, along with a show of military equipment, a mini veterans museum, and other activities. It doesn't feel quite right to not have a parade on the actual day, to me. I guess there is too much going on at one time.
There are other activites that involve the local veteran's groups today. One is at a large retirement center.
We thought a while about adding Eddie's name to the Memorial, but felt that he needed to be on there. It cost a minimum of $100 to add a name. My aunt had already added her brother's name when the memorial was built. Irvin served in the 88th Infantry Division (The Blue Devils) during WWII. Eddie was in the 3rd Infantry Division in the Army in WWI.
One of these days, we need to get Eddie's service record from the NARA. Maybe we can learn more about him. It seems we know so little, and I have found such few pictures with him in it. I wouldn't have known who he was, if his sister, Hulda, had not told me, years ago. I've only found one photo of him, working in his father's grocery store, and another in a family portrait. To have a picture of just Eddie, I isolated his image and saved it that way from the family portrait. I wish I could find a picture of him in his uniform. Lacking that, we may be able to use a picture of a WWI Army uniform and paint a portrait of him in the uniform. One reason that there may be so little about him is that he never married or had children, like many in our family.
I only know one little story about him, that his sister told me. When they were growing up, she was the only girl among several boys, so she liked to play with them, run, jump, climb, play ball, and all those unladylike things. She said that the boys were "a sight" and mischievious. Always into something.
One time, the parents decided that the boys should take violin lessons, and sent them for private lessons with a man in town. The boys didn't want to go, and balked and protested, but went to their lesson. Eddie was determined to go home and play ball, so when the teacher went out of the room, Eddie peed in the teacher's violin case, and ran home. He didn't have to go for any more violin lessons!
I don't think he was punished. I think that everyone got the message that Eddie didn't want to take violin lessons!
Eddie worked in his father's grocery store on Main Street in Calvert and did some farming.
He served in the U.S. Army during WWI, a private in the 3rd Infantry, according to his tombstone.
He died of pneumonia, a complication of the flu at age 45 in 1933, according to his death certificate.
It's a beautiful day, now, but rain is predicted. I hope that it will hold off for the ceremonies this evening. We won't go, if the weather turns bad. We certainly need to be there to represent Eddie's and Irvin's family, though.
I never knew Eddie, since he died a few years before I was born. But, of course, I knew some of his brothers and sister, Emil, my grandfather, Hulda, my great-aunt, Rudolph, Paul, and Gustave, my great-uncles. Another of Eddie's brothers, Otto, was killed at about age 6 when a train cut off his legs.
From their photos, Eddie and Paul look a lot alike. I do remember Paul, somewhat. He painted houses and put up wall paper in them. I remember when he wall papered and painted our new little house. I mostly remember his white painter's outfit and his pants legs, as I was not yet four years old at the time! I stayed right beside him while he worked on my bedroom. I remember him telling me about how to avoid having drips in the paint. He was nice and I was sad when he was through with his job and went on to work on someone else's house.
Only one person in each generation since has married and had children.
Today, we are remembering Eddie, Irvin, and all the veterans, on this veterans day.
Top Photo: An Armistice Day Parade in Calvert, Texas Date and subjects unknown. Private family photo.
Middle Photo: Conitz Grocery Store 407 Main St. Calvert, Texas Eddie Conitz, left, Emil Conitz Sr., right. Private family photo.
Bottom Photo: Portrait of Eddie Julius from family portrait. About 1909.
Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial
You can click on the top two photos to enlarge them. I don't know why the bottom one won't enlarge. Also, you can click on the photo in my sidebar of the Armistice Day Parade, and that will take you to the Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial site. It does not list the names of the veterans whose names appear on the wall, however. You have to go to the Memorial to find those names, I was told.
There is a book that looks like a yearbook, "The Men and Women of World War II from Robertson County" that has many names and a little biography for each name and picture of veterans from Robertson County, Texas.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Aggie-OU Game

Bush 41
and his entourage enter the Aggie-OU game
The announcer noted how Bush was pausing for photos with Aggies

Kick Off on Kyle Field
It was a perfect autumn day, clear blue skies, and ideal temperature as the Aggies met OU.

Oklahoma made an early touchdown, followed by many more for 66 points.

The Ags made a couple of touchdowns, too. Lots of injuries, even from previous games. So many that
I wondered if they weren't going to have to call in the 12th Man. But, no. They have lots of players these days.

We had a little family time during the game. We gathered in front of the tv set, had some snacks, and watched. I had my sketchbook and did these sketches, while Ashton preferred to play with his Bucket of Slime. (It's a lime green color.)
I used my #314 Draughting Pencil to do these somewhat gestural drawings. But, I messed them up a bit. The pencil is very soft and will get very dark. However, that means that it smears easily. I realized that there were smudges when I started to scan them today. I was able to clean up some, but not all of it. There is a big smudge across the stomach on the Aggie Touchdown drawing, and one by Pluto's tail that I couldn't get rid of completely, for example.

Pluto stretched out on the carpet and enjoyed his bone while we snacked on sandwiches, chips, and cold drinks during the Aggie -Sooner Game Saturday.

After The Election

After The Election
9" x 12"

It's a sad, dark time in our history.
Despite all the ridiculous amount of money thrown away on campaigning, voter turnout in our area was much lower than in the past. Early voting was higher, but the day of the election , and the total was disappointing. Maybe the results would have been different if more people had gone out to vote.
Probably not, as it was sewed up from the outset. They could have saved all that time and money and just gone on and proclaimed the "king" and "savior".
There are millions of us who have not fallen under the spell.
Those who just heard "change" and didn't care what it is, are going to be really upset when they find out how much worse things are going to be. Too bad that we all have to be dragged down along with it.
I really think that we have a great country, and don't want to see it destroyed. Some things could be improved, of course, but you don't have to destroy something that is perfectly good just because you want to go along with the crowd or want something shiney and new.
I know people who didn't bother to vote. "I don't vote, " they said in the same tone as they would tell you that they don't smoke or drink. But they have their hands out, waiting on that little, teeny check that we have been promised. (Whatever happened to those stimulous checks? We didn't get a dime.)
I know others who felt like there was no use in voting. Their vote probably wouldn't count.
It sure looked that way with all the superdelegates, tv news and electoral college that announced a winner before the polls were even closed. And what about all those military votes that they say will be counted, but have not come in, not to mention the tv broadcasting number of votes based only on exit polls, and then announcing a winner early. They didn't even take exit polls here, so I guess our votes really didn't matter.
That needs to be fixed. One legal voter-one vote, and that's it. I doubt that we will ever get that chance again.
It's all very discouraging and sad to see. It looks like any way that "we the people" can be gypped, the powers that be are going to do it.
Well, that's how it is, through my eyes.
On Election Day, we went to the school as a family to vote. Something that we do proudly. The workers were smiling and helpful. I always have to ask for a little help, in case I can't see the instructions or buttons. So far, I've been able to manage, but it takes me a little while to focus and adjust my eyes to read the directions and names.
I did hear them say that turnout had been lower than expected, and that, in some elections, no one had come out. There are thousands of people in this area, but, a sign on the door gave numbers and only 145 people had voted as of late afternoon.
One person came out and said that they didn't want to take the time to read all that, and wondered how the machine knew what names to select for them. They should have had someone go over instructions with each person, as they did with me! This person said that they just put in their number and the machine stopped on the top section. They didn't want to have to read, so they just pushed vote in order to hurry up and get out of there.
I asked them if they knew what they had voted for. They said they didn't. The machine did it for them, they thought. Democrat was at the top, so they had actually voted a straight Democratic ticket. They didn't know what they had done. Just thought it was nice that the machine voted for them and they didn't have to be bothered. And they laughed, thinking that was funny.
The teachers in high schools teach the students how to use the voting machines, and about government and history. But, after they are out of school, will they bother to use what they have learned? Or just take the easy way, not learning or thinking for themselves, or just cave in to whatever someone tells them or tempts them with. Will they ever have the opportunity to be counted, again?
Thankfully, our state can be proud that we voted for McCain/Palin. Congratulations to McCain for staying with the campaign and promoting our country. And for all his service to our nation. And to that fantastic Sarah Palin for her energy, enthusiasm, strength, and just being such a tremendous all-around great American woman. Cindy McCain was outstanding, too. What a beautiful, graceful, and strong American woman she is. My best to them all, and I certainly hope that Sarah Palin will decide to run for president in the next election. She is truly, as they say, a breath of fresh air. Wish I had just a hint of her energy and abilities.
Some people criticized John McCain for addressing people as "My friends." Anybody remember LBJ? He drove me crazy with his constant, "My friends, and you all are my friends, ....." Now, he was from Texas. It should have been "y'all" instead of "you all".
At least he didn't stutter, shift rhythmically from side to side, read from a telepromter what some kid wrote for him, and isn't able to look interviewers in the eye, avoids questions, and so many other things. I know I won't be watching any presidential speeches for the next few years. And I won't watch any of the biased news media on tv that added to this disaster .

Patriotism 9" x 12" pencil

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Vote Today!
(legally, of course!)
It looks like people are turning out to vote today, all over the country. We will be joining in later this afternoon. I hope that there is not a line. My knees can't take that. Maybe I'll take a chair.
In some places, there are problems with rain and cold weather, with voting machines not working when people touched the screens with wet hands, power outages, etc. Here, it is a beautiful day. Perfect weather, with a perfect temperature of 75.
I just hope that we have a good, clean election and that the best person to preserve our country and way of life will win.
In my last post, I talked about my experiences with cartooning. The above cartoon is one that I did last year when it seemed that no perfect candidate had appeared. Politicians seemed to "talk with forked tongues", as in the cartoon above. We still don't have a perfect candidate. Sarah Palin seems to be the best who has appeared. I heard John McCain speak here before he ran for president and I didn't agree with a lot of things he said. But, he is the best candidate we have who will work hard to preserve and defend this country and our American way of life. He has proven himself and we know what he is about. You can't say any of that for Obama. I feel sure that he is intent on destroying everything good about our country. I don't believe one word that comes out of his mouth. Everything about him is just wrong. And Joe Biden is an absolute joke. With friends like him, who needs enemies. So, that is where I stand. I just had to put in my two cents worth.
Most of the Democratic Congress needs to be replaced. They are the ones who have gotten the country in the mess that we are in. And, even the ones who have been outstanding, seem to be giving in and following along with the radical leaders. The thing that really ruined the Democrats is things like the Super Delegates and the undemocratic way they now have of operating. It's just totally unfair.
I probably will vote for one or two Democrats, although I am hesitant after their recent support of Obama and people like Nancy Pelosi. I tend to vote for people I know and with whom I have been able to talk and watch over a period of years. Unless I absolutely disagree with them.
Chet Edwards used to come to the Calvert Hotel a lot when I was writing for the newspapers. So I got to talk to him frequently. I found that he and Joe Barton and Phil Graham were very nice people, and very approachable. In fact, they called me when they had news. They were very open to our efforts to promote the arts in Robertson county and our area. I know that Chet has done a lot for our area over the years, and for veterans, A&M, etc.
Joe Barton is no longer representing our area, but I like what he says when I have heard him speak on tv. He kindly came to Calvert and spoke in the bandstand when we opened our Sesquicential event there. He was going to help us show some of our local art in D.C., but we couldn't afford the expense of shipping and framing. Another option was to show our work, not in the office building, but in a D.C. hotel. But I moved away before any of that could happen. Wouldn't that have been great! To have Robertson County art shown in Washington D.C. !
Another person I know who is on the ballot is Mary Helen Bonilla Berlanga of Corpus Christi. She is a native of Calvert and is running for the State Board of Education. She has held her position on the board for 26 years, so she is certainly knowledgeable and qualified.
I was disappointed that more candidates did not appear at the George Bush Library. I try to see them all, if possible. Mitt Romney came, but it was for a fundraising event, not to just talk to the public. Bill Clinton came to Reed Arena to speak briefly during the primary to get voters for Hillary. We learned about it too late to see him. But his plane did fly over us as we drove to campus to hear a band concert. And, of course, early on, John McCain spoke at the Library. Bill Frist was also there, early, but he announced that he was not going to run for president.
I thought that, today, I will share some of the cartoons that I did during the long, very expensive run for president.

Remember when McCain was not doing very well and he cut staff, expenses, and it looked like rats leaving a sinking ship? He was carrying his own luggage at the airport, traveling alone, etc. But McCain did what had to be done and kept plugging away. And look how far he came. I wasn't supporting him, or anyone else, at that time. My big concern was health care for myself and no one had or has any plans that would benefit me. But these thoughts came to me as I watched events on tv.

Remember the big "Lock In" or "Sleepover" in the Senate? Some of the Senators seemed to stand around and talk (and brag) all night, some took advantage of the facilities and slept or ate. Some looked really fresh when they were called on to talk on camera. I remember one woman who looked like she had just stepped out of the beauty shop or a makeover. I thought that Hillary overslept or no one called her in time to do her makeup and her hair after she had a nap. She looked really tired and was missing her makeup. John McCain looked to be the winner of the Sleepover. He was fresh, alert, and ready to go while the others just wanted to go home or sleep.

Some were criticizing McCain because of his age. He held up a lot better than most of the "younger" folks. I know that he has endured more than most people could hold up to. Age? He's just right! A nice young man, I think.
These are a few of my observations, through cartoons.

I apologize for the big spaces. I don't know how to get rid of them. With each cartoon I added, they went to the top of the page. When I moved them around, I was left with a huge space at the bottom of the page. I'm not sure why there are spaces between lines of print when I keep trying to move them together. Computers will always do mysterious things, I guess.

Today, we go out to vote, with lots of prayer and great hopes for our country. Tomorrow, it will be a day of rejoicing for some, tears for others, and lots of arguing and blame on the media. This is the way it is, through my eyes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fall Store

Fall Store
8.5" x 11"
pencil sketch

Edie inspired this sketch as we discussed old buildings on Main Street in Calvert. She remembered a store that had sugar cane displayed and I remember others that also had sugar cane, pumpkins, and all kinds of fall fare on display. We had talked about the building on the corner by the red light, next door to Brannon's Shoe Shop. The photo that I took recently and had on my blog is fascinating, to me, because of the reflections, the architectural features, and the way that you can see other buildings through the plate glass windows.
I think it would make a nice little art gallery, tea room, etc.
Since today is Edie's birthday, I thought I would post this little unfinished sketch.
Happy Birthday, Edie!
Tomorrow is the big election day here. Some of us may have an anxiety attack or high blood pressure problems before this is all over! It has been a most unusual time. But, through history, I guess that each election has had its own problems and characteristics. So we shall see how it goes down in history. (No telling how it will be written about. But we will know what it was really like as we are witnesses to history. You might even want to write down your own views and observations for the future. When someone tries to rewrite events, you will have the truth as you know it.) We probably could have done that with past elections and events. Personally, I never thought of that. I left it to newspapers and magazines. But just think of all that has occured in the past 50 - 70 years. All that we could have recorded.
If you are involved, go to GretaWire on and read and post on her blog.
Also, you might express your opinion on Red Head Ranting at . She has a poll where you can vote on your choice for president, or you can tell if you aren't voting, etc.
Laura Ingraham also has an interesting blog/newsletter that she sends out. (I practically feel like I know her, since Virginia Vaughan told me that she did a portrait of Laura's dog! Virginia does fantastic pictures of animals. I envy that. My animals all look like cartoons!)

I didn't intend to get political on my blog. But, with others expressing their opinions, I just had to put in my two cents worth. If you agree with me, great! If you don't, I'm sorry and wish that we did agree. But, we can still be friends.
While I watch tv, sometimes, I do cartoons, especially about events in the news. I haven't done it in a while, though. I did cartoons from the time I was little. In fact, I taught myself to draw by going to the funny papers if I wanted to know how to draw something like a hand or a foot, eye, or nose from the side. I went through a period when I could only draw one leg on my people. I liked to make little stories with my pictures, so I had all these drawings of people with only one leg. I had "The Pirate and the Beautiful Lady", a compostion book filled with one legged characters!
We didn't have art in school. As a result, no matter what I do, that cartoon style comes out when I'm left to my own devices.
At one time, I did a cartoon strip for the "Calvert Tribune" which centered on life in Calvert around my grandfather's dry goods store. I learned a lot from doing that cartoon strip. It was actually hard work, considering that there were no computers to do the lettering, etc. It took me many hours to do each one.
Because of my newspaper experiences, I was given the job of teaching journalism, doing yearbook and the newspaper at school, and turning in articles about the school to the local newspaper. Along with this, we participated in the "Houston Chronicle" Editorial Cartoon contest. (Actually, we usually learned about it too late, but did the project anyway. We researched editorial cartoons, learned to use the materials and practiced techniques, the old way, with india ink and pen!) Later, we learned to add some lettering with the computer.
Ideas still come to me for editorial cartoons as I observe things. I did a few during this campaign and I am going to share some with you.
You may not agree! But, you have to understand that, one purpose of the Editorial Cartoon is to get a reaction from people-good or bad! Make people think and have some reaction. Sometimes, the cartoonist does not agree with what he is depicting, but he just wants to get that reaction or stir things up. Sometimes it works too well! Sometimes the artist does share what he feels. I think that, these days, sometimes, the artist is trying to draw something that he can sell and thinking more along the lines of psychology. Of course, there are some limitations to our freedom of speech today because of threats and political correctness, which is sad to see.
If you haven't voted, go out and vote tomorrow! (Legally, of course!)

The Squeaky Wheel

8.5" x 11"


On her blog, Red Head Ranting, she mentions that she has never been called for a poll, and no one she knows has been called, either. I haven't either and no one I know has been called. It's sort of like the ratings for tv shows. No one has ever asked me and I don't have one of those little boxes from Nielson. I guess we should be grateful that we are not bothered, but I feel like a lot of us are being overlooked. I don't think that polls are reliable.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bobbing For Apples

Bobbing for Apples
8.5" x 11"
Thinking of Halloween of the past, I recalled the time when we had a Halloween party at Sneed Memorial Methodist Church. Inside, in the basement area of the big, brick, castle-like church, Mrs. Wyser played the piano and we sang songs, enjoyed some treats of sandwiches, cookies, cake, and Grapette soda water, courtesey of the Grapette Bottling Company below the Masonic Lodge on Main Street. But, anxiety was high and the restless youngsters all wanted to hurry and get this party over with and go out trick or treating, and, hopefully, to find a little mischief to get into.
(To be honest, I can't remember if the Grapettes happened at this same party. But, when the bottling company was in Calvert, the family who operated it attended our church and donated Grapette to our socials. )
There were games and time to chase each other on the sidewalk and the lawn in the light from the street lights and from the church. Joe Bill and "Possum" and the other men, brought out a big metal tub and placed it in the side street near the downstairs door. They filled the tub with water and, teasingly, told us that we would be bobbing for apples. We didn't believe that this would actually happen. I guess that we were to an age where we thought that we were too old for such a childish thing.
Fragrant, bright red apples were dropped into the cool water. These were probably donated by Mr. Ford. He was a Baptist, but at special times, like Christmas, Mr. Ford always donated apples and oranges from his grocery store, Ford Grocery, to the Methodist Church as well as to the Baptist Church.
"Come on and get an apple!" the adults urged.
We hung back until the more advenurous of the children moved up to the tub. We watched as they knelt on the street, put hands behind their backs, faces into the water, and shoved apples around until they finally came up with one in their teeth. As they caught their apple, the children moved back to the lawn, happily chomping on their apples.
Then a game of "Apple core. Baltimore." ensued and apple cores went flying around to hit others who were running and trying to dodge a direct, juicy hit. The adults shouted out stern warnings, but it was necessary for each child to try to hit someone with their apple core. The game stopped when an adult was almost hit.
Then, the children were ready to go on to trick or treating or to go home.
I hung back by the adults and at least one more reluctant child, who didn't want to kneel in the street, and risk not being able to catch one of the slippery apples in my teeth. Eventually, though, I did as I was urged to do, caught my apple, and went on to join the other trick or treaters.
I just thought that the church made a really good background for a Halloween party. Even in daylight, and days other than Halloween, I always thought it was a dark and scarey place. Pretty, but so much like a castle.
I was sad to see, the last time we drove by the church, that they have dug out the sidewalk and the quaint little concrete bridges that crossed the ditch, and made new flat white concrete sidewalks to enter the church.
I know, it's hard for us older folks to make it up all those steep steps. They talked, for as long as I can remember, about putting in an elevator so older folks could make it up to the second floor. But it was never done and many people just had to quit going to church over the years. I guess it is for the best, but it makes such a change in the church. The new concrete sort of stands out like a sore thumb. Maybe it will not be so stark, when the concrete ages a little bit.
We have so many memories of that church and its people.
I remember where cracks were in sidewalks in various places, where rocks or gravel were, where the sticker burrs were, where each bush was, where Indian Paintbrushes grew between cracks in the curbing, etc. and it's hard to think that those things are no longer there.
I thought I would put these memories on as a sort of a Birthday gift to two of my best and oldest friends, Edie and Kathryn. I missed Kathryn's birthday last week. I just had not paid attention to the date! Sorry about that, Kathryn! And Edie's is tomorrow. So, a big Happy Birthday to both of you. I hope you had a wonderful day, Kathryn, and that tomorrow will be very special for you, too, Edie. And, of course, I have to wish you many more to grow on!
I'm so excited! I actually won something!
No, not an art competition, or the lottery, or anything like that. But, I got word today that Diana Moses Botkin did a drawing for a copy of her new book last night, and I won. I can't wait to see her book! I'm sure that it is very nice. She has some excellent work on her website. Very sensitive and beautiful.
Thank you so much, Diana! I know that I will treasure your work!
I'm looking out my window at the bird bath and Oak tree, and have been amazed that, overnight, it seems, the Crepe Myrtle bush in front of my window now has red, brown, and orange leaves! Usually, if the leaves around here actually do change, a norther hits and knocks them off right away. It looks like some of the Oak leaves have changed, too. But, of course, I can't see them very well. I'll have to go outside and take a closer look. It 's very unusual to have fall colors in the landscape, at least for very long.
We're counting down the time to time to go vote. I haven't been able to figure out why we are bring urged to vote early. Or how they can know who has how many electoral votes each candidate has, when we haven't even voted yet.
Election day has always seemed like a very special event. It is good to go out and participate with others who are doing their patriotic duty. It's a good feeling to think that your voice is being heard and your vote counted. I guess that, if you go to a place where there are really long lines, or if you have to line up in bad weather, that might not feel quite as good.
I always thought that the only reason why you should vote early would be if you were going to be in the hospital, or out of town on Election Day. But, now, I've heard of so much voting early, and I've even received e-mails, urging me to vote early (before that ended here). I wouldn't want to miss participating on that special day, though, and I don't feel like there is a reason to vote early. So, I didn't.
Maybe, the fact that I didn't get to vote when I was first old enough, due to the Poll Tax, and thinking of how it hasn't been all that long that women could vote in this country, has made Election Day all that more special to me.
It is disturbing to think that some of our votes won't count as much, or count at all, and that some people are taking advantage and voting illegally. I am much more concerned about this election than I ever have been before.
I didn't intend to get political on my blog, but this is the way that I see things. It is "Through My Eyes". I just had to state my opinion when I saw others put the oppostion on their blogs. So, it became a matter of, "if you can, I can too!"
I hope that you share my view, but, if your opinion differs, that's okay. That's the way you see things, and this is the way that I see things. We can still be friends!
Whatever you believe, let's all follow the rules and have a good, clean, election.
And pray for our country, our leaders, and our people.