Lanty Times and RM Ranch News Vol. 62 15 Dec 2018
Square Dancing After a quiet Summer of casual dancing things heated up as Fall arrived. October 14th we once again travelled to the Texas State Fair to perform as part of a cultural dance display. The evening before we had a tasty dinner at a Greek restaurant with the other dancers and a good friend, Cindy, who we knew in Greece so many years ago. Sunday we performed two sets of five dances each to an appreciative crowd of fair goers. On our way home later in the day, after exploring the fair, we had an excellent early dinner in the ghost town of Thurber, TX, population five.
Photography Another year of entering pictures in the Texas State Fair photo contest paid off with two ribbons: A second place in the abstract class for a picture of a Peacock from behind. A third place in the reptile class for a Texas Horned Lizard sitting on gravel.
Early in October the Monarch Butterfly Migration came through San Angelo. A few pictures here and there were good but, on the afternoons of the 11th and 12th large numbers decided to roost in the trees in our back yard. Lots of great pictures as they settled down in clusters, called a kaleidoscope. The local newspaper printed one of Mickey’s pictures on the front page on the 19th of Oct.
November 15th Mickey had a gallery display of his works along with those of a couple friends at the local museum of fine arts. Lots of interesting comments from viewers and some interesting conversations made for an enjoyable evening.
State Park In late July Mickey was invited to photograph a trail ride across the wilds of the park. He didn’t have a horse so a friend of his from the photo club took her jeep and played leapfrog with the riders to stay ahead of them. Travelling on nothing more that cow paths we got some great shots of nature. A climb up Macey’s ridge got us up to the top to shoot the riders climbing the trail. Little is known about Macey who is buried on top of the ridge, other than the dates 1797-1847 on the headstone.
On Oct 6th the state park hosted our local photo club and other interested photographers, over 40 in all, for the annual Kelby Worldwide photo-shoot. Several hours of enjoying the Bison, White Pelicans, and other wildlife followed by a light lunch provided by the friends of the park made for an enjoyable day.
Trips In mid August, Rosalie travelled to Canyon Lake with her friend Lesa to visit her friend Cathy (from Penn.). A highlight of the trip was the day at the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch where she took some great photos of the wildlife to include Zebra.
The end of Sept. Mickey was off to Fort Reno, Ok for the National Cavalry Competition. It rained for the entire six hour drive from San Angelo to Oklahoma. The rains stopped upon arrival with beautiful weather for the rest of the time there. Two days of some excellent horsemanship made for some challenging photography. Add to that some excellent scenery, the Monarch Butterfly migration passing through, and an excursion into the middle of a herd of 400 Bison and there was little time for much else except, an interesting lunch at Sid’s diner, which had been featured on the food channel several times for the tasty onion burgers.
TV Several appearances promoting our square dance group kept us on the local TV channels this fall. We discussed the advantages and fun of dancing. It was quite interesting watching the workings of a small town station and interacting with the interviewers.
Weather has been good recently. After a very hot summer , two weeks of temperatures in the hundreds, we got some good fall rains which caused an explosion of flowers. The middle of October we had steady rains with over 4 inches on the 17th and over 8 inches for the week. The streams and rivers were running and the local lakes more than doubled their water levels which pulled us out of a minor drought. Nov. 6th it was 85° and a week later we had temperatures in the mid 20’s.
Family After the square dance festival in June, Rosalie headed north for six weeks to see friends and family. She spent a week with our friend Cathy in Penn. before heading to Mass. where she spent time with her brother, Manny, whom she hadn’t seen in over 50 years, and his family. Then she headed to New Hampshire to see our daughter, Dina, and her family. Both families got together for a picnic and spent time becoming acquainted.
On August 5th we headed to Ft. Worth to spend the day with Rosalie’s nephew, Manuel, who was in town for a while. We had several interesting conversations while we explored the Ft. Worth Aviation Museum, Billy Bob’s, and the Stock Yards.
For Veteran’s Day weekend Rosalie’s brother, Tony, and his wife came to visit. We gave them the 25¢ tour of our city to include: Ft. Concho, the Veteran’s day parade, and Miss Hatties’ brothel, which was in operation from 1902 until 1952 when the Texas Rangers shut it down.
Ghost Town We live in a ghost town. While a few people live in Orient, it's still classified as a "ghost town." Fifteen miles north of San Angelo, Orient got its start in 1909. At its height, the community served farmers, ranchers and railroad workers with a general store, blacksmith shop, cotton gin and stock-pens. Orient's population fluctuated between 10 and 40 over the decades. A major highway was the downfall of this once-lively little town. The highway offered a connection with San Angelo, Sweetwater and Abilene and cut out Orient's trade flow. The stockyards closed in the 1940s and the store died away in the early 1970s.
Lanty Times and RM Ranch News Vol. 61 15 Jun 2018
Square Dancing had been limited to local dances until the first of June when we travelled to Tyler, Tx. for the Texas State Festival. We danced both Friday and Saturday nights with old friends and new. We stayed in Athens, Tx. (not Greece) with our friend Dorthy. Lots of good food and conversations. Sunday morning we headed to the Dallas airport where Rosalie boarded a plane for a couple weeks of visiting friends and family, more on this in the Christmas newsletter.
Rosalie has taken on the job of club hostess for our local dances. She coordinates the food, decorations, and keeps the books. She also arranges demonstrations and club outings.
Photography has been fun this year so far. In January I had a small showing at a local branch library and got several good comments. In March was the Stribling art show and my two pieces received good reviews. I also had several of my weather shots shown on the local news show for sunsets, rain storms, and one great lightning shot.
The regional Cavalry competition this Spring was held at Fort Concho. The numerous horses and riders running the course made for a real photo challenge, trying to catch the horse in midair over a jump took perfect timing. Conversations with the riders and other photographers added to the enjoyment of the day.
State Park has kept me busy. The first of the year there was a freeze that produced some interesting pictures of clumps of ice hanging on branches just above the water. The wind caused waves to splash on the low branches and the water would freeze.
For Spring break I was invited to take pictures for the park of the activities. Group trail hikes are fun to shoot and the hike to the Permian tracks challenged my camera. The Permian tracks, pre-dinosaur, at our park are only one of three places on the planet that they can be seen.
For senior day at the park I was asked to provide pictures of the park’s wildlife and scenery. Lots of conversations about the pictures and the animals in them, including an offer to buy some. A hike to the Bison herd produced some great pictures as two females brought their new babies up for me to photograph. However, I did keep the fence between me and them.
Trips have been few this year so far. Rosalie and I drove to Cedar Park, 4 hours, to check on a train ride she was to take with her Red Hat group. The trip up and back was filled with lots of scenery and a stop at a biker café on the way home was fun.
Weather has been the usual West Texas challenge. In mid February we had an ice storm that broke the branches of several of our trees. We had to cut many broken branches to save the trees and in the process we now have lots of firewood for next winter.
We have had some good rains however, we could use a little less of the thunder and high winds. We managed not to get any hail this Spring but have watched the rain flying by horizontally a few times.
Family In December I had to head to Mississippi to say farewell to my mother. The funeral at the National Cemetery was quite a moving experience. Before heading home I was given boxes of old photos to go through. Mixed in with them was a small loose-leaf note pad that she had started in 1945 and ended in 1969. I now know everywhere I lived and what I got for birthday gifts as a little one. I also found her Marine book which was filled with pictures of her and her friends before she met Dad. There are more pictures still to go through and memories to relive of a wonderful life. Here is one of the newspaper clippings found in the book from October 1944.
Now here's a corporal that has an extra something besides sixteen dollars cash a month. By now you must have recognized Jo Laurita our Marine corporal, and does she look good. (We remember our corporal and wotta difference). Jo is now stationed at Cherry Point, North Carolina, in the property section. She used to be in the Cold Storage Division but was transferred after being guilty of thawing all the meat. After all how could a poor little rack of lamb withstand those eyes, when right now they are almost drawing Ye Editor back into the service. Looks like the Marines have everything in hand. ***********************************************************************
Lanty Times and RM Ranch News Vol. 60 15 Dec 2017
Square Dancing The weekend of Oct. 21st/22nd found us once again at the Texas State Fair dancing. The fair was full of exciting adventures with lots of sights, sounds, and good smells from all the interesting foods. (i.e. deep fried Fruit Loops, deep fried banana pudding, and chicken noodle soup on a stick). This was the 10th year our square dance group has performed and the 5th year we have performed. We must be doing something right, as our group is the only square dance troupe invited to perform at the fair.
We made a long weekend of the trip by stopping in Athens, Texas on the 19th to pick up an old friend, Dorthy, who would join us at the fair and returning to Athens on the 22nd for a good night’s sleep before returning home to the animals and several days of resting up for the next adventure.
In July two of the local TV personalities and their camera man attended a dance with us to learn a few moves and put our dancers on TV for the afternoon local show. We had a fun time and got to watch ourselves performing on TV.
Photography July 15th I was called to the Hummer House to witness/photograph a bird banding. Dozens of Humming Birds and numerous small birds were banded, weighed, and measured. Besides some great pictures and interesting information Mickey got to listen to the heartbeat of a Humming Bird which was held up to his ear before being released.
The eclipse on August 21st was a challenge to photograph. I met another photographer at the San Angelo State Park to get some shots. We used one of the park’s pavilions as a shady place to rest between pictures. After several attempts using different filters and settings, I settled on a pair of eclipse glasses covering the camera lens. Trying to find the right position to get in to take the pictures was another challenge. I finally ended up laying down on the grass and shooting almost straight up. Even though we didn’t get total darkness I did get a couple pictures with a star visible and even a couple sunspots.
State Park On my way to the eclipse shoot, I stopped off at the park’s bird watching room to enjoy a cup of coffee and a doughnut. As I entered the room there was a large Great Horned Owl sitting on the water feature enjoying the early morning. Somehow I didn’t scare him, even though he seemed to know I was there. For about 20 minutes I casually took pictures while he drank some water and preened his feathers. Surprisingly he was still there as I quietly left to get set up for the eclipse.
The annual Monarch Butterfly walk on October 14th was not attended by as many butterflies as last year. Seems they were late coming through this year. However, the trail hike was well attended and over 70 horseback riders took to the trails. Got some great pictures and sold five calendars with state park pictures.
Other excitements included a Javelina family enjoying the bird seed. A Red Fox trying to catch a dove for breakfast put on quite a show while managing to avoid getting his picture taken. He failed in several attempts and finally disappeared in the tall grass.
Ranch News The Mallard duck that we rescued in the Spring found a new home in September. A rancher who had several ducks lost his male to old age and needed a new one for his females. Duck Duck finally found a home with several ponds and no dogs. He will be missed as we had gotten used to his quacks when he saw Rosalie coming out with a bowl of food.
We have lost all of our hens this summer, probably to a fox. We tried letting them run free during the day and locking them up at night. However, it seems the fox knew which evenings we would be late getting home and struck before we knew it. The roosters are still around and wake us up early every morning.
Trips After the square dance in Wichita Falls, Rosalie travelled to Arkansas to visit our old friend Dianne. She spent three weeks enjoying the trees and cool weather along with shopping and sleeping late. While there she managed to get in touch with a cousin who later put her in touch with one of her brothers.
October 12th found us in Fredericksburg, Texas where Rosalie met one of her brothers who was in Texas for a quick visit. She had a great time catching up on her family; she hasn’t had contact with any of them since before we got married 48 years ago. The town was interesting as usual and the 80 old Model T Fords running around added to the excitement.
Volunteer Work has kept Rosalie busy this year. She helps out at an animal rescue organization that provides a weekly spay/neuter clinic for dogs and cats. They also do animal adoptions, which means we foster animals for short periods of time until they find a forever home. This group takes dogs all across the country when they can find homes. Our most recent foster is two Ferrets. They are very inquisitive and have to be watched constantly if they are out of the cage. The cats are fascinated with them.
Weather has been the usual West Texas wait a day and it will change. Oct. 9th it was 97° and the 17th it was 36°. Nov. 6th it was 91° and the 9th it was 33°. We finally had our first freeze Thanksgiving week and it felt good especially as the days warmed up in the low 70’s.
Lanty Times and RM Ranch News Vol. 59 15 Jun 2017
Square Dancing The weekend of June 9th and 10 th, we headed to Wichita Falls, Texas for the 55th annual Texas State Square Dance Festival. The four hour drive up was uneventful with some beautiful scenery and lots of cattle. Arriving early Friday afternoon we took a quick nap, early dinner, then off to dance the night away. After the dance we stopped at Denny’s for a late night snack before getting some much needed sleep. We were back on the dance floor Saturday morning for some fun dancing then a quick lunch and a nap. The evening dance was well attended and the colorful outfits added to the festivities. Sunday morning we headed north to Oklahoma City to meet some old friends. Rosalie then headed to Arkansas for a short vacation (more on this in the next edition) while Mickey headed home for a couple of weeks of alone time working the ranch and the animals.
Photography February 16-18 and 24-25 we hosted a collection of photography at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts. For two weekends Mickey and some photo friends had a small gallery full of pictures for show and sale. Numerous people came by and enjoyed viewing the works and bought several of Mickey’s pictures.
The 29th of April Mickey took several of his photography friends on a photo shoot at the High Lonesome Ranch. He had been working on this since December and finally found a weekend with no hunting or other guests to the ranch. We were given the run of the large ranch, the high fenced area for the game is almost one square mile. A Great Horned Owl sitting on eggs was our first find. Then lots of deer, antelope, small animals and birds to photograph. We searched the ranch for the Zebras to no avail, they can hide pretty good when they want to.
At the Stribling Art Extravaganza March 23rd through 26th Mickey displayed two sunset pictures, one of which sold. This is the big art show for San Angelo and it was fun meeting the artists and guests. The Thursday night reception filled the two large halls at Fort Concho. With tables full of wonderful food and a good selection of wines it was an exciting evening.
June 3rd Rosalie and a couple of her Red Hat friends ventured out to the Hummer House for a day filled with birds of all types. The Humming birds put on quite a show along with Cardinals, Painted Buntings, Lesser Goldfinch, Inca Doves, and Woodpeckers. Of course while the ladies were enjoying the show Mickey was taking lots of pictures and conversing with a group of photographers who were spending the weekend there in the rental cabins.
Mickey managed to get his pictures on the front page of the local newspaper twice this Spring, numbers 13 and 14 total. On March 25th was a picture of a field of Bluebonnets by the lake in Robert Lee where Charlie the dog likes to swim. The second on May 27th was a Painted Bunting in the yard sitting in a tree that had not leafed out yet. The contrast of the colorful bird and the bare branches with a clear blue sky background was great. He also managed to get the front page of the Coke County paper on March 17th with a picture of three ducks swimming in the lake at the Bronte Park.
Weather What can one say about the weather in San Angelo except, wait a day, it will change. Jan. 7th it was 12°. Jan. 11th it was 82°. Jan. 24 th back to 84°. Jan 26 th it was 27° with snow on the 27th.
We had our first 100° day on May 26th. Mildly pleasant since then with the 100’s coming back as I write this. We are a little short on rain right now but hope for some before summer sets in.
State Park Visits to the state park started early this year. The annual New Year’s Day walk was a success with a large crowd of trail hikers and great weather. Just as the park ranger finished his safety speech and said “Let’s go.” A flock of white pelicans in a perfect vee formation flew overhead, having just taken off.
April 1st was the weenie dog races. With lots of small dogs racing, taking part in a costume contest, and other contests it was a fun day. There again some good photo opportunities. More good food, hot dogs were a hit, and interesting conversations made for another great day at the park.
May 3rd it was back to the park for Senior Day. Lots of people, more good food, cloggers for entertainment, and tours of the park made for a busy day. Mickey had a long conversation with one of the visiting rangers, a bird specialist, which was quite enlightening. Just as Mickey was finishing his lunch the older couple sitting across from him mentioned going back to see if they could find the porcupine they had seen earlier. Well, that got Mickey’s attention and it was easy to invite himself to go along. Ten minutes later he was taking pictures of a baby porcupine sitting on a tree branch and the mother who was well hidden in her nesting spot. The next morning he went back and got some good pictures of the mother, who had moved out into the light.
Ranch News Several new additions to the ranch this Spring have added to the workload and enjoyment of the ranch. Our neighbors peacocks decided to move in and two of the females hatched out babies. We have kept them locked up until the babies are big enough to survive on their own. Mickey also rescued a baby duck that someone had dropped off on the river, said he found it in his yard. The baby was too young to survive on his own. He is now a full grown Mallard with beautiful colors. We tried to take him to a lake to let him go however, after a brief swim and munching on lake stuff he followed Charlie, the dog, back to the car. Guess it was time to head home. We will try again and hopefully someday he will figure out that he is a duck and not a dog, although his best friend is a chicken he has been living with.
Trips April 19th through the 23rd were spent in Ocean Springs, Miss. visiting Mickey’s Mom. She was in good spirits and enjoyed the company. Long conversations and some interesting meals in the senior center dining room made time fly by. Between visits Mickey would cross the highway and spend time at the Gulf Island National Seashore relaxing with nature while keeping a watch for the alligators that are there. He went to the Sandhill Crane NWR but the cranes were not home.
Lanty Times and RM Ranch News Vol. 58 15 Dec 2016
Trips Aug 7th I travelled to Big Spring, TX for the National Hang Glider Competition. The drive up was uneventful except they had built a new highway, not on my map, and I was totally lost for a few minutes. Once I found the airport it took a while to find the hang gliders. They were on the far side just past the prison. The early morning briefing for the pilots included the following “dress warm because when you get to 10,000 feet the temperature is 40 degrees.” The temperature on the ground was 100 degrees at noon so it was fun to watch the pilots dressed for winter. The afternoon was spent getting some great action shots and talking to a group of interesting people. Definitely an adventure to remember.
The first weekend in Sept. we drove to Canton, Texas to attend the first Monday trade days. With 100 acres of vendors, there is probably nothing you cannot find. Yes, they even had a kitchen sink. Our friend Dorthy put us up for the weekend and gave us the grand tour of the area and some great food along the way.
Square Dancing June 17th and 18th found us in Waco, Texas for the annual Texas Square Dance Festival. Friday night we danced until 10:30 PM and then with a group of 250 dancers crossed the street to dance on the historic Suspension Bridge, which was completed in 1870, over the Brazos River. This was quite an experience. The next day started with a morning dance, we skipped the afternoon dance, then another evening of dancing. The trip home on Sunday was hard as my legs kept telling me that I had abused them.
Our next major dance trip was in late October when we once again travelled to Dallas to dance at the Texas State Fair. With two shows on Sat. and Sun. we kept busy. However, we did have plenty of time to explore the fair. We found Boris, a 4 years old pig who weighs 1155 lbs. We had one of the world famous corn dogs but didn’t try the fried Jello, don’t know how they do that. Overall a great weekend with lots of good food, conversation, and fun.
Photography has kept us busy both taking pictures and selling at the local craft fairs. I entered 4 pictures in the Texas State Fair photo contest, no ribbons but some interesting comments. The super moon on Nov. 14th was a real challenge until I remembered that the moon light is nothing more than bright sun on sand.
The Frontier Christmas Ball and Concert was on December 3rd and I was tasked with taking pictures of the people dressed in their 1880’s outfits. Many couples and groups wanted pictures and during the dances I tried to get them in action as well. Of course the next day I had to email pictures across the state to the people. Got some great responses from the appreciative party goers.
Over the last couple of years I have been able to get my pictures on the front page of our local newspaper twelve times. The pictures range from a Great Blue Heron sitting in a tree, hot air balloons filling the sky, baby prairie dogs playing and wild sunflowers on the banks of a lake. Being approached by strangers who say “I saw your picture in the paper” is a good feeling.
Parades July 2nd we ventured to Robert Lee, TX for their annual 4th of July parade and picnic. Rosalie and her Red Hatters rode a float in the parade and then she joined me with our square dance troupe for an hour of lively dancing in the pavilion. The appreciative crowd cheered us on in the summer heat and the cold drinks after the dance were definitely helpful.
Sept 23rd we ventured to Mertzon, TX. to take part in the Homecoming Parade. Rosalie rode on the Red Hat float while I took pictures of the Red Hat and Square Dance floats along with the horses and old cars. After the parade we went to the farm house of friends for a barbeque and conversation.
Nov 5th was the San Angelo Veteran’s Day Parade. Rosalie and her Red Hatters rode their float for the cheering crowd. I once again took my trusty camera and got pictures of horses, old cars, and marching bands.
Nov 26th we were off to Ballinger for their annual Christmas parade. Rosalie’s Red Hat group had a well decorated Christmas float which got lots of cheers from the crowd. The parade had over 40 floats with Santa coming in on a big red fire truck. After the parade we enjoyed a great lunch at a local steak house and then Rosalie spent a couple hours shopping in both Ballinger and then Miles on the way home.
Weather Has been very interesting. We had a moderately mild summer with sporadic rains. Sept 24th we had over 5 inches of rain. “Water, water everywhere.” I am way behind in mowing, and with the big mower on the blink I may never catch up.
We have had over 35 inches of rain this year, so far. That is quite a lot out here in the desert. As of this writing we have not had a good freeze yet but the forecast is for mid 20’s this week.
State Park hosted a dog walk in early July that was lots of fun. The local rescue groups brought over 50 dogs from the pound to the park for people to walk and enjoy. Rosalie’s Red hat group had a good time walking dogs and I got some great pictures.
The wildlife of the park has been putting on quite a show for us. The baby bison are growing up but still pose for pictures when we can find them. On occasion we can find the some of the numerous deer and even a javelin. Recently I had a great time watching a fox and her three pups playing. Add to all that the relaxation of the bird watching room where numerous species frolic for us while we enjoy our morning coffee and doughnuts.
Ranch News In mid August our last goat, Baby D, passed away from old age. She had been a fixture on the ranch for many years and will be missed. Late this summer our neighbor’s peacocks ran away from home and took up residence in our yard. One of the females brought three babies with her and the males brought large tails of beautiful feathers which they left all over the yard. They are nice to have around except for the loud calls and smelly droppings they leave everywhere.