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.

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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.

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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.

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Lanty Times and RM Ranch News Vol. 57 15 Jun 2016

Trips Feb. 4th we were off to Miss. for a Mardi Gras Square Dance and to see family. Stopping in Lake Charles to see Mickey’s brother, James, we stayed in the Golden Nugget hotel and casino, quite a fancy place with excellent food and a great view of the lake and city from our room. The 5th was a short drive to Miss. and some quality time with family. Saturday was dance time with a two hour workshop in the morning and the crowning of the Mardi Gras King and Queen before the night dance that was lots of fun. We met several people from our previous trips to dance in Miss. Some more good family time and southern cooking made for a long to be remembered trip.

March 28th Rosalie headed to Plainfield, Indiana to attend the funeral of a great friend, Elsie. Elsie’s granddaughter and other family members drove, four adults and a one year old infant. They drove straight through, a long tiring drive. It was an emotional time and the funeral was well attended. The drive home took two days through some beautiful country.

April 18th Mickey headed to Miss. To check on his parents who were both having medical problems. The trip started out quietly with occasional light rain. The rain became a deluge east of Austin with major flooding in the Houston area. Having to cross three lakes on the interstate and being forced off the interstate due to high water seemed like a problem at first however, with all the sane people staying off the roads the trip through town was faster than usual. The night was spent in Sulphur, La. due to continued rain. The 19th was a pleasant drive to Miss. with no excitement at all. Mickey stayed in Gulfport with his brother while visiting his parents in Ocean Springs. Between visits he snuck off to the coast and the Gulf Islands National Seashore to enjoy nature and stretch his legs. With both parents home and feeling better it was time to head back to Texas. A drive filled with stops to enjoy some great scenery ended on the 23rd with him home safely and the car performing magnificently, 40 MPG overall.

May 17th it was back to Miss. to say goodbye to Mickey’s Dad, 1926-2016. The week was an emotional one for family. A moving service at the Biloxi National Cemetery was well attended with a heartwarming eulogy given by Ray’s youngest son James. The drive home on the 26th was quite eventful. With torrential rains in the afternoon a stop at a motel in Navasota, Tx. was necessary. That night the area got over 12 inches of rain, there were ducks swimming in the motel parking lot. The next day’s drive home was uneventful and relaxing.

Square Dancing besides the normal weekly dances and demos for the senior centers we danced at the Texas Independence Day Festival. An hour in the warm sun entertaining a large crowd was fun and of course ended with a tasty meal at a Mexican restaurant.

April 7th found us at the Highland school, about 60 miles north of us, to entertain the students and 25 French students touring Texas. They had requested that square dancing be a part of their tour and we were more than happy to show them what we could do.

State Park April 2nd was the annual weenie dog races. Lots of small dogs participated in races, costume contests, and an obstacle course. This was a fun time and made for several great photo shots.

May 4th was senior citizen day at the San Angelo State Park and Mickey was asked to set up a photo display of the park’s wildlife. The people enjoyed the pictures and asked many questions about the animals. One couple from out of state fell in love with a longhorn picture and had to buy it, not planned on at all.

Story Time Mickey’s Dad, Ray, in April was in a talkative mood one morning and related an interesting story from his naval days. He was a dental technician and was sent out on a destroyer for a cruise. After several weeks it was decided that his services were not needed as destroyers didn’t have a dentist. He was transferred, at sea, to an aircraft carrier where his talents could be used. During a refueling from a tanker the helmsman was told to steer to port to get a little closer to the tanker but he steered to starboard instead. This maneuver pulled the refueling hoses from their connections. Ray was watching on deck from a gun port and hearing the disconnect ducked in time to avoid being hit by the flying hoses but he along with several other sailors got soaked with fuel oil.

Photography opportunities on the two trips to Miss. were varied and numerous. Highlights included a pair of Blackbuck Antelope butting heads, with a fence between them, to impress a female. A small herd of Bison in a field with an American flag in the background. And of course the wildlife of the coast, pelicans diving into the gulf, dolphins swimming by, and especially the alligator with babies at Gulf Islands.

A good friend invited Mickey to his ranch on January 23rd to feed the sheep, check on water, and take pictures of his Elk herd. The Elk were hiding at first but finally came out and posed for some pictures. The young buck was quite handsome and the does were shy until the feed hit the trough, then they ignored people and ate.

In Feb. Mickey presented a talk/slide show of the trip to the balloon festival last Oct. to the local photo club. The club members were fascinated at the pictures and interested in the techniques used to capture the magnitude of the event. With lots of questions and comments the presentation seemed to be well received.

Weather at the beginning of the year was interesting. The Irises at the gate first bloomed late in Jan. with Spring temperatures. Early Feb. came a freeze followed by more Spring. The Irises bloomed through March with lots of rain and warm temperatures.

This very wet Spring broke the all-time record for rain. The month of April found our little ranch house surrounded by wild flowers. Carpets of yellow with splashes of red, white and blue made for an idyllic scene with a heady aroma ever present. The rains continued in May and by the time Mickey returned from his trips to Miss. there was a definite need to break out the lawn mower. With more rain through the end of May the lawn had to wait till June rolled around with blue skies and warmer temperatures, the mowing is going as rapidly as possible in short bursts.

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Lanty Times and RM Ranch News Vol. 56 15 Dec 2015

Trips The end of June Mickey headed north, about 45 miles to visit an old Cold War missile silo. The silo itself is filled with about 150 feet of ground water, a great place for divers to practice. The living quarters are in great shape. The photo opportunity was challenging in the tight quarters but well worth the effort.

August 17th found us escorting a dozen Red Hat ladies to the Hummer House in Christoval to enjoy the hummingbirds and other wildlife. The birds put on a show while the ranch owner explained what it takes to be deeply involved in nature. They regularly band both the hummingbirds and other species for future tracking. While working for the perfect picture of the hummingbirds a hawk came down and picked up food set out for him, another great photo opportunity. A delicious lunch at the airport restaurant topped off an adventurous day.

Square Dancing The last weekend in September found us once again dancing at the Texas State Fair. With two dances each day we had time to enjoy the fair and entertain the fairgoers. After our second dance on Saturday we raced back to the hotel for a quick shower, dancing outside in 90 degree weather was hot, and then off to an excellent Greek restaurant with friends. Two more dances on Sunday then it was time to head home. A stop for an early dinner in Thurber (population 5) with our dance troupe was filled with great food and lively conversation.

State Park visits continued throughout the year with numerous pictures and some fun adventures. In mid April on a walk across the dry lakebed I found an old tree limb that had spent several years under water - a little careful cleaning and it turned into an interesting walking stick. Heavy rains the first of May poured water into the lake making my walk only weeks earlier impossible now. More rain in late October caused the river to rise again and pour even more water into the lake. The migratory birds, including white pelicans, are enjoying the large expanse of water.

On August 29th while standing on a hilltop looking for the longhorn herd, I happened to see a small white object glistening in the sun. Sliding down the steep hillside I found a golf ball, no idea how or why it was there. However, upon turning around to head back up the hill I noticed a large flat rock with what seemed to be ancient petroglyphs carved into it. A few quick pictures and I was up the hill. The park rangers were surprised at what I showed them and said “Take us there, now.” The only other petroglyph in the area is about 1200 years old, waiting on research to date this find.

Photography both Rosalie and I submitted pictures for the Texas State Fair photo contest in Dallas. We didn’t win anything but did get some good comments on our works. Now to figure out what the judges are looking for.

November 7th I had ten pictures hanging in the Black Swan Gallery for an art exhibit. The evening was spent in conversation with numerous art lovers and artists. An excellent wine and live music made the evening both relaxing and rewarding.

Balloon Festival Early in the morning on October 9th we left San Angelo headed for Albuquerque, New Mexico. A wonderful drive through some beautiful country ended as we arrived at our motel early in the afternoon. After a light dinner we headed off to the festival grounds. We found a large area full of vendors, crowds of people, and hot air balloons. The weather was cool and only a light breeze, which was within limits for the balloons. As the sun set the balloons began to fill and tethered to the ground glowed in the dark. We had a wonderful evening in the middle of the show enjoying the sights and sounds of the event.

Up at 4AM we headed back to the festival for the morning laser show and some predawn glowing. As the sun began to rise the first of over 400 balloons began to take to the sky. Colors everywhere and numerous animal and character balloons enhanced the visual effect. Both our cameras got quite a work out, over 500 pictures between the two of us. The weather was perfect; cool with no wind at first and later only a slight breeze. Definitely an experience.

We had a pleasant afternoon drive up to the little town of Chama, NM through some beautiful country. The aspens were in full fall color, shiny gold. High up in the mountains our friends Lynn and Jay have a quaint little house with a great view of the three thousand foot cliffs towering over them. We got up early in the morning to chase the coal fired steam train as it wound through the countryside on its way to Colorado. More great photo opportunities and of course some interesting shopping for Rosalie. A quiet afternoon watching the deer, chipmunks, and birds in the forest and the peace and quiet was very relaxing. The drive home was long and thankfully uneventful with the animals happy to see us home.

THE LEGEND OF THE CHRISTMAS SPIDER (A folk legend from Germany and the Ukraine)

Once upon a time, long ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year.... The day on which the Christ child came to bless the house. Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had been banished from their cozy corner in the ceiling to avoid the housewife's busy cleaning. They finally fled to the farthest corner of the attic.

T'was the Christmas Eve at last! The tree was decorated and waiting for the children to see it. But the poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree, nor be present for the Christ child's visit. But the oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could peep through the crack in the door to see him. Silently they crept out of their attic, down the stairs, and across the floor to wait in the crack in the threshold. Suddenly, the door opened a wee bit and quickly the spiders scurried into the room. They must see the tree closely, since their eyes weren't accustomed to the brightness of the room... so the crept all over the tree, up and down, over every branch and twig and saw every one of the pretty things. At last they satisfied themselves completely of the Christmas tree beauty.

But alas!! Everywhere they went they had left their webs, and when the little Christ child came to bless the house he was dismayed. He loved the little spiders, for they were God's creatures too, but he knew the mother, who had trimmed the tree for the little children, wouldn't feel the same, so He touched the webs and they all turned to sparkling, shimmering, silver and gold!

Ever since that time, we have hung tinsel on our Christmas trees, and according to the legend, it has been a custom to include a spider among the decorations on the tree.

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Lanty Times and RM Ranch News Vol. 55 15 Jun 2015

Trips Tuesday March 10th Mickey headed east. First stop was Lake Charles, La to see his brother. An excellent Italian dinner was followed by an evening of conversation. Early the next morning it was back on the road to Ocean Springs, Miss to visit his parents who had just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Two days of good food and conversations went by too fast. Then it was north to Brandon, Miss to visit his brother and once again enjoy the Miss. Square Dance Festival. Sunday it was time to head west and home.

Red Hat Society Rosalie spent February 1st through 8th cruising the Caribbean on the Navigator of the Seas with a group of Red Hatters. Leaving out of Galveston she travelled to Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and Cozumel. She had her hair done in cornrows with beads in Montego Bay. While touring the Mayan ruins in Cozumel she got some good pictures of an Iguana and enjoyed some interesting chocolate.

Square Dancing On Jan. 17th we travelled to Tye, Texas for an evening of dancing. Mickey returned to Tye on the 31st while Rosalie was on her way to Galveston.

In addition to our usual weekly dances we decorated a float for the San Angelo Rodeo Parade on Feb 14th. We managed to dance on an 8 foot wide trailer without anyone falling off. The crowd loved our performance and cheered us on our way.

The Miss. Square Dance Festival was two days of enjoying the music and friendship of the dance. Several people from last year welcomed Mickey back. The only break from dancing was Saturday morning when Mickey headed to a small state park for some quiet, to enjoy nature and get some great pictures.

June 5th found us on the road to Waco, Tx. for the Texas State Square Dance Festival. After a pleasant 4 hour drive we arrived and settled in the hotel. That evening dancing started at 7:30 and we finally left at 10:30. With 22 dancers from San Angelo showing up we had plenty of friends to dance with as well as hundreds of new friends. The last dance of the night was a ‘hot hash’ which is basically 15 to 20 minutes of nonstop, fast paced dancing. Rosalie was smart and sat this one out while I managed to survive the dance, even though I paid for it later with some sore legs.

Saturday was another day of dancing. We danced from 10 AM till noon with a small group of dedicated dancers. We skipped the 2 till 4 dance and opted for naps instead. However, we were back on the dance floor from 7:30 to 10:00. The crowd was lively and the callers kept us on the floor. Overall a great weekend but we were happy when we arrived home early Sunday afternoon.

State Park visits through the year have produced numerous pictures of wildlife. The herds of bison and longhorn cattle always give us a show. The bird room provides a relaxing atmosphere and there is always something going on outside the large open windows. Besides the normal bird population there are wild turkeys, hawks, and the ever present cardinals. We even have enjoyed watching the javelinas playing around.

Photography Mickey won a white ribbon at the Creative Arts Show at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo. His picture of a male Cardinal received numerous good words. The same picture sold at the Stribling Art Extravaganza, which is the big art show for San Angelo.

The end of March Mickey headed to a large sheep ranch to take pictures of the annual sheep shearing. After taking numerous pictures of the shearing, he volunteered to ride along with the trailers taking the sheep back out to pasture. His job was opening the gates out and back and taking more pictures of the sheep pouring onto the fields after the ride.

Early on the morning of April 4th Mickey headed east for a three hour drive to Briggs, Tx. Several stops along the route were necessary to take pictures as the bluebonnets and other wildflowers were in full bloom. At Briggs he stopped at the Fault Line Flyers, a glider club, to do some aerial photography. After some time photographing the gliders from the ground, he climbed into a two person glider. While the pilot flew the plane up to 4,000 feet Mickey snapped away at the scenery and another glider being flow by a good friend, Cathy, who had talked him into this adventure.

May 2nd was spent at Ft. Chadbourne, an 1870’s cavalry fort about 30 miles north of Bronte. The fort has a history weekend full of reenactors living the life on the frontier. With horses, cannons, and period costumes all around the photography was great. Of course, a trip out to the bison herd was a pulse quickening experience.

May 3rd we were off to Dyess AFB, near Abilene, for an airshow full of goose bump excitement of both sights and sounds. Between the two of us we took over 200 pictures of everything from aerobatic aircraft, an old Soviet Mig 17, WWII bombers, and of course the newest aircraft in the USAF arsenal the B1 and B2 bombers. Mickey spent some time talking to the crew of an RC-135, the aircraft he flew on while in the Air Force. The updated versions have better engines and the electronics have been brought up to modern standards. Couldn’t talk them into taking him for a flight.

Weather The year started out with an ice storm on New Year’s Eve which closed everything down for two days. Temperatures hovered in the mid 20’s for several days. Of course at the end of the month we had several days in the high 70’s and even hit 80 on the 28th, and again a couple days in early Feb. However, we went back to ice and snow the end of Feb. with two more days in the mid 20’s and staying home to avoid the ice covered roads. The good rains and ice were a boon to the wildflowers which covered the yard starting in April and continuing through May as even more rain fell.

We ended up with over 7 inches of rain for May, even more fell on the watershed for the lakes. We managed to avoid the flooding in east Texas, the only damage in the area was the river through the state park which turned into a torrent causing some damage. The good news is that all that water ended up in the lake which now has more water than we have seen in years.