Burma Shave Signs

Anyone remember Burma-Shave signs?  Okay.  You have to be of a certain age.  As a kid, the signs were a highlight for driving trips through West Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.  If you’ve ever driven that way, you know how barren the landscape is.

The Burma-Shave company made shaving cream and came up with a unique advertising campaign along American highways.  The signs were displayed from 1927 to 1963.  At that time, most families drove for vacations and visits to relatives.

After we moved from the Ft. Worth/Dallas area out to the country, I heard a slogan that matched my sentiments about our decision.  So we decided to duplicate the Burma-Shave type of signs.

We put up signs along the road from the front gate to the gate to the house area.

The original signs rhymed.  Example:   “A shave / That’s real / No cuts to heal / A soothing / Velvet after-feel / Burma-Shave.”

Another example:  “Half a pound / For / Half a dollar / At the drug store / Simple holler / Burma-Shave.”

As you can tell, these pictures were taken in the spring time.

While signs on posts more closely matched the Burma-Shave signs, those were quickly knocked over by cows.  So now the signs are nailed to trees along the route.

Small or large, they tend to trample whatever is in their path.

When the popularity of the signs grew, the Burma-Shave company offered annual contests for new sayings and gave prizes of $100 for winners.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”  C. S. Lewis




Tea Party

Not the political one but the kind that little girls and older ladies enjoy.  We attend a small/medium size church with somewhat limited resources.  So planning an event can be a challenge.

Do you remember having a tea party with dolls?

I’m on a committee for women’s ministries.  Last year we had a Valentine’s Party for the ladies of the church.  Recently a Tea Party with a theme of Fill My Cup, Lord was presented.

Although I know relatives and other people who consider faux flowers gauche, it is the most practical answer for our church.

The room itself doesn’t present itself for a formal event, but we do our best.

I was in charge of decorations.  We decided to use teapots as flower vases.

Ladies were encouraged to wear hats that fall into the categories of Pretty, Creative, and Silly.  Prizes were given for each category.

A group of ladies sang the old song “Fill My Cup, Lord”.  We had three ladies to present short talks about the present circumstances of their lives.  There was a young woman with younger children who discussed her busy life.  In fact, she needed to leave early for her daughter’s basketball game.

Then a lady who has a daughter on the mission field talked about how that affects her family.  And finally, a lady who represented a vintage cup talked about difficult circumstances in life and about the women who had influenced her and helped her at different times.

Lots of different types of hats.  Door prizes and games with prizes are always a big hit.

One of my harebrained ideas was to have each lady make a card.  They would in turn write a note and deliver the card to someone that needed some attention.  This was to be part of the idea that when God fills our lives with love, some of that should spill out to others.

I still think it was a good idea.  It just took a lot preparation.

Some of ideas came from Pinterest.

Of course, the ladies had different levels of ability, so that meant they needed to select what they felt they could do.  I also wanted them to have some choices of cards to make.

Lots of supplies were needed.

I think most of the ladies enjoyed being creative.

The teacups were to be taken home to be enjoyed and as a reminder of what we learned.

It’s fun and a privilege to be part of a group that has common interests.

“To find someone who will love you for no reason, and to shower that person with reasons, that is the ultimate happiness.”  Robert Brault










What Is and Is to Come

Last days of winter – maybe.  Warms days followed by cold days creates a confusing message to nature.

The dried blossoms of Sedum Autumn Joy can be sprayed and used in flower arrangements.  Silver paint makes them look classy.

Plus, Sedum Autumn Joy is a wonderful succulent that is reliable.  Green leaves are already popping up.

Bi-color Iris (Dietes bicolor) or African Iris or Fortnight Lily forms a clump with long sword like leaves.  It’s a native to South Africa, so I’m hoping that it will recover from the hard freezes this year.

Texas Flowering Senna produces tons of seed pods.  After giving lots away, these were left.  The strange thing is that with all these seeds, there are no seedlings that come up under the bush.

Texas Flowering Senna displays stunning yellow flowers that last for about seven months.  Can’t wait.

The leaves of Red Yucca are still green but the tall flower stems are dry.  The flowers leave a hard shell with black seeds.

Most of its leaves are still clinging to one Red Oak in the yard.  The strong winds haven’t dislodged them  yet.  Before long, new leaves will sprout.

There are several varieties of Senna.  Not sure which one this is.

Interesting flower seed pods and branch forms.

Clusters of dried False Foxglove seed pods make me anxious for the return of their white petals with pink splotches.This time of year wild creatures are astiring.  A group of wild turkeys passed through behind the house.  Stealthily, I cracked open the back door and poked my camera through it.

From the road wild turkeys don’t appear to have much color, but a zoom lens shows their pretty feathers.

Looks like two old gossipers speaking solemnly about something.

Guess mating season has started, meaning new little ones.

Can you tell that I am ready for spring with its warm weather and pretty colors.  I know, I know.  It’s still February.  Just daydreaming.

“If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all.”  Joey Adams







Pop of Red

Nothing like bright red in winter to brighten the landscape.

This Possumhaw holly (Llex decidua) tree has finally reached an age where it produces lots of berries, and they are a larger size than the past two years.  A US native, it grows wild where is enough moisture.

Female plants bear fruit and need a male plant near by.  We only have the one Possumhaw, so I can’t explain why it produces berries.  But I’m glad it does.

Reportedly consistently moist fertile soil is needed.  Not here.  Guess this is one tough little tree.

This gnarly, thorny Texas Scarlett Quince (Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet’)    grows close to the ground making it impossible to clear out dead leaves and weeds from under it.  Scratched and bleeding arms are the results.

this plant’s only saving grace is that it provides the first color of the year and that it can be seen from the main area of the house.

Other varieties of Flowering Quince grow upright and have more flowers on them.  I chose the Texas native for its hardiness.  If I were buying again, I would go for pretty.

A stunning early morning sunrise is a great way to start the day.

This picture was taken in late fall but is appropriate for the pop of color theme.  Cardinals are active here in the winter.  With all their darting up/down, it looks like they’re avoiding gun fire.  It’s rare that I have a chance to get a pix.

These two Amaryllis were planted at the same time.  Crazy that the one on the left has no flowers and the one on the right, no foliage.

I don’t buy Amaryllis for myself but love and enjoy them as gifts.  I put them in tall vases to help them stay upright.  I’ll probably move this one to a taller vase so the stem won’t have to be staked.

Can’t get much redder or brighter in color than this.

A sunrise with a buttermilk sky makes me smile.

“When red-headed people are above a certain social grade, their hair is auburn.”  Mark Twain






Winter Silhouettes and More

Winter seems barren and blab, but beauty in forms and shapes stand out.

I’ve always liked the bones of this bush.  It’s tall, about 6 feet, and I still don’t know what it is.  It doesn’t flower.  Its best traits are hardiness and the dark colors of its leaves.  Someday I hope to identify it.

The dried sepals of the flowers left on the branches of Althea or Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) look almost like blossoms themselves.

Althea is one of the most reliable flowering bushes for our area.  Clay and caliche don’t phase them.  I love their hibiscus looking flowers with lavender colors.

Strands of Eve’s Necklace (Sophora affinis) hang on looking like black beads.  They’re not as shiny as when the tree is leafed out.  Other names include Texas Sophora, Pink Sophora, and Necklace Tree.

This little tree likes alkaline soil and limestone, so it’s perfect of our land.

The tree is three years old, and these are the first seed pods.  In spring pink flowers hang in small wisteria-like clusters.

Branches of oaks have interesting shapes.   Chinapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) has lots of curves.

Blue sky frames Chinese Pistasho or Chinese Pistashe (Pistacia chinensis) with its clusters of tiny berries and long thin leaves.  This tree is in the cashew family and is native to China.

Even though it isn’t native here, it is a Texas SuperStar plant because it does well in poor soil and doesn’t require lots of water.  As a young tree, it can look misshapen, but becomes a wonderful tree with fall color.  Amen to that.

As I was walking around taking pictures on a crisp, cold morning, this Northern Mockingbird was hunkered down in a large Rose of Sharon.  His feathers were puffed up for warmth, so he seemed cozy and didn’t want to leave, which made this picture possible.

As I came around behind the bushes later, he was still there.  Mockingbirds, the Texas state bird, are very common around here.

During winter, all the weeds and clutter around plants show up.  To the right of the sun dial, a Purple Sage or Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) is a voluntary plant.  Several years ago, one was growing about ten feet from this spot, so maybe that’s its origin.

Lots to be cleaned up.  Tires me out to think about it.

The wide open sky is always beautiful.

Love a buttermilk sky.  They are fairly rare here.

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men
who walked through the huts comforting others,
giving away their last piece of bread…
They offer sufficient proof that everything
can be taken from a man but one thing:
to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances,
to choose one’s own way.
– Viktor E. Frankl











Winter House Plants

How can you tell if someone is a plant person?  If they surround themselves with plants, then they are.  It doesn’t matter how much space they have;  even people in apartments with small balconies find room.  The size of the wallet doesn’t matter because other plant people will share.  And skill doesn’t matter because that can be learned.

I consider myself to be a plant person, although I wasn’t always.  It is an acquired passion.

During the cold days of winter, plants can be enjoyed inside.  These are two Poinsettias were bought last winter.

There are some complicated methods about getting Poinsettias to rebloom the next year.  Those involve putting plants into darkness for a certain length of time at specific times of the year.

But, honestly, I did not do anything special.  Last spring after the temperatures was consistently warm (about 65 degrees), the pots were placed outside under a large tree where it was shady most of the day.  Then in November when we took all plants into a shed, I repotted the Poinsettias into a larger size pot and brought them in the house.

The leaves had already started turning red and continued to do so inside with bright indirect light.

Last year I bought a couple of hybridized Kalanchoes because the flowers have more petals, which are layered, than the common Kalanchoes I had been given years ago by a relative.

Although these are gorgeous, the old plants seem to be hardier and definitely grow faster.  Each year I put the common Kalanchoes outside for the spring, summer, and fall.  This year I’ll try these outside.

This is the Kalanchoe with white flowers.  Some of them have a yellowish tint.

Plant people do have plants that die or don’t do well.  That can be due to different climates and growing conditions.  But it can also be the fault of the grower.

This poor neglected Angel Wing Begonia, a hybrid, is an example of that.  It doesn’t get the consistent moisture or temperature that it needs.  Plus, I forget to fertilize it.  It is two years old and has never bloomed.  But I keep promising myself that I will take better care of it.

I’ve been learning to propagate roses.  This is one of my successes.  I’ve tried in the past but am now using the method that is used at Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas.

Take a cutting just below a spent bloom and cut the bottom at an angle.  Leave a few leaves on the stem.  Water some loose fine soil, wring it out with your hands so that it is damp but not mushy, and place in a zip lock baggie.  Put the bottom end of the cutting in rooting hormone and stick in the soil. Antique Rose Emporium uses a gel:  Rootech Cloning Gel, which can be ordered online.

Several stems can be placed into one baggie.  Zip the bag, place it on a window ledge in indirect light.  Then wait for roots to grow at the bottom.

This is some Basil that my daughter-in-law propagated for me.  Isn’t that a nice pot?

Growing plants doesn’t always mean success, but it is a rewarding hobby.

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more they will hate those who speak it.”  George Orwell





Ranch Animals

Exotic animals, big game from other countries, are common in Texas and exist mostly on private land where they live in large enclosed areas.  Although this seems like a relatively new phenomenon, the King Ranch first brought in Nilgai antelope from India in 1930.  Today it is estimated that well over 200,000 exotics roam freely on private land.

As an experiment way back in 1856, the army brought 33 camels to Camp Verde to use as pack animals to carry supplies to forts.  The building of railroads eliminated the need for them.

During the severe drought of the 1950’s, more exotics were brought in to supplement the population of hunting animals.  About half of the 254 counties have exotics, but most are concentrated in certain areas where hunting is popular.  But there are also several places where they exist for breeding and to preserve the species.

The dates on the pictures are from different years because I’ve taken pictures over the years but haven’t used them on this blog.

When we bought our property in 2001, there was a small group of Blackbuck Antelope on the property.

The most popular exotics include different species of deer, antelope, and sheep.  But the largest group of introduced animals is the European wild swine.  No wonder we have a huge wild hog problem in many parts of Texas.  They are massive, aggressive, and reproduce at an alarming rate.

Today the numbers of certain species are larger in Texas than in their native lands, where they are endangered.  The climate here is similar to Africa and other locales where exotics come from.

A few female blackbuck are gathered at the fence behind our backyard.  A buried pipe from our water softening system drains salt to this area.  It’s a favorite lick spot for native deer, cattle, and blackbuck.

The purple flowers are Tormpillo or Silverleaf Nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium), which is a common weed in western North America.  It also grows in South America, the Middle East, and South America.  A reader recently commented that it is used in some Mexican cheeses.

Blackbuck get their name from the fact that the males get darker as they age.  The top of the back of a really old male is black.

Sadly, we do not get to enjoy these beautiful creatures with their bouncing straight up as they run anymore.  They have become prey to a native animal – the coyote.  And those are not cute, humorous Wiley B. Coyote like in the cartoon.  Coyotes decimate cattle and other preferred animals.

Another popular group of exotics are Llamas from South America.  This one was given to us by the man who leases our pasture land.  Leah was to replace the mate of the widowed white male seen in the background.

The tiny purple flowers in the pasture are native Prairie Verbena.

Leah was pretty old before she died last year.

I always felt sorry for her in the heat of the summer.

A more unusual exotic is the Bongo.  These are on a ranch that we pass by on the county road whenever we leave the ranch.  The man who owns these is involved in preserving species of animals that are becoming endangered.

Both the western lowland and eastern mountain bongos are native to Kenya and are endangered.

This group is thriving and adding young each year.

We enjoy the animals that enhance the beauty of the land.

“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner.”  Max Lucado