Fort Griffin: A Frontier Oasis

I’ve been on a “fort” jag lately.  I’m pretty sure that the subject has been with me for long time though.  First there was our house, built in 1979-80.  The architecture and layout were similar to a doctor’s house in my hometown. Ours, however, was built with rocks from our pastures instead of bricks.   Basically, we wanted our new home to look old.  Really, really old.  Like it had always been here. Like it had just risen up from the dirt and rocks.  Like it…belonged.

Our home ended up looking like a fort , we discovered, on a visit 20 some odd years later, to Fort Fisher in Waco, Texas.  Fort Fisher, in fact, was not the usual fort as it was more of a gathering place for Texas Rangers.  We thought that was pretty cool!

In the meantime here in Kansas, the museum for Fort Larned was built and lo and behold, it resembled our home heavily…along with the officer’s quarters that had been restored nearby.  Actually, Fort Larned is a federal fort and is an outstanding example of historical restoration.  We’ve visited it several times and have 5 more grandkids to take in the future.

After  discovering Fort Chadbourne back in January, I decided it was high time I visited other forts. With several of these forts following the highway we’ve driven for the last 45 years between Kansas and Texas, it wasn’t far off my usual route to find Fort Griffin.  I’ve probably driven right past it many times, blissfully unaware and driving on a schedule with 3 kids in the backseat.


Now…think West Texas…mesquite trees…cattle…cactus…tanks aka ponds…throw in some hills and a river.   And that lands you right off US 283, halfway between Throckmorton and Albany, at Fort Griffin State Park.

US 283

US 283

While the Visitor’s Center doesn’t exactly blend in with the landscape, it’s a treasure trove on the prairie!

Photo courtesy of "Texas Sketchbook", artist E. M. Schiwetz, 1955.

Photo courtesy of “Texas Sketchbook”, artist E. M. Schiwetz, 1955.

I was met by Jane, the center’s administrator/greeter and I suspect any other job that needs to be done at the fort!  She was beyond helpful and knew her subject well. I shared the sketch of Fort Griffin from my Texas Sketchbook by E. M. Schiwetz as we browsed her book collection.  As usual, I walked out with three new books.  I cannot resist an interesting book.  It’s my one weakness…

The actual fort buildings/ruins are stone with reconstructed replicas of the wood frame buildings spread out like a quilt over the vast West Texas prairie.  I would imagine that about right now, the wild flowers are beginning to make their grand entrance to perk things up a tad!!

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Fort Griffin, built in 1867 and one of Texas’ nine western frontier forts, was an important part of area cattlemen’s lives and their families. It served as protection from Indian attacks and was a social gathering spot for the locals who came 30-50 miles for dance or political meeting. The sutler’s building sold supplies to ranchers and travellers and housed travellers of all sorts, schools were held within the fort for soldiers’ and rancher’s children…in other words, this particular fort, for a short period of time, was integral to the survival of West Texas settlers, migrants and wagon trains.

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The Fort itself is mentioned over and over throughout the book Interwoven by Sallie Reynolds Matthews. Mrs. Matthews mentions Fort Griffin nearly as often as she does the several ranch homes she lived in through her life.  Fort Griffin was essentially a life saver for ranchers who lived so far out in the sticks, they’d have to wait two weeks beyond the rest of the world for Christmas.  Almost. 🙂 The remoteness those early ranchers and settlers felt must have been overwhelming at times!

Looking up from the highway to the bluff

Looking up from the highway to the bluff

The fort itself sits on a rugged bluff that overlooks the Clear Fork Brazos river and the ghost town of Griffin aka The Flats, which now serves as an outstanding state campground and park.

Do yourself a favor and plan a trip to this fort and perhaps the other eight in the area! I’ve only hit highlights of the rich history of these outposts but take my word for it…they are all bursting with stories, legends and information.



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After a long…cold…wet…endless winter, we are almost nearing SPRING!  But don’t hold your breath!

First order of the day, after cleaning out flower beds, was to get birthday cakes planned, designed and made.  One down…several to go!

This birthday girl had a hard time deciding what exactly she wanted and then there was the problem of finding a time for a party in the midst of track meets, scholar’s bowls, etc. So we improvised .

purple birthday cake, rosettes

I baked the cake and decided to go with her signature color…purple.  And found a cake design I really liked and went with it. Figured out a couple of things as I went, mainly doing those giant rosettes is NOT as simple as it looks!!  I think I know what I’ll do next time and am still contemplating on the getting the rosettes uniform.

crumb coat, cake

8″, 3 layered and torted cake filled with hazelnut filling

The birthday girl was pleased as were her Sunday School compadres.  We were missing several with a couple coming in a little late but they gave the hazelnut filling and chocolate cake a thumbs up.  A win for Meemaw!!

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Gallery of Ointments: #4

Yep another repost..from 2013.
Since I was one post behind, I’ll get 2 in today and will sleep well tonight!

I hope. Last night was hopeless. The entire night found me chasing around in my dreamworld trying to find a piece of music. Couldn’t find it anywhere. It seemed like I spent the night hunting music and then found what I thought I needed but all of the notes weren’t there. Bummer. It was a really tough piece too. “Jesus Loves Me”. Duh.

I guess I dreamt this because I had been searching through my music for the complete “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”. The one I had in hand was just the chorus…meaning…there was not the “good tidings” part. Arghh. I finally headed to the basement to look through my really, really old music, filed away neatly in a file box. And there it was! Whew.

So today was the Big Day…I played around a dozen different songs, did a vocal duet with our pastor’s wife and accompanied the two oldest granddaughters for a 6 handed version of “Away in the Manger”…and accompanied youngest son in “O Holy Night” and may I just say that he did a stellar job!! And yes, I AM being objective!! The kid has a voice!!!!!!

All that to say…I’m just now sitting down to blog. I did get some Texas Trash aka Chex Mix and my millionaire candy made earlier, but that’s all cooling and the football game is pounding me in the face!

So this ornament was made by my aunt…who is a master crocheter/crochet person! This is the one who can look at stuff and crochet it. Which baffles me.

That reminds me…remember the cute little crochet snowman I posted a while back? I have one now sitting in my living room as cute as a bug. I’ll put him up later…

But she did the angel this past spring and gave her to me for my birthday. Actually, she made my mother and my other aunt one too. And I suspect all of her grandkids have angels too.

I love my angel! And when she’s not on the Christmas tree, she hangs around my kitchen on a cabinet pull. She’s good company and pretty to boot!!

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Ornament a Day, Take 3

So…After spending the day shopping, Big Boss and I are worn out.  This shopping stuff isn’t as much fun as it used to be.

Don’t get me wrong…I love hunting down the perfect gifts.  But after about 1 hour, I’m ready to call it a day.  Put my feet up…feet that hurt BTW. Drink a nice, hot cup of coffee. Take a deep breath.  And relax. Wait.  We did all of those things.  Except for putting our feet up!

Yep, BB took me to the IMAX to see The Desolation of Smaug!!!  What a guy.  No review for now though!  That would require “thought” and I’m all out. Besides, I have MUCH to do…cookies to bake, junk to put up…like around 10 plastic bins that hold Christmas ointments…ornaments.  See?  I have to stop and think it through now thanks to my lovely relative!!


Speaking of ornaments…today’s entry is another creation from my mother. She sewed pretty much everything I wore as a child. Yeah, even underwear.   So she had lots of fabric leftovers to deal with. Therefore I have quilts that she made out of those scraps. And doll dresses that matched my dresses. And Christmas ornaments! 🙂

This one is made out of the remnants of my senior prom dress! Yes, it’s really THAT OLD! The material is a whole nuther story. I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Japan during my high school years, so as graduation drew near, my aunt sent me some beautiful silk brocade, woven in Japan. How lucky was I? And it was…BLUE!! Yay!! So Mother and I went to the drawing board to come up with a dress that we enough brocade for.

My floating opal once graced the bottom of this ornament but I decided that it needed to be a necklace again. See???  I repurposed the repurposed.

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An Ornament a Day, Take 2

ROTFLOL…just thought of a funny story a relative of mine told me years ago.

She worked at a nice gift shop where really nice Christmas ornaments arrived with fanfare.  It seems that there were shoppers out there who collected specific ornaments and each year raced each other to get the newest and shiniest before the supply ran out.  Eventually, the shop sent out notices that would state the arrival dates for the ornaments.

So the highly anticipated day arrived and the prospective customer raced in and asked breathlessly if, “The Sacred ointment” was still there?!!!!!

My sweet relative racked her brain for an ointment that was considered “sacred” that could be hanging out in the shop. She thought and thought and asked nicely for the customer to repeat her request.

“You know! The Sacred O’Hara ointment!!!!”

(A clue. Sacred=Scarlett AND ointment=ornament!) Ahhh.

Biting her lip (and tongue) and stifling a giggle while desperately trying to keep a straight face, she located the o-r-n-a-m-e-n-t and handed over Sacred to the delighted shopper!

So it kind of became a joke between us. And eventually she gave me a lovely Sacred one year. I love ointments don’t you?


Another classic decoration in my kingdom is one that I made. Yep, by my own two hands. And I’m betting that Fancy Nancy may have one similar??

This one could be of the 1958 vintage?? Or 1959?

Obviously, my mom had purchased yet another Toni perm for me. I am SO glad that the days of perms for little girls are long gone! Never could figure out why my hair NEVER looked like the pics that came with the perm box. Sigh….

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Running through the day with The Queen of Sacks

The day starts calmly enough.  I am met early in the morning by a list lying on my kitchen counter written hastily by BB, whose handwriting would drive my second grade teacher berserk, bless his heart.

It reads…”will call on numbers to feed but probably 12. Parts need picked up in Dodge and also meat at the processing place.  Can’t find my phone.  See what you can do. And my email isn’t working again…”

With that, my trembling hands make coffee and lots of it.

I start putting out sacks for lunch…used but empty grocery sacks.  I  hang one on each of my cabinets pulls. Totals a perfect 12.  I went to college for this!

On the third sack, phone rings as BB races through the kitchen. I talk to a lost truck driver who is…lost. Again. BB says to just meet him at Road 23984 and he’ll guide him in.

BB is hungry.  I say I’ll fix him some eggs. NOPE…no time.  “Gotta run!”, as he grabs anything edible and on the counter while I pray that the carton of yogurt he just nabbed is still good.

Phone rings.  Cowboys want to know if anyone has brought down the ice chests from the silos.  Nope.  OK.

Back to sacks…where was I? Get all the way up to #8 hung on the pulls when Son #3 calls.  Can I take his phone to be fixed? Uh after lunch??  That’ll work. Oh and is there pop in the fridge?

Back to sacks.  Now all 12 are up. Phone rings.

Son #2 wants me to know he’s packing his lunch so don’t count him.

Down to 11. Take one sack down.

Start sacking up chips…we buy huge sacks of various chips then bag them up in El Cheapo sandwich bags.

Finish with 16 sacks of chips. Start sacking the sacks in the 11 sacks assembly line style.

BB is back. Still hasn’t found phone.  And I have forgotten to look for it. Wait, I say. I’ll dial your number.  Neither of us hear a cotton picking thing.  My detective skills tell us that it must either be in his truck, in the garage or…once again…be lying in the manure pile. I try not roll my eyes but…he leaves.

Back to sacks…get the 4th one filled with chip sack as phone rings…cowboys want me to know that the coolers are on the front porch. Check.  They like to keep me happy.  They know where their lunch comes from.

Cell phone rings as I hang up house phone…can you come to the feedlot and pick up so and so and take them to the south Allen field?

Note: for 30 some odd years I have begged for a map of all the “places”.  I cannot keep up with the old and new places much less which is north and which is east.  Sigh. Sure.  Maybe whoever it is I’m picking up will know exactly where we’re going cause I sure as heck do NOT!

Get so and so delivered and as I go through the pasture, #2 meets me in his truck and flags me down.  He needs a tire taken into town to be fixed.

Get tire delivered and while I’m there find out that there’s a new baby in town, the football team is doing great this year and Mrs. Smith is in the nursing home/resort now.  I also get some windshield cleaner refill and order a new windshield wiper for my truck.  And some gunk to hopefully stop the leaks in my utility wagon tires. I also ask for a sack please.  I’m running out dontcha know?

Arrive back home to Sack #?…lost my place.  Find the last sack with chip sack and I’m off and running.

I manage to get all 12…no 11 sacks filled.  But wait…BB calls to say there will be and so is sick, so and so has a Dr.’s appointment and so and so won’t drive until after lunch.

OK. so that’s 8 now…take 3 sacks down.  Start sacking up cookies that I thankfully had the foresight to make the night before.

Get last sack filled as phone rings.  Cowboy #2 says that they’re working cattle today and will have an extra cowboy.  Back up to 9.

Get sack out and fill it with chips and cookies.

Phone rings…are lunches ready?  Counting. To. Ten. “No” I chirp sweetly…”it’s just 10:30.”  Oh, he says.  “I thought it was 11:00.” I’m thinking “Lunch is served at 12 goof.” But I stifle any replies other than, “You’ll have to hang on for a while. I’ll call you when they’re ready.”

And I’m pretty sure that at the rate I’m going, lunch won’t be served until around 2.

And then I go back to the sacks. Chips. Check. Cookies. Check.  I think.  Better go through them and count again.

OK.  Done.  Now we’ll do the veggies.  Carrots all sacked and now in sacks. Wait. How many do I have now?  Am I down to 8 or 9?  I’ll just go with what I have and if there’s an extra one, I throw it in the fridge to use tomorrow.

Sandwiches get made assembly line style also…9 slices of bread lined up, then each slapped with mayo, then down goes 9 pieces of  lettuce so the mayo holds it in place.  Then 9 slices of meat, followed by 9 slices of cheese and topped with 9 slices of bread that has some mayo to hold the cheese in place.  This is a calculated work of science!


I manage to get the sandwiches sacked up and sacked into the grocery sacks…when the phone rings.

BB says we’re up to 11 again as he found a couple more guys to drive.

Get 2 more sacks out. Chips. Cookies. Sandwiches. Drat…forgot to ice down the coolers.  Run to garage, throw ice into coolers, then “place” not “throw” pop into coolers.  Top them all off with more ice…Diet Pop Cooler, Regular Pop Cooler, Sandwich Cooler with just a little ice…again, science at its best.

Haul it back into the kitchen to make final 9…no 11 sandwiches.  Get halfway through that when phone rings.  The number is now 12. Really.

With lightening-quick reflexes, I grab #12 sack that was on the floor, fill it with whatever is left over.  Cowboys are waiting at the door for lunches.  Time is not my friend.  They’re hungry. They are on a tight schedule. *snort* But…they are patient. Thank goodness. Because there is NO way I can lift those now full and HEAVY coolers.

I must hurry.  All 12. Or 9 sacks are filled as I carefully shove them into the iced down cooler. Or is it 11?

As the cowboys drive off into the sunset/high noon, I collapse onto the porch swing and pray, “Please Lord, let there be enough sacks.”

Never did I dream I would pray such a prayer.

Ten minutes later, the phone rings.  “MOM!! How come I have nothing but chips and cookies in my sack?!!!!”

Because you’re my favorite. That’s why.

Yes, I have a college degree which enables to acquire me the super hero abilities to keep up with all of this Country Living. IMG_1480

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Signs of the Times

What a glorious morning!!  God outdid Himself today!  Our fall colors are outstanding this year. Of course, I always bear in mind that in about 30 seconds of Kansas winds, those colors will be blown to smithereens!!

But in the meantime, while I pack again and decorate a cake, I’m going to enjoy every golden leaf!!  Win. Win.

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