Sweet Sounds: Guitar Delivery

The guitar’s green-stained tiger maple and white inlay look even better in good light.

I shared how much fun Lee and I had driving through North Carolina on a quest to get my son a pedal steel guitar.

This weekend, Declan and his girlfriend, Rylie, made a quick trip to the Hermits’ Rest to pick the instrument up. This was an exciting day. I sure had hoped he’d like it (and be able to play it).

Lots of pegs for lots of strings.

Declan plays with a few Austin-area bands that tour around the country every few months. Check out Mountebank and Sherry if you want to hear more. These bands are young, energetic, and full of actual talent!

He also has his own project, Big Destiny. Once we realized he was going to be good, we helped by getting him a few guitars and some lessons, but mostly he’s learned by virtue of hard work and practice. (He plays lead guitar, bass, keyboards, and various percussion instruments.)

We are aware that you can get more work if you play an instrument that isn’t played by a lot of people, so we were all for getting him a pedal steel when he expressed an interest two years ago. Folks around Austin are always looking for someone who’s good with a pedal steel. Now he just has to learn how to bend those notes and use all the extra strings.

I think he looks very happy here. Also, both my sons have their dad’s eyes. Really obvious here.

So, the young people arrived, and Declan and Lee got to unpacking the instrument, while Ryle recorded it on the phone (she’s doing music too, and is a very gifted artist). 

Everyone oohed and aahed over the colors and workmanship of the Hudson guitar. Even more fun was that it was still in tune, and Declan could coax some sounds out of it, even using a glass as a slide.

This is a little tune Declan played after he first got his pedal steel home. The start of many good things to come?

Once Declan and Rylie got home and the instrument was properly set up, Declan sent us a little clip of some lovely music. I can’t wait to see what else he does with it, and hop some of it is paying work!

How Far Back Can You Go?

One Kendall coat of arms version

I said in my first post about family history that I didn’t “get” the appeal of genealogy. I am now getting it more, and apologize to anyone I offended by how I characterized my earlier disinterest in previous generations. I honestly DO see now that people are interested in more than just finding out if they were related to any kings or queens.

That said, hey, I have ancestors with “Sir” and “Lady” and “Viscount” and such in their listings! Knowing that I have slave ancestors on one side, I guess it all balances out.

I like this Kendall family crest, because it has pelicans pecking their breasts to feed their blood to others. So noble.

When I delved into the past of my dad’s side, which are Kendall and Butts lines from north Georgia in the hills, I kept thinking surely I would run into a dead end pretty quickly, since “all those hillbillies” probably didn’t keep good records. Well, once again I was totally wrong.

People care deeply about migration patterns of early European settlers to the US, and there are very good records showing how my ancestors ended up heading as far as Arkansas. Where did they start out? Most arrived in the Virginia colonies in the 1600s. I read a tale on Ancestry.com of one Kendall ancestor who paid for his passage by putting his two sons into indentured servitude for three years. As soon as they were done, they got out of Virginia! People owning each other seems to have quite the history, and it applies to my ancestors on both sides.

Continue reading “How Far Back Can You Go?”

How Are the New Dogs?

A couple of people have asked me how Carlton and Vlassic, the two dogs we most recently brought into our ranch community, are doing. As I work on my next family history post, I’ll take a break to talk about these two sweethearts.

As people keep saying, he’s SO white!

Carlton the Dog Man

Carlton was the little, sad dog I got from the Cameron dog pound, A Touch of Love. He had been chained up outside since separating from his mother at just 6 weeks. I thought he’d make a great small dog to take back and forth to Austin with me. I wrote a long post on his genetics a few months ago.

Carlton is now a great, cheerful, medium-to-large dog who stays at the ranch with his three other ranch dog buddies. He is still one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen, and he is full of love and happiness. He will be a year old the first of the year, so we hope he has mostly stopped growing. It’s nice that he is about the same height as Brody the cattle dog and Harvey the chunky Rottweiler-ish mutt.

They bought this massage chair just for me!

He does not look much like we thought he would. He is slim and muscular, with very long legs. He runs like the wind, as long as he knows where he is going. We’ve had his eyes looked at again, and he seems to have a cataract in one eye that’s slowly growing, but he sees much better than we’d feared he would. 

He is as soft as he is lovely.

Classic Vlassic

Vlassic just showed up out of nowhere in August, right as we were realizing Carlton did not have the personality of an indoor Austin dog. We took him home from the neighbors’ house, intending to find him a home. Well, we found him our home!

Where is my human to sleep on?

This little dachshund-mix charmer melts hearts everywhere he goes. and has turned into a great little commuter. He goes back and forth with me to Austin, where he’s brought out the “real dog” in his friend Pickle. They run and play, and it makes us so happy to see Pickle not acting like a grumpy old lady all the time.

The vet said he was about a year old when we got him, so we have assigned him a birthday of when he showed up. 

I’m trying to get my smell all over the new couch, says Harvey.

Sleeping at our house

With all these dogs, sleeping might be a challenge. We do not have crates for them all! So what do we do?

  • Alfred the Anatolian Shepherd sleeps outside. He guards the ranch.
  • Brody the cattle dog mostly sleeps on the couch in the bedroom, but joins us some of the time.
  • Carlton has a dog bed he likes in the bedroom, unless it is really cold. He usually gets in bed at sunrise for snuggle time.
  • Harvey sleeps in the bed and growls grumpily if anyone moves and disturbs his beauty rest. He is quite an immovable object.
  • Vlassic sleeps directly glued to a human being all night, preferably completely under the covers. It’s a good thing he doesn’t stink. 

Amazingly, Lee and I sleep fine.

I finally don’t hate the way the living area at the ranch looks. Come see us!

PS

We replaced our stinky dog couch with one less likely to get ruined by the dogs. We also got a new rug, table, and lamp. Don’t worry, the dogs have already messed up the rug. But, that’s life with five dogs on a ranch.

Those Menorcan Settlers

Wow! My post about genealogy, which I reluctantly wrote even though I thought no one would care, really generated a lot of interest and interesting conversations! Quite a few folks shared their stories on my Facebook page, but the one that was most thought-provoking came from my friend Kathy, who is an anthropologist. Thanks to her, it became clear the story I shared last time is really not as benevolent as it sounded from the first summary I’d read! 

The cover of the novel about the niece of the man who capured the Menorcans

Kathy has a way better Ancestry.com account than mine, and her researcher instincts started her digging into the story of the Menorcans who were brought over to settle New Smyrna in Floriday. After she shared some findings, my friend Lynn, who went to high school with me, told us SHE is also descended from those folks (that makes two high school friends who turn out to be distant relatives, even though none of us was really from the city we went to high school in).

Anyway, here’s what Kathy sent me on Facebook:

Oh Sue Ann, the story of your ancestors in New Smyrna is so fascinating. There’s even a novel you can access online, published in 1897, set in New Smyrna and featuring the niece of Dr. Andrew Turnbull, the guy who tricked your ancestors into leaving their Mediterranean island home to go to Florida, then enslaved them. I left a message on your blog post. Send me an email and I will email the newspaper article I found to you. Here’s the link to the novel: Susan Turnbull

https://archive.org/details/16572618.2132.emory.edu/page/n1

The book Kathy referred to goes into great detail about how creepy Susan Turnbull was and how awfully they treated the slaves. I can’t wait to read more of it. Plus, there’s a sequel, which I have ordered: Ballyho Bey; or, the power of woman. A sequel to “Susan Turnbull.”

Kathy also sent me a couple of newspaper articles about Turnbull and his Menorcan captives. 

An article from 1913 said, Turnbull was the “original Florida land shark,”  who took advangage of opportunities during a brief period in the 1700s when Florida “belonged to” England (it later went back to Spain). (H.I. Hamilton: “New Smyrna of the Past and As It Appears Today,” The New Smyrna News, September 19, 1913)

A 1914 article from the same newspaper said Turnbull wanted to create a huge indigo plantation, and his intention was to “allure Greeks and other Europeans, many of them people of refinement, into colonization and reduce them to slavery.”

The first article makes a big deal about the fact that these were WHITE people. Sigh. A slave’s a slave and it is all bad! But it’s interesting to think that some of my ancestors, who escaped slavery to live in St. Augustine, later held slaves of their own.

More Menorcan descendents

It appears that when the Canovas escaped to St. Augustine things went well. My friend Mary reported that she grew up near “Canova Beach,” which was named after one of the Canova descedents, Carlos (the first engineering graduate from the  University of Florida!). The beach is near where the Indian River meets the Atlantic.

Judy Canova

Many of the family ended up in Green Cove Springs and Mandarin, Florida, not far from St. Augustine. My mom’s family ran a Canova Drug Store in Green Cove, founded by Dr. MJ Canova, who I believe is my third great grandfather. And we can’t forget the corn-fed comedy queen, Judy Canova, a member of the show-biz branch of the family (most well known to ME from a fried chicken commercial featuring the immortal Southern-accented words “And I helped”) and mother to Diana Canova, who was in Soap and other television shows.

My ancestors. This is in Green Cove Springs, Florida. left to right: Sidney Canova Anderson (my grandmother), Philip J Canova (great grandfather), Mary Susan Canova (great aunt), Frances Brown Canova (great grandmother), Laura Belle Canova Lazette (grandmother’s twin sister).

I mainly remember all my Canova great aunts and uncles. They were so genteel and educated, ranging from newspapermen to professional musicians. They came a long way.

Wow, thanks to all my friends who contributed to my family knowledge. I guess people DO like this topic.

NOW I’ll do more with my dad’s family, though I haven’t even touched other branches of Mom’s line!

Learn More

Canova Family Tree, by Frank Canova (my mother’s first cousin)

Chia Pets and Chiro

I have a lot more genealogy stuff, but let’s take a break for some ranch slice of life fun.

Spice stands patiently while getting her hooves trimmed.

Fiona and the horses were glad to see their farrier friend Trixie back after dealing with an injury. She is so good with them, and they love being adjusted by her, too.

Quite a frizzy mane you have there, horse.

While we waited for her to arrive, Mandi and I groomed them all for the first time since all the rain started. Apache had a huge knot in his mane that took quite some time to remove and left him with a frizzy hairdo. Spice had something similar on her forelock. Fiona was just filthy.

We took a little walk to where the grass was very much greener. As they chomped at delicious blades, I looked down the row of hay bales.

That green tinge is not a trick of light. The hay has grass growing out of it.

I realized it had rained so much that the hay was sprouting. It looked like a very big chia pet! This weather is so weird lately.

Apache is zoned out.

When Trixie arrived, she got to work. I’m happy Apache’s feet are better. He also really enjoyed getting chiropracted. His lip trembled, his eyes shut, and he sighed with happiness.

Spice has more pain, so some stuff bothered her, but she obviously felt better.

Mischief? I’m just checking that everything is okay in here.

Fiona’s feet looked great, so she just wandered around and got into mischief when she wasn’t leaning on me.

Big Red has big red eyes.

We were joined by one of our two remaining roosters, Big Red. He’s really friendly and loves sunflower seeds (and Mandi, who feeds them to him).

On a Learning Spree Part 5: Genealogy

Me, me, me. I’m the only one who cares about this much detail about my relatives and former relatives. (from my ancestry.com tree)

I realized I wasn’t finished with my “on a learning spree” series of posts (previous ones were on crafts, foraging, the voice, and my darned Apple watch). I’d been postponing writing about the genealogy stuff I’d been working on, because, well, I’m normally one of those people who snoozes when people start delving deep into their personal ancentral history.

It’s always seemed to me that your own family history is mainly fascinating to YOU. I’ve witnessed numerous conversations where people start saying, “My people came over in the 17th Century from France, and then this happened, and then this happened.” The other person then says, “Wow, MY family came from South America and blah blah blah.” No one asks their conversationap partner questions; they just go on and on with the begats like an Old Testament Bible verse.

Continue reading “On a Learning Spree Part 5: Genealogy”

First Freeze of Winter!

Carlton says, what the heck? As that thing that used to go round and round is now a lawn ornament. (Photo by Lee Bruns)

It’s finally not raining! But, wow was it windy for a couple of days. As you can see, it blew off our wind sculpture, which had been there since we built the house. Wow.

We also officially had our first frost of the year this morning. It’s always important to note these things if you’re trying to be a naturalist or gardener. Farewell to those last tomatoes that were trying to appear!