Monday, June 30, 2014

In Honor of Kris Kristofferson!

Today has been great until we received the sad news, from our dear friend, Fay, up in Canada, that their beloved family dog, Kris Kristotfferson, that they had adopted from us many years ago, who Ben Welch and our first great volunteer, June knew and patiently worked with—has passed away from old age.

Fay wrote a beautiful obituary to honor her and her family's beloved dog, Kris aka Prince. So tonight, made in loving memory of Kris, one of the greatest, gigantic mutts, that had lived a tragic life until coming to our rescue ranch and then luckily being adopted by Fay and her family. I am posting her words made in loving memory of Kris Kristofferson, truly one of the greatest dogs that Kinky, June, Ben, Tony and I have ever known. Fay wrote:

"It is with deep sadness that I inform you of the loss of our beloved Texas gentleman, Kris Kristofferson, aka “Prince”, aka “Wheedle” on Monday June 30, 2014. Kris spent his early days in Houston, Texas before bring dropped off in Hill Country, at the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch in Medina, TX. Cousin Nancy, Tony and Kinky welcomed him with open arms, whilst running his rather unsavoury previous owner out the gate and locking it behind him. Kris soon settled in at Utopia and became an ambassador for any new dogs that arrived at the Ranch for as Cousin Nancy said to me on a recent visit to the Ranch, “we knew he’d get along with every dog they ever put in the pen with him.” After several years of residing at Utopia, Kris found a few homes to try out, but was returned shortly thereafter – each time - as none of them were a good fit for his exuberant and Texas-sized personality. It was in the Summer of 2006, when Kris was enjoying yet another summer at Utopia and living with a pretty young blonde named Pricilla Presley, that his luck changed.
At that time that Fay Maclachlan, residing in the great country of Canada, best friends and great neighbor to the USA, heard about the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch and visited the website to see all the amazing dogs that were looking for their forever homes  Fundraising for the Ranch was carried on by Fay throughout the Summer and was wrapping up in the Fall 2006. Fay had noticed Kris’ photo and made polite inquiries as she was looking to give a fine dog a home with her family. By a huge stroke of luck, much to Fay’s disappointment, (but she was happy for him!), Kris got adopted to yet another Forever Family in his home state of Texas. Kris was promptly returned, because, as Cousin Nancy said in her call to Fay, “He’s meant to be with you!!”
It was January 2007, at age 7, Kris decided to assume dual Canadian/US Citizenship and booked a flight up to Toronto via Houston TX. He arrived in the middle of an ice storm and became quickly adapted to the Canadian winters. On his second day in his adopted country, he immediately mastered a technique for jumping on snow banks at the nearby ponds to force mice out from their winter slumber and then chasing them down. This was amazing since he had never seen snow or ice in his 7 years on the planet. Truthfully, we all wondered if he had been concealing a more international secret past, as we all claim to have heard him mention “MI6” on late night phonecalls to his good pal Felix Leiter, although he always denied it vehemently.
In his 8 year appointment as Texas Ambassador to Canada, he became legend for jumping out of every 2nd floor bedroom window in his new home, slaying skunks who wandered into his yard and won the Counter Surfing Championships for 6 consecutive years. He embraced life and lived in the moment. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was spending 15 years on Earth without ever acknowledging the words “Kris, come!” and it is rumoured that the prolong running scene from the film Forrest Gump was based on one of his multi-hour running escapades down at the ponds.
Kris lived with the Maclachlan family for 8 years after his arrival in Canada until he stepped on a rainbow on the last day of June 2014. He left a legacy of wonderful stories and big love from all who ever met him. In the words of the peerless Kinky Friedman, residing at Echo Hill Ranch in Medina, TX “Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail.” 
Godspeed, my Son. You will be missed but never forgotten. Fay xo"

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Honking Your Own Horn!

Today has been great. Early this afternoon I went over to Kinky's for a visit. We talked about Donna Gable Hatch's great article that she wrote for Steve Pietzsch, in The Kerrville Daily Times. After that Kinky told me that he was very concerned about Sophie Friedman, his adorable, sweet Cocker Spaniel that he had rescued several years ago, from a woman that was fixin' to become a homeless street person, in San Antonio. Because she didn't want Sophie to have to deal with that.

Anyway, Kinky was concerned that Sophie had back pain, because she had gone on a walk with Kinky and The Friedmans, earlier in the morning and since then she would not get up or walk around. I suggested that I leave and come back and honk Trigger's horn, in hopes she might get up. Kinky didn't much care for my idea, but he said, "Okay, it's worth a try."

So they went back inside the Lodge, where Sophie was and Trigger & I drove away and circled the ranch once. When Trigger & I returned to the Lodge, I honked twice and waited. The Friedmans barked and then I saw Kinky opening his kitchen door to let Sophie, Winston and Peanut come outside. And Kinky was smiling, even though Sophie was moving slowly. "Thanks, Nance. You got her up...."

This evening around 5:00, Kinky called me again, because he didn't know if he should take Sophie to Hoegemeyer Animal Clinic. "She won't get up and she might be in pain. Maybe it's her back...." After a long discussion, I suggested that I come back over there and honk, in hopes that Sophie would get up, so we could check her out.

Five minutes later I half-hollered, down the hallway, "Tony, I'm going over to Kinky's and should be right back. I've just got to go honk the horn, again." Then I jumped inside Trigger and we took off, but I didn't make it very far, because as I was waiting, at the entrance gate to open, I looked to my left and saw an adorable, little, black, dog, in our fenced corral.

"What?" Then I shoved Trigger into park and jumped out of the truck. "Hey, little Buddy. Come on over here. Are you lost or did some bad person drop you off?" As the cute, but matted-up, little dog walked slowly up to me, on the other side of the fence, I said, "Now, don't worry. I promise that I'm not going to hurt you." Then I bent down and let him sniff my hand. When he started wagging his tail slowly, I said, "Let's get you out of there. Come on follow me." Then I walked up to our gate and then around it to the white board fence—and he was following me through the tall grass. Second later, he crawled under a board to get out of the corral and I petted him. When he jumped up on my legs to let me know that he trusted me, I picked him up and carried him back to Trigger.

All of the way over to the Lodge I talked to him and as he listened he seemed to be very relaxed riding in the truck. When we arrived at the Lodge I honked twice. Seconds later, Kinky opened the kitchen door and out ran Sophie, Winston and Peanut Friedman. Then Kinky walked outside wearing the biggest grin on his face and half-hollered, "Thanks, Nance! Look at Sophie! I can't believe this. She seems to be fine now! Come on in."

"I can't, Kinky. I just rescued this little dog. You've got to meet him." Seconds later, Kinky was petting the little dog though the window as I told him the story.

"Nance, he's so precious. Why don't you let him out to meet The Friedmans and drink some water."

As the sweet little dog met the friendly Friedmans and drank some water, I told Kinky that we had no room at the rescue ranch and would put him in our trailer, but I was also seriously thinking about Tony and me adopting him, because he had already stolen my heart. "What are you going to name him, because I might take him too if you don't adopt him? He's about the same size as The Friedmans and would fit in perfectly," Kinky said.

"Felix," I said. "No wait. Walter Matthau, because every dog that we name Walter Matthau always gets adopted fast." Kinky loved the name. Then I stayed over there and visited with Kinky, as we watched Walter make himself at home.

Before I left the Lodge to come back home, we had decided to let Walter spend tonight with The Friedmans and Kinky, at the Lodge, I said, "I am so glad that I came over to honk the horn again, because this little fella might have spent the night outside being scared, hungry and thirsty and now because Sophie is feeling great and totally back to normal, you don't have to take her to the vet."

Kinky agreed with me and then teasingly said, "Me, too. Quit honking your own horn." And that is about it for tonight, except I want you to meet our latest Mr. Walter Matthau.

Y'all have a great evening! And remember that sometimes it is okay to honk your own horn, because you might just save a dog or a trip to your veterinary clinic.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Steve Pietzsch Rules The Art World!

Today has been great. Last night my dear friend Donna Gable Hatch sent me a sneak preview of the fabulous article that she wrote about artist, Steve Pietzsch, who is one of Kinky's, Tony's and my dearest friends.

After I read Donna's wonderful piece about Steve, that appeared in today's, The Kerrville Daily Times, I sent Donna and Steve e-mails to let them know just how much I loved the story. Then I called Kinky to let him know about it. He was thrilled about our friend, Donna Gabel Hatch, writing the story about Steve.

Then I sent Steve another e-mail:

"Steve! Donna just sent me the article that she wrote about you and it is totally awesome! Congrats! It's so funny how thinks work out! Last week at Chet's In Dining Hall Concert, out here, I introduced Carol to Donna and later on, Carol introduces you to Donna. I love serendipity and how things just seem to work out. I am so thrilled for you. Nancy

P.S. Thanks for using Tony's picture. Donna told me that they were and that the paper was giving Tony credit for his picture of you. Tomorrow I will definitely be blogging about all of this. Cheers!"

Then Steve immediately shot me back an e-mail agreeing with me. So, I guess you could say, "Chet O'Keefe's In Dining Hall Concert was magical in many ways."

Now Fast forward to this afternoon. Around 1:30, while Tony was gone to Medina to buy us a copy of The Kerrville Daily Times, I had just met Gabriele, from Germany, and her lovely daughter Xenia, who lives in Texas and was showing them our trailer when Kinky calls me. "Nance, Sean Rima is over here and would it be okay for us to come over for a visit?"

Ten minutes later, Tony returned home, about five minutes earlier than Kinky and Sean and his daughters arrived. When I showed Kinky the newspaper article he immediately sat down and began reading it. And to say the least, "He loved Donna's article and was thrilled for Steve." In fact, Kinky said, "As soon as I get back to the Lodge—I'm calling Steve."

Kinky, Sean, Gabriele, Xenia, Tony and I had a great visit and we also did a lot of laughing. And before Kinky, Sean and his girls left, I played them Chet's song Ode To Cousin Nancy, which they thought was beautiful. 

Tony and I had a wonderful time visiting with Gabby and her daughter and discovered that we had so much in common. About an hour later, the women followed me over to Kinky's, because he had invited them to come over for a visit on his front porch. It was a good time for all and here's a picture that I took of them.

Now enjoy reading Donna Gable Hatch's article, in The Kerrville Daily Times, about Steve Pietzsch, because Kinky just called me to invite me to come over for a visit.

A twist of fate leads artist Steve Pietzsch to his home on the hill

By Donna Gable Hatch
Features Editor

     Standing on the deck of his small teal green cabin overlooking the valley below — 10 acres of which belongs to him — Steve Pietzsch is a happy man. “This is my slice of heaven on earth,” Pietzsch said. “It took me awhile to get here, but I’m here.” 
     To the outside world, Steve Pietzsch’s life was picture perfect. For nearly three decades, he was an in-demand illustrator working for high-profile clients, including Texas Monthly, Rolling Stone magazine and Disney. But to Pietzsch, “something was missing.”
     That something became clearer to him when he and a drunken driver crossed paths in 2003.
     “I was walking on a sidewalk on Congress Avenue in Austin, when a drunk guy on a motorcycle veered into me,” Pietzsch said from his artist’s retreat near the Medina County border.
The collision resulted in a fractured humerus — the long, tubular bone that makes up the upper arm — that required surgical placement of a metal plate, a fractured left leg with lacerations and a skin graft.
     “I spent 10 days in Brackenridge Hospital and then a few months of rehab.”
     While in rehabilitation-mode, Pietzsch began to re-evaluate his life.
     “The experience changed my perspective about waiting much longer to retire,” he said.
     At the age of 57, he took the money he was awarded as a result of the accident and put a down payment on a piece of property that fell into his lap.
     “It was time. This was yet another clear choice.”
     One corner of his property line is marked by a 3 ½-foot tall sculpture of an angel, which stands watch over the valley.
     “I have now realized my dream of becoming a starving artist,” Pietzsch said. “No assignments, no deadlines, no ideas other than my own, and, of course, no money — yet.”

Respected in his field
     D.J. Stout, the former art director at Texas Monthly, with whom Pietzsch worked, said Pietzsch’s talent is as big as the Lone Star State.
     “Steve is such an amazing artist and a true artist, and he has that rare gift: the Texas state of mind. He understands the Texas myths, the Texas brag, all the things that make Texas what it is — and his art reflects that.”
     The two met through Fred Woodward, Stout’s predecessor at Texas Monthly.
     “What I really like about Steve’s work is that his work is playful, original and he has great concepts. He’d sent me this painting of the Earth, and the only state on the planet,” Stout said. “I knew right away that it would be perfect for the 20th anniversary of the magazine.”
     The cover was so popular, he said, “that we had T-shirts made, and people everywhere were wearing them.”

An artist in training
     Pietzsch graduated from the University of North Texas, formerly North Texas State University, in 1973, with a degree in advertising art. After graduation, he took a job as a junior art director at the Bloom Agency in Dallas.
     Two years later, he began a two-year apprenticeship at The SketchPad Studio, an illustration, graphic design and writing studio in Arlington. It was in this den of creativity and experimentation that his star began to shine.
     “I owe everything of my illustration career to my two years working in The SketchPad,” he said. “I left my junior art director job for the chance to get into that special place; probably the most important and lucky things to happen to me.”
     His mentor was the late Don Ivan Punchatz, who founded SketchPad in 1970. Dubbed the Godfather of Dallas Illustration, Punchatz was internationally regarded as one of the best in the business. His surreal art graced the covers of popular horror and science-fiction paperbacks, National Geographic, Esquire, National Lampoon and Rolling Stone magazines and the first “Star Wars” film poster. His painting of American psychologist and behaviorist B.F. Skinner is in the permanent collection of The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
     It was at Punchatz’s side that Pietzsch honed his craft and found his niche.
     “I came out of there with a portfolio that set me off on 15 years of freelance illustrating.”
     Pietzsch’s freelance lifestyle afforded him the kind of freedom that allowed him to work and play whenever he wanted.
     Clients included American Airlines, Avon Books, Bantam Books, Atlantic Monthly, New England Monthly, Texas Monthly, D magazine, Omni magazine, Neiman-Marcus, Greyhound, Boy Scouts of America, Hyatt Hotels, Dr Pepper and Rolling Stone magazine, among others.
     Working for Rolling Stone, he said, was surreal.
     “It was exhilarating for an old hippie like me to have the good fortune to have been able to work for that icon.”
     But 15 years later, the solitary life of a freelance artist was growing stale.
     “Alone at home in my studio, the thrill was slowing down, as well as the business, and I was nearing burnout,” he recalled. “Then, out of the blue, some artist friends called to let me know they were all taking jobs at a video game company that was in need of artists.”
     The company was Origin Systems, a video game developer most famous for the Wing Commander, a groundbreaking space combat simulation computer game, and Ultima, a fantasy role-playing series, considered the seminal games of the genre.
     “The company realized that games in the future were going to be loaded with art and animation and that they needed to hire and train real artists to do the work, rather than programmers with limited artistic skills.”
     Pietzsch was offered a full-time position.
     “It was mind-blowing at the time. Here, I would be creating objects in 3D space and putting them in motion," he said. "After working on a 2D surface in static time all these years, this looked like an opportunity to begin a new creative endeavor. I couldn’t sleep that night and again it became clear that this was something I couldn’t pass up.”
     It was, as Star Trek’s Captain Kirk would say, a new world, “where no one has gone before,” and Pietzsch loved every minute of it.
     “It’s fascinating to think that millions of people have seen my art, even though they didn’t know — or care — that it was I who did it,” he said.
     For the next 15 years, he stayed in the video game industry, working for several studios in Austin, including ones owned by Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Disney.
     He was proficient in Photoshop, built and textured 3D models, created 3D environments and did some animation.
     “It was exciting to work on a team with brilliant young minds and ride the wave of the future with 2D and 3D technology,” he said.
     But the winds within shifted, and he began to feel it was time for yet another change.
     “I was becoming a bit weary of work in general, and I started thinking about getting back to doing art with traditional tools,” he said.
     Little did he know that an evening stroll on a sidewalk in downtown Austin “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” and an out-of-control motorcyclist who would veer into his path, would set the course of the rest of his life.
     But he has no regrets, and standing on the deck of his country cabin on his “slice of heaven,” Pietzsch spoke contentedly about his art and his new life.
     “I am trying to assemble about 20 pieces or so for a one-man show, probably within the next year,” he said. “Most of the subject matter will be related to this area.”
     The title of his one-man show is clear: “Hill Country Surrealism,” because that’s what his life’s ride has been. Surreal.
     His favorite quote, he said, is from American painter Robert Henri, and it is through Henri’s perspective that he lives his life, Pietzsch said: “After all, the goal is not making art. It is living a life. Those who live their lives will leave the stuff that is really art. Art is a result. It is the trace of those who have led their lives.”

If you want to check out more of Steve' Pietzsch's fabulous art click here.

Y'all have a great evening!

Friday, June 27, 2014


Today was almost great. I spent most of the afternoon doing paperwork. I was making a big dent in my paperwork pile when the printer, back in my office, notified me that I was completely out of Magenta ink and that it would not print one more piece of paper until I had installed a new ink cartridge.

I thought it was no big deal, because I always keep extra backup ink for moments like this. Well, it turns out I had backup ink cartridges for every color except Magenta. This happened around 4:00. So Tony and I had to drive to Office Max, in Kerrville, just to get a Magenta ink cartridge for the printer, so I could finish up the rest of my paperwork.

When we got back home, it was nearly 5:15 and Carlton was flashing, on top of the breakfast bar. It was Kinky, "Nance, I am now back at the ranch. Thanks for taking care of The Friedmans. Call me." Click.

I called him back and a few minutes later I I drove over to Kinky's Lodge, so we could have a short visit. But when Buttermilk and I pulled up to Kinky's gate to park, I noticed some beautiful, yellow wildflowers. So, I grabbed my camera and took this picture, because I took it as a sign or a message, sent to me. To remind me in my busy life to always take the time to stop and smell the wildflowers (roses).

After taking this picture I truly did want to stop and smell the wildflowers, but because my back was still aching, from doing so much mowing yesterday, I was scared that if I bent over, my back might go out on me. So, instead of sniffing the lovely wildflowers, I just went inside the Lodge and had a fun visit with Kinky and The Friedmans.

Y'all have a great evening!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Riding Around!

Today has been great. This morning, as soon as we finished feeding the dogs and cleaning their pens, we went over to the dump and burned it down, because everything is green out here. Then we got to mowing down all of the tall grass inside the rescue ranch.

With the exceptions of cooking lunch, eating it and taking frequent water breaks, so we could cool down—we have spent all afternoon mowing, mowing, mowing. And because Tony's back is still causing him much pain, he rode the riding lawn mower while I used the push mower, which I didn't mind at all, because it is great exercise.

Right now, I am inside The Cabin, taking a water break, after mowing the tall grass down in our backyard. Tony is still out outside, riding around and mowing down everything that he can. And that is about it for today, because I am fixin' to go back outside and mow our front yard, before Tony and I call it a long day.

Y'all have a great evening!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Thunder Storms!

Today has been great, but first let me catch you up. Last Sunday evening, after I posted on the blog, I sent Chet an e-mail, to once again, let him know just how much I loved the song he wrote for me and to thank him for doing it. And to let him know that Gerry Olert had just sent me his YouTube link of him singing Ode To Cousin Nancy. A few minutes later, I received this note from Chet.

"Hi Nancy, Thanks for sending this over. I usually don't like to watch myself on video but this came out really good and I'm enjoying watching it! I had a great time writing the song and I appreciate you so very much for all you've done .. see you tomorrow sometime .. Chet"

Monday morning while Tony and I were over at, Kinky's, I told Chet about a very dear friend of ours, that I wanted him to meet, because we all have so much in common.  

Well it ended up, that later in the day, Tony and I introduced Chet to our friend and they hit it off instantly, so we all went to lunch together. And lunch was a total blast. And before we adios-ed each other, they had given each other their contact information.

Monday evening, we invited Chet to come over for a happy hour, because we found out that he was leaving, in the morning and that is why I didn't post anything, because we had much to talk about. 

Tuesday was a quiet day and that's why I didn't post. 

This morning while Tony and I were just finishing up our chores, outside, it started to rain lightly and then it started pouring! And by the time we had made it back to The Cabin, we were both soaking wet. And that's about it, because it has started to rain and thunder.

P.S. Chet O'Keefe will be performing at the Taos Inn, in Taos, New Mexico, this coming Friday and Sunday, at 4:00 - 6:00.

Y'all have a great evening!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

It Was Magical!

Chet O'Keefe's In-Dining-Hall Concert was more than fantastic—it was magical!

Right after I posted yesterday's story I sprayed myself down with Off and then Tony and I jumped inside Trigger and drove over to the Dining Hall, because I needed to drop off my iPod and Bose, so Chet could have his awesome music playing during the intermission. 

Then Tony drove me down to the gate, so I could collect the money for Chet's concert. Then he and Trigger went back to the Dining Hall, so he could direct traffic down to the parking ring. 

I was only standing, at the gate, for five minutes when my dear friend, Eileen, arrived to help me with collecting the money. Then one by one the cars and trucks started rolling in for the concert. Everyone was smiling and seemed to be very happy, because they were so excited about Chet's concert. And  their great vibes were contagious. It was like all around me there was electricity in the air and thank goodness it wasn't lighting. 

When just about all the cars had arrived, our good friend, Suzanne, walked up to help us. She became fascinated with our donkeys, Roy, Gabby and Little Jewford. While she was petting them she handed Eileen her phone and asked her to please take a picture of her with The Boys. After Eileen had snapped a few pictures, Suzanne told us that she wanted to take a picture of Eileen, the talented concert poster artist and me. 

After we had posed for Suzanne, we decided to head towards the Dining Hall, because we were pretty sure that everyone had arrived for Chet O'Keefe's concert. When we got there Chet came over to me and told me that he was ready to start his concert. So we all went inside the Dining Hall to go sit down.

Then Kinky walks over to me, puts his hand on my shoulder and suggests that I go up and be the one to introduce our dear friend Chet. That was fine with me, because I don't get nervous standing in front of people and talking. But because I was feeling all that high level of good energy, bouncing off the walls, I could barely speak and I did a lousy job. And I also teared up too, because I knew that Chet was fixin' to blow-everybody-out-of-their-saddles with his incredible music. Just like he had done, Friday evening, to Carol, Tony and me, when he did a sound check.

Before the end of his first song, Chet had a captive audience. They were so quiet you could have heard a pin drop, because he had instantly mesmerized all of us with his first song. Then after each song he sang, his audience clapped louder and louder. It was magical!

As I sat in my chair, near the back, enjoying Chet's concert, I was feeling so happy for him, because his huge die-hard fan base that he already has, was expanding, right before his eyes. Then before he began to sing his second to last song, he told the crowd that he had written a song about me, called Ode To Cousin Nancy and it was such a surprise to me—I instantly teared up and nearly fell out of my chair, as people turned around to smile at me.

Oh my gosh, his song was so sweet and beautiful I had to fight back the tears, because Chet's song had truly touched my heart. And when the song ended the applause was deafening loud and that's really something since I am so hard of hearing.

Chet's last song for the night was The Talking Kerrville Blues and everyone loved it and him, too. As soon as Chet switched off his mic, Carol ran up to tell me that yesterday she found out about Chet's song for me, the day before, when we were cleaning up The Dining Hall. She said that when I went home to check on Mama and came back he was just fixing to play it for her and Tony. Then she told me that months ago, Tony had asked Chet to write a song for me and she loved the song, too. So, I teared up again, because that was such a nice thing for Tony to do for me. "Thank you, Tony and Chet. I love y'all."

Then Chet's newest friends and die-hard fans kept coming up to me to tell me how much they had enjoyed Chet's Dining Hall Concert. A lot of people stayed after the concert so they could meet Chet, compliment him on his music and buy his merchandise. 

While all of that was going on, I had a fun visit with our dear friend Gerry Olert, the best videographer in Texas, who had come to video Chet's Dining Hall Concert. Gerry is our rescue ranch's official videographer and he has been for many years. He told me that he had video-ed Chet's entire Dining Hall concert, because that was what Chet had requested he do and that he was really looking forward to working with Chet on some new videos. And Gerry is going to send me a copy of the video where Chet sings the Ode To Cousin Nancy and I can't wait!

This afternoon, when Chet came over for a visit and I once again, thanked him for writing Ode To Cousin Nancy and told him how much it meant to me, he said, "Have you got a guitar capo?"

"Yes. Why"

"Because I want to play it for you." Seconds later, after handing Chet my guitar and capo, I teared up again, as we listened to Chet sing Ode To Cousin Nancy. And that is about it for tonight.

9:56 Update!   My dear friend, Gerry Olert, has just sent me the YouTube link of Chet singing Ode To Cousin Nancy at Chet O'Keefe's Dining Hall Concert. I hope that you will check it out. I love the song and have posted it on the side bar under Tony & Nancy's Favorite Links.

Y'all have a great evening!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

We're Ready For Chet O'Keefe's In House Concert!

Today has been great, but not as great as it will be starting at 6:30! It is 5:19 Lisa and Eileen should be arriving here in just a few minutes, because they volunteered to help me collect the money, at the gate.

A little while ago, while Chet was doing another sound check, in the Dining Hall, I took a few pictures, so y'all could get a sneak preview of how we decorated it. Now, I must go so I can go greet Eileen and Lisa.

Y'all have a great evening, because I know we sure are!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Here's Your Sign!

Today has been great. Tony and I got up real early, so we could get outside to do our chores, because we knew it was going to be a very busy day. We already had made up a list of things to do for Chet's concert and actually it wasn't all that long.

Around 10:00, our super friends/volunteers came out to walk our dogs for us and Dawn was the first to arrive. Then June showed up. Then Eileen and Lisa arrived and drove up to our trailer, The Cabin, with the white poster boards, that Eileen had offered to pick up for us, so we wouldn't have to make a special trip to Kerrville just to get them.

When we came inside The Cabin, all of us quickly discovered that Eileen loved to make posters, so we let her, since she wouldn't let me pay her back for buying the posters. "Thank you, Eileen."

Lisa, Tony and I sat back and watched, in amazement, as left-handed Eileen effortlessly produced one perfect concert poster after another. And her only request was that we play some loud Rock 'N Roll music, especially Booker T & The MGs and James Brown music. So we did and these pictures say it all. "Thank you so much, Eileen. We love you so much. Here's your sign(s)!

Late this afternoon, Chet arrived! In a matter of minutes, he and I decided to definitely do his concert inside the Dining Hall, because it was perfect. Then my dear friend Carol arrived, a few minutes later, to help us get the Dining Hall ready for his In House Concert tomorrow at 6:30. 

When our work, in the Dining Hall, was done Chet did a sound check to test his equipment. The acoustics were incredibly great, inside the Dining Hall and his music was so powerful—I immediately got goose bumps and almost teared up, because Chet O'Keefe is seriously one of the most talented singers, songwriters, musicians that I've ever heard or known. And I just wish that y'all had been there to hear him, because like me, he would have blown-you-out-of-your-saddle, too. So, I know that Chet's In House Concert, in the Dining Hall, is going to be the best concert ever!

Later this evening Chet came over for a super fun visit. When he walked inside The Cabin he was  totally surprised and amazed to see all of Eileen's great posters, scattered around our kitchen and big room, so they could dry. In fact, his actual words when he saw them were, "Wow! These are great-looking posters!" And that is about it for tonight. 

Y'all have a great evening!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

We Love You, Donna & The Kerrville Daily Times!

Today has been great, because our dear friend Donna Gable Hatch has written a fabulous article, in The Kerrville Daily Times, about Chet O'Keefe's In House Concert, on Saturday. And I want to share some of it with you, but first I want to thank Donna and The Kerrville Daily Times for helping us get the word out about the concert.

Donna sent me the newspaper's article and I have cut and pasted some of her great article here.

Chet O’Keefe to perform at summer solstice concert
 Singer-songwriter to embark on international tour in September

By Donna Gable Hatch
            Features Editor

 MEDINA — Singer-songwriter Chet O’Keefe will perform at a summer solstice concert from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Echo Hill Ranch, 966 Echo Hill Road, home of the Utopia Animal
Rescue Ranch.
   O’Keefe, a longtime friend of the ranch, will combine a bit of storytelling with a mix of his brand of acoustic folk, western and jazzy-bluesy music.
   “The concert is not a fundraiser for the ranch,” said Nancy Parker-Simons, known as “Cousin Nancy. “We just love Chet, and we love his music, and we want as many people to hear the music as possible.”
   Tickets to the concert are $20 per person. Blankets and lawn chairs are encouraged. Outside food and beverages— no glass bottles — are welcome.
   “The concert will take place at the rescue ranch, outside, where our rescued dogs are, so the dogs will get to enjoy his fabulous music concert, too. They just love Chet.”
   Originally from the Northeast, O’Keefe toured with humorist and country music singer Kinky Friedman — who owns Echo Hill Ranch and co-founded Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch — throughout Sweden and Norway.
   Since meeting, the two have been great friends, and O’Keefe said he often stays at Friedman’s ranch when he’s in the area.
   “I’ve got a number of songs I wrote this winter while staying at Echo Hill Ranch in Medina, many of them are stories about people I’ve met in my travels, or about the state of the world as I see it,” said O’Keefe, who won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Song of the Year Award in 2010. “I’ve done a lot of traveling in my life, and I feel these songs weave together a picture of life in America from unique and heartfelt perspectives.”
   O’Keefe spent nine years in Nashville, followed by a short stint in Dallas, and lived for three years in “the Great Northwest”— Northern Washington — until making his way to the Hill Country.
   He also has performed with the legendary Bo Diddley and has opened for Nancy Griffith on her tour in Ireland.
   “Over the last six months, I became friends with Nancy and Tony, who run the rescue ranch, and it just seemed like the natural place to have the show,” he said. “The dogs will quiet down after people arrive, and I don’t mind a
little barking. I’d rather have that than a TV on in the room. Plus I’m a bit of a stray dog myself, so I feel at home there.”
   O’Keefe will return to Sweden in September for a two-week tour. “I’ve been over there three times in the last two years,” O’Keefe said, “That’s where I met Kinky in the first place — I was opening for him over there, and he invited me down to the Kerrville and Austin area to get familiar with it and start playing around, which I’m doing.”
   O’Keefe has a new CD, titled “Because of You,” which features two previously unreleased songs written by Blaze Foley, which he wrote the music for. The CD was released digitally at
   “I’m also doing a lot of writing these days and will have several new collections of work out soon, one being an interpretation of Woody Guthrie’s ‘Columbia River Collection’ album,” O’Keefe said. “That record really hits home for me, since our family farm is on the Columbia, and these new songs reflect the many changes along the river and in the state of Washington that have taken place over the last
70 years.”

Info: For more information about O’Keefe, visit

After I read the article, I went outside to do the chores with Tony. And the whole time that I was working out there I worried about the weather for the concert. So, when we came back inside The Cabin, I called Kinky and told him about me worrying about the weather. "It's simple, Nance. Have it over here. You can do the concert in the dining hall....Why don't you and Tony come over and check it out?"

A few minutes later while Tony and I were inside the dining hall, talking about it being a really great place to have the concert, Kinky and Brian walked inside. "Kinky, this is the perfect place for the concert!" I said. "Thank you, so much for helping us out."

"Wait! Hold your horses," Kinky said. "Brian has just suggested that we use the Gazebo instead. Let's go outside and check it out." The Gazebo is right next to the Dining Hall, so we didn't have to go very far. As the four of us walked around inside the Gazebo, we all agreed that it would be a super place, too. "Let's do it here and if it looks like it is going to rain, we'll use the Dining Hall as backup," Kinky said. I was thrilled and relieved, at the same time, because Kinky had solved our problem and erased all of my stress.

So, this afternoon, while Tony was at the chiropractor, I e-mailed a concert update to everyone to let them know that we had moved the concert to the Gazebo. And that is about it for tonight.

Y'all have a great evening!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Show Must Go On!

Today has been great. This morning after we did our chores outside I went over to visit with Kinky. When we went outside, with The Friedmans, I was just about ready to sit down in one of his rocking chairs, when Kinky hollered, "No, Yellowy!" before he ran out into the yard and quickly removed a hummingbird from Yellowy's mouth."

"Is it okay?" I asked.

"I think it is, but he's missing a few tail feathers." Then he opened up his cupped hands and the lucky, little hummer took off in flight. "You're a bad cat. You have plenty of food to eat, so you do not need to hunt." Yellowy smirked, then he turned his back away from Kinky and walked just a few feet before he started stalking some kind of a bug.

"Good grief. That's the second time that you've saved a hummingbird from Yellowy..." I had a very fun visit with Kinky. We mainly talked about Chet's upcoming concert and we also made a backup plan as to where, on the ranch, we will have his indoor concert, just in case Saturday is a rainy day.

So when I left to come back home to cook lunch for Tony and me I felt relieved knowing that the show must go on, no matter what kind of weather we'll be having. So, I guess you could say, "It will either be a Chet O'Keefe In House or Out House Concert." And I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be held outside, at our rescue ranch.

Around 4:00, Tony and I went outside to mow, before it rains again. And that is about it for tonight.

Y'all have a great evening!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Do Over!

Today has been great. Tony and I have been very busy mowing and weed-eating outside, because we want the rescue ranch looking as beautiful as we can before Tony and I  host Chet O'Keefe's In House (Outdoor) Concert which is only six days away, on Summer Solstice Saturday, June 21st.

But I must confess that I have been laughing at myself, because for the very first time, in over ten years, I have actually been praying for it not to rain until after Chet's concert. I know that I should be ashamed for wishing for no rain, but I must because it seems that every time that we go out there and do yard work, and have just about gotten everything back to looking pretty again—it rains some more, causing a complete do over.

And I know as I am writing this—all that grass outside is growing as fast it can and will be at least two inches taller by morning. So, I've decided not to do anymore mowing until Wednesday, because more chances of rain have been predicted for Monday and Tuesday.

Tony and I are really excited about having Chet's In House (Outdoor) Concert out here. We know that everyone that has not yet heard our dear friend's awesome music, that will be coming to Chet's $20.00 per person concert, will instantly fall in love with his beautiful music and not want to leave when his fabulous concert comes to an end, but sadly they must go home, because Chet, Tony and I are going to be tired and will need time to rest before it hopefully rains again which of course will cause another outdoor do over for Tony and me.

Late this afternoon, I made a special Chet O'Keefe play list for my iPod. I picked songs from his two, great Cd's, Game Bird and Because Of You, along with some other beautiful songs, that he has not yet released, that he just wanted me to have. So when all of our guests start arriving, around 6:00, they can immediately start enjoying Chet's music, before his concert even begins, at 6:30.

If you are thinking about coming to Chet's In House (Outdoor) Concert, you can check out some of his awesome music, from our Concert For Utopia, that our dear friend, Gerry Olert, video-ed for us, singing his now famous The Talking Kerrville Blues and Gerry's fabulous video 2014 Utopia Update  which are also posted on my side bar under Roy's & My Favorite Links.

Chet also has a new Chet O'Keefe blog and you can also read The Austin Chronicle's awesome article written about him and his music. And that is about it for tonight, because I am going into Outer Space to play my guitar awhile, think about life and watch the green grass grow taller and taller. Which has just given me the idea to take a picture of the grass tonight, so I can compare it to tomorrow's growth.

Y'all have a great evening!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

We Love You, Ray!

Today I am heartbroken, because Ray, my dear sister's husband, for over 38 years, lost his six month battle to cancer yesterday. I hate cancer. We love you, Ray.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Not Tonight, I'm Outside Mowing!

Today has been great, even though Tony's hurt his hip and it is so painful for him to walk. But the good news is he's got a very early appointment, tomorrow morning, to see his chiropractor. Since our long, extreme drought I refuse to ever complain about us getting rain, so I am just going to complain about all of the mowing that we've been doing out here. And since we just got another welcomed half inch of rain, I'm headed outside right now, to go push the lawn mower around, because our recently cut down, tall grass has grown at least seven inches.

I feel like if we don't get our grass mowed down now and get it under control again, the rescue ranch is going to look like that field of dreams, when we have Chet O'Keefe's House Concert (outside), on the Summer Solstice, Saturday, June 21st, with people disappearing into the tall grass, like the baseball players disappeared into the corn crop.

Y'all have a great evening!

Monday, June 9, 2014


Today has been great and I am writing this early and have scheduled it to post at 7:00 tonight, because of more possible evening thunderstorms.

Around 7:00 this morning, right after Tony took off for the Old Timer, in Medina, to go drink coffee with his friends, Mama and I decided to start our day early. While I was brewing a cup of Donut Shop coffee, I checked today's weather cast on my iPad Mini. Then I drank my coffee and went outside to start doing our morning chores, because I knew that Tony would not get back here before 9:30, because he was making a deposit for me, at the bank, in Bandera.

Around 9:30, it had just started raining lightly when Tony showed up. He stopped Buttermilk to ask me what chores were left to do. And when I told him that I had just finished feeding all of our dogs and had cleaned their pens, he said, "Thanks, Nance. You should have waited for me to help you."

"Not a problem," I said, as it suddenly started raining really hard. So, I jumped inside the Expedition to avoid getting soaked.

When we walked inside The Cabin, the phone rang—it was Kinky. "Nance, it's pouring over here. How long is this rain going to last?"

I immediately tapped my Weather Cast app, on my iPad Mini, to check. "Not long. It looks like we're on the tail end of the storm right now." Then I heard it thunder close by and hung up on Kinky and immediately started unplugging everything as fast as I could. And I'm sure that Kinky was over at the Lodge laughing about it.

I spent most of the day catching up on some boring paperwork. Around 4:00 Kinky called and invited me to come over, so we could visit, on the front porch and discuss his upcoming trip. When I arrived Kinky and The Friedmans came out to greet me. "Hi. What's wrong, Kinky?" I asked, because Kinky looked upset about something.

"I'm so mad at Sophie. She is so jealous of Peanut. She's been a bad dog, growling at Peanut every time that he comes near me...." By the time we walked inside his kitchen Sophie was minding her manners. She was ignoring the sweet, little, white, thirteen-year-old poodle, that Kinky is fostering for his friend, who is battling cancer.

We sat outside on the front porch visiting and not once did Sophie act up. While Peanut slept on Kinky's lap, with his head and tail resting on the arms of Kinky's rocking chair, we talked about Sophie's jealous streak and I joked and said, "Kinky, Sophie is going to work it out with Peanut sooner than later. She told me in the kitchen that she is bitter, because a few years ago, you didn't let her go to Kilgore to try out to become a famous Rangerette." That made Kinky laugh, because it has been a running joke with us for years. And besides that we are those weird people that enjoy talking for our dogs.

"Sophie darling, you can go to Kilgore," Kinky said to Sophie, who was snoozing between our rocking chairs.

"She can't, Kinky. It's too late, because she is too old now to be on the squad and she's let herself go and gotten herself chubby....." When I left to come back home Kinky, Sophie, Winston and Peanut were happy, because Kinky was going to cook them a steak for their dinner.

Before I end this post, so I can Mama some medicinal pancakes, I want everyone to know that Amazon has adopted a new charitable program called AmazonSmile. They sent me a snail-mail-letter inviting our rescue ranch to sign up, because when AmazonSmile is offered, on certain customer purchases, a percentage of the sell can go directly to our rescue ranch. It's a great deal and Pat, our fabulous web master has just added to www.utopiarescue donations page. Here's the link to check it out:

P.S. We got over a half inch of rain this morning!

Y'all have a great evening!

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Today has been great and so was yesterday, because Wanda, this really nice woman, came out right after we had eaten our lunch. Earlier in the week Wanda had called me about her wanting to come out  to see our rescue ranch and to also make a donation, because she loved animals too. Then we ended up visiting, on the phone, for over thirty minutes, because we instantly liked each other, because we had so many things in common.

During our fun conversation, when Wanda told me that she was hard of hearing and asked me to please speak louder, I said, "Me too, because I'm old. I'm 62 years old." Then she started laughing.

"Well, I'm 76," She said, followed by a chuckle. "Trust me, you're not old..." And before we adios-ed each other, she said, "I will try to come see you this Saturday. If I don't get lost." One more thing that we also had in common. When she asked for directions to our rescue ranch I suggested that she print them off of our web site, but because she doesn't have a computer, she wrote down the directions I gave to her.

When Wanda arrived on Saturday she seemed a little bit scattered, because she did get lost and had spent over thirty minutes driving all around here, until finally winding up over at Kinky's Lodge. Fortunately, Scott, from California, was there baby sitting The Friedmans. So, Scott had Wanda follow him in his car, over to our rescue ranch, to make sure that she wouldn't get lost again.

Scott is a very talented musician friend of Kinky's, that was visiting him for a few days. And the reason that I didn't post anything Friday night was because I was here playing guitars with Scott and having a lot of fun.

Anyway, once Wanda had calmed down, she hugged me and said, "I love your rescue ranch. All of the dogs look so happy." Then she went back to her car to get something. When she returned, she said, "I have a gift for you, Nancy. I so enjoyed visiting with you the other day, I want to give you my little, hanging, flower vase. It is porcelain and is about a hundred years old." Then she asked Tony to please help her open the cat food box, that she had put her wrapped up vase inside, to protect it.

While Tony was cutting the box's tape that she had put on, she laughed and said, "Don't worry, Nancy,  I'm not bringing you cans of cat food. It was the only box that I could find..." When Tony handed the opened box back to Wanda, she said, "After talking to you on the phone, I want you to have this. I hope you like it. Now unwrap it." Then she handed me her wrapped up vase to unwrap.

When I removed the many paper towels, my jaw dropped to the ground, because I didn't like it—I LOVED IT! As I was thanking Wanda, over and over again, for giving me her beautiful, small vase, I said, "Wanda, pink is my favorite color and I love these pretty, pink ribbons."

"I know."

"How? Did I tell you about me loving the color pink when we talked on the phone?"

Wanda smiled at me and shook her head sideways. Then she grinned and winked at me and said, "I just knew." So, I invited this very sweet and extremely interesting woman. to come inside The Cabin for a visit and to drink some delicious Donut Shop coffee with me.

After making us coffees I had the most fascinating, one and a half hour, visit with Wanda, in our big room. We talked about everything under the sun, including life as we see it. And it was like Wanda was my soul sister or something, because our views on everything were exactly the same. And when it was time for Wanda to leave I didn't want her to go, because I was mesmerized listening to her seventy-six-years of wisdom.

When it was time to adios my newest dear friend, I offered to lead Wanda back to Highway 16, in Trigger, to make sure that she wouldn't get lost, again. "Oh thank you, Nancy. I would really appreciate that. When we get to the highway just stick your arm out the window and point which way I should turn." And, I did.

Knowing that Wanda had more than fifty miles to drive to get back to her home, I waited over an hour to call her, because I wanted to thank her once again for giving me her precious vase that she had loved and to make sure that she got home okay.

Thankfully, Wanda made it home safely and we had a short, but wonderful conversation. I am not sure if I will ever see Wanda again, because she has some very serious health issues that she is dealing with, but I do know that our paths were meant to be crossed, because some of the things that she told me I shall never forget.

Even though Wanda doesn't know how to use a computer I want to say, "Take care, Wanda. You have truly touched my heart. And I thank you once again for giving me your beautiful vase, with a dimpled bottom instead of flat, because I will hang it in a very special place, to always remind me of you."

Y'all have a great evening!