EXPLORE - August 2020

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AUGUST 2020



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4 | EXPLORE


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CONTENTS

8 From The Publisher

10 Calendar

12 Music

14 Community

18 Art Of

22 Backyard

26 Art

28 Food

32 Reflections

34 Old Timer

EXPLORE magazine is published by Schooley Media Ventures in

Boerne, TX. EXPLORE Magazine and Schooley Media Ventures are not

responsible for any inaccuracies, erroneous information, or typographical

errors contained in this publication submitted by advertisers. Opinions

expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions of EXPLORE and/or

Schooley Media Ventures. Copyright 2020 Schooley Media Ventures,

Boerne, TX 78006

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

SAMUEL SMITH

REFLECTION

Samuel holds a master

of divinity from a large

Southern Baptist seminary

in Fort Worth. He completed

coursework for a Ph.D. in New

Testament before he left, too.

He served various ministries

from 2005-2016 before

getting into something more

straightforward and honest -

selling cars.

MATT KERSH

MUSIC

Matt Kersh is a freelance writer

out of Boerne, Texas that

focuses on almost exclusively

on the local music scene. Kersh

is an accomplished musician

who plays hundreds of shows

throughout Texas and the

Southwest United States.

Christine Friesenhahn

FOOD

Texas born and bred. HR

Professional, Chef, cake artist,

recipe developer, writer, and

frequent insomniac. Habitual

do-gooder and chronic

optimist, living my best life in

Boerne. Be kind. Make wise

choices. Be happy. I love you!

DEVA MOORE

ART

I have been married for 38 years,

we relocated to Corpus Christi

12 years ago. Love living on the

coast with my husband, dogs,

cats, chickens and rabbits. I enjoy

art, music, reading and spending

time with my husband. We have

a married son and a married

daughter I also have 6 grand

daughters, and one married

grandson and 2 great grandsons.

CASEY BONHAM

SURVIVOR’S STORY

Local alumnus and advocate,

Casey Janes Bonham highlights

her talents and purpose with

insight and focus on social work.

She prides herself on having

a network focused impact on

life, struggle and victory. Casey

is a licensed social worker

with an additional Masters in

Interpersonal Communication

from Baylor Texas. As a Texas

native, she dedicates her life to her family, professional evolution,

community therapy and specialty court treatment.

Old Timer Just Old Timer

The Old Timer tells us he's

been a resident of Boerne

since about 1965. He enjoys

telling people what he doesn't

like. When not bust'n punks

he can be found feeding the

ducks just off Main St. or

wandering aimlessly in the

newly expanded HEB. Despite

his rough and sometimes

brash persona, Old Timer is

really a wise and thoughtful

individual. If you can sort

through the BS.

Publisher

Benjamin D. Schooley

ben@hillcountryexplore.com

Operations Manager

Tiffany Usher

tiffany@smvtexas.vom

Creative Director

Benjamin N. Weber

ben.weber@smvtexas.com

ADVERTISING SALES

210-507-5250

sales@hillcountryexplore.com

6 | EXPLORE


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DEAREST EXPLORE READER,

Dearest EXPLORE reader,

James Robertson is a factory worker in Detroit. Each

day he wakes up and begins a 21-mile journey to his job

that pays $10.55/hour. He has no car, so James walks

that distance each day. At the end of his 8 hour shift, he

reverses course, and completes his 42 mile roundtrip

journey on foot every weekday. He walks as he has no car

that he can afford, so this has been James’ routine for the

past decade.

A local news program heard of James’ story, and aired it

one night on the news. A story to end the broadcast with

so that we could all revel at James’ work ethic.

A 19 year old college student named Evan Leedy was

watching the news that night and found the story to be

quite touching. The next day he logged onto GoFundMe.

com and established an account for people to donate to

James, and set the goal at $5000 to help him get a cheap

car and maybe make a few insurance payments for him.

Within a month there were over $350,000 in donations

made on James’ behalf. Evan delivered the car to his new

friend James, and Evan recounted, “Before James drove

off in his new car to go home, he gave me a big hug and

said ‘It’s not even about the money and the car, it’s about

random strangers like you wanting to help a guy like me

just doing what I was blessed to do.’”

I’ve written about my friend Pedro that I worked with

in Florida. I’ve written about my old college roommate,

the guy that mowed my yard, a dog I once found, and

Greg Noble, whom I picked on in grade school and

who eventually kicked my ass over it. I’ve chronicled

my brother’s death from cancer, the breakdown of my

marriages, and even Houston traffic. I’ve rattled on about

words of wisdom from my parents, the stupid ducks by

the river, and my children. I’ve touched on every subject

imaginable and have found great “meaning” behind some

of life’s most mundane (and not so mundane) experiences.

Almost universally, these experiences are tied back to

random moments of time where my life bumped into

someone else’s. These little moments where fate brought

us together, even if for a moment, and I was left writing

about it years later. I was changed, most of the time for the

better, and my life’s trajectory was altered.

No, I’ve never been touched by a news broadcast and

been inspired to raise $350,000 for a stranger although

I wish that I have. When I heard of this story and Evan

and James, I suppose I found some really great inspiration

not only in these two characters, but in a lot of other

characters. Let me explain.

All around us, life is occurring. Sometimes it’s beautiful,

and sometimes it is very, very ugly. Sometimes it’s just flat

out mundane. But rest assured, as this little blue marble

spins in space, we are all bumping into each other at

various times and having a variety of influences on one

another. I think that every story that our lives create can

be found to be inspiring. Much like James and Evan.

I think that we often minimize the beauty of our stories in

our lives. We shrug our shoulders at some of the obstacles

we have overcome and mumble “I just did what I had

to do.” Or we humbly disappear into the shadows when

someone wants to celebrate the impact we might have had

on someone. We put our hands out and say “No thanks is

necessary” and shyly let the subject quiet down.

If I sat down to type up the life story of the late Sam

Champion, and how he overcame alcoholic parents and

many life struggles only to become the Boerne High

School principal that impacted so many lives that his

funeral had to be held at the UTSA gymnasium in order

to accommodate the numbers of people that came to

pay their respects, you would say that he was a pretty

extraordinary man. He, on the other hand, always

laughed, gave you a hug and just told you to “Behave!”

if you embarrassed him by telling him what he meant to

you.

I have a friend that is a single parent of three young kids

here in town, and is doing everything that she can to get

by. She works with a local ministry because her heart is

passionate about it, and makes very little income. She

pawns her household items so that she can take her kids

to the movies sometimes, and does everything she has

to do in order to keep them happy and content. And you

know what? Her kids are lights in a dark world. They

want for nothing (though they have little), and they are

learning what hard work and dedication look like via

their mother. She is up late at night worrying, but her

independence will always keep her moving forward. It’s

almost like a Hollywood script, but it’s happening at the

corner of Plant and Rosewood right here in town.

My friend Johnny quit his career in the restaurant

industry because “God told me to.” He moved to the

crummiest part of San Antonio, started a church, and

stands around on street corners in the dead of night and

prays with people. He takes people sleeping on benches

into his home and feeds them. How many lives has he

changed? How many people are out there right now

telling the story of this tattooed guy named Pastor Johnny

who helped them get out of the gutter and ultimately

on to living a great life? How many generations will be

impacted because of one guy handing out food at 2am to

broken people? And how many of you have ever heard of

him?

The story of James and Evan is a great one that received

a fair amount of publicity. The news covered it, Facebook

posted all about it, and millions of people smiled due

to Evan’s kindness. I smiled, too. However, I think that

stories like James and Evan are literally everywhere….

if you look for them. Heck, you are probably the key

character in a story that someone is telling about your

impact on their lives at some point. You may not even

know about that impact, but I have to believe that all of

us have the ability to impact each other in very profound

ways. What seemed mundane to you, altered another’s

life. And frankly, I find that to be very beautiful.

Look around you. Breathe in the experiences of this life,

and dig until you can find the beauty in the stories you

are witnessing. The stories you need to know about don’t

always air on the evening news, but rather, they play out

every day and in every way that you seek to find them.

Welcome to August. May you take this month to really

focus on the beautiful things that your life contains.

EXPLORE your heart and witness the amazing stories

unfolding around you. They are there for the taking, and

maybe you’ll even be inspired to write your own new….

amazing….chapter.

Smiling,

ben@hillcountryexplore.com

8 | EXPLORE


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AREA EVENTS

Get out and enjoy the great Texas Hill Country!

The most comprehensive events calendar. Send submissions to info@hillcountryexplore.com

FREDERICKSBURG

August 1: Texas Ranger Day and History Symposium

Honoring those who have served and those still

commissioned, Texas Rangers Day is a two-part event

featuring historians and educational programs. The

day includes reenactments by Living History HQ

Company Rangers, focusing on the time periods

between 1823 and 1960, Ranger Camp setups, cannon

firing, and memorabilia displays. When: Aug. 1 Where:

Texas Rangers Heritage Center at Fort Martin Scott

FREDERICKSBURG, Texas More Information: Phone:

Website: trhc.org

August 7: First Friday Art Walk Participating fine art

galleries remain open until 8 p.m. so that visitors have

time to enjoy the various events and exhibits planned

throughout the day along with local refreshments. Just

look for the galleries flying the Art Walk Flag. When: Aug.

7 Where: Various locations FREDERICKSBURG, Texas

More Information: Phone: Website: firstfridayartwalkfbg.

com

August 7-16: ”Smokey Joe’s Cafe” Fredericksburg Theater

Company presents this musical inspired by the songs

of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the duo who virtually

invented rock ‘n’ roll. When: Aug. 7-16 Where: Steve

W. Shepherd Theater FREDERICKSBURG, Texas More

Information Website: fredericksburgtheater.org

August 8, 9, 22, 23: Pari Mutuel Horse Racing During

summer, catch four big weekends of exciting live

horse racing. Pick your favorites for quarter horse and

thoroughbred racing as well as special races, trials, and

futurities. When: Aug. 8, 9, 22, 23 Where: Gillespie

County Fairgrounds FREDERICKSBURG, Texas More

Information: Phone: 830-997-8515 Website: gillespiefair.

com/pari-mutuel-horse-racing

August 14-16: Trade Days Shop from more than 400

vendors in seven barns and acres of antiques, collectibles,

tools, crafts, shabby chic, primitives, ranch furniture,

hunting accessories, candles, unique clothing, jewelry, and

food. When: Aug. 14-16 Where: Fredericksburg Trade

Days FREDERICKSBURG, Texas More Information:

Website: fbgtradedays.com

August 15: Luckenbach Historic School Open House

Presented by the Friends of Gillespie County Country

Schools, whose motto is “preserving the past to enrich

the future,” this tour takes visitors inside Luckenbach’s

historic school, a former rural school that is listed on the

National Register of Historic Places. Docents are on hand

to reminisce about school days past. When: Aug. 15 Where:

Luckenbach Historic School FREDERICKSBURG, Texas

More Information: Phone: Website: historicschools.org

August 20-23: Gillespie County Fair and Parade The

Gillespie County Fair is the oldest continuous county fair

in Texas, celebrating its 132nd year. For four days, enjoy

a carnival and midway, traditional fair food, livestock

judging, agricultural and household exhibits, arts and

crafts, antique tractor shows, live music, dancing, and

live pari-mutuel horse racing. Bring you chairs and arrive

early for the county fair parade, which takes place on Main

Street from South Washington to Edison streets on Aug. 21.

When: Aug. 20-23 Where: Gillespie County Fairgrounds

and Exhibition Hall FREDERICKSBURG, Texas More

Information: Phone: Website: gillespiefair.com

August 23: Concert in the Park: Hosted by Pedernales

Creative Arts Alliance, this month’s free Sunday evening

concert features country artists Johnny McGowan and

the Rugged Gents. Bring your chairs, eats, and drinks.

10 | EXPLORE

When: Aug. 23 Where: Adelsverein Halle at Marktplatz

FREDERICKSBURG, Texas More Information: Phone:

Website: oktoberfestinfbg.com/info/pcaa

INGRAM

July 17-August 1: ”Steel Magnolias” Written by Robert

Harling, the classic comedy-drama chronicles the

bond that exists among a group of Southern women in

northwest Louisiana. When: July 17-Aug. 1 Where: Hill

Country Arts Foundation Point Theatre INGRAM, Texas

More Information: Phone: 830-367-5121 Website: hcaf.

com

August 14-30: “No Body Like Jimmy” Directed by Jeffery

Hensel, this hilarious comedy involves a dead body and

two people running around trying to convince everyone

that the person is still alive. When: Aug. 14-30 Where:

Hill Country Arts Foundation INGRAM, Texas More

Information: Phone: 830-367-5121 Website: hcaf.com

JOHNSON CITY

August 22: JC Art Walk Local galleries open with current

exhibitions, featuring artists highlighting their latest

projects. When: Aug. 22 Where: JC Art Walk JOHNSON

CITY, Texas More Information: Phone: 830-868-7684

Website: artjctx.org

JUNCTION

July 31-August 2: Sizzler Disc Golf Tourney Approximately

100 teams travel to Junction, Texas to participate in the

Professional Disc Golf Association disc golf tournament.

The course is located along the Llano River, providing

a beautiful setting, lots of shade, and plenty of space for

disc golfers to enjoy the event. When: July 31-Aug. 2

Where: Sizzler Disc Golf Tourney JUNCTION, Texas

More Information: Phone: 325-446-6565 Website:

junctiontexas.com

August 14-15: Hill Country Fair Association Rodeo/Dance

Both nights feature bull riding and nightly dancing.

The Hill Country Fair Association provides the best in

summer entertainment there is to offer. When: Aug.

14-15 Where: Hill Country Fair Assoc. Rodeo/Dance

JUNCTION, Texas More Information: Phone: 254-212-

9160 Website: junctiontexas.com

August 15: Martin Memorial Car Show Show off your

unique automobile or just check out other people’s entries.

Cars featured are hot rods, customized, or antique,

along with other categories. The car show is held in

conjunction with the rodeo, parade, and class reunions.

Cars from across the nation gather under the shade trees

surrounding the courthouse, and the Llano River is right

around the corner for those wanting to cool off. When:

Aug. 15 Where: Kimble County Courthouse Square

JUNCTION, Texas More Information: Phone: 325-446-

2955 Website: junctiontexas.com

NEW BRAUNFELS

August 4, 11, 18: Two Ton Tuesdays It wouldn’t be

summertime without popular rock-a-billy band Two

Tons of Steel holding court in Gruene Hall every Tuesday

evening. If you haven’t caught Two Ton fever yet, grab

your dancing shoes and get ready when the band takes

the stage at 8:30 p.m. Come early for swing dance lessons

from 6 to 7 p.m. ($10 per person). When: June 2, 9, 16, 23,

30; July 7, 14, 21, 28; Aug. 4, 11, 18 Where: Gruene Hall

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas More Information: Phone:

830-606-1281 Website: gruenehall.com

August 7, 14, 21, 28: Friday Afternoon Club at Gruene

Hall A Gruene Hall tradition, now in its 21st year,

where hipsters, oldsters, suits, locals, and drifters mix

it up to start their weekend rite (pun intended). This

quintessential Friday happy hour celebrates the warmer

weather with great beer prices, prize giveaways, and the

best in Texas tunes broadcast live by KNBT 92.1 FM

Radio New Braunfels. When: June 5, 12, 19, 26; July 3,

10, 17, 24, 31; Aug. 7, 14, 21, 28 Where: Gruene Hall

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas More Information: Phone:

830-606-1281 Website: gruenehall.com

August 20: Come and Taste It: Meet Texas’ Best

Winemakers Sample some of the best wines and craft

brews in the state at The Grapevine in Gruene Historic

District. A featured winemaker showcases three of their

newly released, top-selling, or hardest to find wines,

alongside a craft brew hand-picked by The Grapevine

staff.When:June 18; July 16; Aug. 20 Where: The

Grapevine NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas More Information:

Phone: 830-606-0093 Website: grapevineIngruene.com

August 15-16: Old Gruene Market Days Nearly 100

vendors offer uniquely crafted items and packaged

Texas foods at this monthly market. Market hours

are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. When: June 20-21; July 18-19;

Aug. 15-16 Where: Gruene Historic District NEW

BRAUNFELS, Texas More Information: Phone: Website:

gruenemarketdays.com

July 31-August 2: Summer North American Jewelry and

Gift Show Don’t miss the incredible selection of jewelry,

beads, fashion, gifts, handmade goods, and beauty

products. When: July 31-Aug. 2 Where: New Braunfels

Civic/Convention Center NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas

More Information: Phone: 210-410-0737 Website:

nashows.com

August 7-9: The Peddler Show Shop from talented

designers, artisans, creators, and craftsmen from

all over the country. Now is the time to shop for all

of those items on your holiday shopping list. With

customization and personalization onsite, you can

find anything and everything you’re looking for

right here. When: Aug. 7-9 Where: New Braunfels

Civic/Convention Center NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas

More Information: Phone: 800-775-2774 Website:

facebook.com/events/543777673136841/?event_time_

id=543777676470174

August 7-8: Whiskey Myers in Concert Hailing from

Palestine, Texas, Whiskey Myers is an American

Southern rock/country group with hits including “Ballad

of a Southern Man,” “Early Morning Shakes,” “Virginia,”

and “Anna Marie.” When: Aug. 7-8 Where: Whitewater

Amphitheater NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas More

Information: Phone: 830-964-3800

August 30: Deutsch-Texanischer Saengerfest Concert

Enjoy German singing at its best. The 74th annual

concert is presented by members of the Deutsch-

Texanischer Saengerbund, a German singing choir

that works to preserve the German language and

traditions. When: Aug. 30 rescheduled date Where:

New Braunfels Civic Center NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas

More Information: Phone: 830-625-2612 Website:

nbharmonie.org

SAN MARCOS

August 21-22: SMFEST What better way to spend a

weekend than by celebrating all things San Marcos? With

so many bands, comedians, and films to see at different

venues around town, you’re sure to be in for a unique

weekend SMTXperience. Festivities are free. When: Aug.

21-22 Where: Downtown San Marcos SAN MARCOS,

Texas More Information: Phone: 512-393-5930 Website:

facebook.com/smfest


1499 S. Main Street, Boerne, TX 78006 Next to Dog & Pony Grill 830-331-1391


MUSIC

MUSICIAN OF THE MONTH:

MATT McCLOSKEY

By Matt Kersh :: Photography by Mack Eveland

T

There are several Matt’s from Boerne that were born within a little over one year’s span in the early

80’s that would grow up to be musicians. As fate would have it, all three would find their path in life

as songwriters, and, generally speaking, artists. Troubadours, of sorts, if you will. I had the privilege of

being featured in an earlier iteration of a similar column in this very magazine a few years back, at the

beginning of this year I wrote on Matt Harlan, and now our feature artist is Matt McCloskey.

I began this column 18 months ago, not knowing if

it would be a longstanding piece. Ben Schooley, our

magazine’s editor, had asked me to write. It was nice to

be considered, especially being that print journalism and

art in the form of music are two deep loves in my heart.

Having grown up in Boerne, my desire has been to feature

artists that grew up in Boerne or at least had strong ties to

the town.

Matt McCloskey was one of the first people that came to

mind for this piece, and the second month I was writing

the column in the spring of ‘19, he and I talked about

getting together. Our schedules were such at the time that

we struggled to nail a specific time down to meet so I

thought I’d revisit getting him for a column at a later date..

Here we are going on 5 months now of this pandemic and

being semi-quarantined, so, I’ve been relegated to doing

these interviews via Zoom these last handful of months. I

figured it was as good a time as any to go ahead and write

about the third in the trio of Texas troubadours named

Matt from Boerne, Texas.

I first met Matt when we were both about 8 years old, let’s

call it 30 years ago. We were both homeschooled at the

time, and, for those of you that don’t know, Boerne had

an incredibly active conglomerate of homeschool families

in the 90’s and early 2000’s. We had drama, newspaper,

prom, basketball, and co-op schools where we received

excellent (often college level) instruction throughout our

primary school years.

We played at each other’s house together a handful of

times as boys, and were in a drama production together,

but never got to know one another very well. He would

make the move to the Boerne schools in 6th grade, and

our paths diverged.

“My parents put me in piano lessons when I was 5. It

was something I did obediently, but I didn’t quite love it.

When I was 12, I discovered that my dad had an acoustic

guitar hidden in the closet, and I sort of demanded that

he pull it out and teach me how to play it. He pulled it out

and the first songs I learned were Cat Stevens tunes that

he had grown up on.”

Matt became addicted to the process of growing musically

almost immediately. “Up until that point, I had been

virtually obsessed with the idea of becoming a pilot. It was

all I thought about and wanted, so music taking its place

was really something.”

He continued to grow musically throughout the next

handful of years, and ended up going to Belmont University

on a music scholarship as a double major in french

horn and guitar.

“I didn’t really see a future for myself playing the french

horn, but I could see myself on the guitar. Throughout my

college years, I envisioned myself being a side guy playing

in a band, perhaps being a session player for studio work.

When I graduated, I got some space to look at what I

wanted to do next.”

12 | EXPLORE

There was the possibility of staying in Nashville, but upon

realizing that the scene in the mid 2000’s there was pretty

much geared towards either Country or Contemporary

Christian in terms of musical genres, Matt made the call

to come back to Texas. “I was dating a girl in Dallas, so I

came back closer to home, and decided to head to Austin.

I felt that would be a much better fit for me musically on

many levels.”

If you listen to McCloskey’s music, you can see why the

Nashville scene wouldn’t have been a good fit. As someone

that has also been told 500 times, “You should go to

Nashville,” and realizing that I wouldn’t fit there at all, I

understand where he’s coming from on that notion.

It was around 2007 that Matt really began writing and

creating more prolifically upon moving to Austin. He

became friends with another songwriter named David

Ramirez, who a number of years back also became one of

my favorite musicians.

They were two young artists just struggling to find

gigs, hitting open mics, and working to craft a brand of

music. McCloskey had already had his first young child,

so while Ramirez set out on the road, Matt knew that, at

least at that particular juncture, that leaving out on tour

for weeks or months at a time wasn’t feasible or what

even he wanted.

He would have two more children with his ex-wife before

they split in 2015, and it felt like things were evolving for

him musically up until that event took place. Maybe really

diving into music and touring in a different way would

now be a real, viable option. Yet, in the midst of the pain

of a divorce, he didn’t pick up a guitar for about 2 years.

It wasn’t until late 2017 that he would feel like he could

again reach for his guitar.

As a fellow musician that has also endured an incredibly

challenging divorce, I can understand turning away from

music for a time. I didn’t play at all for almost three years

after the end of my own marriage. There’s something

about the process of songwriting that is just so vulnerable,

that when you’re at your most broken state, you realize

that there’s an almost frightening level of frailty that is too

much to handle were you to endeavor to allow yourself to

feel the necessary emotions required of writing music that

says something that matters.

Perhaps that kind of extended retreat wouldn’t be necessary

were you the type of person that just wrote about

hanging at the lake in the summer with bikini-clad girls

drinking Lone Star beer, but that’s not the type of music

that appeals to either my own or McCloskey’s sensibilities.

A handful of years ago, I came across a live video of Mc-

Closkey doing a full band, in-studio recording of one of

his songs called “50 Cent Heart.” It was done at Blue Rock

Studio in Wimberley, which is owned by Billy Crockett.

Crockett was a singer songwriter that heavily influenced

McCloskey when he was growing up as a musician.

“Growing up, I listened to a lot of Billy Crockett, and

actually sort of learned to play guitar from listening to his

music. So, it was pretty cool when he ended up starting

this ranch out in Wimberley. It’s really this haven for artists

to come and live at this sacred escape to work on their

recording projects. It’s an amazing place and I had a really

special time out there when we recorded that track.” This

was the first track of his I’d heard, and it grabbed me immediately

for the raw nature of it and fresh musicality.

“When I moved to Austin, at first I was envisioning this

whole ‘Tom Petty Rock and Roll thing,’ and then coming

through some really big growth stretches, I got to the

place where I truly realized, all I want to do is play acoustic

guitar and sing songs that say something meaningful.

It’s a bit difficult as a single parent of three kids that works

full time, especially in the midst of this pandemic, I’m

again finding myself having to reinvent what the next

chapter is going to look like for me with my music.”

Regardless of what McCloskey is able to define as his musical

future, I can’t help but be struck with his maturity to

juggle fatherhood, art, work, personal growth, romantic

involvement, and openness about life.

“I think that part of becoming an adult means reconfiguring

your expectations and redefining what it is that you

ought to do with that drive and passion and dream that

you have inside of you, because, what your dream used

to look like, almost never, I would say never, manifests

in the way that you first saw it. So, being willing to adjust

and redefine as you go through a life that is often trying to

smash you up both mentally and emotionally is a difficult

task, but a very rewarding one.”

My hope as you read that last paragraph that you’re able

to glean a portion of the profundity of what’s being said

there. If you’ve gone through anything truly challenging,

and I’m sure you have, the wisdom and perspective of

those words are of inestimable value. Personally, I resonate

with that aforementioned truth in a powerful way.

“Throughout this unique time of the pandemic, I feel the

sense that I have some things to say. And I don’t know

what they are yet, but I suspect that once I can start getting

more intimately acquainted with whatever those

things are, and I can start to articulate them, I feel really

excited about expressing those through music.”

I’m excited for you to do that as well, Matt. Truly.

Do yourself a solid and follow Matt McCloskey:

Instagram: @mattmccloskey

Bandcamp: mattmccloskey.bandcamp.com

Website: www.listentomatt.com

matt@hillcountryexplore.com


WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 13


COMMUNITY

ADOPT A 2020 SENIOR

By Hunter Beaton

D

During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have seen the hundreds of newly created social media pages that start

with “Adopt a Senior from (insert city here)” or “Adopt a Senior from (name your high school here)”. The goal of these social

media pages were to address what seniors were missing out on during that final year of high school. You would be able to

read about the “needs” of these graduating seniors, the “wants” and the “like to haves”. The way the process worked is you

would join one of the Facebook pages, find a local graduating senior to virtually “adopt” during this pandemic, receive their wish

list, buy them their graduation gifts and then deliver the basket full of gifts, gift cards, wish list items and necessities for the

grad. Most Facebook pages would then post individual photos of the gift delivery with a kind stranger who took the time to buy

these incredible graduation gifts posing with the virtually adopted senior from the Class of 2020.

over $12,000 of donations. With these generous donations

from across the state of Texas, we were able to provide

every single Class of 2020 foster senior a gift a $100 gift

card and a Day 1 Backpack. We also had a special group

of graduating seniors who were young mothers living in a

foster care shelter. We had people donate more money to

ensure each mother received a Mint: Sweet Little Things

nap roll, diaper bag and Matilda Jane pajama set for their

small children. We had Amazon and Target gift cards that

were also donated to give many graduating seniors that

were facing imminent homelessness situations.

If you did not know, many of these foster students have

never been celebrated, have had their own birthday

party growing up. They have lived in multiple homes or

foster care shelters with their belongings in a trash bag

as luggage. The majority have only had hand-me-down

clothing and have never worn any new clothing, socks,

shoes, toiletries of their own. I was confident this small

gift of a gift card and a backpack would be a positive and

huge difference in many of their lives.

Behind all the great photos of the many of smiling seniors

I personally knew since I graduated from Boerne High

School just last year, I would also read the stories of what

these students have missed due to the pandemic, how the

Class of 2020 was going to deal with the pandemic, and

the anxieties so many were experiencing.

Then the moment came…it was obvious to me there was

a group of students that would be forgotten and could not

be virtually “adopted”. They were the 507 Class of 2020

Texas seniors who also graduated from high school that

were from foster care. This group of students were never

adopted by a forever family and they had aged out or

were aging out very soon at age of 18 of the Texas foster

care system. They did not have anyone to celebrate their

graduation accomplishment. Another tragedy is no adult

or caregiver is allowed to post on social media these foster

youth full names, their senior photos (if they even have

one), the “likes”, “dislikes”, the “dreams” or aspirations

because of anonymity and privacy while within the

Texas foster care system. They were a forgotten set of

students. The irony is for every one these students - all

they ever wanted is to be wanted by a family, to belong

and to be adopted. So my goal was to have them “virtually

adopted” by anyone who joined the Facebook page and

provide each one gifts to celebrate their graduation

accomplishments.

These seniors who have graduated from high school

and were within foster care have truly overcome the

odds. Only a dismal 45% of the youth in foster care even

graduate from high school or get their GED. Despite a

system that seems to be designed to keep some foster

youth at their lowest, this resilient group includes

students who are poets, musicians, mothers, pageant

winners, students that excel in STEM and creative artists

whose work is unbelievable. I have met so many of them.

They are the most unbreakable spirits who, despite being

unable to access “love” in the foster care system, they

continue to love with overwhelming abundance, even for

those who loved them too little which inevitably landed

them in the foster care system.

Taking quick action in response to this group being

overlooked again was not an easy feat and that was okay

with me. It had to be done. I knew we could not just focus

on our region of Texas but the entire state of graduating

foster seniors that need to be celebrated as well for their

accomplishments. I reached out to Dainelle Scott who

was the administrator of our local “Adopt A Senior from

the Boerne Area” to share the “Adopt a 2020 Senior from

Foster Care” page. Dainelle, who operates Rise Property

Group, is also a foster/adopt mother and knew very well

how this group of youth is often overlooked. Dainelle

shared the Facebook page and then it started taking off.

I also joined forces with a former foster youth, 18 year

old Allie Graves, who also graduated this year from high

school in East Texas. She is currently the Miss Texas

Outstanding Teen. With a huge social media push, stories

across Texas on many news outlets, I was very hopeful as

a team, we could achieve our goal.

During the first 3 weeks of May, hundreds of people

joined and donated thousands of dollars through the

“Adopt a 2020 Senior from Foster Care” Facebook Page.

Providing the page followers with daily goal updates

on the 507 seniors, we continued to make incredible

progress. In fact, on one day within 10 hours, we received

As with any project, there are many important players.

The non-profit Day 1 Backpacks are made by local bag

supplier, Flying Circle in Boerne, Texas. Five hundred

and fifty highest quality backpacks are already on their

way to every region throughout Texas. I have to say, these

backpacks are the best backpack anyone could ever own.

I even own one myself. To add to the overwhelming

support of this campaign, all of the gift cards 3% per

card transaction fees were waived by United Texas Credit

Union. That’s a lot of money when you are dealing with

over $50,000 of gift cards. To put a final bow on the effort,

all 500 plus personalized graduation cards that contained

the gift cards were also donated. By end of July, each

2020 senior will have received these gift cards from their

region Department of Family and Protective Services

coordinator. They will have virtual parades, graduating

ceremonies and drive-by celebrations during COVID-19

state restrictions.

We may never know their names, their unbelievable

journeys or their heartbreaks, but we did not want this

group of students, once again, to be lost in a system

and forgotten. I strongly believe we need to consider

remembering our foster youth as well during this

pandemic and provide them support they are worthy of

receiving. Too many of them are on their own and are

required to navigate the adult world without support.

These teens have many needs that continue to be

overlooked. The community and statewide generosity

does let them know that someone cared. This may be

the ONLY gift they receive for graduating from high

school. Not everything in life comes easy, and in the face

of adversity, these seniors have all risen to the occasion,

displayed their resilience and determination during this

pandemic. “Caps off ” to Class of 2020 Foster Seniors.

14 | EXPLORE


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ART OF THE

FLOWER

By Benjamin Schooley

O

One of the most iconic Boerne businesses, the Boerne Flower Shop has

some very deep roots in this town. Its owner, Mary Pat Williams, is focused

on not only the history and the relationships that have been created over

something as simple as a bouquet of flowers, but is also focused on the

growth and service that have made the business famous locally.

And as with any business, Mary Pat’s motivation is certainly to put food on

her own table as well as those of her employees, but as you’ll read, it goes

much deeper than that.

Originally from New Jersey, Boerne became home for Mary Pat following a divorce. “I

came down here because my sister was here, and frankly, I just wanted a fresh start.”

While Mary Pat was new to the area, The Flower Shop wasn’t. She continues, “The

Flower Shop started 65 years ago. Shirley Wilson was part owner with Mary Eckert, who

just recently passed away. Shirley bought her out eventually and she ran and operated

it since the mid ‘70s until 2016. I worked for Shirley for 12 of those years as a floral

designer.”

With a pandemic, The Boerne Flower Shop wasn’t immune to the fallout. While

challenging, the changing environment has been confronted and, according to Mary

Pat, conquered. She continues, “Usually we are completely dead right now in the heat

of summer but we haven’t had that. This pandemic hasn’t effected us in some ways that

it’s effected others and that’s been a blessing also. More people are ordering flowers also

because they can’t go visit people so that has changed things a bit as well. With our new

technologies, it’s helped a lot.”

But Mary Pat’s floral expertise was polished with her own shop in San Antonio. She

explains, “I used to have a small shop in San Antonio – I sold that in ‘91 to an employee

and I helped my husband and my sons in their plumbing business for many years. I

helped them out and did my floral design on the side, as it’s truly a love of my life. I love

to see people smile and be happy and see it as sort of a mission for me. Flowers have a

way of making people universally smile, and I’ve loved it my whole life.”

As she enjoyed her work with Shirley and the many smiles she produced, the

opportunity arose. She says, “Shirley got sick in ‘14 – we were at market and she wasn’t

doing too well and when we got back she got checked and we found out she had cancer.

She’s in remission today, but she couldn’t come back. So she offered it to me. So I bought

it from her in 2016 and I hope that I’m doing right by her.”

With a new business, Mary Pat was tasked quickly with some major decisions, such as

moving the business from its location that it had enjoyed for years. She continues, “We

moved to our new location on North Main Street because we needed more space. I had

tried to do a little building in the front of the old location and that didn’t work due to

the city regulations. We needed more room to do our wedding and event rentals. That

happened just this past summer. It was a hard decision to move. It was necessary because

we had to grow, times are changing, and the world is changing. We used to be the only

flower shop for many years, and that’s not the case any more. We had to find different

avenues to bring in revenue, and now we have a 3 bay building full of every rental need

you can imagine, and that was so necessary and I’m happy with how that is going.”

With a new location, Mary Pat was tasked with leading the company through not only

a change in scenery, but a changing demographic of customers. She explains, “We’ve

noticed that with the generation now, they like to touch and see. Back in the day, people

would call and say “I have this amount to spend for this person – do what you want” but

now, people want to come in and look at their options and define their budget and make

their selections. It’s great – we love them being more interactive with what they want and

we really felt that was lacking at the old location. They can literally sit and watch us make

their arrangements, and we love that. We also have classes now and those have been

extremely popular.”

As we hopefully begin to put the pandemic behind us, The Flower Shop is also poised for

the future and Mary Pat is leading the team forward. She explains, “Maintain and grow

is what’s next. I’ve joined some professional organizations that have helped us grow our

business and expand and we’re feeling great about the results we’re seeing. We’ve learned

a lot, and now we’re really honing our design skills and growing in our tactics and

designs and minimizing waste for our arrangements so that we can keep prices down.

We’re extremely excited about what we’re working through and how that is going. Our

own professional development is increasing and we’re really focusing on that.”

Every business is built on its customer base and those interactions, and Mary Pat takes

this responsibility very seriously. And with that, she is so happy that her customers

come from this area. She smiles and says, “I think that Boerne has been amazing to this

business. Shirley knows so many people and so many people still ask for her. People ask

how she is. They call to just chat. She has made such a huge impact, and I have to follow

in those footsteps. I strive everyday to make sure I don’t lose a customer, to keep a happy

customer, and we try to go above and beyond and there’s not one person I don’t want to

satisfy. And Boerne has really responded to that. Some clients come every single week

for the same arrangement, and they are just part of our family. And I just love that.”

But at the end of the day, the motivation goes far beyond revenues and paychecks and

bills. For Mary Pat, it’s deeply emotional and something she respects greatly. She finishes,

“I enjoy coming here. Yes it’s tiring and frustrating during the holidays and slow times,

and it can be stressful. I really just enjoy making people smile really. We answer the

phone that way with “It’s a great day at the Flower Shop!” and you can hear them smile

on the phone. That means a lot to me that we can brighten someone’s day. Our drivers

and delivery team don’t get enough credit for what they do. They’re the face oftentimes.

Their personality is so important and we just so appreciate them. Everyone’s job here is

so important. Rita has been here for 35 years and people have grown to know and love

her, and she’s just an example. Liz has been here 12 years. Those relationships matter so

much to me and it just makes me so happy.”

The Boerne Flower Shop

827 N Main St

Boerne, TX 78006

(830) 816-2042

www.flowershopboernetexas.com

18 | EXPLORE


Mary Pat Williams,

Owner, Boerne Flower Shop

WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 19


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827 N Main St, Boerne, TX 78006 • www.flowershopboernetexas.com • (830) 816-2042

20 | EXPLORE


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BACKYARD

BBQ doesn’t always have to be about brisket, ribs, and sausage. Or spending

the entire day monitoring your pit’s temperature. Here are some dishes to add a

bit of interest at your next big summertime shindig...or to just enjoy around the

dinner table on a Tuesday evening.

22 | EXPLORE


BBQ Chicken Grilled Cheese

3 cups chicken (shredded)

1/2 cup BBQ sauce

8 slices Texas toast bread

6 Tbsps. butter (softened, or more or less, depending on how much you use)

BBQ sauce (extra, for drizzling)

4 cups shredded cheese (or more if you need it)

In a medium bowl, combine chicken and BBQ sauce, mix well.

Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.

To assemble sandwiches: place one slice of bread, butter side down, onto griddle or skillet. Sprinkle with

cheddar cheese, a scoop of the chicken mixture, drizzle with more BBQ sauce, and top with some more

shredded cheese. Place a piece of bread on top, butter side up.

Cook over medium heat until browned, carefully flip over and cook other side until browned.

BBQ Meatballs

meatballs (prepared)

1 onion (thinly sliced)

1 cup ketchup

3/4 cup BBQ sauce (smoky/hickory flavored)

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 cup water

1 ½ Tbsps. cider vinegar

2 tsps. Worcestershire sauce

NOTE: If using a homemade recipe for meatballs, prepare them first. If using store-bought meatballs,

heat and cook according to directions.

Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce in a measuring cup and set aside until needed.

Using the same pan that you cooked the meatballs in, begin cooking the onions (medium heat) until

they are softened. If you are using a fresh pan, make sure to add a little oil before cooking the onions.

Once the onions have softened, add the sauce and combine.

Turn up the heat and cook the sauce for about five minutes.

Add the meatballs to the sauce and combine. Be careful not to break apart the balls.

Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes uncovered.

The sauce should start to thicken as it simmers.

Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or alongside fries or potato wedges as a main course. As an appetizer,

serve plated with toothpicks on the side.

BBQ Brisket Nachos

Brisket:

5-10 lb. well-trimmed brisket

1 bottle smoky BBQ sauce

salt & pepper

Nachos:

3 cups tortilla chips

1 cup cooked and shredded brisket

¼ cup smoky BBQ sauce

½ cup sharp cheddar cheese

¼ cup blue cheese dressing

chopped tomato and cilantro

sliced black olives and jalapeños

Brisket: Trim brisket of all visible fat and place in a large sheet of tin foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper,

then cover in BBQ sauce. Wrap foil around brisket and place in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for at

least 8 hours.

Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing. Slice against the grain for a tender slice of meat or shred meat

with two forks while still warm.

NOTE: If brisket is too large for your slow cooker, cut it into several smaller pieces and wrap it up

together.

Nachos: On a microwave safe dish (or a small jelly roll pan for the oven), layer the first four items in the

order listed. Microwave for 1 – 2 minutes, or heat in an oven at 350*F, until the cheese is melted. Add

remaining items and enjoy.

BBQ Cauliflower

½ head cauliflower

1 cup Mexican-style cheese (shredded)

1 egg

¼ cup cornmeal

½ tsp. salt

black pepper (fresh, to taste)

2 Tbsps. BBQ sauce (your favorite)

Preheat your oven to 400*F. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

To shred the cauliflower: chop half a head of cauliflower into small pieces, place into a food processor.

Pulse until riced. Place in a large bowl and squeeze out excess moisture carefully with a paper towel.

Combine the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and stir to combine.

Scoop the mixture by spoonful into each tin and press down firmly.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve with ketchup or BBQ sauce for dipping! Or, combine half ketchup half BBQ sauce for a delicious

dip.

BBQ Shrimp Skewers

1 lb. shrimp (jumbo raw, shelled and deveined, weight after peeled)

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

kosher salt

pepper

3 Tbsps. BBQ sauce (Kansas City style)

Soak the skewers in water at least 20 minutes to prevent them from burning.

Combine the shrimp with crushed garlic and season with salt and pepper. You can let this marinate for

a while, or even overnight.

Heat a clean, lightly-oiled grill to medium heat. When the grill is hot, add the shrimp, careful not to

burn the skewers. Grill on both sides for about 6 – 8 minutes total cooking time or until the shrimp is

opaque and cooked through.

Brush the sauce on during the last minute of cooking and eat right away.

WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 23


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24 | EXPLORE


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ART

MOORE ON ART: CLINT VOIGT

By Deva Moore

A

Art has a broad scope of virtues and a wide scope of viewings. Art can be found on canvas, paper, cloth,

ceramics, shirts, stickers and so much more if one opens their eyes and truly opens their mind. Recently this

author found art in a most extraordinary location…on weapons…guns, bows, scopes, cases and more…Clint and

Jessica Voigt offer a rather unique and beautiful artistic handcrafted work that is coveted and basically priceless.

The good thing for you the reader is that is it easily accessible and nearby. This art is really quite versatile and

The Voigt’s talent can produce this art on most anything one has a desire to customize.

When Clint and Jessica met in college their goals for careers in life were not art related.

Clint and Jessica had no art training., they had not sought out an art career, it simply

fell into their hands…literally!! Clint’s younger brother, who is a realtor, helped them in

a real estate project and to thank him for his help Clint built him a gun and decided to

make it a unique and beautiful work making it super special. He researched and found a

type of coating called cerakote that enabled the artist to create art as part of the process

while forming a lasting protective coating that could be designed to the owner’s choice.

Clint and his brother chose a bronze cerakote but no real artwork other than the bronze.

Clint and Jessica found something they both could do as a team, something so beautiful

it attracts attention and a satisfying career!! As a team they realized this was a success

story in the making. Clint attended the school in Oregon to learn how to cerakote

properly and to become a licensed quality cerakote artist. When you are dealing with

Custom Gun Creations out of Comfort, Texas you are dealing with the professionals who

are not only experienced but well trained.

Clint and Jessica have been married 10 years and they have 2 adorable sons. Clint is a

native Boerneite who met Jessica, from Plano, at college. After a few years in Pottsberg,

Tx they decided to move back to Clint’s hometown and their pursuit of Custom Gun

Creations was a dream that just took off…

They started off in a single car garage and today they have a beautiful shop in Comfort

that serves customers Tuesday through Saturday. The hours are Tuesday through

Saturday 10am to 6pm and Saturdays 10am to 2pm. The shop is open to visitors,

potential clients, and those just looking to get more information or view the Voigt’s

work. If one is interested in having some custom art done on a weapon then it is best to

make an appointment to discuss expectations and desires.

Cerakote artistically applied to a weapon creates a beautiful conversation piece while

maintaining the integrity of the weapon. I was quite taken by the declaration from

the Voigts that this artistic process could be applied to almost anything and we will

address that shortly. The only item(s) that would not carry a guarantee is if it is applied

to anything made of rubber. On a side note it can be applied to some rubber type items

but due to its application there is no guarantee for long lasting. When the art is applied

and in normal wear and tear it lasts forever. Clint and Jessica did a beautiful design on a

cooler and it is used in the back of a truck extensively. The application process has been

proven to stay fresh on this cooler for over 2 years now and has not scratched, faded

or peeled in any way. The integrity of this completed art is amazing. What starts as a

beautiful or meaningful thought becomes a lasting work to be enjoyed any time.

The process is quite complicated and must be created by a trained person. According

to Jessica Clint is the master mind when it comes to suggesting art or finding the art to

apply. He has a super sense when it comes to art. Clint handles the application of color

and tones and Jessica is the detailed artist. Again let me remind you this art can be

applied to any surface except rubber with complete success. Now if one knows Clint then

they are certain that he is finding a way to add rubber type surfaces to his gallery. The

process begins with the Voigt’s settling on a design and color palette with the client for

an object. Then the discussion of budget and time frame are explained. Once Clint and

Jessica have the item in hand the process of the art work application begins. Depending

on what weapon it is, a complete disassembly is required and each piece is stripped of

any oil, dirt or debris. This requires a cleaning process that is safe for the weapon while

being the strongest cleaner available, a degreaser to safely prepare the weapon for its

artistic cerakote process completion. Then it has a drying procedure to ensure nothing

wet remains.

The next step is the sandblasting step required to remove any lasting grit and to take

it down to a surface that will accept the art. This step must be done with precision and

allowing nothing to compromise the surface. No oily fingers, no contaminants and

nothing that can distort the desired finished product. This part of the process may take

3 or 4 times to complete and the weapon is ready for the art application. Jessica is the

puzzle solver and adjusts until it all looks great and works and fits with a perfect seams

and perfection. Some projects have taken several days to complete the process for the art

application to adhere with integrity. All of these steps require temperature regulation,

26 | EXPLORE


time regulation and an experienced eye to know when it is successful and can move

to next step. Much like painting on a canvas it is important to start the foundation or

basis of work so the finished product is the desired product. The design and colors are

concentrated with the application of layers of cerakote applied. This is a time consuming

process as it is done one layer at a time with both color and design. Patience is a key

to this application as each layer must dry before applying the next. Each layer has a

curing time in an oven to ensure its integrity so the next may be applied. In this process

accuracy in each level is absolute!!!! This can take many days depending on the detail

and intricacy of the design. Again Clint’s talent of color and design and Jessica’s talent

of artistic design work together to blow your mind at the finished product. . Since they

work with an air gun for the art the air pressure must be dialed correctly and the flow

must be adjusted to the design. Pastels work very well and are easy to layer as they paint

on thinner than some. This is not a quick turn around art. Now this will bring us to an

obvious lesson hinted at earlier…this process can be done on most anything…!!! You

can have your desired art on a cup, mug, cooler, tail gate, steps of truck, glass, wood

items, some plastics, metal, ammo boxes, guns, cases, bows, special arrows for use or

display, well almost anything. While the cerakote process is most desirable artistically

it is not FDA certified for food use. This means you can do the outside of any dish, cup

or such but it is not for use on the inside where food or drink sit. It is also not a process

of art that can be applied to an over and under gun which is more complex and difficult

to manage due to all of the breakdown required. This is a decorative process and can

even be applied to golf clubs, Xbox controllers and sunglasses. All items successfully and

artistically applied by the Voigts. There are no limitations to creative imaginations. The

main focus Clint and Jessica provide at Custom Gun Creations is artistic applications on

guns and other weapons including scopes and related pieces. It is a ceramic finish that

protects and makes a long lasting finish that is attractive. An interesting point is that it

adds little to no weight to the item.

The shop can also restore guns. Recently one of their projects was the restoration of a

gun that was over 100 years old. This project was very satisfying and the finished product

was just what the client wanted. The Voigt’s would like to send a big Thank You to

Twisted Precision of Center Point Texas who provide many references from their clients

who purchase guns and like the artwork available from Custom Gun Creations. Twisted

Precision can be reached at 830-739-8535 and tell them Clint sent you. Clint and Jessica

also get lots of referrals from Sage Precision another gun company located in Hondo,

Texas. Sage Precision can be reached at 210-863-7777. Evolved Ballistics also refers

clients to Clint as well. They can be reached at 210-872-7790. Clint has a large clientele

including Matt Carriker of the Demolition Ranch but one of his most famous and one he

was pleased to help was Donald Trump Jr. His interest in guns lead Don Jr to find shops

with service and quality products. Sage Precision and Twisted Precision offer just such

a product. Recently Don Jr purchased a gun and wanted to have it artistically designed.

The bright orange hair piece that is used so frequently in different cartoons and other

media to represent his father President Donald Trump was what he has chosen. His new

gun will be a camo cerakote with the orange hairpiece design on the camo. Definitely

unique and recognizable when it is a finished product. Clint confirms that most any gun

is a good candidate for their specific art. They have branched out to doing other objects

and find satisfaction when the product comes out perfect which is almost all of the

time. One of their items that they are proud of the quality and strength is a smoker. The

smoker was tested at over 600 degrees and while during the process the colors changed

but once it cooked the smoker returned to the cooled temperature the normal color and

design returned proving the reliability of this cerakote art.

The most popular gun for this artistic process is bolt action rifles and AR15 pistols as

runner up. The most requested design is the American Flag. Patriotism is alive and

well!!! The most unique design that Clint thinks he has done is the Damascus Steel, Clint

painted the Damacus Steel print on an belt fed machine gun. It was on all parts and it

took a day and a half just to create the design pattern on the pieces so that they matched

up when it was completed. This piece has over 22,000 views on the website. Paying a visit

to the shop means you can see their work on a live television screen where designs and

completed projects scroll constantly for client’s viewing pleasure. Once a design is chosen

and all factors are agreed upon including the design, price and expected completion date

the process is put into the Voigt’s queue for process. The average expectation time for

a project once it is in queue for completion is 4-6 weeks. If it is only one color and no

actual design then the time may be only a week or two depending on the schedule.

Jessica will show you her personal beautiful leopard print with roses gun or one of the

many patterns already created or create a new pattern just for you. One of the beautiful

characteristics of this artistic process is the no need for maintenance. It is once and

done!! Clint laughingly told me of one unique piece which was a prosthetic leg on which

they designed an American patriotic pattern.

Clint and Jessica operate a fun and engaging studio. They maintain a healthy

environment allowing their employees to crank the music and jam while working.

There is so much more to what Clint and Jessica have done and plan to do. While

there are many fans of powder coating, The Voigts have found it is not as durable or

artistic as the cerakote has proven. If you are looking for that perfect art piece that

does not just hang on the wall but is long lasting and definitely be the talk of anyone

who sees it then do yourself a favor and call or go see Clint and Jessica Voigt!!! I

guarantee you will not be sorry!!!!

Custom Creative Guns can be reached at their shop at 830-995-2663. You can also find

examples of their work on their facebook-customguncreations, their website

www.customguncreations.com or email them at sales@customguncreations.com.

deva@hillcountryexplore.com

WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 27


FOOD

HOW TO

TEXAN

By Christine Friesenhahn

I

If you are planning on travelling or moving to Texas, you will

need to study up on the language and customs. You know, just

like you would if you were visiting any other country.

It isn’t that you will offend someone if you shake with

the wrong hand, or slurp your soup at the dinner table.

It’s that if you don’t understand a few things, you won’t

be able to order food, understand directions, or blend in

seamlessly to your new environment.

I will cover the 4 basic topics of Culture (Livin’), How we

are

(Wearin’), Clothing

(Talkin’), Language

(Eatin’).Cuisine

For women, the same wardrobe would apply here as

anywhere, except that American made boots are always an

acceptable choice of footwear. Even for brides, at proms,

and in a bikini on the beach.

Any outfit that cannot be worn with boots just ought not

be worn at all. After all, we must protect our legs from

mosquitos, cacti, and rattlesnakes.

Sandals are acceptable when you wish to show off a new

pedicure.

King Ranch handbags make acceptable accessories.

As a noun, a fixin’ is a side dish to your supper.

Some years back, I was the newly hired HR Manager at

a Home Depot. I was being trained by a peer that wasn’t

from here. One of the department heads, Robert, popped

in to say he was going for lunch, as he was starved and

hadn’t eaten all day. What seemed a very short time later,

he popped back by my door, and the following exchange

took place:

I looked up and said “Djeetyet?”

LIVIN’:

This could take up volumes, so I’ll reduce it to its basest

elements. The “Texas Code” has appeared in one form or

another for many years.

My version, which hangs on the wall in my bedroom,

pretty much sums up the ideals by which a Texan strives

to live thusly:

I’ll be as hearty of mind as I am of body.

I’ll be a straight shooter and a square dealer.

I’ll honor my mama, my daddy,

and my God.

My family name will be sacred and

my word will be as good as any contract.

I’ll remember the Alamo,

Buy American,

stick by my friends and

eat more chicken fried steak.

Oh, and the only two sports you need to know about are

Football (Friday Night Lights) and Rodeo.

And hunting isn’t a sport, it’s a way of life…

WEARIN’:

Men only really need jeans, several pairs of cowboy boots

(only made in America), plain white t-shirts, and button

down shirts. You can change your look from casual to

business attire simply by switching from a baseball cap to

a cowboy hat.

For formal events, a Texas Tux will usually suffice. This

involves the wearing of a tuxedo shirt and black tails on

top, over jeans and boots on bottom. A black felt or silver

belly cowboy hat should finish it off. You may or may not

choose to have your bow tie and cummerbund match

your sweetheart’s dress.

Swimming attire would include trunks—never speedo

type apparel. Boots may still be worn, or flip-flops.

28 | EXPLORE

TALKIN’:

First of all, we drop the “g” off of most words that end in

“ing”. Not when we write ‘em, but when we say ‘em. And

like I just illustrated, we drop some baggage off the front

end of words like “them”. We don’t do this because we are

stupid. We do it to save time.

Because we tend to be chatty. The more letters and

syllables we can drop, the more words we can get into a

conversation in the time we have.

For example, if a visitor in New York asks a local how to

get to Main Street, they might hear “What do I look like?

A goddamn road map?”

I’m not trying to slight the many lovely New Yorkers

I know, it’s just that this is a true story..that actually

happened…in real life.

I am also not saying that it couldn’t happen in Texas. It’s

just not likely that it would.

When asking the same question in Texas, what is likely to

happen is that you might hear:

“well, just go yonder about 2 miles, and then turn right at

the Wilson place..you know Billy Ray never did get that

little gal from Sweet Water to marry him…Then go about

½ mile fuh-ther to that big oak tree, you know the one

that Old Man Johnson parked his tractor in a few years

back, you can still see the green paint…take a slight left

there, and about 3 miles more will take you right to it,

quick as that….”

Also for the sake of economy, we may run words together,

making one word where 5 used to be:

“checkthawlferya”—Often spoken by the lanky feller at the

full service gas station, he is asking if he can check the oil

for you.

“fixintuh”–preparing to, getting ready to…..as in

“I’m fixin’ to go to the store”

To which he replied ”yeah, I just grabbed a subway and

came back”

“cool….see ya later”

My HR peer looked at me and asked what I had said to

Robert. I didn’t get what she didn’t get, so I said

“Huh? You mean ‘see you later’?…”

“no, not that….he came in and you said something to him

and he said he had just grabbed a subway….what did you

say to him?”

I really had to think hard, as I could not imagine what was

so perplexing…

I looked at her and said “Djeetyet?”

“YES!”she said, “THAT!”…..”what did you say just then?”

So I looked at her, and spoke very, very slowly,

enunciating my words very clearly, so that she might

understand.

“Did…….you…….eat……..yet?”

Texan is a hard language to learn, apparently……

Also, we LOVE the imagery of a good analogy or other

comparative statement:

“He was nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of

rockin’ chairs”

“That’ll go over like a toot in Church”

“He was busy as a one-legged man in a butt kickin’

contest”

“Rode hard and put away wet”….When you are done

riding a horse, the sweat should be dried off of him

before he is turned out (particularly in cold weather),

lest he catch a cold. If someone says you look like you’ve


been rode hard and put away wet, he is not paying you a

compliment.

“Been all over Hell and half of Texas”….This means that

you have covered a huge area—done a lot of traveling.

Obviously….Since Hell is infinity huge, and Texas is even

bigger.

EATIN’:

You’ll need to understand a few basic terms to get by in

Texas.

BBQ

To cook large pieces of meat “low and slow” over indirect

heat or hot smoke. Brisket, ribs, half chickens, pork roasts

and whole hogs are examples of BBQ. Hamburgers and

hot dogs are NOT barbecue. In Texas, the Holy Grail of

BBQ is the brisket. Expect great debate over which type of

wood makes the best BBQ. I like mesquite.

BEANS

The only kind of beans are pinto beans. Cooked with

bacon or salt pork, and beer. They may also have onion,

jalapeno, Rotel and cilantro. Beans are never sweet and

sticky.

CHILI

This NEVER comes out of a can, and does NOT have

beans in it. (please note however, that wars have been

fought over the beans versus no beans opinion) If it is

made correctly, it will clear your sinuses for days.

COKE

This is a carbonated beverage of any variety. For example:

“While yer in there, can you get me a coke?”

“Sure, what kind?”

“A Grape Crush”.

If you actually want a Coke, you order a Coca-cola.

GRAVY

It is white, it is thick, and it is flecked with pepper. It

may be tan if made with pan drippings, but otherwise

is never brown and smooth. If you get smooth, brown,

shiny gravy in a Texas establishment, the proprietor is a

Yankee. Not that there’s anything wrong with that–but it’s

a geographical fact.

GRILL

To cook over direct heat at higher temperatures. Much

faster than BBQ. Hamburgers and hot dogs are grilled, as

are steaks, vegetables, chicken breasts and seafood.

SMOKE

To cook or dry meat using warm or cold smoke. The

process can take hours or days, drying the meat to

preserve it. Jerkey, bacon, ham and dried sausage are

examples.

TEA

Calling it sweet tea or iced tea is redundant. Tea is always

iced and always sweet. If you want it otherwise, you have

to ask for it special.

Few foods are as quintessentially Texan as brisket, chili, or

chicken fried steak, but there are a few.

King Ranch Chicken is a popular casserole said to have

originated on the famously ginormous King Ranch. It is

best described as being like a chicken enchilada casserole,

made with chopped cooked chicken, corn tortillas, cheese,

and a cream of mushroom soup base. But like any other

dish, every family makes theirs a little bit differently.

Not knowing for sure what I am putting in my mouth

with canned soup, I make mine using a homemade base

instead.

I hope you enjoy….

SCRATCH MADE KING RANCH

CHICKEN

Serves 8

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 stick butter

1 each red, yellow and green bell pepper, diced

1 cup flour

1 can evaporated milk

1 quart whole milk

2 cans Ro-tel diced tomatoes and green chilies

1 cup corn

3 teaspoons salt, or to taste

2 teaspoons black pepper, or to taste

1 package (20 count) corn tortillas, torn into quarters • 1 large onion,

chopped

8 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the chicken breasts by simmering in water or stock until done.

(Alternately, you may use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery deli). Shred

the meat and set aside.

Heat butter in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add

peppers and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the flour…It

will be very stiff. Add evaporated milk, a little at a time, whisking to keep it

smooth. Repeat with whole milk.

Add ro-tel, corn, salt and pepper. Mixture should be the consistency of

a thick cream soup. Add additional milk or flour if needed to attain that.

Adjust salt and pepper to your preference.

Place one cup of sauce in bottom of a lasagna pan or 5 quart casserole.

Place one layer of torn tortillas, sprinkle 1/4th of the chicken, 1/4th of the

onion, and 1 cup of the cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Pour remaining sauce over the top, and then top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350* until cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve with Borracho

(drunk) Beans and a green salad

christine@hillcountryexplore.com

WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 29


www.compasscreativetx.com - 210.507.5250


Kendall County based design firm specializing in

helping small business owners maximize their online

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REFLECTIONS

LIVE POSITIVE

By Samuel Smith

I try to be a positive person these days. Seems to be a better way to live than being negative.

I

So last night, I tested positive for the Wuhan Flu. Yay!

Yes, Mask Nazis, I wore a mask every day because my wonderful boss who I adore made me.

She signs checks. More than decent ones. I need money. So I wore a mask. And I still got the

COVID, infectious disease expert with your degree from MSNBC and Facebook.

And now I’m in two clubs: mask wearers and COVID-19 patients. Lovely.

That’s something of a conflict for me, because I’m not exactly what you’d call a “joiner.”

I haven’t been a member of a club I can remember since George W. Bush was Jeb’s

wild and crazy little brother and there were rumors of him having a drinking problem.

Individualism is my thing. I wear a skull and crossbones around my neck not because

I’m a goth or whatever but because, well, not to put it too broadly, I’m a pirate.

No, I haven’t slashed any throats (yet) or stolen any ships (that you can prove). But

I am very much a guy who started life one way and have ended up having to live it

completely another.

Some people bend reality to their own will and make it their own. These are the guys

who go to med school or law school and retire at 50 and garden between vacations.

Others accede to it and sort of accept it. These are the guys who set out to change the

world but settle for a nice job in accounting and end up in Dad shoes discussing mowers

over Coors Lights in a can at a backyard barbecue.

I have to make my way as best I can, taking the opportunities to preserve who I am in

the midst of responsibilities I never imagined possible with heartaches and heartbreaks I

didn’t particularly care if I survived.

But now I have a fashionable disease and I’m the subject of fashionable worries among

people who care about me, but don’t really understand me. And that’s weird.

COVID is the worry du jour par excellence. It’s the big scary monster that’s going to kill

us all and end Western Civilization and is probably waiting under your bed right now to

snatch you in your sleep and drag you and your little dog to hell.

Only, It’s not. I’m 44 and live healthy if for no other reason than my Dad died at 62 and

left me alone to face the worst times of my life. If COVID or a drunk driver or a jealous

husband takes me out, it won’t be because I didn’t take my kids seriously enough to get

my ass out of bed and eat a salad every now and then. The Wuhan Flu for me is, well,

kind of the flu. It’s a fever controlled by over the counter medication, an annoying cough

and a headache. Oh, and $10k in lost earnings, if that matters.

As soon as I told my boss I had a fever and thought I may be suffering from the dreaded

beer disease, I started getting calls from others at work who found out that I suspected

that I had it. So like the good PR man I was trained to be I got out in front of it. I had

conferred with a buddy of mine who had it a while back when I had the first symptoms

and he said to get ready for calls from people who think you’re in the hospital on death’s

door. I decided to skip that part and let everyone know.

the cops doing nothing to compel her to follow the court order whenever she chose

to ignore it physically hurt much worse than this. Paying her bills for five years so she

can bang the guy she was dating while we were still married and be a part-time fitness

instructor (I work more in a day than she does in a week while she gets the kids 99% of

the time) isn’t a picnic either.

I had a conversation with someone I just met in May of 2018. She was obviously very

“with it” and could tell I was on edge. I had nothing to lose so I told her the truth:

“Every second of every day it feels like there’s an axe hanging out of my chest.” And

it was true. That’s really the way it felt. The Wuhan Flu is nothing, even physically,

compared to that pain.

Here’s the other thing: I. Don’t. Worry. (Not about me, anyway.) Say it takes a turn for the

worst. I end up on a ventilator and die. What good will the worrying I do now do, except

ruin what little time I have left? Say it takes a turn for the almost worst and I end up on a

ventilator and live and I’m a million dollars in medical debt for the rest of my life. What

good would worrying do? Will worrying stop it? Will it pay off the creditors?

So well meaning people reach out to me worried. People I love and who love me and

I can hear the worry in their voices. It’s gratifying, of course. We all want to be cared

about. But it’s also a little disheartening.

I bet on myself every day. I either make it happen or go without. It’s not complicated. You

win some, you lose some. Life’s a casino. And as my Dad once pointed out, they don’t

build those big fancy buildings because you go home with the money.

Of course there are things I want to do. I want to survive this hellish sentence visited on

me by the liberal family court judge who I hope burns in hell, just because I don’t want

her to win. I want for my kids to have an example of winning despite obstacles and learn

a sense of ingenuity and responsibility that their codependent other parent can’t fathom.

I want to do some artistic things.

I really want to have beer and pizza with the one that got away at least one more time.

Half a lifetime is too long to be apart from someone like that.

And I have a 98.8% chance that this won’t kill me, just cost thousands of dollars in lost

wages and a big chunk of lost sanity that comes from sitting in a 10x14 room for two

weeks. The most famous pirate in our culture today put it like this: “the only rules that

matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can’t do.” And I can do these things.

I’m not some idiot millenial who “can’t even.” I can. And I will.

What I won’t do is listen to any of the drivel in the media about this. I’d encourage you to

do the same.

I think what people really don’t understand the most is that this really isn’t the worst

thing that has ever happened to me. My ex wife taking my kids for 16 months and

32 | EXPLORE


WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 33


OLD TIMER

C

COVID depression is in full force in the Old Timer

household, which luckily consists of exactly one

member: me.

This has been the most grueling spring/summer perhaps

since...well, forever. I know that our society has been through

tougher situations (make no mistake) but I think that this

one has been particularly awful because it’s ALL. WE. TALK.

ABOUT. Day in and day out, 24/7, we are bombarded with

talking heads arguing about the Kung Flu, the response, the

death numbers, the fake numbers, the good numbers. It’s

incessant and it’s pretty damn noisy.

as stupid as COVID). But we’re going to let the BERGES

folks coordinate this, everyone will attend, and it will be

a great start to putting all this nonsense behind us. Non

attendance equals immediate banishment from the city.

And I for one am over it.

We have no pre-determined ending to this saga, which is

why I think it’s particularly grueling as well. If we “defeat

our enemy” such as in war, it’s over. If we “beat COVID”,

our invisible nemesis, we both know there will be an entire

faction of psychos out there screaming that we didn’t beat

it “enough” or it’s going to come back “tomorrow” or some

such nonsense. There’s so many people that WANT to be

scared out there – and it’s exhausting.

So as I sit here on a steamy July evening, whiskey beside

me, I think I’d like to fast forward a few months and

imagine that all this nonsense is over. Somehow we

have all agreed that COVID is dead, we’re relatively safe

from its monstrous tentacles (that 99.9% survivability

is TERRIFYING) and I’m going to map out the first few

things I do as Mayor to celebrate the end to this weird,

weird little chapter in Kendall County’s history.

BIG ASS PARTY

We’re going to block off Main Street by the Town

Square, we’re going to drag out a stage for some good

live music, we’re going to buy a zillion kegs of beer and

every available man will be alerted to drag their BBQ sets

to the Square. We’re all going to have a weekend-long

shindig that will include music and dancing and too many

beers and more hugs than you’ve ever seen. It’s going to

be called “BERGES FEST” even though that normally

happens in June and got into a big tiff with the City and

is grounded from having the party in the Square (equally

34 | EXPLORE

NO MORE WEIRD COVID SIGNAGE

Anybody else feel like they’re in a weird sci-fi movie when

they wander through HEB with all their floor markings

about safety, and the overhead voice saying “Together

we will beat COVID”....ugh. We are still free people in

a free society doing our best to be people on this blue

marble in space. I think businesses feel great pressure to

go above and beyond with sanitation and “distancing” and

whatnot because they know a bunch of people will throw

a fit and bash them online should someone allow their

stupid mask to slide off while serving their dinner. So I

propose that all COVID signage be removed so that we

can mentally wipe it from our memory banks. If you are

scared about distancing or masks or gloves or whatever

you are freaking out about, stay home. There should be

no recommendation or expectation on independent

businesses to adhere to the ever-changing guidelines of a

government entity (CDC). Go out if you want, stay home

otherwise. But the signs are coming down.

QUARANTINE FROM THE NEWS

Want to feel sanity? Want to feel relative peace in

your life, in your community, and in your immediate

sphere of existence? Want to stop being paranoid of

EVERYTHING? I have the cure for you: turn off the news.

They talked us into sitting in our homes for 4+ months,

terrified, and ratting out our friends and neighbors are

“rule breakers”. So upon defeat of this invisible enemy, we

shall all celebrate by quarantining ourselves away from the

news until the end of the year. No FOX, CNN, MSNBC...

none of ‘em. Do you think 4 months of having no viewers

might send a message? Think it might hit them in the

pocket book? Think we might get a little less biased and

purposefully scary news reporting on January 2 when we

reluctantly return to watching news about current events?

You’re damn straight. Turn the noise off, people. Cause

99% of it is simply that.

I WANT THE TRUTH

FOX says this, CNN says that. Fauci says no masks, then

doubles down on masks. Abbott says mask mandates

are against our personal liberties, then mandates masks.

Deaths are up, deaths are down, dead people from

motorcycle crashes are labeled as COVID deaths, and

our kids are watching us all look like damn fools. So I

want the truth. The biggest investigation in history must

be launched. How it’s non-partisan, I have no idea. But I

want to know what REALLY just happened, why, and who

caused it. Who lied, who blew the trumpet of truth, and

who was silenced? What was real, and what was makebelieve

political theatre? I’m sure I’m not the only one

that feels this way. But heads will roll and we will never

go through such a chapter again. We owe it to future

generations to jump on this immediately and thoroughly.

This list could probably go for pages and pages. All the

ways that we need to both acknowledge the madness

we have endured and simultaneously erase it from our

history books so that we move forward as quickly as

possible. We’re but one small-ish town in Texas, but all

change starts small. Elect me Emperor, and I’ll get to

work. (it takes “Emperor” status for me to mandate your

news quarantine situation. Oh, and the whole Berges Fest

big-ass party as well). See? Reasons.

oldtimer@hillcountryexplore.com



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