The Music Art of Virgil C. Stephens



Howdy Folks!

Winter is over, so they say, and spring is upon us. Ironically, we had no moisture this winter with very little snow, and since we hit March, it’s been snowing and blowing and seems to be trying to back track and be winter in springtime! 

This year has been a pretty awesome year for our family.  Last summer, we finally finished the last of the remodel at the lake house in Michigan, something we have had on the plate for about 5 years.  The new septic system, although pricey, is a huge burden off the shoulders. The next time that needs to be done, Em and I will be pushing up daisies and that will be on our kids’ watch.  Speaking of, we had our kids and their spouses, grandkids, and of course all the dogs associated with each family, out for a few weeks at the cottage this past summer. We are so blessed to be able to all be together under one roof every year and enjoy vacations, hunting and fishing and of course baking in the sun. This year we took our two oldest grandkids kayaking for the first time.  It’s a bit challenging on the upper part of the Pier Marquette River, but it was a great time floating without doing much work because the river runs at about four mph, so all you have to do is rudder with the paddle and avoid trees hanging out over the water.  Being out there in nature, where it’s so quiet and the eagles are flying all around you, is something you can’t explain, you just have to experience it.  It’s a very user friendly river for kids and it’s close to the house. We also took our two oldest grandkids, Devin and Aurora for a bike ride on our new bike trail that runs from Hart to Montague. The state spent a few million dollars on this project but it was well worth it. They took routes of the trains which are no longer in use, pulled up the tracks, and paved the whole way, so it is flat and not very curvy. It goes from town to town, and allows bikers to ride without dealing with traffic.  The best part, of course, is the pizza factory restaurant in Shelby, which is 8 miles one way from Hart.  We leave from the start of the trail in Hart and by the time we get to Shelby, we are famished and ready to eat, all you can eat Pizza and salad bar.  There is also the Shelby Gem Factory, at the edge of town, which is a great educational side trip that the kids can enjoy. If you have never heard of this place, they” MAKE” gems! That’s right, they make rubies, sapphires, etc., in about two weeks’ time, whereas, God takes thousands of years to make them. (He oughta go visit them and see how they do it…it would save him soooo much time..!).  I was actually very intrigued with the process and the gems are absolutely beautiful there.

In August, we had a total solar eclipse which was visible from the front yard.  Our good friends Dave and Alison Stepp from out here in the west flew in on their private plane and had lunch with us before they flew to their destination to watch the eclipse in Kansas.  It was pretty awesome to have our friends out from 1600 miles away during blueberry, corn and tomato season.  Life just doesn’t get any better than that. We picked them up from the airport in Ludington, and had elk burgers with home grown tomatoes, fresh blueberries and corn on the cob for lunch.  I think they will be back, if for no other reason than the food, right! 

In September, as always, Em cans pickles, tomatoes, peaches, and some salsa. It’s a pretty intense job, but very fulfilling for us in the winter months. It allows us to not only enjoy the fruits of her labor but to barter with friends for things that they make or have that is equally good for us to enjoy, (and Kenny, our neighbor, when he feeds the mules when we are gone!). She said she is going to embark on a couple new items for this coming year. The corn in Michigan is to die for, really, really sweet and we literally don’t eat corn except in the summers when it’s like eating candy. She also wants to can some relish. Her canning buddy Greg has been doing it for a couple years, and says it’s well worth it.

We got home in mid-September and started getting ready for hunting season.  Our grandsons Devin and Kaeden both had youth elk tags for our backyard here at Loma Grande.  One of our favorite things to do in the morning is to draw a cup of coffee and sit out in the yard and glass the mountain. You never know what you will see, bear, deer and elk and occasionally a coyote or a fox.  In September, the bulls are fighting over the girls, so it’s not only a visual experience but a vocal one as well.  This year our grandson Kaeden got his first elk!  He has never harvested a big game animal before so it was a pretty exciting time for him.  She was a nice cow elk too! She filled the freezer for our daughter and her family for the whole winter. Devin was skunked this year for the first time in 4 years.  He handled it okay, but it sure would have been nice to get two in the freezer!  Em took her girlfriend Alison out for her first cow hunt this year. She also harvested a cow for her first hunt ever! It was a hard hunt this year due to moisture issues.  The waterholes were dry, so the elk were jumping fences onto private property to drink, and that’s never good for us hunters. Our son-in-law, Aaron also harvested a nice buck again this with his bow.  We tend to like deer as much or more than elk meat.  Our preferred meat though, is pronghorn antelope and we were extremely blessed this year to get two in the freezer that the fish and game dept. sold us. There just isn’t anything as tender and tasty as an antelope steak and yes… they are small but good things come in small packages as they say. 

December was a pretty busy month for our family.  Aaron our son in law was sent to Washington to receive a new brace for his leg.  He was in an accident a few years ago, and had 117 breaks to his leg! He went clear through the Iraq war without a scratch, comes home and crashes on his dirt bike! Needless to say, his pain is beyond what most of us would be able to handle so he was able to receive this brace by the grace of God.  He spent a week there in therapy learning how to walk with the new piece of equipment.  He had to go back in for another surgery in January, so it’s been a battle this year with lots of pain, but the outcome should be way better than his past issues. 

As for grandkids, we are again going to be new grandparents to our son Matt and his wife Stephanie.  The news of her being pregnant with twin girls was a great surprise for us all.  We don’t have twins in the family, but we will now!  The babies are due in late March.  We will be heading to Texas to help out when the little ones arrive.  They already have a two and a half year old son, Graden, so granny and grampa will be babysitting and helping out around their new five bedroom, two story house they just had built. Two for one is always a challenge but at least they are done with having babies. Matt said he was thinking ahead, but didn’t realize that the house was going to be full that quick.  They will soon be a family of 5. 

As for art, we are still working with several galleries throughout the U.S. and Canada, and have changed up our shows to only doing two a year now.  We do the Christmas Jubilee in Ruidoso in November, and have now added, for the 2nd year in a row, the Vines in the Pines, also in Ruidoso in spring.  This year the show was in early March, but next year it will be on Valentine’s Day weekend Feb 16-17, 2019.  It’s a fun-filled weekend here in Ruidoso with all of the wineries, breweries and distilleries in NM present! Whoopee!!

I have been working on new originals for a Michigan gallery, as well as working on several commissions for clients.  Between cutting firewood, working on artwork and remodeling parts of our ranch house here in N.M. there is barely anytime left over but I try to ride my mule Francine on Sundays when the weather is nice. 

Well that’s about all I got for now.  Hope you enjoyed my verbal lather, and can find something on my website that you can’t live without!  Until next time… keep your powder dry and the wind at your back…. Virgil

March 21, 2020

Family photo from band concert night in Pentwater, Daughter Trenna and her family, Daughter Jiji, and our son Matt and his family, brother Dave in the back far left and Em in the back

Family Fishing on the pontoon boat, with Devin, Aurora and Grampa Virgil

Pook, cleaning fish for dinner

Aaron and Devin cleaning up some bass they caught

Virgil, Devin, Pook and Em getting ready to head out to the Pizza Joint, 8 miles down the bike path

Family outing with our son Matt and his family, plus our grandkids Pook and Em, and brother Dave

Virgil, Pook, Trenna and Devin getting ready to kayak down the Pier Marquette River

Kaedens first Cow Elk harvested

Thanksgiving dinner after a long day of elk hunting

Aaron's deer that he got with his bow
Bass Lake in the fall

Our latest artwork from on our western art site

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