Happy New Year, y'all.
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
I don't do charity work. I should. I have the time. I disagree with Gary Farber often. He is in bad straits. That is MY Paypal button he has on his site. I will be buying the money order for his rent this Friday. If y'all don't help him out to the tune of a dollar or two, I'll make up the difference myself. From Delaware to Kansas, Louisiana to Colorado, it is the season of love.
What are the odds that there was another girl in Bloggerville cutting mustard greens this afternoon with a parrot on her head?
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Oh, and I got some kind of yucky respiratory crap that put me to bed for two days. We were right when we were young. Those other kids did have cooties.
What did I get for Christmas? A generous envelope from my in-laws, a Dremel, and a pretty little chest with two nested boxes inside that I once might have called a stash box, but in my mature years call a "decorative accent".
The box really is a pretty thing and goes perfectly well on my coffee table. Michael picked that out. I try to discourage the boys from buying anything for us. When he brought the gift in on Christmas Eve, I started with the "You don't have to buy anything for us. That's not what Christmas is about" speech. He said, "Janis, wait. I just want you to see this." "OK, I'll look at it tomorrow."
When we did the Santa routine the next day, we put it on the bar and he helped me open it because it was tightly taped. He stood over me and instructed me how to look inside to find the smaller boxes. I was delighted. As I told him, it's not something I would have bought, but it suited my taste to a tee. He was thrilled because he had pleased me.
The box is just a box (or three) even if it is exotic, but his thrill was a real gift in the Christmas spirit.
You see, Michael was 25 when Lyman and I married. There's no particular reason for him to pay attention to me.
On the other hand, when Jason came in, he gave me a big hug and said, "I'm sorry, Janis. I've been broke. I don't have a gift for you." "Oh, I don't care, Jason. That's not what Christmas is about."
Saturday, December 27, 2003
Here 's another thing that Nicole brought from her home. Aside from being lovely, and having a pretty voice. Her mother has three children. Nicole has boys on both sides. Her mother saved her change for a couple years and threw it in a box and gave it to the children with a stack of coin wrappers. Nicole loved it.
For the record, Nicole said, "My family doesn't do stockings. This is fun."
Friday, December 26, 2003
Thursday, December 25, 2003
Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
I remembered something for the kids' stockings that I thought of a long time ago: a book of postage stamps. It's hard for busy young'uns to make it to the post office.
Lucy is harder to buy for. It's Christmas every day for her. I did find a pack of 150 popsicle sticks that should keep her busy for a day or two.
A threat of rain in the south brought us home a day early. Good thing. We had .72 inches last night and the front is heading across our driving path. The trip was good, though we were jammed up at the intersection of 59 and 98 in Hattiesburg, MS. That's a shopping district, and people were lined up at the turn-offs. Made me feel a little better. The weather at the coast was conducive to nothing better than sitting on the balcony, so I haven't accomplished much in the way of shopping.
Time now to go into high gear cleaning, shopping and cooking. There will be seven for dinner on Christmas Day. Michael will come on Christmas Eve, Jason and Nicole on the day, and Lyman's parents are joining us for dinner. And, of course, Lucy. Make that eight.
Saturday, December 20, 2003
Must say the drapes are better with a holdback. The new washer-dryer is in. Do you know how much these stack units cost? So that's the bones. This has been a three-year project. Thanks to Ginny and Bob Reynolds of Michigan, who have been patient with us, and Ann and Bill Fitzroy of Mississippi, who have been wonderfully helpful.
Irrelevant question: "Why is the vent hose too short?" Sometimes I want to wring his neck.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
The Gulf is beautiful today. Seagulls are bathing in the swimming pool. Lucy is afraid of gulls.
I also don't think a lot of Mark, the maintenance man. But he lost a 16-month-old granddaughter to pneumonia recently. At Christmas.
The drapes are well-made. But I don't like them. I don't like drapes. But I think they are OK for a few years. I'd leave the windows open. But there's a modesty in renters that demands privacy, even on the fifth floor.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
I've been tummy-tossing sick. Today I feel like I've been stuffed in a tow sack and beaten against a fence post.
Tomorrow, we depart for the coast a for few days to replace the washer-dryer stack unit and look at the drape$. Renters tell us we need to install some kind of hold-back for the one in the living room. Then there's a bit of stocking shopping to do.
Sunday, December 14, 2003
Friday, December 12, 2003
Thursday, December 11, 2003
I do have problems with girl stuff. For Christmas, I want a pair of cross-trainers and a Dremel.
I've heard through the grapevine that the lovely Nicole will be joining us for Christmas Eve. Story goes that she and Jason will come here for the 24th then travel back the two hours to Ponchatoula to spend Christmas Day with her family.
Of course, I don't know this officially. I just wash sheets and cook and make sure young'uns feel welcome, all within an hour's notice.
I'm not comfortable with the thought of buying her a gift, but I will be happy to give her a stocking. The boys get one every year, and this year Lucy will, too. In the boys' stockings I put pens and notepads and toothbrushes and Chapstick (so they'll stay out of mine) and emory boards and other assorted useful junk. What to put in the stocking of a good-looking 23-year-old woman? I mean, apart from condoms?
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Now, for Miss Francesca. I'd like to say I'm not impressed with the upholstery attachment to the Hoover Steam Vac. But I think it's just because my first use was a little sloppy. Better judgment will reduce what I thought was leakiness. Such spots as I treated are gone, though I think I could have done as well with a spot cleaner. (You must understand, in a fit of madness and over-optimism I bought furniture in off-white chenille.)
I started this experiment at about noon. Such fabrics as I cleaned are nearly dry. In another hour or so they should be dry. And that's in a house with 46% humidity. (Yo, Lyman's weather station.)
And, well, shoot, since I had the machine out anyway I did another run on the worst traffic area in our bedroom. Had I the time, I might have popped outside and done a car or two. Once you drag it out, it's a little addictive. Go for it.
Monday, December 08, 2003
I owe Mr. Smith an answer to a question that he asked in October. What would Lucy eat in the wild, I think he meant.
According to this expert she would eat nuts, fruits, berries, leaf buds, and blossoms when available. He says they don't often feed at ground level, unless their population has lived on the edge of a village for some time.
I've read in other sources that the reason African Greys are so smart is that they ARE ground-feeders and need to keep their wits at all times.
A little story in The Baton Rouge Advocate includes this bit:
Perhaps the only disappointed member of the LSU family was Saban's 13-year-old daughter, Kristen, who was hoping to ring in the New Year in Pasadena, Calif., the site of the Rose Bowl. That the Tigers will play for a national championship was apparently lost on her.
"She wanted to go to California," Saban said wryly. "None of that matters to her. It's strictly geography."
Lyman thinks that she might not be the only one disappointed. New Orleans businesses would have preferred an OU-USC matchup. Hotels, restaurants and souvenirs, you know.
Uh oh. Lucy has another appointment with Dr. Debbie today. Her wing feathers have grown enough that she swooped up to the kitchen the other day. I can just see a crash-landing on the dining table set with Lyman's grandmother's china Friday afternoon if we don't take care of this now. Last time the experience nearly killed her. Hope it's better today.
LATER: That was okay. The vet used the same room as the first time Lucy visited, and just clipped her wings. Toenails and beak will come later. Lucy is still taking a nap, though.
Saturday, December 06, 2003
My father-in-law, Big Daddy, 84, is a fine, warm, sensitive Christian gentleman who tries to do right in all things. It's kicking him pretty hard that he has to attend a Christmas party in Alexandria tonight rather than pile up in bed and watch the SEC Championship game with Georgia.
And the boys are in a wedding at 4:30 in New Orleans this afternoon. Wonder what that reception will look like?
Thursday, December 04, 2003
Time to bring in the Norfolk pine and dress it up for Christmas. We started a live Christmas tree tradition in this house nine years ago. We buy a small one, then use it until it grows too tall to fit in the house. Our patio out back seems to provide a perfect environment for these trees. They grow by leaps and bounds. The one we bought two years ago as a 3 ft. runt is now well over my head.
The unhappy thing is that they eventually grow too tall to bring in or protect and fall to a freeze. Sometime this season we are going to buy a Leyland cypress, which can survive such cold as we have in this climate. When these guys grow too tall we can plant them in the yard to replace some of the 40-year-old pines that are dying.
I love my living trees.
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
Lyman has his Christmas present, and he is thrilled. He is talking about it with his friends. It's a weather station. He chose it, but he falls into my hands.
NOAA will be glad to have the information. I've long said that we under the Natchez bluff have a unique microclimate. Now we'll measure it.
I've just returned from having my hair trimmed by the sweet auburn Nancy, and understand that I need to institute a "Gray Watch". Gray 1, Brunette the rest. It really doesn't bother me much. I've thought for several years that I'd earned a stripe or two.
Saturday, November 29, 2003
Now, about that pie. As I said, it looked pretty. It also tasted good, even if the filling was runny. The crust was remarkable, especially considering that such readers as come here have borne and reared children in the interval since I last made a homemade crust. I attribute that success to a recipe I found in this cookbook, Cooking with Cajun Women. Here it is, with all respect and thanks to Ms. Mazel Lassiegne:
Never-Fail Pie Crust
1-1/4 cups shortening
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
5 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon vinegar
Cut shortening into flour and salt. Mix well. Combine egg, water and vinegar. Pour liquid mixture into flour mixture all at once. Blend with spoon just until flour is all moistened. Form into two portions. This pastry can be re-rolled without toughening. Will keep in refrigerator for two weeks, until you are ready to fill the crust. Makes two 9-inch pie crusts or one 9-inch double crust.
Oh, and the pie was a little sharp tasting. But that can be remedied with a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.
Thursday, November 27, 2003
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Why is it that when this house needs to come up to speed Lyman's IQ drops 25 points?LATER: I'm really complaining that he doesn't have the common sense to keep out of my way. "Sweetie, can you help me with this?" doesn't cut it.
Neither does "I need to call Frank, whom I haven't seen since last January and is undoubtably on his way in his RV to the Ole Miss ballgame" when I am trying to vacuum the living room cut it.
Hey, you say. Why aren't y'all having fried turkey?
The kit is going to Lyman's sister's house, so her son can earn his rite of passage to manhood in Louisiana. He is about 25, I think. It's past time.
By the way, how would you phrase that?
earn his manhood?
undergo rite of passage?
A lesser-known delicacy particularly good for small groups is fried cornish game hen, prepared just as you would turkey but cooked a shorter time. You can cook a few of these for, say, a threesome or foursome.
Sunday, November 23, 2003
Older son is coming for Thanksgiving. Questions are resolved. Menu: homemade yeast rolls, shrimp cocktail, salad with mustard vinaigrette, Chicken Francese, fresh vegetable casserole, oven-roasted potatoes, apple-cranberry pie. This will be a run for the Christmas luncheon we do for Lyman's siblings and parents in December.
Friday, November 21, 2003
I am privileged to live within blocks of one of the great rivers of the world. City fathers have worked their magic to secure funds (your dollars) to build a walkway within a puny stone's throw of this great river.
My sister is an avid walker who loves to walk in this town. She praised the riverwalk to no end when she was here in March. I want to do it, too.
I need me some shoes. Walkin' shoes.
That's my Christmas present. What do you suggest?
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Thanksgiving. For ten years, we or I have packed the car and gone to Dallas for Thanksgiving to spend time with my Mother. Lyman's boys have travelled to Dallas to spend time with their mother. This year is different.
Mother is gone, and work is keeping the boys close to home. The younger is off to Ponchatoula to spend the day with his girlfriend's family. Michael hasn't said. Lyman's parents have an invitation to his sister's house.
Maybe we should drive to Baton Rouge and go out to eat with Michael?
Monday, November 17, 2003
Politics, they say, are personal in Louisiana, and Lyman told me a story today that confirms it. One of our lifelong friends, a Democrat, voted for Kathleen Blanco because "[she] couldn't get over the feeling that he [Jindal] looked like he would have allegiance to Iraq, or Iran, or one of them places".
That is beyond racism as we know it in the south. That is xenophobia.
There were good reasons for her to vote against Jindal. He is Republican. He is a newcomer. He is young to have the "gravitas" to carry office. He holds social views that she may not like. She's wary of people who use big words.
But she said she didn't like that he's an Indian. That's because Lyman told her that the man was neither Iraqi, nor Iranian, but Indian.
And that's how it is in rural Louisiana.
My own is that we could have done worse. Ms. Blanco has a reputation for ethical administration of her offices. She, in her role as lieutenant governor, developed working relationships with areas across the state, including ours. She won't do harm.
I thought Jindal was more interesting and smarter.
LATER: Alex added a comment to the post cited above at Scott's.
Janis Gore, Independent since 1976.
Friday, November 14, 2003
The Baton Rouge Advocate runs a story today about the national perception of the governor's race. I like this part:
"It sends a tremendously progressive message about the state," Bob DeRocker, a New York-based site selection consultant who specializes in finding sites for corporate expansions and relocations, said of the gubernatorial race. "You contrast that with 12 years ago, where you have, by Edwin Edwards' own characterization, as [sic] the race between The Wizard and The Lizard."
You'll remember David Duke was in that race.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Back to my assessment of the Hoover Steamvac Deluxe. We, the machine and I, tackled the high traffic areas in the master and the guest bedroom.
The carpet in the guest bedroom, where there is little traffic on the 14-year-old synthetic, looks nearly new. In the master, carpet the same age looks clean (without any pre-treatment, but highest detergent recommended) but matted some after all these years.
I finished the job at about 1 pm. It's a little damp underfoot, but I think we'll be able to walk on it before bedtime.
These carpets were last cleaned professionally about 5 years ago after we painted the rooms. I've done spot cleaning over the years, but nothing beats a proper cleaning.
So far, I'm very pleased with the machine. I wish I'd had it ten years ago when I moved into this house. A run every two or three months would have kept traffic areas much spiffier.
Now it's on to the upholstery attachment.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
So, I'm talking to my brother, the gay one, you know, the Vietnam war vet, and he says, "I must say it's a little disconcerting to watch Jindal speak in a southern accent. It seems out of place until you remember that he was born in Baton Rouge." (My brother also told me that well-made drapes in good fabric should last 15 years.)
The Indian couple, the Patels, who own the local Budget Inn up on the highway have a political statement -- for the first time I remember -- on their marquee: "Vote Bobby Jindal for governor".
Pakistanis in north Louisiana have formed a group and contributed to Kathleen Blanco's campaign.
A north Louisianan writing in the forum at nola.com wrote "I've heard people say 'A choice between a sand-nigger and a woman? I ain't going to vote.'"
The candidates are pointing at each other and claiming "Negative ad! Negative ad!" and the political scientists are saying they haven't seen anything negative yet. (See post below.)
It's sort of an interesting race for there to be two candidates with not a quarter's worth of difference in their positions.
I'm voting for Jindal because he's young and smart. But I'll bet you that quarter that Blanco wins. It's a Democratic state, after all.
Sunday, November 09, 2003
In the midst of a dreary article about negative campaigning in The Times Picayune comes this little gem about real negative campaigning in a governor's race:
Many point to Edwin Edwards' first race for governor in 1971, which included a minor candidate named Warren J. "Puggy" Moity, who ran an infamous Sunday morning television show devoted to political mudslinging. He harped on Edwards and called him gay. Edwards later neutralized the accusations by strolling up to Moity at a political forum and kissing him on the cheek.
Will any candidate ever match Edwards' color again?
Saturday, November 08, 2003
I keep going back to this post at Dr. Joyner's. An excerpt from the link:
The stimulation of the emotional centres shows that shopping is a stress relief. People do not have to think, and the brain rewards them with pleasurable feelings. By shopping, they are bypassing stress and just going with the pleasurable flow,'' he added.
Isn't even the most mundane shopping a form of stress relief? Who isn't greatly relieved when they replenish their toilet tissue supply? Or coffee? Or bath soap? Or milk?
Surely this item contains a misprint:
A crazed carjacker was served a generous helping of tea, but absolutely no sympathy, by an elderly woman whose Mercedes-Benz he tried messing with in Mashpee, police charged.
Mark Corkery, 32, of Sandwich was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail yesterday at his arraignment in Falmouth District Court. Police said his getaway was foiled when the scrappy senior splashed hot tea on his face and beaned him with a mug that shattered.
``I said, `Get out of my damn car now,' '' Jean Ridino, 57, of Waltham told WBZ-TV (Ch. 4). ``He never even bled. I thought he was a robot.''
Granted, at 57 Ms. Ridino might be no spring chicken, but elderly? Give the girl a break.
Friday, November 07, 2003
Thursday, November 06, 2003
Oh, yuck! We bought a Hoover SteamVac Deluxe.
Today was its first run on area rugs we use in front of the sink and stovetop. No, there were two runs. The first produced a waste that was close to mud. The second, a waste that was a couple of steps clearer. I like it.
LATER: I'd forgotten how much I like the colors in these rugs.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Election Notes from The Times Picayune includes an interesting interchange between Mayor Nagin of New Orleans, a Democrat who endorses Bobby Jindal for Governor, and Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu:
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin accused U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of hypocrisy Tuesday after she suggested he had betrayed the Democratic Party with his endorsement of Republican Bobby Jindal for governor. Landrieu, who is backing Democrat Kathleen Blanco, issued a statement Monday saying she was "surprised and disappointed" that Nagin would support a candidate "whose national party advocates the lowering of the minimum wage, cutting of health care and underfunding of education reform efforts." On a radio show and through a spokesman Tuesday, Nagin pointed out that Landrieu had touted her own support of President Bush and his GOP administration while campaigning for re-election last year. "The mayor and many other Democrats were just as surprised when Landrieu took a stance in the runoff for Senate that she voted 74 percent of the time with President Bush," said Nagin spokesman Patrick Evans, echoing the mayor's comments on a radio show Tuesday morning. Nagin also said Landrieu failed to endorse Democrat Cleo Fields against Republican Mike Foster after she was edged out of the 1995 gubernatorial runoff by Fields. A spokesman for Landrieu declined to comment on Nagin's response. "We'll just stick with the (Monday) statement," said Mark Mintz. "Going tit-for-tat is not in the best interests of anybody."
Well, I guess not, Mary.
We're home. I know this will sound ungrateful, but ten days cooped up in a small apartment with vibrant personalities like Lyman and Lucy, with the surf pounding relentlessly, is a little too long. By about half, I'd say.
Monday, November 03, 2003
A new place has appeared in Gulf Shores for entertainment. It's called Paint 'N Parrot, and is a shop where you can select a pottery piece, paint it onsite and have it fired to pick up later. It's a bit expensive (what isn't down here) at $8 hour and the cost of the raw pottery piece, but the $8 includes all paint and firing. It's advertised as a place for birthday parties, wedding showers, and other group projects. We stopped by today. The woman running it is a short fat woman, willing to talk about any subject all day. She told us to bring our adult beverages and paint to our hearts' content. A group of women had come in a few days ago from 5:30 to 9:00 and not finished painting. We declined, but put her flyer and card in our activity book. It's an interesting notion, and I wish her well.
Just down the way there was a display that bothered me. People like the art I chose for this condo. The front room is filled with Harrison's art. It's a little weird, but it's in the right colors and it suits my taste. It's painted on wood composite with rough frames. Our guests like it. There are a couple of Florida artists who are trying to replicate the effect (who knows? Maybe one is Jerry Harrison) down to the angularity of the signature. I saw one small piece, a village scene, that I liked. I like the work here better.
Sunday, November 02, 2003
So, I'm looking around the place, checking on needed repairs and such, and I notice that somehow two bits of weaving are missing on the Henry Link television cabinet. I mention the name to let you know that this is tough stuff. So someone has whacked it hard or spent time removing those bits. Hmmm ...
Someone of our acquaintance has gone the extra step and added fabric softener to the load of dish towels they washed, making them nearly useless in the kitchen. That's a peeve. I use no fabric softener anywhere in the laundry. I have yet to figure out what it's good for besides fragrance.
Friday, October 31, 2003
Happy Halloween! We visited St. Nick's Knife Factory, the Knife and Christmas Outlet, the only place I know where you can buy throwing stars and kitschy Christmas ornaments in the same space. I was inspired to do a costume as a brass-knuckled ninja Christmas angel, but Lyman wouldn't have it. We bought lamb chops for dinner this evening and he didn't want to put them off.
We bought World Harbors Acadian Lemon Pepper & Garlic marinade for the chops, which we promptly poured down the drain after tasting. It was sweet. Horrors! Must remember to read labels!
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Ok, hons. You looking for a scary story? How about this one? The estimate for drapes with a traverse rod for two walls of three-panel sliding glass doors is ballpark $2500. And that's cotton duck fabric. Is that scary or what? The doors themselves only cost $4000. Oh, my.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Funny Jim Hightower column in the local paper, The Islander, about corporate tax deductions, specifically "cost of doing business" deductions. Excerpt:
How far it can wander was made clear by Dennis Kozlowski, the now-disgraced honcho of Tyco. As an essential, tax-deductible expense, Dennis included most of the tab for a $2 million party he threw for his wife Karen's 40th birthday in Sardinia, Italy. This gay gala featured a life-sized ice sculpture of Michelangelo's famous statue of David, complete with vodka streaming from the statue's penis into the crystal glasses of Dennis' delighted guests.
We haven't been at the coast at just this time before, so we were curious about the monarch butterflies that have been passing by the fifth floor all morning. The Bon Secour wildlife agent told us that we are on their migration path. They fly down from the north and follow the Gulf coast to central Mexico.
They aren't appearing in large numbers -- just a steady stream. It's breezy out there today and quite cool. Kind of sad to watch, really. Many of them won't make it.
Monday, October 27, 2003
So we're looking through the guest book and we have nice notes from three frat rats from the University of West Alabama. They were here for spring break. They think the place is awesome. You think that might be because this unit overlooks the pool?
Oh, and hey, Peg. We're online, but I'm having a tad o' trouble with e-mail.
Hey, y'all. We are at the big water. We have nearly nothing to do this time. People do keep having trouble with the blinds, so we're looking into drapes or curtains. I called Charlotte, that good-looking beach grandma I told you about in May. She gave me the name of a Korean seamstress. I also have a call in to Patricia, who has helped me along with this place.
I am an inland girl. I know a little about design, but before we took on this condo I had nothing to do with the beach. Patricia has helped immeasurably. As for my Patricia, the big sister, she decided not to come. She is reserving vacation for when Francesca Watson can get her act together and schedule Fabio.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
I wasn't close to Mary Sue, but Lyman was her lawyer during the adoptions of her two children. We went together to visitation last night, but Lyman will go alone to the funeral today.
I'll stay behind doing housework to prep us to leave for the coast tomorrow. We'll be gone a week or ten days.
I won't be out of touch. Our slow advance into the 21st century includes the purchase of a laptop computer. We arranged DSL at the coast for the convenience of guests, so I can blog to my heart's content while we're there, provided we can get this thing attached and running.
I nearly pitched a fit when Lyman said he wanted to buy a laptop, but then I considered that he isn't into cars, or jetskis or four-wheelers or shotguns, so let the boy have his head.
So y'all have a good time. By the way, Kim Crawford's advice on cleaning blinds was hunky-dory.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Mary Sue was a short, dark-haired, pretty, vibrant woman in her fifties. She visited her mother in Jonesville, about a half-hour down a two-lane road, two Saturdays ago. As she was driving home, a car in the incoming lane following another too closely swerved into her path to avoid back-ending the other when it braked. Mary Sue and the swerver hit head on.
The doctors did what they could, but her organs were too smashed. They took Mary Sue off life support yesterday and she died.
That's how quickly it can happen.
Sunday, October 19, 2003
The weather cleared and the breeze died enough yesterday afternoon for about 40 balloons to choose to fly, though only a few participated in the contest yesterday to drop a beanbag on a mark on a barge floating in the middle of the Mississippi.
We parked on the levee and had an excellent view. Lucy was fascinated. She took a little fright when one passed closely enough overhead for her to hear the burner exhaling dragon's breath. That sound is one of my favorite things about the balloons. She became accustomed to it, though, and was soon crawling across my shoulders to get better views.
She didn't have a lot to say except for a couple of excited high-pitched shrieks right beside my ear.
Earlier we had gone to the flea market (without Lucy), which was one of the junkiest I've ever seen, with the trashiest trinkets. There was one display that I wish I'd had the camera for. A woman had set up a row of nice little baby dolls in calico and gingham dresses with collars and shorts for the boys. Their hair varied from pigtails to barettes to little bobs. The seller had set them on a wooden shelf with a narrow brace across the back, and they looked like a row of obedient little plump children from behind.
I saw a fried moon pie. Apparently, the cook inserts a stick into one edge, dips the pie into something like funnel cake batter, if it's not funnel cake batter, fries the pie until it's puffy and golden, and adds a pile of confectioner's sugar on top. The whole thing is nearly the size of a slightly squashed softball. One look told me I'd save my sweets allotment for a quart of Blue Bell's Dutch Chocolate ice cream.
During our visit, there was only one harried mother trying to control what looked like a three-year-old girl who was bawling for a baby bunny. "Baby bunny, wahhhhhh, baby bunnny, wahhhhh..." The little girl had a deep voice and her mama, a small woman herself, wound up wrestling the girl's struggling little body to the car. I didn't check, but it looked like the bunnies were a grand prize for one of the games. Some prize, huh, parent?
Saturday, October 18, 2003
It's all our fault. We gave in to the young man who came by the other day selling his housewashing services. All the mildew is gone now, and our white trim is gleaming.
Since then, our glorious fall days have turned overcast and humid, beginning a new cycle of mildew build-up and interfering with the Great Mississippi Balloon Race. The balloons couldn't fly yesterday morning, or do the balloon glow last night, or fly this morning. In good weather they often fly right over the house.
Last year was no good either. I was hoping it would be better this year so Lucy could see them. Rats.
Friday, October 17, 2003
OK, all you car fellas. I have a question. The little wagon I bought is in excellent condition except at the very edge of one matte black window frame which shows wear and a little rust. What are my instructions?
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
My wardrobe gave up two full garbage bags of cast-offs in excellent condition. They'll go to Catholic charity in Natchez. Some things are suitable for the Salvation Army. Some things went in the trash.
We started work on Lyman's things today. Slender as he is, he sized himself out of his tuxedo. For three suits we couldn't find pants. Where did they go? I talked him into giving up that tacky light blue jacket. Out went the camos, since he doesn't hunt anymore, and a half-dozen pairs of worn jeans. He has another closet to go through and a chest of drawers.
The boy needs a new suit, and shows no interest at all in shopping for one.
Out went the dreary Chinese screen and two down comforters with holes in them. That leaves me with four spreads for the one double bed, in addition to the one that's on it. Mamas.
Then there's the king-sized spread that was at the coast, but not "beachy" enough.
Extra lamps, leftovers from when we redid the kitchen, then there's the utility room.
Oh, Larry, why did you bring this up?!
I hope I'm not presuming too much on my friendship with Peg Britton if I lift this joke from her blog:
A businessman boarded a plane to find, sitting next to him, an elegant woman wearing the largest, most stunning diamond ring he had ever seen.
He asked her about it.
"This is the Klopman diamond," she said. "It is beautiful, but there is a terrible curse that goes with it."
"What's the curse?" the man asked.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
I've been going through clothes today, culling things I haven't worn for a while. First to go was the blue and white striped skirt I bought at Sanger-Harris 25 years ago that I have never worn, and I still like it. But it's not for me. Also gone is the well-worn Jantzen pullover sweater that I bought in 1974. The brown and blue plaid woolen skirt from '76 had to go because I don't do brown anymore. The coat from 1980 had to go, too.
The red silk and the blue and black silk from '88 stay, as do the two pretty dresses and the black tuxedo suit from '86. The black woolen blazer from '91 still looks good.
Am I doing okay, Larry?
Lyman finished the plumbing for the kitchen faucet last night, nearly 48 hours to the minute after the project started. (Did I tell you Lyman hates plumbing?)
His arms look as though he tangled with an angry cat.
When he went to bed last night, he said, "I am not doing any plumbing tomorrow. I don't care if this house washes away. No plumbing tomorrow."
After all the hissing and spitting of the last week or so, I was happy to hear it.
Lyman's injuries reminded me of childhood days when mother would doctor little scrapes and cuts with Mercurochrome. I ran around with neon red blotches on my skin all the time. A Google search showed that just about anyone of my generation and older was treated the same. It's been banned now by the FDA because it contains mercury, but the name lives on. The word brings up 9,880 results on Google.
Saturday, October 11, 2003
Oh, my. That was an ugly loss to Florida, 7-19.
It was so ugly that immediately after the game Lyman started on the plumbing leak in the kitchen. After a light battering detaching the faucet handle with the specialized wrench he bought for the job, he found that he can't detach a ring from the part he wants to replace. He needs a new ring, which comes from a plumbing warehouse that isn't open until Monday.
So, because the LSU Tigers lost, we have no hot water in the kitchen for the rest of the weekend. Tell me why.
Thursday, October 09, 2003
The rain has put a kibosh on my window-washing project, which had slowed down because of another quandary.
In our bedrooms we have mini-blinds. Plain, cheap, plastic mini-blinds. Horror of horrors. No window treatments?
They stay closed. And I have been remiss in washing windows for about two years now. The blinds are dusty and dirty, and washing them will be a chore and a half. I do not have a clothesline.
Friends say, "Janis, they're cheap. Replace them. It's not worth your effort."
The conservationist inside me says, "Janis, these work perfectly, they're just dirty. You're going to put something in a landfill because it's soiled?"
I've cleaned blinds on the driveway before. Guess I'll do it again.
Jim has asked for an update on plumbing.
This project goes back some months, when we decided to replace the lavatory faucet after the strainer assembly broke off the old one, original to the house in 1962.
We found an attractive one, and hired a fellow who supplements his work at one of the offshore rigs with plumbing handiwork to install it. He did a perfectly good job to a point -- the point at which we found out this faucet was configured for newer sinks, so the stopper stick that goes through the top of the faucet was not lined up with the opening on the lower side of the sink. For some months, we have operated the stopper mechanism by opening the vanity door and closing and opening the drain at the joint underneath the sink.
Lyman (did I tell you he hates plumbing?) decided last week to remedy that situation and replace the stopper mechanism as well. The obvious solution to the blockage was to enlarge the opening under the sink, which called for two trips to the hardware store -- first, for a masonry bit that didn't work, then a cobalt bit that did. That part of the job was fine.
Then he started with the drain and stopper mechanism itself. And that went along fine until he discovered the trap he had purchased for the job was too large. He found that out just as all local hardware stores closed.
One of the things we discovered during removal of the old parts was a nasty clog that had slowed drainage to a trickle. We had bought a little snake a few days before that might have taken care of that, but had we used it, we would have probably punched out the bottom of the rusted 40-year-old trap and turned up with a mess of soggy tampons, toilet tissue and slippery soaps. Just as well.The next day, he found the parts he needed and finished the job. And found a leak. He tracked the leak to the top of the drain, but rather than disassemble the whole mess, found that the leak stopped when he tightened all his work.
So much for the lavatory.
Then it was on to the toilet, which has been gloog-gloogling for a long time. It was getting on our nerves, despite our sincere attempts to convince ourselves it was a water feature in the house. He replaced part of the flush mechanism and adjusted it and all seemed fine until last night when I found a puddle of water on the floor. A little more tightening, and all seems well. For now.
Then there was the replacement of the flush mechanism in the front bathroom, because the one he had installed last time was designed for the other Gore's toilet, and wasn't doing an adequate job. After adjustments, it's fine, too.
Now it's on to the kitchen sink where one of our expensive Kohler faucets is leaking from the hot water handle, reducing pressure and causing mineral buildup in the sink. That's a warranty issue in addition to a plumbing issue.
The bathroom sinks are beginning to pose a problem. They are cracking and rusting near the drains. They are of the beige 1962 vintage. My mother-in-law says she wishes she had installed white fixtures looking back on it. Thanks, Mom.
The tubs, toilets and tile in both bathrooms are still okay, if a little drear (hey, they aren't pink!). We don't have tile to replace the sink surrounds, so it's adding a border or redoing the whole counters. Or possibly resurfacing those sinks. Another time.
Mr. Smith always asks about Lucy.
Lucy is fine as wine, if a little crabby. It has been overcast and rainy the past few days, and she would like a little sunshine, like the rest of us.
While she doesn't talk much, she does vocalize in completely understandable ways. She grunts, growls and fusses with the best of them. She also yawns loudly.
I've tried to take a picture when she is mopey and tired, but just like any other girl who has been told she is beautiful and smart and good countless times, she always brightens for the camera.
We haven't had the air-conditioning on for some days. The whole house feels soggy.
And I sort of miss the gloogling in the toilet. Gave it a little personality.
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
There is a post there now, in which a volunteer for the Schwarzenegger campaign was told she could not vote wearing her political t-shirt. She is up in arms, as are several of her commenters.
If California law is anything like Louisiana law, the poll worker was correct to turn her away. When I worked as a poll-watcher for a candidate last year, I was told that I couldn't wear so much as a button identifying a candidate.
In our recent election, people were turned away for wearing t-shirts supporting a candidate. Laws against electioneering near the polls forbid them.
My guess is she wasn't properly told by the organizer. Or she didn't listen.
Commenter Lori sounds on track there.
It's a rainy, rainy day. I'm going to keep the coffee fresh and go quietly about my business, rejoicing at how rational Louisiana politics are compared to California's.
Monday, October 06, 2003
In the interest of scientific inquiry, Lyman and I stood up a few more eggs yesterday, October 5, to bear out Phil Plait's observation that eggs can be balanced at any time of year, not just the equinoxes.
If you crane your neck just so, you can see them in this picture. (Can't figure out why this is showing up sidewise. Probably because I refuse to cook tonight.)
Sunday, October 05, 2003
We have a hot local run-off coming up on Nov. 15 in the sheriff's race. The incumbent has been in office since 1990, and has made a few enemies in his day. The budget for the office is about $9 million. He is challenged by a Louisiana state trooper with no business experience, which is driving Big Daddy, the banker, off the wall.
From the ads in last week's paper, this is an ugly race that is bound to get uglier. I don't plan to miss an issue of the Concordia Sentinel for the next six weeks.
LATER: The challenger is already mentioning vote-buying and using parish vehicles to transport voters.
OCT 7: Clyde Ray says those allegations are unfounded.
Saturday, October 04, 2003
Louisiana politics. You have to love this paragraph from the Times-Picayune about the office of insurance commissioner:
We continue to believe that converting this job into an appointed position would insulate the state's top insurance regulator from political pressures. Louisiana's last three elected commissioners have ended up in jail.
Friday, October 03, 2003
Lyman is doing a bit of plumbing. Three trips to the hardware store this afternoon. More to come. Lyman hates plumbing, and says so in so many words. So many words.
It's warm and beautiful outside. We're picking up some light breezes and cool nights. The air-conditioning is turned off and the windows are open.
It's window-washing time! It came clear to us the other day when Maurice and Ed stopped by, looked at the door onto the carport and said, "Hey, I see you're all dressed for Halloween."
We've started with the spy windows -- you know, the kitchen window overlooking our front neighbors' yards and the side window overlooking Shannon's yard next door, and of course, the kitchen door to the carport.
I'll work through the house, doing the full job on the bedrooms as I do those windows.
Fall cleaning. It's a good thing.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Here is a soup recipe worth posting:
OYSTER AND ARTICHOKE SOUP
2 cans artichokes (not marinated), drained and coarsely chopped
8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely minced onion
1 cup finely minced celery
2-3/4 cups chicken stock
Salt to taste1/2 teaspoon each white, cayenne, and black pepper (may add more to taste)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 gallon oysters, drained
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Melt 8 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan. Add onions and celery. Cook until tender but not browned. Add artichoke pieces and cook, stirring, until well mixed and hot.
Stir in stock, salt and peppers, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 15 minutes
Meanwhile, melt 1/3 butter in small saucepan. Add flour and cook, stirring continuously, until roux is smooth and golden.
Add the roux to the simmering soup and simmer for 5 minutes longer.
Add oysters and simmer until the edges of the oysters just curl. Don't overcook!Remove from heat and gradually stir in the cream. Serve immediately.
This is a favorite recipe at our house. Served with hot french or Italian bread and a salad, it makes a meal. We usually halve the recipe, to serve three generously. A few dashes of Tabasco can be added to make a spicier dish, or Tabasco can be served on the side.
Monday, September 29, 2003
It's cool outside today, 72 degrees at 4 pm. Lyman and I are going to try a vegetable soup recipe from our copy of Louisiana Cookin' magazine.
Lyman and I have different approaches to new recipes. I prefer to stick strictly to the recipe the first time around, just to see what we're working with. Lyman tweaks from his first reading. Gentle arguments and sometime recriminations ensue.
If the recipe is as good as it's touted to be, I'll post it later.
LATER: As I told LittleA in the comments below, the soup was edible, but not worth posting.
Saturday, September 27, 2003
The first contestant was 9-year-old John Roberts of Vidalia. He presented his ribs on a wooden pig platter.
"How long did you cook them? What temperature did you cook them at?" Gaschen asked Roberts and every contestant Friday night as he examined the ribs under flashlight.
Roberts secret is his "mopping sauce" and said he has been cooking since he can remember, entering the competition because, "I love to cook!" (Emphasis mine.)
That boy has a great future ahead of him.
Friday, September 26, 2003
All right. I don't want to hear any more, Babs and Arianna. I just bought a Ford Escort wagon, 26-32 mpg. I can't afford a Prius. The municipality owns a hydroelectric dam on the Mississippi and buys power from nuclear plants up or down river when necessary. Two of the bedrooms in this 2,000 square foot house are closed up, and the thermostat is set to regulate the temperature at 76 degrees. So shut up already.
I will lie down for a nap now. I always need a nap when I write a check for more than five hundred dollars.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
What happened to the economy in buying "economy-sized"?
Mr. Aardvark described a purchase of peanuts at Target (scroll down to September 23, archives not working) that reminded me of the dozens of times these days that I find that buying a larger size does not mean paying a smaller price per unit.
In his case, he found that two jars of peanuts packaged together cost more than two same-sized jars bought separately.
Just recently, I bought razor blades. Two packs of five were cheaper than one pack of ten.
A few weeks ago, Lyman bought pasta. Two eight-ounce packages were cheaper than one 16 ounce package.
When did that happen and why? Did sellers decide that we were well enough trained to buy larger sizes that we would overlook the price differences?
If you have a clue, please leave a note in the comments.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Monday, September 22, 2003
A romantic Wal-mart wedding in Houma doesn't sound auspicious to me, but others think differently:
However, to Lloyd and Mary, the retail chain serves as the backdrop to several milestones in their relationship. The pair became reacquainted after seven years when Lloyd returned a bicycle to Wal-Mart last December. Mary, then working in the toy department, helped him make the return. A couple of months later, Lloyd approached Mary at work to ask her on their first date. In July, Lloyd dropped to one knee in the hardware aisle and asked the Wal-Mart employee to be his wife.
I sound snotty. Actually, the story reads as a great community event.
Lucy's cage came from Daniel Chauvin's workshop at Feathers and Gems in Houma, LA. It's about 45 minutes west of New Orleans.
Sunday, September 21, 2003
Ah, the autumnal equinox is coming up on the 23rd. Now is the time to warm up your raw eggs and practice standing them up on their fat ends.
Achh, just legend, you say. Not at all. I can count seven people right now to bear witness that at this latitude -- 31.58 N -- you can, indeed, stand an egg up during the equinox. I've done it myself.
Make sure your egg is at room temperature so the yolk can settle naturally, and choose one that has a single yolk. Medium eggs work best. Local jumbos tend to have two yolks, which will cause your project to fail. Pick a level surface on a stable floor. The smallest vibration will cause it to fall. Balance the egg on its fat end with the slightest support of your two thumbs and forefingers. Steady the egg until you can take your fingers away and the egg remains standing.
That last step will take some time. You must make sure not to vibrate the chosen surface with your arms. But with some practice, the egg will stand. Not every egg works, so you might want to warm three or so to practice with.
This isn't a hoax. The first time I saw an egg standing, I thought it was a trick. It's just a question of balance. Why does this happen during the equinox? I don't know.
It will work two or so days on each side of the equinox in both spring and fall, but is easiest closest to the equinox.
Our eggs are warming right now.
LATER: My friend Glenda, the earth science teacher for sixth grade, is going to try this in her classes this week. Do you engineering types have an explanation?
LATER: This scientist has evidence that you can do it at any time. Has nothing to do with the equinox. Never tried that. I can have fun all year!
So, to correct my original post, it IS a legend that you can only stand an egg during an equinox. Experimentation proves that it can be done at ANY time you have the patience for the project. I'm still going to balance some eggs today.
Picture of standing eggs
I balanced these eggs at about 6:45 pm. At 7:19 they are still standing. Note the one on the left balanced on the small end.
J. Bowen has a post on this topic.
I must say, I'm terribly disappointed with this development. First there was Santa, then Prince Charming (sorry Lyman, love ya, but still), now this. I suppose the only mystery left is how to operate this new Garden Composer that came in several days ago.
Saturday, September 20, 2003
For the first time this year, I'll watch football today. Game Day is at LSU this year, where we run the risk of having our lunches delivered to us by Georgia.
Our boys have tickets, and whatever happens, we'll be worn out by agitated reports. These kids spend most of their teenage years not talking to you, then turn around later and talk your ears off whenever they walk through the door.
Michael will be coming back to Vidalia after the game for a date with a woman in town tonight. How will I protect Lucy from Michael's language if they lose?
LATER: LSU 17-10 Dodged that bullet
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Kathy Kinsley has links
Tony Hooker has links to the North State Blogs of North Carolina
Mike Trettel is watching for flooding
Jim Smith is out of touch. (Maybe he was called to the shelter to operate the ham radio.)
Meryl Yourish is hosting the Axis of Isabel
Fred First is catching some action
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Here's a tasty little joke from Eugene Volokh:
Fish: I had some tasty fish for dinner tonight, here in Boston, and this reminded me of the old joke: A man is on his first visit to Boston, and he wants to try some of that delicious New England seafood that he'd long heard about. So he gets into a cab, and asks the driver, "Can you take me to where I can get scrod?" The driver replies, "I've heard that question a thousand times, but never in the pluperfect subjunctive."
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Police said: "Apparently, the argument began while the husband was watching football, and the wife was insisting he make hurricane preparations. He refused and said that he'd get to it at half-time.''
A spokeswoman said Harris then grabbed an eight-inch butcher's knife and chased her husband into a bedroom.
Monday, September 15, 2003
Lucy and I play a game. She makes a noise that I try to replicate. She'll run me through a few notes, then go on a trill that I can't possibly imitate. (Mind you, I am no one's singer.) Then she'll laugh at me. Wonder what the girl would have done with Sarah Vaughan?
Saturday, September 13, 2003
So, I'm talking to my son about the Roomba, property values in Gulf Shores, Nick Saban, Johnny Cash and the Coors twins. As Lucy says, "What you doing?"
Southern Living. Not the magazine.
Here's a nugget about birds that you probably don't know. I know I didn't. Parrots can be potty-trained. No, no, Lucy doesn't flush, but she does try to confine her droppings to the paper at the bottom of the playtree. She will try to restrain herself until she gets into a potty area.
For example, yesterday Lucy accompanied me on a trip to the drive-through at the bank. It took a while at 3:30 in the afternoon. She sat on my shoulder patiently for about 15 minutes while we waited and did my transactions, with much admiration from the ladies at the window.
When I brought her home, she went directly to one of her perches and pottied.
A bird her size has a very short digestive system, and you do have to pay attention. But they are fastidious in much the way cats are.
Friday, September 12, 2003
I am looking right now at $30 worth of bad currency. I haven't watched my change, and I have a ten and a twenty where people have cut the corners from other bills and pasted them onto a one. Wouldn't you rather have a job, jerk?
LATER: A friend of the boys -- a favorite of Lucy's -- was here this weekend. He services video poker machines for a living and finds many of these bills. The machines can't distinguish them if they are done well enough.
In other culinary news, son Michael brought home a magazine that we were unfamiliar with, Louisiana Cookin'. We will subscribe.
There is an advertisement in it that we find curious, for Cajun Stuff-It Capsules. The little company, Tipsy Chicken, has put dehydrated Cajun spices into a pharmaceutical capsule which the cook inserts through slits into a piece of meat. The capsule dissolves during cooking, releasing the spices into the meat.
Lyman is skeptical. He prefers the Cajun Injector. Sure would be convenient on a camping trip, though.
Here's a funny story for Mr. Possum.
There is a chain of grocery stores in Texas that rose to meet immigrant demand called "Fiesta Mart". The company makes "Fiesta" brand seasonings, and you can't do much better than their taco and fajita seasonings.
When I was in Dallas last time, I made it a point to visit a store to purchase large containers of those two seasonings. They didn't have large containers of those seasonings. They had a full rack of Louisiana seasonings. They had Indian and Thai seasonings. But only small containers of Fiesta seasonings.
I wound up buying some (new to me) seasonings by a company in California, Chef Merito, and a container of Sriracha, from Huy Fong foods.
UPDATE: Mr. Smith, you're back now. Did Fiesta Mart sell? How would I find out?
EVEN LATER: A little research, as always, shows that I was wrong. There was no relation between the grocery and the spice company. Just a change of product offerings at the grocery.
Oh, for crying out loud. I forgot. It's Lyman's birthday. I was saved by a call from our friend, Cossie. This calls for going out to dinner, don't you think?
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Lyman has posted a new picture of Lucy in her digs.
On September 10, 2001, I called Debra Johnson in Mandeville, LA, to ask if she thought Lucy would be a suitable name for the little bird she was hand feeding for us. She said "yes", and we talked for a while about birds and family.
Debra was heartbroken. She was going to ship a favorite little blue and gold macaw to a waiting family in Washington, D.C., the next day.
We talked about her daughter, Rachel, 16 and in love with the theater. Just as soon as she was old enough, she wanted to study in New York. "I don't know," I said. "As a southern girl she might like California better." Simple things.
For whatever reason, Rhythm, the macaw, was not on a plane the next morning. She did not die in the hold of a grounded jet. She shipped in October, and her family loves her.
The Taliban in Afghanistan confiscated the caged birds there. They were a luxury -- beautiful and pleasure-giving. I've read that they sold them to help finance operations. Could be, but something's bothered me ever since I read that Osama Bin Laden's favorite food is fowl.
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Monday, September 08, 2003
sugarmama had an interesting post today about a new contraceptive drug that will eliminate a woman's menstrual cycle for three months at a shot.
She doesn't like the drug for her own reasons, and I don't like it because it seems radical.
Gary, one of her commenters, suggested vasectomy as the answer, which is quite dandy if you're in a committed relationship and don't wish to have any, or in his case, more, children.
Lyman had a vasectomy years before I met him. In fact, the other two men I had sexual relationships with before I met Lyman also had vasectomies. I never claimed to have jumped over the convent wall when I married Lyman, and apparently these boys can be sniffed out somehow. Remember, I married at 36.
This all leads up to a serious conversation at the Richelieu bar in New Orleans. A gentleman I have known since the first months of our marriage is very much against abortion. He said to me, "Janis, promise me that if you get pregnant, you won't get an abortion." "Carl," I said, "If I get pregnant, it's a lot more complicated than you think."
It might be helpful to tell people that Carl and I were never lovers.
Friday, September 05, 2003
I have put in two separate, unrelated posts today that have both been eaten.
One was about a fight in New Orleans about the guarantee of Tarot readers to have spaces in Jackson Square. Here is the story. What is New Orleans without local color?
The other is an observation that I no longer have ads on my ad site above. I observed some weeks ago that as I changed content, the content of the ads changed. I miss that. I suppose I haven't done enough content of late to trigger the algorithm. Or something like that.
Thursday, September 04, 2003
Peg Britton of Kansas Prairie is off to Vail, CO for a week or so. (I'm sick with envy. Cool mountain breezes and all that.) She has invited me to do some guest-blogging for her readership -- 47,000-some-odd visitors last month. She wants me to write about Lucy. Any suggestions? Mr. Smith?.
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
I use J. Bowen's blog mercilessly for his blogroll, which is one of the reasons there are not too many listings on my blog. I also read his posts, which range from quirky to funny to informative when he writes in his area of expertise, engineering. But nothing entertains me more than when he writes of DanceSport. Yes, J. Bowen is a competitive ballroom dancer. That's admirable, fun and sexy.
Lucy is fine today, eating and making sounds. Why, when they are so messy and troublesome, would one bother with a parrot? This conversation, when I was recovering from surgery:
What you doing?
Taking a nap, Lucy.
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
We have an appointment with the vet today at 1 pm to have Lucy groomed. The vet will clip her nails (which are sharp as cats' claws right now), trim her beak with a Dremel and clip her flight feathers with scissors. This visit will be Lucy's third. The other two have not been happy days for her.
UPDATE: Peg asks if Lucy is speaking to me this afternoon. No, she's not. It's not personal. She lost her voice screaming. Whether it's that I took her without Lyman along, or we were in a different examining room, or the moon was in the seventh house, grooming today was terribly traumatic.
Lucy fought and screamed for all she was worth and was finally released into her cage where she took up a fighting stance with her feet spread wide apart, her wings spread and her beak ready to strike. She was panting to beat the band. When she finally relaxed enough to turn around, the condensation of her breath was visible against the wall of her travel cage. Birds can be stressed enough to create a danger of heart attack.
The vet was deeply concerned and apologetic, and we spent some minutes after the ordeal waiting to make sure that she wouldn't show signs of serious damage. When she appeared to be recuperating, I brought her home with instructions to report back to the vet in a while on her condition.
When we came in, I placed her on her playtree where she began to relax, showing normal behaviors like scratching, stretching, beak-grinding, preening and puffing a bit to assume her proper plump contours. (She had sleeked down to fighting form.) I reported to the vet and settled to observe.
Lucy spent several hours sleeping. She is now awake, but has barely moved from her branch. She has shown no interest in food at all and little in water. She is still tired, but is becoming more responsive.
Next time, we'll go back to the first room she was groomed in, and maybe break up her grooming into two or more sessions to reduce trauma. Whatever it takes.
By bedtime, which was early, she was taking our offers to sit on our shoulders and making noises. She'll be OK.
Monday, September 01, 2003
Sunday, August 31, 2003
Saturday, August 30, 2003
Listening to Kid Creole makes me want to buy everything by the Neville Brothers. I saw them first in a small hall in NYC around 1980. There were about 500 people there, and everyone was on their feet. I grew up with this album. OK, so I'm in a mid-life crisis. Not talking about leaving my husband. Yet.
"Welcome to the lifeboat party, chile. Special invitation to the rank and file ..."
Friday, August 29, 2003
What better way to celebrate Labor Day than to discover a labor-saving device?
Yes, we have received La Roomba. It's no replacement for a good conscious cleaning with a power vacuum, but I can see where it has some value. During the hard days around a party, I can confine this little sucker in spaces and go along shopping or cooking while it cleans. I can close it up in the guest room and let it clean while I clean the guest bathroom, or shop for groceries. I can confine it to the office or let it run the whole great room while I work in the yard.
It won't work in two of our bedrooms because of thick, tasseled Moroccan carpets, but the rest of the house is fair game. It does a pretty good job.
I can see where this little guy could have been helpful to my mother at a point in her illness when she would have been strong enough to handle this little thing without being strong enough to handle a vac. It would have helped keep her house clean between visits from the housekeeper.
NOTE TO JIM: Lucy isn't a lot happier with the Roomba than she was with the other vac. She retired to the corner of her cage at 8:45 tonight, a little early for her. She just knows it's going to get her somehow.
Returned from the surgeon's office. I have been released. Last time that good-looking man will be looking at my groin.
Had I that turn of mind, it could've been the stuff of fantasy -- except I know too much about his malicious ex-wife and rotten kids to find him very attractive.
Living in a small town sure can put a damper on the imagination.
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Jim Smith at Unfreezing has asked for more Lucy stories.
She's at my left hand now, drying after her bath. She is standing on a small perch in front of her personal fan heater. She has a bath three times a week under the sprayer in the kitchen sink. Lucy looks like this after a bath. Eclectus are not as dusty as some parrots. Regular baths are recommended to hydrate their feathers, though. Her natural habitat is the rain forest.
She spent a long time this afternoon chattering away. Her vocabulary is not expanding very fast, but she has one new thing -- she imitates the ring of the telephone, then answers it, "Harro?" Very disconcerting to son Michael when he stays over.
Lyman tells me she was a good girl while I was away, but by Sunday she began to think that I wasn't coming home and started to pine. She wouldn't eat, and moved listlessly around her cage area all day. Now she'll be accompanying us on our trips to Dallas.
Ah, there goes one of those big loud yawns. Never thought about birds yawning before Lucy. Certainly never thought of them making noise when they did so. All that chattering must have tired her.
After she dries, she'll get a treat of seeds, then we'll put her to bed about 9:30. She'll sleep the night through, and wake around 8:30 in the morning.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
One of the interesting things in my mother's house was the old medical handbook, either edited or written (I don't remember which) by Dr. Morris Fishbein for publication in 1942.
It was a useful all around guide to hygiene, sex, childhood diseases, fevers, first aid and care of the ill.
Patricia was quoting from it the other night. I paraphrase:
Many people think that bathing is harmful to pregnant women. This is a pernicious belief.
Notes from Dallas:
If you live in Texas, take Spanish as your foreign language. I took three years of French, and it was absolutely worthless for my purposes this weekend. (Though I do live in the only state in the union where French has any value.)
To find boxes, go to the 24-hour Wal-mart or grocery store in your area and follow the stockers. Cereal boxes are ideal moving boxes, since they can't be packed too heavy, even with books. There's a large variety of sizes in a grocery store. Watch for those with split bottoms, though. We wound up with several frozen pizza boxes that were inadequate. Talk to the manager. Find out when stocking is done, usually around 1 am.
Scott Chaffin might scoff at my fear of 635, but we were driving at 70 miles an hour at 9:30 pm Wednesday night and saw brake lights go on ahead of us. We were in the third lane from the left. A chair had fallen into the middle of the road. Not cool, and very hard to get around in a town full of rude drivers.
Eat chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy at Gennie's Bishop Grill in Oak Cliff for lunch. Slap me, but it was better than my mama's, and she was an excellent cook.
I will crawl across broken glass for my sister.
Monday, August 25, 2003
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
After spending two hours vacuuming and mopping floors, that Roomba is looking a lot better -- though I think we need about half a dozen running continuously. Just a little more laundry and light packing and I'm ready to go.
One day, someday, I'm going to visit Dallas for nothing but pleasure. I'm going to the art museum. I'll visit the new aquarium. I will eat in good restaurants and go shopping. I haven't been able to enjoy Dallas for ten years. Mother didn't drive, and she kept lists of chores for us to accomplish when we visited. I don't resent that, but it did prevent us from taking advantage of the attractions Dallas and Fort Worth have to offer. Maybe we could team up with Scott Chaffin and Cindy and take in a little music.
But not this time. See y'all Monday. Think good thoughts about my getting off 635 alive, if you will.
Monday, August 18, 2003
I called my sister to confirm that I'm to travel on Wednesday. We are on go. Good thing I called. Today was her birthday. I remembered it a week ago, and planned to remark on it. This week? Forgotten.
She is a tad overwrought -- really, just confused -- trying to sort Mother's house out by herself. She's ready for some help.
Near the end of the conversation, she drew her voice up small and said, "You're not going to take Mr. Thumper are you? Mr. Thumper is my friend. He has a special place beside my bed."
I bought this powerful massager because my mother needed considerable back-beating to help clear her lungs for a few years.
Patricia appropriated it for tension and leg problems. (She's a walker.)
I guess she gets Mr. Thumper for her birthday.
I get a burnt-up Roomba.
Looks like we're going to be the first people on the block to have a Roomba. Lyman has set his heart on one. I suggested that we would come out better if he'd just get the @#%$ out from under my feet for about 4 hours a week, and take Lucy with him (geesh, she shrieks when I vacuum).
So much for my pearl bracelet.
From a guy whose house I vacuum with a Shop-Vac. Poor little thing will just burn up.
I don't like to be a first adopter. We have a Kodak digital camera that cost $400 that doesn't even have a zoom.
Saturday, August 16, 2003
They could have come from down the road.
Across the river there is a big club (relatively) called "Dimples". They could play there. It's the scene of drinking, adultery and fights. The sort of place where you could be cornered in the parking lot with a broken beer bottle at your throat. With a girl holding it.
Now, I'm a medium-tall slender woman. My hair is cut very short. I typically wear it flat, but it can be spiked.
To tease Lyman one night, I spent some time alone, spiking my hair, putting on dark eye make-up, red lipstick, and some slinky black things.
"Lyman," I said. "Take me to Dimples tonight."
"Janis," he said. "Put your hair down."
Friday, August 15, 2003
Thursday, August 14, 2003
I took a nap yesterday afternoon and dreamed that I was looking for a job after graduating from college. Will that finally put to rest all those weird dreams about not being prepared, or improperly dressed, or missing classes? Isn't it about time? I'm 46. I don't want to fret over math classes anymore.
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Reason 745,237,140 to be married to Lyman:
Lyman and I received a test in e-mail. It's just one of observation.
Who is missing from the seven dwarves? Sleepy, Happy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, Doc.
Lyman suggests "Queasy". What? He's not a dwarf?
I was my mother's seventh child. When I was twenty, she gave me a quilt, a pretty beige negligee set, and a bottle of perfume. Do you think she was trying to get rid of me?
Here's an interesting thing. Patricia found my little Singer sorting through the house. My brother Bill gave it to me for Christmas when I was six. I haven't seen it in years.
LATER: Let's change that. Patricia, sorting through the house, found my little Singer. Better?
Lyman says no hand guns for me. He suggests a sawed-off shotgun, with triple-ought shot. I don't see too well.
Monday, August 11, 2003
Sunday, August 10, 2003
All right. Does anyone have any experience with yard or simple estate sales? Any personal experiences that yielded unexpected insights into such a thing? It's been put off a week, so you have plenty of time to let me know.
I'm looking at this site.
What I've learned so far is this:
One person handles money.
Wear a fanny pack rather than use a cash box.
Use neon-colored poster paper. Very black markers or black paint, with arrows.
Tag things with prices.
Newspapers for glass objects.
Advertise guy things.Have plenty of plastic bags on hand for people to carry things away.
Watch local restrictions.Carry a 45. (Sure it's not the same, but close enough.)
Saturday, August 09, 2003
Friday, August 08, 2003
Kidding aside, I do think every person needs to know how to change a tire or belong to Triple A. I was working late one night on Hwy 114 in Dallas. I stayed late, as I often did, working on the advertising graphics for a little paper called Las Colinas People. It was a high-dollar neighborhood, where every working person left at about 5 if they had any damned sense.
I was working in my office, and I heard a knock at the front door. I found a woman, approximately my age with an 18-month child in tow, asking if there was a maintenance man around. I asked her what she needed. Her tire was flat.
"Hell," I said. "I can do that."
I asked her where her jack was. She didn't know. I asked her for her manual, which she gave to me like her maidenhead.
I found the jack, and the spare, and changed the tire in good order.
My boyfriend at the time drove up in his pretty gold Lexus SC400. "What's wrong?", he asked. "I had a flat tire," she said. "That sounds like a man's job," he said. I popped up over the edge of the fender, after tapping the wheel cover into place, and said, "Yeah?."
Darlins', don't y'all understand why this blog is named Gone South?
Truth is, I have been overwhelmed by a bout of laziness in the dog days of August, depression at the prospect of driving to Dallas in this heat next Thursday to help dispose of my mother's and father's belongings, and deep disappointment in the Tingler, which I've decided will make a lovely whisk for the kitchen.
And I will point out that Miss Francesca is hardly one to be pointing fingers for a lack of posts. And she still hasn't gotten back to me on Fabio.
"Lyman, haven't you planted that mint YET?!"
LATER: Maybe I have been unfair. Here is a Tingler testimonials page. With a little more work on those tines ...
Or maybe what I really need is a Sqwiggler.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Sunday, August 03, 2003
Here is a sort of curious tidbit to be found in the notes:
15.1467 (482:1). BELLHANGER -- One whose craft is the installation and maintenance of bells. It is a difficult craft, and its exponents are highly regarded in England, where bell ringing has evolved into an intricate national art.
Saturday, August 02, 2003
Hah! I bet you thought I'd given up on reading Joyce's Ulysses. Well I haven't. I've been reading the notes in Ulysses Annotated.
I am on page 490 of the notes, which is a vast collection of tidbits including Irish historical figures, myths, history, Biblical references, Catholic liturgy, Theosophy and proponents, rare and obsolete Irish and English phrases, remembrances of Homer's Odyssey, Shakespeare and his history, colloquialisms common to Dublin in 1904, and then odd parts like this:
15.2234 (509:5). Whelan -- Cf. 8.353n.
Flip back to p.165 in the notes to find
8.353 (161:1). Whelan -- Identity and significance unknown.
Looks like the boys have gotten into the Guinness, with 152 pages to go.
It's good to remember the opening quotation from the notes:
I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality -- James Joyce
When I'm done with the notes, I'll return to the novel and reread it, making a rough correllation with the notes along the way, since my edition is not the one quoted page and line in the notes. A once in a lifetime project. When my schedule picks up, maybe my only lifetime project.
And I still have my copy of Remembrance of Things Past.
Peg Britton sends this:
A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the Lawyer three months to track down. After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply:
"Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin."
Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows:
"Your letter regarding title in Case No. 189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 194 years covered by the present application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased, by the U.S., from France in 1803, the year of origin identified in our application. For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Isabella. The good queen, Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus' expedition. Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana. God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back, to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it AND the FHA. I hope the hell you find God's original claim to be satisfactory. Now, may we have our damn loan?"
The loan was approved.
No, Lyman didn't write the letter.
Thursday, July 31, 2003
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Well, now. That was fun, even if I did want to drop a mickey in everyone's drink and cart 'em home at 7. Lyman says his ears are still ringing.
Nicole is a a cute little girl with a Polish last name (that I haven't fully gotten yet) from Ponchatoula, LA, home of the state's big strawberry festival. Ponchatoula is a town about 40 miles due east of Baton Rouge. She's going into her second year of college next semester at 21. I think she is too young for Jason at 28, but my parents married at 19 and 27 and lasted for 50-odd years. I guess it's not for me to say. She wears little to no make-up, as Jason likes, and has an easy smile. A tidy little figure, too. We'll see.
I was too busy to pay a whole lot of attention to her or Jason, either.
Both these boys stay away long enough that all they want to do when they come home is talk. When they leave, Lyman and and I lay slumped in our chairs, fumbling for the keys to the liquor cabinet and motioning each other to hush.
Girl, 83, 4'10", 115 pounds, was fresh from the beauty shop and raring to go. She talks up a storm.
I forget my in-laws' wedding anniversary, mainly because they think nothing of it. This dinner, though casual, fell in nicely. Tomorrow, Girl and Big Daddy will have been married 62 years. She says she can't understand how that can be, since she's only 65. I suggested that it was an arranged marriage. She thinks that must be the case. "Married 62 years to the wrong man," she said.
Constructive re-engagement is moving apace. Son Jason called last night to say that he was bringing his new girlfriend for a visit this evening. I keep trying to teach these boys to give me a little lead time and they keep ignoring me. So it's on with housekeeping today.
A fried fish dinner tonight will kill two birds with one stone. Everyday since we were given a large mess of white perch, Big Daddy has said, "I'm just waiting for you to fry some fish." I know he's an old man who is good to us, but it still gets tiresome. Especially since he has fried fish every Friday night with his domino cronies. He'd be happy eating fried fish EVERY night.
What I can't have is Nicole telling Jason, "I can't use that bathroom, Jason. Is there a gas station somewhere?" Or, "Ewwww, does your stepmother, like, EVER dust?" How about, "What do you think they put in the garbage?"
Femorally challenged or not, it's time to get a move on.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Monday, July 28, 2003
Apparently, it's time to change the description of this blog. The easiest way to explain the reason is to present the courriel (that's French for e-mail) correspondence I had with Carolyn Swicegood of Land of Vos yesterday:
From me to Miss Carolyn --
My two-year-old SIE, Lucy, has taken to a sort of "parrot dance", usually between about noon and 2 pm. It looks like a variety of birdie "yoga" and reminds me of formal Thai and Korean dancers. While she moves about, she makes any range of odd little noises, including clucks, growls and chirps. It usually lasts just a short while, maybe two minutes.
Have you heard of such a thing? Is it a mating behavior? Exercise?
Carolyn responded --
Is there anything that she can SEE during that time that she cannot see at other times? Or hear? I'm curious about what inspires her to do it.... She's old enough to be hormonal but they are such complex creatures one can never take anything for granted. :) Please tell me more...like what she's doing just BEFORE the dance, after the dance, and any other information you can share........
From me --It's seems to start from nowhere. There's nothing particular outside at that time of day. Her cage is in front of a safe side window. She's takes her stance on the same branch, usually sometime between 12:30 and 1:15, and begins her ritual. She extends her body forward, then rolls her neck in all sorts of contortions, sometimes looking at the ceiling, making all number of sounds all the while. At times, she does a quick, tight flip and flutter of her wings. Sometimes she'll move a step up the branch to continue. She'll go until she's done. Then she'll straighten up and preen, usually, and get on with normal Lucy business. It's a pretty thing to watch, and an odd thing to hear. Martha Graham would be proud of her.
Sometimes she likes to be watched, sometimes not ... That's about all I know. If you like, I'll watch her more closely and report back any details I might not have noticed.
Carolyn responded --
...I think this is probably a perfect example of a young Eclectus female coming of age and trying to find a mate...she's dancing in the window and hoping that her knight in shining armor will be watching or fly by and see her enticing display and help her find a nest site for babies and live happily ever after! :)
This is printed with Miss Carolyn's permission, and she stipulates that it is only a personal opinion. She is a breeder, however, and I suspect she knows as much as anyone.
Therefore, Lucy is no longer a baby. Thank goodness the car keys are safe.
Oh my, what are we going to do if she takes up with a crow?
Sunday, July 27, 2003
I am working on "constructive re-engagement" with the community. Today, Lyman and I drove all the way across town to SUPER WAL-MART (13 minutes because the light wasn't functioning properly on Hwy 61). There I bought dish towels, cleaning cloths, Lysol, Lime Away, Dawn dish liquid, Mr. Clean and bags and filters for the Shop-Vac.
We bought the Wet-Dry Shop-Vac for remodeling three years ago, but it's proved to be a godsend in common housekeeping on a hard floor. The housekeeper who helped a couple weeks ago gave it her seal of approval.
When Lyman and I flew to my brother's in Portland, Oregon, three years ago to cook gumbo and crawfish pies for his son Alex's and Amy's rehearsal dinner, my sister-in-law taught me to buy cheap white hand towels for service in the kitchen. She bought towels five for $5 at Costco. (I was a little ticked today. I had to pay $1.20 apiece.) Use 'em, bleach 'em to rags & throw 'em away. I added cheap white washcloths for cleaning cloths -- 18 at Walmart today for less than $4.00. We use paper towels for blowing our noses, cleaning up Lucy messes, and draining fried food. (Not the same ones, mind you.)
Lyman bought a pack of Hanes tighty-whities, 6 for $5.95.
We bought two beautiful thick pork chops for $6.00 and 3 packs of cleaned baby spinach for dinner at $7.50. Bought an odd squash for Lucy for $3.50.
That's Louisiana values in action.
LATER: Darn! Missed dinner. We were listening to the radio.
EVEN LATER: Lyman no longer says I am a "selective invalid". We now prefer "femorally challenged".