Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Here is a follow-up to the Baton Rouge intruder case. The suspect is to turn himself in within the week.

Here is a soup recipe worth posting:


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 taste

1/2 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 Jim Bowie Festival is going on this weekend, with a new addition -- a barbecue contest. I like this part:

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

Idiot kids. Last year there was a serial killer abroad. He has been apprehended. Now the girls are leaving their doors open.

See this story.

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

Indigo provides her Insights into the aftermath of hurricane Isabel in North Carolina. She is home now.

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.

Recognition of Weevil State University certainly makes those e-mails about mail-order degree programs look silly.

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

Hurricane blogging:

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

Via Miss Susanna comes this little tale:

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.

Go figure.

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.

September 11. South Knox Bubba says it best.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I do wander about, but is this true?

We need to become a little more high-minded on this blog, and Mr. Hlatky provides fodder.

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.

French-bashing is on P.J. O'Rourke's menu, courtesy of Ms. Kathy Kinsley.

Today is Mr. Greg Hlatky's birthday, up there in Borzoi land at A Dog's Life. Happy birthday, sir!

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:


Hey, Lucy.

What you doing?

Taking a nap, Lucy.

Taking nap?

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.

Another happy birthday to Miss Francesca!

Monday, September 01, 2003

Happy birthday to Miss Lee Ann Morawski! (I think she's, like, 13 or something. Hard to tell with these youngsters.)