Friday, December 31, 2004

Stupid story. Tell me about the woman.

(Link via Obscure Store.)

Happy New Year to all y'all,
and comfort to those who grieve.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Possum's Thursday Three this week concerns Christmas gifts:
1) What was the best gift you got (or gave) this year?

Michael was mighty pleased with his donation to Mike the Tiger's habitat, and our young gentleman in Iraq was pleased with the phone cards.

I'll count the painting as a Christmas gift. It always cheers me to look at it.

2) What was the worst gift you got (or gave) this year?

The packs of superglue in the boys' stockings aren't bad of themselves, but they don't exactly sing "Hark, the Herald", either. I bet a tube will be used within a month.

Then there are Lucy's hated wiffle balls.

3) What gift are you going to have to go back and get for yourself because someone forgot to read your list to Santa?

Not exactly a gift, and not exactly going back. Lyman ordered a pair of moccasins for me from a company in Taos. He received an e-mail that they closed during the holidays, and won't reopen until Monday.

I am most disconcerted this year because I have discovered that my feet are too bony to go barefoot anymore. No more wearing just slipper socks around the house in the winter. I'm old!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

"The Deerslayer", as Jason calls it now, is back. About a day and a half turnaround. Small town living can be pretty remarkable.

Original cost of car: $11,000. Cost of repairs: $2200.
Cost of having children at home for the full week of Christmas: Endless.

But they weren't vacationing in Thailand. Costs aside, they're likeable people.

Maybe Craig can help me here. Anyone is welcome to take a shot.

1-1/2 inch wiffle balls with rattling beads inside and a leather thong tied through each end were among the toys in Lucy's can of tricks. She hates them. She attacks them violently with her beak and throws them off the cage, in a not playful way.

She doesn't like other balls either - little balls, big balls, hard balls, soft balls. No balls for Lucy. Is there an explanation?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Rotten Lucy.

She was standing on her playtree today saying "Bye, Bye, Bye Bye" in every singsong intonation we've ever used, laughing after each phrase.

She has still never said it to anyone leaving the house.
Two stories in the Natchez Democrat today about the big blaze yesterday evening that burned a part of the historic black Natchez College. Lyman saw the column of smoke as he was returning from the grocery store on our side of the river.

UPDATE: The cause of the fire was electrical, the Democrat reports.
Do things ever change?

I am a listmaker and notetaker. I always keep a pen and pad handy for shopping needs and answering phones. So when Lyman was to set out for the store yesterday for three items - we follow "the rule of three", which is if there are more than two items to buy, write them down - and I found my pen and pad missing, I asked "Who has my pen and pad?"

"Jason does," Michael said.

"Jason, give those back right now," I said. "I put pens and pads in your stocking. Where are they?"

"I didn't want to mess them up before I got home," he said.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

I said "Merry Christmas" and checked in on the skateboard. It's, like, way cool. Every part is right.

When it came into this house, I was telling the grandmother, Michael and I stood over it a long time and looked at it. I'm 47 and Michael is 37, and we be way too old to take that stuff up now. But there was longing.
We don't do much in the way of babies. I can't say I've had much to do with the buggers since my nieces and nephews were born.

We had a beautiful little six-month-old visitor yesterday - a blue-eyed girl in a red velvet dress. Her parents are tall, rather willowy people. She's built like an ABC block, including a square face with fat little cheeks built for gobbling.

She likes noses and hair.
Mr. Terry, you have possum specials here and here.
Who can blame him, but who will replace him?
Now, about that deer.

After dining on chicken-fried venison steak and brown gravy, Michael started back down to Baton Rouge on Friday night to pick up equipment for a DJ gig at the sports bar in Natchez on Saturday night.

He had rounded a curve in Woodville, MS, driving at 45 miles an hour in a Chevy Cavalier when a buck bounded into the road. He hit the buck and knocked it into the oncoming lane. A couple driving north in a large pickup hit it again. Both Michael and the other driver pulled over.

The poor thing was still not dead, so the driver of the truck put it down with a .22 pistol shot to the head. Police were called. A report was filed.

The driver of the pickup called his dad up here in Ferriday to tell him why he was delayed. His dad told him to load the deer up and bring it on home. So they did.

Big Daddy said, "Shoot. The boy can kill 'em but he don't bring 'em in."

The car is not terribly damaged, and is mechanically fine. It will go in for repair Monday. The boys will take mine back to Baton Rouge, preferably while it's still light.

It could have been much worse. The police told Michael that a woman was driving at about 70 on another part of the road. A deer came through the windshield still alive.

Michael said his was a good-looking deer with a trophy rack. "If I'd shot it, I would have mounted it," he adds.

UPDATE: Mac Thomason points to a pertinent article here.
I think, sometimes, that children can be reared too well. Friday we received a thank-you card from Iraq for the phone cards we sent.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Here's your Christmas card.

We'll deal with the deer hit down the road later.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Last night's party was fun. There were friends and family and a large lot of young men who were Seth and Edward's friends.

It's a shame Lucy couldn't go. Too many people, too cold. But she would have been in Lucy heaven. She's a fool for Seth and young men his age.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

There's the skateboard! Kewl.
It's 29 degrees outside. At this time yesterday it was 68. Where are my longjohns?
I have added this site to my blogroll at the bottom, because if you scroll down a bit you find a conversion device for Fahrenheit to Celsius temperatures.

Kitchen Hand is moving into summer down in Australia as we are moving into winter, and I want to know.

UPDATE: This one is better. I can read his recipes with it, too!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

By way of Ann Althouse, I came across this gallery of children frightened of Santa Claus.

I seem to remember I cried when I met Santa Claus the first time.

Girl's hairdresser has a three-year-old girl. She told her mother that she didn't want scary old Ho Ho to come to her house. "Mommy," she said, "you can go to the store and bring something for me." Convenient, hunh?

Must say, I'm not sure I'd like this fellow in my house, either.

Big Daddy wants some venison. He nagged Lyman to call Bubba, who lives in the country and shoots deer off his back porch.

Bubba bagged a 200 lb. buck the other day and dropped it at the processor. The processor called today to tell us it is ready and the amount of the bill: $253.70.

I hope Big Daddy wants it that much. (We tweaked him up to half.)
Good grief. Our weather is as bad as that in Dallas. We're expecting a high of 72 today, with a drop to 30 tonight and a high of 40 for the next three days.

UPDATE: At 4:45 the temp has already dropped to 42.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

We have been co-opted into the world of Bam Margera and Jeremy Wray.

Skateshack is building a board as I write. They'll ship at five.

It's an Element Fiberlight board with a Jeremy Wray designed logo. Jeremy liked to fly. He's about 30, now.

It's OK, hon. Happens to all of us, or worse.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The things we get into.

One of our friends who does not do computers has gotten into a lurch buying a skateboard for Christmas for her grandson. He wants an Element Featherlight deck, w/who knows what. These things are custom-made these days.

Lyman has spoken to several suppliers. They can't ship by Christmas. He found a little group that will build and get one out tomorrow, but the Featherlight is out of stock. There will be some compromise.

And Lyman will be ordering a custom skateboard for shipment by Christmas.

Why is the Element Featherlight so important? Was it in a movie or something?

I wrote here of e-mailing the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge about how Hurricane Ivan would affect the monarch migration through the Alabama coast.

Biologist Jereme Phillips answered this morning:
Thank you for your interest and concern about the monarch migration after Hurricane Ivan. The peak for the migration of monarch butterflies through the Alabama Gulf coast is typically in early October. As a result, the storm had a major effect on migration this year. We observed only a small fraction of the typical number of butterflies that come through this area since the habitat had changed substantially. In particular, the groundsel tree, which is used by monarchs during their stopover here, was impacted severely by the storm since this species is common in the scrub dunes.

Hopefully the monarchs were able to find other stopover sites this year and in the meantime, the habitat on the refuge has already started its gradual recovery so it will eventually return to its pre-Ivan status as an important component in the migration of these butterflies.
There's not a lot of new information there. I hadn't read before about the role of the groundsel tree during migration. Where did the monarchs go? Did many (out of the norm) die en route? I suppose it will be necessary to collect information from scattered observers to find out more.

I am impressed that he wrote, as I suggested that they set the e-mail aside in the immediate aftermath of the storm, and respond at their convenience. They did. Happy holidays, Bon Secour.

UPDATE: I should have known. Baccharis bushes are the same as groundsel trees.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Sometimes I hate cooking for the crowd. Take, for instance, this Christmas. I'd like to splurge and serve rack of lamb prepared this way, which is delicious, or another way. No way.

Lyman's mother likes lamb but will not eat meat that is not cooked dry. I have no idea if the boys care for lamb. Lyman's dad can do without it altogether.

A creamed spinach would be a pleasing side dish. No spinach pleases the papa.

A roasted prime rib might be nice. Same problem as lamb with Lyman's mother.

Lightly sauteed green beans in olive oil with garlic would be a nice side. I can hear it. "They didn't even cook those vegetables!"

Crawfish pie would be good. Girl doesn't eat crawfish. Besides, we'll serve that soon at our annual party.

Yada, yada. On and on.

UPDATE: The crawfish pie recipe is here.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Nate McCord is a grandpa!

Friday, December 17, 2004

I have said that the main street of Vidalia is nothing to crow over. I haven't said that the town is packed with well-kept neighborhoods. It is.

We drove out with Lucy tonight to look at Christmas lights. I'll take the camera next time. Battles are raging. Inflatables abound.

I'll specifically try to put together a simulation of a before and after for the couple down the street. Before, there was a discreet, tasteful garland around the front door, with an exquisite wreath on the door.

A grandson was born a few years ago.

Now there are large, lighted inflatable snowman displays, lights, a huge Christmas tree in the window, and a projection of snowflakes falling down the front of the house.
If you can spare some good thoughts, send them to Peg Britton's family. Her son has suffered a stroke and major complications.

Peg stepped in to mother me long-distance when my own mother died two summers ago, and helped see me through a surgery. Now she needs support.
Silly girl.

A friend of ours has had some trouble with a radiator and a timely repair. She works, so I loaned her my little Escort wagon until her car is restored to her.

We bought the second-hand wagon two Septembers ago for two reasons: it's stupid to fire up a Tahoe to drive five blocks to the library, and sometimes we need a second car, as when I visit Dallas. We tried renting once when I was called out of town. Total cost for a week was $336. Total miles driven was 53.

I doubt that we've put a thousand miles on the wagon yet.

The car has been gone since last Wednesday. I must have imagined 75 short trips that I needed the little car for.

Just ridiculous. And I really need it to drive to Natchez to pay this cable bill that creeped up on me and is due today.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Lucy is just griping away today. I don't know where she learned that.

It's the sort of day when Lyman accuses Debra and Craig of dyeing a fussbudgie and selling her as an eclectus.
Regarding Leyland cypress, we really need a trip down to Forest Hill, Louisiana.
Possumblog's Thursday Three on a Christmas theme:

1) Fake or real Christmas tree? When does it go up? Come down?

Not only real, but living. Since the second year of our marriage, we have kept a series of Norfolk pines as Christmas trees until each outgrew the ceiling. This has always led to them eventually being left out in the cold until they freeze.

This year, we have a 2-foot tall Eldarica pine that can survive such cold as we have, and three or four years down the road be planted in the yard. I don't expect it to live long in this wet climate. We have yet to chase down a Leyland cypress that we can train and replant.

The tree comes in a few days before the annual Christmas luncheon, whenever that is scheduled. It goes back outside around New Year's, depending on the weather.

2) Shopping? Last minute? Gift cards?

We don't do a lot of shopping at this stage of the game. Lyman's sons usually want some sort of electronic something or other that they'd best buy themselves, so they get cash gifts. The rest of us have agreed to not give gifts. Lyman and I don't give each other gifts.

We do stockings for the boys, filled with all sorts of practical things like postage stamps and emery boards and new toothbrushes. This year they have a notice that each will have his name on a brick at the new habitat being built for Mike the Tiger at LSU. Shhh. Don't tell.

Lucy has a can full of little new toys that Lyman ordered some weeks ago, but she likes the ones that he builds best.

3) Where do you celebrate?

At home. This is subject to change as I expect one day these boys will marry and have other commitments.

Lyman's parents will likely eat dinner with Lyman's sister and her family. Their daughter Carol is the youngest and Girl's favorite, even if she won't say so. They'll stop here later in the day.
UPDATE: No, I just got the lowdown. The in-laws will have breakfast with Lyman's sister, spend the early afternoon with his brother, and dine with us in the evening. That's the schedule as laid down by the family patriarch over a stuffed bell pepper left over from last night.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

This woman is in Lyman's sister's neighborhood.

The show airs at 9 p.m. central on ABC this very night.

I won't watch. Tell me how it goes.

UPDATE: I did watch. It didn't turn into a racist fiasco.
Funny thing in our kitchen. We have a 6" chef knife and an 8" chef knife. Lyman always picks the 6" and I always pick the 8". Hmm.
When Lyman and I were first married, Lyman's mother tried and failed a few times to make hot-water cornbread. She'd just forgotten how. She was 75 at the time.

I turned to food critic Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking for a recipe.

After some slight modifications, we came up with something that tasted just like his grandmother's recipe. No surprise, as Mr. Claiborne's mother ran a boarding house in Indianola, Mississippi, just down the road from Winona, Mama Jean's hometown.

If cornbread is on the menu, this is what Lyman wants.


1 cup cornmeal, white or yellow

4 teaspoons sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1-1/4 cup water

Fat for deep-frying

Mix dry ingredients well in a heat-proof mixing bowl.

Bring water to a rolling boil, then pour over dry ingredients, mixing quickly and thoroughly.

Wet hands, and shape patties about 2-1/2 inches round by 1/2 inch thick. (Recipe usually makes nine.)

Drop into deep fat at 360-375 degrees, and cook until golden brown and crisp.

Drain on paper towels.

Serve with greens, beans, soups and stews.
Kenny Smith has a story of shockingly bad customer service from an appliance repair shop.

I read Mr. Smith from time to time, and find it hard to believe that such bad behavior from the business was retaliation for his own.

Monday, December 13, 2004

You have your Christmas Specials, and then there are Christmas specials.

We tuned into Discovery TV today to find a nice nature program, and found ourselves at Orange County Choppers in America, where the papa was charged with building a Santa Claus sleigh chopper. That's a motorcycle, not a kitchen tool.

Pretty cool. Watch the language.

Quote: "I can't be prouder of all the work the guys put into this. I just hope it don't fall apart when me and Mikey get on it."

(Me and Mikey weigh at least 550 together.)
Here on December 13 we are expecting the first freeze of the winter.

Lyman has brought tender plants onto the enclosed porch and picked the remaining 55 satsumas from the tree. Last week he picked 30, and various workers have been picking three or four along for some weeks - a very generous tree.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Here we are.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Lyman thinks this blogging thing is a waste of time until someone like Radley Balko brings up a point of interest.

In his post, Mr. Balko points to a USA Today article about how a Florida tomato growers' association is forbidding the export of an ugly, but good-tasting tomato grown by the Procacci brothers.

Google up Joe+Procacci+tomato. It's news.

Friday, December 10, 2004

So the artist calls yesterday afternoon and says "I have another painting that I finished last night that I like better".

We haul the one we have over this afternoon and compare the two. In fact, we like the new one better, too. Ees more vibrant. This one needs to dry for a few weeks before we take it to Dianne for framing.
Ok. I'm whipped.

Everyone ate every bite of dessert. Go figure.
Hike up.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I've said we watch HGTV.

Tonight there was a feature of a designer redoing a couple's outdated bathroom. The designer removed the tub, put in a luxurious shower with expensively tiled walls and custom glass accents, Venetian plaster walls, granite-topped cherrywood vanities with brushed chrome fixtures, a lovely freestanding cherrywood linen closet, and left a plain white toilet fully exposed in the middle of one wall.

Even our modest bathrooms offer a little privacy.
I find it almost impossible to imagine how a creature can grow from this to one of these.

(Sorry about the pics from another site, Craig.)
Hmmm. I cooked the dried fruit compote I mentioned in another post, and added a bit of rum as recommended by a reader(!). I'll serve a small portion in a small ice cream dish, over Blue Bell natural vanilla, with sweetened whipped cream, garnished with a maraschino cherry or a twist of fresh satsuma from the tree and such safe fresh leaves as I can gather on the property, probably bay.

The effort is a waste. Everyone is going to stuff themselves with shrimp and fried oysters. I know the crowd.
Lorraine Stalians has had a bad run.

She was the franchisee of the McDonald's that burned. Investigators could not find a definite cause for the fire.

Now she is closing the restaurant she built on the Riverwalk a year or so ago. To her credit, she took a big chance.

However, you didn't need to be an accountant or a restaurateur to know that a half-million dollar investment in an upscale restaurant with a base of, say, 35,000 mainly working-class people was going to be a near impossible run in the short term.

In the long term, once the four-lane is complete from Natchez through St. Francisville to Baton Rouge, there's a good chance that Natchez may become a bedroom community for Baton Rouge. The commute would be a little over an hour. There is plenty of pretty land south of town where an upscale community has been developing for the past decade.

There's some serious money in these parts. A Lear jet is parked at the Natchez community airport. But those people are relatively few now, and Lorraine's was not the only restaurant in town.

We seldom dine out locally. We simply eat better and more cheaply at home.

The article reports that Ms. Stalians will be moving to Las Vegas. Best of luck to her.

UPDATE: In the interest of full disclosure, Lyman lost his shirt on the southern development around 1984.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

I have been looking at this nearly empty mantel for four years, since I finished the linseed on the panels behind it. A mirror was out of the question. It had nothing pretty to reflect. Ah, but this picture will do very well. Very well.
Cleaning today.

I don't mind cleaning, and sometimes like to clean. It's a cheap, convenient method of immediate gratification. In a world of possibilities, that's a good thing in this house, since my roomies are militant anti-clean activists. To give Lyman credit, he is tidy. We joke that he needs to carry a Dustbuster in a holster, though. Lucy is tidy, too, regarding her cage proper. Is that nutshell empty? Out with it!

Lucy makes cleaning a little harder because certain products are not good for her. Ammonia is one. Bleach is another.

A break comes this afternoon when we have an appointment to look at paintings. (Ain't that an uptown sentence?) The artist whose work I saw at the art show in Natchez was out of town until last Friday. We'll see what Kevin Brodeur has left today.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Christmas cards are done.

Seafood for Friday has been laid in from Tony's Seafood. What an operation these people have. Lyman's dad was off to Baton Rouge on Saturday morning for another purpose. We called on Friday and placed an order. Big Daddy walked in on Saturday morning with an ice chest and was fixed up in minutes.

Somewhere on that site, they report that they have sold 50,000 pounds of crawfish in one day.

We have 1-1/2 gallons of oysters, a pound of backfin crab and 8 pounds of shrimp for cocktail.

Dessert, now. **** dessert.

UPDATE: Why aren't you bringing that food in fresher, you ask? I don't want to spend half a day in Baton Rouge, and the food is stored in the super-cold beer refrigerator, not the one inside.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Here's a clue, barette-makers for baby girls: At Wal-Mart there was a tiny black girl, about three, with at least two dozen small white and clear barettes in her hair. They were small flowers. She looked like her own little snow shower.

You could do simple snowflakes.
After slitting open the bag to the shop-vac and sorting through every tuft of dust, the puzzle piece was not found.

So we fired up a paint program, found some cardboard, and screwed the blade into the Exacto knife. The piece is a little off color, but it will do. (The coloring should have been my job. My patience is stronger than Lyman's, and my sense of color is better, too, but my computer is not printing right now.)

We'll call that our piece of the New York puzzle.

Every picture tells a story, don't it?

Saturday, December 04, 2004


We finished the puzzle and we're missing a piece!!!

Jeez. What a letdown.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Frank Myers in Iraq is having a depressing holiday. There are thousands like him. Perhaps you can help. There are half a dozen ways to help here.

I carried three calling cards for a unit to an undisclosed location the other day. You can also send them to "any service member".

Lucy thinks this puzzle is funny.

When I was talking to my sister the other night, I was reminded that I haven't worked one of these things since before I was 12. Trust me, that was a long time ago.

Last night at about 8 o'clock Lucy settled on the playtree branch where she usually spends her last hour of the waking day. I was at the dinner table across the room.

We set up a call and response. She makes a noise, I make a noise. Then she started ringing the phone. "Hello," I said. "Who is this? Is it Lucy?"

Then she would laugh and laugh. I haven't heard her laugh in a while. What's Christmas without a laughing bird?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I was tucking into a nap the other afternoon. Lyman was in the house. The phone started to ring. In my doze, I was thinking "Lyman, why won't you answer the ****** phone?" After several rings, a little voice said "Harro".

It was Lucy all along. I understand the boys better.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

"... And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever."

Can I rethink my vote?

Last night I changed the regular incandescent bulb in the lamp over the puzzle to a GE Reveal which helps to distinguish the evening shades of purple.

I sorted the types of pieces. You got your 2 knobs parallel, 2 knobs perpendicular, 3 knobs u-shape, all knobs, no knobs.

Lucy has expressed great interest in helping to finish it. If it goes on much longer, I might just let her help. She'll make those pieces fit.

Ah, but the boys want us to glue it down and give it to them. "What!?" I said. "What do you want that for?"

Lyman ordered puzzle glue from Jigsaw Jungle.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

So when did John Cougar start looking like an insurance salesman?

Roy Orbison could get away with it.
I have to set to and finish this jigsaw puzzle on the dining table. The table needs to be cleared before 8 December.

Every remaining piece is some shade of purple and there are about 200 left. I managed to place 6 pieces a day or two ago.
O, lucky day!

I stopped into the art show in the Natchez Convention Center and found a painter whose work is right up my alley. He wasn't present, but his nearly abstract landscapes are just what I had in mind to go over the fireplace.

He's local.

Friday, November 26, 2004

The kids are sharing a house in Baton Rouge.

Michael told me today that they have a lot of empty wall space. We walked around the house and found three small framed things that they can have right now.

When I was about 25 I worked in downtown Dallas. To amuse myself I took art classes at El Centro Junior College. I kept my portfolio, and dragged some things out that they could use. I never had any talent, but I have always liked color and line. My favorite boy is Matisse. I'm right fond of David Hockney.

I came across a charcoal that I did in second year drawing. It made me laugh.

I shared that Saturday morning class with at least two skilled draftspersons. One woman had been drawing for about six years. A 55-year-old man had been drawing since he was nine. The teacher announced that he was making a change in his approach that year. He would assign each of his students a theme. The woman's theme was "kitchen utensils". The man's theme was "trees". Others in the class had mailboxes, or public transportation, or some other mundane thing.

He turned to me and said, "Your theme is the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."

I eventually withdrew from the class, but not before I'd done a piece or two.

As I told Jason, that's the sort of thing you can't make up.
The boys and their grandfather are watching LSU play Arkansas.

At halftime they flipped channels to see what's happening between Texas and A&M. Within a second or two the announcer said, "When it comes time for nut cuttin' ..."

Michael said, "Nut cuttin'? Did he just say nut cuttin' on national TV?"

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

That's timely. The temperature finally dropped to 50. The boys will have a crackling fire to greet them when they come in.
I know one thing to be thankful for this holiday. Our power is on.

A large neighborhood in Natchez is without power and it includes Lyman's sister's house.

Tornados hit Jena and Olla, about an hour from here, ripping up a high school and other buildings, and killing several people one. ("Several" came from my father-in-law.)

Time to count blessings. Many to you.

UPDATE: Details here and here.
Lucy's sleep was disturbed last night, and she is letting us know with huge, noisy yawns. Some of them are real and some are for show.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Perks you up a little to hear the tornado siren go off. Lucy is in the hall and she ain't pleased none.

There's another one.

12:40 a.m. Lucy is back in place. No further problems expected. Night, y'all.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Silly marketers.

A very pretty card on good cream-colored paper with calligraphic typography arrived today. It was addressed to me, in my maiden name, which is the dead giveaway that it came from Cingular Wireless.

The lovely card inside, with an onionskin overleaf, announces that Cingular Wireless and AT&T Wireless are joining together. Cute, kids.

So why didn't you send me a postcard and save me some money?

Friday, November 19, 2004

The woman who cut my hair yesterday asked if we had a Christmas tree up yet.

Thanksgiving hasn't passed. Why would I have a tree decorated already?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

It rained all day in Dallas yesterday. Reporters at the weather channel said that there were 300 auto accidents reported.

One of those was a silver car that plowed into an SUV on Campbell Road. The female driver was taken to the hospital. My sister has a silver car and drives on Campbell Road. No, it wasn't her.

"They don't slow down at all," she said.
This one might be nice.
This dessert might be nice. Worth a try?
The son of our friend who lived up the street and died on the 9th worked on one of the Queens as a bartender. Six weeks on and two off, 12 hours a day. I think "Stairway to Heaven" was a tribute from his boat.

Maybe we're not greatly progressive, but the South can be sweet.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Go to kitchen hand's site to read a happy story of recovery of a lost bird.
The calliope player on one of the steamboat Queens has added "Stairway to Heaven" to the repertoire, tucked in between "Camptown Races" and "Dixie".
So, once you've retrieved the money from the beavers, how do you dry it?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

If I had a girl to buy for of make-up age, I'd give her a starter set of bareMinerals cosmetics for Christmas.

They are light, comfortable and natural-looking. I gave my sister the foundation and veil when I went to Dallas. She is hooked, too.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Beavers weave stolen cash into a dam near Baton Rouge.

That's a provocative headline from
What to do? What to do?

We've decided the menu for the family, adults only, Christmas luncheon on December 10: shrimp cocktail, fried oysters, crab-stuffed mushrooms, and a salad of mixed greens with blanched carrots, green beans, asparagus, sliced radishes and balsamic vinaigrette. Garlic bread.

But so far, no dessert. In recent years, we have served apple-cranberry pie, chocolate mousse, and sweet potato flan. I prefer something light.

Do you cooks have suggestions?

UPDATE: I'm not crazy about desserts. If it were left to me, we'd have a bottle or two of sparkling vouvray with fruit sliced for dipping. This is, however, a non-alcoholic crowd, a couple of whom will return to work in the afternoon.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

I told my sister that Lucy has been quiet the past few days. I think it's a combination of cooler weather, gray skies, and exhaustion from watching and hearing the boys come and go in the yard while framing the greenhouse.

I also told her that the Johnsons' African grey, Olivia, died Friday.

She said, "You didn't tell Lucy, did you? She knew her, you know."

No, we didn't tell Lucy.
How about a health tip from Dallas?

I called my sister today. She is recovering well from surgery earlier this year, but she still has complaints about stomach upsets when she tries foods heavier than soups and yoghurt.

She reports that 3-4 ounces of aloe vera juice mixed with fruit juice settles her better than any medication.

When I was there, I bought a gallon of 95% aloe vera from the pharmacy at Albertson's for about $12.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

After looking more closely at the greenhouse frame, we've decided to leave the metal studs raw. It is not unsightly, and will be covered by trim on the outside.

My biggest concern is mildew, which is an ongoing problem with the white paint on our house. The trim on this house was washed down with bleach in August and is already graying.

And while the first paint job would be easy enough, if costly, others down the years would be tedious.

Best to leave it alone.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Finally, a little Fall. 56 degrees outside. Lyman has had a fire laid for a month. Maybe he gets to light it today. The bright-line rule here is 50 degrees.
I just came up with this really cool new slogan for the Democratic party: "I have a dream, that one day ..."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Hmmmm. "Highbrow hussy." Southerners can turn a phrase.

Lucy carries on that way sometimes.
Smart aleck kids.

Most of the framing for the greenhouse is done. The young carpenters used metal studs for squareness and sturdiness. They need to be painted white.

A young man came by this morning to estimate the paint job.

"What kind of job do you want? You can slap a coat of paint on anything."

"We were thinking a primer coat and two coats of latex enamel."

"We'll have to wipe it down with vinegar to neutralize the surface and ..."

"Yeah, yeah. I know a little about painting. I painted our kitchen cabinets. By rights, this should be my job."

"Jesse would be gray before you could finish this job by yourself."


He's right.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Let's clear a little something up here. My "reality based" view is not equivalent to yours.

I was the last and accidental child in a family of seven, who came out of the north Texas tenant farms. My daddy was a carpenter, and a good one. My mother was a housewife and mother. She worked from dawn into the night, and none of her children saw "want" in that they missed shoes or coats or good meals.

I went to school in the tempestuous years of the sixties in Dallas, and I have excellent recollections of years under black authority figures aka teachers: Mrs. Bradford, Miss Gibson, Mrs. Woods, Mrs. Waterhouse, Mr. Williams, Miss Eva (she was an art teacher, and asked us to call her that. She taught me about Picasso's blue and rose periods).

In 1966, I was a white Cinderella to a black Prince Charming. It has always disappointed me that the boy couldn't dance. Didn't have a lick of rhythm. We had to forego the waltz.

We rolled and roiled in all that time. I went to Dallas public schools, graduated a year early, and still have better SAT scores than the last three presidential candidates.

I resent being called ignorant, racist and homophobic.

P.S. Taken from Mr. Scott Chaffin: Kids, get off my lawn.
One son of the wonderful gentleman who taught me how to can tomatoes died today. He successfully fought HIV for several years and finally died of stomach cancer.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Lyman is 58, I'm 47, Michael is 36 and Jason is 29. We're all pretty clear in our family who Santa is.

So I ordered my Christmas gift from Amazon today. The Best of the Staples Singers and the Ultimate Collection of the Temptations are coming my way.

Respect yourself.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Let's try it this way: Say it with me now. "Janis, the southerner, will not vote for John Edwards for president."

It's not personal (not in the sense that I'm in debt to the guy). He's a real cute boy. But I'm not anywhere up to all that fighting on this side of the water.

And wish his wife well.
Christmas gifts!

If you have a cook on your list, you could do worse than this one.

We received a copy two days ago along with another for a friend. One of the best things about this book is that the writers describe testing processes for recipes. Why, for instance, did a group of gourmet cooks choose potato chips to coat baked salmon?
Now, moving right along.

There is a lovely new young'un among us, name of Beatrix.

I was watering the concrete this weekend to help cure the foundation of a new greenhouse, since we don't have enough greenhouse gases here. 16' x 24'. It looks a little small, but will have to serve.

Much to Mr. Wolcott's satisfaction, I have sent a check for $4000 to the condo association to pay for repairs at the beach, and am not likely to see any income until August of next year. That should account for about another $10,000. As I said before, we love you, too.

Peg, the damn sky is not going to fall. Your own friend Jesse voted for Bush. Does your candidate Josh have national aspirations? We're waiting.

Lucy, aka Garbanzo Girl, is just fine.
I was in New York, and attended the ticker-tape parade (which was by then rolls of computer paper) downtown, when the hostages came home.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

By way of Glenn Reynolds, I came upon this column by Richard Cohen.

There plainly ain't nothin' like a Northerner trying to come up with a person for a Southerner to vote for.

He suggests Al Gore or John Edwards as models, who are Democrats I could not pull a lever for. Mr. Gore was a sincere enough guy, I suppose, but I always thought he was a little edgy, and not in a good way. Edwards, for all his narrative and brilliant smile, makes my cream curdle.

I rather liked Senator Kerry. He was distinguished, not as wooden as Gore, and might in fact prove to be an interesting man in conversation. I ignored all the laughable photos. But, as he presented himself, his resume was thin and his positions were hard to pin.

Not that President Bush is better. I am no fan girl.

Democratic candidates from other parts of the country are fine with me, if not with Bubba. They don't have to be redneck gun-toters to get my vote.

Send me somebody interesting who is not Senator Clinton. I can't bear her either. You don't have to be a southerner to have a little charm.

And believe me, if the girl with the 8 mil book advance in Chappaqua starts talking about two Americas, I'll load a shotgun with rock salt.
Oh, for goodness' sake. New Yorkers wouldn't want it any other way.

I lived there from '79 to '82 '83 and not a thing has changed.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

No, Mr. Sullivan, gay activists thought this would be the perfect year to push for a new initiative. Talk about blowback. I suspect they've put rights back at least ten years.

UPDATE: And I don't necessarily think that all these marriage amendments really signal hatred of homosexuals. Certainly, there are some who are vicious, but I think the vote partly comes down to a basic embarrassment about a public discussion of sex, period. For all the Cosmo covers, Playboys, Screw magazines, and Jerry Springer shows, most Americans maintain a sort of prudish discretion about sex.

Good or bad? I don't know. But the network suffered mightily when the halftime show for the Superbowl revealed Janet Jackson's breast.

UPDATE: I asked Mr. Kinsell his take on the topic. His response is here.
It would be very poor manners for the Bush campaign to declare victory now. Don't do it. Don't think of it. If he does, it will be the total abrogation of propriety, and the influence of the crazy idiots who run these campaigns. Don't go there.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

D'oh, the 18-29 youth vote didn't turn up.

I've called the boys for years to tell them to call their mother on Mother's Day.
2000 lawyer David Boies, looking older and considerably cleaner than 4 years ago, made an excellent point about needing to reduce long lines at polling places.

How would they solve that problem without getting into large expense? I was reading in The Baton Rouge Advocate that turnout in the last two elections was not more than 62 percent statewide. Yet to see what it is this year, but as I said earlier, they were predicting above 70 percent.
So what is this extended advertisement-interview with Vanessa Kerry on MSNBC before the polls have closed in the west? Will there be a balance?

Mike McCurry now urging people to go vote. Balance anyone?
Among the reasons that I added Radley Balko to the blogroll is this post.
Here's an interesting note: Election Day Blog from The Baton Rouge Advocate

UPDATE: Five posts. She's a young thing, with other responsibilities. Did she vote?
It is rainy here today, though not cold, a nasty day for the octagenarian parents to be in the weather. Luckily, mother-in-law has a standing hair appointment for Wednesdays.

I don't have a clue as to how that will affect turnout here. A week or so ago, the secretary of state said it appeared that turnout would be well above 70 percent.

After long consideration, I finally pulled the lever for Bush. Had the state been in contention, I might have gone the other way. I do hate the Federal Marriage Amendment, and I do think government should be as transparent as possible. I don't think the Bush administration thought out the Iraq situation well enough. It could be that Kerry's election could calm the world.

The endorsement that put me into the Bush column is this one.

So there you are.

I was sitting here with a cup of coffee before I realized that I didn't vote on whether to continue a particular tax for schools. That would have been a "yes". I just forgot to. I imagine it will pass without me.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I just received the funniest spam e-mail from a guy who "learned from the Internet that you are interested in tents".

Don't be silly, honey. I'm interested in a foie gras dinner at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans.
Why, yes, that was me watering the concrete in the backyard Saturday. Why do you ask?
You can disagree with the facts, but only a man named Radley could write this so well.

That's Radley Balko, libertarian blogger.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I have eaten at The Hummingbird. My mother-in-law hasn't.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Read the first comment here.

You don't know much about my daddy. Daddy was Joseph the carpenter. Though we didn't have much, on Sunday mornings we would drive downtown in the Ford to the Commerce Street Newsstand so he could buy the London Observer. I stood between them on the seats. Must say, wasn't hurt there. Onionskin and 50 cents.

UPDATE: Right down from the Kirby Building and A. Harris.
When I'm done kicking Craig Johnson in the shins for taking photos at night, go to J-Birds for a look at truly lovely craftsmanship.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The light is right, but the weather is too warm.

When I was a little girl, before going to school, this is the season that Mrs. Green, who lived next door, and my mother would go shopping.

Mother had hardly a cent to spend, but after coffee in the morning the girls would pack me up and set out in Mrs. Green's finned Chrysler.

Mrs. Green was a craftswoman. If you've ever seen a felt Christmas tree skirt with sequinned and beaded figures, or a cheap bird cage bronzed and filled with plastic greenery and not-very-authentic fake birds, or a Barbie dressed in a pyramidal pile of gathered net, you have a window into my young world.

Her house was cluttered with stuff.

I loved it, and I loved shopping with them.

I don't know where she picked up her ideas, maybe Good Housekeeping or some other magazine, but we would search through piles of fripperies and bolts of fabric.

Mother didn't have a car. Mrs. Green would take us to what they called the A. Harris shopping center which was down around Polk St., so Mother could trade stamps in at the S&H Green Stamp store.

When Patricia and I broke down our Mother's house in Dallas, the tacky fake brass umbrella stand that we sold came from there.

A. Harris? Who was A. Harris? Many Dallasites grew up with Sanger-Harris, and I miss it still, but who was A. Harris?

I did a little research, and the best I can do in a short time is this.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Elvis and Prescilla, at it again.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Good grief!

We watch HGTV, and the imagination of the designers is getting more fun by the day. Here are designations:

Mediterranean Revival
Old World Eclectic
International Eclectic
Contemporary Traditional

You can play, too! What was the last composite you heard?

UPDATE: In comments, Kim Crawford adds

Trailerpark Egalitarian

UPDATE II: Heard last night

Global Exotic

Thursday, October 21, 2004

His heritage? Who cares? Is he a good dog or a bad dog?
Reason #2477 for us not to have cell phones:

Early on today, Lyman and I decided to try a recipe that called for a 2-1/4 pound pork loin to be rubbed with a selection of dry herbs.

When he came in from the grocery, he said he wished he'd had his cell phone. He would have called.

Our conversation:


"When I got there, all they had near that size were seasoned pork loins, like barbecue, or lemon and garlic. They had a John Morrell that only had onion, but we've bought that before and it was tough."

"So, what did you do?"

"I bought one of these big ones. We can cut it into three or four pieces and one will be just right."

"That's what I would have done."

"I wish I'd had my cell phone with me."


"I need to use it sometime."
Here is a happy confluence of research and luck at Chateau Plumage.

Sunday, October 17, 2004


I guess there are women or men so motherly that any old animal will fall into their lap and let them pare their toenails. My old black cat Shadow took it very well.

I am not one.

For three years I have worked with Lucy, making much of her toes and showing her my own manicure. She's always watched, but never cared much for such attention to her toes.


This weekend when I cut and filed my nails she was ready for it herself. I could pick up individual toes and use a rough emery on each of them.

This could save both of us a lot of anxiety.
Dr. Joyner notes this article about the death of journalist Pierre Salinger. I grew up hearing that name.

Interesting to me, though, is this bit:
Mrs. Salinger, spoke from Le Thon, near Avignon in the Provence region, where the couple moved four years ago to run a bed-and-breakfast inn. She said her husband decided to move to France because he was so deeply opposed to the presidency of George W. Bush. "He was very upset because he thought Bush was not fit to be president. He said he would leave if Bush became president and he did," Mrs. Salinger said.
No doubt Mr. Salinger did not like Mr. Bush as president, but a bed and breakfast inn in southern France sounds more like a retirement destination than a political refuge to me.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Does this girl look as flirty to you as she does to me?

That's Jesse Manning of Shooting from the Lip beside her.

(That silly link won't work. Scroll down to the October 9 post.)
The Great Mississippi Balloon Race weekend starts today.

The weather looks good this year.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Just a note on the Dem's use of Mary Cheney in these debates. I have never printed anything here about my gay brother that I didn't vet with him in advance.

UPDATE: I've been reading an awful lot about this business around the internet. I don't mean to imply that the Democrats are shameless or the Republicans are shameful, and yak, yak, yak in this context.

The point I'd like to make is that the mere fact of my brother's homosexuality is not much of a predictor as to how he thinks about any topic, political or other. I don't think he'd care for his name to be brought into any debate where he wasn't asked about the topic himself. Unless I question him specifically, I don't have a clue to what he thinks.

He does like vodka martinis and he does think that most call vodka, like Gray Goose, is overpriced. I might just drive over and spend election night with him.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Must say, I was so terribly thrown by the first question in this debate that I didn't hear much else.
The illegal immigration problem is a tough one.

I live among African-Americans. The woman who didn't very well take care of my mother in Dallas was more interested in having a data-entry job that paid $7 an hour than a house-cleaning job that can pay $10 an hour.

It gets back to Camille Paglia's notion of "revalorizing" trades. On an everyday basis, does the average American need a lawyer or a plumber? A surgeon or a dependable and honest car mechanic?

Immigrants doing dry-wall work in Dallas during the building boom were making $50,000 a year, which I, as a small-town journalist on my best day could never sneeze at.
WTF? Will our children grow up in a world as safe as ours?

My poor parents bought metal ID tags for me and we had regular duck-and-cover drills at school.

A president was assassinated, a presidential contender was assassinated, and a major civil rights leader was assassinated before I was out of elementary school.

I'd hope we can do a little better.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

You know what I think about this election?

Me and mine are out of the fire zone. If James Wolcott thinks it's equivalent that I get popped by Gaia and he gets popped by Allah, then he can handle it.

We came out pretty well. I won. Not everybody did. This time.
Bi-focals, anyone?

I took a large envelope to the post office to mail.

The clerk behind the counter had his glasses at the end of his nose, looking through them to read the number on the meter. I had my glasses at the end of my nose, looking over them to count out the correct change in my hand.

Same pose, two different purposes, and neither one of us can stand to wear bi-focals.

I replaced mine with the cool Transitions lenses so I can have sun protection without keeping up with shades.
Jordana is close upon expanding the Axis of Weevil by one.

Perhaps she can take comfort that she won't be making introductions thiswise:
Dear Shellie,

I wanted to share with you my family's recent addition. My daughter-in-law Theresa and son Paul who live in Southern Alabama had a surprise Friday Morning Sept. 17th when Rider Sage Frusha came into the world weighing in at 10 lbs. even and 22 in. long with jet black hair. Of course the most beautiful baby in all of Alabama. But as Paul Harvey would say here's "The Rest of the Story". He was born at home in the bathroom with my daughter in law and son the day after Ivan came through. No power, no drugs, no coach. My daughter in law is my new HERO. She cut the cord, tied the cord and had him wrapped in a towel when the EMT's arrived. Baby and Mom are great; dad is still a little bit shook up.
This letter was sent to Shellie Rushing Tomlinson at her site All Things Southern where you can find Shellie's observations from The Porch and, well, things Southern.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

When Michael, Lyman's older son, was in nursery school in New Orleans, his teacher taught the tykes a little song:
Sharing time is a happy time.
We share our books and we share our toys,
And have a very, very happy, happy time.
I don't know where Lucy learned that, but she believes it to the end of each quivering feather, unless she's the one expected to share.

A few days ago I gave her half a pomegranate. She'd just piddled with it a bit when I picked it up and separated out a few seeds to eat myself.

She stood stock still and looked at me with disbelieving horror.

"You didn't do that, did you?" she seemed to ask.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

I was working on the jigsaw puzzle this afternoon. We've worked about 2/3 of it.

"Jaaaaanis," called a little voice.


"What you doing?"
After last night's debate, which I watched on MSNBC, a young woman from the Christian Science Monitor described what she had seen on stage as a "bloodbath".

My, my. We are a sensitive crowd these days.

She should catch Lyman and me on a party day.

Friday, October 08, 2004

I just don't read these debates the same way other people do.

I thought Kerry looked more engaging and more himself than he ever has. I found him far easier to watch than John Edwards earlier this week. Perhaps I just prefer a more mature man. And such an improvement over Gore years ago. I can imagine Kerry in the living room for four years.

Bush was better this week as well.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

For the Thursday Three:
1) Favorite country/western/bluegrass songs today - London Homesick Blues, You Were Always on My Mind, and Crazy.

2) Favorite singers - too many

3) I don't listen to any radio stations unless I'm in the car, which is rare, or the Tigers game is not on TV.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

When, I ask, did the Democratic Party in America turn into the party of the fabulously wealthy with good intentions?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The best slam that Cheney got into Edwards was the note that Edwards had established an S corporation, which saved him, personally, $600,000 in taxes.

Edwards rejoined that he had paid all the taxes he owed.

We're pretty well-off people. We don't have $600,000.

UPDATE: My understanding of the corporation is limited and this post is probably wrong.

I still take exception to the notion that Kerry and Edwards have a better understanding of the struggles of the middle class than do Bush and Cheney.
I think Lyman could whip John Edwards black and blue in a courtroom. And he doesn't blink like a girl. He liked criminal defense, not trial lawyering.

Mr. Edwards has the same prissiness in this debate that so annoyed me from George Bush in the first.

Joe Lieberman sure looks good these days.
Lucy will never suffer much neglect if she has any say-so.

I was concentrating on working a wicked, dark spot in the jigsaw puzzle when a little-girl voice across the room called "Hey, Lucy".
Here is a piece about the monarch migration at the Gulf coast.

The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is here.

I have written to find out what they think will happen with the monarchs this year.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Vidalia fire chief is still awaiting news on the investigation of the July 3 4 fire that burned the local McDonald's. He'd like to hear something, as the debris cannot be cleaned up until the investigation is complete. Believe me, it's not a pretty main street in the best of times. A fire ruin only makes it worse.

The report will come from the regional fire marshall in Baton Rouge.

Maybe not. Here is a story from the Concordia Sentinel.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Lucy went to bed early tonight. She'd had it with company, and was telling them so all day long. She didn't say "Sit down. Be still. Tell people not to call." She shrieked.

This is usually a quiet house. It is not quiet when the boys come.
When I was watching Ivan closely, I ran across a mention of these guys. Particularly interesting was that this troupe strapped down an SUV in Gulf Shores, equipped with weather gauges and webcams to record the hurricane's landfall. Some video clips are here.
Well, yes, the food always looks fine, but the descriptions call for a visit someday.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

I'm considering taking Lucy out of the house today.

Lyman and the boys will be watching the Yellowshoe Tigers play Georgia in Georgia on TV at 2:30, and I'm not sure she should be exposed to that kind of language. Maybe Big Daddy will come to watch with them. That might tone it down a bit.

(Don't get the wrong idea. They all have excellent manners and seldom descend to profanity. Some situations just overstrain them.)

LSU does not have the team it had last year when it beat Georgia twice, and Georgia carries a grudge.

These boys are serious about their sports. Jason's cellphone rings with the opening chords of "Eye of the Tiger".


1) Too much for Big Daddy at 85. He'll watch it at home in his bed. Jason has been instructed "No kicking anything indoors."

2) Georgia is up 24-0 with six minutes left in the second quarter. It's "colorful" around here.

3) The half closed with Georgia up 24-10. Big Daddy has arrived. Discussion ensues.

4) Michael says "This is the last time I come home for a game. Y'all don't bring luck."

5) 38-10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Michael's phone rings. "I ain't answering no calls from Baton Rouge. I'm not talking about this game."

6) Nick Saban doesn't seem to feel like an extra million dollars today.

7) 45-16. The kicker missed the extra point.

8) Jason changes the ring on the phone.

9) Duck gumbo for dinner. They'll feel better.
Lyman's boys came in from Baton Rouge at about 10 last night, after we put Lucy to bed.

They come with appetites and things to tell, showers to take, people to call and round up, laundry to do, people to introduce - a little circus of homecoming.

Several times before they departed for a night on the town - which can be a lot of fun in Natchez, especially when topped with watching the sun rise over the Mississippi with a Bloody Mary Under-the-Hill, or so I've been told - Lucy shrieked at them to hush up and go to sleep.

The kids came in very late (as in I heard voices at daylight) and are snoozing in their beds.

It's everything I can do to keep Lucy from getting back at them.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Mr. Woodlief will now have to find other excuses for his violent impulses.

(Thanks Jordana and happies to The Girl, too.)
For the Thursday Three:
1) In 1996, Lyman's parents, his sister and her daughter, and the two of us joined about 20 other people from local churches for a trip to the Holy Land organized by the minister of the First Baptist Church, and conducted by Christian Tours USA.

In the Christian market in old Jerusalem, we bought a woven camel hair "imagination rug" of a Muslim village scene, which was likely made in Egypt. The seller told us to fold it up and keep it in the freezer for three or so days when we got home, to kill any bugs that might be hiding in it.

And so we did. It hangs behind our dining table today.

2) As the World Turns is the first television show I remember. Hard as she worked, my mother would take a break at midday to watch her stories.

3) Let's not talk about surgeries. I'm not that old yet.

I will say I'm mighty disappointed in my family this month. Shoot, my intestines are so tough they decided to go walkies on their own last summer.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I like pickles.

When we tried a new recipe for deviled eggs that called for a spicy sweet pickle, Lyman picked up the Ragin' Cajun brand, out of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

They are wonderfully crisp and hot and sweet. I like to snack on them, and intend to serve some at our next party.
Jeff Jarvis links to a blog that links to an Ananova report that Dolly Parton is having her breast implants removed and breasts reduced. Good for her. She's an awful small woman to be carrying those gazongas around.

But the part of Mr. Jarvis' post that I like is this:
Let me add that when I was a columnist in San Francisco, I met Dolly a few times covering concerts. And I knew a guy at the old UPI who went to high school with her. The honest-to-goodness truth is that she is that nice. She really is.
That's nice to know.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The jigsaw puzzles came while I was gone.

We looked at the pictures closely and decided to start with this one.

We draped the dining table with a clean white sheet and attached the swing-arm desk lamp.

I opened the box and began slowly dumping the pieces from the plastic bag into the box lid, sorting for edge pieces as I went. Lyman came along and insisted on dumping all the pieces into the box and doing a sort for color.

You know, different couples have different thresholds for certain tasks. There are endeavors that a couple should not attempt to undertake until the pair's abilities to work together, to act beyond recriminations and grudges, are well-established.

Throwing mutual dinner parties is among those, as are home improvements. Rearing children is one, and, I have learned, working large jigsaw puzzles is one.

So, I find it is well and good that ten strong years of hardship and plenty, disappointment and joy, mistake and rectification were behind us last night.

LittleA, after that sort, we estimate that 500 of 2000 pieces are a shade of purple.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Lyman tells me that Lucy did well in my absence until Thursday. She stopped eating, preening and making noise then. Such a mama's girl.

One of mama's responsibilities is the bath. Lucy will tolerate a bath from Lyman, but she prefers me for that task. We've settled on two a week. Birds need a good soaking with water occasionally to keep their feathers in good condition.

Lucy bathes in the kitchen sink, like all seven of my mother's babies. Hers is a shower under the sprayer, though.

We tend to bathe her at about 5 in the afternoon, after she's emerged from her afternoon rest and before she starts her evening feeding.

First, lay a quarter-folded sheet of newspaper on the counter to the left of my monitor and set her short table-top perch on top, in front of her White-Westinghouse personal fan heater (model WWFH1170, much like one of these).

Then wash the sink and stopper thoroughly with dish liquid and rinse well. Insert the stopper and lay a clean thick washcloth in the bottom of the sink so those delicate feet don't tangle with the stopper. Lay a clean white terry dishtowel out on the cutting board to the right of the sink. Make sure the under-cabinet lights are on.

Adjust a mild flow of water until it is lukewarm.

Take a bathroom break because of the running water.

Catch Lucy. Sometimes this is supremely easy, accomplished with a simple "step-up" command. Yesterday she gave me a good nip on the knuckle because she wasn't ready for a bath at that moment. If she's difficult, turn off the water and wait a few minutes. Lucy likes a bath, so yesterday's was an infrequent occurrence.

At the sink, turn on the sprayer and wet the washcloth in the sink, and set her down in the sink. Then start spraying, avoiding her eyes and nasal passages. I start at her feet, then move under her tail, around to her breast, then her wings, both over and under. Sometimes she'll run around in the water, spreading her wings so it's easy to wash her thoroughly. Sometimes she huddles in the corner, so I have to lift her wings to wash under them and turn her whole body around to get the other side. She rarely nips when I do this.

Once she's been completely soaked (except for those parts of her head) I turn off the water, and tell her to step up. When she's up, I ask if she'd like to flap a bit, then I tell her to step down at a certain spot on the dishtowel. When she's down, I flip the ends of the dishtowel over her, pick her up, and hold her close to blot excess water from her feathers. She stays in the towel for a few seconds then I unwrap her and set her on her playtree where she gives herself a good shake.

She looks like this after a bath.

If it's warm, I leave her there for a while. If not, I take her to the perch by my monitor where the little heater is set on medium. She'll preen and doze there until she is ready to go to her perch for a treat of seeds.

Other birds bathe differently. Some prefer a mist bottle, some like a pan of water, and some have perches in the family shower. But they all need that hydration for their feathers at least once a week.
How good men go bad, from Tony Woodlief.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Rest easy, pretty girl.
I saw one of these cars on the road yesterday. It was quite ugly.
If you'd like to follow Jeanne's progress from a local viewpoint, there are Florida stations available here. I have problems receiving them, but Lyman doesn't.

He gets all the good stuff.
Chucky is found!
On Tuesday we learned that the damage to the condo was not nearly as bad as we feared. All our windows held, as did most of the others in the complex. Pictures are here.

There will be no electricity there for about another month, and we are being asked to stay away and out of the paths of the restoration crews.

Just so long as I don't have to find a replacement for the bedspread that I shopped the south for, I'll be content.
When I drove up and walked onto the patio in Dallas, Patricia laid her head against me and cried. She felt ugly, violated and helpless.

First thing with her is to organize her thoughts. She goes round and round and finds herself overwhelmed. The lawn needed mowing. The lawnmower was in the garage. The automatic lifter for the garage door was broken. There were overdue bills to pay and no stamps. Her hair needed a trim (oh, vanity, thy name is woman).

We dispatched her daughter to find Ken, a neighbor two doors away. The Harley biker-organic gardener-Santa Claus model came right away, repaired the garage door by replacing a nut, and whipped through her lawn in just a few minutes. What a neighbor. He and his wife are moving to a new house this weekend.

Then we made lists of things to do and things to buy, and worked through it all as the week progressed. I lifted scissors to a woman's hair for the first time in 30 years - just a simple trim, which might have been better and easier if the scissors had been fit to cut something other than paper.

By Thursday, she felt good enough to blow her hair dry and apply makeup for a visit to the surgeon's office. He removed the sutures and told her she was doing great.

"If I'd known that, I would have felt better," she said.

He also told her that had she not been in such good general health that this episode could easily have killed her. He removed between two and four feet of intestine. She needn't worry about gaining weight in the future.

Bizarrely, my sister-in-law in Oregon called Thursday night to say that my oldest brother had emergency surgery for diverticulitis that day. Pretty much the same operation.

Where is my family's intestinal fortitude?

Friday, September 24, 2004

Hey, y'all.

That was the pis... most annoying drive ever. Hard rain on I-20 and rampant scattered showers on 49, intermittent little blasts so that you could neither turn the windshield wipers on nor turn them off.

When I stopped at the Eagle Truck Stop at the Carmel exit, down 49 a piece from Shreveport, I felt as though I'd gotten off a horse rather than out of a truck. Don't order the biscuits and gravy.

The leg between Alexandria and Vidalia was smooth as silk, though.

A sign for a hair salon in Pineville read "Totally Clips".

Monday, September 20, 2004

I'm off at 9 or so for that lovely, lengthy drive to Dallas, so I can baby my big sister for a few days. I'll return Thursday or Friday. In the meantime, I'll be out of touch. Patricia spends 8 hours a day in front of a monitor at her job, and cares not one whit about a computer at home.

Y'all have a good week. That includes you, Ms. Woods and Mr. Zimmerman.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

A little information on how the storms are affecting bird migration here from the Huntsville Times.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Ahem, far as I know, Chuckie is still loose.
A poster at the forum has set up another forum that is site-specific. Posters there are providing information on individual properties.
A pertinent article from the Mobile Register, regarding homes and businesses on the beach.
Dave Barry has a postcard from Florida here.
Tentative reports from Orange Beach say that Seaside is ok, which means that it is standing. Property inspectors will begin looking Monday to see if they need to call in structural engineers.

A closer look at the video makes us believe that the seaside windows held in the living room but not in the front bedroom, which is good news, as it goes.

We won't be visiting until after next week, though individual unit reports should come in next week.

I'll be off to Dallas Monday to tend to my sister, who will be recovering from surgery, for a few days.
I just lost a post. Testing.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Here is a link to a story in the Mobile Register about the Flora-Bama lounge. If you've never spent time in the area, it might be hard to grasp how strong an institution it is.
Chuckie is still loose.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Lucy is a good helper.

While we were viewing aerial shots, Lucy was singing and chatting and laughing from her cage. "What you doing, Lucy?" in her pretty sing-song voice. No way to be sad or afraid.

Thanks, Debra and Craig.

She's a good girl.
Here is a link to a little radio station originating in Foley, Alabama, WHEP.

Lyman just heard a conversation that he paraphrased to me:
CALLER: We have a little place with a few acres of pasture and some chicken houses.

HOST: What do you raise?

CALLER: We raise fire ants.

HOST: Really? You RAISE fire ants?

CALLER: Not by choice.
This station is not all corn. A lot of useful information is being traded there. I'll be listening tomorrow.
Chef Tony sends along this photo from NASA to round out the photo collection.
Here is a good gallery of photos from the storm.

UPDATE: This gallery is changing over time, keeping track of storm effects as it travels inland.
Here is aerial video from WWLTV in New Orleans. Seaside is at 47 seconds. This is very bad news for us. The good news, I guess, is that the building is still standing.

It was fun, heh, Possum?

Here was the building before last night.

We are not receiving the feed from NBC 15 now. They are reporting towers down here. News continues to circulate at the forum.

The Pensacola News Journal is a good source for Florida news.

And Chuckie, the 12-foot alligator, is still on the loose.
Continuing from below.

From the forum regarding the ABC video:
Just saw it. East from 161 intersection across Perdido Pass Bridge. Most structures have damage. Many have significant damage. Many roofs fom houses and low-rise condo's gone. Upper floors of wooden construction condo's gone. Most roofs whose structure survived are missing shingles/tin/tiles and underlayment leaving interiors exposed to elements. Most high rise concrete construction condos have survived with not too massive damage. The beach road east past Ono Island bridge intersection appears to be impassable due to the road being washed away, palm trees, sand and debris in road. Some boats washed ashore. Boats in dry storage at Zeke's (or nearby) mostly in place, but the dry storage bldg's siding was peeled away from around them. Could not tell from video what the high water mark was.
Watching NBC 15 Mobile on the computer.

Yikes, unconfirmed reports from Orange Beach say that the Flora Bama, a bar and institution on the Florida-Alabama line, is gone. Updates say it has been severely damaged, not erased.

Parts of the beach highway are gone.

A construction crane at Phoenix IX was driven across the road.

Video shows 6 to 8 ft of water on Hwy 59. The reporter is standing near King Neptune's, about a mile and a half inland, and can go no closer to the shore. Coke machines and refrigerators are floating.

While many of the large animals were evacuated from the zoo in Gulf Shores, about a dozen alligators are loose. Hunters with shotguns are wading about looking for them. There's a 12-footer named "Chuckie" out there.

I took a shower, but Lyman tells me that the mayor of Gulf Shores spoke a few minutes ago. The city requests that no one go in for two or three days. They plan some aerial observations later this afternoon.

According to a poster at the Gulf Shores forum at, the Baldwin Co. EMA said at a noon conference that 100 percent of condos have significant damage.

From the forum:
They (ABC) had a reporter drive down the coast line in Orange Beach(as discussed below) and he described everything he saw. He says the Phoenix condos are in relatively good shape. Some damage, but can be fixed. He said 90% of the condos had at least minor damage but many were actually collapsed to some extent. He says the road was severely damaged and it was down to one lane. A crane was toppled near one of the bridges where construction on a new complex was happening. Described the scene as a "war zone". Many roofs gone, of course. He expects it to be a few years before things are completely back to normal. They'll have video soon.
At 2:20 Fox reports that the search for Chuckie has been called off temporarily while workers transport other wildlife out of the area.

A poster reports that video of the beach road should be up shortly on ABC 33/40 in Birmingham. Others have asked that watchers make thorough as possible reports. There is a link to the station here but no live feed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Enough. There will be destruction and death in the path of the hurricane.

Where do the gulls go that scare Lucy so?

How will these hurricanes affect the monarch migration?
Lyman's computer is connected to NBC 15 Mobile.

They just showed a brief interview at a high-school shelter with a woman pregnant with twins who is feeling contractions. The contractions are not regular yet. There is a paramedic available.


1:50 Tornado warnings in Gulf Breeze heading to Orange Beach. They think they've pinpointed a tornado just south of the Flora Bama. Nope, just a possible. Warnings expire at 2:30.

That cell skipped over to the water park and is heading northwest. That warning has expired now.

2:58 Sustained winds of 40 mph with gusts up to 65 mph in Gulf Shores. (I'm hearing more that makes me think these are too high.) Tornado warnings in Santa Rosa and Escambia County.

Locally, Lyman says Hwy 84, which is our main street, is streaming with cars coming from 61N out of Baton Rouge. We are here. A Louisiana state map here.

5:00 In Gulf Shores, West Beach Blvd. is washed out. Conditions deteriorating rapidly. Some building awnings being torn off. 15 to 20 foot waves. Waves washing under Fat Tuesday's. Boathouses at Orange Beach are starting to blow apart.

5:28 Two killed in a tornado in Panama City, FL.
A cherry-red convertible just drove into the driveway. A young man, Chad, came to the door asking about Jason.

Of course, Jason is in Baton Rouge, so we gave him phone numbers.

Chad came to spend a few days with his dad while the storm rages on the coast. He has a little gym in Destin and does some personal training.

Lyman said, "Little gym? Red convertible? Pretty girls on the beach? It's a hard job, but somebody's gotta do it."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Debra and Craig at J-Birds, just north of New Orleans, are preparing for Ivan.

And Mobile residents are battening down. Local plywood stocks were sent to Florida. That's rough.

But they're just ignorant southern white trash. What would be the loss?

Monday, September 13, 2004

I called my sister yesterday morning. She was in an emergency room. I tried to get her last night, and there was no answer.

I found her this evening in a room recovering from bowel surgery.

"I'm dying," she complained.

"Don't say that!" I said. "You don't mean that. Do you?"

She'll recover, but she'll be in the hospital for five or six days, then out of work for three or four weeks. She was pretty well out of it, so no more details.

UPDATE: She's making sense now. I will go to Dallas on Monday to stay a few days.
Now that's interesting.

If you pop over to Steven Taylor's site, you might find Google ads for professional forgery experts, as I did earlier today. There's an opportunity around every corner, isn't there?
Why, yes, we are watching hurricane Ivan with vested interest.

Last year in November we replaced the washer-dryer and installed drapes to put the finishing touches on the three-year renovation of a fifth floor condo on the beach at Orange Beach.

Therefore, I predict that Ivan will accelerate to a heretofore unknown category 6, and will strike the coast a bit to the west for maximum devastating effect on Perdido Beach Blvd.

UPDATE: Time to re-read John D. MacDonald's Condominium.

And thanks, honey. We love you, too.
This was the hymn, sung on the Pearl River.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

A lovely little service in a lovely little park in a supportive little town, for a woman I wanted to see more of.

However, I can go the rest of my life without another half-assed explication of the King James version of the 23rd Psalm, one of the prettiest and strongest pieces of poetry in the language.

Couldn't they just read it?

Friday, September 10, 2004

On Sunday afternoon, we drive to Monticello, MS, to attend a memorial service for a 60-year-old woman friend who served us dinner twice on Father's Day weekend.

She didn't appear ill then. She died of cancer yesterday morning.

Send good wishes to Frank. He lost his favorite girl.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Live with someone for 24 hours a day for ten years and there are still things you don't know. Lyman likes jigsaw puzzles.

I'm measuring tables and he's online looking for something interesting to work. He's looking here for something in the 2000-3000 piece range.

Poor Lucy will go crazy. Or we will. We both dislike the missing piece.

UPDATE: We ordered this one and this one. If we like them, we'll order this one. Too bad we don't have room for this one.
For the Thursday Three the topic is toys:
1) When I was two, I ran from behind an ice cream truck and was hit by a car. My aunt Evelyn brought a little pink and yellow stuffed dog to the hospital. That is in the bottom drawer of the chest of drawers in the guest room.

2) I didn't have a favorite toy, but I spent hours over jigsaw puzzles as a child. Once, when we didn't have a new one, I flipped all the pieces on an old one and worked it by shape alone. Why don't I have one in the house right now?

3) I craved a Tiny Thumbelina so much when I was about five that I dreamed one night that I reached into the TV and brought one out. Never got the Thumbelina, but I can reach right through this screen to talk to you. Amazing.
UPDATE: Another toy I liked as a child was the little plastic car that you wound up with a rubber band and crashed into pieces against the wall. Wonder where that came from?
From Smiley Anders' column in The Baton Rouge Advocate:
Fear factor: LeRoy tells this weather-related story:

One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm, a mother was tucking her son into bed.

She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"

The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug.

"I can't, dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room."

A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: "The big sissy."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

She chased me!

Lucy likes to spend time with us in the kitchen. Cleaning out the dishwasher is one of her chores. She loves the flash and glint of glass and flatware and all those mysterious cabinets and drawers. We usually clear off the island so she has a safe platform to watch what is going on around her. (For a well-bred southern girl, she has an unseemly fascination with the trash drawer at the end of it.)

Tonight, she was on my shoulder helping wash pots and pans. I took a turn, and she either lost her footing or flew down intentionally. She also loves the kitchen floor. All those little toe spaces and corners are too intriguing, and probably the least sanitary spaces in the house. A carpet in front of the sink and one in front of the stove, put there to ease feet and legs on our concrete foundation, don't get cleaned often enough. She knows I don't like her down there, and will fight rather than step up.

Having tussled with her before, I decided to leave her there, and pick her up when she became bored. I was continuing with chores when the little snot lunged at my thonged feet!

Lucy is not a large bird, but her beak can pulverize a crab claw. I moved away until she could occupy herself. When I returned, she lunged again. And again. My beautiful little bird chased me out of the kitchen so she could satisfy her curiosity.

"Fine," I said. "I'm going back to the office."

After poking around a while, she came waddling back the forty feet to my chair and stepped up pretty as you please.
We received a flyer from a local candidate today whose wife is named "Cantina".

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

You need to read this story for the full context for this quote:
And then there was the husband and wife who brought in their Shar-Pei to discuss the neutering options. The woman relented only after learning of the Neuticles silicone replacements.

"Oh," she said, "those will be as natural as my breast implants!"
I have nothing to add.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Since somebody done brought up chicken and sausage, and the calendar has rolled over to September, it is time to post Chef Tony von Krag's recipe for


Perhaps the simplest of the gumbos, but a hearty one and a classic combination. If you can't find andouille, use a local hot smoked sausage or kielbasa or whatever smoked sausage you like. This one's easy to knock off quickly for a great evening's meal and is even better the next day.

1 cup oil
1 cup flour
2 large onions, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
4 tbs chopped garlic (I like garlic, reduce if you want)
4 quarts chicken stock
2 bay leaves
Lyman says 5 or 6
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or to taste
Lyman suggests reserving this until late in cooking, salting the gumbo to taste with the Creole seasoning.
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon Tabasco
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Lyman would leave this salt out.
1 large chicken @ 4 1/2# (young hen preferred), cut into pieces
3 pounds andouille or smoked sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 bunch scallions (green onions), tops only, chopped
2/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
Filé powder to taste

Season the chicken with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning and brown quickly. Brown the sausage, pour off fat and reserve meats.

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil and cook the flour in the oil over medium to high heat (depending on your roux-making skill), stirring constantly, until the roux reaches a dark reddish-brown color, almost the color of coffee or milk chocolate for a Cajun-style roux. If you want to save time, or prefer a more New Orleans-style roux, cook it to a medium, peanut-butter color, over lower heat if you're nervous about burning it.

Add the vegetables and stir quickly. This cooks the vegetables and also stops the roux from cooking further. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes. Lyman cooks them until they're well-wilted.

Add the stock, seasonings, chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then cook for about one hour, skimming fat off the top as needed. If you're adding okra, add it about 20 minutes into this step.

Add the chopped scallion tops and parsley, and heat for 5 minutes.
Serve over rice in large shallow bowls. That file can be sprinkled on the gumbo here. Accompany with a good beer and lots of hot, crispy French bread.

YIELD: About 12 entrée-sized servings.

Lyman's is much like this. He'll look it over and suggest alternatives later. I know he'll suggest at least 5 bay leaves.

Lyman's revisions in italics.

Chef Tony, he wonders about 4 quarts of stock. That is a lot.
Mr. Schranck, that looks like a chicken and sausage etouffee to me, except for the basil. Ok, etouffee Italian.

UPDATE: Did he call me a skunk?!