Monday, May 31, 2004

I would not have traded last night's dinner for the most exquisite dish from the kitchens of France: juicy fried pork chops, fresh okra and tomatoes with onions, and boiled fresh corn, sweet, crisp and tender.

Now there's another question. It rained 1.7 inches this morning before I rose at 10. What happened to the parade?

UPDATE: My answer is in this story:

The memorial began Monday morning, through the heavy morning downpour, as residents marched across the Mississippi River Bridge from Vidalia.

Vidalia mayor Hyram Copeland said many of the marchers told him, "regardless of how hard it rains, it will not dampen our spirit."

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Our flag became tattered by the wind several months ago. We took it down. Today we replaced it.

The young black drummers in the neighborhood behind us have been practicing for days. They will pace the parade across the bridge, where cars will pick up paraders for the trip to Natchez National Cemetery tomorrow morning. I don't know the history of this parade, but it has been a tradition in the black community here for at least 40 years, which is as long as Lyman can remember.

Nadine Crutchfield says it dates from World War II. Mr. Frank Williams, black veteran of World War II, says he marched in 1946, and the tradition was strong before that.

He tells me the veterans used to meet at the black veterans hall, then parade to the ferry landing before there was a bridge, march the four miles to the cemetery, partake in the ceremonies, then march the four miles back to the landing.

There's more to find out here.

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive. Here is a story in the May 31, 2004, Natchez Democrat that dates the tradition to Civil War veterans in 1868. Because the Natchez Democrat employs such young reporters, there is a glaring error in this story. The bridge linking Vidalia to Natchez was opened in September of 1940. There was only ferry service prior to that date.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

It's taped up and cut in. Lyman is rolling the first coat now.

Painter's tape is wondrous stuff. Thank you, 3M.

The painting is done.

Why, you ask, did you paint when you hired a painter last week? First, because the painter had more important chores; second, I hadn't chosen a color; and third, I like to keep my hand in. When we created the great room I painted the cabinets in the office and those in the kitchen. We are talking on the order of 60+ paneled doors and drawer fronts, four separate coats, with sanding in between. I like the work.

One year ago today my mother died. She would be pleased with the household improvements. She kept an immaculate house with seven children and without money.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Lucy's pal, Mr. Rushing, delivered to us a bright, white, clean pantry and a well-primed bathroom while we were gone. We figure the pantry was last painted in 1979 when Lyman moved into this house.

This afternoon I am studying the color wheel to decide what color to paint the bathroom walls. The tile is beige and the cabinetry a blue. The paint has to complement the menacing ceramic lizard that Lyman brought from the coast last trip. He will crawl down the wall.

It's a small space with a window at the back of the house far from Lucy. A coat or two of latex shouldn't bother her.

UPDATE: Iced Teal it is.

UPDATE: I complain sometimes about living in a small town -- lack of entertainment, poor grocery choices -- then I receive the bill from Mr. Rushing. In the bathroom, he took down the light fixture that has been up since 1962, repaired some moisture damage in the corner above the shower and prepped the walls for the final coats. In the pantry he repaired the dryer vent, Kilzed all surfaces, painted the walls and ceiling with latex, and painted three large shelf units and one smaller shelf unit with oil. His bill, including supplies, is $275. And we didn't need to supervise the work. In fact, he keeps a house key.

We took the SUV to the coast. Well, it's owned by the family. Since September I have driven the little '97 Escort wagon that we bought as a second car. Lyman has taken over the Tahoe. He doesn't care for me to drive it anymore because I adjust the seat and mirrors, etc., for comfortable and safe driving.

We stopped on our way in at Mr. Ike Byrd's produce stand in Loxley to order six 50 lb. sacks of new potatoes and three bushels of Silver Queen corn to bring home for family and friends. Fifty pounds of new potatoes cost $8.00. A bushel of corn sells for $13.00. Mr. Byrd was happy to meet Lucy. "We're cousins!" he said. We've been to the stand before, but didn't meet Mr. Ike.

On our way out we picked up our order. The potatoes were dug and the corn picked yesterday morning. While we were there I spotted gorgeous green beans that had been picked yesterday, too. Four messes of those, and the okra looked good enough to pick up a couple of boxes for okra and tomatoes and a fry.

With Lucy's gear we had a full load. (Lyman and I shared a canvas carry-all. Lucy had a small bag, her acrylic travel cage and her playtree.)

That's why we own an SUV.

One of the most interesting bits of the trip was the stop at the Waffle House in Loxley for a burger on the way home. We sat in one of the booths near the griddle.

A young man, probably a high school kid, was training as the prep cook, and it didn't look easy.

The cooks don't use tickets. They depend on coded calls from the waitresses, and they can be complicated. As it says on the menu, there are hundreds of ways to have the hash browns, since they can be topped with any combination of cheese, chili, onions, etc. and each ingredient is called with a verb -- "covered", "smothered", "dashed", etc. (Not verb. What is that part of speech? Adverb?) You can order any number of eggs in all familiar ways. Toast can be white, wheat or Texas. Burgers can be single, double, with cheese, or bacon. On and on.

The kid was responsible for setting up the plates, preparing toast and waffles, and adding garnishes. At the time of day we were there a middle-aged waitress was patiently working with him. It was going to be a long day for both of them.

I worked as a waitress in my younger days and have a lot of respect for both waitresses and kitchen staffs. Even with experience I would have been intimidated in the boy's place.

That was a quick trip to the beach, complicated by a brake caliper freezing in Hattiesburg. We fortunately made our way easily to a mechanic who righted the problem in a couple of hours.

We only had two full days, so didn't even pack swim suits.

In the shopping capital of Alabama I purchased these glamorous items: a new toilet seat (through maintenance), two king-sized pillows, two oven mitts, four pot holders, a mat for the patio door, a set of flatware and a key rack.

The key rack is a brass affair with five dolphins standing on their tails. The tails hold the keys. Will guests figure out what it is? Maybe I should have bought the raw piece at Wal-mart that was a wooden cut-out of the word 'keys' and spray painted it. We'll see.

There was some wicker unweaving at the foot of one of the dining chairs. I worked on that.

On Wednesday night we ate at Grazzi, an Italian restaurant. They serve a spinach salad with bacon, tomato, gorgonzola cheese and balsamic vinaigrette that I want to replicate at home. It was delicious, or I was hungry, or both.

The drive home was easy. I tried to teach Lucy to say "Lyman, are we there yet?", but she was having none of it.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Here's an interesting note from the Food Channel tonight: Rona Barrett, the gossip columnist, left Hollywood to become a lavender farmer in Santa Barbara. She has a line of lavender flavored foods and skin products.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

My, my. How did all that stuff fit in the pantry in the first place?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

What a chore cleaning this pantry is. I feel as though I am moving.

Mr. Rushing is my painter. He is a retired school principal. Choosy as Lucy is, she picked up his finger when he was last here.

When he painted the outside of the house a few years ago he whistled a lot, and talked to the frogs and lizards and birds and plants, even the mosquitos.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I am not a packrat. I am not a packrat.

I've done my work on the bathroom, and have moved to the pantry/utility room. No wallpaper there.

We are prepping these rooms to be painted while we are at the coast next week. I am not running from the work. I like picky little home improvement projects. But Kilz is coming into the picture, and Kilz and Lucy are not compatible.

So rather than killing one little bird with a surfeit of fumes, we'll attend to inventory there, so our renters this summer will have sturdy oven mitts, and better flatware, and such luxuries as should be awarded people who spend $1100 a week on rentals.

But what a mess in the pantry. For some reason, I have at one time held onto every tattered dishtowel and washcloth. I know we need rags. Old towels are necessary so the boys won't use current handtowels to wash their cars. But, really, Janis.

Then there is the collection of cheap bud vases, and every piece of Tupperware that Girl brought over here that belonged to her mother. Then there are excess party dishes. And the handsome '62 chrome Hamilton-Beach stand mixer needs to go to the attic. It wants replacing with a fat machine that is strong enough to knead dough. The little yoghurt maker that Daddy picked up at the flea market when I was in my healthful twenties needs to be trashed, much as I hate to do it, and we just don't have room for the toaster oven. I will keep the Panasonic juicer that I bought in the eighties that hasn't been fired for 20 years -- or maybe I'll try it first. And that stupid, stupid what?

Every other room in the house has been redone in the past ten years. These are past due.

I am not a packrat.

I don't want to hold a garage sale. I want a giveaway. But we know that someone would come snap all that crap up to sell to someone else.

And I need more garbage bags.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Being edgy can be of benefit. Particularly when you are taking care of wallpaper. We took down, this weekend, wallpaper that had been on the wall of the bathroom for 14 years. Lyman languished when his application of cold water to edges wouldn't take the stuff down. On instruction, from HGTV, we were to spray the paper with warm water and work from the edges. After our original assault, Lyman lost faith. He thought we should rent a steamer. What a child.

A mild application of warm water at the edges, with an assiduous application of a scraper took down the wallpaper within an hour. I worked from the edges, patiently, as they softened.

As an aside: I want to establish an organization called "Decorators Without Borders at 8 Feet or Less".

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Here's a cute cartoon from Craig Johnson at J-Birds.

Yes, free market and all that, but I can sympathize with the temple in its wish that the sellers of Great Buddha Boogers would change the product's name.

Sorry, that link is gone.

Friday, May 14, 2004

I like turtles, too.

(Link via Obscure Store)

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Qusay Hussein was, I think, poised to become the most dangerous man in the known world. He had the UN in his pocket. He, I think, was our imminent threat.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I just can't generate a large enough head of steam to put Martha Stewart in horizontal stripes. She was growing stout, and those stripes are so unflattering. I like this idea. From what I know of her, which is what you know, using her expertise for free would be enough punishment.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Happy Mother's Day. I received an e-mail from my sister yesterday. Her son, 25, took a fall on some stairs last week. He broke his leg. The tibia and the fibula. At an angle. I called her last night.

After nine calls to doctors in the region they wound up with one of the sports doctors to the Dallas soccer franchise. He asked for a second opinion. Patricia is satisfied with the doctor he recommended.

My nephew will go into surgery on Wednesday to have a plate inserted to stabilize the bones. He will be on crutches for 8 weeks.

The injury is not rare. The doctor says it's common in skate-boarders and roller-bladers, motorcycle accidents, but not everyone knows how to treat it.

Mamas do have hard times.

Monday, May 10, 2004

How far we have fallen. There is sometimes an ad at the top of this page for a "Tom Jones Tribute" website. Even the boys don't think I'm that dated.

Just testing this spanking new interface.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Why am I interested in Donna Brazile? She was born two years younger than me, 1959. My, when we hit about 10, it was a tumultuous time. She lived on the edge of New Orleans in Kenner, where the airport is now. I lived on the edge of Dallas, what is South Oak Cliff now. Her father was a janitor and her mother was a "domestic worker". Coulda been a maid, coulda been a cook. My father was a carpenter, my mother a housewife.

I guess she grew up with the same sort of dignified black teachers I grew up with.

For the Thursday three:

I haven't heard a bad word about our mayor, Hiram Copeland, in any sense that he has used the office for his benefit

no, I don't hold an office and don't plan to,

and three, I would decree that bicycle racks go back up. You can't park a bike in this town, and many Afro-Americans use them for transportation.

Is there a good profile of Donna Brazile? An interview? A thought of what she wants?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I have no affection for John Kerry, but I don't want to see him rail-roaded and the press, liberal and conservative alike, is doing it.

I want Harold Ford to grow into a Democrat I like.

You are welcome to tell me what this means (from Craig Johnson at J-Birds):

How can you tell your bird has broken something? Often the affected wing will droop - but not always. A leg may appear to be very weak or won't be used at all. Sometimes these are symptoms of different problems altogether. The only way to tell for sure is x-rays, so if you have doubts, always follow up any first-aid with your avian veterinarian.

The basic orthopedic principle in treating fractures is to stabilize the joint above and below the site. Here's how you would do that for a broken wing.

For parrots, which resist their bandages, an especially secure type of splint called the Figure 8 is your best bet.

Place the injured wing in the normal resting position near the body. Using vet wrap or an Ace bandage with Velcro, start the bandage inside the top of the wing. Roll it over the top of the wing and diagonally to the bottom edge of the wing.

Continue behind the wing back up to the top in a straight line. Now bring the bandage over the top of the wing again but this time roll it diagonally the other way to the lower edge directly below the starting point. Roll it behind the wing in a straight line back to where you started. The bandage should now cross in an X pattern on top of the wing and run parallel underneath it. Repeat one or two more times, keeping the wrap firm but not too tight.

To finish up, roll the bandage over the bird's back, under the opposite wing, around the body and back to the injured wing. This part also needs to be firm but not too tight! You want your bird's chest to be able to expand so he can breathe.

When the bandage is in place, and before you place the self-adhesive layer, check to ensure the bandaged wing is level with the unbandaged wing when folded. This simple check is quick assurance the bandaged wing is in proper position.

The finished figure 8 completely immobilizes the injured wing.

If the wings are unclipped, the tips of the primaries (the longest wing feathers) should lie on top of the secondary feathers. If they are under the secondary feathers, the top of the wing is flexed too much and the bandage needs to be loosened.

Technical writing is not elegant.

I woke this morning to Lucy stamping back and forth about her cage. She didn't call. Good girl.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

A construction mistake:

Two? Three? years ago we redid our kitchen. Part of construction was an island. We included a trash bin in the island nearest the sink. It's a good plan. It was originally built with hinges on the bottom to be a tilt-out bin, with chains to hold the upper edge. We found that the hinges break down with use.

We asked the carpenter to change the configuration to a pull-out bin. He installed heavy-duty drawer glides and it is working well.

But we have knob handles, and knob handles loosen with use. In our current configuration, we have no way to tighten the knob on the pull-out drawer, as the trash box proper is attached to the panel front. On the other hand, the screw will never loosen so much as to drop the knob. It's just an irritation. Avoid it if you can.