Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Skyrockets in flight ..." Oh, wrong song.

I have black-eyed peas and cabbage on the stove.

Anyway, here's a Happy New Year to you. Or, as Charlie says, "Good tidings."

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Don't ask me why, but Charlie's breast is showing some blood again. It heals a little, he jumps to the floor, or plays too hard, and the wound opens again.

I had an appointment with the vet on Thursday, but the skeleton staff was involved in an emergency surgery when I took him in.

It's up to me to use his antiseptic wash and ointment until I can get him back on Tuesday.

Charlie do not like this kind of treatment. The thing to do is wrap him in a towel to restrain him, then apply the medicines.

Lyman is afraid of him -- both to hold him and to apply the stuff. So the last two days, I've been learning to do this by myself. It can be done. I throw a small bath towel over him, flip him onto his back, then avoid those feet and that beak while I apply the antiseptic solution, then the cream.

Something I plan to do in future is "towel" him once a day or a few times a week. Then it won't be so traumatic when it's necessary. Books I've read in the past have suggested establishing this practice, just for this and other purposes. I neglected doing that -- and now I don't know why.

Take it from me. Go ahead and start young. Make it fun. Give the bird a treat afterward.
Gary Farber posted the New York Times account of James Brown's send-off at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

It's a shame that I don't have the voice of Emmylou Harris, or nearly anyone else.

(46 seconds)
Excuse me gentle souls, but I'll be damned if Charlie's first words this morning weren't "Good tidings."

Whoever heard a bird say that?

This little boy is bound to embarrass me badly one day.

Monday, December 25, 2006

It understates the case to say that I don't jump on new technology.

I've never owned a Walkman. I rarely use the cellphone. But I might need an Ipod Shuffle.

We gave some to the kids, and I like 'em and can see uses for one. Housework and yardwork come to mind immediately.
Christmas morning is a pretty nasty piece of work this year. It's overcast, drizzly, and chilly for these parts.

To compensate, Charlie's first words this morning were "We wish you a Merry Christmas!" Granted, they might well be his first words on January 6, April 10 and July 22, but they sit well today.

I was sitting here in the dark at about 6 this morning when I heard a low drone. Only occasionally do we hear an airplane or a jet here, so I wondered who was flying so early on Christmas day.

No one. That's Jason snoring on the couch.

I have, I think, managed to contract whatever upper respiratory illness is going around. But the party was Saturday, and our Christmas dinner proper was last night, and there are fixin's for ham sandwiches in the house, little buddies. I'm signing out of the kitchen for a day or two.

UPDATE: Maybe just one more thing.

The day after the food holidays, my mother would always cook a pot of plainly-seasoned (salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil) pinto beans to eat with cornbread. I think I'll do that now. Lyman won't care for them, but I will and my brother will.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Good grief! That's Nancy and Lyman!

(This link will dissolve quickly. It referenced a front-page photo of Nancy in a Santa suit washing Lyman's hair before cutting it.)

Here's a poor scan. The photographer was Marcus Frazier.
Merry Christmas

I have loved the Nevilles since I saw them on stage when I was, what, 22?

Friday, December 22, 2006

This might be the most interesting thing I've seen all season.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I can make biscuits, Auntie Em!

The recipe from Regina Charboneau made 58 with my little cutter.

Do not reroll the scraps, she advises. So I pushed some scraps together and baked a pan. They are light and tasty. Lyman complained that they were overcooked, but honey, that's what happens with scraps.

Lucy says "Two toes up!" She's a bread eater and a bread taster.

She needs the other two for balance.


In keeping with my new New Year's tradition of throwing out what is broken or unused, here is my bicycle.

It's been in storage for years, but Michael aired the tires and it's good as new. Very spiffy, burgundy with gold pin-striping.

If I don't ride it this year, next year it goes to the Sheriff's office. They have a Christmas program to revamp bikes for kids. (This is not an invitation to steal. Gimme a chance here.)

I was on it yesterday, and it do have some effects.

Megabeth laughs.
I am adding Stuart Buck to the blogroll because he is a gentleman, a scholar, a musician, and a family man.

His specialty in music is classical guitar.

I e-mailed him a few days ago to find his recommendations for a classical guitar Christmas album. He suggested this, or this, or this.

I like the Michael Ryan from the clips (it's a bit pluckier), but Ms. Boyd is no slouch.

Mr. Buck has no guitar Christmas music at home. Well, of course not. He plays it himself.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


And here is Lucy.
There is a house in New Orleans they call...

Actually, it's a restaurant on Esplanade called the "Port of Call". Fine hamburgers, stuffed potatoes and steaks, keeps many hours, has a top-notch jukebox and ...

the most interesting women's water closet.

For years, people have been collecting pictures and quotes which were decoupaged onto the walls. Last I saw, some trashies had done some graffiti with markers. I remarked on that to the waitress, and she said they would rectify that.

I receive a little money at Christmas myself, and I like to give a gift to the house.

We have one more wall in the guest room which will need something. I propose a large decoupaged canvas in basic black and white. Price of admission to sleep there is something the guest took from a magazine, a newspaper, a ticket, an e-mail, a receipt, a work notice.

When one canvas is filled (should that ever happen), we'll start another.

I can pay four or five hundred for art, but why can't we make our own?

It's an idea of mine, and Lyman says that's always dangerous.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Where I'm stuck on Christmas giving is the birds.

We have two new toys that we've kept since Lucy's birthday, but those just don't seem very personal.

Perhaps a Sunday New York Times for Charlie, because he likes to shred paper. (For size, not editorial quality, Times haters.) Or perhaps a big city phone book.

Lucy would, I think, like to take a little trip. Just a little one. She's never been to the local mall, for instance.

UPDATE: Ah, hah! I have a Baton Rouge phone directory lined up, due for a newspaper wrapping with big curly newspaper bows.
How many potholders did I make as a little girl? Enough to learn to use cotton loops, for sure, rather than the polyester blends.

How many did you make?

I'd forgotten about these looms until I saw them recently in Natchez.
I was just reading a post at Notes from the trenches.

What caught my eye was a comment from Liz in Australia:
Last Christmas, when finances were really tight, I made up a couple of gift baskets - a big one for the garden (she loves gardening), a smaller one of junk food that I don’t have room for in the grocery budget so she doesn’t get very often. They were a huge hit with her - and no clutter! This year she’s getting a basket of girly stuff (nail polish, hair thingies, etc) as well as another of food.
These were for a nine-year-old daughter. They sound like wonderful gifts to me, whether the budget is tight or not.

Friday, December 15, 2006

And so the holidays go on.

The young woman, E., from Baton Rouge is coming to spend the weekend.

Tomorrow night we are planning a lamb dinner, using this recipe, minus the chick pea salad, adding yellow rice and grilled zucchini.

My brother will be part of that.

And Lyman's younger boy called last night, saying he'll be coming in on next Saturday.

His friend has requested a party at our house that evening, which just means that he wants Lyman to cook. Which means that I help. This is not a problem. It's something of a return to the norm of several years ago with some wives added.

We already have filling for Natchitoches Meat Pies, and, and ... well, something.

UPDATE: Hmmm. We have a half dozen tag-ends of soup in the freezer. Another substantial nosh and a platter of crudites would do the trick.

What about Regina's biscuits with some ham?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I have been working for a week on creating some video for Charlie fans, and this is what we have now. Next year we'll work on Hanukkah. He is still not working well with the camera, so you can glimpse him over behind the swing.

Perhaps as a gift to myself and to you I'll work on all the catchy little effects for movies soon.

I imagine we can expect to have Christmas in July at our house.

(54 seconds long)
I received a Christmas card from my niece in Tennessee with a birth announcement enclosed.

We have another little girl in the family as of November 8.
I dreamed last night that we had moved away from the river to the bank of a small and not very pretty stagnant lake.

I have been threatened, terrified, mortified, delighted, and sexually gratified in dreams, but I don't think I've ever been so disappointed.

UPDATE: I think I can tell you why.

Last night Lyman and I made cream of chicken with artichoke soup.

This morning I called my gay brother to invite him to pick some up. He doesn't cook much, usually eats lunch out, and likes a light meal for supper.

Lyman's Southern Baptist dad came in the afternoon, and asked, "What's left over?" So I heated a bowl of soup for him. He picked up the Baton Rouge Advocate and started to eat.

Charles walked in and greeted us. Lyman's dad said, "Sorry, I'm eating it all up."

Charles sat down at the bar with Big Daddy, whereupon they proceeded to ask about each other, and talk about news. My brother picked up another section of the paper, and the two sat peacefully while I packed things for him.

They conversed some more, with Big Daddy offering Charles another of our satsumas. And so the simple afternoon went on, until it was time for Charles to walk his dog, and Big Daddy to go home to his wife.

And that is how life should be.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Now, for Christmas we're getting ready to roll:

The prime rib is in the freezer for this recipe.

The turtle is in the freezer and Lyman is roasting bones this night for the stock for turtle soup from this book.

Lyman worked up a dandy stuffed potato the other day, and we're still considering vegetables.
Speaking of you, I have a question, you launderers.

What do you consider the best stain treatment out now?

I have used Shout and Spray N' Wash and I'm not particularly happy with either of them.

Do you use something better?
So, how's our progress on teaching Charlie "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"?

We're up to "We we Christmas, and a cute birdie boy."

Works for me, but not necessarily for you.

"You" is a big lack in his vocabulary.
Nothing here. I can't even come up with a gratuitous photo.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Done deal.

The cake was just fine.

I'll grant this is not at all a big deal, but Lor' I do hate to cook in the morning.

UPDATE: Charlie didn't say a word. Didn't even make a noise.
We have a little change of plan.

I literally dropped the squash casserole, so we'll be serving fried okra instead. It's better anyway.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Be still, my heart. Chicken-fried bacon with cream gravy at Sodolak's in Snook, Texas.

(Thank you, Ms. Althouse.)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Italian Cream Cake

And here we are, all ready to pack off with my mother-in-law after the lunch on Friday.

As seldom as I bake a cake, it deserves a picture.
Baking an Italian Cream Cake this evening:


1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
2 cup sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3-1/2 oz. coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
5 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Cream butter and shortening; add sugar and beat until mixture is smooth. Add egg yolks and beat well. Combine flour and soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Stir in vanilla extract. Add coconut and nuts. Fold in egg whites. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until done.


1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 16 oz. box powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts

Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth; add sugar and mix well. Add vanilla; beat until smooth. Stir in nuts. Spread on cool cake.

I usually make at least half again as much frosting for a good cover and fill for the cake.

The ten-inch knife makes quick work of chopping pecans.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas Tree 2006

So there you are. That's our Christmas tree.

Don't laugh. This is a potted Leyland Cypress that we plan to use for a tree for a year or two or three, then plant in the yard.

Its little branches are fine and can't take much weight.

Lyman says it's ugly, the ugliest he's ever had. So what? Only my mother thought I was a charmer as a baby. Scroll down this page to see how ugly Lucy was as a baby.

I only hope that when he grows up tall he won't be hit by disease.

That Norfolk Pine in the left background has been the Christmas tree here for four or five years and it's outgrowing the ceiling. Planted outside, the poor thing will freeze some year, probably sooner than later.

UPDATE: Like this morning. It was 21 degrees outside when I woke, up from 18.
I have been working some with Charlie on the first stanza of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

He has come as far as "We, we, we." Sounds like the little piggy on his way home.

On his own, he has started saying, "Y'all want some veggies?"
I read Michael Malone's First Lady this weekend, and found it a treat.

I'm a sucker for amusing repartee in novels, and Malone has it in spades. Reviewers say his earlier books are better, so I'll be looking him up again.

Interesting that he won an Emmy for his work on the soap opera "One Life to Live."
Christmas cards from our house this year have this motif, found at the shop "One of a Kind" in downtown Natchez.

And the addressed cards are on the box waiting for the mail carrier. Unheard of to have them ready so early, not that we send many.

UPDATE: Just a note that here one can find a full set of engravings of Robert Furber's Twelve Months of Fruits from 1732 for $35,000.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

All right, already!

Kate is complaining that I don't have an RSS feed on this site.

What do I do?

UPDATE: Now, check the index to the left there, and click on the orange icon. Does that work?
Glenda and I went shopping in Natchez on Saturday.

It has a small downtown, but there are shops with lots of decorative items and funky, fad clothes.

For anyone interested, here are a number of photos taken by tourists in Natchez. They capture the flavor of the town pretty well.

I found a perfect silly Tiger fan thing for the "boys" stockings at "Sun, Moon and Stars."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hoot owl

This page needs a little visual relief.

Since my birds wouldn't cooperate, this guy out in the oak tree on the corner will have to stand in.

Hey, Good Lookin!

UPDATE: This one appears to be a Barred Owl, commonly known in the South as the "hoot owl". If it's the one I've been hearing, it has a big voice.

These owls are not at all rare, but I've never seen one in the broad daylight in the front yard, and wouldn't have seen this one if Michael hadn't seen it fly onto its perch here.
Next Friday is our Christmas luncheon. The menu is shrimp cocktail with red sauce, a self-select salad bar (I'm tired of scraping $4 lb. vegetables off people's plates), stuffed bell peppers (well, they are red and green), mashed potatoes, two-cheese squash casserole, garlic bread, and Italian cream cake (MIL's favorite).

They can take it or leave it.

I've gone the route of homemade vinaigrettes to have the diners ask for ranch or Kraft French. Not this year.

UPDATE: My brother said something years ago that I've taken to heart: "I'm tired of beating my head against the wall. Let's beat yours for a change."
Today is Lyman's older son's birthday. He is 39.

Last night's celebration dinner was champagne (not Perrier Jouet), boiled crabs, Oysters Rockefeller and New Orleans style barbecued shrimp.

Chef Tony will complain that we didn't do the BBQ shrimp from scratch, but we've tried a half-dozen recipes that don't produce a product as good as this mix does.

Ben, a long-time friend of both sons came, and his sister E. later. Those handsome kids look alike, with exactly the same distinctive, and I think very attractive, Roman nose.

Well, E. wants a nose job. I think it's totally unnecessary and will actually reduce the quality of her looks, making her more average and less striking. She has a blonde Italian-type beauty. Ben is going into conniptions trying to talk her out of it.

"Come here," he pleaded to me. "Tell her, tell her, she doesn't need to change her nose."

I could only say that if I looked like her, I wouldn't change a thing. Silly girls.
Oh dear, Lucy.

She has another egg this morning.