Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year, New Adventures

I'm determined to start the new year off on the right foot.  No promises of exercise or diet, just new things to do and learn. Maybe that's brain exercise. 

I'm excited about my new volunteer work with Dark Horse Rescue. Thrilled at the purchase of my new Pfaff quilting machine, even though on my way to get it, I was sideswiped by a redneck woman in a truck with Arkansas tags who just kept going despite my following her for a mile. (yes I know this is a run on sentence)

Determined to make progress with my dogs. Oh, and as far as people go, I'll spend time with them too—husband, children, grandchildren, friends.

Thank all of you who have read the blog this year. In case you are interested, here are the most popular blogs:

#1.  In the top spot was Deception thy Name is Divinity. I'm not surprised because my son linked it to his Facebook page and to his business website for Senior Care Management Solutions. 

#2.  Second was I Forgot a Couple, a gallery of some of my quilts.

#3.  Third went to Where's the Water? about the breaking of the levy on our three-acre lake.

I started this blog right after I retired in June 2010, but didn't make a real effort to keep it up until September. Since, we have had 1,749 viewers.

The most unusual was from Kopi Luwak Suryana. You remember the world's most expensive and most wonderful coffee mentioned in the movie, "The Bucket List?" Well check them out.  

I'm always open to ideas, so let me know what's on your mind and don't forget to subscribe and join so you can comment on the blog and not on Facebook.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thanks to our advertisers in 2011!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Who's rescuing who

I talked to one of my horse show friends the other day. She knows that I haven't done much with horses in eight years.  She said, "if you want to get a horse fix and don't want to do hard riding, why don't you come with me to Dark Horse Rescue?  I volunteer there every Tuesday."

Dark Horse Rescue is located near Hernando, MS.

DHR has been rescuing horses and placing them in forever homes since early 2009. "Our goal is to give horses a brighter future by providing them with proper nutrition, medical care, training and love then place them in a forever home," says Director Christy Gross on their Facebook page.

"Currently we have horses of all ages and riding disciplines in need of a good home. DHR volunteers work very hard to give each horse the love and care it deserves. We put a lot of time and effort into what we do and are proud of our horses and what they become because of our program. Our experience and knowledge is used to educate the public on the proper care and maintenance of the horse," says Gross.

Volunteer Faye Roberson helps at feeding time. 
So, today, I tagged along.  It did my heart good to fill feed buckets, throw hay and groom.  As I ran the rubber grooming pad over the horse's rump to loosen the caked mud, I felt myself begin to relax. She stood perfectly still as I brushed her, even her legs and feet, and detangled her tail. I couldn't resist getting the scissors and trimming her uneven mane.

Sasha is a 4-year-old registered quarter horse mare. Her papers say she is black, but she is turning blue roan. She is only about 13.3 hands high. When Sasha first came to DHR she was extremely thin and had not been cared for. She had scars covering her body and did not trust anyone. (see below left, second pic)

It actually felt good to get back in my "barn clothes"—not-so-gently-worn jeans, muck boots, vest (so you can peel off layers if you get hot), deerskin gloves.  Better than business board room clothes any day.

I wasn't the only rookie volunteer. Jane Alderman was shown the feeding routine and got a lesson on grooming from Lindsey Champagne. (see below, left, top)

Lindsey just happens to be the daughter-in-law of volunteer coordinator Susan Champagne. Feeding and caring for horses means time and money. DHR gladly accepts donated feed items or hay. Champagne keeps a neatly-organized schedule of her volunteers to make sure all time slots are covered.

Today she was cleaning the stall of AJ, who is confined inside due to a hoof injury.  Overall, it was a delightful, sunny day in the well-kept barn.  I don't really know who benefits more—the horses or the volunteers. This sign hanging in the barn hall is full of wisdom. I guess I'll go back next week.

For more information, visit the DHR web site at or find them on Facebook.

Volunteer Coordinator Susan Champagne
Jane and Lindsey


Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Wish

I want to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS.  No matter what society says, I'm saying "Merry Christmas!"  Celebrating the birth of Jesus is one of our freedoms that I feel blessed to have.  I can't count my blessings—there are too many.  Thank you for reading, and I'll be thinking about new blog ideas for 2012.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Deception thy name is divinity

Never a Christmas comes and goes that I don't think about my Mama making Divinity candy.  There are two versions of this family legend.

Her version:  "I think I won your Daddy's heart by making candy.  I tried every recipe I knew, and he thought I was a really good cook."

Daddy's version:  "When we were dating, your Mama made the most wonderful candy for me.  After we got married, I soon realized that was all she could make.  Nothing for dinner."

My version:  Mama always made Divinity at Christmas.  The weather had to be right. No humidity.  I've seen her throw a whole batch away and wait a day to start again.  She had certain rules in this Divinity making.

1.  It needed to be cold
2.  No mixer was allowed
3.  I got to "lick the bowl"—meaning I got to scrape the bowl for any remaining candy when she was through.

When I looked through her little recipe book in the candy section, which just happens to be the largest section, I also found fudge, praline drops, peanut brittle, date loaf, caramel fudge,  and chocolate dip candy.  It's a wonder she didn't send Daddy into a sugar coma before they ever got married.

She sometimes made the Divinity with chopped pecans only. Other times she added chopped pecans and topped it with a perfect pecan half.  She was very adamant about the no mixer rule.  My Great Aunt Ruth, who lived with us, was the dietician at Northwest in the 1950s and '60s.  She usually had Mama make a beautiful tray of Divinity which was delivered to the McLendons.  R.D. McLendon was the president of the college.

We had a set of cooking spoons that Daddy had brought home from Germany in WWII.  They were oversized spoons. She would use one to beat the candy until it was the right consistency.  When she was through, there was usually a blister in the palm of her hand.

If she didn't think the temperature was right in the house, she would go outside and sit on the steps to continue beating.  And she also did this because all this whipping, whisking, and beating made her hot.

Peanut brittle was also a production. She would pour the hot candy, mixed with paraffin, right out on the kitchen counter.  I wanted to help so bad. If you grow up in a house with three women (Mama, my Grandmother, and Aunt Ruth) you don't learn to cook until you leave home.

Mamay, my grandmother, had a candy specialty too.  She made taffy the old-fashioned way—pulling it over and over until it turned from a soft ball into a long strip. When it cooled she would break it with the blunt end of a knife and put it on wax paper.  She would give me a little piece to try to pull.  It didn't get long and pearly white like hers did.  She would pull it until it snapped when she brought the two ends together.  Mine would go from a small, gooey ball, into a long brown gooey strip.  Needless to say, we didn't eat the one I pulled.

Marjorie Latham Dandridge in the kitchen in the 1950s when we lived in the house on Hwy. 51 where Ever Blooms is now.   She must have posed for this picture, because that was NOT her usual kitchen attire.

I've said all this to say what is really important. I brought my mother home from the hospital in 1993—18 years ago on Dec. 23—with a terminal lung cancer diagnosis.  She also suffered from Parkinson's disease, macular degeneration, heart disease, and chronic depression. Hospice came to set up equipment right before Christmas.

For those of you have lost loved ones this year or for those who have lost friends and family at Christmastime, I offer you hope. You never forget. But time does make a difference.

This Christmas I don't see Mama in those final years with oxygen, wearing a wig from taking chemotherapy, and looking pale. I see her sitting on the back porch at our house on Lafayette Street, in her "pedal pushers" and house shoes, her breath making a fog in the cold, beating Divinity candy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's A Dog's Life

Everybody loves dogs. Maybe I should say most people love dogs....dogs that play ball in the back yard, swim in the pond, get dirty and point a quail or retrieve a duck.  

I'm at a four-day AKC show at the trade mart of the fairgrounds in Jackson, Miss.  It is co-sponsored by the Brandon Kennel Club of Mississippi and the Mississippi State Kennel Club.

If you haven't seen the grooming area of a dog show, take a tour with me.  While some of these dogs are also pets, most live a different lifestyle.

Although I don't show, I have traveled with one of my BFFs the past two years to shows in Jackson, Tupelo, Franklin, Tenn,; to visit her breeder in Middle Tennessee; and to a herding trial in Kentucky.

In my career in public relations I often went backstage at the beauty pageants to get pics of the girls and their stage moms in their frenzied dressing rituals, teasing hair, applying make up, taping certain unmentionable things and all this done in an aerosol haze of product spray.  The grooming area at a dog show is no different except the dogs behave better than the girls.

So let's take a look at some of the breeds represented at this show.

(Top photo)  A male Chow Cow lets you get a look at his characteristic blue-black tongue.

Bichon Frises basically a curly white lap dog, gets a last minute touchup. (left)

This is a Kerry Blue Terrier, a breed of dog from Tipperary in South Central Ireland, Many uses for the breed include rodent control, herding, and guard dog. (below left)

A Brussels Griffon returns to his crate after his time in the ring. (second blow)

A female Tri-Colored Rough Collie gets a dental exam before her class by handler Kim Christopher.  Dogs, just like humans need to have their teeth checked regularly. (below left) 

This Bouvier des Flandres gives his owner an affectionate kiss.

These are just a few of the beautiful animals at the show. You still have time to check out the show on the fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Beats a Snowball?

When I left you last, we were talking about the weather being "cold as flugens." That was a favorite expression of my daddy's.  According to /general-discussion/flugens/, "it functions as an intensifier."  An entry can also be found in The Dictionary of American Regional English (vol. 2); Frederic G. Cassidy, Joan Houston Hall (eds.); 1991; the President and Fellows of Harvard University.  The word is chiefly Southern. The earliest example dates to 1830.  One of the 1954 references mention that the word "is not common, but still heard."  It's heard around our house. 

All this talk about origins of expressions came from two sources. As I said yesterday, my sister-in-law suggested it last weekend. Just before I saw her, my husband and I had a heated discussion about a phrase their daddy used.

We got a new television for the upstairs bedroom. The one we were watching was a leftover from my horse showing days. It was in the living quarters of our trailer. It was fine there, but when you put it across the room, it is like watching TV on the back of a cereal box.

So, as we were hooking the set up, Howard notes the picture quality isn't as good as it is downstairs, "But," he says, "It beats a snowball."

What?  What in the world are you talking about? He thought everybody had heard that expression and knew what it meant.  "My daddy said it.  Your daddy said it," he said. "You beats a snowball."

This longhorn steer ornament on our Christmas tree looks like he has had nothing to eat but snowballs. 

I'm beginning to think dementia has set in.  So I researched it, and this is what I found out. 
Evidently, it was found in beef cattle lingo and has agricultural origins. For example, a farmer might put out bad hay that the cows weren't excited about eating.  The farmer would say, "Well it beats a snowball."  

Howard reminded me that farmers used to say of a bad hay season, "Nothing to eat out there but fresh air and sunshine."  I must not have been paying attention when feeding was discussed in my farming household.

I have more from my family and my in-laws, but what about yours?  Give me some input. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Marathon quilting session leads to needed intervention

Abby and the marathon quilt
Readers and advertisers, I am so sorry I have been absent for several days.  As the off the mark cartoon suggests, I do, indeed, need a quilting intervention.

I had three days to finish my dear little friend Abby's quilt for her shower. I sewed nine hours one afternoon and into the night.  The reason—fabric I ordered in plenty of time for a leisurely quilting experience went to a Nancy Patterson in Windham, ME.  The company then recut it and sent it out express delivery. It missed the deadline by two days. Fabric was sitting in a post office in California.

After all the late night sewing, it was worth it.  Abby loved her quilt.  I have sworn off sewing for at least a week or until my neck will let my head move again—whichever comes first. 

As for future posts, my dear sister-in-law suggested that we talk about the origins of expressions.  Send me some of the sayings that your parents, grandparents or friends have used over the years, and I'll see what I can find out about their origins.

All I know is that today with the snow it was "cold as flugens."  We'll talk about that one tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Santa makes special visit this Saturday

Photo provided by STC Animal Shelter
This is the second promotional piece of the week.  I thought you should be reminded that Santa is paying a special visit to the Senatobia Community Center this Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. when he stops by to pose with some of Tate County’s special friends—dogs and cats who are brought in by loving “parents.”

“This fundraiser for FOSA (Friends of the Shelter Animals) will benefit FOSA’s spay/neuter program,” said Lynn Resneck, FOSA president.  "The organization has been busy this year with the opening in July of a surgical unit that is used to spay/neuter animals for the Senatobia-Tate County Animal Shelter before they are adopted out,” said Resneck.

According to STC Animal Shelter Director Heidi Terrell, since April 1, 2011 (the beginning of the shelter’s fiscal year), there have been 283 adopted pets. Since opening in April of 2009, 1,138 pets have found homes, thanks to the shelter.

“Since July 1 of this year, every pet adopted (137) has been altered,” said Terrell. “Whether we use the Mississippi State mobile surgical unit, the new unit at the shelter or a vet clinic, all funds for spay/neuter come from FOSA combined with the adoption fee.”

According to Terrell, public response has been positive that a pet can be spayed or neutered for a fee of $45 for dogs and $35 for a cats.” Adoption rates are $35 for dogs for a total adoption cost of $80. The fee for adopting a cat is $25 for a total cost of $60.

Special photo sleeve by Renate Ferreira

Some of these special animals will likely be in line for a Santa Photo.  FOSA board members will be on hand to assist with pets, which must be contained in a carrier or on a leash. Photographer Malcolm Morehead of the Batesville will be taking the Christmas pictures.

Participants will receive a 4 x 6 print inside a custom-designed photo sleeve. A donation of $10 for each animal photographed is requested. Additional prints may also be purchased.

For more information, contact the shelter at (662) 562-0070.  The Senatobia Community Center is located on Southern Street.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lane Tutor shows off recent works at this weekend's Christmas Sale

I don't usually devote my blog space to promotions, but I'm going to do it twice this week. Today artist Lane Tutor is taking my space.  He is busy hanging paintings and carefully placing pottery in his barn studio in preparation for his Christmas Sale, set for Saturday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 4 from noon to 6 p.m.

Tutor at work in his studio.

I first met Lane when I was a student news intern for the Northwest Mississippi Community College campus radio station. That was 1973. He had been a faculty member at Northwest for one year. My first news interview was with Tutor and his mentor Jac Young to promote their two-man art exhibition.  Jac talked and answered questions in his charming way. Every time I looked at Tutor for a quote, he just looked down and squirmed.  That quiet side is not so evident today.

Tutor retired from his teaching position in 2007.  He now has time for his own artistic endeavors from his home studio in Senatobia. He now works from his barn studio behind his home in Senatobia. In addition to throwing and/or handbuilding functional pottery, Tutor also sculpts his Christmas Kings and more abstract pieces to be used outdoors as well as in the home. All pottery is stoneware or porcelain and fired to cone 10 in a gas kiln. All wares are dishwasher, microwave and oven safe because of the high 
firing temperature. All glazes are hand-mixed and cover the color spectrum.

Recently Tutor's art was featured at Buckley's restaurant in Memphis. "Lane and owner Ken Vick (Vick's photos of Tutor are in this blog) got to talking about art, and now Ken is the proud owner of one of Lane's face jugs," says wife Susan Tutor. Face jugs are a very old expression of pottery and Lane has been influenced by Jerry Brown of Hamilton, Ala., with his face jugs.

Susan says after 50 years as a practicing artist, Lane is still passionate about his art. Besides pottery he is often found in his barn studio painting the vividly-colored sunsets often found in Mississippi, especially in the Delta. That region is special to Tutor since he grew up around Crowder and has been heavily influenced by the beauty of the Delta skies and landscapes.

Tutor received both bachelor's and master's degrees from The University of Mississippi, and he is a devoted Ole Miss sports fan.

He and Susan reside in Senatobia.  Tutor has two adult sons, Chad of Memphis; and Jared of Oxford.

Tutor's Christmas Kings

The sale will include functional ware, paintings, and his Christmas Kings. You can contact Tutor at (662) 562-9619.  Find him on Facebook and check out the Tutor Pottery page.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Here today, gone tomorrow

Yesterday I decided it was time to get out the Christmas decorations. I used to think this HAD to happen on Thanksgiving night.  Now, I'm two days later.  This could be a trend I enjoy.

In going up and down the steps, bending and stooping, I got rather warm. It was a warm day with winds so high there was a severe wind advisory for our area. At one point I even contemplated turning on the air conditioning, but knew I'd be scolded.

Today we wake up to much colder temperatures and rain.  When I looked in my nearly-empty pantry, my husband said, "You better stock up. It may snow."  That, in this part of the country, means go to the grocery store and get milk and bread.  Do people in snow-heavy states, say Vermont, feel the need to grocery shop from October to April?  Just wondering.

Well, according to the Weather Channel, Monday, there is 50 percent chance of rain/snow showers with the high predicted for 39 and the low for 35.  More snow showers, 60 percent chance, are also on tap for Tuesday with highs in the upper 40s and a low of 31.

Do any of you remember the big snow of March 22, 1968 when we, in this part of the state, ended up with an impressive 16.5-17 inches of snow? The day before I had been outside in shorts,  I know that's not a lot of snow if you live in North Dakota or Alaska, but it Mississippi, that's big snow. 

I say that to reinforce the saying, "If you don't like the weather in Mississippi, just wait a day or two and it will change." I don't know who said that, and I certainly don't want to be accused of plagiarism, but how true.

I guess all the school administrators are counting the days left in the semester and checking the weather and worrying. I used to be in their shoes.

All I know is that I have Diet Cokes and quilting material, and if it snows, you know where I'll be.

Snow in Barr 2006 (HP)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Talk

OK, I know I said I was taking a break. But since I've been cooking all day, I've had time to think about some Thanksgivings past.  I think I'll share two of the most memorable.

About 1992, when we still lived in town. I had put a turkey in the oven in one of those roasting bags. When it was finally done and falling apart, the following scene took place.

Me:  Thank goodness it's done.  (I open the over door)

Howard:  Stand back. You know you are too clumsy to take that out of the oven without dropping it. (He reaches in and grabs the pan.)


Hayley:  (About 11 years old)  Olivia, Jason, come quick!  Daddy dropped the turkey on the floor!  Hahahahahahahaha.

Me:  Great.

Another one.

About 1996.  I'm cleaning up the kitchen and washing the electric knife that I had carefully used to slice the turkey, without incident.  I reach across for something and slice my finger. Blood is going everywhere.  It looks like the Dan Akroyd  version of Julie Child on Saturday Night Live.

Me:  I think I need a cold towel.

Jason:  Oh man, you really sliced it.

Howard:  (From his recliner, not looking)  Do you need a bandaid?

Jason:  I think it's a little late for a bandaid.  I can see white stuff in there.

Me:  I think I better go get some stitches.

Howard:  Emergency Room! Your favorite place.  

Jason takes me to the ER and they don't take me immediately. 

We wait.  They finally call me.

Jason:  Can you tell them to hurry. I really didn't plan to spend all night here. I have plans.

Me:  I'll try. Sigh

Happy Thanksgiving. May there be no turkeys on the floor or blood on the counter.

Monday, November 21, 2011

See revision in War Horse blog

Anticipation of War Horse and reminiscing

It's been almost 10 years since I owned a horse. My horse friends always ask me, "Don't you miss it?  .....the showing, the competition, the horses?"  I always say, "No. I don't miss the work that comes with owning horses. I just don't think my back could take it anymore. But my daughters do."

If you don't show or own horses, that means, mucking out stalls, hooking and unhooking giant trailers, feeding in the hot summer and on cold winter mornings, loading and unloading feed, and the bills!  Oh my, I don't know how I ever did it. Bills for vets, bills for farriers (the horses had more expensive shoes than I did), feed bills, show fees, gas bills to shows.

Even though I won a horse trailer in 2001 and had a living quarters area, shows were expensive.  And staying in that tiny space with a high school senior was not fun. My youngest daughter was a pain that last year we showed, but maybe it was worth it. She is the one who still misses it. So does my middle child Hayley.  She's the one who ran barrels and made my heart start skipping beats. Maybe that's what's wrong with me.

Olivia and Gray Up Sonny in 2001, her senior year.

But if you look at my DVD collection, you might not know that I'm not interested in horses anymore. There you will find Secretariat, Seabiscuit, The Horse Whisperer (that one may be because of Robert Redford. I know he's getting older, but so am I), and Dreamer, just to name a few. If you look in my blog archives, you'll see quite a few that mention horses.

I guess if I'm totally honest, I do miss horses. I don't miss the things in the above paragraphs, but I miss the smell of a well-fed, clean horse. When you put your arms around his neck, your nose automatically goes to that space where the neck joins the chest. You inhale. Trainers will tell you to only pat horses on their rump or neck and never pet their faces. Since I once had a biter, I know that is good advice. But every once in awhile you can work in a hug.

I miss the rhythm of horses. Nothing better than riding at a good working walk to calm the nerves. And circles. You lunge in circles, ride in circles, reverse and ride in the other direction. I like circles.

Hayley, the day after we brought her pleasure horse, Impress Claude, home. You can still see saddle sweat. 

The smell of saddle leather is intoxicating. It reminds me of my Daddy and his leather shop, and of upscale fancy tack shops and of plain old work saddles.

Uh oh!  I feel a nostalgic tear starting to well in my eye. My husband is thinking, "Oh no!" And my daughter is thinking, "Yeah!"

Me showing GUS and hoping he wouldn't bite my arm off. 
I have a friend who occasionally goes to Brazil for training in her chosen horse discipline. I won't mention names (SW), but she says there a well-dressed stable hand grooms the horse, saddles and and helps you up from a mounting block.  When the ride is over, he greets you, holds the horse, helps you off the mounting block, and hands you a glass of wine. THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.

I got off track with this emotional stuff. The real reason for this blog is to urge you to make plans to go see War Horse, opening in theaters Dec. 25.  Whether you are a fan of horses, a war buff, or just like Steven Speilberg movies, this sounds like the perfect Christmas gift. Can't wait to add it to my DVD collection.  Take a look.   Happy Trails.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's all in the lingo

Can you tell which terms go with which of my interests?
If you read my background, you will note that I've spent most of my life on or around horses. My career has been in journalism, and now retired, I am quilting. What does this mean?  It means that my head is filled with useless jarjon, lingo.  It's funny how every hobby, craft, occupation, and sport has its own lingo. 

I have learned the parts of a horse, the parts of a sentence, and now and working on quilt speak.  If I learn the quilt terms, does that mean another set of lingo will be deleted in my brain?

Lingo has given us a few laughs. When my middle daughter was on the horse judging team and participated in horse bowl, every time she had the word Bog Spavin she and her coach would both have to hold back the laughs. It's just a funny-sounding term.

In case you want to know a bog spavin is a swelling of the tibiotarsal joint of the horse's hock which, in itself, does not cause lameness. The joint becomes distended by excess synovial fluid and/or thickened synovial tissue bringing about a soft, fluctuant swelling on the front of the joint, as well as in the medial and lateral plantar pouches.

See, I haven't needed to say bog spavin in at least 18 years.

Then there is journalism lingo which is different from broadcast lingo. One day at my former place of employment we were in a "whirling dervish" as my director liked to call a very busy day. We were cranking out press releases, stuffing envelopes (this was before e-mailing press packets), answering phones, well—you get the picture.

Another department was looking at a press release we had sent them to check for accuracy. One person called with an amused tone in his voice, and said, "We just want to know what a slug is." We were not amused.  It is a term by journalists for journalists meaning something that is tagged a the beginning of a news story to let editors know the basic content of the story. Copy desks receive tons of copy, and they like to be able to identify things quickly. This was especially important when there was no Internet, and everything came over a "wire," such as the Associated Press.

And now I'm on to quilting. I'm still learning terms. My first meeting I knew I might be in over my head when the group threw around such lingo as, "fat quarters, feed dogs and stipple."

I wondered if there were lingo dictionaries, and there are!  Among the interesting ones are the Urban Dictionary, Text Message Translator, Surf Lingo, Slang Dictionary, Carny Lingo—On the Midway,  and my favorite, Pirate Lingo Dictionary.

It's a good thing that I no longer have to memorize phone numbers. My cell phone does that for me. That leaves more room in my brain for all those words I only use every few years.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dermatology Clinic of North Mississippi

Nonni In Barr blog welcomes our newest advertiser, 
Dermatology Clinic of North Mississippi.  
Thanks Dr. Terri Henson.

 Friend us on facebook or visit our website at

Sunday, November 13, 2011

At the End of the Day, we need change

 "You’d think these talking heads could think outside of the box to write copy better than anyone on the planet and at the end of the day, what's not to like?"
            Come on journalists, give me a break.  Since I’ve retired, I’ve been watching TV a lot, or at least listening to it while I do other things.  This seems to be the year of the clichés, if you know what I mean.
Journalists are supposed to be creative, original, just-the-facts-ma’am-kind of people.  But if you listen you will hear newscasts riddled with clichés. Print journalists don’t seem to be as bad.
 According to Simon and Schuster’s 6th edition of Handbook for Writers, “clichés are worn-out expressions that have lost their capacity to communicate effectively because of overuse.”
 You’d think these talking heads could think outside of the box to write copy better than anyone on the planet and at the end of the day, what's not to like?
During the Casey Anthony trial, if they had said, “at the end of the day,” one more time I would have snatched the cable out of my wall.
 Here are some other offending phrases documented by groaners.htm:  (I love the title of this blog, groaners!  Ha.)

            Learning curve: 771 articles
            Way beyond: 746 articles
            A no-brainer: 651 articles
            Game changer: 524 articles
            Perfect storm: 520 articles
            Raising awareness: 405 articles
            Elephant in the room: 353 articles
            Not fit for purpose: 327 articles
            Out of the box: 229 articles
            What’s not to like?: 206 articles

Who knew that journalists would stoop to such depths as communicators.   Come on P.R., journalism, broadcast majors and advisers; editors and publishers, let’s get a quick fix on this problem?


Former broadcaster, journalist, P.R. practitioner, and recipient of many marks of the red pen.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dandridge recounts horrors of Buchenwald—a Veteran's Day tribute

A year ago today I was sitting in my home office, and thought I’d put up this photo on Facebook of my Daddy and just say thank you to all the men and women who have served our country. I got out his World War II scrapbook, which was falling apart. I’d never looked at it really good because the pages were so fragile. I turned pages carefully and came across a packet of photos turned face down with a piece of paper taped over them. 

“I opened them. They were photos taken in the furnaces of Buchenwald prison. While I was looking at them, I got an E-mail from my daughter Olivia. She had done a google search on Daddy, must have been thinking along the same lines, and found a letter he had written in 1945 to his friend Alan Burkett in Dora, NM. It had been republished in the spring of 2010 on the anniversary of D-Day. Apparently it had been picked up by several publications including some military journals.”

My dad was not a war hero. He was an Army medic. He was inducted into the Army on May 8, 1943.  He was assigned to the 512th Military Police Battalion and was stationed in Camp Shelby, Miss. until Sept. 1943. He served as an Amy medic and was stationed in the campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland and the Battle of Central Europe.

I never heard Daddy talk much about his war experiences, except to tell me the stories of the German and English children he befriended or to describe the beautiful countryside.  That’s why I was so shocked to see this letter. I knew he was a medic, but had no idea of the situation described in the letter.

Here is the letter in which he describes the horrors of Buchenwald Prison camp, only two weeks after it was liberated. Published by permission from the Portales News Tribune in Portales, N.M.

Editor’s note: Sixty-five years ago, the German-held concentration camp at Buchenwald, was liberated by United States forces. Cpl. Hayley C. Dandridge, a Dora High School graduate, toured the facility less than two weeks after an estimated 21,000 prisoners were freed. Dandridge wrote about the horrors he saw in a letter to friends, Alan and Freeda Burkett of Dora, dated April 22, 1945. The letter was printed in the May 9, 1945, issue of The Portales Daily News. The 65th anniversary of the end of World War II seems a good time to publish it again, so that, as Dandridge wrote, we might all, “readily grasp the meaning of total war.”
Dear Alan and Freeda:
A few days ago I visited Camp Buchenwald near Wemar, Germany. It is one of the largest if not the largest camp in Germany or the world. This will, no doubt, be old news by the time you receive this, for the camp has been publicized to a great extent since its liberation.

I visited this camp not to view it as one would a circus or to see its starved victims, but to see what the Nazis, whom we fight, have done to their conquered people. Since I have seen the camp I more readily understand why this war had to be fought and why there must be only “unconditional surrender.”

Daddy and friend in Hitler's map room
 When the news reels of the scenes reach the States, I believe that you there can more readily grasp the meaning of total war.A group of us from our battalion went down together to see this camp. We entered the gates which had once been guarded by SS men. All about the entrance there were the remains of what had been a huge factory used for the production of war materials.

Our air force had flattened the factory section of the camp and all that we could see was the twisted girders and the piles of rubble. Less than 200 yards from the factories the concentration camp stood, its heavy iron gates now swung open and its victims walking in and out as if to prove themselves that they were free.

One of the former inmates still dressed in prison stripe trousers but with a dress coat offered to be our guide. He was from Belgium and spoke fair English. Since he had been there about three years he knew his way around the camp and knew the horrible things that had happened within its rusty barbed wire fences.

Our guide took us first to the prison of the camp where the most dangerous and most important prisoners of the Third Reich were kept. Its cells were empty except for a few SS guards who had been put there for safe keeping. These men whose souls had become hardened to crime and punishment now showed the fear that was within their hearts. Their arrogance and egotism was gone and was replaced by humbleness and quick submission to the officers and men who had conquered them.

Hitler's Eagles Nest
 Our guide then took us through the main court ward past the whipping blocks to the death house where some 56,000 men and boys have been put to death. The place was crude when we went down and there were women coming out with tears in their eyes after looking at the place.

We did not find out whether these women were Germans or relatives of some of the poor people who had been killed there. As we went down into the cellar the first thing we saw was a huge wooden mallet and big hooks on the walls where the people were hung and tortured.

The procedure used in killing was to let the victim fall through a trap door into the cellar where a big SS man finished killing him with the mallet just as the butcher kills cattle in a slaughter house.

The bodies were stacked on an elevator and carried up to the crematorium. We were told that about 4,000 to 5,000 people were killed there each month.In the crematorium above there were six furnaces and in them were still charred bones and skulls of its victims. We were told that the bodies were often thrown in the furnace half alive.

In a walled yard just outside of the crematorium there were stacks of bodies of the half-starved people who had died during the night. The bodies were awaiting burial. It was a hideous sight to me, and one that I will always remember.The next building to which we were taken was the pathological center where almost every part of the human body was preserved and on display.

There was a shrunken skull that we asked about. We were told that a Polish fellow had tried to escape and he had been publicly hanged. The skull had been removed and the flesh shrunken and dried and set up as a table ornament on the desk of one of the officials.

We were told that a former commandant’s wife had a hobby of collecting tattoos and when she saw one she liked she had the tattoo removed from the live person and from these pieces she had a lamp shade made. There were two such specimens on display in the laboratory.

Entrance to Buchenwald
 We then went into the barracks where the prisoners had lived. It was as unbelievable as the rest of the camp, for in a building about large enough for 100 people had been housed there about 1,700. The beds were simple shelves built into the walls, no mattresses, no blankets or anything; the people had to depend upon the body to keep themselves from freezing.

The barracks had no toilet facilities whatsoever, and they were in terrible shape. Some of the former prisoners were still in the barracks. Many of them were dying.

The people imprisoned in this camp were chiefly Jews, Poles, Belgium, Yugoslavs and Russians. It is hard to try to describe to a person who has never seen such people just what they look like. I thought of “The walking dead” when I saw them and they are almost that.

There is almost every disease known to man in that camp. Allied medical authorities are doing their best to clean the place up and giving aid to the starved people who are too weak to eat. An average of 30 to 40 persons are dying there each day.

I made the mistake of offering a cigarette to one of them and before I could get the package in my pocket I was almost mobbed. The diet for the camp was a cup of ersatz coffee and a piece of dry black bread for breakfast and some broth for supper. One of the prisoners told us that he worked an extra three hours overtime for just one piece of bread and by doing that he had managed to keep fairly healthy. These people are broken in body and mind and I doubt that many of them will ever be able to regain their place in society.

I received your letter some few days ago but have been pretty well on the move and just haven’t taken time to write. If you will accept this as a substitute for a letter I will try to write a more personal one the next time.

Sincerely, a friend

After the war he and my mother left Eupora and moved to Senatobia. He farmed with his Daddy, Cathey Dandridge, and his brothers Jim and Ed. I knew him as a farmer, a horseman, a cattleman. I never knew he could write so eloquently.  Maybe I got my journalism gene from him. Daddy and his brother Ed raised Charolais cattle and later Salers cattle. He was one of the first breeders of Appoloosa horses in this area and later Quarter Horses. He served on the agricultural advisory board for the ag department at Northwest, was a judging team coach for the Tate County 4-H horse program. 

Still in the saddle in his seventies

Daddy was never a successful businessman. He never flew on a plane after the war except to visit and later go to his friend Alan Burkett’s funeral. He brought many of his cowboy ways to Mississippi from New Mexico and taught dozens of young people about cows, horses, and life.  I miss him dearly. (Hayley Dandridge June 4, 1913-June 2, 1998) (excerpts from article printed in The Democrat January 2011)