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.