Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Barbecue—noun or verb?

When I have flipped channels and can't find something to watch, the default channel is HGTV. It is on to make background noise while I sew, work on the computer and sometimes read. But something has been bothering me lately. With spring weather in full bloom, the house-hunting couples tend to say something like, "There is room on this deck for a barbecue."

What do they mean?  In the South a barbecue usually means a sandwich (noun) or an event (also noun) What these people mean is a grill—an apparatus on which to cook barbecue.  I think this is a Southern difference of opinion. Maybe these guys are from the West Coast.

What do you say in your house if you want to cook meat, outside, over charcoal or gas?  Well it turns out, that the term barbecue is usually misused. According to Wikipedia.com, "Barbecue is a method and apparatus for cooking meat, poultry, and occasionally fish with the heat and hot smoke of a fire, smoking wood, compressed wood pellets, or hot coals of charcoal. Typically, to grill is to cook in this manner quickly, while barbecue is typically a much slower method utilizing less heat than grilling, attended to over an extended period of several hours. 

It seems the term can refer to the meat, the apparatus, or to the party. The term is also used as a verb for the act of cooking food in this manner. And, these terms can have regional variations."  You bet!  Right here next door to Memphis, we should have the say-so on these terms. Memphis has long been famous for its barbecue, pork that is. Texas has the trump on barbecued beef. Memphis in May is gearing up as we speak.

Everything has trends. When I was a little girl, most of my friends' parents had a built-in barbecue pit on their patios or in their backyard. I thought that was so cool. In my 20s, I frequently used a small Hibachi grill, just big enough for two steaks or four hamburgers. In fact, one of my best dates was had sitting around the tiny Hibachi, cooking steaks in the outside of my apartment complex. 

Then the trend turned to gas grills, which were hard to light. I still fear an explosion. And now there are grills that cost about as much as a good used car, green eggs, and more. My son is in love with his new smoker which looks like a bank safe.  We haven't even talked about fire pits yet. But those are not really for cooking, are they?

Well, at my house a barbecue is still a sandwich, a grill is what you cook on, and I'm still waiting on the party. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dogs work miracles in Wilson's novels

Review Time

I have read two books by author Susan Wilson in less than two weeks. That says something. She has written two moving novels that spotlight exceptional dog heroes—One Good Dog and The Dog Who Danced. 
These two books have great dog heroes—not like Rin Tin Tin or Lassie—who run through burning buildings to save their masters. The heroics of these animals is more realistic and more lasting.

In One Good Dog, Chance, who is a pit bull mix (not my favorite breed) takes us into the world of dog fighting. This street-wise dog brings healing and closure to the deep wounds of his new "owner."

The Dog Who Danced features a blue merle Shetland Sheep Dog (Sheltie).  Buddy/Mack also has a profound effect on both of his "owners."  With him we travel through the world of on-the-road trucking, Therapy Dog work and the new phenomenon of Canine Freestyle Dancing.

The great thing about Wilson's dogs is that they have a voice. She weaves her story from the point of view of the dog, of the owner or multiple characters in the dog's stories. Through the dog's perspective we learn about their fears, likes and dislikes, and what brings them true happiness.  Both these dogs work magic in the lives of their humans—loving them, healing them, making them feel safe, and even dancing.

In case you are wondering, my dogs have worked magic in my life too.  Such a blessing—most of the time.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

52-year-old eggs out for another Easter and that's no yolk

My treasured 52-year-old Easter eggs.

Today, while getting ready for Easter lunch tomorrow, I put out a small basket of dyed and decorated eggs. My daughter said, "Are you going to blog about those?"  I hadn't thought about it, but it seemed a good idea. The eggs are 52 years old.

My mother did them for me when I was four. I don't remember that particular year, but all the years that followed. She got them out every Easter and told me about how she did them. "I went out in the country and bought some brown farm-fresh eggs. They are supposed to hold color the best. Then I came home and blew out the yolks and whites by punching a needle hole in the top and bottom. I almost blew my brains out doing this."

She dyed them beautiful shades of dark blue, pink, purple, green and yellow. Then mama decorated them with bits of rick rack and other embellishments from her sewing box—sequins, glitter, trim, tiny pearls. On the bottom of some of the eggs, she glued a small plastic ring, so the egg could sit upright. On one she fashioned a little hat and hand-painted its face.

I tried this once when my children were little. Notice I said once, not one batch of eggs—one egg. I felt like my eyeballs would pop out sooner than the yolk would come out of the egg. That made mama's eggs more special.  They were always gotten out on Easter-eve, and we talked about them. After Easter, they were wrapped in tissue and put away. Over the years, only two have been broken.

I accidentally saw a segment on the Today show this week with Martha Stewart—notice I said accidentally....not a Martha fan. She was demonstrating this art form with a new gadget that drained the egg. No blowing and no headache afterward.

Could those eggs possible be as treasured as the ones on my table? I think not. But if you are going to do this, it might be nice to wait until the child is old enough to actually remember the process. Four is a little too young. I've had to depend on the family lore.

Why do mothers do silly things like this?  Why did I go crazy nervous making my daughter a Holly Hobby cake on her first birthday? I don't know. She just stuck her fingers in it, but it looked good in the picture for a minute.

Another question comes to mind.  How did mothers of the 1950s know how to do these cool things? No Internet, no Facebook, no Pinterest.  They were just crafty, I guess.  Let's see if these survive another Easter Sunday. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Talk

I am happy to report that I've just finished Julie Cantrell's novel "Into the Free." I downloaded it on my iPad so I could keep reading in the dark.  It was wonderfully moving and inspiring.  And Julie is from Oxford!  Check it out if you need a good book.


In other book news, I just started Susan Wilson's "One Good Dog."  I just started it, and like it already. I have to hurry and finish it so I can get her newly-released book, "The Dog Who Danced."


Do you see a common thread running through my reading material?  Dogs, horses, dogs......Maybe you need to send me some suggestions.

Happy Easter

Easter Lilies are in full bloom at Homestead Farms Greenhouse and Nursery, located 
near Coldwater, Miss. Growers there say they grew an estimated 1,800 lilies. Many bloomed early this year due to the unseasonably warm weather. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Catch-up time is a must

Becky and me in Oxford

Today I met my good friend Becky in Oxford for a long-anticipated lunch. I retired in 2010 and she, six months later. Becky came to work at Northwest on Jan. 28, 1986. That day was memorable, not only because Becky joined the staff as program director of now-closed station, WNJC-FM, but also because minutes after she signed on, the Associated Press teletype machine started an alarm as did the DAX machine which connected us to NPR.  Space Shuttle Challenger had broken apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida, United States, at 11:39 a.m. The news came across the wire faster than we could rip and read it. Other departments came down to watch the TV coverage on our monitor. That was before smart-classroom technology. What a welcome. 
It was also a memorable day for me when a co-worker became one of my forever friends. Our husbands, Mike and Howard, became fishing and hunting buddies. Our children became playmates. Before the station went dark in 1988, we had some good times and learned a lot about Public Radio—just in time for the station to close. 

All of us at the zoo around 1987.  Howard was taking the pic.

Becky has a very distinctive Southern accent. When the college hosted the National Junior College Athletic Association Women's National Tournament in the 1980s, it was our job at the station to provide play-by-play for the colleges who did not want to send a radio crew by giving them a feed of our broadcast. If they did come, we had to set up phone lines for them. Those were the old days. When some of them called, they asked for Becky by name. "I just want to hear her talk," one station manager told me.
We attended the NPR National Conference in Washington in 1987. We were one of the first groups to hear the now-famouse Riders in the Sky—go Woody Paul, Too Slim and Ranger Doug.  After two days of the conference, I came down with Pleurisy and felt bad the rest of the trip. My Uncle Jim, who lived in Alexandria, Va., came to get us and took us on a tour of the U.S. National Arboretum.  I wheezed all the way around the trails. 

Hayley, Olivia and Beth. Olivia hated being the youngest of
the three. She's hanging on. Look at the clinch of her jaw.
The following year we attended the National Conference in St. Louis (view from our window) and went to the museum under the arch. Also on the agenda was a conference outing at the home of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, a ride on a river boat and a tour of the Missouri Botanical Gardens.We were the best-dressed gals at the conference. We didn't know that NPR attire was long skirts with socks and sandals. 
When we learned that the station was to be a budget cut, we held our chins high and ended up across the hall from each other in the basement of Tate Hall—me in Public Relations and her in Financial Aid. Boy did we have a lot to learn.
On a lighter side, there were birthday parties, fishing trips at our pond, hours of cooking in the concession stand at the horse shows, trail rides, the list goes on and on.  We even got the guys to dress up and go to a piano recital at Ole Miss and to a reception afterward. How did we do that? There were times when my nerves were shot and she took the girls for an afternoon, only to tell me they had been angels. They had NOT been angels for me.
But I won’t forget Mike’s going with me to get Mama and Daddy when she was too sick to drive home after a chemo treatment and Daddy couldn’t drive at night. We stopped to get gas and the pump was so slow. Mike kicked it. When Mike lost his battle to cancer, Becky showed just what she was made of. After retirement she returned to her hometown of Pontotoc. 
It's hard to catch up on two years' of news while eating wonderful food from City Grocery. We won't wait that long for the next visit.
Howard and Mike's string of fish around 1987.
Dog Leo is near Howard. My, how we have changed.