Thursday, February 28, 2013

Read All the Rules Before You Start to Play the Game

My new mantra: Read All the Rules Before You Start to Play the Game

How many times does it take to get knee deep into something and then find out that you do not know the "rules"?

Or were new "rules" conveniently invented while you thought you were playing fair?

To be continued-

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Two Times Sonny Boy in One Week

If you know me, you know that I am a retired English teacher who gave up reading books when I retired from teaching almost five years ago.

Believe me, I have tried to get through novels, but once I have passed the halfway point I lose interest. Even long airplane flights do not provide the impetus to finish a book.

Now magazine articles are another matter. They are usually short and sweet. Some can even be read from back to front, and I like that! Plus magazines can be tossed aside when you get tired and fall asleep, but books need BOOKMARKS :(.

The bookmark for my latest book endeavor has the same name as the book title. Who would have thought that in the same week I would have two Sonny Boys on our coffee table?

The book is written in Dutch, but it is non-fiction. Just as my former students loved "true stories," so do I. And I like that being written in Dutch keeps my language skills a bit sharpened. The setting of the book in Scheveningen, The Netherlands in the years before WWII is also appealing. And then the circumstances of Sonny Boy in the predominantly white Dutch society keeps my interest. So maybe Annejet van den Zijl wrote a winner, at least for me.

My mother gave me the white corn meal wrapper that I used as a bookmark in the photo below. When I was born, my father worked for Interstate Grocery Company (later Helena Wholesale, Inc.) in Helena, Arkansas. This wrapper came from the company before they went out of business. It would have been used to pack degerminated white corn meal. For years I heard about Sonny Boy meal and King Biscuit Flour, and now I have a wrapper to frame.

I found the following ad on the Internet:

"Seller's description: "Down in Helena, Ark. in 1941, Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Junior Lockwood had a 15-minute show on KFFA radio daily at noon. They were so popular, their sponsor, King Biscuit Flour, created a Sonny Boy brand corn meal mix which the band promoted on their radio show and on rural tours of Arkansas. This is a never-used empty bag of the cornmeal. The cornmeal continued to be produced and sold at least into the '90s, when this bag was likely printed. We managed to procure a couple of these, purchased at Cat Head Delta Blues in Clarksdale some years ago and we're told there aren't any more."

These folks were asking $25.00 for their bag in 2009!

Now listen to Sonny Boy :

Monday, February 25, 2013

We Are Sequestered!

Actually, we are both retired and have chosen to live relatively secluded. Our nearest neighbors have to get into their vehicles to come to our house to give us a message when the landline phones are not working. So that means we must be sequestered!

On Wednesday we will drive over one hour to visit our dentist for my hub's root canal treatment. Our dentist will sequester the tooth to be repaired from the rest of Hub's teeth, so that he can do what he needs to do.

Most mornings before my hub arises, I sequester myself in my favorite chair in our living room to write this blog. Unfortunately tonight this particular post is being written in the study, next to my hub, while we are watching Rachel Maddow. Just watching her show sequesters us from lots of the folks around here. ;)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Very Pinteresting

Very Pinteresting

Try this:

Does anyone remember planning a party, a kitchen renovation, a vacation, Thanksgiving Dinner, or the landscaping of your yard by sorting through magazines and cutting and pasting in a scrapbook or thumb tacking cutouts on a corkboard?

If the truth be known, I never did that. That was waaay too organized and artsy for me. But I LOVE Pinterest. And it is just the computer way of planning without messing with scissors, glue, and lots of scraps of paper and sticky fingers.

According to Wikipedia," Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies, and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, 're-pin' images to their own pinboards, or 'like' photos."

"Pinterest users can upload, save, sort and manage images, known as pins, and other media content (i.e. videos) through collections known as pinboards. Pinboards are generally themed so that pins can easily be organized, categorized and discovered by other users. Pinterest acts as a personalized media platform, whereby your own content as well as anyone else's uploaded pins can be browsed on the main page. Users can then save their favorite pins to one of their own boards using the "Pin It" button. Content can also be found outside of Pinterest and similarly uploaded to a board via the "Pin It" button which can be downloaded to the bookmark bar on a web browser, or be implemented by a webmaster directly on the website."

Before I lose you with all of this computer language, let's get down to the root of this post.

Try this:

Q: Why does anyone need to know about Pinterest?
A: Because I started a pinboard especially for Beauregard Master Gardeners back in August 2012.

Q: Nice photographs (My Master Gardeners teacher's exact words)! Now what does anyone do with them?
A: To start, read the accompanying text to see if that topic interests you. Browse a little deeper by clicking on the website from which this image came (maybe you will see the word From). If you do not get information or more great photos, just keep clicking that mouse or your finger.

Q: Can someone save this great information he/ she finds?
A: Yes, as long as you are on the website where it originated, you should be able to bookmark it to your Favorites. If you are a Pinterest member, you can "Pin it" to one of your boards. Then your ideas will be organized and easy to locate later.

Q: How can gardeners use Pinterest?
A: Pinterest is a huge resource for finding project ideas. If you need an idea for a vegetable garden use the search and a whole bunch of beautiful vegetables gardens magically appear before your eyes to give you inspiration. Follow other gardeners on Pinterest to see what they find interesting and discover great ideas just by clicking on that gardener.

Q: What else can someone use Pinterest for?
A: Pinterest is not just project ideas. You can create a Pinterest wish list board for all the plants you would like to have. You can share your garden photographs to keep a catalog.

Q: Should you join Pinterest?
A: Not yet. Just sit back, browse, and get hooked. Use the search possibilities for things that interest you or to search for your friends and family. Enjoy my 41 boards and over 14,000 pins. Do not feel like you are stalking me or anyone else of the 11 million Pinterest users.

Q: Is this a social network?
A: You can set up your Profile to be as social and as open as you desire. Of my 600+ followers, I know only about 20 personally, and they are family and friends. Since not everyone uses a current profile photo (he he, mine is 40 years old!!!), you sometimes have no idea what your favorite follower even looks like. And if you have kept your email address private in your profile, no one will bother you.

Q: How does someone join Pinterest?
A: As I joined almost two years ago, I won't bore you with the complications back then. Now it is easy. When you browse my boards, you should see an invitation bar. Go to Give that a try.

Here are my Pinterest boards and a great video:
Happy Pinning

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February Daffodils

Louisiana February can be any of the four seasons. In fact, a single day in February can be all four seasons.

But today is a cool Spring day. At 9:30 am we have 50 degree F (10 C) with the sun peeking through the clouds. But the ground is mushy with too much rain, and the weeds are taking control.

For my Dutch followers, it is time for the "gras strimmer" or weed trimmer. Remember, that is my job. The Hub does the grass mowing, and he got our small John Deere riding mower working yesterday. So now to wait until the ground dries up sometime next week. Then the race to keep ahead of the grass is on.

We have had blooming flowers all month. The azaleas by the mudroom door and the heirloom double narcissus by the barn corner were the first blooms. Now my little daffodils in the pots on the barbecue porch are beginning to bloom. We overwintered all of our plants outside this year, as you can see from the geraniums and small agaves. These are on the barbecue porch, but the rest are under the eaves in the front of the house. We only had to cover our large agaves planted along the driveway a couple of times. They look fantastic! And the knockout roses are leafing out from the hard trim I did a few weeks ago.

Spring has not sprung, but I am ready to plant my veggies ;)))))

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hub's Blue Pickup Truck

It finally happened. My hub has his own pickup. He hasn't been shouting for joy, but I think he is happy to have his own truck. We have done the best we could with filling up the back of our Jeep Liberty, but now he has a real truck to haul whatever he wants.

Actually my hub has our son's truck that we bought for him back when he was still at the university. Our son said then that as soon as he could replace the truck, we could have it back. Well, he has purchased a couple of vehicles in the last few years, and now the truck is Pop's (Papa's).

The pretty, blue Toyota truck cleans up real nice, but it needs some work. Yesterday we found a few rust spots caused by big city highway traffic that had showered the hood and cab roof with pebbles. Tires need balancing, and just general maintenance.

Guess we had better call the local Toyota dealer and plan to dig deep into our wallets.

But Papa has his own pickup!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Attesta de Vita, Anyone There?

For those who do not know, Attesta de Vita is a life certificate. Not a certificate to have a life, but a document to prove that you are still living.

As my hub has already passed "Go" and can now collect his $money$ as in Monopoly, he is required by the Dutch social security and retirement/pension funds to prove he is still alive. He diligently takes the Attesta de Vita forms to our Notary for signing and stamping.

Recently he was surprised when one pension fund did not pay up. When he finally made connection with the pension fund administration, he was told that his Attesta de Vita had not been received. So that was that.

But that was not that.

Here is what happened:
Around Christmas 2012 my hub received a reminder that his Attesta de Vita for that particular pension fund was to be returned by January 2013. The letter to him had been mailed six weeks before by freight snail mail.

He finally caught up with our Notary at the end of the year and then deposited the signed, stamped, and sealed Attesta de Vita in the mailbox at our post office on January 1, 2013.

Five weeks later my hub checked our bank account and noticed the omission. Then he started his endeavor to find out why.

What bothers me the most is that without checking (if my hub was still living) by mail, email, phone, or smoke signals, they just cut off the funds.

How could we resolve this? Well, my hub filled out another Attesta de Vita, visited our Notary for the proper certification, and this time emailed the document according to the directions of the pension funds representative that my hub "chatted with" on the phone.

We are still waiting for rectification.

And why can't this pension funds request the Attesta de Vita in August like all the rest?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Amusing Grace

It does not take much to amuse us! Yesterday I even woke my sleeping husband so that he could marvel at the thousands of blackbirds feeding on our property.

I first noticed the birds when I walked out onto the front porch to check on Flip. He was barking like crazy, and I thought there was perhaps a visiting dog next doors. But then I saw and heard the hoards of black birds inching their way onto our triangle of land across the small pond.

It is always amazing how the birds seem to move like synchronized swimmers. Of course there were a few "dutch" birds that did their own thing, but the rest were little "germans and americans" following orders and keeping in formation. (Sorry to get nationalistic with my comparisons. I could not help myself!)

Anyway, we watched the blackbirds cross over the small pond and then invade our front and side yards. They made lots of noise while they were here and later when they flew up into the trees of our neighbors, but I did not see one sign of their droppings once they were gone.

I will welcome visitors like that anytime. Just enjoy your meal here and make a mess somewhere else!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Walking on Wet Sponges and Monster Agaves

Taking our daily walks with Flip have been quite interesting. The ground around our home and pond is so saturated with rain water that it feels like we are walking on wet, soggy sponges.

Winter has been almost non-existent, and most of the grass/weeds around our house are pretty and lovely green. I keep thinking that I had better get the batteries charged for weed-eating, since around my raised veggie beds and up against the house the weeds are gaining control. If I had planted lettuce a couple of weeks ago, we would be munching on it by now. That is the kind of weather we have had since 2013 began.

After we planted the boxwoods along the walk path, we dug up baby agaves from our collection of plants. We transplanted those babies around our parking spot at the end of the walk path. That area is directly in the flow of draining water this time of year, but come summer it will be like the desert. We will see how the agaves like that. Nothing to lose, since we had "free" plants. The exercise we got planting them was good for the both of us.

Thought you might get a kick out of seeing a photo of a "lady eating agave." We have a couple of huge ones, but this monster is too much!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fresh Rolls on the Roof

My mother just told me the funniest story about her youngest sister, who is almost an octogenarian.

I am sure I will mix up the details, but the story goes something like this:

A friend of my Aunt E. asked her if she liked homemade rolls. Of course, she said, "Yes." The friend promised to bring some to my aunt, and Auntie E. left it at that.

The next morning my aunt got up and planned her day. After taking care of the normal things around the house, she decided to go out for a drive. (don't remember if Mom said to the store or to her hospital gift shop volunteer job) Anyway, a few other drivers honked and tried to get my aunt's attention.

When she stopped her car and got out, she found a pan of rolls (not baked yet) on the roof of her new car. Auntie E. took the rolls home and baked them and enjoyed them. Then she phoned the bread making friend to let her know how delicious they were. When she asked the friend when she brought the rolls, the friend said, "Yesterday."

Wonder if my aunt told her friend about taking the rolls "for a spin" on top of her car.

I am glad it wasn't raining then like it has been raining here all day today! I hate soggy bread!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Just Checking In

Everyone knows our beagle Flip is spoiled, but few know how clever he really is.

Trying to be the half way clean homemaker, I spray Flip down with plain water whenever he comes home muddy. And that is quite often during this rainy weather! If I just gave him a good shower, that should be enough. But I do the whole drying off bit with "Flip's" towels. Who wants a wet dog in the house, right?

Well, yesterday it dawned on me that all the shower stuff should be at the end of the day.

Here is what happened: Flip had been "hunting" outside since around 7:30 a.m. When he showed up really muddy around noon, I grabbed the front porch hose and towel and cleaned him up. While I was putting up the hose and turning off the water, he escaped! Right back into the woods! I was astonished and felt pretty stupid for taking the time to clean him up for his next adventure in the woods.

Actually he pulled a similar trick on me a couple of days ago. That time it was late afternoon, and I let him outside to "take care of his business." He made a beeline to the forest! We did not see him again until evening.

So this morning at 9:45 I was ready for his scheme. When he came to the mudroom door shaking and quaking, I opened the door. Then I stepped outside, picked off two ticks, and he turned his back to me and ran off down the gravel road. He looked back twice to see if I was outside (I was), and then he jumped into the pine forest.

Guess all this time he was just "checking in." What a good ( muddy) doggie!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Antiques Roadshow Lottery

No, I did not purchase a lottery ticket! The only thing I have ever won in a lottery was a birthday cake. And it wasn't even my birthday! So I redesigned it and REGIFTED it. You read right. I gave it to someone else. Who and for what occasion, I do not remember. That was over 30 years ago.

But I am in the AR lottery for two tickets to the 2013 Roadshow Tour this summer. The Antiques Roadshow is coming to Baton Rouge in July, and we will find out after April 30 if we will be receiving tickets and can participate. So until then I will not worry or even think too much about what 4 items (2 each) we could take to have assessed and scrutinized.

In the meantime, I will keep visiting "brocante" and charity shops in our area and keep posting on my other blog.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hot Rollers are Back!

Hot curlers or hot rollers have been around since the late 1960's. That makes them almost 50 years old! Don't some folks call 50 year old items "antique?"

I can remember buying my first Clairol electric hot roller set. For my high school graduation in 1966, my hairdresser aunt Lucy gave me a $20.00 bill. (Back in those days people just sent cash in the mail.) I was soooo excited with the cash gift and immediately purchased a Clairol hot roller set like the photo below.

Rumor has it that when redhead Aunt L. received my thank you note letting her know how happy I was to have bought electric curlers that she was very upset. Back at that time, hairdressers were worried that the invention of hot rollers would ruin the beauty shop businesses. I do not know if that really happened, since I have seen beauty parlor hairdressers using hot curlers on their clients' hair. So I guess hot curlers became an aide, not a destroyer of businesses.

I am now using my 4th electric curler set. Over the 47 years, I have worn out two Clairol sets, one Babyliss set, and now I have a Conair set. The curls definitely do not last very long in my type of hair, but that keeps me from having to walk around in rollers or sit under a hot hair dryer.

Wonder what happened to the vintage steam rollers?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fifty Boxwoods

Can you even imagine what 50 small boxwood plants would cost at the garden center?

Back 20 years ago we bought over 50 small boxwood plants from a local grower who called them "slow growers." He could not sell them on the market, so he let us buy them cheap. They grew just fine along our gravel driveway. We did our best to trim them twice each year and give them a shot of fertilizer when needed . They looked super in our yard.

Recently here in Louisiana we planted 50 more small boxwood plants that we propagated ourselves during the last year. This time we are lining another gravel path, our walkway to the front porch. This planting was the third one around and down the path. We bought one mother plant about 4 years ago, and the cuttings have made almost 100 small plants so far. Since we need over 100 more plants to finish off our border, next week we will need to get those new cuttings into the soil.

Boxwood propagation is really simple, and the result is usually 95%-100% successful.

How to: With a sharp knife, cut a 4 inch to 6 inch stick with the leaves. Trim off the lowest leaf and stab that end into rooting powder that you purchase from a garden center.(I read on Pinterest that you can use ground cinnamon as a fungicide instead of rooting powder!) Then plant the boxwood sticks in moist soil about 5 inches apart. Keep moist, but not drowning. Then step back and watch them grow.

About 9 months later, the little plants will be ready to set out into the yard. Then just make sure to keep your boxwood youngsters damp when there is no rain.
First photo is of the first planting two years ago.
Second photo (with green wire fence) is April 2012.
Last photo (with orange tape) is February 2013.

Happy Bordering!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Once in a Blue Moon

Being a lover of etymology, I am always wondering about the origin of words, phrases, and expressions. I have a complete shelf on my bookshelf upstairs just full of word origin books.

My former 7th grade students at the American School of the Hague will tell you that I forced them into the world of etymology (some thought they would study BUGS) by assigning a word origin based research paper as their primary writing assignment.

I can still see and hear the anguish of a mother letting me know that asking her son to research the beginnings of "cocktail" was an impossible task. Her words: "I can't find anything about the origin of the word my son chose." Needless to say, within 10 minutes her son found at least six sources of origin in the sixty etymology reference books on our classroom bookshelf.

What a blast you would have had if you had "Googled" cocktail, you are thinking. The Internet does not contain more origins than these books do, but I will use my iPad to research my post title "Once in a Blue Moon."

And just as I expected, there are only about two origins or theories of origin, but they are disguised in myriads (Greek for 10,000!) of unnecessary information. I wanted the phrase origin referring to the second full moon in a month that occurs just once every 2.7 years. In other words, "once in a blue moon" means rarely. My 7th graders would have been Googling for ages to find that simple origin!

I had a "once in a blue moon" experience today. A former student from here in Louisana sent me an email message from Vienna, Austria. What a joy to hear from a young man enjoying his university experience with lots of traveling! (And he has a far better blog than his old English teacher!)

Chapeau, Monsieur Le Blue.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Who Let the Dogs Out? Not Flip!

Poor Flip. He is beside himself.

Our neighbor has invited a friend to come "run the dogs" this morning, and Flip must stay out of the way. Although he is a beagle like the other dogs, he has not been working in the pack with these hounds. He is a hunter, but a solo hunter. For the last few months he hasn't even had another dog to bark at or play with, except when we visit my brother's dogs.

As I write this, he is jumping all over me trying to get me to let him outside.

I can't wait to get the All Clear sign so that I can be the one who let THE dog out.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Caller I D

"How ya doin'?"
"Y'all goin' to be home later tonight?"
"Thought we'd drop by."
" See y'all around 8:00."

We don't have Caller ID on our landline home phone. If someone called us with the message above, we would not really be sure who was calling. Several of our family members, both male and female, sound alike. Some even sound like our neighbors and acquaintances. So 8:00 could be like a surprise party! We wouldn't know if we should have coffee, beer, iced tea, lemonade, or hard liquor ready, since we would not be sure who was coming for a visit.

I can remember back in the early 1970's when a nice sounding male voice phoned me and invited me to go for a swim to the bar pits with a group of friends. As he said my first name and did not identify himself (and I thought I knew who was calling), I got my swim gear together and waited to be picked up to join the fun. And I waited. And waited. :( No one showed up. And I do not think it was a prank. I believe that some guy just mistakenly called a girl (me) with the same name as his girlfriend. If he had identified himself (or I hadn't had such a common first name), I wouldn't have felt so foolish. I wonder to this day if he ever told his girlfriend about the phone call. Bet he wondered why she wasn't ready for a fun time on a hot summer day.

The 27 years I lived in The Netherlands I never had that kind of phone problem. It is a custom there to answer the phone by at least saying your first name. The person making the call always states his or her name. My biggest problem with that was that I rarely understood the Dutch name, unless it was a family member or acquaintance.

Now that we live here in the US, my Dutch hub has the problems. Almost all male callers sound alike. Unless they identify themselves, he does not know if he is talking to my nephew, my brother, the air conditioner man, or our neighbor. He has the same situation with female callers.

One kind request: If you are planning on phoning us, please identify yourself. Then we won't say or do something foolish.