Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wordy Bird Angers Man

Another headline in our local paper I found amusing: Wordy Bird Angers Man

According to the local paper, "A 63-year-old woman said an acquaintance threatened her after her parrot insulted him early Sunday, according to an police incident report.

The woman said she was talking on the phone with a male friend around 3:39 a.m. She said she and her friend were joking about what her talking parrot had said earlier about an acquaintance.

At that point, the male acquaintance took the phone from the friend and began cursing at the woman, threatening to burn down her house, the report said.

The woman said that after the threats, the acquaintance attempted to call back several more times. She told deputies she didn't want to talk to the acquaintance.

Deputies spoke with the acquaintance and told him the woman did not wish to speak with him.

According to the report, neither the woman, the parrot, nor the acquaintance told deputies what the bird said that enraged the acquaintance to such a degree."

Upon further investigation it was determined that the woman wanted to change her phone number and move on,  her friend could not be found, the male acquaintance wanted the feathered friend for dinner, and the parrot only wanted a cracker.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Scarlett and Dale - Move On Over

My Daddy always used the term "license to print money". Well at three o'clock this morning I found a company that has apparently figured out how to literally do it. Talk about a better mouse trap. And, the rest of us are just trying to get the best bargain at BiLo and figure out if we will ever be able to retire.

Thanks to the New England Mint, you, too, can own an "America the Beautiful" Genuine Yellowstone Two Dollar Bill. And, yes it is in color, with "Old Faithful practically [gushing] off the note while the sapphire “Morning Glory” hot spring bubbles under the never-ending western sky". Hold on, that's not all. (Oh, come on you knew there was more, it is better than the bamboo steamer and set of Ginsu knives!) Also, included is a second bill, the Grand Canyon Two Dollar Bill with its "sweeping" views of the glorious colors of the Grand Canyon.

Of course, to protect your investment the New England Mint includes a parchment Certificate of Authenticity and original information about the national park. The bills are presented in a handsome 4 page museum quality folio. And, the best part, all of this can be yours for $19.95. (Or, you can buy 5 for $64.75 if you want to increase your investment.) The "Mint" goes on to remind you that the two dollar bill is known as the "forgotten" bill and is rarely circulated.

Now down here, in the trailer parks, this will truly be the next big thing. They will have move the Scarlett O'Hara Doll (from the Franklin Mint) down a shelf in the curio cabinet to make room, or maybe shift the "Dale Ernhardt Hall of Fame Collector Plate" (in porcelain with genuine platinum accents) sitting on top of the window AC unit, or perhaps the new "Museum Quality Folio" needs to be displayed front and center on the kitchen table, next to the "Princess Diana - Forever our Princess" Music Box. And, just think Christmas is right around the corner, how many lucky folks could find the sweeping views of the Grand Canyon in their stocking (when their heart was set on that "Commemorative John Wayne Shot Glass Collection".)

Can you see the brainstorming sessions at the New England Mint? "Mary, I know you have your heart set on the Limited Edition Barbara Bush doll, and we can still do that next year. Paul, your idea of the Nascar Driver Portraits on black velvet is brilliant, and we are working on the licenses now. But, listen to this one. You know last year how we painted those Obama coins. Remember how people just tied up the phone lines to get them. Well, this year we are going to sell two dollar bills . . . for ten dollars each."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Universal Remote

If it's not bad enough that I am having to deal with an onslaught of audio-visual remotes in our den, now they are multiplying like Tribbles on Star Trek. Last week, I walk in the den to find my DH on a ladder with a pencil in his mouth, a ruler on the ceiling, and holding some silver object I do not recognize. This does not look good. Then I see that he has removed one of the recessed flood lights from the ceiling and is now measuring the hole that formerly held said light.

When I look at him with a "what in the Hell are you doing now" sweet smile on my face, he replies, "I found these great LED lights at Costco." Surprise, Surprise. "I am going to replace these flood lights that have never worked. Finally we will have decent lights up here." I see several possible issues here, the replacements are LED, they look small to me, this is a project that could make my den ceiling look like a construction zone for weeks, and my DH is attempting the installation. I know, I know, oh yeah of little faith (but lots of experience.)

After supper, my DH proudly says,"Let me show you the lights." "They're in?" "They are in, I told you it wouldn't take that long." OK, so I was wrong on one count. The first thing that strikes me when I enter the den is that our ceiling looks like someone has installed small blueish runway lights - and they are LED. Memories of the Christmas tree light arguments discussions come to mind. And, better yet, they look little Pixar lamps hanging up side down in my den. As I look at them, trying to think of an honest, positive comment to make, my DH adds,"And the best part is you turn them on and off with remote controls." "Controls?" "Yeah, there three sets of lights. Two up here and one in the back." I had failed to see Runway 008 to the Northeast in the back.

Then he picked up a remote and proceeded to demonstrate the simplicity of the system. The first remote he clicked turned on half the front lights. Then he clicked the second remote. That turned on the back lights. The third remote turned on the remaining front lights and turned off the front lights that were originally on and all the back lights. "I may have to make a few adjustments."

"Oh," and he added, "while I was in Costco, I found this great universal remote that can control every device we have." "What do you mean every device?" "It will turn on the TV, DVD player, sound system, and CD player." "And, the lights?," I said in jest. "I hadn't thought about that, maybe it will." Oh God, I've created a monster.

In the back of my mind, I see Fred McMurray as the Absent Minded Professor working in his lab suddenly pressing some button with pride and every machine in his workshop that can move, whistle, honk, bend, throw, or walk start going at a loud rapid pace. In our den it will be the TV rapidly changing channels, while the DVD player is playing something very loudly through the surround sound system all the while our new lighting system keeps the beat whirling and twirling about on the ceiling. All I can say is that I hope it has batteries I can remove.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reared as a Heathen

You gotta love it. Only in South Carolina. Once again, our archaic (and sometimes Archean) laws set us apart from every other state. This came from our local paper in an article covering a case before the SC Supreme Court concerning whether an organized poker game in someone's home is illegal gambling in our fair state. This case has not been decided yet - the jury (ie the State Supreme Court) is still out.

According to our paper, "Read literally, a South Carolina law on the books since 1802 makes illegal any game with cards or dice - including popular board games like Monopoly and Sorry. [SC Attorney General] McMaster has traditionally said that he followed a loose interpretation of that law, only considering games that are more reliant on chance [than] on a player's skill - like Texas Hold 'Em - to be gambling and therefore illegal."

Had this law been enforced, when my saintly Granny crossed state lines to visit us every Easter, she could have been put away in the poky (as my Aunty would say) for her love of the game of Sorry. And, my father raised reared two heathens by starting us early with the game of Monopoly as soon as we could count money. And, the greatest iniquity of all, Aunt Kat's Old Maid card game would be deemed illegal in the eyes of the law, much less the afternoon Bridge parties proper ladies down here have enjoyed for centuries.

The irony is that my Daddy sold playing cards in his drug store and the state collected tax on every deck sold. I can remember the tax stamps on each deck. So the state of South Carolina was collecting taxes on every deck of cards that was sold in the state, but the cards had no purpose except that which was against the laws of the state. I'm confused.

Meanwhile, I am trying to remember if I have ever torn the tags off a mattress (remember "illegal and punishable by law"). It's bad enough I'm having nightmares for fear that I am going to "Go to Jail, Go directly to Jail" (and I really could use that $200.) But, I'll be with good company. After all, all those fine ladies who play bridge will be joining me. And, to think the Baptists are still concerned about us buying batteries on Sunday morning. I just hope they are not playing a game of solitaire waiting for their mom to get dressed for church.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm not Drunk, I'm from New York!

Here's a winner. The Headline reads: Woman blames slurred speech on her NY accent

The article from the local paper followed, "A woman charged with disorderly conduct by the police  blamed her New York accent when police concluded she was intoxicated because she had slurred speech. Officers reported the woman also smelled of alcohol."

Now I'd like to know if her claim was that the police charged her on the grounds of being a Yankee? or if she thinks the citation was issued just because she sounds like she came from Jersey Shore  and her voice would easily be confused with the sound of someone intoxicated?

The article goes on to say. "Police initially responded to a call about two women fighting outside the EZ Shop. They found that one of the women had allegedly approached the other who was sitting in a car and asked her to get out and talk. When the woman in the car proceeded to drive off, the second woman held onto the car, then stumbled and fell, hitting her head in the parking lot, the report said."

I think the "Yankee" defense lost credibility  somewhere between the cat fight and the pavement. Even the local police would have given her some lattitude for holding onto the car, after all we know Hell hath no fury like a scorned southern woman. However, stumbling onto pavement and the smell of alcohol is a game changer.

The story gets better, "Two of the children of the woman who fell were with her at the time. They allegedly kicked the car of the other woman and ran from the scene, the report said.

Police issued a disorderly conduct citation" which until the day she dies, or goes back 'up the road' will be disputed on the grounds of the "Snookie" defense.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Smell of Oranges

What is it about the smell of oranges that reminds me of Christmas? I was making a Daube Provincial recipe this morning which included among it's 25 ingredients (but only 1 pot!) thin orange peel. When I finished and washed my hands, the fragrance of orange still remained, better that the god awful smell of onion. And, the first thought that came to mind was Christmas.

As a child, one of the standard school art projects was the orange with cloves. Remember those, the orange with dozens of cloves stuck in it and a nice red ribbon. The idea was a gift for your mom as a sachet for her closet. I never got it. Who wanted a half rotten orange with brown things stuck in it to hang next to your clothes? But, perhaps that was because the teachers had us do the project in mid December and given, in the sunny south, our December climate was still in the 70's so the orange was fairly "ripe" by the time December 25th came around. Aunt Kat always seemed a lot more excited about the orange/clove sachet than Mama was - fancy that.

Then there were our Christmas stockings. Thinking back on it, our stockings always included the same things - nuts, fireworks, hard candy, and one or two oranges - every year. I think the excitement was seeing if this was the year Santa deviated from the plan. But alas, it never happened. The fireworks included a box of sparklers, a small pack of firecrackers, and my favorite - a box of fire pops. The almonds and walnuts (in their shells) - oh yeah, the nuts were still in their shells - rarely got eaten. However, they did become excellent airborne ammunition for whatever scuffles my brother and I might get into later on in the day. The oranges did get consumed, and I don't where they came from, but they were juicy and sweet and had the sweet fragrance that I remember to this day.

Another Christmas memory was Ambrosia. Now, like most holiday traditions, my father's family and my mother's family had different views on this desert. So when we made our annual Christmas trek (you know the one over the river and through the woods, every Christmas) we got to sample both. My Aunt Kat and Granny's was sections of fresh orange, grapefruit, and maraschino cherries with shredded coconut served on top. Grandmama's was cut-up oranges, cherries, peaches, coconut, and baby marshmallows. While Aunt Kat's was presented properly and served on her green crystal desert plates (that matched her Spode Christmas china), Grandmama's was all mixed up and served from a bowl on the buffet. I was told early on not to comment disparagingly on either.

Traditionally in the south, especially on the coast, citrus fruit was served during the holidays, being brought in on trading ships from the Caribbean. The amount of fruit served was a sign of wealth. And no, I don't think Mama’s Santa’s inclusion of citrus fruit in our stocking was a show of wealth. But, it is part of our holiday customs. One I never really considered before. So whether it was the orange/clove sachet, the reliable oranges in my stocking every Christmas morning, or the dueling ambrosias, the scent of oranges reminds me of Christmas and (to paraphrase Martha) that is not a bad thing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Chicken Killing Dog

The headline reads: Man shot in chicken fight tells his side

The story from our local paper followed: "The man shot in an argument over a chicken-killing dog last month wants his side of the story known after learning the suspect is claiming self-defense.

He agrees the argument began over the German shepherd said to have been killing [his neighbor's] chickens. However, he said he asked [his neighbor] why he didn't shoot the dog while it was still on his property instead of starting a confrontation.

"One thing led to another and we started wrestling," he said. "And then my brother-in-law yells, ‘He's got a knife, he's got a knife!' So I shoved [his] head into the bumper of his  truck.

He said at that point, [his neighbor] ran toward his truck where deputies say a rifle was stored.

"And before I turned around, ‘BOW!'" He said. "He done licked a shot off."

The shot, "nearly blew my whole arm off," he said."

You got the men, the dog, the gun, and the truck, all this story is missing is wandering woman and a bottle of beer and you'd have yourself a country music hit.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Passing of General Johnson

General Johnson has died. And, no, I am not maudlin over a Confederate army officer. General Norman Johnson was the lead singer of the Chairman of the Board, that great Carolina Beach band with such big hits as Carolina Girls, Give Me Just a Little More Time, I'd Rather be in Carolina, You've Got Me Dangling on String, and Gone Fishin'. 

I have spent many an hour on a dance floor, a drive way, the beach, or a porch dancing to their tunes. And, if you are familiar with their music, I bet you are humming along right now to your favorite song. We were in school during the days of punk rock, disco, and the Rolling Stones - but then everyone during the past 40 years has been in school during the days of the Rolling Stones - but I digress.

Even as those songs were being played on the radio and were top ten hits, in the low country there was always Carolina Beach Music. It went along with good friends, fun times, and beer. I learned to dance to big band and beach music. My girls also learned to dance to beach music. They listened to the same songs (and bands) we did (do). I cannot tell you the number of times I went to dances where General Johnson and the Chairman of the Board were the band for the evening. 

Of course, there were also those events with the Drifters, the Coasters, the Embers, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, the Tams, and the Catalinas. I can remember one summer, my sorority had a house at Ocean Drive and we had been having a large time at Crazy Zack's (a famous haunt). When the last call came, we just told the Swinging Medallions to follow us down the street. Thirty minutes later, we had them set-up in our back yard and the party continued.

General Johnson was a Grammy Award winning artist, one of the giants of this musical genre. And, he was young - only 67. It is sad I will never see him perform live again, but I am grateful for his talent and his contribution to Carolina Beach Music. Every time I hear one of those songs, I am taken back to moment or so in my past when life was carefree and the music was the background of a wonderful youth. "Just give me a little more time. . ."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Butter, the Downfall of Humanity

Speaking of Butter, "they" (whoever they are - it may be a conspiracy) continue to preach about its unhealthy qualities. To hear some, one would think butter goes way beyond being a health issue. It alone is the sole cause for all the ills of humanity including the break down of the American family, the recent recession, and the failure of our public schools. OK, I'm taking this a little far, no one can blame the failure of our education system on our love of butter. But I digress.

If you look at a package of butter, the ingredients include: Sweet Cream and Salt or just Sweet Cream if it is the unsalted variety. Now, for the sake of argument, let's take a look at the "healthy" alternatives that we are constantly told we need to use to better our health and prolong our lives. Take the ingredients in "I can't believe it's not butter": partially hydrogenated soybean oil, water, natural sweet cream buttermilk, salt, natural soy lecithin, vegetable mono and diglycerides, potassium sorbate, calcium disodium EDTA, natural and artificial flavors. Don't you love it. The makers are pretty proud of the two "natural" ingredients, sweet cream buttermilk and the soy lecithin.

Remember, Chiffon Margarine, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature". Well, turns out, it's damn hard to fool Mother Nature and the rest of us. And, there was always the tub of Parkay that had the identity issue of pretending to be butter then reminding us he was "Parkay". There were more issues there than an identity crisis. 

If I'm going to die early, I would much rather enjoy good food during what life I have left to live. Personally, I would need to think long and hard about a protracted partially hydrogenated existence. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

That's Why It Tastes So Good

Now that good Southern food is in vogue, you may find some of these on fancy menus up North, but beware. God only knows what they have done to them. One thing about it, you cannot be politically correct and cook good southern food. It taste good for a reason - it has good old fashion ingredients. Sure, you can substitute this and that, but you will also be substituting taste and quality. It's a package deal.

A friend of mine who had visited and finally consented, under duress, to try collards acquired a taste for them while she was here. After she got back home (with the recipe) she called. "They just don't taste right." "Did you add the fat back for flavor?" "Yes" I knew she was lying but was willing to give her a break. "Have you had a frost yet?" "What?" "If you haven't had a frost yet, the collards won't be up to par."She later admitted that she could not bring herself to use fat back. The closest she could come was a packet of "Ham Flavoring".

Again with biscuits - folks always comment, "We try and try, follow the recipe, but we can never get them to turn out right." "Are you using shortening?" (I know lard is a lost cause) "Well, no. I added extra oil and butter." Well, duh! "It's never going to be right without the shortening." "I cannot imagine eating anything made with shortening." "Well you did and you liked it." (Actually the biscuits were made with lard but why cause unnecessary stress - ignorance is bliss.)

Our cakes taste better because they have pounds of real butter in them - not margarine, Not "I can't believe it's not butter." Trust me, that's not close, and it's not going to fool us, a cake, or Mother Nature. Our real iced tea is fresh, clear, and made from water, tea bags, and lots of honest to God sugar. It's not a mix or come from a can or a jug. And that moist dark fruit cake that taste so rich and yummy - soaked in brandy.

So if you want the authentic food from the South and you want it to taste the way you remember it - put your diets back in the books, forget any problems you ever had with animal fat, put the political incorrectness back in the closet. Down here we all eat alike, and we eat good. But for that flavor to be mouth watering and so memorable, it is authentic and real. Just like our southern belles and southern charm . . . and, um, and our red necks and NASCAR. Hey, what can I say - it's a package deal.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Link to the Past

It takes a good friend who will search the Texas State Fair for "Fried Butter" simply because you mentioned it in a comment to a post in his blog. Especially a friend you haven't seen in twenty eight years and just reconnected (via the Internet - and NOT ON FACEBOOK!). It brings back memories of times we shared back in our college days doing those things we could only get away with in our youth.

We were lucky enough to get our parents to fund our lifestyle in the most lovely city in the country, live that life that is wasted on the youth, and at times even attend classes. My memories are of porch parties with beer every Friday afternoon, Steely Dan and Carolina Beach Music, Sans Souci, Chinese fire drills on Broad street. It is the thought of a 14 foot Christmas Tree in the large front room of a fraternity house and four hours of fun, fellowship, and drinking, with a room full of friends just opening gifts from each other. And, the time we took to pick out each gift because each one meant something. (I still have the 45 rpm of the theme from the Muppet Movie - see I didn't forget!)

But, then we had to grow up.  It is nice to know that the friendship is still there. That, after I have survived twenty eight years of marriage, raising rearing two daughters, several careers changes,   and my mother, there is still a link to my past. I can still go back there. This is justification that all of it did in fact happen. After all, only a true friend would search for, and then sample (that was going way beyond the pale!!) Fried Butter. Hopefully, sometime in the future, the two us will be able to sit down and share some laughs, memories, and adult beverages. And, I guess I owe him one. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Too Proud to Whitewash

My Aunty used to say that we were too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash, which put us in one Hell of a fix. Not knowing exactly what whitewash was for a longtime, this was pretty much lost on me. I knew that we were "OK" financially. We were never hungry. We had clothes, although my mother would never buy me that pair of blue Papagallo flats I wanted badly when I was 11 years old.

It was at that point, I determined we must truly be "poor". She constantly refused to let me shop in the "cool" stores and for years made my clothes (See December 12, 2009 ). This was a fate worse than death to a preteen. After all, it didn't matter how "cute" those patterns were in the McCalls and Butterick pattern catalogs, the final product never looked the same.

And, she would never consider a Vogue pattern, even though I tried my darnedest to get her to. Jeez, if I had to be humiliated, let it be something a little sophisticated and fashionable. But no, it was not be. I did win a concession by putting my foot down when it came to Simplicity. That would have surely been the downfall of my life. Right there in sixth grade, I can hear it now, "Young  lady forced to wear homemade clothes from Simplicity catalog, attempts suicide by Ric Rac, film at eleven." But I digress.

One morning, my mother and I were going at it once again about her determination to humiliate me with my gingham and corduroy wardrobe.  Dad stepped in, "Like what clothes are you talking about." I went to my room and came out with three hideous outfits." "See," I said crying, "and they make fun of me. And, Mama says we can't afford anything else." He didn't say anything.

That afternoon when I got out of school instead of my regular carpool, there was one the young ladies who worked for Daddy waiting for me. She said, "Come with me, we have some things to do." I was shocked when we walked into the coolest shop in town. I just looked at her. "Your father said to bring you down here and let you pick out whatever clothes you need for this season."

After I got over the amazement of actually being in the store, I realized I had no way to pay for these clothes. "But we can't afford these clothes," I said quietly to my friend. The shop owner laughed, "Honey, that's not  what your Daddy says." That afternoon, I had the time of my life, even though I still did not get the Papagolla shoes. In fact, I'm still waiting for those tasselled flats.