Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I've come to the conclusion that the most beautiful sights to see are not in the art galleries, they are all around. Just open your eyes.

Paul Taylor · American choreographer

With more than ten dance companies to choose from, Angie and I trusted Aunt Patsy to decide which performance we would attend – and she chose wisely! We were treated to several Paul Taylor programs choreographed over the last forty years. My favorite of these was also set to music by another of my favorites, Johann Sebastian Bach. Taylor has been hailed as "the greatest living American choreographer" – and it's therefore so naturally perfect for his work to be accompanied by greatest composer of all time.

Here's a 26-second glimpse at Esplanade:

And for those of you who want to watch every step from beginning to end:

· Paul Taylor's Esplanade · 1 of 5
· Paul Taylor's Esplanade · 2 of 5
· Paul Taylor's Esplanade · 3 of 5
· Paul Taylor's Esplanade · 4 of 5
· Paul Taylor's Esplanade · 5 of 5

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dude ... this is outtasight

After arriving in Durham for the evening's American Dance Festival performance, Aunt Patsy treated my sister and I to a mini-tour of the area before dinner. Take a ride with us under Graffiti Bridge, which connects Duke University's West and East campuses. Built in the 19th century, this bridge is a piece of Durham history as well as urban art.

Although I assumed the entry was marked with an Internet acronym, Ell-Oh-Ell-age — Angie can be heard suggesting that it can also be read as simply Lollege.

As we emerged from the other side, we encountered an unusual school bus – also covered with graffiti. In my excitement to include it with the bridge video, I ended up cutting the video off (easy mistake, it's a new camera!). Upon uploading my video to YouTube, though, I discovered that we had seen one of two ADF buses that dance students ride to and from their classes and performances. What a treat to see this, and then to come home and learn this bit of ADF trivia!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Recently spent several days in North Carolina with my aunt and sister. A whirlwind of catching up, sightseeing, gourmet meals and just enjoying each other's company. Angie and I timed our visit with Durham's annual American Dance Festival. Since Aunt Patsy attends this each year, we trusted her to choose which performance to see – and weren't disappointed. The weekend's highlights:
  • Visited Duke University Chapel, the church that Big Tobacco built, where a wedding rehearsal was underway. Since this historic chapel is a regular tourist attraction, this event didn't prevent going inside to ooh and aah at its marvelous architecture.

    Duke University ChapelThe chapel's welcome matSpectacular stained glass above the chancelOne of several pipe organs in university's chapel Upon leaving Duke's campus, Aunt Patsy shared the story of Graffiti Bridge as we passed under it.

    Welcome to Lollege · by lizrary
    Photo Credit: Liz Fabry

  • Met friends at a fancy Greek restaurant that served exotic dishes like Tourkolimano Meltsanosalata, Tempura Scordalia, and others I can't pronounce. I wasn't adventurous enough to try the octopus.

    Photo Credit: Lunch Menu

  • Spent an hour at Aunt Patsy's nail salon for the most amazing salon pedicure ever! My photos don't adequately reveal the nail tech's artistry, but I suspected she got her start painting grains of rice.

    Artistic Asian PedicureWhat a coincidence – I'm wearing black sandals too!No this isn't a stick-on

  • Spent a rainy afternoon indoors playing Clue. Even after several games, I never got the opportunity to do my special Gloating Winner Victory Dance.

    Clue Marathon

  • And the weekend's main event, an evening American Dance Festival show at Durham Performing Arts Center, where we watched several outstanding performances by Paul Taylor Dance Company

See Esplanade!

Friday, May 14, 2010

I went to Graceland yall!

My parents drove up to visit my family this week — and during their stay my mother had a sensational idea ...

I'm going to Graceland yall!

Elvis Presley's Graceland

Elvis Presley Blvd.Despite residing in the Memphis area since the early 1980's, I've never driven over to Graceland to see what all the fuss is about. It was a first for all three of us. Although I was expecting gaudy and kitschy, it was anything but. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at how tasteful and inviting Graceland was, and also impressed with Elvis Presley's talent and generosity.

I also have new respect for Elvis Presley Enterprises. With lots of tourists in Memphis for the weekend's World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, things were already busy when we arrived shortly after 9am. Graceland staff are crowd control masters, and always gracious despite the sticky Mid-South heat. This doesn't mean that I'll return during Elvis Week in August.

Graceland ticket stubs
The three remaining stubs indicate the attractions we skipped

My feet called it a day after touring the mansion, memorabilia, car museum and airplanes, although our tickets allowed entry to several other Graceland attractions. I opted against bringing my bulky old-fashioned camera along, but postcards and refrigerator magnets were available for sale in all four of the souvenir shops I visited. And with our Photographer Extraordinaire along, we didn't even bother posing for the standard Graceland customer portrait. See Mother's photos on flickr:

Elvis and Graceland
Elvis Lives marqueeElvis Presley Automobile MuseumGraceland gate

My trip down Memory Lane ...

During today's museum tour I learned that the 1993 Elvis Presley commemorative postage stamp remains the most highly publicized and biggest selling stamp of all time. I was one of several thousand visitors to the two area post offices doing First Day Cancellations. (Yes, I went to both. It was the overhyped social event of the season.)

click on the image to learn more

Monday, May 10, 2010

HMD to meeeeeee

The best things in life aren't things.

Art Buchwald · 1925-2007

When someone has given so much of herself through the years, it's hard to find a way to say thanks...
Thanks honey
I love you too!
Several years ago I made a rule that my kids aren't allowed to spend money on Mothers Day gifts. Since I like to shower my own parents with presents, I recognize my contradictory example to "do as I say, not as I do". Still, I hoped to liberate my own from the Hallmark Holiday pressure to go out and buy me something. To that end, Sarah deserves credit for honoring her Mother by honoring my wishes.

Neal, on the other hand, forgot about the rule and presented me with a purrfect gift: A new mousepad to replace the unsightly hand-me-down I've used for years. And since my new computer came with one of those oddball keyboards, he shelled out even more money for a fancy ergonomic one. Blogging's gonna be a breeze now!

New mousepad
Covered with cat hair? No sweat!
Whoever used this mousepad is a P-I-G pig!
Looked even worse before I scrubbed it

And although my rule wasn't intended to demand time consuming chores or gifts from the heart —

Lori and Maggie did both!

My granddaughter the artist

Sample of sampler
Sample of sampler
Click on the image above to see Lori's completed project

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Baked with love

Fixing this morning's breakfast revealed an unexpected culinary anomaly:

A cutout to die for — get it?
Pillsbury with payout potential?

Okay, so this tiny heart doesn't carry the religious significance of the Virgin Mary pretzel or Jesus Cheetos that occasionally make headline news. But since divine cuisine has become almost commonplace, I began to wonder if this secular biscuit might be considered rare and valuable among ebay bidders.

Realizing that a hunk of raw dough wouldn't ship as well as a baked item, I slid the cookie sheet into the oven and began imagining how I would spend my sudden windfall — then realized my mistake 20 minutes later.

Frozen Heart Warm Heart

No matter how good my intentions had been, the baked-til-golden-brown version appeared to be nothing more than a flaky biscuit.

You don't need to understand Japanese to realize the worldwide appeal of the item shown in this video:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ready to dig its roots in

Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart.

Russell Page · British garden designer
1906 - 1985

Three months ago when I bragged about my inherited hydrangea, I could hardly wait for planting season to arrive — then when it did, I grew nervous and began to drag my feet.

North side of the house?
Not enough direct sunlight.

South side then?
No way, it would block the forsythia.

Back flowerbed?
In the only suitable spot for Grandmother's hosta?

Okay then, somewhere out in the yard?
Just another obstacle to mow around.

How in the world will I get it out of this big planter?
This dilemma eventually took care of itself when the rotten wood began to fall off, making the rest easy to remove.

But what if it becomes fungussy and diseased?
Hates living here and refuses to bloom?
Or just shrivels up and dies?
You'll never know at this rate, will you?

Finally settled on a location, dug a big hole, pushed it in. Even remembered to use root stimulator.

Out in front for the world to marvel at

And look what I found hiding under several years of dust in the garage —

An old fashioned hydrangea's best friend!

From pink... to purple... to blue

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lesson (re)learned

How many fruit fly eggs come with an 18 lb. bag of fruit?

Doesn't matter, since a well-prepared homemaker prevents the eggs from hatching by washing fresh produce when it's brought indoors.

And one day I hope to remember this lesson.

It begins innocently enough ...

There I am, casually pushing a shopping cart through the produce aisles when it finds me — mmmmm the sweet aroma of Texas Ruby Red grapefruit! And for the thrifty price of those great big bags, who could resist?
18 lbs. of goodness
A lovely drive home ...
No way do I put the fruit in the trunk, or even the back seat. I drive home surrounded by its scent.

Looky what I got!
The family's tickled to see the unexpected treat. Quick as we can haul the groceries indoors and stuff everything into the pantry, we grab a few knives, slice those suckers up and dig in!

Impaired judgement, poor decisions, regrets ...
Perhaps a belly full of fresh citrus is like that third glass of champagne you should've politely refused at your boss's wedding reception. I begin to realize that confining the remaining 15 pounds to the fridge would be foolish. Last time I tried that, we forgot we even had grapefruit and they all spoiled. The crisper bin isn't big enough to hold them all anyway. Besides, no Glade Plug-In can match the fragrance of a basket full of Ruby Reds on my kitchen counter. And of course I forget to wash them.

But I do eventually remember ...
Despite enjoying the grapefruit for breakfasts and betweeen-meal snacks, pushing them on guests and sharing with neighbors, I realize too late that I've repeated a tiresome mistake — but only after a gazillion fruit flies hatch and swarm throughout the house, where I suspect they continue to breed for several generations. I'm also reminded why I typically purchase ready-to-eat grapefruit slices in jars marked Del Monte.

photo credit – Scott Hatfield · Monkey Trials ·

Saving the fruit to dispose of the rinds —
but too late to kill off these annoying pests

Friday, January 29, 2010

Unwelcome reminder of the past

Crisis du jour:

Sewage backup!

I don't know what the average septic tank life is, but the one buried in my back yard has efficiently collected my household's wastewater for nearly 18 years with only occasional Rid-X® treatments. So when it recently began showing signs of age and wear, I wasn't all that surprised — but I was certainly disgusted by the filthy water that was seeping back into my tub and shower.

An inch of backed up wastewater in the shower floor

When the ignore-it-and-it'll-go-away approach stopped working after a couple weeks, a local sump pump service promptly drove out and did its duty. What a relief to put this unpleasant matter behind me!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hoytie Toytie

Presenting ...

Miss Hoyte Bounds

Cute little thing, ain't she?
circa 1912

This adorable baby girl eventually became my grandmother — and lots more.

  • The school librarian who handed down the district's unwanted Dick-and-Janes from which I learned to read
  • The farmer's wife who could out-shuck, out-can, out-freeze and out-cook any other
  • A green thumb extraordinaire who lovingly created and tended Tippah County's most glorious daylily garden
  • An outstanding seamstress that kept my kids' closets packed with everything from heirloom garments to playclothes
  • The dedicated quilter who lovingly handstitched dozens of patchwork quilts for her family, along with countless gifts for St. Jude patients with fellow members of her local quilting guild

More genteel Southern Belle in her poised pinky finger than I have in my whole bodycirca 1930'sUp to her elbows in dumplins
The Daylily DivaThe Christmas she made aprons for all her girlsSo many hand-stitched quilts I've lost countMy favorite was her Garden Tomato Soup

My daddy even published his mother's Cornbread Dressing recipe in his first cookbook, Wendell's Favorites. Takes several days to fix properly, and every bite's worth all the work! Click on the image below to discover its location on the World Wide Web:

Hoyte's Cornbread Dressing recipe

Monday, January 18, 2010

Power breakfast

The most important meal of the day in my household oftentimes includes scrambled eggs. One morning during a recent visit, Uncle Hugh honored this dish's distinctive mixing technique with an official name:

The trick to perfect Eggs Dewalt is choosing a reliable power drill. And since they're not limited to plain scrambled, this morning I added cheese and sausage to create the perfect omelet.

Power Drill Attach a single mixing device Omelet

Note: A pliable plastic bowl is recommended, since the vigorous mixing may damage glass or hard plastic.

After discovering that I'd used about half as much salt as needed, I decided my perfect omelet wasn't fit for human consumption and offered it to other hungry mouths to appreciate:

And real men do eat quiche after all ...

Remember this 1980's bestseller?Even the sissiest egg casserole can be made suitable for Real Man consumption by scooping a generous helping into a large flour tortilla, adding picante sauce (the more the manlier), then rolling up into a breakfast burrito.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My own piece of hydrangea heaven

In 1975, I was given a gift of a blue hydrangea. It was love at first sight. As I explored the genus, my passion grew. A few years later, I learned I was not alone; many gardeners share my addiction. By 1994, I was convinced that the world's perfect shrub deserved a plant society to celebrate and explore its versatility.

Penny McHenry · 1925-2006
Founder of the American Hydrangea Society

It is with deep respect and humility that I report my recent inheritance of an adolescent hydrangea shrub. It belonged to my mother-in-law, who has tended it carefully for at least a decade.

Hydrangea shrub

Nevermind all that overgrown Bermuda grass. The summer blooms that grow on this plant are stunning!

I'll admit that this isn't my first hydrangea. I've purchased several small ones over the past 20 years, but promptly killed them.

Pink hydrangea bloom -

And from what I've been told, I ended up with this precious hand-me-down ... because no one else wanted it?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Enough is enough!

Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.

Cicero · 106 BC - 43 BC

I've already begun Spring Cleaning, but not by choice. Instead, the pantry got cleaned up after I accidentally turned a Family Size box of cereal upside down and spilled its contents on the three lower shelves.

After emptying, sweeping, vacuuming and wiping, I faced the task of deciding how to fit all that stuff back in — until I began to realize that much of it was better suited to the local food pantry than my own.

FIVE open jars of peanut butter?
The overabundance of food was baffling. Specialty items purchased for recipes that were never made, stuff that no one in this household would dream of eating, and so many multiples you'd think we've been preparing for a global famine. The examples pictured here are a small taste of how many un-necessities we've been stockpiling.

Gee-Are-Oh-DoubleEss — canned blackeyed peasSarah finally decided she's outgrown this stuffAnyone for rice?Unrealized birthday plans?How many 1st Birthday parties does one family throw?
And the most ridiculous discovery of the day:
Expired 4/18/2008

Since I try to learn from my mistakes, I'm gonna go reorganize my pantry so that full cereal boxes are no longer placed on the top shelf. For more ideas, here's a good one to start with from the heart of Texas.