Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year! What To Eat For Good Luck On New Year's Day?

Although I am not at all superstitious...except for avoiding black cats, always keeping a rabbit's foot in my pocket, picking up pennies on sidewalks, trying not to hear thunder in February, never drinking bourbon while eating bananas, or milk with fish, etc., etc....I do follow the old Southern tradition of ALWAYS eating black-eyed peas, cornbread, and greens (the color of money)...cooked with ham hocks (because pigs always go forward since they cannot see or walk backwards) for good luck and prosperity in the new year. Besides, I like these healthy dishes. What do y'all eat on New Year's Day? Please page down or scroll down to the bottom of this page to see my animated Happy New Year's Card.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Scents That Trigger Happy Memories?

As pictured above fragrant pomanders made with oranges and cloves hanging around our house perfumed the air. Other favorite spice aromas in the kitchen came from ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. The smell of freshly cut cedar which we got from our woods for our Christmas tree and door wreath was pleasantly pungent. Colorful fruit bowls of oranges, tangerines, satsumas, and apples were a feast for the eyes and nose and tongue. The wonderful smell of a huge ham covered with whole cloves and brown sugar baking on Christmas morning was mouth-watering. Southern-style fruitcakes packed with pecans and saturated with good bourbon gave off delicious smells when the tins were opened on Christmas Day. Which Christmas scents trigger happy memories for you?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kenny G and Winter Wonderland Christmas Display Video

This is a cool video with a Christmas lights display nicely sequenced to Kenny G's famous version of "Winter Wonderland". Turn up your speakers and enjoy and get yourself a dose of "Christmas Spirit".

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Porch Poinsettias and Ambassador Poinsett

The history of the poinsettia: The plant we know today as the poinsettia has a long and interesting history. The fact is, that lovely plant you place in your home during the holidays was once used as a fever medicine! Native to Central America, the plant flourished in an area of Southern Mexico known as Taxco del Alarcon. The ancient Aztecs had a name for this plant found blooming in the tropical highlands during the short days of winter:cuetlaxochitl. Not merely decorative, the Aztecs put the plant to practical use. From its bracts they extracted a purplish dye for use in textiles and cosmetics. The milky white sap, today called latex, was made into a preparation to treat fevers. Joel Roberts Poinsett: The poinsettia may have remained a regional plant for many years to come had it not been for the efforts of Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779 - 1851). The son of a French physician, Poinsett was appointed as the first United States Ambassador to Mexico (1825 - 1829) by President Madison. Poinsett had attended medical school himself, but his real love in the scientific field was botany. (Mr. Poinsett later founded the institution which we know today as the Smithsonian Institution). Poinsett maintained his own hothouses on his Greenville, South Carolina plantations, and while visiting the Taxco area in 1828, he became enchanted by the brilliant red blooms he saw there. He immediately sent some of the plants back to South Carolina, where he began propagating the plants and sending them to friends and botanical gardens. Among the recipients of Poinsett's work was John Bartram of Philadelphia, who in turn gave the plant over to another friend, Robert Buist, a Pennsylvania nurseryman. Mr. Buist is thought to be the first person to have sold the plant under its botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima (literally, "the most beautiful Euphorbia"). Though it is thought to have become known by its more popular name of poinsettia around 1836, the origin of the name is certainly clear!

Friday, December 12, 2008

"A Christmas Memory" by Truman Capote (Click On This Title To Read It)

Every Christmas season for about the last 30 years I have found time to pull out my thin copy of Truman Capote's extremely touching, bittersweet classic "A Christmas Memory" to re-read. It is a short, simple and beautifully written account of a poor, young and unwanted boy in rural Alabama during the Great Depression, and his special relationship with his elderly distant cousin he called "Sook", and his memory of a wonderful Christmas they created and shared together. Reading this makes the "giving spirit" of Christmas come alive. Click on the word "Christmas" in the title above to read it and warm your heart.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Santa Claus: The Coca-Colarized Version Americans Love (Click This X)

In 1931 the Coca-Cola Company commissioned the famous illustrator Haddon Sundblom of Michigan to create some advertising that would encourage customers to drink Coca-Cola in the winter instead of just in hot summer weather. The focus was on showing Santa Claus drinking Coke at Christmas and depicting Santa in a new American style very different than European art versions of St. Nicholas and Father Christmas. Those old world art versions of Santa were NOT fat and fact, he was shown as tall and skinny, and his facial expression was dour and frightened children, and those costumes were not colorful enough to suit Coca-Cola's ad campaign. Voila! Sundblom created the classic fat, jolly, smiling Santa in red and white clothing that Americans came to love and know even today. The bottle of Coke in Santa's hand is from what began in Vicksburg in 1894. (See my post on this down below.) Click on the title at the X above to go to the Coca-Cola Coke Lore site to read all about this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Farewell To Fall..Autumn Leaves Video Sung By Eva Cassidy

The strong thunderstorms that swept through this part of Mississippi today have stripped almost all of the fall leaves off. Due to strange climate patterns and irregular rainfall this year our fall colors here were rather disappointing. This song, "Autumn Leaves", is one of my favorites and is sung by the late, great Eva Cassidy who had a purity of voice very rare and beautiful. Turn on your speakers and click the arrow. Enjoy!

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Random Act Of Kindness With A 42 Cent Stamp: Update: This Program Has Ended

Update 12-18-08: It has been brought to my attention that this particular card program has ended due to insufficient organization, deadlines, security concerns, and other factors. Thus do NOT send a Christmas Card to the address below as it will NOT be delivered. A Wounded American Soldier, c/o Walter Reed Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20307-5001 It is sad to me that this good program has ended. Too many formerly positive things in this country have gone away and/or now broken.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Let's Say Thanks To Our Troops Overseas Card Project (Click This X)

Xerox has a really cool site for its project to send FREE and QUICK thank you cards to individual soldiers serving overseas. See the soldiers above holding their cards. The art on these various cards was created by kids all across America, and you can select from a menu of messages you want written on your card. Regardless of how we may feel politically about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our soldiers deserve our thanks and support for all they are doing. Especially during this holiday season, I'm sure a soldier would get a kick and a smile to receive a card from us. Click on the title of this blog above to go to the Xerox card site and send a card. It is so easy and just takes a second to do.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Greetings 2008

Norman Rockwell, the famous American illustrator and painter, created this series of posters below during World War II based on President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" speech to Congress in January, 1941. FDR inspired and lifted the spirits of the American people during the Depression and war and quelled their fears, and Rockwell captured the scenes and values of small town America and reminded us of our precious freedoms perfectly. Left click on this picture to see it better. Thanksgiving ... a time of joy... warm thoughts...reflecting on..and counting our many blessings and expressing gratitude for all of them and our American freedoms during these troubling times...and never, ever taking any of them for granted. Remember that "Freedom is NOT FREE" and was bought and paid for by the blood, sweat, tears, and vigilance of every generation of Americans. May all of these gifts and more be yours... Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Daffodil & Pansy Planting November 2008

On a perfectly beautiful fall day recently while the weather was sunny and cool, I planted 148 daffodil bulbs as an underplanting for 72 purple Pansy Majestic Giants II. All gardeners are optimists so even though I was late working up this daffodil and pansy bed, my thoughts were of spring when in February and March, 2009 this combination should hopefully put on a nice show of purple and gold for Mardi Gras color celebration (not for LSU. I'm an Ole Miss red and blue guy!). In my mind's eye I can imagine this punch of color by the driveway and it gives me something to look forward to for those chilly and windy months.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hotty Toddy! Ole Miss 31, LSU 13; Ole Miss 45, Miss. State 0

As an alumnus of the University of Mississippi, it was particularly sweet to me to see the Ole Miss Rebels beat the LSU Tigers 31 to 13. Our football rivalry goes back for generations and is serious and fun! I hope Ole Miss will now go to the Cotton Bowl. Update on 11-28-08: Ole Miss beat Mississippi State 45 to Zero in the Egg Bowl!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Biloxi, Mississippi Weekend For Kenny G Concert

Kenny G, the Grammy winning saxophonist, performed at the Beau Rivage on Friday night and his sold out concert was about the best one I have ever seen. With great passion and extraordinary talent, he played most of his top hits including "Songbird", "Forever In Love", "End Of The Night", "The Joy Of Life", etc. I love instrumental music and Kenny G's genre of smooth jazz and adult contemporary is my favorite. He played his heart out on his soprano saxophone and the audience was spellbound. The Beau Rivage Hotel is where I usually stay when I go down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It is the largest and finest hotel in the state of Mississippi. It was wrecked by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 but has been completely restored/rebuilt to its former glory. This is a famous historic landmark on the Mississippi Gulf Coast at Biloxi. Built in 1848 of cast iron and masonry, this lighthouse has survived many hurricanes during its 160 years including the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Do you REMEMBER these? A cool site where the '50s and '60s come back to life

Left click on this menu below to see the shockingly low prices! Click on the word REMEMBER in the title above to go to this cool site loaded with nostalgia and of interest to you if you are of a certain me...OK, a senior citizen or dinosaur or whatever we are called. There is a jukebox that plays all the great music hits of the '50s and '60s, plus a menu of slideshows and videos and all sorts of stuff to bring you happy flashbacks. Turn up your speakers and lose yourself REMEMBERING the good old days when times were really good.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Coca-Cola In Bottles: Brilliant Vicksburg Idea In 1894

Have you ever heard the expression: "If we could put that in a bottle and sell it, we could make a fortune"? Well, in 1894 here in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Joseph Biedenharn, owner of a candy company and soda fountain, got the brilliant and novel idea to put his soda fountain Coca-Colas into bottles and distribute them by the case to stores and small towns throughout this region so that folks could buy them already mixed and ready made to take home. (In early days people craving a soft drink had to go to a soda fountain where they were mixed with syrup and carbonated water at the counter and served in glasses.) His bottled Coca-Colas became wildly popular, and as they say, the rest is history. Cokes and other bottled soft drinks are now sold all over the world. Canned soft drinks came much later. Click on the word IDEA in the title of this post above and also on my righthand sidebar link to visit the web site of the Coca-Cola Museum here in Vicksburg.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Goodbye To The Steamboat "Delta Queen"

This is a photo from the Net, not one I took, of the legendary "Delta Queen" steamboat cruising majestically on the Mississippi River. When she docked at Vicksburg, I could not get a good shot because of the strange position she tied up on the west side of her sister the "American Queen". On November 3, 2008 I took these photos of the steamboats "American Queen" and "Delta Queen" at the Vicksburg river landing. The barely visible "Delta Queen" is moored to the far side of the "American Queen" in the foreground, and this is the last stop she made going downriver to her retirement in New Orleans. It was sad to see this famous steamboat's last call here. Many people including me came to see her and bid her farewell. Thankfully the modern luxury steamboat "American Queen" will still continue to operate up and down the Mississippi River and stop at Vicksburg as usual and perhaps one day the "Mississippi Queen" will resume operation. All passengers on the "Delta Queen" boarded the "American Queen" to finish their trip downriver to New Orleans. This welcome sign is painted on the flood wall at the riverfront landing where Mississippi River steamboats tie up to shore still as they have done so since the 1820's. The river gage marks on the flood wall at the river front in Vicksburg show the high record levels the Mississippi River reached in certain years.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Thank You Note

After my complicated eye surgery on 9-4-08 I had to be offline from this blog for many weeks while I was recovering in order to avoid eyestrain. Many people left comments here with kind words and best wishes, and I received lots of personal e-mails and get-well cards also. I want to express my appreciation to everyone for your concern. It is a blessing to me to have so many thoughtful friends in the blogosphere community and in the real world. Thanks y'all!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Swamped By Swamp Sunflowers?

This is a classic old-fashioned Southern passalong plant given to me many years ago by a dear lady in south Mississippi. It is a native perennial that is tougher than an Ole Miss quarterback and can flourish in any extreme soil, water, or weather condition known to the South. My little starter plant has multiplied into a background hedge at least 50 feet long and that is a good thing and just what I wanted it to do. I just pull out babies to keep them under control. Left alone these can grow up to 10 ft. tall, or they can be pruned in early summer to stay knee high if you prefer. They bloom only in late summer and early fall, and since I love yellow flowers I am happy with them.

The Holly Days Are Coming Soon My Tree Tells Me

Many years ago I dug this tiny wild native holly tree seedling up from the forest and brought it home to plant. This year it has a nice crop of berries just starting to turn red. Is this a sign of an early and extra cold winter ahead? I hope not as I dislike cold weather. I left my heart in the tropics of Southeast Asia years ago! It always amazes me to think of how our local Choctaw Indians used this tree's leaves and berries to brew a purgative drink to purify their bodies.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

November 1, 2008 Slideshow

Alternanthera 'Party Time' Pleases People

Photobucket I could not say no to this striking and exotic tropical plant that called out to me by my first name as I browsed in a nursery. It was all alone (perhaps due to its price tag) and it double-wowed me with its multicolored leaves that almost seem unreal. I had seen and read about this new release in catalogs and had added it to my "gotta have" list earlier this year. Alas, I am a hopeless plantaholic....I want 'em ALL, and I want 'em NOW....especially when it comes to variegated plants.

Friday, October 31, 2008

BOO...don't let the goblins grab you this Halloween!

This is the perfect Jack O'Lantern for those of us who are dismayed and disappointed by this tiresome political campaign season, the economic meltdown, and the loss of the Tampa Bay Rays at the World Series. The expression carved into this pumpkin captures perfectly all of the emotions many of us have during these scary times. One of my favorite magazines is "The New Yorker" which has such excellent writers as well as its wonderful cover art (as seen in the picture above) and delightful cartoons. My subscription to it helps me to stay sane as it keeps my sense of humor alive and healthy and my mind sharp. It has been said, and I believe it, that laughter is the best medicine of all. My prolonged ordeal of recovering from eye surgery has been NO fun and games, but I do try to laugh...both out loud and mentally... whenever I can and I do feel better afterwards.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Left Eye Problem And Going Off On Medical Leave

FYI, tomorrow I will have complicated surgery on my left eye involving a triple procedure: a corneal transplant, cataract removal, and a lens implant...all to be done in one fell swoop. Needless to say I will have to be offline for some time to allow my eye to recover. I have great confidence in my surgeon, one of the best in Mississippi, so I will be in good hands. God Willing, I will see y'all later and be back online later this month. BTW, this is a public domain Net picture and not one of my own eye.

Monday, September 01, 2008

We Dodged Hurricane Gustav's Bullets On 9-1-08

It is a blessing for us that Hurricane Gustav's path from south Louisiana inland to the northwest has allowed us to dodge his bullets of destruction. Here in central Mississippi we have received only light winds and light rains, and we are glad this hurricane is to the south and headed to the west of us. We pray that our friends, relatives, and neighbors in Louisiana will be safe and sound. What really ticked me off was while preparing for the worst scenario of this hurricane's arrival I discovered that our portable generator has been stolen from the storage shed! This is the first time ever to have anything STOLEN from this house and yard in all the years of living here. I despise theft and I do hope the jerk who stole our generator gets electrocuted if he tries to use it.(Just joking!) Thank goodness we did not lose our electricity thus not actually having a need to use the generator.

Variegated 'Glacier' Ivy Gettng A Bath On Labor Day

With your left mouse button double-click your cursor on this photo to see the details of this favorite variegated 'Glacier' ivy. Most of my photos are in very high resolution and are best viewed if you double-click to enlarge them fully.

Hurricane Gustav's Rain On My Begonias and Peppers

Hurricane Gustav is a gentle giant here in central Mississippi, and I thank him for bringing us only light winds and light rains.