Monday, December 25, 2006

i almost forgot

Since i was out of town most of last week, and then recovering from a cold and too overwhelmed with last minute holiday preparations to post about the trip to Orlando, here are a few trip photos. Most of the lights are from the Osborne display. Pretty, yes, but I am glad they are now at Disney and not between my house and the nearest hospital (or the doctor that needs to get to said hospital). That is probably a "scroogie" thought, but I lived that nightmare - or at least the fear of it.

Hope you are having a Merry, Mellow Christmas . . .

End of a long day . . .

AAAANNDDDD --------------

Saturday (mid-morning) - December 16 - Main Street - Small Town, Mississippi

Sunday, December 24, 2006

this morning's newspaper headline . . .

Gunman steps into bank, kills teller, exits with cash

A gunman burst into a west Little Rock bank branch Saturday morning, shot and killed a teller and then told another teller, “Merry Christmas,” on his way out the door, police said. The Metropolitan branch is in the Colony West shopping center near Interstate 430.

“The suspect then stated to [the teller] ‘Merry Christmas’ and exited the bank,” according to a police report.

As you know, this is less than a mile from our home. I feel a personal loss when reading this story - because of the proximity and because of our own recent vandalism experience. My heart is breaking for the family of the man who was shot. My prayer is for swift and merciless retribution to the man who committed the crime.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Cornbread Dressing - Part 2

1 pan of cornbread, (about 6-10 cups crumbs)
3 cups bread crumbs (an egg bread like challah is a good choice, or use purchased “breadcrumbs”)
2-3 eggs
2-4 cups chicken stock and / or turkey drippings (canned or homemade – I sometimes also use low sodium canned vegetable broth)
½ cup green onions, minced (use the green tops – some people call these scallions)
1 onion (white or yellow), chopped
1 stick butter (use to sauté the white onions)
2 teaspoons rubbed sage (or poultry seasoning)
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper

Mix all ingredients, and bake in a buttered casserole dish at 400-450 F for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. The more liquid you add at the beginning will determine cooking time and final texture of the dressing. If you want a firm dressing, cook a little longer at a lower temperature – 350 or 375 – to prevent burning.

This is a very rough recipe – so you will have to taste and see if it meets your expectation. Sometimes you can bake a small amount to test before you actually put the whole batch in the oven. Use more of anything you like or that sounds good to you – pecans, celery, parsley, cranberries, chestnuts, mushrooms. Tweek the seasoning, then go for it. I acknowledge that some people do not like sage – although I cannot imagine why. Very well, leave it out. If you take the short cut with the onions I suggested in the cornbread recipe, just add the butter without adding extra onions.



Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cornbread Dressing - Part 1

Everyone in my family knows Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. And cornbread dressing is an absolute ESSENTIAL. To satisfy a recent request - here goes!


Well, it is obvious, but must be said: To make cornbread dressing you must first make the cornbread. It should be made from scratch, not a mix, as all the mixes I have tried have sugar, and sweet cornbread just does not make a good base for dressing. So, we begin at the very beginning (a very good place to start). And the cornbread is best if made at least a day before your big event, so I am giving you a head start! Go ahead, make the cornbread, then you can go to the head of the class!

This is a simple, eggless cornbread. The miracle of cornbread is that if you do not have buttermilk you can easily substitute yogurt (plain, unsweetened) or plain milk (any kind – skim, 1%, 2%, whole) with a little vinegar OR lemon juice. Can it be any easier? Keep your cornmeal in the freezer, sealed in a Ziploc bag, if you don’t use it often. This is a very forgiving recipe, and after you have made it a couple of times, you can almost make it with your eyes closed, just a dash of this and that, then add milk till it “looks right”. Cook it in a hot oven, preferably in a cast iron skillet that has been greased with butter (or –whisper - bacon drippings).

Sometimes, when I need to "fast track" for dressing prep, I will chop the onions I plan to use in the dressing, and add them to the cornbread batter to bake in the cornbread.


1 1/2 cup white or yellow cornmeal (white is our family tradition)
½ cup flour
½ tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Before adding the milk to the dry ingredients, turn the oven to 425 F, and put your skillet on a top burner (or in the oven as it preheats). Heat the skillet on medium, and melt 2-4 tablespoons butter, margarine or “drippings”. Watch it while you mix the cornbread, and take it off the heat when the fat is melted. When you preheat the skillet, it gives the cornbread that nice crisp exterior!

To the mixed dry ingredients add:
1 cup buttermilk (or yogurt thinned with milk, or plain milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice

Stir thoroughly, and pour in the fat. Wipe the edge of the skillet with a paper towel, set the skillet back on the burner (turned off), and quickly mix the fat into the cornbread. Immediately turn the batter into the skillet, give it a shake to rise the bubbles, and put it in the already-hot oven. Bake approximately 25 minutes

Test it for doneness (toothpick or whatever – like a cake). Turn it out into a heat-proof bowl or plate to cool. Once cool, you can begin to break it up for the dressing. Do not cover it until cool. If you are making it several days in advance, keep it covered, and freeze or refrigerate. Sometimes I just crumble it up and put it on a cookie sheet, then place it in the oven (cool) to dry out a little, so it will absorb the flavors of the chicken stock when I make the dressing. Just don’t leave it more than about a day without covering and refrigerating.

If you just want cornbread, you can easily half the recipe, or make little corn cakes (like pancakes) fried lightly in oil. When I make corn cakes, I do not put fat in the recipe. If you absolutely must have a sweet cornbread, add about a tablespoon sugar to the dry measures.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A PERFECT DAY - Part 57 (!)

As always, I could have predicted today’s weather report! Mild and sunny with azure skies and a light breeze. Ah! What a day it has been. My birthday again - A PERFECT DAY!

I got my new bike late yesterday afternoon, so my first ride was today over the Dam Bridge. We forgot the camera, so had to go back later in the day to take the pictures. A very busy place on a PERFECT Saturday afternoon ;)

I rode 8 ½ miles today. WOO-HOO!

The "big rock" downriver from the lock and dam .....

Looking west toward I-430 and Pinnacle from center of the Dam Bridge .....

Little Rock hillside overlooking the river .....

And saving the best for last .....

Thursday, August 10, 2006

National Geographic, part 1

Ok, so this is Julia, and I'm living in Thailand. I've been here about a year, and sometimes my life here seems normal, no big deal. And then, we'll have the most random things happen or see something odd and I just think, "I'm definitley not in America." A few months ago, we kept hearing this really loud animal noise in the middle of the night...every night. We started telling some of our American friends about it, and they knew immediately what it was. A tokay gecko. They proceeded to tell us horror stories of trying to get rid of tokay geckos. They smell horrible if you make them mad, they'll bite you and not let get the point.

Then we went home a did a little research (aka Google) of our own. And after seeing how big and ugly they are, there's no way we can just be ok with it living in our backyard. We tried various methods of getting rid of it. We moved everything outside that could have been its home. We turned on outside lights in the middle of the night to try to make it leave. We even found an mp3 of a gecko call and played it really loud at night to make it think it had some competition. I'm not sure exactly which method worked, but it's gone now. No one got bitten, and our house never reeked. So that episode is resolved. But, there have been several adventures since then, and I'm convinced that as long as I'm living in Thailand, there will always be new episodes!

Friday, August 04, 2006

fun-having at Disney

*I don't know why, but i can't seem to upload photos from home. Stay tuned for the saddest tree you ever saw!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Paul Eells, Voice of the Razorbacks

You probably won't see this on the national news, but newsworthy for us.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The George Banks Special

I saw a commercial on TV this afternoon for Oscar Mayer hotdogs. They are now packaging dogs and buns together! And they are called "Fast Franks". hehehe

[I have temporarily forgotten how to make a link]

So, now all you people can think about how it will feel when your kids say, "Gee, Mom (or Dad), you mean they used to package hotdogs and buns separately??? That's stupid!"

And you will say, "Yes, dear, I was born before people could do hardly anything, but our generation has applied itself to excellence! You should follow our example."

And speaking of George Banks . . . and franks . . . Kitty recently called and told us David got married in May - poolside at the bride's home in Cleburne, Texas. Kitty said the only thing that was missing was Fraahnk.

Julia, I'm sorry. This is all I can think of to blog at the moment. I'm trying real hard to update at least weekly.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

it's a dry heat

I am such a sissy about hot weather. I can step out my office and immediately know if it is over 100 degrees. It is like everything is in a blue haze – you know – like those wavey desert scenes with a mirage in the distance.

My oldest daughter was born in 1980, and has probably heard me tell about it being the hottest summer on record in Arkansas. That is not an exaggeration or just an over-active imagination. I just did a little searching, and found the hottest day ON RECORD for the last 7 days was in 1980. The best I recall, it was above 100 for something like 21 days in a row. I’ll try to find that newspaper headline and scan it for a future blog.

Here is the tally for the last week – Little Rock style:
2006 Record High
July 18 - 101 108 (1980)
July 17 - 100 109 (1980)
July 16 - 99 108 (1980)
July 15 - 98 107 (1980)
July 14 - 101 108 (1980)
July 13 - 96 108 (1980)
July 12 - 98 106 (1980)
July 11 - 96 106 (1930)

(sorry the spacing and tabs didn't work)

Thursday, July 13, 2006


You ain't got a thing if you ain't got that bling!

I have often wished I had kept a “fashion journal” over the years. Mostly as a reminder to myself that I can have a happy, fulfilled existence without wearing something just because “somebody” “somewhere” decided it was “fashionable”.

I am not obsessed with fashion but I also try not to be a fashion rebel (i.e. wearing something just for shock value). I might be considered completely UN-fashionable by a vast number of people. But I DO try to keep up with current styles and trends, even if I do not wear them myself.

I have a mirror at my house. Sometimes it tells me that a style or item of clothing just is not – um, er… “best” for me. That does not mean I have never been seen in unflattering garments. It might simply mean, on that particular shopping day, given the choices, I preferred a green v-neck knit with ¾ sleeves instead of a gorgeous eggplant silk blouse that was sleeveless and plunged to my navel.

Currently, I am observing that the “must-have” fashion statement seems to be bling. Accessories. Jewelry. Like a department store fell on you, as I once heard it phrased. Some of the jewelry I see on one person would stock 2 or 3 modest jewelry counters. One of my co-workers was recently seen wearing 3 necklaces, a pair of long, dangly earrings, rings on 6 fingers (more than one ring on most of the fingers), 2 ankle bracelets (with nylon stockings), 4 arm bracelets of various descriptions, fake nails, a hair doo-dad, a beaded blouse, and one of those monstrous blue-tooth ear-phones (bright pink, thank you). Yes, all at the same time. Incredibly, no piercings or tats were visible. Whew.

All I could think of was this: I remember back in the 1960’s when I was a young teen and trying very hard to do and be and wear “what was right” (because that was what decent people did back then). One of the fashion magazines (probably Glamour or Seventeen) came out with this point-system for checking yourself before leaving the house. Every garment or accessory counted a certain number of points and you were under-accessorized if you did not have on at least – let’s say – 15 points. But you should remove a piece or a few if you went over 20 points. The details are pretty foggy in my memory now, but it has been a rough bench-mark for me all these years. Funny how something so minor can color your thinking for a lifetime. True of many things, I am sure.

For your amusement I shall try to recapture what I remember. BTW, this has nothing to do with white shoes only between Easter and Labor Day.

Casual blouse or shirt in solid color – 1 point
Blouse or shirt with pattern (plaid, print, texture like corduroy, etc.) – 2 points
Dressy blouse or shirt with extra detail (like cut-outs, ruffles, sequins, etc.) – 3 points
Jacket, vest, shawl (or other layered effect) – 2 points
Casual skirt (solid color) – 1 point
Patterned skirt – 2 points
Dressy skirt with detail – 3 points
Plain shoes (solid color) – 1 point
Shoes with detail or contrast color top-stitching – 2 points
Solid color heels – 3 points
Heels with extra detail – 4 points
Purse (solid color) – 1 point
Purse (with detail or contrast stitching) – 2 points
Ring (simple bands) – 1 point
Ring with stones or jewels – 2 points
Simple necklace (something conservative like a strand of pearls or gold) – 1 point
Necklace with jewels – 2 points
Earrings – 1-2 points (depending on elaborateness)
Bracelets – 1-2 points (as above)
Socks or anklets (plain) – 1 point
Socks with pattern – 2 points
Nylon stockings – 3 points
Glasses (plain) – 1 point
Glasses (decorated or “fancy”) – 2 points
Belt (plain, solid color) – 1 point
Belt with detail – 2 points
Hair accessories – 1-2 points (depending on elaborateness)
Pins, brooches or other jewelry – 1-2 points (depending on elaborateness)
Any garment with decorated buttons counted 1 point extra (or 2 points if buttons were rhinestones)

Of course, nobody but men wore pants back then (jeans the only exception). And the top piece was a “blouse” not a “shirt”. A dress counted as a top and bottom piece, so a 2-point minimum for a basic dress.

Today, I don’t know how the "official" point-system would handle such things as sequined tee-shirts and flip-flops. High-heeled flip-flops. Body art – piercings, tattoos, lacquered and jeweled 2” fake nails. Layered tee-shirts – just count ‘em all, I guess. Bare bellies. There should be like a 5-point penalty for wearing anything that looks just plain stupid. Goucho pants on most people (IMHO). The mobile phone ear thingy. How anyone can think that looks cool is beyond me – considering how self-conscious people have always been about wearing hearing aids! There is a multitude of things I could list here, but I am sure you could easily make your own list of “favorite fashions to hate”.

Go! Make your list!

P.S. Send your list to my comments!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Games & Problem-solving

This is sort of Palm/PDA related, sort of “life” related. Every day I check several websites that update me on news about Palm, smartphone and PDA development and software. It seems the overwhelming majority of new software is GAMES. I don’t get it. First off, I guess I am at a time in my life when I want to be more productive – not less productive. Secondly, I can’t resist the thought that if people spent as much time problem-solving in their own life as they spend on-line or on an X-BOX, their lives would not be in such a mess. I am not completely discounting the entertainment value of any toy or game; I guess I am just advocating BALANCE – in all things. Which has pretty much been my motto since I knew what “motto” meant, and that I could adopt one as my own.

Entertainment has value. It provides relaxation and diversion from stress or boredom, to be certain. But there is something in me that screams, “Take a life situation (problem) and make the solving of it a game. Twirl it around in your mind. Try on the different scenarios. Consider the possible outcomes. Take control of your own life-decisions.”

Some months ago I read a blog of a woman ranting about her husband’s incessant use of the internet – how he was literally addicted to it. She was very tired of coming home after a day at work, then fixing dinner, fetching kids here and yon, trying to keep a semblance of order in her home (laundry, groceries, lunches, social obligations, etc.) while her husband spent the entire evening (every evening) surfing. Her summation was, “Can we get some productivity here?”

Good advice for us all. Problem-solving. GOOD STUFF!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Well, I love a good thunderstorm as much as anybody, but we had a couple roll through last week that did some damage. Soaking rains and a bit of wind brought down this huge old tree, which smashed this car in Priscilla’s neighborhood, on my route to work.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

dirt simple

I have been reading through some of the very thought-provoking essays by PJE (link added today). I have only read a few of the posts, but have found each one more than I can get my mind around in one read-thru.

Take a look around the site, and read one or two. I would suggest starting with "The Multiple Self" (which has nothing to do with schizophrenia), or "Zen and the Art of DIY Brain Surgery" (just scroll down a bit - to March 25). Interesting. Very interesting. Good stuff, that.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Manager Tip #2 / STAFF MEETINGS 101

1. Staff meetings should have a purpose. As the leader, you are in charge of the agenda. Refer back to Manager Tip #1.
2. If you can’t think of anything to present or discuss at a staff meeting, you should consider cancelling the meeting until you come up with a plan. It would be considerate to let people know BEFORE the meeting that it is cancelled.
3. Once you have an agenda, schedule the TIME and PLACE.
4. Give advance notice to everyone you want in attendance. Don’t be afraid to send reminders until a routine is established. Simple details.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Manager Tip #1

If you are the leader … LEAD!
Don’t look around the table as if to ask, “who wants to volunteer?” At least tell people what they are volunteering for!

More tips coming soon.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"Honk if you know me"

Bumper sticker seen on the way to work this morning. It should be my driving motto.

When people honk at me while driving, I just wave. Well, sometimes I smile real big and slow down too. And it always makes me think of the guy who was at a stoplight one day, and someone behind beeped him when the light turned green. He got out and opened his hood. No, everything was fine, he just wanted to annoy the driver behind. Also reminds me of the guy who actually put his car in reverse and tapped the guy behind and then drove off.

I am not very impressed with people who honk at other drivers. The car ahead of me does not always go on a green light as soon as I think they should. I DON'T HONK.

If I turn right on red and almost get hit by a car that has the right of way I DON'T HONK - like it was their fault!

If I change lanes to avoid hitting someone who pulled out in front of me I DON'T HONK. And when they change lanes again to cut me off - I DON'T HONK.

You get the prize if you suspect these scenarios are not fictional. And my response?

"Don't get mad, just wave!" I'm still driving the coolest car on the road!

Monday, April 03, 2006


I don't know why it fascinated me to take this photo across the ravine. My shadow is falling perhaps 100 feet from where i am standing.

What a beautiful day for a drive. I made a little run to Branson to do some spring shopping. I was planning to photograph the masses of redbud trees in bloom, but it got dark before I got that far south. Yes, I could have taken the photos on the way UP to Branson (earlier in the day) but I was rather in a hurry to get to Branson before the stores closed! Quite a day-trip when you don't leave town until after noon. hehe I won't go into the details that required two trips in one weekend ;)

After sunset I watched a thunderhead build in the south sky as i headed back to Little Rock. It was an awesome panoramic display, with the lightening bouncing back and forth across the sky, almost like an echo. It seems this is the storm that moved through central Arkansas to do considerable damage in Tennessee later in the night.

the road to Branson ... where i lost my hat :(

... bright spot in a drab landscape ...

Spring is here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

random thoughts

One of my blog readers told me i don't update my posts frequently enough.

Believe me, it is not for lack of things on my mind to write about. My thoughts are a whirl as i drive to work and back each day. As I wash dishes, shower, lie awake in the night. Then I sit at my desk, and it is just too overwhelming.

Work is stacked high all around me, and my thoughts keep pounding. Sometimes I have to write them down just to make them feel more manageable. That is what drives people to journal, I suppose. The need to make thoughts seem more orderly.

But it doesn't really help.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

more Thai thoughts and photos

too many highlights to feature them all, but here's trying ...

Doi Suthep temple plaza and buddhist pagoda

over 300 steps up to the temple plaza at Doi Suthep

Thai boxing ... Steve will have to tell you all about that!

Not a very clear picture, but the homemade apple pie and ice cream made the trip in excellent shape. Frozen solid when we arrived. It actually took a couple of days to thaw!

AC around the world

Adding to my "collection" of AC in wet cement. This is my first international graffiti - or autograph - or whatever you call it.

Corner of Chang Moi, Soi 3
(Chang Moi Street, Lane 3)
Chiang Mai, Thailand

somtam and sticky rice

Just one of the many treats we experienced in a beautiful country.
Nicole says she does not like it, but I thought it was quite tasty!
Kinda spicy like slaw but you eat it with your hands.
Shredded (chopped) green papaya, peppers, fish sauce, tomatoes, topped with chopped peanuts ...
Interesting, I must say. But, yes, good.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Thailand highlights (so far)

I had to take a break from walking yesterday afternoon. While I sat at a window counter at Starbuck's I was watching these workmen tear up a sidewalk while people just kept walking by. In the U.S., this whole side of the street would have been closed to walking and driving traffic.

We are pretty sure this would not be OSHA approved =)

no hardhats
no safety glasses
no orange traffic cones
no signage saying "walk on other side of street"

gloves? who needs 'em?

steel-toed shoes? - are you kidding? at least they are not flip-flops

Steph joined us for dinner Saturday night...

J bargaining for price of the songtau (taxi) ride. You would be so impressed with her command of the language after just 6 months!

Shopping at "walking street market" Sunday evening...

Dad getting measured for a new suit.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

almost February already?

This blog seems to have fallen on hard times. The holidays fell into the history books and here we are at the end of January. I have been so preoccupied with work and getting ready for an office relocation, trying to get a bit more exercise, and preparing for this trip in February - I've hardly had time to THINK of what I might blog if I had the time.

I intended to post pictures of the trip to Monte Ne (was it three weeks ago?) and the submerged ruins which have been revealed by the recent drought. Alas, they are still in the camera. I have done a little knitting. Almost finished with the navy socks. I plan to wear them on the trip to Thailand.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


I meant to blog this before Christmas, but I will go ahead with it now…

When Virginia was a wee girl, we were looking at Christmas cards and admiring the scenes. One of the cards was a print from a classical artist, and (as she was always keen on naming her own art creations) I informed her it was called “Madonna and Child”.

Her obvious question (at least to a child): “Why don’t they call her by her real name?”