October 2007


29 Oct 2007 11:38 pm

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Menu from Court of Two Sisters, New Orleans, Lousiana, circa, 1960

My late Mother-in-law, Martha Ann, was a big fan of New Orleans cuisine. She always set a bountiful table full of rich, delicious food. She and my father-in-law collected the menus from New Orleans’ restaurants. The above Court of Two Sisters is one such menu.

I love to thumb through the old recipe books Martha Ann collected. Most were Junior League cookbooks from the South. She made sure I had some of the cookbooks when we were just starting out. One of my favorite recipes from Jubilee, the Junior League of Mobile is Cocktail Cream Puffs with Nutted Chicken Filling. It’s definitely not for dieters but is yummy and surprisingly easy to do. I first served it at the promotion party we had when my husband was promoted to major.

Cocktail Cream Puffs

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup boiling water
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs.

Heat over to 425 degrees. Combine butter and boiling water in saucepan; keep over low heat until butter is melted. Add flour and salt all at once and stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball and leaves sides of pan. This will take about two minutes. Remove from heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until smooth and satiny. Drop level teaspoonsful of mixture onto greased baking sheet, bake twenty to twenty-two minutes. Cool on racks. Cut slice off top of puffs. Fill with Nutted Chicken Filling. Serve warm. Makes about 6 dozen.

Nutted Chicken Filling

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 (3 ounces) package cream cheese
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 1/3 cups finely minced chicken
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Melt butter in skillet, add pecans and cook over low heat until lightly browned. Cool. Combine with remaining ingredients. Makes two cups, enough to fill about three and a half dozen puffs.

For really elegant recipes check out Sissy Willis.

20 Oct 2007 07:08 pm

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I made a Halloween Triarama as an example for my students. I always made my kids’ Halloween costumes and decorations when they were little and still prefer the home-made decorations to the store-bought. I will never forget coming home from school when I was a kid and discovering that my mother had decorated the whole house for Halloween. That was a memorable moment in my childhood. Spooky can be fun.

Here’s how to make a triarama:

1. Cut a piece of construction paper into a 9″ square.

2. Fold the square along the diagonal twice so that it forms an X fold pattern on the paper.

3. Cut from one corner to the middle on a fold line.

4. Draw the background of a Halloween scene from on the upright part of your triarama.

5. Overlap the bottom triangles and glue or staple.

6. Then decorate the ‘floor’ of the triarama like your Halloween scene. You can make a cut-out of ghosts and goblins for the ‘floor’. Add a flap to the bottom of each ghost and goblin so you can fold it over to be glued to the floor.

20 Oct 2007 11:16 am

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My brother, Sgt. Major Bobby Fletcher came home this past Tuesday. What a wonderful day. The weather even cooperated.

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He’s home to spend a lot more time enjoying his granddaughter and to news that another grandchild is on the way.

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Vivi America

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Bobby in Iraq, standing under what is thought to be one of the first archways ever built.

Did I have any idea when we were playing war in the back pasture when we were kids that my brother would grow up and go to war, not once, but two times? He was always the leader when we were kids. I am very relieved that he has come home safely and very proud that he has played an important role in keeping our country free.

15 Oct 2007 12:42 am

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The view down Main Street at the Van Buren, Arkansas Fall Festival.

This weekend was family oriented. I babysat my grandson so his parents could go to see the Razorback game in Fayetteville. The game unfortunately, ended as I feared it would. The Hogs lost to Auburn.

I watched the last half of the game and saw the camera focus in on someone who had a teeshirt on with the words, “Houston, you are the problem.” I totally agree with that sentiment. I have long been an unbeliever in the Arkansas Razorbacks. One thing the team can usually be depended upon to do is to consistently let the Charlie Brown, Razorback fans down.

Back in December of 1969 I had been dating my husband for only one month when we went with his parents’ to “the game of the century“, the Texas vs. Arkansas Southwest Conference shootout. Back then one dressed up to go to football games and I certainly did for that game. I didn’t want my boyfriend’s parents to think I was a slouch so I wore a dress and uncomfortable shoes because they were pretty.

I froze at the game.

I will never forget how cold it was. Back then the dresses were still very short due to the influence of Twiggy, who now finds herself as one of judges on America’s Next Top Model . My mother-in-law, Martha Ann, wore her fur jacket and I had a fake fur coat on that my grandmother had made me. I even had a matching hat. When Bob tried to help me untie it after the game he accidentally punched me in the chin.

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Never wear short dresses to cold football games.

But that’s not why I have such a negative position on the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Back in 1977 when Arkansas beat Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl we were stationed in Germany and I was homesick. Hearing that the Razorbacks won that game really lifted me up. But over the years I have noticed that the coaching staff of the team has gotten worse. I liked the coaches, Ken Hatfield and Lou Holtz of course, but their conservatism and enforcement of the rules irritated the political powers in the state. Of course, too, Frank Broyles, former Arkansas coach and Athletic Director since forever, hovered over them like a Jewish mother.

Apparently the present coach of the Razorbacks, Houston Nutt is a good old boy who never saw a thug he didn’t want to recruit. (or make excuses for after they were arrested.) So the state of Arkansas football usually reflects the political establishment.

Not so, Army. I will always be an Army fan, even though the first game I ever saw them play they were beaten 77 to 7. That was in 1973 against Nebraska I think when my husband was a cadet.

I described that time as the sad season of Army football. When my son was a cadet, however, things had really picked up. Army beat Navy three out of four of the seasons he was at West Point. Army never lost a game I attended during those days.

But I digress.

About the photos posted here. Van Buren, Arkansas is a charming town just across the river from us and we love to go to their various festivals. They close main street to traffic and fill it with booths full of arts, crafts, food, music and NASCAR collectibles. (although I am sure one doesn’t need innoculations to go to the festival) The weather was also cooperative and we had a great time at the festival.

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By the time we had gotten to the festival some of the merchants had closed up shop but we still had a great time.

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My parents’ antique shop on Main Street. If you can’t find it here, you can’t find it anywhere.

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The chocolate covered bananas were delicious.

10 Oct 2007 11:49 pm

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The Mayor of Fort Smith, C. Ray Baker, presents our son, Drew with a Welcome Home plaque and the official city flower. The mayor led us all in his motto, “Life’s worth living in Fort Smith.”

It’s really worth living now. To hear our great Mayor (who was also a high school American history teacher) on Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know check out this link and listen to the first hour.

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Mayor Baker showed up at our Welcome Home Party for our son, Drew this past Saturday night. We had food, we had flowers, we had music. Lots of really loud music.

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My nephews and their friend, Will practiced all of Drew’s favorite songs and performed them at the party.

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The spirits were high.

My brother, the Sgt. Major is back in the states. Thanksgiving will be very special this year.

04 Oct 2007 11:42 am

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When I was a teenage babysitter, one of the coolest kids I babysat for was a whimsical and funny, five year old boy. John always came up with the funniest comments and questions. One day he said, “I can’t see my eyes.” I answered, “Well, I can see your eyes.” He responded, “I can’t see my eyes. I must not have any eyes.” I took him to a mirror and pointed out his eyes. He said, “That’s not really my eyes. That’s a mirror.” And on and on. He grew up to be a doctor.

I was reminded of John the other night when I was writing my post, “A Surge of Joy.” We had experienced such a wonderful weekend and I had waited until very late to do my blogging about it. It was a long post and I found it hard to edit myself.

As I was about to hit “publish” suddenly the blog disappeared. Just a white page and finally, the “page can’t be displayed window.”

Luckily, just before I started to publish, I copied everything. Then it all disappeared. I pasted the post on Word and checked out the rest of the internet. I could view everything.

Tired and disappointed, I went to bed.

I couldn’t see my blog the next morning although everything else on the internet loaded properly. I went to work.

Later, that afternoon I turned on the computer hopefully.

I still couldn’t see my blog.

Now, I’ve been very busy lately and haven’t posted as avidly on my blog. Some days when I did have the time I didn’t have the words. Or, I had too many words and couldn’t organize my thoughts.

But, this was getting annoying. My husband had installed a new security system on my computer and in the back of my mind I wondered if it had caused the problem. I emailed the wonderous and talented, Sadie of Agent Bedhead and Apothegm Designs. She got right back to me and reported that she could see my blog. She gave me some technical advice. I contacted the host for my blog and they got back with me telling me they could see my blog and my account was current.

I emailed Sissy Willis and asked her if she could see my blog. She could.

Apparently everyone in the world could see my blog (well the few who actually look) except for me.

Was I being punished by the blog gods for my sins of commission or omission? Were they telling me that it was time to put away childish things and go do the dishes?

I began to wonder when my family who lives in the same city I do could also view my blog.

My husband, who is an action man, heard my sighs of woe and started discussing the issue with me. He tried to view the blog on his computer. He couldn’t. At least I finally wasn’t alone. We checked the laptop downstairs and we could see the blog.

I had proof that it was still there but couldn’t login on the laptop to write because the wireless was too weak.

I suggested that the new security system might be causing the problem but after we turned it off we still couldn’t see Wide Awake.

I started the dishes, folded a load of clothes and cleaned the downstairs bathroom. A lot of housework gets done around here when I am upset or frustrated. I wanted my blog back. I am a blogger. Take my blog away for a day and I’m back to doing housework. The floors get too freaking clean. We can’t have that.

Plus, I wanted to comment on the news of the day. I heard Rush Limbaugh on the radio last week during a break in my classroom as he was discussing the phony soldiers issue. He said nothing wrong. His intent was not to criticize active duty soldiers who are against the war. I am outraged by the attack on him by Hillary Clinton’s Media Matters and Democrat senators. Rush has done a lot in his support for the troops not only in words but also in deed. When my son deployed to Iraq, Rush adopted him, giving him free 24/7 for the year he was gone. Rush helped to uplift me during the entire year my son was gone with his insightful world view. (A world view that the Democrats want to silence)

Now, I felt silenced. The Wide Awake Cafe was sleeping or perhaps, was in a coma.

My husband called our internet provider.

After an hour and a half on the phone Bob determined that the reason I couldn’t view or operate my blog was a bad router.

Weird.

Bob messed around with the router and brought the blog back. I hugged him and through the ether, hugged my blog. I published A Surge of Joy.

I can see my blog. I can post on my blog. Simple happiness.

01 Oct 2007 10:30 pm

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Daddy’s Home

Friday we left home and traveled east across the state to Jonesboro. Our son’s unit, the 875th Engineer Battalion of the Arkansas National Guard was going to arrive sometime Saturday and we wanted to be prepared for the Welcome Home. As we drove into the pretty city of Jonesboro, home of Arkansas State University, we saw Welcome Home banners everywhere. Every place of business had the signs displayed on their buildings. It really was exhilerating to see so many people out and about getting ready for the return of the 875th.

Our family was so excited. We spent the evening together, making welcome home signs and talking about our excitement. We stayed in the same hotel that we stayed in last year to farewell our son. Something about it this time seemed so much more hopeful. I wasn’t even annoyed with the slow elevator.

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When Charlotte does anything it always has her special unique and whimsical touch. She decided to make a Curious George Welcome Home sign because she had one of the bandaids on her finger and it’s one of my grandson’s favorite movies.

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My daughter-in-law’s Mom and sisters came up from Louisiana to welcome Drew home.

The 875th had spent their last six days in Camp McCoy, Wisconsin for their demobilization. They flew from Wisconsin Saturday morning in three planes landing in Memphis. One group of the unit returned to Paragould, Arkansas and the other two groups returned to Jonesboro at the Guard Armory which is just across the street from Arkansas State University. Our son called us at the hotel to tell us that he was in the last group in Memphis to return and so we settled in to wait. He called us five minutes later to tell us they were leaving right then. So we excitedly got in the cars to take the trip through town for the 875th’s welcome home. Crowds of people lined the streets. We were wearing the yellow Welcome Home 875th tee shirts we had purchased from the family support group.

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There was a big whoop and many cheers when we heard the sirens of the police cars and the fire trucks coming closer. Many of the deployed soldiers from the 875th are police officers, and firemen. One officer is the local district attorney. (he plays a mean fiddle)

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My husband was so excited to see the three buses coming that he ran down the street and planted himself right by the entry road where the buses would turn in. He wanted to be the first to see our son.

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My grandson was getting tired of waiting for the buses to arrive. For the last year, because he was so young, he believed that his Daddy had gone on a hunt for toys for him. He would receive a toy from his Daddy every week in the mail. One day a couple of months ago, he told his Mom that he had enough toys, he just wanted his Daddy. Some day I am sure he will learn the truth and be very proud of his father.

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My daughter-in-law’s mother saw Drew on the second bus. We all rushed toward it.

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There he was, looking like General MacArthur.

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The hug that lasted a month.

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The son didn’t let his father out of his sight.

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While Drew went to get his gear my grandson decided to plant his flag. No, it wasn’t a choreographed Clinton moment. It was spontaneous.

The rest of the joyous day our family spent together. We weren’t unique. The families and friends of the 875th were all thrilled to see their loved ones. There was a lot of love in the air in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

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We traveled home Sunday past unique Arkansas towns named Possom Grape and Toad Suck. In this changing season the landscape was full of yellow wild flowers. I imagined as we drove past the fields of yellow that the flowers were also celebrating our heroes’ return.

The soldiers of the 875th came home safe except for one. Sgt. Eric Smallwood was remembered in a Memorial Service/blood drive in Jonesboro this weekend. I pray that his sacrifice will not have been in vain and I believe it won’t be. My son reports that the surge is working and as always, the troops are proudly defending our country.

The 875th did a great job while they were in Iraq, locating 1244 IEDs.

“They cleared over 375,000 kilometers of roadway resulting in over 300,000 mission hours being completed to ensure the safety of just thousands of Iraqis and Coalition Forces.”

That’s a great record.

We are so thankful to have our son home safe.

My brother’s still over there but will be returning with his unit sometime in mid October. So, although I am greatly relieved, our family’s not out of the woods yet.

My cousin’s son is in Afghanistan. So the prayers are still going up until all of our sons and daughters return in victory.