Monday, January 31, 2011

A few things all little boys should learn

Good morning!  Actually it's a tired morning here.  I got zero sleep last night.  Zero.  And I have work study at 8, class at 9, and another class at 1.  I'm seriously contemplating taking a blanket for a nap in the car between classes.

So, last night in my insomnia induced haze I thought this would be a good topic for a blog.  A few things a mom should teach her son(s).

1.  Young men should be taught to remember Mother's day and birthdays.  In that order.
2.  They should be taught how to separate laundry and operate the washer and dryer.
3.  They should learn to bake cookies.
4.  Young men should be taught to cook.  Now, this may be as simple as a grilled cheese or not.  Up to you.
5.  They should understand that they do NOT hit girls.  Ever.
6.  As much as we don't want our children to fight, they will.  They should learn when to walk away and when to fight for what they believe in.
7.  Mistakes - let them learn from them.
8.  They should be taught that Gorilla Glue and duct tape really can save the world.
9.  Honesty - there are no versions of the truth.  Learn this early.
10.  And finally, young men should be taught the meaning of the word respect and what it means to respect another human being.
11.  And thanks to Mal for reminding me of this one .... You are your brothers's keeper, best friend, and historian.

Friday, January 28, 2011

From the State Line

Lev. 19: 9-10 instructs the children of Israel to leave a portion of the harvest in corners of the fields for the less fortunate to glean.

Times were still difficult in the late 1940s and early ’50s.

James Ed “Papa Pat” Patterson was born in McNairy County, close to a small town called Finger. His wife was Mary Kathleen Crowe. She was an orphan and knew nothing concerning her biological parents.

My grandfather found employment with the NC&StL Railway, later purchased by the L&N.

Known by his friends as “Iron Jim,” he worked on the track maintenance crew. This job, along with the steam engine fireman, were the most two physically demanding jobs in railroading.

Other than a cotton patch, railroading is the only job he ever knew. Papa Pat started out as a gandy dancer, laying track for the NC&StL.

He proved to be quite proficient at driving spikes, manipulating heavy tracks and wrestling cross ties. This earned him the name “Iron Jim,” and he carried it proudly for the remainder of his life.

The Paducah, Tennessee and Alabama Railway went bankrupt in 1896. It was absorbed by the NC&StL.

In its infancy, dark-fire tobacco, cotton, white oak barrel staves and various other farm products rode in rails from Benton, Ky., to Paris and beyond.

Hazel was originally called Kensee. Many of the residents didn’t like that name and, in 1890, after much politicking, the town was renamed Hazel.

Rumor has it that a large grove of Hazelnut trees straddled the state line, thus the name Hazel was conceived. Instead of nicknaming the local high school the Lions, the Hazel Nuts might have hit closer to reality.

A large tobacco floor was located between my house and Mike and Joe Morgan’s home. This cinder block and saw mill slab lumber structure burned to the ground in 1919.  My Dad, as a youngster, worked part-time at the business. I believe Henry Dees, founder of Dees Bank of Hazel, owned the business. The old foundation was still intact in the early ’50s.

It was bounded by Town Creek. Joe and I toted our BB guns into the overgrown thicket and battled pirates all day long.  When we each arrived home after playing much too long, we were exposed to a vicious examination by ours fathers, searching for ticks, beggar’s-lice or any alien insects. Preparatory cleansing was a heavy anointing of coal oil or lye soap.

In the early ’20s, local farmers were being starved by the low prices paid by American Tobacco Association, owned by James B. Duke.  He also operated the notorious Duke Power Co. Coal miners in East Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia were sacrificial lambs led to the slaughter to feed Duke’s greed.

The Black Patch War was spawned along the Tennessee-Kentucky state line during this time frame.  Dr. David A. Amoss of Springfield was the secret leader of the “Silent Brigade.” Members of this society formed an association in a feeble effort to raise tobacco prices from 3 cents a pound to 5 cents.

The vast majority of tobacco floor owners were bankers, sympathetic to Duke. Sometimes a palm-greasing went a long way in those long-ago days.

Once the crops went on the warehouse floor, the farmer had no right to refuse the price offered by American Tobacco.

The Night Riders wore black hoods and, just a mile or two away from their intended target, they wrapped feed sacks around their horses’ hoofs.

In a desperate effort to raise prices on dark-fire tobacco, certain warehouses that sided with American Tobacco were torched. These burnings usually transpired in spring and summer, when the floors were empty.

My other grandfather, Leander Daniel Salmon, who lived in the Blood River Bottom, cultivated six acres of Little Chief dark-fire tobacco in 1919, fetching a whopping $60. He and his family of five had to exist a year on $60.

I remember my father describing the burning of the tobacco floor in Hazel. He was only about 10 years old, but he was hired to clean out the warehouse floor after the season-ending sale in late February.

The sales concluded on Saturday and no one dared to work on Sunday. Monday afternoon after school, “Lil” Jesse Tilghman was sweeping out the lugs, broken or trashy leaves.

He would then tie each sizable pile in a hand and later the floor boss, Newman Daugherty, collected these tied hands of tobacco and sold them at Mayfield.  As Pop was finishing his chores, he was startled to see a silent group of about 10 black-hooded men on horseback, waiting in front of the loading ramp.

A spokesman for the men very quietly advised Jesse it would be best if he went home. In a matter of minutes, the tobacco floor was reduced to charcoal.

Apparently, the local operator of the warehouse learned his lesson. The floor was never reconstructed. Nearby floors in Clarksville, Springfield Hopkinsville, Mayfield and Paducah experienced fire problems.

Finally, the state militia in both Tennessee and Kentucky were dispatched, but this police action did nothing to raise the price of dark-fire tobacco. This, coupled with the coal field wars, was the biggest uprising since the Civil War.

This is just a nebulous footnote. Duke University is funded to a great extent by an endowment fund set up by James B. Duke.

In these days of public political correctness paranoia, I shall select the wording selectively for the following sentence. I have a delicate decision deciding who I dislike the most:  John B. Duke, for endowing millions swindled from coal miners/dark-fire tobacco farmers to Duke University; Christian Laettner, for hitting the “shot;” or Rick “The Stick” Pitino, for not fronting the Blue Devil’s inbound passer.

You can remove the D on the front and the E from the back and it still ain’t U.K. I have a more apt four-letter word, but I’d best not divulge it.

After Papa Pat was promoted to section foreman, he was commissioned by the L&N to carry a revolver.  The over all upkeep and track security was his responsibility. The Hazel town marshal’s jurisdiction ceased at the state line. Papa Pat’s authority ran from Puryear to Hardin.

As regular as the sunrise, Papa Pat announced that he would be checking the tracks each Thursday. If someone desired to glean a small amount of coal or popcorn, Thursday was not a wise or prudent choice.

Next week, I’ll end my bloviating about railroad memories.

Published by my Dad in the Paris Post Intelligencer.
Paris, Tennessee

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The colors of the rainbow

A few years ago the house I owned had no landscaping at all.  From family and friends, I began planting lots of flowers, starts, and seeds.  I thought I would share just a few of my favorites.  Even though I now rent, I do a lot of container gardening.  But it just isn't the same.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Did you know that January is National Soup Month?  I found that out today.  I love all kinds of soups, chowders, stews, canned, store bought, but especially homemade!

A hot bowl if soup is a great way to warm up while it's cold and dreary outside.  Homemade soup is a great way to get finicky eaters to get their servings of vegetables in, especially if they help make it.  I have to admit, though, most of my soups are not for the calorie conscious.

I have two favorites.  Venison stew and potato soup.  I know, I know, everyone and their mother has "the best recipe" for potato soup.  But, shh... mine really is the best.  Why you may ask?  Two reasons.  First, it is my mom's recipe and second it has VELVEETA!

Venison (or beef) Stew - Because the boys are such carnivores, I usually use 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of cut up deer meat, or you can use beef, dump it in the crock pot, add a large can of tomato sauce, some chopped onion and celery, salt and pepper and a packet of McCormick's Beef Stew Mix.  I may choose to add extra tomato sauce or if it gets thick a bit of water.  But this is stew, and it is hearty, therefore we eat thick.  After it's cooked until the beef has started to get tender (several hours), add diced carrots and potatoes.  I usually leave mine in big chunks because I refuse to spend time delicately cutting up carrots and potatoes in nice, uniform squares when the boys eat like Ralph's little brother from a Christmas story, shoving their faces in and devouring it before it's cool enough to even taste, but that's another story.  I am so fortunate that my boys are not, for the most part, finicky.  In fact, they are little piggies.

Potato soup, ah comfort food of the gods.  Unfortunately, I am at school and don't have the recipe with me, so I'm going to attempt to remember the recipe.

Make this according to how large a pot of soup you want...

Chicken broth (I use 3-4 cans)
Lots of diced potatoes and onions and cover this with the chicken broth.  Season with salt and pepper.  When veggies are tender, add a hunk of butter and a bit of milk and a big chunk of velveeta.  Stir til cheese is melted. 

Enjoy.  I apologize for not having specifics, but I don't usually follow an exact recipe.

Now, the question is... what is your FAVORITE soup?  And please share your recipe!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Grandmother's Sunday Chocolate Pie

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 Tbsp. flour

5 Tbsp. cocoa powder

2 cups milk

3 egg yolks

1 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. butter flavor extract

prebaked pie shell


3 egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 cup sugar

In a medium pan, combine sugar, flour, and cocoa and mix well. Slowly add milk. Slightly beat the yolks and add to chocolate mixture. Add the butter. Cook until thick, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add extract. Pour into prebaked shell and top with meringue.

For meringue, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy and slowly add sugar. Beat until still peaks form. Top pie with meringue and bake at 350 degrees until meringue is golden.

This is truly the best chocolate pie EVER!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Strength and perseverance

I'm not sure what this one is if it isn't a finch

I love my birds

Woody woodpecker loves the suet I had just put out

Yellow finch

House finch


Tufted titmouse - I think

Female cardinal


Can you imagine what it takes to survive in the frigid temperatures we're having?  The sense of survival that is ingrained from birth is amazing.

Stubbornly persist, and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits.  ~Robert Brault

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A variety of pictures on a snowy day

Every week night at 7 pm, the boys have reading time for 30 minutes.  After that we practice multiplication/division/math definitions for 30 minutes.  At 7:30 last night I went to tell the boys it was math time and this is what I found . . .

What a great way to go to sleep.  Dreaming the dreams that little boys dream.

School was cancelled this morning hours before the snow actually started.  I stepped out to snap a few pictures

When hubby discovered his truck wouldn't start.  He just put a new battery one it about 2 weeks ago. 

Last season's buck

This season's buck

I've learned that even though things may not always turn out the way I want, they turn out the way they should. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to be funny

I am not the funniest person in the world.  I love a good joke, I laugh at the silly dorky comedies on tv.  Right now I'm on a Everybody loves Raymond kick.  Dorky sitcoms tickle me immensely. 

It's not that I don't see the humor in things, I just usually see the irony. 

So for kicks and giggles I decided to hit the search engines for tips on being funny.  I found lots of information on the importance of avoiding stagnant jokes, avoiding all the "ism" jokes, etc.

                  "Humor is something that thrives between man's aspirations and his limitations. There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humor is truth." ~ Victor Borge

Then I found some great pointers on repetition.

So by now I'm getting click happy and trying to find a way to turn my seriousness into humor. 

I realized that I can't change my serious nature, so I'll stop reading all those crazy websites that tell me what I have to do to be funny.

Now see?  I think that is just hilarious.

*pictures courtesy of Natalie

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Count Down

Two more days . . .

and I'm headed back to school.  I'm looking forward to it.  I need the rigidity, the schedule.  I crave it.

I'm taking 16 hours this semester. 

Psychological testing
Work Study

Stats lab
Counseling psychology
Cognitive psychology
Advanced child psychology

Counseling psychology
Cognitive psychology
Work study

I usually pick up a few classes that I do note taking for other students and tutoring.  I'm hoping I can again this semester. 

My Advanced Child Psych class is a night class.  I hope I don't have to drop it.  I love the instructor and think it would be beneficial for me.  It just depends on when hubby goes back to work and if he ends up on a day or night shift.

Only 3 of my 5 classes I had to purchase text books.  $438 = 3 books.  Crazy.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Scrumptious Sunday

This cake is one I make during the holidays.  Hubby's mother made it every year and he said it doesn't seem like the holidays without it.  His sister found the recipe and I thought I would share it with you.

Orange Slice Cake

1 cup coconut
4 cups plain flour

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 lb chopped dates

1 lb orange slice candy, cut into 4-5 pieces each


2 cups brown sugar

6 or 8 oz can frozen orange juice

Grease and flour a tube pan. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk and add to the creamed mixture.

Place flour in a separate large bowl and stir in the dates, orange slices, and nuts. Stir to coat each piece. Add flour mixture and coconut to creamed mixture. Mixture will be very thick and hard to stir.

Pour batter into the tube pan. Bake for approximately 2 1/2 hours. Remove from oven. Combine the orange juice and brown sugar and and heat in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Pour over hot cake. Let stand in pan overnight.

Invert onto a large cake plate. It doesn't have to be refrigerated but you can if you like.

Hubby likes to keep it refrigerated and warm up up a slice at a time.  Like traditional fruitcake, this will keep for many weeks, when refrigerated.

Ready to go into the oven

Just out of the oven

Ready to eat!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fun Friday

I'm so glad it's Friday.  There's just something about knowing it's Friday and the weekend is here.  To celebrate Friday I thought I would share a recipe with you.

This is one of my most favorite desserts ever!  It's easy to make and never lasts long.  As a matter of fact, the first time I made it was for a family reunion.  It never made it to the reunion!  I had to make a second one.

Black Walnut Apple Cake with Lemon Butter

4 cups raw apples, chopped coarsely
2 cups sugar

3 eggs

3/4 cup oil

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups sifted flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 cup chopped black walnuts


3 cups powdered sugar

4 tbsp butter

2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp water

Combine apples and sugar and allow to stand while preparing other ingredients. Beat eggs with oil and vanilla. Sift flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Stir into the egg mixture. Add apple/sugar mixture and walnuts.

Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. When cool, cover with lemon butter icing.


Mix all ingredients well. If too thick, add an additional tablespoon of water. Frost the cake and enjoy.

Enjoy and happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For the love of birds . . .

School was cancelled at 5:30 this morning because we got about 2 inches of snow.  It's not unusual for school to be cancelled for this amount.  A lot of this area is rural and I imagine some of the school routes are likely still gravel roads.

I got out this morning and filled all the bird feeders.  I was glad I had some of my homemade suet, as the my cage feeders were empty too.  As soon as I stepped out, I saw a flutter of cardinals, juncos, finches, and blue jays.  I was hoping if I gave them a few minutes they'd come back.  I stood the cold as long as I could and managed to snap a few. 



Snowy dill

Snowy Rupert (Yes, that's his name!)



If you can identify the last two, let me know.  I think they are house finches, but not sure.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Save a Penny Sunday

Have you ever heard the old expression "He's so tight he squeaks when he walk"?  I'm not quite that bad, but I do try to make economical meals that my family enjoys. 

I thought I would share a few of my favorite penny saver recipes.

Crockpot chicken

Place 3 balls of aluminum foil in bottom of crock pot. This lets the juices drain from the chicken.

Place a whole 3-4lb. chicken on the foil after washing it.

Slice an onion and place on and around the chicken for flavor.

Drop 12 - 15 drops of Texas Pete or hot sauce on the chicken or more for desired taste.

Cook on high 4-6 hrs.

This chicken taste very similar to rotisserie chicken. It is not a bit hot from the hot sauce.

Hamburger Roll

Mix up enough biscuit mix to roll out into a large rectangle.

Brown one pound ground beef (deer), season with salt and pepper.  Lay down the middle of the dough lengthwise and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Roll up and bake at 350 until golden brown.
*This can be customized many ways to suit your family's tastes.

Pickled Dilled Eggs

12 hard boiled eggs, shelled

1 medium onion, sliced thin

¾ cup water

1 ¼ cup white vinegar

2 tsp salt

1 tsp dill weed

1 clove garlic, halved

2-3 tbsp sugar – optional

Firmly pack eggs and onions alternately in glass jar(s). Boil remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5-7 minutes. Pour over eggs and cover completely. Any remaining vinegar mixture may be used to cover cucumbers. Seal jars. Chill 3 days. Keeps 2-3 weeks in refrigerator.

Now I admit, the eggs are for hubby, I can't get the boys to even try them, but Ranger loves hardboiled eggs and can eat 5 or 6 at a time! 

Oh yes, my boys like to eat.  There are very few things that either one just won't eat.  What about you?  What are your go to budget meals? 


Friday, January 7, 2011

Best of 2010

I admit it.  I am a thief.  I'm stealing Betsy's idea of posting my favorite pictures from 2010.  Thanks for letting me "borrow" your idea Betsy!  Just click on her name to see her blog.

I don't know if it's so much that these pictures are some of my favorites or if it is the memories associated with each picture.

Thank you for letting me share my favorites from 2010 with you.

Papa Pat on the ranger

The little one's first day of school

Aaaah, summer

Snow angels

Nanny Ann
My three sons

Silly mom and dad

Ranger's b-day

I love my flutterbys

Ruby red

Dusty pink

He teased me all summer

Another flutterby on lantana

Night bloom

Rainy dill

One is the loneliest number

Floating leaf

Corny toes

Christmas orange

Mummy cakes for Mav's b-day

Milk and pickles

Getting ready

Mom, Paula, Bobbi, Grandmom

Thank you for indulging my love of photography.