Friday, October 31, 2008

The Fourth

JB tagged me with the instructions to post the fourth picture from the fourth album on my computer. I have some pictures on my laptop and some on my PC, so I'm going to do one from each. The picture above from the fourth album on my laptop is of a stained glass window in St. Anne's Parish. St. Anne's sits in the middle of Church Circle in Annapolis, Maryland. I made this picture when we were in Annapolis last April for Walker's first birthday.

This picture of Ben all decked out for duck hunting near Marvell, Arkansas, is from the fourth album on my PC. In this album I have collected all of the pictures that I'm using in the video for Ben's and Claire's rehearsal dinner.

And I found a new use for my Creative Memories scrapbooking software. I used the software to create the slides for the slide show. This way I could put more than one picture on the screen at a time. So the video is only 12 1/2 minutes long. Maybe our guests won't nod off. Here's a sneak preview. This is the slide where I used this picture.

Wow, two posts in one day! Now I tag Malvie. He's my only blogger friend who hasn't already been tagged.


In honor of Halloween, I thought I'd post some of my favorite pictures from Halloweens past. When the kids were small, carving a Jack-O-Lantern was an annual ritual. Sometimes Hunter and cousin Benton would make a Jack-O-Lantern together. I think they must be getting ready to draw the Jack-O-Lantern face.

Hunter was a huge fan of The Dukes of Hazzard, and one Halloween he decided that he wanted to be Bo Duke. My task was to make a General Lee car for him to wear. I wonder if Bo and Luke held the real General Lee together with duct tape.

One year I made clown costumes for Brent and Ben. It looks like Brent ate too much of his candy.

When Ben was in pre-school at Williams Memorial United Methodist Church in Texarkana, the kids would wear their Halloween costumes to school one day. When he was in the 4-year-old class there were a bunch of clowns. It looks like we picked up a wig somewhere along the way, and he must have outgrown his costume since he is wearing Brent's. I wonder what happened to the pom-poms that were on the front.

Last year I bought Walker a Jack-O-Lantern costume. Brent and Katie dressed him up and took him to downtown Annapolis to show him off.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bumble Bees and Lightening Bugs

Sometimes on our evening walks our conversation turns nostalgic when we recall things we did as children. I guess this is what you do when you're 60 something.

Looking at the stars last night, we lamented that we couldn't see as many as we used to. Unfortunately city lights and pollution have practically obscured the Milky Way. Larry remembered that even though his neighborhood in Newport, Arkansas, had street lights, they didn't obscure the stars because someone was always shooting out the lights with a BB gun.

Here are a few of our other recollections:
  • On Crestwood Road in Camden, Arkansas, we played outside at night under the street lights. In the summer it was too hot to stay inside because the only window air conditioner was in Mother's and Daddy's bedroom. So we stayed outside until Daddy whistled us in.
  • Catching lightening bugs was a favorite nighttime activity. We would put a whole bunch in a Mason jar in an attempt to make a lantern. Unfortunately, the lightening bugs didn't live very long.
  • During the daytime, we also played outside. Believe it or not, it was cooler outside than it was inside, even during the summer season. The lightening bugs weren't out during the day, so we liked to catch white headed bumble bees, tie strings around their necks and fly them around. They had to be white headed bees because that kind wouldn't sting. Glenda said that she and her friends would do the same thing with June bugs.
Speaking of bugs, it's a wonder any of us who grew up in small towns in the South are still alive. In our neighborhood, the "fogging machine" would come around in the summer spraying for mosquitoes. This was a contraption pulled behind a pick up truck that would drive up and down the residential streets. We loved to run behind the fogging machine, but no telling how much DDT we breathed.

In Newport, they sprayed the stuff over the whole town with crop dusting planes, so you couldn't escape it if you wanted to. Larry has a classmate who still has the contract to spray Newport for mosquitoes, but I'm certain he doesn't use DDT anymore.

Back to the stars, Larry and I had the opportunity to see a beautiful night sky on our recent trip to Colorado. Driving back to Durango from Ouray one night, we pulled off the road, turned off the headlights and got out of the car. Almost immediately we saw a shooting star, and the Milky Way was magnificent.

When we're in Camden for Thanksgiving, I think I'll go out into the pasture away from the lights and have a good star gazing.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Picture Perfect

About this time last year, I discovered digital scrapbooking when a friend introduced me to Picaboo's free scrapbooking software. If you'd like to try it yourself, just follow the link. The first time I tried to access the website, I spelled it like I heard her say it. Believe me, you don't want to go there.

The first book I made on Picaboo was for Walker. I followed that up by scanning photos and other memorabilia that my dad had collected during his World War II army days.

His sister, my Aunt Sissy, had made a traditional cut and paste scrapbook with letters, photos and other stuff that he had sent home. The "stuff" was in pretty good shape, but the scrapbook pages were falling apart. The book chronicals Daddy's stint in the Army from the time he left for OCS in Georgia to his discharge after the war ended.

World War II Book

As much as I loved the Picaboo software, it frustrated me because I was locked into their templates for picture and text placement and size. I wanted to be able to control the pages and make them exactly like I wanted them. I guess I wanted to relive my teaching days, when I was the advisor for high school yearbooks and newspapers.

Anyway, my search for a more flexible software led me to Creative Memories. I was already familiar with their traditional scrapbooking products, since I had made a cut and paste scrapbook for Ben. But Creative Memories now offers software for digital scrapbooking as well. StoryBook Creator comes in a free version that is much like Picaboo in that you drag photos and type text into a pre-designed template.

However, if you are willing to pay for the software, StoryBook Creator Plus allows complete flexibility. You can work with templates and then change photo sizes and shapes or eliminate them all together. In addition, you can control the placement and length of text. For the more creative types, you can build pages from scratch.

Using StoryBook Creator Plus, I put together a scrapbook for Brent. I have to confess that I was not good about organizing photos and making photo albums when our boys were growing up, so I'm now trying to make up for my shortcomings. The most time consuming part of the project was scanning all of the photos, since we didn't have digital cameras in those days.

My most recent project was a Tailgate Cookbook that I gave to my friends who hosted the Tailgate Party for Ben and Claire. I've also made photo book from trips to Italy and California. You can follow the links to see any of these you'd like.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Road to Little Rock

Ben has a new painting over his fireplace. Titled "The Road to Little Rock," it was painted by Laurie Anne Johnson, a friend from Birmingham. The painting depicts a portion of U.S. Highway 78 in Mississippi, which connects Birmingham to Memphis and is a major portion of the route to Little Rock.

The first time I ever travelled U.S. 78 was in July of 1988. LBeau had taken a job with Rust Engineering, and Hunter and I were going with him to Birmingham to help him settle in. The boys and I would stay in Texarkana to sell the house before moving.

We had driven to Newport to leave Brent and Ben with Mema Martha. Meanwhile, my car was having issues, so we left it in Newport to be worked on and borrowed Mema's car. Somewhere in Mississippi I was driving Mema's Oldsmobile and following Larry and Hunter, who were in Larry's car. It was raining, and all of a sudden I found myself barrelling sideways down the median.

Fortunately, I was able to get the car under control before running into the west bound lane, but we vowed at that point that we would find another road to Arkansas. And for years, we would take I-65 north to Cullman, Alabama, and angle over to U.S. 72, which would take us to Memphis, where we could pick up I-40 into Arkansas.

Finally, Mississippi upgraded U.S. 78 to interstate standards, and once again it became our road home. Over the years, we have altered portions of our route as Alabama has upgraded sections of U.S. 78, which will become I-22 once those upgrades are completed. We now by-pass Jasper, Winfield, Guin, Gu-Win and Hamilton, Alabama. Most of our stops come in Mississippi in either Fulton, Tupelo, New Albany, Holly Springs or Olive Branch.

Halfway between New Albany and Holly Springs is the exit for Potts Camp, Mississippi. While we have never been to Potts Camp, it holds special significance on the road to Little Rock. A few years ago our friends Nick and J.R. were travelling back to Arkansas after a trip to Birmingham for a Razorback game. At the Potts Camp exit, they suddenly found themselves doing a 360 and ended up plowing up a portion of the highway median.

Since then, every time we successfully negotiate that portion of the highway, I send Nick a text message that simply says, "Potts Camp."

This weekend we took the road to Little Rock for a party for Ben and Claire. Back in 1988 we didn't have cell phones and text messaging, but this weekend I was able to send the "Potts Camp" text twice.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

All About Bras

The latest challenge has been to find Mema a bra to wear for the wedding. It had to fit low enough in the front that it didn't show at the top of her dress but still keep her boobs from sagging.

My sister Margie volunteered to help. She wears a $10 Hanes bra from Wal-Mart and thought it might work. The only drawback was that it was an underwire bra, and in the 70 plus years that she's been wearing a bra, Mema has never worn one that has underwire.

Believe me, I understand about the underwire hang up. I am short waisted, and the underwire always sits right on top of my ribs, so I, too, have resisted underwire bras. The problem is that it's about all you can find these days, but they really do keep your boobs from sagging.

A few years ago, Olga quit making my favorite bra, and I had to go in search of another style. I bought one underwire bra and tried it for a while, but I eventually went back to my worn out Olgas. I finally found an internet site that had some discontinued styles.

HerRoom had an Olga bra that appeared to be just like the ones I had been wearing even though the style number was not quite the same. So I bought two. When they came I found that they were pretty comfortable, but they had lots more padding than the ones I had been wearing. In fact, LBeau calls them my cardboard bras. When he made fun of them this morning, Margie challenged, "I'd like to see you try to find a bra that fits."

Lately I've gone back to wearing the underwire bra that was still sitting in my drawer. I've decided it's not too bad. Now that we've gotten Mema taken care of, we just have to find me a strapless bra to wear with my mother-of-the-groom dress.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It Doesn't Get Better Than This

It just doesn't get much better than this--a football weekend in the South. Add to that a Friday night party for Ben and Claire, and you have a perfect weekend.

Friday night some of Ben's high school friends and their parents plus Allen and Areta hosted a shower complete with comfort food--chicken fingers, grits, blackeyed peas, greens, biscuits and homemade ice cream with pound cake. Yummmmm. Claire's mom Marie and sister Britton were able to be here, and we enjoyed hanging out and tweaking "The Lists."

Saturday morning bright and early, LBeau and I headed to Auburn with the red F-150 loaded with grills, tables, tailgate chairs and food to set up for the Alabama Chapter of the Arkansas Alumni Association Tailgate Party. We've been doing this for at least 10 years at either Auburn or Tuscaloosa, cooking burgers and dogs for all Hog fans who stop by. The money we raise goes to our chapter scholarship fund.

Top off the weekend with a 25-22 Razorback win over Auburn, and life is good.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I've Been Tagged

JB tagged me to participate in a game of Blog Tag. My task is to write seven random, weird or funny things about myself. So here goes.

1. I drive a red Ford F-150, extended cab. This is my fourth red pickup truck. The second one was supposed to be Dakota Beige. I had special ordered it, but when it came in another salesman sold it and they had to scramble to find another one for me. It turned out to be another red one, so I've just stuck with red ever since.

2. The radio in my red Ford F-150 is usually tuned to a sports talk radio station. We have a good local station here in Birmingham, even though the talk usually centers around Auburn and Alabama.

3. I post on a Razorback message board using the handle Petunia Pig. I started with the old KARK message board about 12 or 13 years ago. Everyone on that board eventually migrated to the PigPen message board, and when PigPen folded I started posting on the Hawg's Illustrated board.

4. My grandmother name is KBeau. At least that's what we are teaching Walker to say. Ben's friends were the first to call me KBeau. The name comes from my first email address, We joined AOL when it was a DOS program and the only people you could email were other AOL members. Unfortunately, when I went to another service provider, KBeau was not available. Since I'm KBeau, Larry is naturally LBeau.

5. When I was a student at the University of Arkansas, I was known in the Kappa house as the Tube Queen. I would study every night in front of the television, and at noon I didn't miss many episodes of As the World Turns. Now that I build and remodel homes, I probably haven't watched a soap opera in 15 years.

6. My hair is its natural color, which is blonde, liberally sprinkled with gray. A lot of people think I get it highlighted, but whenever I've spent the $60 or so to highlight my hair it looks just the same.

7. Larry says that I have the perfect job. I get to talk a lot on the phone (Nextel radio), boss a lot of men and spend a lot of money.

Now I'm supposed to tag some others, but since I'm new to blogging, all of my blogger friends have already been tagged by JB. Check back later, and maybe I'll tag someone.

Update: Since my friend Nick has joined the world of blogging, I now tag him.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Vroom! Vroom! KBeau Does 'Dega

"Unbelievable. After 19 years in 'Bama they finally made you a full redneck."

That was Hunter's comment, when he learned that I was at the NASCAR race at Talladega yesterday. For years, I have failed to understand the fascination with souped up cars going round and round for 500 miles. Give me a good college football or basketball game but leave stock car racing to the those other people.

Until yesterday I had probably watched NASCAR on television for less than 10 minutes, even though I have lived in the home of Bobby and Davey Allison and Neal Bonnett for almost 20 years. Yesterday I saw a race live from "Gentlemen, start your engines" to the checkered flag.

My friend and painter Joel has wanted to take me to a race for years, and yesterday the timing was right. I met him at 8 a.m., and after meeting up with Linda, Elise and Fallon, we were off to 'Dega. Joel knew all the back roads, so we never got stuck in traffic, and by 9:30 we were parked and headed to the track.

Joel had gotten tickets in the Sherwin-Williams box, and we also had seats in the grandstand. He explained that we would go to the box first for breakfast, but he wanted to be in the stands for the start of the race.

Talladega Superspeedway

First, let me say that the track is huge. It's a 2.66 mile oval, and the grandstands stretch from turn four to turn one, with boxes above the lower level of the grandstand and an upper deck above the boxes. We were in Suite 3, which came with a complete bar, a buffet breakfast and seating for at least 30 to 40 people.

After breakfast, we carried our Bloody Marys down to the track for a tour of Pit Road. I was fascinated with colorful attire of the racing fans. Unlike a college football game where one color predominates, a NASCAR race is a multi-colored event, with fans decked out in the colors of their favorite driver. At Talladega, probably 75 percent of the folks are Junior fans. Junior is Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who drives the 88 car.

Back in the box, it was time for round two of food and drink. For lunch, they brought in stuffed shrimp, beef tenderloin, tomatoes with mozarella and scalloped potatoes with asparagus. At the bar were plates of lemon squares and chocolate chip bars. Yum!

Now that we were sufficiently stuffed, it was time to move outside for the 1 p.m. start of the race. After three laps behind the pace car, the drivers got the green flag, and the AMP Energy 500 was underway.

The noise was deafening, and every time the cars came by, I had to cover my ears. I noticed that a lot of fans were wearing headsets, and after a while, Joel produced a set for me to use. With the headsets on, I could listen to the track announcer call the race and also follow the conversation between one of the drivers and his pit crew.

To fully enjoy a race you have to pull for one of the drivers. Jeff Gordon was our man. When he went out of the race in Lap 53, we turned to Kasey Kahne, who lasted until the Big One in Lap 68. That crash took out a bunch of drivers, and the race was halted for 17 minutes to clean up the track.

We finally decided to join the masses and pull for Junior, who would get a huge roar every time he took the lead. He lasted until the Big One II in Lap 174 that took out a whole bunch of other drivers. Once again the red flag came out and halted the race, this time for 11 minutes.

Another yellow caution flag in Lap 184 led to a Green-White-Checkered finish. Joel explained. By the time the debris on the track was cleaned up the race was in Lap 187, with one lap to go. But the race can't end under a caution flag, so the drivers got a green flag to start racing at Lap 188, a white flag to indicate one more lap at the beginning of the next lap, and a checkered flag for the winner at the end of that lap.

Tony Stewart led the final lap and won the race, but not without controversy. Regan Smith finished first after passing Stewart on the final turn, but he was moved back to the eighteenth spot after it was ruled that he passed Stewart below the yellow line. That's a no-no.

At the end of the race most of the cars had lost their luster, and some were literally held together with duck tape. I didn't look much better. I was hot and sweaty, and my face was covered with soot from the track. And yes, I had a red neck and a red nose too. Next time I need to use more sunscreen.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pitfalls of Public Potties

I received an email from a friend this morning that humorously detailed the adventures of a woman in a public restroom. If you are not familiar with the story, you can click this link to read it. I had read it before, but I enjoyed revisiting it. It reminded me of some of my own observations and pet peeves about public restrooms. Here are a few:

1. My mother taught me at a very young age how to cover the toilet seat with toilet paper. This has several advantages. First, it forces you to check to see that there is indeed toilet paper in the stall. Second, it's quicker than situating the special seat covers that are sometimes found in public stalls. Third, you can then sit on the seat and not have to perform the "hover" move.

2. Whoever invented the paper toilet seat covers needs to go back to design school. These come with the center hole partially cut out, but you have to finish tearing it apart before placing it on the toilet seat. This often results in the whole thing falling completely apart, which means you have to throw that one away and start over.

If you do manage to get it separated, you are left with a flap that dangles down into the water once you place it on the toilet seat. That flap gets wet, and water wicks up onto the portion you are sitting on, resulting in a wet bottom. Why not package these things with the hole already cut out? In the meantime, just cover the seat with toilet paper.

The women's restroom at the Birmingham Airport used to have toilet seats that were covered with a plastic sleeve. The push of a button would dispense an entirely new, never used portion of plastic sleeve. I thought this was a great idea, but unfortunately the last time I was at the airport, I noticed that these seats had been removed.

3. Speaking of toilet paper, I wonder who invented the toilet paper holder that doesn't roll and only allows you to pull off one small piece of paper at a time. That person should be severely reprimanded. I'm sure the idea behind that invention is a paper saving measure. You get so frustrated trying to get enough paper that you just give up. However, I have noticed that when this type of paper holder is installed, lots of little squares of toilet paper collect on the floor. I would guess that more paper is wasted than saved. This reminds me of the "low flush" toilets that "conserve" water, but you have to flush them three or four times just to get everything to go down.

4. Why are there often hooks on the back of the door of every stall except the handicapped stall? I would think a handicapped person would appreciate a place to hang her purse just like anyone else. Some of us once had a discussion about whether we felt guilty or not if we used the handicapped stall. The concensus was that it was perfectly okay to do so if there was not a handicapped person waiting in line.

5. Paper towel dispensers in public restrooms are usually installed by men who are almost 7' tall. How do I know this? It's simple. When you walk up with wet hands to grab a towel from one of these dispensers, you have to reach up so high that water runs down your arms and gets your sleeves wet.

It would be nice if paper towel dispensers were located right by the exit door. Then you could grab a towel, dry your hands, open the door with the used towel and then throw it in the trash can, which should be conveniently placed nearby. A friend once told me that a doctor who was cautioning about the dangers of germs in public restrooms told her always to use a paper towel or other paper to open the door when exiting the restroom. He said that if there was no trashcan nearby to simply throw the paper on the floor. Maybe someone would get the hint. Of course, you could always just take the paper with you and dispose of it later.

6. One positive observation. On a recent trip to the airport in Amsterdam, Larry and Wayne confirmed that the urinals in the men's room do indeed have a fly painted in the bowl to improve a man's aim.

In spite of my complaints, I'm thankful for public restrooms when I need one. After all, I could be heading to the outhouse with my corncob or Sears catalogue or to the woods with my shovel.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

15 Years and Counting

Last night we started our sixteenth year of Pokeno. On September 28, 1994, 12 women from the Brook Highland Subdivision in Birmingham, Alabama, got together for the first time to play Pokeno. I was not at the first meeting, but I joined the group at the second meeting in October. I've been playing ever since.

Pokeno was introduced to us by Cheryl, who had moved to our neighborhood and had played in a Pokeno group in Louisiana. Cheryl has since moved to Little Rock, and other members have come and gone, but we're still playing every month on the fourth or fifth Tuesday.

Pokeno is played with a set of special cards, a deck of playing cards and poker chips. The idea is to cover five spots in a row with poker chips, vertically, horizontally or diagonally, much like Bingo. When one person gets a Pokeno, that hand is over. However, along the way you can get points for other things--four of a kind, center, four corners, etc.

Our group keeps up with points by accumulating toothpicks. We each chip in $5.25 to play, and at the end of the evening first place wins $25, second place wins $15 and third place wins $10. If we have enough players, we also award money for last place (Boobie) and for blackout, and if someone Pokenos in 12 cards or fewer, she wins the quarters.

At one point Luna bought a second set of Pokeno cards, which came with rules. It was then that we discovered that we had not been playing by the "real" rules but rather by Cheryl's rules. We still play by Cheryl's rules.

Early on most of us had small children, and they would always ask, "Did you win?" as soon as we got home. And if you won the quarters, you could use them for the kids' "juice" money for school. Now many of us have grandchildren and we don't worry about "juice" money anymore.

When the group first started, the hostess would fix a whole bunch of snacks and serve soft drinks, iced tea and wine, both white and red. Later we found that making a light dinner was easier than trying to come up with a lot of appetizers. The soft drinks and iced tea disappeared as well, because everybody mostly drank wine.

Now we enjoy an evening of dinner and wine and catching up on each other's news. As Luna often says, it's our night of Gambling, Gossip and Grazing.