Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You Can Go Home Again

1e6a_1A few weeks ago I traveled to Camden, Arkansas, for my 45th high school reunion.  Forty three of us made the trip for what we agreed was the best reunion we've ever had.

Beginning with the 10-year reunion, we've been gathering every five years since we graduated from Camden High School in 1964.  This year at least two of our classmates, Bill and Jim, returned for the first time, and it was Martha Sue's first reunion since the 10th.

On Friday night, Elaine's daughter and son-in-law hosted us at their house on Mustin Lake, a small lake near Camden where a number of local residents have weekend homes.  Without the GPS, I'm not sure Susan and I would have found our way there even though as teenagers we spent many days at Mustin Lake swimming and just hanging out with friends.  Back in the day, we didn't take senior trips to Disney World or Caribbean islands, but Mustin Lake was the scene of our senior outing.

45th Reunion 016Barbara, Charlene, Ellen and Richard at Mustin Lake

Saturday several of us met for lunch at the location of the Duck Inn, another of our teenage hang outs.  Now a Mexican restaurant, it just isn't the same.  Once we started driving, we could leave school at noon, and Duck Inn was one of our favorite places to eat lunch.  There was nothing better than Duck Inn homemade French fries dipped in their special homemade salad dressing.

After lunch Susan and I took a short driving tour of Camden.  Most of the traffic lights, where we used to do Chinese fire drills, are gone from downtown.  Watt's Department Store closed years ago, and Belk-Jones is now an antique mall.

We took a quick drive through the old high school campus.  The main building is long gone, with the steps leading up from the street the only thing remaining.  Coleman Stadium is still standing and looks pretty good, but the old gym where we held sock hops after every home football game is pretty run down.

45th Reunion 020Coleman Stadium, home of the Camden Panthers

We tried to find the homes where some of our friends had lived.  Virginia's house on Clifton Street is for sale, and the Helen Street Grocery is now a residence.  Incidentally, my grandfather named Helen Street for my mother's oldest sister when he helped develop that part of town.

camden 002 Virginia lived here at 662 Clifton Street

Saturday night's banquet was at another familiar spot.  Located on the Ouachita River, River Woods was once the Supervisors' Club, owned by International Paper Company and operated as a benefit for mill employees.

45th Reunion 023Virginia, Martha Sue, Ann, Penny and I at River Woods

The Supervisors' Club played an indirect role in one of our biggest "crimes," a story that gets told at every reunion.  When we were seniors, International Paper Company sponsored a day long outing to the Supervisors' Club for our class.  I suggested that it might be fun if all of us brought alarm clocks that day to put in our lockers and set them all to go off at the same time.  Plans were made, and we pulled it off, but Freddie Ann got blamed instead of me, and she won't let me forget it.

So now we are looking forward to our 50th reunion in just five short years.   We all seem to get better with age, and we long ago stopped trying to impress each other.  As I overheard one classmate say about another classmate, "She's so much fun; I wish I had hung out with her more."

Sometimes you just wish you could go back and do it all over again, this time with the wisdom of age.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Who Thinks Up These Questions?

nascar_officedepot As a member of  e-Rewards, I am sometimes asked to participate in online surveys.  For my time and effort, I earn e-Rewards dollars that I can convert into things like airline points.  A recent survey dealt with customer loyalty to office supply stores—Office Max, Staples and Office Depot.

When I rated the three stores, I was most loyal to Office Max, which I gave a 6.  Staples came in second with Office Depot earning a loyalty rating of 1 on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

The second part of the survey noted that I had given Office Depot a 1 and then presented a series of scenarios and asked how they might change my loyalty rating of Office Depot.  These scenarios all had a common theme—NASCAR driver Tony Stewart.  It seems that Tony Stewart and Office Depot have a relationship.

So how would my loyalty to Office Depot change if, for example, I had a chance to win a trip around the track with Tony Stewart or dinner with Tony Stewart or Tony Stewart merchandise.  Not one iota.  Although I'm not a NASCAR fan, the survey never once asked my why I have no loyalty to Office Depot.

The answer is simple.  I can get to Office Max in about five minutes from my home office.  It takes about 15 minutes to drive to Staples.  The closest Office Depot is about 30 minutes away.

So my answer, if they had asked the right question, is simple.  Build a store closer to me, and I'd give Office Depot a shot at my business.  After all, copier paper is copier paper, whether it comes from Office Max, Staples, Office Depot or even Wal-Mart.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In Case of an Emergency

MOB 024 Last night I hosted some special girlfriends for dinner.  This group of women has been getting together more or less monthly for the last five or six years.  Sometimes we do potluck in someone's home, and on other occasions we'll have dinner at a restaurant followed by a movie, especially if there's a good chick flick out.

MOB 006 A few years ago when our children started getting married, we began throwing Mother of the Bride (or Groom) showers.  Gifts range from lotion and foot scrub to aspirin and drink mixes—anything to help ease the tension of planning a wedding.  Last night was Glenda's turn to be honored, since her daughter Anna is getting married in a couple of weeks.

MOB 021 MOB 022 When Connie's daughter Bromleigh married in June of 2006, Luna presented her with an emergency box.  It contained such things as safety pins, a sewing kit, Tums, Tylenol and hairspray.  Over the years, it's been passed down to other MOB's and MOG's with each of us adding to the box.  Each MOB's or MOG's name and the date of her son's or daughter's wedding is written inside the lid.

The two bottles of vodka, probably left over from Luna's days as a flight attendant, were original to the box.  They are still there, never opened.  However, they did go missing for a while.

Shower 008

When Karen presented the box to Becky in March of 2007, the bottles of vodka were nowhere to be found, and we accused Karen of consuming them, mindful that she had every right to do so.  Karen, however, told a different story, insisting that she removed them from the box and hid them so that her mother wouldn't see them.  Later on when Karen moved and was cleaning out a chest, she found the vodka and returned it to the emergency box.  Maybe Glenda will find a use for it this year.

MOB 011Several items were added to the box this year.  Janice furnished white chalk.  She heard somewhere that it can be used to cover up minor stains on the wedding dress.

MOB 015I had a real problem with static cling when Brent married in 2005, so I bought Static Guard for the emergency box, and I also threw in a pair of scissors.  Side note:  If you don't have Static Guard available, dryer sheets rubbed over your legs make a great substitute.

With swine flu in the news, Sherri included hand sanitizer.  A huge Alabama fan, she also graciously contributed some Auburn orange Tic Tacs for Glenda to enjoy.

MOB 007

These special special bridal beads that Luna brought last night can be worn by the MOB or MOG so that everyone knows just how important she is.

MOB 009 And perhaps the best addition of all was this wine cork.  Luna explained that when the father of the bride starts asking too many questions about how much the wedding is costing, you just quietly stuff it into his mouth.

Sadly, one original item is missing from the emergency box, but nobody will confess to taking the leopard skin undies.

Shower 009

Monday, September 7, 2009

Camden on the Ouachita

Camden on the Ouachita
Best team in Arkansas
That's the way you spell it.
Here's the way you yell it.
Camden!! Camden!! Camden!!

Camden High SchoolCamden High School, Camden, Arkansas

I'm heading for Camden on the Ouachita (pronounced Wash-ah-taw) tomorrow for my 45th high school reunion.  I graduated from Camden High School in 1964 with about 100 other eager young people.

Paper MillInternational Paper Company, Camden, Arkansas

Back in the day we had two school districts in a relatively small town of about 14,000.  The other high school was Fairview High School, and we were bitter rivals.  Fairview was in the area of town dominated by an International Paper Company mill, and although the whole town often had an unpleasant odor about it, Fairview smelled worse than the rest of Camden.

Sadly there is no more paper mill and there is no more Camden High School.  A number of years ago, the Camden School District was absorbed by the Fairview School District, and the high school is now called Camden Fairview High School.

But there are still proud graduates of CHS, and I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of them Friday night.  After the reunion, I'm sure I'll have more to say and pictures to share.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Susie's Linzer Cookies

tea 022 When I posted about the Bridal Tea last week, several of you asked about the Linzer Cookies that my friend Susie made.  She has graciously given me the recipe to share with you.  Be prepared to spend several hours on these cookies over two days, but they are definitely worth the time.

They remind me of a cookie my mother used to make.  She called them Cocoons, because that's how they were shaped.  They had a crisp, buttery taste, and you couldn't eat one without getting powdered sugar all over you.

Susie's Linzer Cookies have a similar texture, but they are sandwiched with raspberry jam for an added flavor.  And be prepared to dust the powdered sugar off your boobs.

Susie's Linzer Cookies

3 sticks sweet butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 egg
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cups raspberry preserves, or additional if needed
Extra confectioner's sugar to press cookies

  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and mix well.
  • Sift together flour and cornstarch; add to creamed mixture and blend well.  Mix nuts in thoroughly.
  • Gather dough into a ball, wrap in wax paper or saran wrap and chill 4-6 hours or overnight.
  • On a floured board or countertop, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness.  Susie notes that this takes a lot of flour.
  • Using a small cookie cutter, cut out cookies.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and chill 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Bake cookies 10-15 minutes or until they are evenly and lightly browned.  Remove and cool on a rack.
  • While cookies are still warm, spread half of the cookies with preserves; top each with one of the remaining cookies.
  • Sift confectioner's sugar into a bowl and press the tops and bottoms of the cookies into the sugar to coat.  Susie notes that she powders the cookies two or three times as they soak up the sugar.

Makes 4 dozen cookies

tea 022

Foodie_Friday_Logo_2 Now be sure to visit Designs by Gollum, where you'll find more delicious recipes just in time for the weekend on this Foodie Friday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hooray for the Red, White and Blue

PEO 022 Saturday night LBeau and I hosted 36 for a pot luck dinner. It was our annual P.E.O. end of summer dinner with our spouses, and the social committee chose a red, white and blue theme. I immediately thought of my red and white quilt that I had used for the Fourth of July, so we rounded up more quilts and everything else sort of fell into place.

"Yard" flowers and Mason jars seemed perfect for our budget. Between my yard and Susie's yard, I gathered up enough black-eyed Susans, Russian sage, variegated ribbon grass, burgandy lorapetalum and wax myrtle to make a nice arrangement for the sideboard in my dining room.

PEO 002We had ten in the dining room, four in the living room, fourteen in the breakfast room and eight on the screened porch. Fortunately the weather was not as hot as it normally is in August, so it was a pleasant evening on the porch.

PEO 004The Dining Room

PEO 020 The Living Room

PEO 006The Breakfast Room

PEO 017Also in The Breakfast Room

PEO 010One Table for Four on the Porch

PEO 012A Second Table for Four on the Porch

PEO 005Okay, I can see that you're puzzled. You're wondering about the plates. Well, the social committee members all agreed that nobody wanted to stay long afterward washing dishes, and since everything was pretty casual, these would be perfect. The color was great with our theme, and the price was certainly right.

New_size_125_tall For more tablescape ideas, be sure to visit the talented Susan at Between Naps on the Porch. She has great ideas, and the other participants will be sharing creative tables as well.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Light the Way

Outdoor_Wednesday_logo I've been playing around with PhotoShop Elements, using pictures I've taken over the years of various lighthouses. Thought it might be something to show for Outdoor Wednesday, hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.

I've always been fascinated by lighthouses, and starting with a trip to Maine a few years ago, I began photographing the ones we came across in our travels. Monday I started playing around with PhotoShop Elements, and trying out different filters. Each of these pictures has had the ink outlines filter applied.

scan0002 Here is the original of the first photo, which was taken at Pemaquid Point, not too far from Boothbay Harbor, Maine. This was one of the last rolls of film I took with my old Canon AE-1.

We took a sailing trip from Boothbay Harbor to took at lighthouses that you can't get to from land. Unfortunately, just as we set sail the winder on my camera broke, so I don't have any pictures from those island lighthouses. Shortly after that trip, I got my first digital camera.

Below is the artistic version, using the ink outline filter.

scan0002Pemaquid Point, Maine

This photograph of the lighthouse at Bass Harbor Head, on Mt. Desert Island near Bar Harbor, was made on an earlier trip to Maine. I actually made three trips to Maine that year, while LBeau was working on a paper mill project in central Maine. What a beautiful part of the country.

scan0001Bass Harbor Head

These next two photos were made in April of 2008. I went to Los Angeles with LBeau for a concrete convention, and afterward we spent a few days traveling as far north as Monterey on the Pacific Coast Highway. The first is the Piedras Blancas Light Station just north of San Simeon. It is no longer operated, and you will notice that the lens has been removed.

California 251 Piedras Blancas Light Station

We were able to get a close up view of Point Pinos Lighthouse at Pacific Grove, California.

California 304Point Pinos Lighthouse

This past spring and early summer, we've been up and down the Atlantic coast from Annapolis to Savannah. These trips gave me an opportunity to add to my lighthouse photos. On the way to our son's graduation from St. John's, we took a side trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where I photographed the Bodie Island Light Station.

outer banks 025Bodie Island Light Station

We also spent a couple of days with my cousin in Accomac, Virginia, and drove out to Assateague Island. The red and white lighthouse is in the process of being spiffed up, and will get a new coat of paint.

eastern shore 072 Assateague Lighthouse

Finally, before returning home from a trip to Savannah in June, we drove out to Tybee Island and made a special point of getting a close up look at the Tybee Island Light Station.

fort pulaski 004Tybee Island Light Station

From the East Coast to the West Coast, I hope you've enjoyed this mini-lighthouse tour.