Sunday, February 14, 2021

It’s definitely soup and cornbread weather


When grandson Billy and I lived in Arkadelphia, and when the Daily Siftings Herald had a contest for the best soup recipe, I placed with Pantry Soup. I’ve no idea where the recipe or winning apron is, but I still make soup.

                Lately, especially since the weather turned off cold, I wanted soup. I pulled down a recipe book from Piggott United Methodist Church women, purchased from Lou Forrest when she was proprietress of the Piggott Inn many years ago. I stopped in the soup-and salad-section. And when I read through a recipe submitted by Frances Oxley called Texas Soup, I stopped and read through the ingredients. I had everything except two pounds of ground beef, a can of pinto beans, a can of hominy and a can of kidney beans.

                But—in the freezer was a quart of already-cooked white beans. That would suffice for the three cans I didn’t have. I couldn’t believe what other ingredients called for that I already had. Here’s my experience:

                In a Dutch oven, I was to place the meet and one cut, large onion to brown. Having no meat, that meant I’d have to chop the onion and brown it. I didn’t want to do that. Luckily, I’d bought a box of Lipton Onion Soup Mix but had not used it. Aha! I opened one of the two packages, poured it into the pot and added, as instructed, four cups of water. Here was both onion and water from the original recipe.

                Added to that were the beans which I’d set out to thaw overnight. I let the soup mix and beans simmer a bit before adding another odd ingredient in the recipe that I possessed: a package of Taco Flavoring! Also, in the recipe and in my pantry, a package of Ranch dressing. I added a can of diced tomatoes as per the recipe, also a can of Rotel tomatoes. Finally, lacking meat, I added a can of chili with beans. Mixed all. Simmered, checking and stirring every ten minutes, for half-an-hour.

                Results: very salty and quite hot with peppers and taco seasonings, and thin. Other canned vegetables like black-eyed peas, carrots, and corn could be added easily. It was tasty; definitely a winter soup that I enhanced with a pan of cornbread.

                The soup made a large amount that will last through the winter storm and snow predicted for this week. As will the cornbread.

                And for a sweet treat, I mixed another batch of peanut butter and vanilla frosting into fudge. In case I run out of frozen yogurt before I can drive again, I’ll have the fudge to satisfy my sweet tooth.

   c 2021, PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA           




Saturday, January 16, 2021

 New Year's table a few years ago

    I spent what seemed like most of every day and evening last week gazing at my computer-cum-television, reading posts from the major news outlets—Washington Post, New York TimesPolitico, Business Insider  , MSNBC, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette—and scrolling through Facebook.

                Oh, I did manage to get most of the Christmas stuff taken down, boxed and moved back to the attic for another year. I also spent an hour most days, reading Barack Obama’s memoir. At this writing, I’ve passed the two-thirds mark of the huge volume.

                Two journals I write in daily—one on the dining room table, and one by my desk—hold completely different writings these days. At the table, where I read the local editorials, work the cryptoquote and the crossword, are these pithy New Year’s sayings:

                “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson, and “Life’s not about expecting, hoping and wishing, it’s about doing, being and becoming.” –Mike Dooley.

          “We are at once the beneficiaries and the victims of our great technology. What man makes remakes man.” –James Feiblean.


          A cryptoquote puzzle was by Origen of Alexandria (c.184 – c. 253). I looked him up. “ . . . an early Christian scholar, ascetic and theologian.” His saying was “The power of choosing good and evil is within the reach of all.”

                The journal by my computer is full of comments, arguments and opinions since the January 6 riot at the Capitol. “Trump’s great virtue as a public figure, is his literalism. . . he is honest about who he is and what he intends. There was no subterfuge from Trump. He called his shots over and over again, and then he took it.”—from Ezra Klein’s debut column for New York Times.

                Words that I once knew the meaning of, or had never heard of, or that kept reappearing in various articles I wrote down and looked up the meaning. “Ersatz” = adjective, of a product made or used as a substitute, typically an inferior one, for something else. As in “. . . ersatz cloak of larger purpose” by George Will, WaPo.

                “Pusillanimity = noun form of pusillanimous, adj = showing a lack of courage or determination; timid.” “Profiles in pusillanimity, more like.” – Nicholas Goldberg, LA Times.

                “Putsch” = a violent attempt to overthrow the government. I read this word in several articles.

                “Ghillie suit” = a type of camouflage resembling background environment such as foliage, snow or sand.” I’ve never before read of such, have you?

                The phrase, “bystanderism” as in “ . . . the disease of bystanderism.” –Virginia senator, Tim Kaine on a Facebook friend’s feed.

                And some new-to-me information: “Only 15 senators have been expelled from the chamber since 1789. Of that number, 14 were expelled for supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War.” –Sarah Polus, The Hill.

                 Finally, a short Found poem in memoriam: (first 2 lines attributed to White House spokesman, Judd Deere)

                        running toward danger/ to maintain peace’/ Officer Sicknick –PL

            Let's hope this coming week will be without violence.

   c 2021, PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA             



Saturday, December 19, 2020

Merry Christmas, as merry as possible in 2020!

 Venison-based chili


                It’s Saturday morning. The tree’s not plugged in, much less decorated, although it is set in place, ready for my ministrations. The mantel has various things on it, waiting to be fleshed out in a holiday array. Four containers of Christmas stuff sit on chairs or on the floor.

                While son and I were in the attic yesterday, I cleaned out all the drawers of an old bureau from Mom’s era: veneer fronts that had peeled off in many places, the hardware on one drawer missing, so I decided since Eric was here to help, to get rid of the drawers leaving the shell for tall storage items. Today, a wood-worker friend Stanley came by in the light rain and took them away. While he was here, he metal-detected.

    In the top drawer of the chest was a blue shoebox of old tree decorations from who-knows-when. But the box looked sturdy. “aerology/ by AEROSOLES. “ Curiosity got the better of me, even with the time passing minute by minute.

                From what the internet had available, I discovered that this company began in 1987 and one of their products was a comfort shoe for women. I’m presuming now, that one of Mom’s children either bought her a pair--and that accounts for the box—but it doesn’t give any clues about where the tiny ball and bell-shaped ornaments came from. One other ornament was a foil-covered ball attached with a chenille stick. Another was a small metal cookie cutter also with a chenille hanger. Could these have been from our tree in 1942 when we moved into this house? Could these be from Grandma Flossie’s (Mom’s mom), hence the first Mrs. Severn’s collection? We’ll likely never know, so it would be a fine topic for a piece of creative non-fiction, or a poem.


            But I digress.

            Yesterday, I concocted a Dutch-oven-full of venison-based chili, and a recipe of fudge using only a jar of peanut butter and a container of vanilla frosting. The instructions didn’t say the cook needed the brawn of a lumberjack to mix those two foods into a fudge. But, with the help of a wooden utensil, I did it. After it cooled in the fridge, as per recipe, I had to taste. More fluffy than other fudges, but good. (How could it not be good?) With overnight chilling, it was even better today.

Perhaps before the day's over, I'll decorate the tree and the mantel. Or perhaps tomorrow. It'll get done in time for sure.

                Merry Christmas! 

c 2020, PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Looking ahead then looking back


Beautyberries close up

 Now that the election is over—if it IS over and decided—we can get on with our political angst (on both sides) and set about to straighten out our part of the country—if it needs it. We can concentrate on how to navigate the upcoming holidays.

Our family Thanksgiving plans, like many others I presume, are cancelled. 

But, to sort of make up for that, I am involved in two other fun activities. One is our monthly writing group meeting next Wednesday, meaning that BFF Dot is overnighting at Couchwood so we can both attend. 


The other is a new event: hosting the local poets meeting. Our regular gathering place, the main fire station, is closed for the year. For the past two months, the group has met at a pavilion at Tyndall Park. But plans are that mid-November temps will preclude meeting there again. So I volunteered. That gives me the opportunity to decorate the front part of the house with all the fall-motif collections I’ve amassed over the years.

Let me finish out goings-on at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs that I began last week. On another day, either Saturday or Sunday, we stopped at La Familia for lunch. Again, we were masked and seated ourselves at a booth near a wall.

Lunch boxes—many, many lunch boxes--decorated an upper shelf as far as we could see. Patrons sometimes stopped by close to us to gape at them. I don’t remember ever carrying a lunch box to school, but I remember Dad’s black one, about as large as our mailbox, with a tall thermos inside. I’m drawing a blank about what Lydia ordered but I had a taco salad.

The weather during the week until late Thursday was raw—cold, windy, raining, or rainy. We stayed in and wrote. Monday night was communal dinner in the Main House. Though there were two other writers around, they’d chosen to eat in their rooms. Greens/veggie salads, pureed  soups—one night, carrot and tomato, another night, served in what I call a cereal bowl, squash, and coconut. Those two items were enough for entire meal, but, no, we had a plate of chicken, roasted broccoli and carrots, and mashed potatoes. We ate most of that meal at the table.

Another noon, we drove out of town toward Rogers to Rowdy Beavers. It was raining, but I didn’t hear any rowdiness and saw no beavers scurrying around. LOL


Wednesday night, we ate salmon, roasted veggies, and rice. (Jana alternated between potatoes and rice.) Another night was a pork chop, potatoes, and roasted cauliflower. On our last night, Thursday, for dessert, Lydia had store-bought wafers and I had two severed fingers, complete with slivered-almond fingernails and red food coloring blood. They were made from a sugar cookie recipe—in honor of Halloween.

 Lydia finished her long-in-progress novel and I worked steadily toward the Creative-Non-Fiction assignments looming before the term ends in December.

The drive home on Friday merited a gas-stop again at Marshall, then a side trip to Leslie where my youngest brother—he of the Arkansas River flood a couple of Mays ago—lives after leaving Mayflower. He is in possession of an orchard, raised vegetable beds, and a two-story house with a basement.


He also has animal neighbors: 30 feral pigs, bobcats and even a bear or two have been spotted by neighbors. Ooh!

c 2020, by PL, dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA


Sunday, November 1, 2020

For the umpteenth time, a week in the Ozarks

Lydia, several years ago @ The Wharf, Hot Springs


                With COVID-19 cancelling most group activities, writer-friend Lydia and I made plans to drive to Eureka Springs and spend a week as residents at the Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow, a first for her, but a return for me. She has one novel to wrap up and another to continue. I have this column to compose and a slew of MFA assignments/ requirements to work on.

                October is always a good time to travel north and this year was no exception. Yellows, reds, and oranges interspersed with pines and cedars provided many “oohs and aahs” especially as we drove through Clinton, then into Marshall where we gassed up, stood in line, social distanced for the restroom, then bought a sweet snack to take us the rest of the way. It was early afternoon. I was impressed enough to pen a poem: “The men/ at Marshall’s gas/station all wore their masks/ which surprised me in this mountain/ county.” The forests became more colorful the farther we traveled.

                I was the passenger this trip. Lydia was a careful driver. A little after three p. m. we pulled in to the Colony and were greeted by the new-to-me director, Michelle. We were all masked as was Jana in the kitchen. Packets and keys in hand, we headed to the door of 505 Spring Street to unload. Afterward, Lydia moved the car across the street to the lay-by. Her suite is downstairs; mine is right inside the front door next to the communal kitchen/ dining area. I’ve stayed in this suite since this building opened. Originally, it was Muse 1; now, with all five of the suites having been remodeled, mine is the Zeek Taylor Suite.

                By the time we’d each unpacked and put things away and marveled at our newly-decorated suites, it was dinner time. Of the four residents, we were the only ones to choose to eat down in the Main House. We sat at the ends of the long dining table. Jana (Yahna, of Czech extraction)  served a crunchy veggie salad, then brought on a plate filled with beef chunks covered with (shudder) mushroom gravy and a mound of rice. (On my pre-sent foods-I-don’t-like list were cooked turnips, liver ’n onions and tofu. I’d forgotten gravy and mushrooms.) I picked at the rice and beef, forced to consume gravy with the bites, then dug into the baked apple dessert, a small fruit topped with a fig, wrapped in a pastry igloo. A few bites of that, and I decided I’d had enough. Lydia felt the same, although her gluten-free dessert was a pudding of some kind. We each asked for a to-go box, and took our uneaten dinners back to our rooms. We ate them the next day at the 505 dining table.

                We both accomplished some needed work from then until bedtime. I turned out the light right before ten (I hadn’t had my daily nap), but she stayed up till midnight, her usual bedtime hour.

                That was Friday. Saturday, we masked up and headed to Sparky’s for a late lunch. After waiting for twenty minutes, we were seated at a two-fer table by one wall. We de-masked. She had a burger and I had a Rueben, half of which resided in the fridge beside the gravy dish. But we are happy we came even though it was in the low forties, temp-wise. More later.


c 2020, PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA

Monday, October 5, 2020

Even after the book’s published, I still jot stuff in my journals


              If I were publishing a supplement to my latest book, “A Compendium of Journal Jottings,” here are some of the things I’d add—from my journals of late.

                NATION – A Kennedy, who was in the House of Representatives ran for a Massachusetts Senate seat and lost. – I didn’t know that Sitka, Alaska used to be a Russian settlement founded in 1804 by a Mr. Baranov, a colonist and early 19c. governor of Russian Alaska. The land was long inhabited previously by Alaskan natives, many of whom he killed or enslaved. (WaPo)—NIAID ( National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) is one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institute of Health. (WaPo)—I hadn’t heard that FDR wanted/ tried to pack the SCOTUS in 1937. (WaPo) –William Howard Taft served as chief justice of SCOTUS after he was president.  –Thurgood Marshall became the first black justice in 1967. –Harry Blackmun authored the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All three of these men are buried at Arlington where Justice Ginsburg now lies beside her husband. (AP) -- One-hundred-thirty-nine-thousand families are renters.

                GIVEN NAMES – Agence, Lummie, Mudelean, Raygan, Brudcus, Thor, Alleyene, Emonya, Earnese, Idrees, Andeessen, Tolton, Finus, Qindi, Lopha, Edathara, Genois, Dareh, Larynzo, Arnon, Ashaki, Astead, Ledyard, Precilla, Dekeesha.

                SURNAMES – Greenfieldboyce, Sussman, Lacina, Greenhouse, Clodfelter, Samenow, Sun, Wen, Tubiana, Bleacher, Ameringen, Gregorian, Glassman, Hausfather, Steptoe.

                WORLD -A quarter of all known animal species are beetles. (NPR)

                WEATHER – Medicane = a Mediterranean cyclone; a storm all but unknown until the 1990s, was headed for Greece on September 18, ’20.

                UNIVERSE – Phosphine, a chemical detected in Venus’ atmosphere that could have been produced by a biological source. We won’t know until sending a spacecraft there to take a reading of the atmosphere. (NYT News Quiz, mid-Sept.) Venus roasts at 100s of degrees and is cloaked by clouds containing droplets of corrosive sulfuric acid. (Ibid.) – Cygnus Loop =  colorful ribbons of a supernova’s blast wave that screaming (sic) through space, heating and compressing dust and gas in a way that causes the ribbons to glow. So bright that humans would have seen it from Earth 15,000 years ago. (Business Insider)

                ANIMALS – Elephants are the only animals drinking below the surface of the water and sucking the silt, which is where neurotoxins reside. Botswana has the largest population of elephants at135,000 animals. (Bloomberg)

              PLACES IN ARKANSAS – Crosses, Wild Cherry, Tollville, Ingalls.

              UNKNOWN WORDS – “caravanning” – a group of motorists driving to a specific area and planning to loiter. . . blocking off intersections or loitering on private property. (AD-G) – “shambolic” = chaotic, disorganized, or mismanaged.—“abstruse” = difficult to understand; obscure. – “kakistocracy” = government by the least suitable or competent citizens of a state. (FB) – “non sequitur" = a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument/statement; usually untrue; an absurd statement. (Bing).

c 2020, PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA


Monday, August 17, 2020

Between college terms—getting home projects started

           Mid-week, I will begin the fourth Master of Fine Arts (MFA) class online from University of AR at Monticello. This one is “creative non-fiction” instructed by an out-of-stater, one advantage, the director said, of online classes. Do all these years and weeks of writing columns for The Amity Southern Standard—about 1,100-- count as “creative non-fiction”? I assume so, but with three textbooks, I no doubt will be required to widen my horizons, as I was encouraged to do in the latest poetry class.
                Son drove over from Hot Springs last Friday to help with sanding the original wooden screen door on the south side of the house. During its 86 years, this house had shifted and the door wouldn’t close properly. He bought and brought a spring to add to the turnbuckle already there. The diagonal piece is the turnbuckle. Turnbuckle was a new term for me. [A turnbuckle, stretching screw or bottlescrew is a device for adjusting the tension or length of ropes, cables, tie rods, and other tensioning systems. It normally consists of two threaded eye bolts, one screwed into each end of a small metal frame, one with a left-hand thread and the other with a right-hand thread.]
                After adding a short piece of scrap wood he found in the shed, he closed a gap on one side of the door. Still, there was light between the other side of the door and the frame. After much sanding of the threshold, the door closed better, even with that tiny gap that “no fly or mosquito can get through.”
Eric and I social-distancing. You can see the door that I have to sand & paint.

                Now, to paint the door white to match the other wood parts of this ole’ house. That’s MY job.  I won’t set a date to have it finished, however. Plus, I must buy a sander.

                Last weekend and the first of this week were busy. First off, I usually stop for the week’s supplies on the way home from church, but last Saturday, since I was expecting guests early in the week, and since I had a $5-off coupon for that day, I decided to shop. Guess what? I completely forgot the $5 coupon. It was clipped to my list, which I stuffed into my pants pocket. Duh!

                Today was final cleaning and prepping for tomorrow’s writers meeting here. Only four of us, so we can social distance with no trouble.

                Then, Wednesday, the fall term begins. I’m s-o-o-o-o thankful I don’t have to travel to an on-sight classroom.
                Stay safe, all!

c 2020, PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA