Tuesday, December 27, 2011

cal merchant delivers turkey; saves Christmas

Leslie Symmonds shares a story on why she likes to support local businesses, which in turn, support their loyal clients.

Symmonds, of Ace Real Estate in Port Neches, tells it like this:

On Christmas Eve around noon, my sister, Marilyn Uptmor, picked up the order my Dad, Harry Gardiner, had placed at Billy Joe's in Port Neches. He ordered a smoked turkey, green beans, potato salad and cornbread dressing for our Christmas meal. Billy Joe's staff had everything packed very nicely. My sister took the food back to my Dad's house and put it in the spare refrigerator. On Christmas morning”

“We all panicked a little! My Dad called Garry Richards, and Garry met us at Billy Joe's on Christmas Day and gave her the turkey. He was very apologetic and we were so thankful that he was willing to meet us, and that he had a turkey available. If we had ordered it from a corporate outfit, we would have been out of luck. There's a lot to say about dealing with locally-owned businesses, and customer service is what keeps those businesses alive. Garry Richards showed us that customer service is key to his business,” Symmonds said.

“Wornout Memories”

Lubbock Aalanche-Journal had an online mention of “Wornout Memories,” by Ross McSwain, noting he references memories of early days in Port Arthur. Apparently his Uncle Ed said the area was “too thick to stir and not quite thick enough to plow.” Most of the book is set in west Texas, according to writer Glenn Dromgoole.

Recycle in Southeast Texas

Got stamps? Trinity Lutheran Church wants to get them. Fabiola Small wants your quilts and vintage jewelry, Port Arthur Beautification Commission can use seeds and supplies and Armor Shred can deal with your paper. Texas Recyclers Association, linked area recyclers in a pamphlet I picked up at the Port Arthur Public Library. TRA’s Maggie Bolden, 728-5465, can tell you more, especially about how she can use your electronic waste, from cell phones to ink cartridges.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

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Texas books round up good reads

Port Arthur naturalist Bessie M. Reid amazed an ornithologist one morning before she even changed from her kimono and house slippers. He witnessed her trained hummingbirds eat from her hand. She used droppers to feed them a brew with honey and meat juice. One-time neighbor Ryle Adamson, who has been a source for my stories, said her yard was a jungle, designed to attract birds. Reid reportedly grew plants to attract lice to feed feathered friends and the Port Arthur News reported when she got her college degree.

These juicy tidbits are from just one of the 850-pages of “The Big Thicket Guidebook: Exploring the Backroads and History of Southeast Texas.” Lorraine G. Bonney’s writings make up the book. I promoted it here in advance after I met one of the editors, Maxine Johnstone. Now that this big-old book is in my hands, I aim to spend 2012 getting to know my area more. It could take that long to thoroughly digest this fascinating book.

True crime

A department of law men figuratively scrambled over a fresh corpse to succeed a slain man in office. Those in charge surprisingly awarded the position to the dead man’s wife, who apparently later had to promote her husband’s killer. “Written in Blood: The History of Fort Worth’s Fallen Lawmen” is Volume II, covering 1910 to 1928. Richard F. Selcer and Kevin S. Foster tell some whoppers in this University of North Texas release.

Just 750 ideas for party time

Happy New Year. A new book, “750 Best Appetizers: From Dips and Salsas to Spreads and Shooters” offers more than a year’s worth of inspiration. I just saw Anthony Bourdain reminiscing of buttered radish slices on “No Reservations.” I’d never heard of this and a week later I find it in this book. They sprinkle the bites with crunchy salt. Grind up your own salt blends with peppercorns or loose green tea. Judith Finlayson and Jordan Wagman offer luscious spreads from chorizo pizza to panko-crusted beef marrow. Here’s a twist on the usual guacamole we Southeast Texans love:

Avocado Ancho Chile Dip

1 avocado cut into chunks

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon cream cheese

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon grainy mustard

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder

¼ teaspoon liquid honey

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse ingredients until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap, pressing down on surface of dip, and refrigerate for up to four hours. Wonderful with carnitas, tacos or tortilla chips.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

‘Quotable Dolly’ fits in your stocking

You can’t imagine this, but my family claims my voice can get kind of cranky or something when I’m telling them stuff they don’t want to hear. I jokingly asked my husband if I should try to sound likes a famous actress and deliver ‘lines’ in character. My husband suggested Julia Roberts. I’m thinking, she never seems to get that mad in movies, except for “Erin Brockovich.”

I had in mind Dolly Parton as Miss Mona in “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” She had homespun advice and a heart of gold. If she asked you to wash the dishes, you’d do so gladly.

Coincidentally, I came across a tiny little book called “The Quotable Dolly,” offering “A Collection of Rich Sayings to Live, Love and Laugh by from The Country Music Legend.”

“Home is where I hang my hair,” reads one page, among photos of the glamorous singer who can poke fun at her self. Pages are adorned with butterfly drawings, representing her love for the colorful insects. She says that it takes a lot of money to make someone look cheap.

“I like to buy clothes that are two sizes too small and then take them in a little,” is one that made me laugh.

Some are pretty deep, but others make you smile. In fact, smiles are a topic she shares:
“I always thought if you see somebody without a smile, give ‘em yours!”

Do it all again

All the Camp Fire girls would pack into the back of the Scroggs’ station wagon for the trip to Camp Niwana. If you’ve spent time in a space like this, you’ll appreciate the cover of “Young Me, Now Me” a little book offering Identical Photos of Different Decades. Three grown siblings in striped shirts and tube socks recreate the expressions and poses they had when the wagon first pulled up in their driveway.

Still a messy eater, an adult woman sits bibbed and covered with sauce opposite her baby self in the same situation. Cheeseheads, super hero tots and grimacing siblings still willing to pick at each other in Ze Frank’s book that will make you want to round up the family next weekend. This book is as funny as it is touching.

A Thanksgiving catfish, daddys who pass on their love of huntin’ and fishin’, a honey-dipped venison ritual and hog stories fill the pages of “Hide, Horn, Fish, and Fowl: Texas Hunting and Fishing Lore.” If you can’t be out in the woods you love, love the book that brings it all back to mind. University of North Texas Press just released this book and Kenneth L. Untiedt, secretary-editor of the Texas Folklore Society, has edited a collection of myriad stories of adventure and victory. One that hits close to home is “Deliverance II: The Tale of a Strange Encounter in the Big Thicket” that involves a cabin fashioned from a discarded paper mill felt; surly hunters and a possible still; a surprised, possibly “paintywaisted” visitor; and a bag of burgers.

Acting your age

The sister of a good friend promotes a skin serum that my friend is never without. She was offered a trip to Hawaii and rejected because she didn’t think she could keep her beauty products properly cooled with new plane regulations. So imagine my surprise she tried Stages of Beauty (without sister’s knowledge) at the same time the company was contacting me. It’s an all-natural line with goodies such as monk’s pepper berry and is divided into lines for age groups: Radiance (20s), Harmony (30s), Elegance (40s) and Grace (50s). Each formulated to address the hormonal changes/needs of your skin at that specific age. I’m working the Elegance, when one can expect skin to be more thin, more dry and less radiant and elastic. My classmates can also look for more freckles and sunspots . . . need I go on? So this beautifully-packaged pot of Treatment Cream is offering hydration, evenness and firmness and I’m glad I’m trying it in winter. It feels good going on and my face is happy in the cold wind.

Each line includes cleanser, serum, cream and angi-aging supplement. I won’t tell if you won’t.

Softish is soothing

Chewing a Pine Bros Softish Thoat Drop is certainly easier than swabbing one’s throat with glycerin multiple times a day. Victoria Knight-McDowell says that when she sold Airborne, she started seeking products her own family could use and she brought back the softish drops created in 1870. Her company revamped packaging and recipes and is selling Wild Cherry and Honey pucks of drops through CVS. They’re more chewy than a gummi candy and don’t have that “cough drop” taste. I think they’ll catch on again.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday happenings in Port Arthur
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, just like the song goes. Holiday Inn Park Central has a new feature in its array of Christmas scenes. An old-fashioned TV set has a tiny village with moving parts. It’s in Mrs. Claus’ bedroom, in the scene where Santa is presenting his wife with a gift, and a hot water bottle. The lobby is full of wonders.

Las Posadas/Bethlehem on the Boardwalk
Maria Block’s annual Christmas pageant is set for 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 17, on the boardwalk by City Hall in Port Arthur. Hundreds of luminaria will light the way as families recreate the Hispanic tradition of following the Holy Family as they prepare for the birth of Jesus. Angels will lead the search for shelter with Mary, Joseph and a donkey. Wise Men join the group and Our Lady of Guadalupe youth choir will perform.

Mission’s Attic Christmas
Mae Terro of Mission’s Attic said folks were lining up on Black Friday to shop the newly-created Christmas/holiday section of the resale shop.
“They come from a long way because there’s not another shop like this,” Terro said. The section of candles, trim, ornaments and gifts was all but cleaned out recently, but Terro said more donations arrive daily, at 3300 Twin City Highway. Mardi Gras and Easter selections go up next. Proceeds benefit United Board of Missions projects.

Port Arthur parade
I hope you’ll see me at Port Arthur’s Cultural Lighted Parade, which has been moved to 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, in downtown PA. It was set for Dec. 10, but Memorial High School’s football win changed things up. It’s great to reschedule events for positive news, instead of hurricanes. Bundle up and head out.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Style and stocking stuffers
Can you be in style in time for the holidays? Even the font on the cover of “Southern Living Style” is classic, yet modern. I removed the book jacket so I could admire the cover as I slowly peruse this book with plenty of pictures of how we Southerners display our collections, prepare for parties, read and sleep. It’s no wonder other regions are so jealous.
Speaking of fonts, one designer tip is to print your monogram instead of stitching it. Consider collecting ancestral portraits (of anyone’s family) to group on the wall of any room, even the kitchen. I think I’ll mix up a mint julep and read some more.
“La Figa: Visions of Food and Form”
If I had mounds of avocado, cucumber, nori, grapes, etc. at my disposal, arranging them artistically on beautiful nudes would not be my first thought. Chef Tiberio Simone and photographer Matt Freedman thought otherwise, and have produced a breathtaking coffee table art book that is likely to take your breath away. Not the first to “play with food” or link food to sex, this tasteful book, to me, shows God’s beauty through human form and how we are fed and nourished. Nearly transparent cucumber slices resemble scales on a muscular man, spun sugar sculpts an abstract “hairdo” on a woman and a fresh-faced lovely bathes in a tub of cranberries. While many artists pick the most perfect bodies, this pair shows also highlights appreciation for plump and older-than-average models. The commentary on love of food and the making of this book are top-notch reads. This book is both fun and pensive.

Mad about it in your stocking
Mad Gab’s is already into minimal packaging, recycling, etc., in addition to quality product with beeswax, shea butter and organic extra virgin olive oil. So what’s new? The Wildy Natural line inspired by nature. A peacock feather design is on my pink lip shimmer. Lavender vanilla lip butter smells and feels heavenly and sparkly bronze lip shimmer, in a tube with a giraffe look, just makes me feel good. There’s more from “Gab,” and her do-good Maine-based company. Look them up.

Tassi has one upped the hair band.
Promising “Skin Care Without the Hair,” this stylish band is gathered so you can actually roll long hair up in the band and go about your makeup business without your locks falling in your face. Tassicompany.com will show you how to rock the look. One use and you’ll wish you’d thought of it first.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Read up on Texas with an ice cream happy hour

Huntsville’s town square brought me a fabulous fall afternoon of antiquing, fried chocolate pie and Mexican food before I headed to The Texas Prison Museum and Big Sam. At the museum, they have T-shirts billing the city as “Huntsville, a gated community since 1849.” The city and its prison have come up in two new books.
“Steve McQueen” is Marshall Terrill’s thick read that includes filming he did with inmates. I’m about to scour the book for links to Port Arthur, where some say he spent part of his youth as a towel boy in a brothel.
“Gangster Tour of Texas” tells some crazy true stories with a twist. T. Lindsay Baker includes present-day and historical snapshots so readers can visit some key sites, such a court houses and crime scenes. In one case a woman said she was from The Beaumont Enterprise, and had traveled to a small Texas town to interview folks for a story on cotton crops. The Flapper Bandit was really trying to rob the bank. She tried that a couple of times, using different identities, and finally did it. Her lawyer lover helped get her out of the mess.
Huntsville’s prison comes up now and again in this fascinating book, which includes details on Bonnie and Clyde, a vet dealing in morphine, the Houston police dope scandal that rocked the department and a doctor who placed goat glands in his human male patients for “stamina.” He set up a huge business in Del Rio so he could broadcast from a powerful radio station in Mexico. Gambling in Galveston also gets its spotlight.

Are you happy now?
Spike, freeze and serve is the battle cry of two women whose late-night beer float became a book: “Ice Cream Happy Hour,” offering 50 ways to wet your whistle. It begins with the premise that readers like ice cream, and like spirits. Valerie Lum and Jenise Addison have done the science, so you just have to follow the directions to chocolate martini, ginger with dark rum, pink peppercorn with vodka . . . . you taste the idea. Here’s a quick garnish for pina colada:
Rum Pineapple Topping: In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, combine 1 pound pineapple cut into bite-size chunks, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons rum. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Transfer about one-third of the sauce to a blender or food processor and puree, then return the puree to the saucepan and stir to combine.

Casting call
I’d hoped to report a review straight from the setting of “Cast Iron and the Crescent City.” A trim booklet explains how intricate florals, geometric patterns and even corn stalks were “cast” in the history of New Orleans. A mini tour of buildings, accounts of architectural outlines, bios of iron works owners and “maker’s marks” are included in the Louisiana Landmarks Society publication by Ann M. Masson and Lydia M. Schmalz. This quick read made me want to head to NOLA ( New Orleans, La.) right away, but I confess I’d be there for muffaletta and seafood as much as to gaze at fences.
Instead of reading the book from Jackson Square, I studied in before dawn on a Sunday morning, then came home to Texas by switching to the newly-released Historic Homes of Jefferson Texas,” Cherly MacLennan’s loving picture book on this preserved-in-time town. Instead of iron work, these homes have Texas Historical Markers as adornment. I enjoyed my first visit to Jefferson, and I’m ready to venture back, now that MacLennan has educated me on the nuances of tall windows, central hallways, the first gas meter, etc.

Get a look at Jefferson homes
A road trip to Greek Revival homes, a sense of early Texas and the love of preservation make up Cheryl MacLennan’s picture book “Historic Homes of Jefferson, Texas.”
The author seems like a woman you’d want to know. She’s a consultant, independent contractor, photographer, docent at the Institute of Texan Cultures and a volunteer at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store. She makes you feel like you already know Jefferson. I was there long ago at my first bed-and-breakfast venture and now I’m ready to pack up for more. I specifically imagine heading to The House of Seasons, with multi-colored panes of glass that glow like a rainbow.

Delicious sense
If common sense to you is pages of one-paragraph gourmet recipes, Domestic Engineer Paula Sole has it. She actually has “Common Sense,” a quick read on tips and ways for good living. She advocates a neat living space. I’m all for that. Here’s a quick dish:
Chicken Genovese: Cut up boneless chicken breast into small pieces. Saute chicken in extra-virgin olive oil until golden brown. Add three sliced onions. Stir consistently. When onions are golden, add water just to cover chicken. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 40 minutes. Serve over pasta.
Author’s note: “You’ll luv this dish!!”

Frenemies with food
“Frenemies,” in modern parlance, means you are both friends and enemies. A new book was billed as a story of a woman who considered food that way. It takes place in England, and is pitched this way:
“The new book, Clarice, tells the story of a young woman living in a world where food is both her greatest comfort and greatest enemy. Written by a retired physician, the book paints a modern-day portrait of mental illness and describes the path to recovery.”
I “realised” I may have been enjoying this book more because of British spellings, such as “colour” and phraseology that’s used “across the pond.” Clarice does binge and purge at times throughout her life, but I believe the book is most familiar with her relationships with men, married or not. She visits a psychic, and the prediction comes to pass for Clarice in a way that “got me” on the very final page.
Looking for healing
Our best friend is our little child within, and that friend can help us put our house in order. Meditate on that, Austrailian author Teresa Alexander writes in “Freedom Within: A Gift of Love.” The butterfly-on-flower book cover lets readers know this will be a touchy-feely experience. The author discusses colors of lights associated with energy and mixes short writings with poems about friendship, sharing, claiming the day, etc.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Walking it out and dining out help “do good” for community

As a reporter I covered countless walks, but joining the Alzheimer’s support walk this past weekend on Crockett Street was different. There was music, boudain and a sea of purple T-shirts on a sunny day. Through Facebook donations, my husband raised $200 for the cause with minimal effort in one day. It wasn’t until I signed a paper to be pinned on my back that I got emotional. “I’m walking for,” the top read. I filled in Burton Doiron, and noted my dad died a year ago, Thanksgiving week. My husband walked to honor his father, who is still with us.

A hectic taste of poverty
My brush with hard luck ended with a taste of warming stew on a cold night and some of the best cornbread I ever had. It was the same meal the homeless experienced at Some Other Place in Beaumont earlier in the day. For this reward, I had to play a teacher with too many hungry, impoverished students in my class.
Leadership Beaumont, Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce project, staged a poverty simulation. My husband helped put on the evening and got the role of pawn broker. Participants were assigned roles from teen mother to drug dealer and drew cards that had them in government waiting rooms, late for low-paying part-time jobs and without transportation. Sometimes families would get “home” to find overturned chairs, meaning they were evicted. They’d head to the faith-based shelter area, where my teacher character volunteered.
In one hour we all got an idea of tough times compounded by “wild cards” from flat tire expenses to having a child expelled from school. After our meal, we heard speakers who work with people in our community who need work, mental health care and food.

Toasting Taylor
Triangle Aids Network’s annual Paint the Town Red event at the Beaumont Country Club carried a Toast to Elizabeth Taylor theme and allowed guests in evening gowns to financially support a hard-working agency. The TAN office is not glamorous, but deals with sick people who need everything from a ride to the doctor to the emotional support that comes with living with AIDS. Not everyone can work daily with these patients and their families. Paint the Town Red is a chance for artists and business people to whip up beautiful things and packages auctioned off to raise funds for TAN to do their good works. I came home with something I’ve wanted since I saw them years ago, a purse made from an actual Beatles album. I also left with a sense of gratitude.

Winter Wonderland
Parents will get private shopping time and children will make memories when Texas Artists Museum hosts Winter Wonderland Workshop from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26.
“It is for kids 6 to 12 and costs $10,” Jayne Smith of TAN said. “We will have an art lesson included with a framed work as the result. Others activities include "patchwork" pictures, wooden spoon Christmas dolls, decorations, a dove of peace, and Christmas cards. John Manuel will teach the art class.”
“It will be an interesting way for children to learn a bit about art and to enjoy doing crafts as well as give parents free time to Christmas shop,” Smith said.
Call 983-4881 to get “patch” in

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A riot, Seahawks and tartan are in Southeast Texas news

Rhythm Riot
So I’m on the exercise bike at the Port Arthur YMCA and guess who sits next to me. It’s local singing legend Jivin’ Gene. He was reminiscing about his friend Johnny Preston, just honored with a Solid Gold tribute at Lamar State College-Port Arthur. He was also planning to head to England for Rhythm Riot, billed as “The UKs biggest and best festival of 1950s music, dancing and vintage lifestyle.” Mr. Bourgeois was modest, and said he didn’t think it was a big deal. I’ll bet his fans here do.

Team to Beat
Merchants are proudly displaying Seahawks basketball schedule cards. I got mine at the Port Arthur YMCA. This team cinched a championship this past season and Scott A. Street, athletic director at Lamar State College-Port Arthur, says they’re looking to repeat. Street said word off the court is the Seahawks are being called “The Team to Beat,” and games are designed for good, family fun. Seahawks won the National Jr. College Athletic Association title in Tyler and competed in the nationals in Kansas. Support them at home games in the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center, Lakeshore Drive, on the LSC-PA Campus. Tickets: $6 for adults and $3 for students. Home games:
Wednesday, Nov. 16, vs. Lone Star College, Tomball, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 18, vs. Baton Rouge CC, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 19, vs. Texas Southern (JV), 2 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 30, vs. San Jacinto College, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 7, vs. Lee College, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 11, vs. Angelina College, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 21, vs. Paris Jr. College, 4 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 28, vs. Navarro College, 4 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 4, vs. Trinity Valley CC, 4 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 8, vs. Kilgore College, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 15, vs. Lon Morris College, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 22, vs. Jacksonville College, 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Feb. 29, vs. Blinn College, 7:30 p.m.

Tartan time
I know all about tartan thanks to a junior high love of the Bay City Rollers. My mother made me a top based on Woody’s yellow and black design.
Now the Scottish society of Southeast Texas is inviting supporters to get their tartan on. The group will meet Thursday, Nov. 10, in the parlor of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 1350 N. 23 rd St., In Beaumont. They’ll dine on a light covered dish supper at 6:30 p.m. Marilyn Manson Hayes will discuss wearing of the tartan, the Scottish clan plaids, in preparation of the annual “Kirkin” of the Tartans, at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, at St. Andrew’s.
For more information, call 409-898-4986. Wear your tartan, leave your swords at home, the invite reads.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Go “all out” in Spirit of Mardi Gras
I’ve heard it straight from Jan Walker. This next Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas is the 20th of its kind and Majestic Krewe of Aurora members report the theme will focus on traditional symbols with the title “Spirit of Mardi Gras.”
“Plan on going all out this year,” Walker, krewe communications director, said.
Dates are Feb. 16-19 of 2012.

Pecans for the season
Comanches must have loved pecans as much as we do. The Golden Triangle Sertoma Club is proud to be selling Durham-Ellis pecan halves for holiday baking. I looked up the Hill Country area distributor who reports Comanches ate plenty of pecans. I’m willing to sink my teeth into these babies, which come in perfect halves. I told my saleswoman they’re too pretty to chop up. The gorgeous nuts should top a cupcake or adorn a snack mix.
Proceeds from $11 bags have helped Children’s Miracle Network, American Cancer Society Mid and South County Relay for Life and scholarships. Get them for Thanksgiving and Christmas by contacting Linda Hebert at 963-4882, ljhebert@sbcglobal.net; or Emily Sonier at 365-7599, auntieem_28@yahoo.com.

“Troubadour Tx”
Robert Creaseman, a musician and motivational speaker, told an audience I was in we can all be Rockstars, and gave us a formula, which I won’t reveal here. Just tell me if it’s working, because I’m trying to rock. Creaseman is involved with “Troubadour Tx,” a new show that tells the story of Texas song writers, performers, etc. The web site says you can catch it round these parts at 5 p.m. Sundays on the CW. Of course, in his talk, he mentioned one of our famous musicians from the past, Janis Joplin.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ink it pink in October
My Sharpie love has upped a notch through the Ink it Pink promotion. It’s true that celebrities love Sharpies for autographs as much as I love them for jazzing up mundane chores. Stars have used pink Sharpies adorned with the breast cancer support ribbon and displayed them at Sharpie.com. Send yours in October and the company will donate a dollar to City of Hope, a cancer treatment, research and education center. Get on the web site to view guitarist Grace Potters video about the project, and ink away.

Catch a Rauschenberg
Texas Monthly’s October issue features a rundown on where to view some of Robert Rauschberg’s modern art paintings, collages, etc. I shouldn’t have to remind Port Arthur residents who knew “Milton” that Museum of the Gulf Coast has a gallery dedicated to the world-famous artist.

Birders on the big screen
An image of Owen Wilson from “The Big Year” shows his character armed with binoculars by a poster reading “Houston Audubon’s High Island.” This family bonding flick stars Wilson, a Texan, as an avid birder with Steve Martin, from the Waco area, as his dad.
I’ve been learning about our area’s birding activity. I don’t know if members of our own Audubon Society will like the movie, but I’ve been enjoying reading up on purple gallinule.

Silver and copper gets in your face
They had me at blue bottle. The cobalt blue spritzer holding Ancient Stones Ancient Elixir Setting Spray just looks natural. Silver and copper are on the ingredients list, but you won’t find fillers, additives, preservatives or talc. Spray some over your made-up face. This product in the line is designed to give the face a “smooth air-brushed look” and to keep your look fresh all day with no smudging or creasing, though you may have been working out or swimming. It feels good going on and feels good in place.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wranglers and rouge and my Nine-Cat Summer

My Nine-Cat Summer
When our neighbor, noted for growing a patch of both bluebonnets and cotton by his garage, passed away, his daughter came in to check on his home. She left me a sack of cat food and a note that there were seven kittens, two apparently Mama cats and a possible baby raccoon under the shed. I’ve spent the summer doing so and chatted with neighbors I’d never met as they all stop to look at the cats.
It made me appreciate “Cat Calls: Wonderful Stories and Practical Advice from a Veteran Cat Sitter” all the more. Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan have some funny stories, like cats who have trained themselves to use a human toilet. Here’s just one tip for feral cats and flea control. A woman who had a farm full of them sprinkled brewer’s yeast with garlic over their food. Never use a dog product on a cat, the book advises.

Ranger wrangling
Bob Alexander offers chapter titles like “We’ll do the shooting,” “He Fell Like a Beef” and “Venison is better than no meat at all” in Rawhide Ranger Ira Aten: Enforcing the Law on the Texas Frontier.” It’s a good read and Alexander’s words paint as clear a picture as the plentiful vintage photos of this family. Aten was honest and humble and took the dreaded assignment of “detective” in an era when law men wanted to be clear on their intentions. He posed as a “cutter” and gained the trust of men who broke through fences for cattle and horses. Undercover was kind of a new deal, and Aten then worked up to other duties, each as interesting as the next. The book is a University of North Texas Press release.

Texas scandal
Bill Neal’s “Vengeance is Mine: The Scandalous Love Triangle that Triggered the Boyce-Sneed Feud is another true Texas tale from University of North Texas Press. So Lena got what she wanted, had candlelight parties for women in the day time and may have neglected to return borrowed dessert spoons. She married a wealthy Sneed, but carried on with cowboy Boyce. Her husband committed her to an asylum to save face and shot her lover’s daddy, then her lover. Established women of Amarillo packed the courtroom in furs and diamonds. Sneed was let go both times for “protecting the home.”

Nyx the night
Goddesses get all the attention. Nyx, the Greek goddess who ruled the night, paints the town red, and a huge selection of other shades, creators say. Since 1999 NYX Professional Makeup, for artistry and day wear, have rarely discontinued a shade. Red is back big time for lips this season and NYX is on the clock. A swipe from the stick comes in 22 shades and is designed to keep a matte finish all day and into the night. NYX is also bringing back cream rouge, like hip ladies of my grandmother’s era sported. Tickled is the newest of 13 shades. It sounds like summer, but I’m feeling a tinge of fall orange from the smooth rouge. Love the packaging, too.

Stocking for the sweaty
Words to Sweat By is part practical and part inspirational with stocking stuffers for the New Year’s Resolution crowd. The To Health and Happiness Package packs a blue tote with a high-quality towel adorned with thoughts such as “Healthy. Strong. Happy.” Stick a message like that a black tank top or “mantra T-shirt” and you think you’d be ready to hit the treadmill at the Port Arthur YMCA. But the package isn’t empty. There’s a wristband locker key chain and reusable snack bag. Work out, wipe down and feel good about feeling fit and fashionable. In 2012, the company will put phrases from Olympic athletes on their towels.

Softest bamboo
Gaiam has a fall catalogue on line that lets you search by color. As drawn as I am to purple, a rich, green shawl caught my eye and I’m relishing its bamboo and cotton durability. How can bamboo be so soft? It’s a good thing to have for chilly offices. Because Gaiam is into yoga wear, sustainability and “healthy stuff,” the cover-up looks great over your workout wear, or you can dress it up. The company “tag” is “Live, learn, grow.” I could go for one of everything in the catalogue. If you can’t knit one of the panchos glamming up the fall looks, get one here.

A clean car
Water rationing or wanting to avoid hauling out the hose are both motivators to try Washdrops. A bit of the non-foaming solution in one bucket of water is all you need. A pouch of the stuff will help you keep your car clean while you’re on vacation. I found this to be a product that works like it claims it does, and that’s good news for me and my neighbors. We live in an area where street construction and dusty roads have been a part of our lives for months. I’m not complaining. That’s progress, and keepin’ it clean.

Make a BiOWiSH
Garbage take-out is my daughter’s detail, but I get all the feedback if I didn’t furnish the right bags or a toss didn’t make it to its destination. I presented her with BiOWiSH Garbage Bin Wash for pride in ownership. Dissolve it in water and wash out your bin with the solution so that naturally occurring enzymes can help your bin stay odor-free for a month. There’s no flowery scent, so insects and rodents won’t be attracted. This is a winner, because Southeast Texas kitchen garbage often has the remains of our great seafood. Great to eat, not so great to smell.
The wine and cheese estate sale
It doesn’t take much prodding to get an adventure-seeking bargain hunter to a sale. Estate Sales by Vivian has a huge e-mail following. Vivian Duplant and her web master, Michael Mathews, post photos of the goodies shoppers will find inside homes, so hunters have a few days to plan. If there’s a lot of blue glass or any other sort of collectible, the photos will give the scoop.
When I saw a notice for a Nederland sale where one could meet artist Cal Gaspard and sample wine and cheese, I was so there. I think I made some new friends and hope someone went home with Gaspard’s bluebonnet paintings. I got a scarf and a cream pitcher from the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, where my parents spent their honeymoon. My bill for an hour of fun: $3.
Mathews owns The Tattered Suitcase resale shop at 2590 Calder Avenue at Tenth Street in Beaumont, and says he sometimes offers Thursday wine parties at his shop of “well-traveled finds.
He said he loves all things old and feels like I do about kitchen bowls and such found at estate sales. We both imagine how many dishes have filled the classic patterns and how many Thanksgiving tables platters have seen over the years.

What a bummer
I loved the community support Bum Phillips got when a street that spans Nederland and Port Neches was named in his honor. Local love was evident. I’m surprised to hear that someone apparently loves Bum so much, he or she had to snatch one of those road signs.
The ceremony in Nederland was on the parking lot near Bruce’s Market Basket. I ran inside later that day to confirm what I suspected. “Bum’s Favorite” Blue Ribbon Sausage, with his image on the package, was for sale in the store while the celebrity coach was just outside.

Tough women
Linda Guillory says she’s one urban cowgirl who is back in the saddle again after her breast cancer diagnosis a while back. She used black and pink bandanas to create “A Cowgirl’s Dream Bra,” her contribution to “Bra-Vo! Applause for the Cause, a Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” project. Gladys Wilson-Hollins created a pink floral called “Pearls of Love and Flowers.” Other creative supporters went “tough as nails,” gave nods to Mardi Gras or a favorite sports team and thanked family in their bra art. Visit giftoflifebmt.org for more information on this inspirational collection.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Meet Bates’ ‘French girls’ and pine for the pig
A picture is truly worth 1,000 words for amicable artist Delle Bates. Through his Orange studio, he sells his bold faces he’s painted in oil to clients around the world. Wall Street and Post-Rita angels in T-shirts are other themes. He said he chatted with a New York reporter for more than an hour and the “story” ended up as pretty much a sentence, that storms inspire Bates to paint angels. He’s known for it.
To meet Bates is to make a friend. He’ll tell you how this spring’s visit to France had him shuffling to two museums a day for 28 days and how he’s “starving” to paint more. Everyone there was in a scarf, and he’s painted some of that excitement into works he’ll show at Texas Artists Museum in October. A dark cadmium redhead with absinthe-green eyes is named “Lucy in the Sky.”
Jean Gunn and James Black will also show works in October. TAM, a, 3501 Cultural Center Drive, offers monthly Second Sunday programs with entertainment, often combined with artists’ receptions.

Pining for the Pig
If you miss Ralph the Swimming Pig of Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, then pop some corn and get ready for the Swine Dive. I recently caught a documentary on this grand-scale amusement park that paved the way for today’s family fun stops. I saw the underwater mermaid show as a child, so I loved this film featuring memories from former swimmers and park tenders. Bob Phillips, a tourism specialist not associated with the country reporter of the same name, made this movie. He’s one of hundreds who worked there as a youth. Get yours at www.aquarenaandralph.com.

Stable Spirit has haunted hay ride plans
As if the woods aren’t already scary. The fifth annual Haunted Hay Ride Festival, sponsored by Stable-Spirit and Tyrrell Park Stables, will be Fridays & Saturdays of Oct. 21, 22, 28, & 29, from 7 to 10 p.m., at Tyrrell Park Stables, 5595 Tyrrell Park Road, inside Tyrrell Park.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Horses, haunted hay ride and more authors

Stable Spirit is playing with fire.
The local group promotes positive mental and physical health through interaction with horses. They’re working on some music and scary fun to raise funds. Food and music will be from 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Port Neches Park Pavilion on Grigsby Avenue. Music will be from Acadian Junglists Artists
Lavish of Eunice, La., offering a “rough and tough Drum n Bass production.” “Junglist” refers to Jamacian residents. Other artists include BGenius of Eunice, with massive bass lines for the dance floor; Dj Sk8 of Beaumont and Breaks Fire Maiden From Outer Space of Tee Mamou, La. The Fire Maiden will bring Tribal Belly Dancing and Fire Poi. Sounds like a party.
For more information on this or the upcoming Haunted Hay Ride Festival, call Katie Durio at (409) 365-5277.
The fifth annual Haunted Hay Ride Festival, sponsored by Stable-Spirit and Tyrrell Park Stables, will be Fridays & Saturdays of Oct. 21, 22, 28, & 29, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Tyrrell Park Stables, 5595 Tyrrell Park Road, inside Tyrrell Park.

McBride finally did it
Mary Beth Stafford loaned me a book by someone I know to be a great writer. I actually know her personally, though when a writer shares her world with readers, it seems everyone is in on the details.
Jane McBride, longtime columnist for the Beaumont Enterprise, has compiled her works into “Grace, Gratitude and Generosity” A Family Portrait,” writings which offer personal experiences with everything from a Beatle infatuation and grandbaby love to worrying about a mother’s health. She writes short, sweet and worthy. That’s why readers can’t get enough.

Beaumont author’s got poetry
Beaumont author Dorothy Sells Clover's new book, “Cornucopia,” is dubbed “a delightful and intriguing hodge-podge of mind searching, thought provoking, and just plain whimsical poems.” Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the book is available through bookstores nationwide, from the publisher at www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore, or by visiting barnesandnoble.com or amazon.com.
Clover is a single parent residing in Beaumont and has been employed with the Beaumont Independent School District for 20 years. She has worked as a librarian for the last three years. For more information, visit dorothyclover.tateauthor.com.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bruno, Mission’s Attic ready for the holidays

I spotted George Bruno, Port Arthur high school football great and wine maker at The Cabana at The Grill in Beaumont. Always genial, he told me Bruno & George winery in Sour Lake is set to appear on a “Texas Country Reporter” episode near the end of the year, to highlight his holiday wines. He said when Jimmy Johnson was in town for a reunion, his gang sipped a Yellow Jacket blend from the collection.

Christmas room all set up at Attic
A flashy, lighted new “open” sign was my first notion that The Mission’s Attic got a little facelift. What may have been considered the record room, to the back left, is now full, I mean full, of Christmas goodies. When I visited, there was music and a separate check-out for this popular new section that drew two shoppers from as far as Bridge City. Mae Terro, sales director of the resale shop that benefits United Board of Missions, said she visited the Texas Hill Country and noted shops that offer Christmas all year, so volunteers thought they might as well keep a seasonal room rotating with stock, instead of having to keep it stored off season. Terro said that even if they sold out of all the Christmas stuff displayed now, they have more to fill up the place.
“It’s a little bit of all seasons, all the time,” she said.
The store is across from Jefferson City Shopping Center.

Make it to the movie; the museum
Some of my readers know I love finding pennies, so I loved the penny story I found at the Museum of the Gulf Coast. It’s part of “WWI: Final Survivors,” a collection of David DeJonge’s photographs up through Sept. 18.
The bio that goes with one photo tells how a former soldier was sitting with a French girl who asked for a souvenir. He had none, so he thought, until he found an American penny, which he gave her. She gave him a lock of her hair, which he kept until he died.
Military posters, a vintage firearm and the disc-style dog tags of the day are also on exhibit.
DeJonge worked with Survivor Quest, his years-long project to locate, identify, interview and photograph the last surviving WWI veterans. The project clocked more than 130,000 miles of travel to every corner of the U.S. and England. These survivors are the final witnesses from the United States and England that served from 1914-1919. Group tours of the exhibition are available through Sept. 16. Groups of 10 or more may tour for $2 a person by scheduling in advance. Out of towners can book Port Arthur accommodations.
The exhibition has inspired a free Veteran Appreciation Film Series on Saturday afternoons at 2 p.m. There’s one more:
* Vietnam Sept. 17 – Bob Hope’s Salute to the Troops: The Vietnam Years
Film attendees may enjoy complimentary popcorn and free admission to the temporary WWI exhibition as well as the Museum’s permanent exhibits. The Museum is at 7000 Procter St. in downtown Port Arthur. For information, call 409-982-7000 or visit www.museumofthegulfcoast.org.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Get Tray Chic at TAM
Shirley Peel McCraw’s fancy lady is called “Salute to Alphonse” and she could be serving you. Texas Artists Museum has asked businesses to support a decorated tray fund raiser called Tray Chic. Jody Domingue, board member, said patrons can vote on favorite trays at Kizmet Fine Arts Studio in Groves, at Chatzie’s and Dana’s Jewelry on Boston Avenue in Nederland. Domingue said the jewelry store blinged the provided tray with $350 worth of jewelry. See the trays at TAM Second Sunday, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at 3501 Cultural Center Drive. The Out of Control Trio will perform.

The ketchup incident
Artist Arnulfo Hernandez used to work in a ketchup factory, where boiling-hot product once splashed up to burn his ear. When he took a physical for RCA to make color TV parts, the doc asked him about the burn. Hernandez said it came from ketchup and the physician stopped him right there and proclaiming “I don’t want to know.”
Some of Hernandez’ life stories, such as a tour of Vietnam and Naval duties, are reflected in his art work, displayed at Texas Artists Museum in September.

Sandwich story
Author Bruce Branick saw my review of “Insanewiches,” a book that transform bread and fillings into fun, edible artworks, and sent in a memory:
“About 1955, I had a job as radio-electronics man at Ingall's Shipyard, in Pascagoula, Mississippi. I boarded and roomed in a huge house in Pascagoula, with about five other IBEW electricians, and the proprietor of the house was also an electrician. He and his wife were paying off the house, and we electrical people were paying for spare rooms and three meals a day.

The noon meal was a bag lunch, sandwiches. Lady of the house had the most vivid creativity I've ever seen, in my 90 years. For two and a half months, I never had the same sandwich for lunch. Believe it!

Ever had a bean sandwich? All of them were on brown or wheat bread, and all were tasty,” Branick writes.
Mr. B, I’m pretty sure my dad enjoyed some lima bean sandwiches on duty at Gulf States Utilities.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Enough already!

Imagination is required for a new book designed to wean us from instant gratification. Interaction as some sort of sea foam, conversations with captive elephants and exercises asking nervous folk to hose down a room with positive light energy are in Dr. Dorothy Riddle’s new book, “Principles of Abundance for the Cosmic Citizen.” I was expecting more concrete tips, but this read is all about the journey and thinking for one’s self, while raising the question: Is more really better?

Fruit fly life
Do something like this, soon:
• Call your sister so you can hear your nephews laughing in the background.
• Play footsies with your sweetie.
• Look at old pictures while drinking a glass of chocolate milk.
• Wake up early to see a sunrise.

In “Live Like a Fruit Fly: The Secret You Already Know,” funny guy Gabe Berman reminds readers that fruit flies live just a short time, so they don’t accumulate the baggage we humans do. This columnist for The Miami Herald keeps it light while reminding us we’re dying every day, so we should live a little. Let’s go do it.

Hair in disguise?
What could make you feel more like a hippie chick than mud in your hair? It wasn’t actually mud, it was a good-smelling “masque” of plantain enzyme, tea tree and willow bark extract. Organic African Black Soap Purification Masque from Shea Moisture is designed for dry, itchy scalp, dandruff, eczema and psoriasis. It moisturizes the hair and gets rid of product buildup. My 30 minutes in the “mud” was actually therapeutic, and I don’t think the nine stray cats I’m feeding across the way actually noticed anything unusual in my looks when I visited with masque in my hair. I should go back now that my do is looking so good. Shea Moisture has a line of bath and body works with frankincense and myrrh that will make the rest of you feel good, too.

Back inside
Summer sun and aging is a combo that can be addressed with two jars:
Nu Skin 180 AHA Facial Peel and Neutralizer
 is billed as “A Simple Two-Step Process to Target Sun Damaged and Aging Skin
I don’t think I’ll ever, ever get a professional chemical peel, but this product is an affordable alternative.
Imagine, at my age, I’m still using those pads like the ones that were so revolutionary for acne care. But the babies in these jars have AHAs clinically proven to “chemically exfoliate surface skin and promotes a youthful cell renewal rate while stimulating collagen production to reveal a beautiful even-toned complexion.”

 Look for lactic acid to break apart dead cell buildup (my fave) and Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract to reduce topical sensitivity. Visit www.nuskinusa.com for details.


Leave your sand at the beach
A 30-second commercial on the Sand-Off site says it all. Sand is fun when you’re playing at the beach, not fun down your suit and all over your car. I sent relatives to the beach to try it and they came home clean.
Sand-Off™ Dry Body Wash uses a special mitt and an all-natural powder blend to effectively remove sand without water. The price is $7.99 for a pack that lasts 30-40 uses. Visit the site (http://www.sandoff.com/) to see what all you can do with Sand-Off.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spirit of Mardi Gras, Sartin and Strings in the news
Jan Walker of Mardi Gras Southeast Texas reports “Spirit of Mardi Gras” is the theme for this 20th event.
“With it being the 20th Anniversary Celebration we felt like a broad theme was needed which would mean lots of different things to all who participate in the annual celebration” said Laura Childress, president of Mardi Gras Southeast Texas and Captain of Krewe of Aurora. “As a result of many discussions with Ball Captain Peggy Simon, it was agreed the theme for 2012 should be "Spirit of Mardi Gras." Knowing that Mardi Gras in Port Arthur is a special time for Krewe members and patrons of Carnival Weekend, what better way than a theme that expresses the general atmosphere of Mardi Gras in Port Arthur”!
Save the date for Feb. 16-20 in downtown Port Arthur.
Call 721-8717 or contact laura@portarthur.com for details.

Becky Ames, acting as executive director of Atria Collier Park in Beaumont, sent word that Kim Sartin, owner of Sartin's Seafood in Nederland, is serving as the new director of culinary services at Atria Collier Park, the assisted and independent living community for senior citizens.
She writes that restaurant is known for their seasoned blue crabs and relaxed atmosphere and has earned a number of.
“Most people don't think of culinary cuisine when they think of the menu at a senior living community, but Kim is using her vast culinary experience as a chef and restaurateur to bring an unexpected food experience to the local residents at Atria Collier Park,” Ames writes. “Her focus on using fresh, local ingredients to create old favorites and brain-healthy recipes is winning acclaim among the 150 plus residents, aka "food critics," that she now cooks for on a daily basis. She loves using her talents to make the residents happy and is thriving in her new position.”

Just Strings
Port Arthur got mention in the Healdsburg Patch web site of California, regarding the Just Strings Music Festival. It’s a jam session that drew Paul Soroski, whose latest project is the band Create a Monster. He brought his group from Austin. The story continues:
“We’re originally from Port Arthur, Texas,” said Soroski, “We’re the only modern rock band playing this weekend.
“Port Arthur is the home of Janis Joplin,” Soroski stated proudly, “Jason [Touchette] and I have been working together for 20 years.”
Blake Sticker, “a hotshot young guitarist, who has been making a name for himself in the Golden Triangle over the past few years,” has joined Soroski and Touchette in Create a Monster. Keith Slack rounds out the band.
“This is ZZ Top meets modern rock without the hair,” said Andrea Doyle.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Nederland Art Guild show reflects area’s scenery
Brenda Lu is not for sale; but you can get a look at TAM
Too bad for Brenda, who tried to buy the Brenda Lu. The artist, her own husband, wouldn’t sell it.
Bobby Pastorella’s No. 2 pencil work swept the professional drawing division of the Nederland Art Guild show, up all August at Texas Artists Museum.
Pastorella drew a boat from real life, but he couldn’t pronounce the name. He christened the one in his picture “Brenda,” after his wife, and added the “Lu,” from a friend’s nickname for her. But when she offered to purchase the completed drawing, he told her it wasn’t for sale.
It’s possible Brenda may get another chance, because Pastorella says he’s sketched 38 images since February. Sounds like he’s got more in him, and he likes to capture the area.
“I try to do stuff that’s indigenous to the area. I love animated movement,” he said, adding the beach and swamps are among his favorites.
Jody Domingue earned best of show with a cypress swamp and Wanda Mitchell’s work earned best floral honor.
Doris Webb - Nederland Art Guild President, invites visitors to view the 39 works in the show, which also include western and Native American scenes.
“Our judge for the show was Roy Bares, artist and art instructor for Monsignor Kelly High School in Beaumont. Roy is an amazing artist. His work is very much in demand,” Webb said.
For information on Nederland Art Guild, call 409-728-1875. The museum is at 3501 Cultural Center Drive in Port Arthur.

Check out the Groves library
Local cabinet maker Chad Henderson gets credit for the new circulation desk at the Groves Public Library, and Deborah Harper, director, wants readers to check it out. When school starts, maybe parents can catch up on their reading and see the new look. The library is at 5600 West Washington Ave. in Groves. Find them at: http://www.groveslibrary.org.

This blood’s for you!

My phone machine frequently has messages from LifeShare asking for my blood.
Del Papa Distributing Company will host its annual “This Blood’s For
You” blood drive on Sept. 9, at three locations in the Beaumont area,
and I’ll bet donors will be lined up to give. The company recently
celebrated 100 years of service and has partnered with LifeShare
before to remember those who gave their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
Stop by its Beaumont Distribution Center at 410 Interstate 10 South, Fire Station 1 on College Street in Beaumont or the LifeShare Blood Bank on Laurel Avenue to give blood and support area hospitals.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mama Mia! Dine with the underbosses at Sertoma
Moe Green salad is on the menu at a Godfather/gangster themed Mama Mia Italian dinner to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network and American Cancer Society.
A $25 ticket will help good causes and promote a good time with the Golden Triangle Sertoma Club Inc. The event will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at The Courtyard Café in Groves.
“This is so much fun,” Emily Sonier, president, said.
Debbie Neef has donated a black Coach Bag that someone will go home with. It’s valued at $268. For information, call Linda Hebert at 963-4882.

Fisher on the small screen
Frances Fisher, formerly of Orange, appears in “The Lincoln Lawyer,” a 2011 now-on-DVD selection starring Matthew McConaughey as “ a sleazy defense attorney who has a crisis of conscience when he represents a wealthy client who has a foolproof plan to beat the system.”
I can’t say any more about her role, but I did enjoy the movie, which features several other major stars.
Independent Movie Data Base has this in Fisher’s bio:
“Her father worked in oil refinery construction, so she moved regularly. She was born in England and moved about every year until she was in 7th grade, when the family settled in Orange, Texas.”

Big Thicket: Read All About It
Maxine Johnston, editor of The Big Thicket Reporter,” helped edit Lorraine G. Bonney’s “The Big Thicket Guidebook: Exploring the Backroads and History of Southeast Texas.” Look for it this fall. For more information, contact Maxine@mxjohnston.com

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Red Hussars on parade?
I’m hearing reports that the Red Hussars are noted in an exhibit on Texas high school football at the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum in Austin.
Matthew Odam’s story in the Austin American Statesman reads “Visitors also will learn the history behind the Port 
Arthur Red Hussars, the nation's first all-female drum and bugle corps, and 
find out more about the legendary Gussie Nell Davis, who brought her
 personal flair to the Greenville High School Flaming Flashes before starting
 the Kilgore Rangerettes.”

Banker buddies
David Parsley and Terry Rozelle are two retired bankers who have gone back to working - a part time job - for Texas First Bank. It’s a new bank to Southeast Texas with a branch in Winnie, one in Fannett and a newly-opened branch in Port Arthur/Mid County.
"The bank has impressed both of us and we are pleased to be able to associate with such a quality organization" Parsley said.
He retired after 42 years in banking in Jefferson County. He and his wife Sue, who retired from Motiva, enjoy traveling and say they get to the Cayman Islands and Europe at least once a year. Terry and his wife Gwen have both been retired about a year. They say they spend more time with their families and also enjoy traveling.
Parsley and Rozelle are senior business consultants for Texas First Bank and work with the bank on business development. Also they work with the local officers on specific projects and help in packaging loans and deposit relationships.

Tune in to Fernando
Fernando Ramirez, Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Ambassador and man about town, is promoting a new radio program, K-PASA Southeast Texas, in Spanish it sounds like Que Pasa. It’s “what’s happening,” get it? The mainly-Spanish format will discuss activity around Port Arthur, he said. Listen Sundays at noon on 1340 AM on the dial.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Forget bed head; get beach hair
Growing up so close to the beach, some of us may not have realized that many Americans strive for a certain “beachy” look. I once tried a cream that left me with the seaside sensation of surfboard wax and sand stuck in my hair.
Beach Wave Control Mist by Pravana is another story. Mist it in and let it dry for soft curls. It doesn’t feel sticky or even look wet. Jojoba oil, rosemary extract, keratin, wheat and silk amino acids are in this formula, so I’m setting up at this beach.
Or try a hat
If you can’t get beach hair, try a Wallaroo hat. Company creators returned to Boulder, Co. sporting the Aussie secret for sun protection, cool, crushable fabric hats. Now they’re creating their own plus updating classic styles for men and women and donating funds to support skin cancer research. With that thought, my husband is looking good on mowing duty in a Havana hat, which Wallaroo doesn’t promise will “improve your swing” on the course, but asserts it should boost a golfer’s confidence. It looks as sporty as the Berumuda, which is suggested for Sunday brunch or a walk in the park. You can still get a beach look from several Wallaroo offerings.
Mucus Management
Mucus management is big business, say creators of Boogie Wipes, a soft solution for children with runny noses. No want wants a chapped nose on top of that. Now Little Busy Bodies Inc. offers adult relief with moist Saline Soothers, packets of super-soft towelettes in Cool Menthol and fragrance-free forms. Someone asked how much I could possibly write about a wipe. How’s this: “Aaaaahhhhh.” As a nasal bidet/netti pot supporter, I think this option is amazing for travel. Look for them at Walgreens and Walmart.

A is for Argan
Fatty acids are a good thing and Aura Cacia has put them to skin care use through five new oils from around the world, certified through the USDA’s National Organic Program. Pump bottles dispense wee dabs of fragrant oils that are healing to my senses. Argan oil sounds like something from “Lord of the Rings” to me, but it’s squeezed from nuts of a native desert tree in Morocco. It’s good on skin, hair and scalp, as is Baobab from African trees and emerald-green Tamanu from South Pacific fruit trees. The new line has a natural, earthy aroma that is so natural and different from the highly-processed artificial scents found all around us. Bottles suggest pumping some into the palm and adding a few drops of this brand’s essential oils, which I also enjoy.
Mature and sun-damaged skin eats up rose hip oil from Chile.
There’s one more: Macadamia nut oil from Kenya creates a “long-lasting superior shield of emollients” and Rosehip oil from Chile has pure retinol (Vitamin A) known for replenishing and restoring skin. This one smells especially yummy.
High Maintenance
Lay on the keratin, it’s already in your nails, naturally. Dermelect’s High Maintenance Instant Nail Thickener is a clear coat of a form of keratin with protein peptide ProSina designed to thicken nails up to 50 percent in a single coat. Makers call it hands down the most innovative top coat you’ll ever need, because it also has UV absorber to protect polish from yellowing while preventing both light and dark colors from quickly fading. It’s shiny stuff that’s doing what it claims for me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Columnists cross paths in Houston
My friend and I were buzzing through the Montrose area of Houston when I thought I saw a familiar face in the black car next to me. I recognized him as The Examiner’s Out and About columnist, Albert Nolen. I’m 99.9 percent sure it was him. I’ve never actually met him, though I have been very close to him at some event dance floors.
My friend insisted I roll down the window and call out to him, though I insisted he wouldn’t know me. She said one columnist ought to acknowledge another when both crossed paths so far from home.
The deal is she had put on the child locks to keep her spouse from toying with her windows and we couldn’t open them as the light changed, so what Mr. Nolen saw was two grown women wildly gesturing from a locked-down car. He was friendly anyway, and gestured back.

Full of energy
Jinni Akins grew up in Nederland and says her 2-year-old son loves the Nederland Heritage Festival as much as she did and does. She’ll be in the big middle of it next season, as the new executive vice president of the Nederland Chamber of Commerce. She says she has been welcomed with open arms and says her favorite thing about the city right now is all the support she is getting.
She promised to get around to visit all the chamber members.
Sylvia Root, chamber president, said Akins is “full of energy.”
“I think everybody’s going to feed off that. She’s not shy,” Root said.

Signs of faith in Nederland
First Assembly of God’s marquis says its church is “prayer conditioned.” Down the road, the sign at Nederland Apostolic Church reports it is “Souled Out,” with “kneeling room only.”

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A smokin’ no no about messin’ with Texas
The Don’t Mess with Texas campaign has been kickin’ 25 years and now there’s another message for visitors and residents:
“Texas is Not Your Ashtray” is the word going statewide.
“A smoldering cigarette butt tossed out a car window onto dry grass can spark a blaze that quickly spreads for miles, scorching farm and ranch lands, destroying homes, threatening lives and exhausting limited state resources to battle. With Texas suffering the worst drought in nearly half a century and cigarette butts accounting for 43 percent of the state's roadside trash,” the "Don't Mess with Texas" program reports.
A good read mentions area
My husband picked up a Rebecca Wells book for me at a garage sale, knowing how much I enjoyed “Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood.” This book, “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder,” has been out a while. I didn’t realize one of the little girls in it, “Sukey,” claims to have lived in Beaumont, Texas, before arriving in La Luna, Louisiana. I can’t be sure about this claim, because Sukey is prone to fibbing. I read aloud a passage for my sister and mother about how Sukey meets her future best friends in a movie theater bathroom, by charging girls to see the “treasures” in her purse, including a diamond she says belonged to Elizabeth Taylor. I pictured the whole thing taking place in the Jefferson Theater’s majestic ladies room. I read this book real slow like, because I didn’t want it to end.

Art of the mow
I caught an artist mowing the Texas Artists Museum lawn. John Manuel of Port Arthur said that’s what board members there do: They serve. He promoted Art Smart, the TAM youth day camp, and also handed out cards for his exhibit of paintings, up through July 23 at the Ice House Museum in Silsbee. After I featured Manuel in the News for his late-in-life start to the arts and his using ordinary house paint and materials he’s gleaned from the side of the road, readers called up to donate supplies to his craft. He said he stayed out of trouble as long as they lasted.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Doing the Most Good
Here’s a warning to a few of the do-gooders of Mid-County. I passed your name to Ed and Terrie Cheshire, the new couple heading the Salvation Army of Port Arthur. I had the chance to show them the sea wall, which offers a different view than their most recent home in Big Spring. Terrie says she prays for the city on her morning walks and will be asking others to lift Port Arthur up, in their prayers. Don’t be surprised if she or Ed call on you to exchange ideas on how to support our population.

“Winds Over Bolivar”
I was shopping at Act II Consignment in Beaumont when Brenda Cannon Henley’s husband came in to promote her book “Winds Over Bolivar,” about our own Hurricane Ike. I’ll bet several of us say we could write a book about it, but “Go Brenda,” you did. She’s an award-winning journalist and here’s what’s listed about her book on Amazon:
“In September 2008, Hurricane Ike wrecked havoc on the Texas Coast leaving the Bolivar Peninsula nearly decimated. Ike killed more than 100 people and caused $24.9 billion in damages, earning the awful title of the third costliest storm to ever hit America's shores. Virtually erased from the map, Bolivar was bent...but not broken. Brenda Cannon Henley artfully weaves her own tragic story of life-changing loss with the untold stories of the people of Bolivar. ‘Winds over Bolivar’ is a resounding tale of devastation, triumph, and the prevailing winds of the indomitable human spirit. “

Boomtown honor
KCENT-TV.com reports that a Port Arthur native is up for an award that also lists rapper Kanye West as a nominee. Nahala Johnson, aka Mister Boomtown, has been nominated for the third straight year by BET as music director of the year. The 1990 Lincoln High graduate and 1995 University of Houston graduate has directed videos for rapper Gucci Mane, and has also worked with Port Arthur natives Bun B and Pimp C.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Area actresses to appear in “Ghosties”
Beaumont actress will appear in a spooky film produced in Montgomery. It’s the kind of story I would have loved as a tween. Quantum Storm Productions, in an association with Wolfe Entertainment, began production on the pre-teen adventure “Ghosties – The Witches Spell” starring local Beaumont actresses Ashlyn Redwine and Haley Coker; Katy’s Katelyn Merricks and Emily Thompson; Spring’s Anisah Khan; Sugarlands Jessica Yanker, and actor Tanner Fontana from Dallas.
The girls sneak out of their homes to cemeteries to hunt ghosts. Most ventures end in wasted time, but one parent has ghost-encounter skills.
Director/writer David Quintana reports the film is an extension from two short movies originally filmed in New England in 2006. He is known in Houston for efforts on the Internet series “ANGELIKA5.” The studio is planning a casting call. Pre-teens wanting to try out for a role should first follow the first films progress through their facebook page at www.facebook.com/ghostiesmovie.

Branick a loose cannon
While George Washington calls Bruce Brannick’s writing’s “excruciating,” Texas Chinch Bug refers to them as “foul.” A look on the back cover of the local man’s new book lets the reader know a bit of what he or she is getting into with “Memoirs of a Loose Cannon.”

Friends forever
Do friends know us best? I was reading Lisa Verge Higgins’ “The Proper Care and Maintenance if Friendship” while experiencing some of the emotions characters were facing. In this story, Rachel has died having prepared letters to all her friends asking them to fulfill one last, seemingly uncomfortable wish for her. They think she sent the wrong letters to each other, but turns out, she knew what she was doing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Will you still quilt me?
Beatles fans, wrap yourselves in memories. The Fabric Store and Sew Much More in Nederland has yards of different Beatles fabrics in the “Yellow Submarine” style. Ann Murphy, an instructor there, said women often make Beatles quilts for their husbands.

Something fishy
James Dalton Taylor, 13 of Hamshire, is such a skilled redfish, trout and bass fisherman that Ninja Angler gear is sponsoring him in tournaments, according to his proud pop, Capt. James Taylor, fishing guide. I met Taylor at Daley’s Hunt ‘N’ Fish Supply, the new sportsman’s paradise store in Port Acres. I haven’t yet met Dalton, who is headed to the 8th grade at Hamshire-Fannett Junior High in a few short weeks.

A Port Arthur Dad
The Corsicana Sun featured children sharing their fathers’ advice on Father’s Day. Babbette Samuels, a Pierce Museum docent, is the daughter of Meyer Blankfield.
“He loved music and theater and passed that onto me,” she said in the feature. “He played violin and trumpet and was in the A&M band while in college. After he married and settled, he played violin in the Scottish Rite orchestra in Port Arthur at one time.” His advice: ‘You can always ask, they’re not going to eat you.’ I lost my mother when I was 10; needless to say, I worshipped my Daddy. Sadly, I lost him two months before my 21st birthday,” she said.
If you have a Community Scoop item, send it to ddoiron@panews.com

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cajuns take San Antonio
San Antonio Express-News included words from Port Arthur’s own Jerry Bellot in coverage of the 40th annual Texas Folklife Festival. David Sticker, fiddle player with Jerry Bellot and Cajun Friends, noted people were dancing to their music, even though it seemed like it was 150 degrees this past weekend. Bellot said the band members had to move to make the audience move and have fun. 
“We definitely brought that today,” Bellot said in the posting.

Lincoln Bees draped in memories
I got a sneak peek at purple and gold Afghans adorned with the Lincoln High School Bumblebee that Bernadine Julun-Jacobs will help pass around for the LHS Class of ’76 reunion this weekend at the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center.
Look for her with a bunch of Port Arthur area National Black Nurses Association members headed to the group’s 40th anniversary celebration in Indianapolis, Ind. They’re headed to the famous speedway this summer and plan to pose with The News for a News is Everywhere photo.
Readers, don’t forget to pack The News on your summer getaway.

Community makes hurricane experiences into art
Charles Gongre snapped a photo of a half-submerged ship in a post-hurricane scenario. It’s his “Tropical (Im)Pression,” on view at Museum of the Gulf Coast. A display of images from the public shows emotional scenes of damage from Hurricanes Rita and Ike. Catch it now, it’s up through July 24, and will be gone before our current hurricane season is over.
One forward thinking photographer framed up a yellow Port Arthur News box at Lamar State College-Port Arthur filled papers bearing a forewarning headline.
Other photos include a series of how Faggard’s Store at the beach fared through Carla and Ike; Portia Levingston’s image of a barge on Texas 73; and Pet Anselmo’s row of snapped pine trees.
For more information call 409-982-7000 or visit museumofthegulfcoast.org

Friday, June 10, 2011

A tres leches tale for Sunday morning
Nobody stopped me from eating fish and ice cream for breakfast in San Antonio.
To be more specific, I attended a fantastic conference brunch at the Westin Riverwalk featuring lox, a favorite of mine. Representatives from Columbus, Ohio, where next year’s conference will be, flew in local waffles made with beet sugar and offered them topped with a variety of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams from their fair city. Salty caramel with an amazing cool-yet-burnt flavor was my favorite, but I also tried and enjoyed Ugandan vanilla bean and strawberry buttermilk.
This brunch featured about 15 other things, but I actually went back for more fish and ice cream. What a crazy, memorable combo. I praised the flavors to the Columbus fellow in the elevator, and he said they brought Jeni’s “tame” flavors. He mentioned a goat’s milk and fig deal and cucumber is mentioned in her press coverage.

Pass the La Crème
A little goes a long way with what’s billed as the first all-dairy, flavored creamer available nationally. Since February
LALA has been pitching this yummy natural stuff that has the goods of calcium, protein and Vitamin D. It is lactose free and contains no artificial hormones. Unlike non-dairy creamers, it contains no trans fats.
So what do you need to know? Start by asking yourself, “Will it be French or Cinnamon Vanilla today?” I’d pick hazelnut every day, but there’s original for others.

Just a little bit will make your summer fruit into a rich dessert. You can cook with this stuff, or whip up a variety of adult beverages. Here’s one that could go either way:
Shots Shaken, Not Stirred
1/2 cup cold-brewed coffee
1/2 cup French Vanilla real dairy creamer
Shaved chocolate as garnish
Place coffee and the real dairy creamer in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, and then strain the ingredients into double shot glasses. Garnish with shaved chocolate. Serves 4. For an older crowd, substitute a 1/2 cup of Kahlua for the cold-brewed coffee.

A cold one, low cal
If you order the white sauce at an Asian restaurant and appreciate subtle flavors, Artic Zero could be your go-to treat. It’s sure to be the talk of the summer as the first 150 calorie pint of all natural ice cream. Of course, that could open the door for crazy toppings, so be careful.
Mint Chocolate Cookie, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Vanilla Maple, Coffee, and Cookies and Cream, Chocolate, Strawberry and Pumpkin. I tried several of these and found them very light. I think some fresh fruit would add to the experience. Makers want consumers to know you can pronounce the ingredients and the product is gluten free, lactose intolerant friendly, low sugar, low glycemic and suitable for type 2 diabetics.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Babe, Port Arthur’s ‘Wonder Girl’
Everyone around here ought to know about the Olympic and golfing achievements of our Babe, and author Don Van Natta Jr. is alerting the rest of the world in his new book, “Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrickson Zaharias.”
The daughter of “penniless” Norwegian immigrants to Port Arthur became famous for what she could do and a robust personality.

Take a Chance at TAM
Jayne Smith notes the Harmony Exporters chorus will take the stage at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 12, for the Second Sunday program at Texas Artists Museum, Cultural Center Drive. I got a singing Valentine from these guys that I will never forget.
My duck-painting buddy Don Chance will have work on display along with wood carvings by M.E. “Bunkie” Stephens. A reception will follow the Second Sunday program, at 3:15 p.m. Cal Gaspard, who is the Foyer Featured Artist of the month.
Forms are ready for ArtSmart for children. Call -983-4881 Tuesday through Saturday for details.

Bubbly for the children
Science gets blown away thanks to the Texas Energy Museum. The Museum and the Beaumont Public Library Services Willard Branch Library will present Bubble Day from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the North End Community Center, 3580 E. Lucas Drive. Children will subtly learn science as they test bubble sizes, strength and color while discovering the physics of soap bubbles. Fun will include bubble walls, making bubbles inside of bubbles and being surrounded by a bubble. It’s free and designed for up-and-blowing scientists aged 3 to 8. For more information, call the museum at 409-833-5100.
Island time is everywhere

“Padre Island” Time is Trip Hunt’s 5th CD and features 22 songs recently recorded in Austin and Rockport. With thinking man’s tunes covering everything from an Irish lilt and guardian angels to a “Lonely Night in Austin” and inconvenient truths. There’s a little something called “Jamaican Me Crazy.”
I think this guy is like the Jerry Diaz of Padre.

Cayman Night in Port Arthur
Both Diaz and Hunt, mentioned above, play music that would fit right in with Cayman Night, but the Barefoot Man already has the gig.

The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce and the International Seafarer’s Center will host the 6th annual Cayman Night in Port Arthur from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center, on Lakeshore Drive, at Lamar State College-Port Arthur, 1500 Procter St. Barefoot Man and Band of The Caymans will perform in honor of the more than 500 Caymanians living in the Port Arthur, Texas area. Go to www.caymannight.com for more details.

Gripping summer snacks
Road trips call for bags of snacks that ought to stay fresh throughout the journey. The Gripstic handles your chips as well as your frozen spinach. Run colorful plastic rods under the fold of you bag of coffee, cereal, etc., and another groove of plastic makes a tight seal. Bed Bath & Beyond and Kroger are two area stops for these goodies. They are a neat freak’s dream, because Gripstic helps bags stack up nicely in the pantry or fridge. ddoiron@panews.com

Thursday, June 2, 2011

‘Texas Highways’ has eye for Port Arthur
A bit of boudain or a spicy Vietnamese sandwich, a juke box sampling of musical greats at Museum of the Gulf Coast and a gator sighting at Bessie Height are among journey highlights Dan Oko writes about in June’s “Texas Highways” magazine. The 10-page Texas Upper Coast spread includes Ben DeSoto’s photographs of the Gambusia Natuare Trail, The Rainbow Bridge at sunset and the splendor of Shangri La Botanical Gardens.

Tait style
Lone Star girls can wear their state on their sleeve, as it were, with Texas charms of local and state mascots, the Texas flag, cowboy boots, cowboy hat, Ranger Star, the Longhorn, etc. It’s a Zi Zi thing.
Lynn Tait, of Port Neches, was recently named the National Sales Director for ZiZi Jewelry. ZiZi Jewelry is an international company wholesaling European-style charms. The founder of the company, Bridged Lott, is an artist who recently moved to the United States from Puerto Vallarta.
Texas was the first state in the country to carry this line and by the end of June, will have 15 stores in Texas carrying the ZiZi line, Tate said.
Tait retired from Valero Refinery after almost 37 years of employment to take on this position. ZiZi Jewelry will display jewelry at the upcoming Dallas Market June 23 – June 26. Look for a new line, as well as new charm designs.

Cayman Night in Port Arthur
Feel the breeze? The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce and the International Seafarer’s Center will host the 6th annual Cayman Night in Port Arthur from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center, on Lakeshore Drive, at Lamar State College-Port Arthur, 1500 Procter St. Barefoot Man and Band of The Caymans will perform in honor of the more than 500 Caymanians living in the Port Arthur, Texas area. www.caymannight.com, www.visitportarthurtx.com
Get your 2-D, 3-D art ready
Entries are being accepted for The Alternative Show at The Art Studio Inc., 720 Franklin St. in Beaumont. I’ve done this and it was fun. Any artist of any age can enter up to three works. 2-D work must be ready to hang from one hook. 3-D work must be stable and stand on its own. All artists must fill out entry applications, available at The Art Studio. Entries will be accepted from 2 to 5 p.m. June 1-2. The show will open from 7 to 10 p.m. June 4 and will remain on display through June 25.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Billingsley back in books
“A Good Man is Hard to Find,” says ReShonda Tate Billingsley. It’s the title of her just-out book about an affair spiced with danger halfway around the world. The former area anchor is a prolific writer of faith-based novels, so read up. Her next one, “Say Amern, Again,” is due out this summer.

Very clever, my husband noted when he saw the words “navy,” “black,” “brown,” etc. were marked at the toe of oh-so-comfortable socks. Matching socks pre-dawn in the bedroom is a problem solved. Some try to beat the system by owning just one color, but fashion sometimes dictates variety. Kudos to Susan and Michael James, for founding Smarty Toes and solving spousal sock controversy before it starts. Now husbands and wives don’t have to argue on the sock color issue.
Good socks are a luxury men and women deserve. Blacksocks.com has an amazing assortment of high-quality wares including a “shorty” for athletes.
Ozone’s collection includes a novelty men of Southeast Texas should love. The design of the sock looks like a knife is strapped to the wearer’s calf.

If tomorrow weren’t a holiday, you might be packing a school lunch for Monday. I woke up to find a sticky note on the bathroom mirror with one word: “Delicious.” My college-age daughter can’t get over how much she liked Organic Mashups, a squeez-out fruit and veggie smoothie from Revolution Foods that’s designed for little kids. Carroty Chop, Blueberry Blitz and Beetbox Berry has a kind of applesauce consistency and is colorfully packaged for lunch boxes so children will ask for it, instead of sugary processed stuff. My daughter is studying to be a dietician, so I follow her advice. She had a Mashups as a late-night snack. I followed up with a breakfast squeeze.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Zachary Breaux: A talent before his time
Doris Hayes is sending T-shirts to Australia and England and would love to outfit all of Port Arthur. The shirts promote the fourth annual Zachary Breaux Jazz Festival, June 10-11 at the Procter Street Pavilion in downtown Port Arthur. About 15 bands are lined up to pay tribute to the late Port Arthur jazz notable.
Hayes said she’s spoken to musicians on the other side of the world who sing his praise.
“They feel that Zachary was a guitarist before his time. A talent before his time. He was doing things at a young age that musicians are just doing now. That’s like what we would call an E. F. Hutton.”
She referred to the stock brokerage firm with a commercial saying that when E.F. Hutton spoke, everyone listened.
Breaux was 36 when he died in 1997, vacationing in Miami Beach, after trying to save the life of a swimmer who was caught in a riptide.
Call 982-8394 or visit zacharybreauxjazzfestival.com to get your tickets.

Courtyard's new look
Karen Theis credits Angel Contreras of Shoogz with the new look at Courtyard Cafe, This' famous eatery in downtown Groves. Black and white swirly patterns on oil cloth go with cast-iron look chairs that are surprisingly comfortable, and plastic, when you ease in. Jackets of a certain M. Brown and C. Zummo matched the tablecloths on their recent outing. Wooden flower boxes hanging from chains hold the Southeast Texas must-have of Tabasco and other condiments complete the garden feel.
If you haven't yet, try Theis' sugo sauce with meatballs.

Fong fix
Robert Fong of Port Arthur has always given a little something-something to any role he takes. I was enchanted by his opening lines, delivered before the lights come on, in “The Drowsy Chaperone.” The Beaumont Community Players production has him as a set-in-his-ways gentleman entertaining his audience by playing a record of his favorite play, which he has never actually seen. His imagination brings the cast of this mishap musical into his apartment, with entrances through a double-door refrigerator or his boudoir. The Man in Chair dances and sings with his beloved characters and shares his insights into life as the record plays. The story inside the story is a wedding day for a wealthy young man and a show girl willing to leave her showy behavior behind.
There’s one more week of this show. Call 833-4664 for details.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The yoga pants/ pizza tour of NYC
My friend has a walking tour plans for New York City. Dressed in yoga pants and Shape-Up shoes, she plans to try every Manhattan-style pizza she can find and walk off the calories. May I suggest to her Lolly yoga pants, which, to my delight, are designed with “curvy girls” in mind. The texture is superior and the comfort is second-to-none. I don’t even do yoga, but her love of the yoga pants has convinced me that sweats are generally sloppy by comparison.

Lube for the lips
Essential Journeys will take you to the most aromatic places with products such as Soap by the Slice, Salt for the Tub and Lube for the Lips. Lotion for the body scents with chamomile and white tea extract for what I call a fine hotel quality feel. Ginger Quince soap suspends curlicue and flower shapes in a field of green. A stack of bars will upgrade your bathroom décor.

21 drops
Remember roll-on lip gloss? I remember reading in a magazine, perhaps 16 or Teen Beat, that Shaun Cassidy had kissed a girl with strawberry lip gloss. Now more mature women, and men who kiss them, can try 21 drops in a sleek roll-on with a textured case. I tried #01, Invigorate, designed to roll on wrists and stimulate circulation, motivate and energize. It’s a warming oil to help oxygenate the blood and promote blood flow. Black pepper and dried fruit oil , juniper fruit oil and rosemary leaf oil are just a few components.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mid-County talent radiant in 'Hairspray'; talent kissed and made up

You can’t stop the beat of color, humor and music in “Hairspray,” a production that’s a few miles down the road, but exploding with local talent. Orange Community Players, in partnership with Lamar State College-Orange presents this madness. If you sat on the front row, you’d be knee to knee with young actors singing the story of Ample American Tracy Turnblad in ‘60s Baltimore who turned the local teen dance show upside down by integrating the races and getting the hot guy.
A double dose of Mid-County sparkle comes through Skylar Huckaby and Amber Martin, double cast as Tracy. Brook Doss, director of theater at Nederland High School, directs this crazy-fun show and her husband, Kevin, plays Tracy’s overbearing mother Edna with a fine-tuned skill.
Every actor/singer/dancer is good in this show, but be on the lookout for Nederland and Port Neches residents Huckaby, Martin, Daniel Sharpless, Britni Davis, Justin Sanders and Jessica Henderson. Choreographer Mandy Dowden, is also a Nederland native.
See this 2003 Tony Award winning musical, May 12-14, at 7:37 p.m., and May 15 at 2:37 p.m., at the Orange Community Playhouse , 708 W. Division Street. Tickets are $8 for students, and $15 for adults. For reservations, call 882-9137.

Hope you didn’t miss ‘Kiss’
"Kiss or Make Up" is a family affair, director Robert Freeman announced before curtain at the Act 1 Scene 1 production at The Courtyard Cafe. He was carrying Raggedy Ann, who he credited as co-producer. His daughter Nikolle Freeman aced the lead as Casey, whose apartment is hopping with an incognito neighbor, an engagement, former classmate/federal agent, the police and more. Roxane Gray as Morgie, who fancied making up a dead husband would get her more dates, has facial expressions that get laughs before she gives her lines. This troupe produced another winner with Joey Nortman, Benny Bryan, Cater Holland, Phillip Gray and Ann Holland filling a tiny stage with big personalities. In addition to these characters, a giant '70s-style cheese ball helping disguise a Mickey Mouse hat as a cracker dish gets attention. The cast took a bow in getups ranging from an orange bath towel and pink P.J.s to a bathroom and bed sheet toga.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bed of ‘nails’ the new relaxation go-to
My physics teacher at Lamar University walked on glass to demonstrate pressure distribution. I know the Indian fakir/yogi “secret” of reclining on a bed of nails, but I never imagined a mini Swedish version would be the new, hip way to peace out in your own home.
I woke up craving a 10-minute session on the “halsa wellness acupressure mat, designed for athletes, soccer moms, stressed businessmen and others who are not pregnant, hemophiliacs or on blood thinners.
Plastic discs attached to a high-quality mat form 8,820 pressure points to relieve muscle tension, backaches and headaches. Work up to 45-minute sessions on these little spikes and you may naturally stimulate release of endorphins and oxytocin, what makers call the body’s own pain relief hormones released during exercise, touch, excitement and infatuation. Sign me up.
They don’t mention that these little scratchy spikes are like those toys that have cats rolling around on their backs for a luxurious back rub. It’s euphoria. Don’t be ashamed.
I tried this mat the very week I was having back pain, possibly due to not being faithful to the YMCA. I’m hooked. First I roll out my yoga mat, so my halsa mat won’t touch the floor. It’s one of many uses I have for the yoga mat that don’t involve yoga. So now I’ve got mat-on-mat bliss that can be achieved while catching up on favorite TV shows. You can also try the halsa mat on your stomach or from a chair. There’s also a pillow version.

Oklahoma in art
I spent 20 minutes in Oklahoma, just to say I’d been there, then crossed back into Texas to attend a wedding. J. Don Cook knows what I missed. “Shooting from the Hip” is this photo journalist’s celebration of the spirit of the people. Essays help tell his story behind images so vivid you can hear wind whipping flags in a cemetery, feel the tickle of a child’s haircut and taste a cool Dr Pepper at a lunch counter. These aren’t all “happy” photos. Beauty, joy, poverty and more fill these pages in an elegantly-bound University of Oklahoma Press coffee table book.

Backyard Brew
The Sunday grill is about more than who cooks what for dinner. It’s ceremony, Man Time and a family bonding over meat. McCormick has new Grill Mates products that keep the grill exciting. I grabbed Fiery 5 Pepper Blend first and spiced up boiled eggs to stock my Barbie lunch kit. I love the “daring blend of coarsely ground ancho, chipotle, cayenne, black peppers and roasted chile peppers,” but beware, the first ingredient in this pepper blend is sea salt. By Father’s Day, I hope to have also tried Backyard Brew Marinade, Carolina Country Marinade and Cowboy Rub. Go to www.grillmates.com for more ideas.