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.