Friday, October 28, 2011

Dave's Louisiana Bees

David Beatty is my eco-friendly buddy from Livingston, Louisiana. Concerned about the plight of the honeybees, he offers a solution:

Dave's Bees

Dave's Bees
This time of the year honey bees are looking to stock up on 'sugar' to help them to survive over the winter. I'm sure you know that we have lost so many of our honey bees that our human food crops are in danger. Some farmers even rent bee hives to help pollinate their crops. Having said that, it is time to feed the bees. How to do it.

Look around your yard or apartment grounds and find a plant, with flowers, that has bees feeding. Then set a shallow dish in the plant with 'bee food.' As time goes by, it might take several days, the bees will start feeding on the bee food you put in the dish. Now, you can slowly move your 'feeding station' to a more convenient location so you can keep it supplied with bee food. I like to move mine to my front porch. There, it is out of the winter weather and easy for me to keep supplied with bee food.

Now, to make bee food. Place equal parts of sugar and water, 1 cup to 1 cup of water, in a pot and boil for about 1 minute. This will drive off all the nasty stuff your water company puts in your water to make it 'healthy' for you to drink. The bees will love it. I put in a little red food coloring to help attract the bees.

If this works for you as it has worked for me, be prepared to use up to 10# of sugar a week because these little suckers can suck up the sugar water. Pictures attached. It is a lot of fun to watch them, they will not sting and will let you watch them and get very close to their feeding.

Enjoy and let me know if you try this, the bees and our food source will thank you.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Trip Through David's Yard

My friend Dave Beatty, from Livingston, Louisiana, sent me this story and pics from his yard. Enjoy:

David's Yard

Confederate Roses

David's Fox

Cap't Dave, Sailing on Pontchartrain
The flowers are "confederate roses". Some people might be led to believe that the Confederate rose is a rose that is native to the South. It is, in fact, a hibiscus that hails from China.

One story relates that the Confederate rose was in bloom during a particularly bloody battle of the Civil War. A slain soldier fell beside a Confederate rose, and his blood spilled into the ground at the base of shrub. The flowers, which had started out white in the morning, absorbed the slain soldier's blood throughout the day, so that by evening they had turned a deep, rosy red.

That sort of story makes for interesting reading, but the flowers do, indeed, live up the specific epithet, "mutabilis," which means "variable or changeable." All are large and showy and look somewhat like a large, delicate rose. Some are single, and many are double. On some specimens, the flowers that open early in the morning are snowy white, but by evening they have turned to deep rose. On the second day, they wither and fall from the shrub.

On other shrubs, the opening blossom may be pink, turning to white or even a darker pink as it ages. Either way, many buds are waiting for their day in the sun. At any time, as many as three different colors may show at one time as the flowers fade or darken to their various hues. On some single-flowered specimens, flowers are red and remain so for the duration of their bloom. Some are pink and gradually turn a darker shade of pink as they age.

And the fox, well it is just a fox that is eating corn I put out for deer, turkey and birds. Yes, some foxes do eat corn. I guess they started eating corn when they couldn't catch any chickens in the hen house.

I hope you enjoy these little trips through David's yard.


Monday, October 10, 2011

A Ghost Story for Halloween

Though born in Oklahoma, my wife Marilyn spent much of her childhood in Gurdon, Arkansas. Her dad logged while her mother took care of their six children. Like many families in the south at the time, they had help from a black woman—for an enjoyable read, check out The Help by Kathryn Stockett—that spent much of her time at their house.

A railroad track winds through the little town, and for years, the locals have reported seeing strange lights on the tracks. One late October night, Hattie, encouraged by sisters Sharon Ann and Marilyn, and a shot or two of their dad’s bourbon, told them the real story behind the Gurdon Lights. The Gurdon Curse, as told to me by Marilyn, is her recollection of exactly how Hattie told it to her and Sharon Ann on that spooky night, so many years ago in southwest Arkansas.

The ghost story, just in time to give you a few chills for Halloween, is free in ebook format at and Barnes & Noble. I hope you’ll check it out.


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Rainy Sunday in Oklahoma

Stranded Lake Hefner Boats

Lake Hefner Cove

Much Needed Rain
It’s not news that Oklahoma experienced the second hottest summer in U.S. history in 2011. Texas won this one, and I'm glad they did. Oklahoma is also in the throes of a drought that has dried ponds, lakes and rivers. Yesterday, Saturday, much needed rain moved slowly across the State, and Texas, also suffering from devastating drought. It’s Sunday night, and the rain continues.

Marilyn and I had brunch at a restaurant on Lake Hefner, and I took a few pics of sailboats mired in the mud. Maybe, there’ll be enough run off to refloat them in a few days. I got a little wet when I fed the dogs and cats tonight, but hey, I’m not complaining.


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Monster in the Mist

September saw temperatures reach a hundred degrees here in central Oklahoma but when October arrived, it was if someone had pulled a temperature switch. We have already experienced fifties and even forties, and day after day of drizzly weather. Today was no different.

After work, as I set out on my walk, a misty haze cloaked south Edmond. Walking is good exercise and great stress relief. It must also increase the blood flow to the brain because I always seem to solve my toughest dilemmas, or remember something from my veiled past whenever I walk. Tonight, I remembered something that had occurred many years ago. How I forgot this incident, I will never know because it was one of the most singularly frightening moments of my life.

I was a freshman in college at what is now the University of Louisiana at Monroe. My brother Jack had started there the prior year and convinced me to join an ROTC precision drill team called the Fusileers. I did, enjoying the camaraderie immensely. Toward the end of the first semester, we underwent an initiation called Hell Week.

During Hell Week, we initiates had to go to class everyday in full dress uniform, and then hang around the student union in case a senior Fusileer wanted to make us do push-ups, or recite the memorized, rhyming answer to specific military questions. I can’t remember a single rhyme, but I knew them all by heart during Hell Week.

Hell Week culminated with Hell Night. There is a giant, mostly abandoned gravel quarry on the outskirts of Monroe. During Hell Night, the initiated Fusileers dropped off us uninitiated in the darkness to try to find our way to the entrance. Along the way, the upperclassmen would ambush us with firecrackers, cherry bombs and M-80’s - legal fireworks at the time. The night was dark and hazy and we had no flashlights. During a particularly frenetic ambush, I somehow got separated from the group.

I must have walked a mile without calling out because I didn’t want the upperclassmen to capture me – having heard about the dire consequences the entire week. I soon realized that I was lost and began calling out.

The gravel pit was like the surface of Mars, rugged, rolling and completely barren of vegetation. Hazy rain had soaked my fatigues, my socks and boots wet from running through pooled water. When I stopped to listen for the other Fusileers, I heard something quite different and unexpected. It was the whumph of some large animal, coughing to get the attention of anyone near it. I didn’t know what it was, but it scared me. Not having a good grasp of what direction I was moving toward, I started away from the sound.

There was no moon or stars, only darkness and a persistent mist rising up from the broken gravel beneath my feet. I called out, “help.”

No one answered.

I heard the whumph again and realized it was not my imagination. My heart began racing as I also realized that the sound was drawing ever closer. I tried moving faster which resulted in a face-first plunge into a cold pool of water. Another chill ran up my spine as I heard a low growl on the hill directly behind me. Unable to get away, I lifted myself into a sitting position and turned to face whatever was stalking me.

On the rocky hill above me, I could just make out the moving shadow of some dark, four-legged beast. With my heart racing wildly, I prepared for its attack, something that never occurred. Over the hill behind me appeared the old World War II Jeep the head Fusileers used to move about the rock quarry. I could see its lights coming up from behind. When it topped the hill, the lights flashed briefly on the beast at the top of the hill.

All I ever saw was the red demon eyes of some misty apparition. Lights from the Jeep blinded me when I turned around, the beast gone when I glanced away into the darkness.

“Wilder, where the hell have you been?”

“Lost, Sir,” I said.

Major Pfrimmer glanced at his watch. “Damn good thing for you it’s after midnight or I would have had to wash you out. You may be a sorry sack of shit, but you’re a Fusileer now, so get in the damn Jeep."

I crawled into the open vehicle, regaling in the smiles, handshakes and shoulder slaps from my fellow initiates that had also survived Hell Night. Someone passed around a bottle of cheap whiskey and I imbibed, forgetting about the monster of the mist with glowing red eyes until forty years had passed, during my walk through a hazy Edmond neighborhood.


Mama Mulate's Sticky Creole Muffins - a weekend recipe

Mama makes a breakfast muffin that is sticky, gooey and totally decadent. She rarely cooks them except in the morning, so mostly only her family and closest friends have had the pleasure of trying them. Since each muffin contains probably a million calories, this is likely a goodly thing. If you ever eat one, you may get permanently hooked. On the addiction scale from one to ten, these muffins are a ten. Enjoy, but try not to eat the whole pan.


• ½ c sugar
• 1/3 c butter
• 1 egg
• 1 ½ c flour, sifted
• 1 ½ t baking powder
• ¼ t salt
• ¼ t nutmeg
• ½ c milk
• 6 T butter, melted
• 1 t cinnamon
• ½ c sugar


Cream ½ c sugar and 1/3 c butter, and then add the egg. Sift dry ingredients, except cinnamon and the second ½ c sugar. Stir in milk and creamed mixture. Fill 12 muffin holders and bake in 350° oven for 20 to 25 minutes. When muffins are done, dip in the melted butter, and then in the sugar and cinnamon. Serve the muffins warm and try not to eat more than one before you leave the kitchen.


Saturday, October 01, 2011

Mama Mulate's Blackberry Dumplings - a weekend recipe

Mama has a potion or spell for just about anything, and also has an enormous sweet tooth. She grows many of the ingredients for her potions in her lush backyard. Even though her blackberry bush requires little attention, she watches it like a hawk until the delicious berries are harvested. Once they are, her friends are usually the lucky recipients of this delicious dessert. Try it and enjoy.


• 3 pts blackberries
• ¼ c water
• 1 c sugar
• 1 ½ t butter
• 2 c flour
• 3 t sugar
• 1 t salt
• 1 egg
• 3 ½ t baking powder
• Milk


Combine blackberries, water, sugar and butter. Let mixture sit. Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into bowl. Add egg and mix well. Add enough milk to make batter stiff. Bring blackberry mixture to a boil. Drop batter, a spoonful at a time, into boiling mixture. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Mama serves her dumplings with whipped cream, but vanilla ice cream is also good.