Monday, November 30, 2015

Big Mojo Tour

After finishing up at Graceland we hopped on the free bus and headed back to Memphis.  We had a tour to catch at 1:30 so we needed a quick lunch which we found at The Blues City Cafe.  Mac had a cup of Gumbo and I had a plate of small tamales, both were good.  Then we ran across the street to catch our tour.  It was to be a 3 1/2 hour tour hitting the highlights of Memphis and then we'd finish up at Sun Studios.




Miss Peggy

 We took the Big Mojo Extended tour and our tour guide was Miss Peggy, who handed out tambourines and shakers so we could accompany her on our musical journey.  It was a great tour.  Saw where Elvis's family lived when they moved to Memphis (he was 13), they had a sticker on his bedroom window.  We saw where Johnny Cash and his wife lived, St. Jude's Children's Hospital (founded by Danny Thomas), Stax Records (home of soul music), the rich part of town where Machine Gun Kelly came from, the park shell where Elvis gave one of his first performances (he was opening for Slim Whitman the yodeling cowboy)---he thought the audience hated him, but they were screaming for more.  We drove by the Rock and Soul Museum --we'd visited it in October---and the Gibson Guitar Factory.   At each stop Miss Peggy would play her guitar and sing while we accompanied her.  She was very knowledgeable and made the tour a lot of fun.  Near the end we drove to the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King had been shot, large crowds were there.
At the end most people, who were on the shorter tour, got off and the rest of us went to Sun Studios, the studio started by Sam Phillips and where rock and roll was born.  We went upstairs first, looked at memorabilia, saw the dj booth (it had been brought there from the ruins of the hotel it had been in) where Elvis's first record (That's All Right) had been played.  The DJ, Dewey Phillips  liked it so much he played it 14 times in 2 hours.
The drum kit belongs to U2 who came and recorded part of their Rattle and Hum CD at Sun Studios,


And then we went down to the holy of holies, where Elvis first recorded.  Our tour guide walked us through how it all came about, pointed out X's on the floor where Elvis, Bill Black and Sonny Moore had stood.   She put 3 people on the X's and they mimed what happened  and  then she played the recording.  Talk about chills.  Then you could hold the microphone that Elvis held and have you picture taken.  It was incredible.  A little room covered in acoustic tiles and magic was made.
This is where I felt Elvis, not at Graceland, but in that room with all his hopes and dreams.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Explanations

There were some questions about my post today and I thought I'd try and answer them.
First, I tripped and fell when exercising last week.  Nothing broken, just some bruises.   I'm fine, still bruised, but no problems.
 Second, grits is a finely ground cornmeal, kind of like mush. It is derived from an early  Native American dish.  It's mostly eaten in the south for breakfast often with syrup on it.  I don't like it for breakfast, but I will eat shrimp and grits.
Third, when we were in Memphis in October we went on a tour of the Gibson Guitar factory and though Mac owns several guitars he really enjoyed seeing them being made and wanted one that was being made while we were there, so he bought one and we were supposed to pick it up on our return trip.  We decided to have it shipped to us and it will be here sometime this week.
A few comments about Graceland.  I expected the 70's decor, that didn't surprise me, and Elvis was just a country boy so I wasn't expecting great taste. What surprised me was how small it was.  Granted you don't get to go upstairs, that's where he died, but even so, it's not a big house, I think ours is almost as big and I don't think of it as being a huge place.
They said he paid $100,000 for it and 11 acres when he bought it.  He should have bought more because it's surrounded by commercial property, it feels really tacky.
Hope that answers some questions.

A Better Trip

We went back to Memphis for Thanksgiving and it was a better trip than the one I had last week, you know, the one where I fell.  We were excited to be returning, so many things we wanted to see and do.
We got to Memphis late in the afternoon on Thanksgiving and the hotel was serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but it wasn't turkey that we were after, it was ribs, brisket and chicken.  So we didn't let the lack of a shuttle slow us down, we hoofed the 8 blocks to Beale Street, straight to B.B. King's Blues Cafe and ordered a feast, please observe the before and after photos, no words are necessary.




We made a early night of it because we knew we had a full day planned on Friday.
Friday morning we were up early and off to Miss Polly's Soul City Cafe in search of a southern breakfast.  They were out of potatoes because they'd served so many the day before, but we were undeterred.  We could have had grits, but I don't do grits.  So I had bacon and eggs while Mac had Chicken, waffles and eggs.  Who knew chicken could be so good for breakfast.  The coffee was delicious and we asked what is was, Miss Polly said Community Coffee from Louisiana.  We drank many a cup before leaving.




After breakfast it was off to Gibson's, we had to make arrangements for Mac's  guitar, it was ready and we could take it with us or they'd ship.  Well, Mac always travels with a guitar so we didn't need to be carrying a second one so we told them to ship it.
After that we grabbed a taxi and headed out to Graceland we had tickets for 10:30.  Of course there were huge crowds long before we got there.  I'm not going to say much about Graceland, we didn't enjoy it at all.  I'm not going to comment on the decor, that wasn't the problem.  It was the whole feel of the place.  To me it felt like  the saddest house I've ever been in, that no one who lived there had ever felt joy or happiness, it was down right creepy.  We couldn't wait to leave.
  We were allowed to take pictures, but the only one I shot was of the exterior.  
Graceland

The next part of our day was much better and I'll write about that tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to family and friends wherever you are.  Hope the food is tasty, the talk amusing and the folks you're with bring you joy.
I'm grateful that my family is safe and healthy and though we can't spend this holiday together, that soon our daughter will be here and the spirit of the holidays will be complete.  To me it's being together, sharing food, laughter and memories that makes a perfect holiday.
So enjoy.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Have a Nice Trip

While exercising yesterday I tripped and fell.  Scared me more than it hurt me, my right index finger and knuckle are black and blue as is my left forearm.  Nothing broken, nothing much hurt except my pride, I hate being clumsy.  Also put a gouge in the floor, didn't realize I had such sharp edges  Don't know how I tripped which makes it hard to avoid doing it again in the future.  Today I'm a bit stiff and I will exercise very carefully .
Cold last night, finally, down to 40º, great sleeping weather.
Today it was run around town day, bank, store, Goodwill donation, another store and then home.  Too late to get much done.
OW!! Mac just closed his fingers in a bifold door.  Gonna be one of those weeks I guess.
No pictures, it ain't pretty.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Catch Up

I've been busy, but that doesn't mean you haven't been on my mind.  I've been working diligently on a Christmas present and I had to wait for more supplies to finish it.  It's almost done.  The gift is for our daughter who'll be flying in from Japan for the holiday and I want to have her stuff finished before she gets here.
While I've been upstairs working away Mac has been busy in the backyard getting the greenhouse ready for winter.  He's painted wooden shelving and put them  up with cinderblocks, then started moving the coleus and other "tender" plants in. He transplanted the lettuce to the greenhouse because the rains just keep beating them down.  The cabbage are tougher and are doing well outside.
I have more crocheting to get done and then need to finish something I've started for Mac.
Yesterday I made homemade chile and it was so good, without all the sodium you get from canned chile.  It was nice that it was finally cool enough to have something like that.  Today I need to do some baking.  Will do that while I watch really bad football.

Transplanted lettuce and coleus

More Coleus and a Hydrangea

Chrysanthemums

Zinnias grown from our own seeds

Broad Beans coming up in the garden


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Too Hot

It's November 19, the overnight low was 72º, I'm pretty sure that's a record.  Our morning walk felt like a morning swim, not a breath of air.  According to the weather report the mold count is high and we're definitely fighting a battle with it here at the Little House in the Swamp.  Spent the whole morning cleaning wood furniture, rugs airing, stuffed animals airing.  Cough, cough, sneeze, sneeze.  We need a freeze to kill some of it off and a couple of weeks with no rain.  But I'm afraid that El Niño has decided we're to have a warmer than normal winter as well as a wetter one.
And now for something completely different, I've been working my way through Kate Morton's The Lake House rather slowly.  I usually devour her books, but for some reason, not quite sure what, perhaps because several of the characters are rather, to me, very annoying.  I'll finish it and like it ok, but for me, though it was much anticipated, it's not great.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday, Miércoles, Mittwoch

No matter how you say it, this week is half-way over and I don't know where it went.  Some housework, some piano practice, some exercise, not much else.  Been working on Christmas presents but ran out of a part, that was after I severely messed up another part, so that's not going too well.
Had to go to Wally World yesterday, not my favorite place, but sometimes you just gotta do it.
Another rough weekend of football, except that Denver lost and that always makes me happy.
Pulled some weeds, got stuck by stickers, decided to let ferns take over the bed and they can deal with the stickers.
Very warm today, around 78º with thunderstorms forecast for tonight.  I want to make chile, but I can't until it turns cooler, bah, humbug.
My exchange partner, Eleanor, for the Twelve Days of Christmas, received her box and has it put up.  I forgot to take any pictures except for them wrapped up.
Finally finished a crochet project and got another one started.  So things are moving, but at the rate they're moving some of them may be next year's presents.
About 36 days till Christmas, oh my.




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Sunday, November 15, 2015

November in the South

It has cooled down nicely here, the air feels crisp instead of soggy.  But not many leaves have changed color, some years they stay so long they get pushed out by new ones.  What you hear though is the sound of falling acorns and the ground is littered with them.  The squirrels are having a field day.  People here mostly leave their cars out in their driveways and I've heard acorns hit them hard enough to leave a mark, glad ours are in the garage.
Not much color left in the yard, the Impatiens are

holding on and the Mexican Heather,  which is an annual, but acts like a perennial here, is still putting out a little color.
In my shade garden the Coleus are still looking good, but it will soon be time to dig them up and put them in the greenhouse for the winter.
I have chicken leg quarters in the oven, football on the tv and a crochet project I need to finish.  That's my Sunday, in November, in the South.












Friday, November 13, 2015

Five on Friday

It's Friday again, can't believe how quickly they come around.  It's Friday the 13th too.  I'm not particularly superstitious, but I don't walk under ladders and if I spill salt I always throw some over my shoulder.
My Five this week are rather random, with a bit of Christmas thrown in.

The First is a pair of paintings that Mac did of the marina down the road from us.  The first is a sunset and the second is of the annual Christmas boat parade they have each year.













The Second is of my new baking sheets, my old ones were well past their prime and as Christmas is   when I do most of my cookie baking, it was time. I'm thinking about getting some silicone sheets to put on them so they don't lose their finish.






The Third is of my china cabinet set up for tea.  The dishes are  vintage, from the '30's I believe, that I bought on our last trip to England.  I actually drink a bit of tea when the weather is cooler and when our daughter is here as she is an avid tea drinker.






The Fourth is the sheet music for Pachebel's Canon in D.  I can play this, poorly, and it is my goal to play it well by Christmas.








The Fifth is Miss Kitty enjoying her handiwork.





It's a beautiful day here, our morning walk was wonderful with temperatures in the 50's.  Haven't had weather this nice since March or April.  I finally got my Paperwhites planted.  We usually do them inside, but this year we're having an Amaryllis instead.  Chicken stew for lunch with lots of veggies.  Hope you have a great weekend.













Thursday, November 12, 2015

Finally

Yes finally, the weather is gorgeous, just like autumn should be.  Lots of sunshine, moderate temperatures, good snuggling weather at night.
Almost have a Christmas present done and finished a puzzle that's been lingering since summer.  Finished it yesterday and went up to take photo and you'll never guess---Miss Kitty had flipped it up in the air.
This is what it should look like





This is what it actually looks like



Guess Miss Kitty just knows how to finish things with a bang.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day

It's the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it's Veteran's Day and I wish blessings on all who have served in our military.  As I've written before Mac spent 21 one years in the Army.  He was a draftee during the Vietnam War.  Old enough to be drafted, but not old enough to get married without a parent signing for him.
We were lucky, he didn't get sent to Vietnam, he served in Korea, Germany, Turkey and various bases here in the States.  Every 3-4 years our family was packed up and shipped to somewhere different.  We've had to sell our home, give up pets, say goodbye to family and friends.
Our last assignment was to Turkey and my Mother cried when she heard we were going, she was afraid she'd never see us again.  She did though.
Mac got orders to Turkey half way through our daughter's senior year of high school, so he went ahead of us and came back for her graduation.  We had to fly out the next day.
We sent her home from Turkey to start college, and cried all the way back to our apartment.
So, what am I saying, I'm saying blessing not only to the Veterans, but to their families who give up so much so we can live our lives.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Blah Weather

It's Monday, it has cooled down, but it's grey and rainy, not a day for being outside.  Mac went out to play, (he's still using his pressure washer),  but I stayed in and puttered around, made bread, cleaned a bit, worked on my puzzle and started putting together a Christmas present.   It seemed like I never really settled on anything.  Miss Kitty tried to help, but her organization skills leave a bit to be desired.  Hope to get more done tomorrow.
Last night while watching tv we both got a craving for something sweet, but there was nothing in the pantry.  Did find that  there was a mix for pumpkin cookies.  They only took a few minutes to mix up and bake.  They were so good, warm from the oven, a dab of whipped cream  and a cup of Dark Dunken' Donut coffee.  Have a few left over for tonight.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

It's Grey

I look out my window and it looks grey and drab, quite like a cold November day.  Unfortunately it's not.  Oh, it's November all right, but it's not cold.  It was already well up in the 70's when we went for our morning walk and the forecast is for 84º today.  Does that sound like November to you?
They're promising us cooler weather, along with rain for tomorrow, but that just means more grey days and I'll believe cooler when I actually feel it.
More house cleaning on tap for today, grumble, grumble, where are Cinderella's mice when you need them?  Then work on Christmas presents.  Mailed my 12 Days of Christmas box off to England and all I have to say is, if the post office isn't making money it's not for lack of trying.  I could have bought a plane ticket for myself and hand delivered the box.
They're having a Rock n' Roll Marathon in downtown Savannah today, I don't rock much and with 20,000 runners clogging up the streets I won't be rolling either.
Have a good weekend.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Five on Friday

It's Five on Friday time again so I thought I'd take you to the Gibson Guitar factory in Memphis to show you how a good guitar is made.  So many are made, and not very well, overseas, that Mac was really pleased to visit the factory.  You couldn't  take photos during the tour, but I was able to borrow some photos from their website.

Before you start the tour you're given safety goggles to wear and told to stay between the yellow lines at all times.

The first thing we were shown were the cut out shapes for the guitar.  This cutting is the only thing done by machine, everything else is hand done.



We got to handle the front and back pieces and they were surprisingly heavy.



Next the frame is stretched.


After the front and back are attached they're bound up like a mummy.
Next the binding is attached around the edges and it is spray painted, after that the guitar gets 14 coats of lacquer.  



After lacquering all the bits of paint or lacquer that end up in the wrong places have to be removed, this is very labor intensive and is mostly done by ladies, they practice for months on rejects before working on an actual guitar.

The guitar is then checked for defects before being sent to have the electronics added.





And last, but not least, the guitar we're going back to Memphis to pick-up, one that was made while we were there.  Isn't it a beauty, Mac can't wait to get his hands on it.



We learned that the factory employs about 100 workers, makes about 70 guitars a day and ships all over the world, with Japan being one of their biggest customers.  It was quite a tour.  At the beginning when we were in the guitar shop Mac wasn't interested in buying another guitar, at the end, after seeing the craftsmanship and how it was handmade he wanted one.  A great excuse to return to Memphis.


That's my Five,  visit the others who are joining in with Amy over at Love Made My Home.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Middle of the Week

It's Wednesday, the bug man has been here, comes quarterly and does his best to keep us bug free.  Miss Kitty hates it when he comes because she gets locked up, she'd much rather help him with the bugs.
Mac collected the lemons off our tree yesterday, a whole bowl load.  He left one on the tree and there is one orange on the orange tree, but it's not very orange.
 Several people suggested me canning them in a jar with salt water, but I don't have any jars big enough, so who knows what I'll do with them.
Yesterday we had a visitor, a snake.  A quick check of the internet suggests that he was a Georgia rat snake, not very big, looks like he'd been folded and crinkled.  Mac had put a piece of siding up next to our window because the air conditioner would blow moisture in.  Well friend snake crawled in between the siding and the window.  We banged on the glass, yelled at him, squirted him with water to no avail.  Finally Mac threw in a couple of moth balls with him and he instantly left.  Hung out by the air conditioner for a while, but no idea where he is now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Misadventures

When we went to Memphis we flew a different airline from our usual one, Delta.  We had free tickets on Southwest.  We've flown Southwest before, they're a good, cheap airline and your bags fly free.  Because our tickets were free our journey was a bit of a round about route.  We had to drive to Jacksonville, Florida (no Southwest in Savannh) which is about a 100 miles from here.  From there we flew to Baltimore, Maryland, changed planes and flew to Memphis, it took all day.  Coming back we flew from Memphis to Chicago, Illinois, changed planes and flew to Jacksonville.  Had nice, uneventful flights, unfortunately  our bag that we checked did not make the same journey back that we did.  There was no sign of it in Jacksonville and we had to file a missing bag claim.
Next day Mac called them and asked if they had tracked it down yet and mentioned that when this happened on Delta they had a system to track the missing bag.  Unfortunately Southwest doesn't have a system like that, the lady apologized and said she wished they did.  They had to call the airports the bag went through and look for it that way.
Later that day they found it in Atlanta and they were having it flown to Jacksonville and from there it would have to be delivered to us via FedEx because we were too far away for them to deliver.  Had several calls on Sunday, one to let us know it had arrived in Jacksonville and to keep us up to date.  On  Monday they called to let us know that FedEx had picked it up and it would be delivered to us Monday before noon and it was here by 9:30 this morning.  Well done Southwest.  Mac checked the labels on it and it said Jacksonville via Midway (Chicago) so no idea why it ended up in Atlanta.
We're going back to Memphis, but not on Southwest, nothing against them, they're a good airline, but I have a freebie ticket for Delta so we only have to pay for one and that's nice.  Can't wait to go.

Monday, November 2, 2015

More Memphis

Memphis is such a great town, not real big, a population a bit over 600,000, nor is it a rich city, but it is rich in musical history.  From the cotton fields and deltas of the south came people with music in their souls and they found their way to Memphis    Known as the city where rock and roll was born it lives up to its name.  This is where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis got their start.  B. B. King, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Rufus Thomas and many other soul and blues started here too.  There is music everywhere with an emphasis on the blues.
The Smithsonian's Rock and Soul Museum has attempted to bring the roots of this music together in a collection that brings the musical history to life.  What an incredible place, we could have spent the day there and will probably be going back for another visit.
The first juke box where you could pick a song to hear and not just have to listen to what was coming up next.  You could play songs on each juke box in the place and of course I did.

Many of the early musicians came from poor share cropper families and found their way to the city looking for a better life.


No electricity in their cabins so most folks had battery powered radios, usually tuned to the Grand Ole Opry.  The battery was good for about 3 months, so Father strictly controlled what was listened to.

Many of the original neon signs from places in Memphis where the early musicians played.

Dulcimer from the Carter family considered one of the pioneers of Bluegrass music.  June Carter, Johnny Cash's wife was a member.

Minnie Pearl's dress, don't know where her hat is, but I can still hear her saying, "HOWDY".

A wind-up victrola, again, no electricity.

I owned records by many of these performers

First neon juke box

The DJ who first played Elvis's song, "That's All Right Mama" on the radio

Left to right: Sonny West,  one of Elvis'sguitarists guitar, Jerry Lee Lewis's shirt and Elvis's Army uniform