Old turkey soup recipe

This from Jerry Gerardi's Outdoors column in today's Tallahassee Democrat: Weather puts freeze on anglers. Low temps, gusty winds is [sic] making fishing tough.

Jack Wingate at Wingate's Lunker Lodge sends this recipe for leftover turkey soup: "In a boiler of water big enough to cover bones, add one can of tomato sauce, diced or fresh tomatoes, cook until meat falls from bones, take bones out and bring to a rolling boil. Drop in enough regular grits (to make a soupy mixture) and let cook until done. Salt and pepper to taste."
And from the Fishing Update:

Jack Wingate at Wingate's Lunker Lodge (wingateslodge@bellsouth.net, 229-246-0658) on Lake Seminole said the Tallahassee Hawg Hunters fished out of Wingate's. Dallas Johnson won with 17.1 pounds of bass.
Don't know why I read the fishing report today. I rarely look at the sports section at all. Anyway, Dallas Johnson is the husband of my old Extension Services boss, Sarah Johnson, who retired about five years ago. Dallas is retired from the FSU Campus Police. I didn't know Dallas well, but it's good to see that he's enjoying his retirement. Sarah is an accomplished bass fisher herself.

It's the soup I wanted to comment on. It is surely an old recipe, calling for only two ingredients, (besides the turkey bones), that almost any Southern pantry could supply, grits and a can of tomatoes. Now, if you threw your turkey bones in the garbage, you have no right to pass judgement, but it sounds like awful mush, if you try to imagine serving it at home to your family.

But there is a setting in which it would be welcome and very tasty. And that is when you've been out on the water or in a hunting blind since before dawn, and you are frozen through and through. It's mid-to-late morning, and you are ready to head back to camp. You are hungry. You smell it as soon as you come inside, and you want some. It is piping hot, and it goes down just right. And it holds you, too, if you're going back out.

I have not been much of an outdoorsman as an adult, but my father loved to hunt and fish, and he took me with him when I was a boy.

In the winter, shad fish swim up the St. Johns river to spawn. I had heard that they were fished out, but researching this post, I see that shad are still mentioned as fish that you can catch there, so I don't know. Back in the 1960's, the Orlando Sentinel Star used to sponsor a contest in February, in which whoever caught the most shad would win a fishing boat and motor. My dad and I would drive in the dark up to the Lemon Bluff fish camp north of Sanford. We would rent a boat, an aluminum skiff with a motor, and try our luck.

It was cold, people, numbingly cold, out on that river in February. Practically an out-of-body experience. My father was, and has remained, a country boy, for whom a string of fish or a bird was food on the table. I, growing up comfortably in suburban Maitland, and not a "morning person" anyway, could only think, "How did you even know that this was something to do, and knowing that, why would you want to do it?" Now, though, forty years later, I've got a story to tell, don't I?

Although we were never serious contenders for the prized boat & motor, we did catch shad. The shad was not considered a good eating fish. Much of its flesh was dark and bitter, and it had many small bones. What you wanted was the roe from the females; big, sausage-like, membranous sacs of fish-eggs. Fried up in butter, shad roe were heavenly to eat, and wonderful for breakfast with eggs. (Edit: chicken eggs. Weird, eggs with eggs...)

When my father reckoned we had fished long enough, we would return to the fish camp. I remember big jars of pickled things; eggs, pigs' feet, and such. They would always have a big pot of hot chili, and this is what I looked forward to, a bowl of that chili. It was so good. And if they had had Wingate's turkey soup, I know that I would have loved it.


One thing is certain, that Life flies

I'm with old Omar Khayyam. The election is over. Let us leave the wise to talk. I almost envy Garrison Keillor, eager for the oblivion of his Minnesota winter.

And we have come round again to that little 3-day working-week before the Thanksgiving holidays. Sunday was the Feast of Christ the King. This is the last week of Ordinary Time, skewed as it is by that Puritan memorial, before Advent.

"Hard times in the land of plenty", howled another Omar twenty years ago in Austin, as Savings & Loans vanished like smoke and newly-built ziggurats stood empty. "See-throughs", people called the vacant office towers downtown on Congress Avenue. Ronda and I came out of Retail Egypt, returned to the land of our fathers, and got government jobs. I had read that in the Great Depression, government employment had shrunk by a mere 2%. It is easy to think that government services are expendable in times of prosperity. In hard times they are all that stand between a desperate citizenry and riots in the streets.

In elementary school, we had once to enact edifying fables in front of the class. I had a part in The Ant & the Grasshopper. The ant toiled to lay up stores of food, while the grasshopper relaxed and enjoyed himself. When lean times came, the ant was prepared, but the grasshopper perished.

A male librarian finds himself minding the store, more or less, from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. My colleagues are mothers and grandmothers, and their other lives claim them now. By Wednesday afternoon, it will be me, our blessed, "homeless" men, and our "mouse potatoes", Internet users who are poor, and who are not going anywhere, regardless of Thanksgiving. What will they do, while the library is closed for two days?


Back to the Model M

Last February I finally retired my old Windows 98 1 gig Athlon PC and bought a new 3 Gig Athlon 64 Dual Core PC from Velocity Micro. It came with a mouse and keyboard by Creative. The mouse is fine, but I was about to hold forth the other night on how much I disliked laptops for their flat keyboards when I noticed, nine months later, that my Creative keyboard is, in fact, flat. Yes, it is tilted up at the top by the usual retractable feet. but the board itself is completely flat. It's selling point is that it is "media-friendly": it has a row of buttons above the function keys to let the user play media files using the keyboard, rather than the mouse, a feature that I have not used at all.

No wonder I've been making a lot more typos! And I realized that it has been bothering me, the way that I've been having to sort of "stab" at the keys.

Back in the late '90's, when the GUI replaced the command line, the Web replaced Gopher, and when so many offices undertook major PC upgrades in anticipation of the Y2K effect, the library was the recipient of a lot of cast-off computers. Most of them went to Tallahassee Freenet to be sold for operating funds.

One day we received the remnants of an old DOS network, an IBM PS/2 system, a Model 80 386 server with several Model 50's as clients. They were running Windows 3.1, but didn't have the juice to run the new Windows 95. Nobody wanted to fool with anything older than a 486. So I took parts of it home, thinking that some day a PS/2 system might be an interesting curiosity.

That is how I came to own a couple of IBM Model M keyboards. These keyboards were heavily built. IBM had a reputation for durability. (I recall a story of someone dropping a Model 80 down a flight of stairs, with no damage at all.) Model M's are known as "clicky" keyboards. The keys are spring-loaded, and they click every time you press and release them. They are descended from the Selectric typewriter. As PS/2 peripherals, these keyboards were fitted with the new, smaller PS/2 connectors, which became standard on PC's until peripherals began to use USB instead.

I had pressed one of these Model M's into service with my old Win98 PC when its original keyboard was damaged by cigarette burns. Now I went to find it in the closet. I noticed how its keys rose by row in ranges from bottom to top, like an old typewriter. Yes, I thought, I miss that old typewriter action.

But surely keyboards have progressed since the Model M? Well, it appears to be debatable. Many users like the Saitek Eclipse, which features back-lighting, like a pimped-up lowrider, apparently a selling point for gamers. Others like the ergonomic Microsoft Natural Elite, to which I say, "Begone!". And then there is the Optimus Maximus, which runs to $1500.

I was surprised to find that the IBM Model M has a large and loyal following. It is, in fact, still in production, Lexmark having sold the rights to Unicomp. The Model M is the favored keyboard for Steampunk modding.

So, a bird in the hand. I hooked up my old Model M, and I'm very happy with it.

(Edit, 11/25: The $129.00 Das keyboard has been getting good reviews. The original came with blank keys, to facilitate the learning of touch-typing. A charactered-keys version is now available.)

Sore Toe Blues

A couple of years ago, retiring with a skinful of Black & White, I slammed my right big toe with great force against the bedpost. It hurt a great deal at the time, but it seemed to heal. In recent months, however, the toe has begun to hurt after a day on my feet. My doctor says that I suffer from traumatic arthritis. He suffers from it too, in a finger that he injured with a hammer. He recommended an herbal pain-reliever and sent me to get an X-Ray. Here it comes... Old Age.


Blogging Reference: Saturday, November 15

Working with Susan today

"Brett, do you want a cup of coffee?" (No thanks, had 2 already.)

10:00 Doors open.

Sky very grey, threatening rain. FAMU game at 1:00, FSU homecoming game at 8:00 v. Boston College.

Open Henderson Room for Florida Panhandle Romance Writers.

Look for A Drink with Shane MacGowan. Wet young man, (probably slept rough), was reading it yesterday, but someone took it. (Not on shelf or carts. Does he have card to place hold?) No, passing through. Do we have Nikki Sixx's Heroin Diaries? (No, sorry.)

Mom & daughter. Info on career as registered nurse. (Ency. of Vocations, Occup. Outlook Hdbk) Daughter wants PC. Get mom's card, sign her up.

Older blond woman w/ blue satin baseball jacket admires library. From Daytona Beach, has never seen library this big. Can get guest card? Staying at shelter. (No. Will give her quarter to buy used pb book from gift shop if she would like.) Where are museums? Wants to take grandson. (Point out window toward M. of Fla. Hist., Science M.)

Job application. Starting salary at library? (Suggest he call HR job line, have them walk him through it.) Retired from state 5 yrs. Jeb cut his job. Bored.

Do we have a bathroom?

Mom w/ stroller: Do we have Good Hair? (author Benilde Little, take to shelf.)

"I'm looking for a meeting room." (Romance Writers?) "Yes." (Show her to H. Room)

Send obit scan to man in Canada.

10:54 Out for smoke.

Phone: Numbers for Gene Chatham and Denny & Hugh Sprayberry in LaGrange Ga. (ReferenceUSA db.)

PC's about half-full.

Phone: Ticket specials for N. Fla. Fair

Take paper, give ID back.

More time on PC? (No waiting list, should get more time.)

Phone: N. Fla. Fair admission & ride questions. (Don't know about wristbands. Give Fair info number.)

Phone: Directions to library.


Lots of oldsters browsing new books.

11:25 Quiet. Oldsters have cleared out.

Do we still sell used magazines? (Yes, in the gift shop.)

He puts money in copier, but nothing happens. (Copier asleep, wake it up.)

PC's full now.

Help woman print pdf of newspaper from Access archive.

James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son. (Take to shelf.)

Free Tallahassee street map.

So we discover that we now have a full license for Access Newspaper Archive. Why didn't they tell us? Susan says it will be great for the school history fair. A boy intently writing a note with a golf pencil at the counter near us says quietly to himself, "History fair... I hate history fair." We are amused after he leaves, but Susan regrets having reminded him of school on Saturday morning.

Picking up. Families are arriving.

Youth Services is hosting a Game Day today, to which children may bring their favorite indoor games to share, be they board games or video games.

I glimpse Deputy Bill's green trouser legs pass by up on the third floor as he makes his round.

Desi couple with tot at self-checkout.

12:00 Lunch

Still overcast, and cooling. On the landing, I hear call and response shouting in the direction of FSU. Can't make it out, only the rhythm, as in "What do we want? Do-nuts! What do we want? Do-nuts!", and so on. Are they homosexuals, perhaps? Supposed to be a nation-wide protest today about the anti-gay marriage amendments.

12:35 Back

Costa Rican music? (Oh, boy... We check the Grove Dictionary of Music and find a good long entry, though the bib. is all Spanish sources. Point her to JSTOR and FSU Center for Music of the Americas.)

"If I tell you someone's name, can you tell me which computer they are on?" (No.)

Make round of floor. Couple of head-down-on-desk type sleepers in carrels, with reading matter arranged as defense. I don't bother them unless they are snoring or have arranged a "nest", such as a second chair to support outstretched legs. Nobody needs help. Snug up bookends on Oversized.

Phone: NADA value of '99 Toyota Celica convertible

Where to apply for library card.

Newspaper. Man upset about suspended football players. "It's gonna hurt us!"

More help for Costa Rican music girl. Don't have title in bib. but is at Allen Music Library at FSU. Find hrs. and directions.

PC for Rachel

PC for Cole, the history fair hater.

Susan goes to lunch.

"Can I get same PC again?" (Sorry, no. Is reserved following her session.)

Four or five security gate alarms in a row, all false. Check receipts, pass them through.

Phone: Cervantes' Exemplary Novels? (Only copy missing. Maybe Project Gutenberg?) "What's Project Gutenberg?" (Hmm, how to describe. "It is a repository of digitized texts.") "So I can Google Project Gutenberg, as in the Gutenberg Bible?" (Yes.) (Later, checked PG, yes!)

Which wireless network to choose with laptop? (Not sure. Try them & see what works best.)

Have I seen black purse? (See one by lost articles basket. It's hers)

Has PC reservation for #61, but someone else is there. Give him another and check. Was expired.

Jacob, to pick up envelope left by Susan. Can I find wage withholding chart? (Not right away, can look more after I help those waiting.) No, it's ok, he thanks me.

Two black ladies looking for class for seniors doing day-care, sent up here from Info Desk. (I call the B.L. Perry branch. It is happening there.)

Check on PC 61. PCRes client was turned off. Have patron enable.

1:53 Susan back.

Help reserving GED test prep book. Phone: put on hold & call Susan w/ Vocera.

2:14 Out for smoke. Never did rain. Clearing, streaks of blue sky showing through.

Another false security alarm.

Asian-American girl has 5 call numbers for books about immigrants. (Take her to shelf,)

Quieting down. Couple of browsers on floor. PC's still full, but no wait.

(Help woman w/ self-check? No, she's got it.)

Woman wants room for study group. (Have her fill out application.) Donaldson Enterprises.

Man says PC reservation receipt doesn't work. (It works.)

Woman wants Book of Enoch, Babylonian/Sumerian Mythology. (Which Enoch, Old Slavonic or Ethiopian/Amharic?) She didn't know there were two. Ethiopian, she guesses. Where in The Bible is the quotation, "My name is Legion, for we are many"? (Gospels, Gadarene Swine, no?) She thinks Revelation. (Find Enoch online at Internet Sacred Text Archive, entry on Mesopotamian Religion in Ency. of Religion.) Asks me if I'm religious. (Yes.) What religion? (Catholic.) She was brought up Catholic. (I, a convert.) Hopes I don't mind her asking. (No.)

Susan goes to give S. in media a smoke break.

"Where are the random magazines you used to have for sale?" (Gift shop.)

Phone: How to spell "anecdote".

Boys return scissors.

3:00 Sunlight breaking through the clouds.

A Wolf at the Table, by Augusten Burroughs. Young man says catalog says "being returned to shelf". (Discharged 11/14. Check shelf, carts, find on cart of new books in circulation workroom.) "No way", says college boy, with smile.

Woman says PC reservation receipt doesn't work. (It works.)

Mythology woman engages me at length on subject of psychic investigation. Says she is a sort of freelance sensitive. Says she was asked to "cleanse" the supposedly haunted Sunland Center building on Phillips Road before it was torn down. We used to get teens coming in, asking to see our vertical file on Sunland. Says she photocopied the entire file. Thinking of my collection of psychic detective novels, (Dr. Orient, John Silent, etc.), I ask if she's ever read any Dr.Taverner stories. A lot of people have asked her that, she says, but no, she is too busy to read for pleasure. She is wearing a black, short-sleeved sweatshirt with a Cthulhuvian skull image silk-screened in gold. She has a Goth vibe, like she was one when younger. Dark, straight hair, with pale, blemished, melancholy face
. I glance away to see if anyone is approaching for help. She breaks off and withdraws.

4:10 Make round. Everyone good, working in carrels or looking into books in stacks. Donaldson Enterprises has not used the room they reserved. Turn out lights and lock door. Very quiet. PC's full but no wait. Out for smoke.

4:20 About time to bring it on home.

Contacts for Tallahassee Genealogy Society. Glad she found our Florida Collection.

Help staff member V. with fax machine. Hear 30 min. warning announcement.

Count money in change drawer.

Do we have The Changeling? (Which one? Popular title.) The one on which the movie with Angelina Jolie was based. (Is no book, film had original screenplay.) Then pick one we do have. (I pick The Changeling of Finnistuath.) She takes it.

Start shutting down catalog PC's.

5 min. warning.

Man with two canes wants Robert Jordan's Shadow Rising. ("Wait here, I'll be right back." Walk double-time to shelf, fetch book. Man very grateful.)

5:00 Closing announcement. Douse some lights. Shut down remaining staff PC's. Lock Park Ave. doors & take door count.


Sword & Sandal

The reference staff take turns putting together book displays in two locations on the second floor of our library. It is an opportunity to be creative and to showcase the many facets of our adult collection.

As a boy in the '60's, I watched many "sword and sandal" movies on Saturday afternoon TV. These included the "Sons of Hercules" films, Italian B-movies featuring muscular actors like Steve Reeves, here pictured. You could extend the genre to include many more Hollywood films, such as Ben Hur and Cleopatra.

In the last decade, the genre has come around again, with new films about gladiators, the siege of Troy, the battle of Marathon, and an HBO series about ancient Rome. I began to notice that popular fiction mirrored the on-screen revival, with new fiction titles and series with settings from the Bronze Age to Byzantium. Once I began to look, I easily found more than enough books for a two week display back in September.

After some positive feedback from a patron by way of one of our branch managers, followed by her request for my list, to put the display up at her branch, I thought that I might as well post my list here. It took a bit of work to assemble, and it will be out of date in a year or two. Maybe someone here can use it. It's mostly recent popular fiction, but you will see Massie's older Roman titles and Vidal's Julian. I did not include Graves's Claudius novels or Yourcenar's Hadrian. The list here was a little truncated to fit on a large bookmark to accompany the display.

Sword & Sandal: Antiquity in Popular Fiction
Barone, Sam / Mystic Empire, Dawn of Empire, Empire Rising
Bradshaw, Gillian / various
Cockrell, Amanda / The Legions of the Mist
Davis, Lindsay / Falco series
Dietrich, William / The Scourge of God
Doherty, P. C. / The Gates of Hell: A Mystery of Alexander

the Great
Downie, Ruth / Medicus, Terra Incognita
Dufaux / Swords of Rome
Duffy, James / Sand of the Arena
Durham, David Anthony / Hannibal's Children, Pride of

Ford, Michael Curtis / The Ten Thousand, Gods and Legions,

The Last King, The Fall of Rome
Geagley, Brad / Day of the False King
Gemmell, David / Shield of Thunder, Troy: The Fall of Kings
George, Margaret / Cleopatra, Helen of Troy
Iggulden, Conn / Emperor series
McCullough, Colleen / Masters of Rome series
Manfredi, Valerio / Spartan
Massie, Allan / Caesar
Nicastro, Nicholas / The Isle of Stone
Oden, Scott / Men of Bronze, Memnon
Pressfield, Steven / Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the

Amazons, The Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign
Rivers, Francine / Mark of the Lion series
Roberts, John Maddox / SPQR series
Saylor, Steven / Gordianus the Finder series
Tarr, Judith / Bring Down the Sun
Vidal, Gore / Julian
Wishart, David / Parthian Shot
Wolfe, Gene / Soldier of the Mist, Soldier of Arete, Soldier of Sidon


The Holly and the Wasp

Our library has four tall Savannah Holly trees flanking the Park Avenue entrance.

I enjoy observing these trees through the year. When they flower in late spring, a cloud of small bees comes to pollinate them. Now, when their berries are red, but not yet full and ripe, they are visited by a great number of wasps. It is hard to see what it is that attracts them. A couple of years ago, reference librarian that I am, I "looked it up".

Holly trees are prey to flies whose larvae are "leaf miners", feeding on the inner tissue of the leaves. The wasps are parasitic, laying their own eggs near the fly larvae to feed upon them in turn, thus doing the trees a service.

In the winter, flocks of cedar waxwings will come to eat the holly berries. Always one or two will dash themselves, sometimes to death, against the library's windows. In Woodville, with the bookmobile, I once saw a flock of these birds pick a small holly tree clean in minutes.