Archive for February, 2018

Grandma’s Bread & Butter Pickles, 1961

February 28, 2018

Grandma made several kinds of pickles. My favorite was the dill, never the sweet. She also made a thing called “Bread & Butter”. I don’t know what Bread & Butter means, but I was not a fan.

That was when I was little. I am a big fan now.

Grandma's Bread & Butter Pickle Recipe 1961 P1

Aug 7, 1961

Bread & butter pickels

12 Med Cucumbers

8 Med onions

2 green pepers

1/2 cup salt

5 cups suar

5 cup vinegar

2 tea spoons mustard seed

tea spoon celry seed

1/2 cloves

1/2 turmeric

Grandma's Bread & Butter Pickle Recipe 1961 P2


Wash cumber do not peel

Slise paper thin about 16

cups slise & shred green

peper from which all seed

& pits have been removed

put in big bowl with

sat sprinkled though & ice-

cubs let stand 3 hours

drain quickly, make

a syrup with white sugar

& vinegar Ad all this

& boil 5 minuts

Grandma apparently knew that everyone knew the basics of canning pickles, so she doesn’t bother to go into the details of preparing the jars and lids and of processing the pickles. Even I have a Betty Crocker cookbook and could figure it out.

And there you have it. Go make yourself some pickels.

Grandma’s Hot Tamales

February 27, 2018

We didn’t have a lot of traditions growing up. One of our best traditions was hot tamales.

In the fall, Grandma made hot tamales. She gathered a bunch of corn husks and soaked them in her sink until they became soft and pliable. While they soaked, she made the meat mixture and the cornmeal mixture. From what I remember, she used sausage, ground beef, and cayenne pepper for the meat, and basic cornmeal like White Lily or Martha White for the cornmeal mixture. No one has the recipe. She never wrote it down.

Basically, she made meatballs from the meat mixture, and cornmeal balls from the cornmeal mixture. She patted and flattened a cornmeal ball in the palm of her left hand, and placed a meatball in the center of it, then wrapped the cornmeal dough around the meatball, covering it completely.

She took sections of the softened husks and overlapped them, making a cradle for the tamale. When she had wrapped the tamale completely in cornshucks, that’s when the job of the grandchildren came in. We took turns sitting on a high kitchen stool while we held the shuck-covered tamale, tightly, by the ends. Grandma took thin strips of cornshuck and used them like string to tie each end and another around the middle.

She did this for hours. She made a batch of mild and a batch of hot. Then she cooked them in a pressure cooker.

I didn’t know that tamales were considered a Mexican dish until I was grown. I thought they were an East Tennessee dish. When I started doing genealogy, I found a pension file that showed that my grandmother’s Webb grandparents went to Johnson County, Texas, in 1881. After a few years they returned to East Tennessee. So I have an idea that my grandmother learned to make hot tamales from helping her grandmother, who had learned to make them while in Texas.

Years ago, my mother told us that our former neighbor, a woman named Amy, was a writer for Country Living, and had written an article about corn.  Amy included recipes in her article. One of the recipes was for hot tamales.

Tamales like these were made by the grandmother of a friend of mine when I was growing up in Tennessee. As she was not of Tex-Mex ancestry, I had no idea that tamales were “foreign” fare until much later in life!

Y’all? This was not my grandmother’s  recipe at all. I wrote a letter to Amy at the magazine and told her so. I never heard from her. Now that I have more age on me, I think that I looked like a jerk, because the spirit of the recipe is there. I just couldn’t see it.

Tamale Recipe from Amy Chatham Scotton0001Tamale Recipe from Amy Chatham Scotton0003

Trailing William Davidson

February 27, 2018

I promise you that my children will thank me someday. I’m rummaging around in a cabinet looking for some sort of something, and I find some papers about William Davidson.

He would be another one of my 5th great-grandfathers, and a contemporary of Josias Gamble, with Josias being my first and only link to the DAR. When I was researching DAR ancestry some 20 years ago, a member of the local DAR chapter said, “Patriot families married patriot families”, and that was a light-bulb-going-on-over-my-head moment. My goal was to prove that my William Davidson be recognized by the DAR. One of the difficulties with this particular ancestor is that there were at least 2 other William Davidsons in close proximity to the area that became Blount County, Tennessee.

So I’ll start here with the William Davidson that I know to be mine. He was born about 1750 and died in the early 1800s. Perhaps I can get those dates sorted out more closely at some point.

He was married, although I can’t locate a name for his wife, and she isn’t mentioned in his will, so I believe that she predeceased him. His will lists his children, and one of them is my Elizabeth Davidson who married Andrew Gamble.

DavidsonWilliam death of

This is from a microfilm about the early Blount County, Tennessee, records. I didn’t make a copy of the title page or the date because I gathered this copy when I was a newbie. Or perhaps I did copy that info, and it has become separated from this page. When you have moved as much as I have in the last 20 years, things have a way of disappearing. Perhaps I can sort out precisely where this came from, eventually.






This day came the parties by the Attos. and thereupon came the same jury as above; who being elected tried and sworn well and truly to try the matter in dispute upon their oaths do say they find for the plaintiff and assess his damage to thirteen dollars (p. 154) and three cents, and it appearing to the satisfaction of the Court that WILLIAM DAVIDSON had become security for the defendant for the appeal & the Death of sd. Wm. Davidson was suggested to the Court. Therefore on motion of the plaintiff it is considered by the Court that the plaintiff recover against the defendant the sum of thirteen dollars and three cents the sum by the jury aforesaid assessed together with his costs by him in this behalf expended for which execution may issue.

I can now throw out this piece of paper. My children will thank me.

“Fuck you, I like guns.”

February 25, 2018

Because I can’t stop thinking about this.

Anastasia Writes

Edited to add: I can’t thank you all enough for interacting with this post. I am actually surprised that it’s become this popular. This is the first time more than ten people have read anything I’ve written here. I’m probably going to turn off commenting soon because everything that can be said already has been. In general, I’d like to point out that this is an opinion piece. I wrote it on a 15 minute coffee break and posted it unedited. It’s raw, and that’s the whole point. The tone, the language, and the style are intentional. This was written for people like my mostly conservative Army buddies who will never click an article that is titled “Gun control is your friend”, and tend to assume those who support such legislation have never seen a gun before. I’m not a professional writer, nor a particularly prolific blogger until about three…

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Time for a Change

February 17, 2018

Most of you folks reading this blog know that I write about limited subjects like genealogy, cats, yarn, knitting, and dead people.

My dead people subjects are about people in my family, or Sugar’s family, that we are related to by blood or marriage. Sugar and I have had multiple outings and meetings that came about because of genealogy, but I don’t have to tell you about those things again, because you read the blog.

Something I have refrained from writing about is how I tend to bitch about stuff. Maybe you didn’t know that I could be a raging pain-in-the-ass. That’s not how I want to be remembered. I don’t want to write about current events or politics or work events.

This week has been an earth-shaker. I’m in a whirling rage about the school shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people died.


I woke up this morning, and I heard a crow call from a nearby field. And I thought, “Seventeen people will never hear a bird’s song again.” I’m discouraged that an ordinary civilian can get their hands on an AR-15. I don’t know very much about guns (so you gun people, if you’re out there, can bash me in the comments). I’ve shot a shotgun, and I won an award in college for marksmanship. It seems wrong that a weapon of wartime can be available to the public.

I don’t own a gun, and last year someone said to me, “Don’t you live alone? You need a gun.” My response is that I don’t need a gun; I’ll just throw a cat at an intruder. In truth, who would intrude here? I have nothing worth stealing. I have an iphone with a cracked screen. I have a 6-year-old netbook that is undependable. I have the response-time of a tortoise. Nobody is going to break in here. The door is always open. People think I’m crazy and they avoid me. I need a gun like I need another hole in my head.

I have no clue what my ancestors politics were.


There have been some shake-ups going on at work for about a year. Some of the accounts have been put on hold for non-payment. The owner of the practice finalized his divorce and brought his girlfriend back into the workplace. Some of the higher-ups did away with direct deposit, and employees got paper checks at the end of the payday, which caused a disruption in work flow, since people were fleeing the building to deposit their checks. There has been anxiety, and frustration, and sadness, and anger. You can imagine the scenario.

Most recently, some of the paychecks bounced or were put on hold. Imagine that scene: your paycheck is put on hold for 10 days. By the time the check is good, it’s almost payday again.

Yesterday, we got a company-wide email that the Chief Operating Officer and the Human Resources manager had been let go, and that the assistant to the COO would be handling the finances and payroll, and that another manager would be handling Human Resources. And that the girlfriend would be assisting with company finances, not that she was named in the email as the girlfriend. But we all know that she is, even though we are not allowed to acknowledge this in the workplace for fear of losing our jobs, which actually happened to several people a few years ago when the relationship came to light.


Last night, when I arrived home, Mr. Scruffy was crouched in the treehouse. I haven’t seen him in a few weeks, and I know that it is mating season. I have had a lot on my plate, and I haven’t attempted to set the trap. I rarely see him, and a trapping event would need a lot of coordination with Sugar and the vet clinic. Whatever. I didn’t do it.

I stayed in the car, and saw through the window that he looked like he was in bad shape. The cheek on his left side was almost degloved, and the skin was hanging and I could see the meat of his face. He called softly to me, and I got a can of food from the trunk of the car and popped it into a dish and slid the dish onto the treehouse. He was able to eat it. I went inside.

I lay down last night and couldn’t get up. I knew that I needed to set the trap, but didn’t have the strength to get up and do it, because I knew that I’d need to monitor it during the night, and I just didn’t have it in me to stay away. I was drained.


This morning, he is missing. The people at the school in Parkland are dead. Two people at work are unemployed. Most of the employees are in despair that things are going to be better at work.

For the record, I hate what is happening to our country. It is crumbling under our feet.

And friends? I realize that I am preaching to the converted.

Snow 2018, Lowcountry Style

February 13, 2018

I forgot to write about the snow. Probably it was more like I was huddled in my blanket fort singing the blues.

After all, my Ole Yeller had just been smashed exactly one week before the predicted ice and snow. And after one day back at work on January 2, I was in no mood to drive on ice and snow covered roads in a brand new car that I had owned for less than 3 days.

I stayed home. I could hear the sleet outside until about 10:30AM, just like it was predicted, and then the sleet turned to fluffy flakes that piled up about 5ish inches.

The next day I refused to go out, even though I had planned to ride in with a friend. The friend wasn’t able to go to work after all because some of the bridges were closed, and in an area where approximately 50% of the county is water, that’s a sign to stay home.

Late morning I walked out to the main road.

The cats were stationed ’round about the property on snow patrol.

Sugar had the most excellent idea of getting a bale of hay days before the predicted bad weather in order to refill the cats’ sleeping quarters.

Later that day, I got a message from work asking if I would be able to work the following day. I realize that businesses need to make plans, but I didn’t plan on leaving unless the temps got as high as predicted and melted the yuk away. I didn’t need to miss any more work than necessary, because somebody has got to bring the Friskies home.

By midday on the 3rd day, it was safe to go out.

And that was the winter of 2018.

Mr. Catpurrnip and Mr. Orange

February 10, 2018

Something very odd has happened between those two boys. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Mr. Catpurrnip is the newest cat in the colony. Mr. Orange has been here for several years.

Mr. Catpurrnip is a transplant from Sugar’s place. Mr. Orange is an old, grumpy-faced cat that just showed up here several years ago. It took a year to trap him.

Mr. Orange has never interacted with any of the other cats. He always stayed the farthest away from me.

One evening I arrived home, and Catpurrnip and Orange began acting out a greeting ritual to each other. It was like they were actors in a play solely for me. They stretch and bow to each other and butt foreheads and rub against each other.

They don’t sleep or nest together. They will eat from the same food bowl. They only do this greeting ritual when I am headed to the car to leave or when I have driven in to the driveway. It’s actually bizarre.

The following video shows the intensity of their greeting for each other. By the time I get the camera out to start recording, I have already missed the initial bowing and stretching routine. Apparently I am the trigger that causes this behavior.

Amazing to see that animals can feel such strong attraction and affection for each other. I am guessing that some of the behavior is self-satisfying, much in the same way that cats purr to make themselves feel better. I have seen cats purr in the exam room after being hit and badly damaged by a car. The vet explained that purring releases endorphins.

So enjoy some more weirdness happening here at the Cat-Catching and Head-Butting Facility.