Today in Mississippi January 2019 Tombigbee

Page 1

News for members of Tombigbee Electric Power Association

t r Atakes a Periodical postage (ISSN 1052 2433)



Mike Johnson’s story sticks


Moms unite to create cookbook


Picture This: cute kittens



Today in Mississippi


January 2019

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January 2019

Legislators converge in capital to kick off 2019 session anuary is an exciting time in Mississippi’s capital city. Legislators are arriving from all parts of the state, getting ready for the opening of the 2019 regular session of the Mississippi Legislature at noon on Jan. 8. My Opinion We at the Electric CooperaMichael Callahan tives of Mississippi welcome Executive Vice President/CEO these lawmakers this and every Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi year. We pledge our commitment to working closely with them to ensure that you, our electric cooperative members, continue to benefit from high-quality, affordable electric service. 2019 is a major election year for Mississippi, on both local and state levels. Beginning with the primary election on Aug. 6, Mississippians will cast ballots for offices ranging from constable to governor. Campaign signs soon will be sprouting like mushrooms along roadsides. Their aim is to familiarize voters with the candidates’ names, but voters must dig deeper in order to make informed decisions. Voting is a precious right of citizens, and one for which many people here and around the world have given their lives. We should never take for granted our right to free elections conducted in accordance with the law. I hope Mississippians will make every effort this year to study the candidates and understand their positions before casting a ballot. Only then will we gain a government truly representative of our hopes, dreams and goals. ********** This issue will be the final one produced under the direction of our editor, Debbie Stringer. Debbie will be retiring in early January. Since 1985, Debbie has been totally committed to providing our organization with feature stories, news articles and photos which have sparked the interest of our more than 445,600 monthly readers. It was during her tenure the award-winning Today in Mississippi was born from the old Mississippi EPA News.


On the cover Mike Johnson, of Walnut Grove, combines wood carving know-how with imagination to create hiking sticks that tell stories. See story on page 4. Inset: Becky Strite, of Kokomo, shares a photo of her curious kitten, Java, for “Picture This: Kittens.” See page 14.

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Throughout her years, she worked diligently to promote the rich history and personality of our great state, while adding informative and value content to our publication. Her creative writing style and quality photos were always mated with concise facts and delivered in an easy-to-read format. As she sat at her computer or drove the back roads of Mississippi, she had one goal in mind—to find the unique story, target her audience and provide a finished product that would be easy to read and enjoyed by our readers. She was committed to making our publication a treasure for all Mississippians. Her success is evident by the many honors and awards she has received over the past 34 years. But the accolades she most enjoyed were the many appreciative letters and notes she received from her readers. She always placed them first. As she retires, a walking library will leave our offices with a collection of historical events, unique understanding of the cooperative electric utility structure and much more. She is truly respected by our staff and the many people she has worked with throughout her career. It will be difficult to replace her. We will bring a new staff member on board and assign them the overwhelming task to fill her shoes and continue her legacy. No small task for our new editor. In closing, Debbie can best be described as a person with a strong work ethic and a commitment to excellence. The success of Today has been achieved by this outstanding team member who has excelled in telling Mississippi’s story as a creative writer, an artist with an eye for capturing that special moment in her photos, and her unwavering willingness to help others achieve their common goals. We will miss her! But we wish her and husband, Jerry, good health and happiness in her upcoming retirement.

Today in Mississippi OFFICERS Randy Smith - President Keith Hayward - First Vice President Kevin Bonds - Second Vice President Eddie Howard - Secretary/Treasurer EDITORIAL STAFF Michael Callahan - CEO Ron Stewart - Sr. VP, Communications Mark Bridges - Manager, Support Services Debbie H. Stringer - Editor Elissa Fulton - Communications Specialist Rickey McMillan - Graphics Specialist Kevin Wood - Graphics Specialist Chris Alexander - Administrative Assistant


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EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING • 601-605-8600 Acceptance of advertising by Today in Mississippi does not imply endorsement of the advertised product or services by the publisher or Mississippi’s electric power associations. Product satisfaction and delivery responsibility lie solely with the advertiser. The publisher (and/or its agent) reserves the right to refuse or edit all advertising. • National advertising representative: American MainStreet Publications 800-626-1181 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300 Circulation of this issue: 460,525

The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Today in Mississippi is brought to you by your member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperative to inform you about your cooperative and its various services, including wise energy use. If you are not a member of a subscribing cooperative, you can purchase a subscription for $9.50 per year. Today in Mississippi (ISSN 1052-2433) is published 11 times a year (Jan.-Nov.) by Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Inc., P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300, or 665 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, MS 39157. Phone 601-605-8600. Periodical postage paid at Ridgeland, MS, and additional office.


Today in Mississippi


Alice Rachal of Poplarville, sent this photo of Sugar in repose for this issue’s “Picture This” reader photo feature. Sugar’s eyes are different colors, one blue and one green. Rachal and her family rescued Sugar from a roadside when she was a tiny kitten. See page 14 for more photos of readers’ kittens.

Mississippi is Growing up in a small town With family all around, It’s a wonderful place to be. The yards are always full of flowers And a swing in every tree. Everyone welcomes you with a smile, Come, sit down, let’s talk for a while. Grab a chair and have some iced tea, We can talk about how things used to be. Making cakes and pies To see who gets first prize, Going fishing and frying up the catch. People in Mississippi do things like that. On Sundays we go to church To thank the Lord for all His good work. Tomorrow will come and then We’ll do it all over again. –Betty Glover, Winona

What’s Mississippi to you? What do you treasure most about life in our state? Send your thoughts to Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158, or to Please keep your comments brief. Submissions are subject to editing for length and clarity.





Today in Mississippi


January 2019

a s e k a t t r A hike The story sticks of woodcarver

Mike Johnson By Debbie Stringer Mike Johnson’s hand-carved hiking sticks not only provide stability on the trail but can tell stories too. Working at his home in Walnut Grove, Johnson carves intricate, imaginative images up and down long sticks of wood. He further embellishes the wood with carved text from poems, song lyrics or, in one case, a piece of family history. The carved images and words work together to support a story or theme. Johnson calls them “story sticks.” One of his first story sticks honors James Johnson, his paternal grandfather. Johnson carved a complete account of his grandfather’s Civil War military service (starting in 1861) and added images of the U.S. and Confederate flags to represent both armies. He topped the stick with a three-dimensional carved head of the Confederate soldier. Another story stick features a red-headed woodpecker peeking from its hole in the wood. The design was inspired by a childhood memory. “We’d be scared of the thunder, so my mother would gather us up next to her and quote ‘The Woodpecker’ to calm us down,” Johnson said. Mike Johnson, above, holds one of his newest hiking stick carvings, in which a damsel in distress cries for help while the villian rolls a boulder down the spiraling path toward the hero coming to her rescue. “The Naughty Child,” far left, is one of Johnson’s early carved hiking sticks. It depicts a figure with hands clamped over a child’s mouth to silence him (Johnson is a retired teacher). His first hiking stick, near left, serves as a record of his paternal grandfather’s service in the Civil War. Both Union and Confederate armies are represented with their respective flags.

January 2019 I Today in Mississippi

Some of Johnson’s carved butterflies become pendants or pins, above. His woodpecker story stick, right, was inspired by a poem recalled from childhood, in which a woodpecker snuggles into its hole when the “big wheels of thunder roll.”

The poem, by Elizabeth Roberts, is carved into the stick. Another of his creative pursuits is etched glass. Johnson can’t explain what lead him to carving decades It was the uniqueness of his story sticks, however, that ago. “I don’t know how I actually got into this but when I earned Johnson membership in the Craftsmen’s Guild of was a little boy my dad drove an oil truck for a distributor Mississippi, whose members are juried based on their craftshere. When they had a day off, they would sit and whittle manship and artistry. and make long, curly shavings. Creating a story stick is such a And I always loved to watch labor-intensive process that he them,” he said. typically produces only three a Not being allowed to own a year. One of the technical chalpocketknife at that tender age, lenges is maintaining a balance Johnson didn’t pick up carving along the length of the stick to himself until the mid-1970s. keep it from becoming top or His first attempts were butterbottom heavy. flies as pendants for necklaces. Johnson uses a variety of carv“They were really crude at ing tools but his favorite is the 2first, and then I found out I inch blade of the vintage Camilcould develop them into more lus pocketknife he found in the detailed carvings,” he said. street. “It sharpens so well,” he Johnson found the more he said. Johnson uses a variety of carving tools, including this curved blade, to carved, the more he wanted to Most of his sticks are fashioned coax original designs from saplings up to 5 feet long. He has shared his create. from saplings he harvests locally, He still carves butterflies, for sticks and their stories with children at libraries and schools. including ash, elm and sweet framing or wearing as jewelry. gum. He often leaves sections of He also produces clocks mounted in panels, hinged boxes the bark intact for a natural look. and other wood items featuring “illusion inlay,” as he calls it. Since retiring from his career as a teacher and boys basketThe technique involves incising designs in the wood, adding ball coach, Johnson has enjoyed more time spent in his crecolors with acrylic paints and rubbing stain into the carved ative activities. He works in a small studio and gallery he calls lines for emphasis. Scat Cat Art, at the home he shares with his wife, Lynn. She “I am not a trained artist,” Johnson said. “I just like to put is developing a website for marketing his work, a chore Johnpaint on stuff.” son dislikes. He’d rather be carving.





Today in Mississippi


January 2019

New year, new job and a

new look

at Mississippi emember going back to school after the Christmas holidays and dating all your papers with the wrong year for a few days? New things, like new years, take a little time to get used to. The new year was always a demarcation line for Daddy. He would say how things would “settle down” or how he could “catch up” or how things in general would be a notch or two better after the new year. I heard myself saying that same thing a few weeks ago. Dad was a good teacher. This year will indeed be a “new year” for me. While many of my friends are retiring or have retired, I, on the other hand, am starting a new job. WJTV 12 in Jackson has asked me to join their organization with Mississippi the idea to solidly reaffirm WJTV’s Seen by Walt Grayson position of being “Mississippi’s Television Station,” as opposed to just being another generic TV outlet. So we are making the extra effort to seek out and find the things of interest to those of us who live here, and make that emphasis on “home” our station’s overarching personality. And I get to do a lot of that seeking and reporting. The photograph that accompanies this article is of Isaac Ross’ grave marker at Prospect Hill Plantation near Red Lick in Jefferson County, which is near Lorman, which is south of Port Gibson, which is between Natchez and Vicksburg. There is a whole long story about Isaac Ross freeing his slaves in his will with the stipulation that Prospect Hill be sold and the proceeds used to send the freed slaves “back to Africa.” I put that in quotes because by that time the enslaved population in the United States had been here for quite a while, several generations, and most had never seen Africa. But Isaac


Ross is another story we will get to later in the year. I plan to make another visit to the old house at Prospect Hill. I’m curious about the progress of its restoration. However, Ross’ grave marker reminded me of the Revolutionary War’s influence on Mississippi. He was a Revolutionary War veteran. I will occasionally run across Revolutionary War era graves here. But since it was fought so far away, as you would imagine, its veterans’ graves aren’t all that common in Mississippi. Not like Civil War graves. But perhaps the biggest influence the Revolution had on this area back then was the number of people who were loyal to Britain who relocated into the South West Mississippi Territory to get away from the East Coast, where the war was being fought. As you might imagine, loyalists weren’t the most popular people in the colonial neighborhoods. Now, other than the occasional grave marker, there are at least two present-day souvenirs of the Revolution in Mississippi. The names of two men who fought in the war are associated with two towns in our state. And the two men were actually associated with each other in the war. Nathanial Green, for whom Greenville is named, was a major general in the Revolutionary War. But Green might have just been a footnote in history had it not been for Tadeusz Kosciuszko, for whom Kosciusko is named. Kosciuszko mapped the fords of the rivers in front of Green’s army in North Carolina, allowing Green to leave English Gen. Cornwallis empty handed and with no supplies. The Revolution was a new beginning with long-lasting ramifications. Keep that in mind as we make and keep our resolutions. Some of them could be new starts that last the rest of our lives. Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television, and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Contact Grayson at

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Isaac Ross has one of the most ornate grave markers in Mississippi. It is located at his plantation, Prospect Hill in Jefferson County. He was really into new beginnings, having been in the Revolutionary War, and then giving freedom to the enslaved people on his plantation in his will. Some new beginnings have long-lasting effects. Hopefully this new year will have positive effects for us. Photo: Walt Grayson



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January 2019


Today in Mississippi



8 I Today in Mississippi I January 2019

Changes: Laments and celebrations ady was not field-trial material. Please don’t assume I am proclaiming her valueless; I am not. She was a treasured commodity, a companion of merit. The overriding essence of her caliber was that she belonged to me, both in the sense of possession and in her full dedication. Lady was mine. And that simple fact could have been the reason she was what she was—a country-yard bird dog in the purest form. Common to that era referenced, practically every rural household had a bird dog, maybe two or more. But not ours; not yet anyway. Some few of those dogs were well trained and sought after and Outdoors bartered for and Today discussed around by Tony Kinton checkerboards of community stores. Most, however, were just bird dogs, lounging in the sunshine of dirt yards on winter days and curled in cool depressions under porch steps during summer. But all, in varying degrees of expertise, were employed as bird dogs. Even the poorest performers among those suspect collections were adequate for locating and putting to flight enough quail for supper. Quail reigned during those long-past years of my youth. Old men of the day, younger then than I am now, would routinely escape from crusty personas and transform into gentlemen. Oh, their grammar was still lacking and they wore those same overalls of field work and they spat grandiose streams of brown juice from plug tobacco, but many toted Parker and L.C. Smith doubles and Browning A-5s. After all, a man needs


some avenue of extravagance! And they dogs. Those neighbors were welcome on watched with youthful glee minus hard- our place as well. The next few years time struggles as their dogs worked played a key role in shaping me, making birds. I often enough watched them as me who and what I am. they watched to determine that I must Perhaps the premier moment with have a dog of my own. That’s when Lady and the 20 occurred one day after Lady came on the scene. I exited the school bus. We needed four She was of that majority designated as just bird dogs. No pedigree of import. No training other than that a ragged youth without proper pedagogy could provide. Lady was simply a shivering, skinny pup that I begged from a middleschool friend whose dad had a female pointer that had recently produced an unplanned litter. They didn’t know which dog was the proud sire. But I gave little thought to such indiscretions. I had my bird dog. Lady! At first, she was just my pal around the yard Nothing is more gracefu l than a steady and well-performed point. and garden, clumsy and Photo courtesy Tony Kinton unruly. But one late August day, I experienced an epiphany quail for supper. I collected of genius and tied a chicken feather to a the shotgun, vest and Lady for a short fishing pole—after removing the hook, walk over past a patch of weathered corn of course. I caught Lady unaware and stalks, a weedy fence row my destinaflipped that feather in front of her. She tion. There Lady slowed and acted locked on point, solid and quivering. birdy, then settled statue-stiff. The covey My dream materialized; I had a trained rose; both barrels rumbled in close sucdog ready to reach astounding heights in cession. That was, if memory serves me, quail haunts. I could hardly wait for my first double. Two singles came later, autumn. and four quail would be on the table Autumn came; quail season opened. directly. Not bad for a green youth and Equipped with a Stevens double 20 and a dog that was never ready for the fieldragged canvas vest, I spent countless trial circuit. hours after school and on Saturdays and Then things happened. Life mostly: during holiday breaks with Lady and that 20 gauge. It was glorious. Quail were everywhere on our 80 acres. And adjacent landowners didn’t object to the presence of neighboring boys and their

college, graduate school, a new job. Before I could give it serious thought, schedules were full, the 20 was traded, Lady was laid to rest near that same fence line that produced that first double. Everything was different. Not necessarily better nor necessarily worse but definitely different. I gained enough composure at some point to mourn the passing of a great many pleasantries. And somewhat like that difference, the mourning was not necessarily good or necessarily bad. But it was essential. Fifty years have passed. Changes are even more evident. Still, I choose celebration to accompany lamentation. I celebrate now the memories of then. I celebrate that grand bird that is more than scarce in the wild by actively pursuing quail on various preserves; most of them I’ve found to be thoroughly satisfying. I lament trading that Stevens side-by-side 20 but celebrate a Browning Citori over/under 20 and sleek Beretta over/under 28. They fit and work perfectly. And I celebrate fine-tuned English pointers and Britany Spaniels and German Shorthairs that I find on those well-run and welcoming preserves. Lady could never compare. But this celebration of the superior dogs brings a tear. They remind me of Lady, and oh how I still miss her, lament her passing. She was my dog. Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. His newest book is “Rambling Through Pleasant Memories.” Order from or Kinton’s website:

January 2019


Today in Mississippi I 9

10 Today in Mississippi January 2019

Tombigbee Electric Power Asso Tupelo 662-842-7635 • Fulton 662-862-3146 •

Small Heaters can lead to GGER Bills


During winter, for many of us, comfort at home means heat. While a good central heating system is designed to meet whole house needs, sometimes consumers turn to space heaters for additional warmth. Some people use one to boost temperatures for a single room where the available heat is inadequate, but their widespread use, over extended periods, can boost winter heating bills. “In some cases, small space heaters can be less expensive to use if you only want to heat one room or supplement inadequate heating in one room,” according to analysts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). “However, a space heater is not necessarily an economical source of long-term warmth. It is not an alternative to a whole-home heating system.”

Right Type for the Job According to DOE, two types of space heaters are generally available for the residential market. Most can deliver between 10,000 Btu and 40,000 Btu of heat per hour and commonly run on electricity, propane, natural gas or kerosene. Wood and pellet stoves are also increasingly available for many applications. Convective heating circulates air within an enclosed space, while radiant heating transfers warming energy directly to objects or people near its source. If central heating is unavailable or inadequate, a convective heating unit can distribute heat relatively evenly throughout an enclosed space. For garages,

workshops, workout rooms or laundry areas, used for a few hours a day or each week, a convective heater could be a good fit. Many convective electric heaters contain some type of sealed heat transfer liquid. They allow heat generated by the devices to store energy as heat, so they cycle less while providing consistent performance. Radiant electric heaters typically include infrared heating elements. Nearby surfaces—including people— absorb the heat. Air in immediate proximity to the unit’s enclosure or cabinetry also aids in the transfer of conductive warmth.

Safe Not Sorry Space heaters get seasonal use, but they are responsible for 25,000 residential fires a year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which pegs the annual mortality rate at 300 a year. Burn injuries associated with surface contacts with room heaters send about 6,000 people to emergency rooms every year, and most of those incidents don’t result in fires. Because the devices are designed to give off heat, they should always be set in locations clear of all flammable materials and out of reach of small children, pets or anyone with impaired mobility. In recent years, many space heaters have been designed with tip-over safety features, which automatically shut off the power source in the event that the unit tilts beyond its upright position. Because space heaters are designed

specifically to produce heat, they should be plugged directly into a wall whenever possible. If an extension cord is used, it should be heavy duty, and made of 14-gauge wire or larger. Given a choice between high, medium and low, or an adjustable thermostat, choose the latter. A unit that heats your space to the desired temperature will cycle less, saving you energy, and never overheat the room. And buy the right size heater for the right size space––too small and the warming results could be disappointing; too large or powerful and you’ll be uncomfortable. Any time you open doors or windows to vent away warm air, you are wasting energy you’ve already consumed to produce heat.

Getting More for Less “Space heaters are not the ideal solution for heating homes,” said Brian Sloboda, a senior program manager for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “For every unit of electricity that is consumed by these devices, they produce one unit of heat.” While adding several space heaters to supplement your central heating system is also likely to drive up your energy costs, selective use can help you save money. According to analysts at the Environmental Protection Agency, the key is using space heaters in smaller rooms that are occupied infrequently, in

Many consumers turn to space heaters during winter months, which can boost winter heating bills.

conjunction with lower thermostat settings on your central system. Lowering thermostat settings from 70 to 65 degrees and using a thermostatcontrolled space heater to heat 10 percent of a home’s conditioned floor space will save a heat pump user $67 a year. But the EPA cautions that space heaters are most efficient when used in small spaces for limited periods and can actually waste energy if consumers try to heat too much area with the devices. There are currently no space heaters among the EPA’s list of ENERGY STAR®-rated products. Agency officials said they have evaluated several models but have no plans to include such products in the labeling program in the near future. Still, high-end space heaters are heavily marketed during the autumn and winter months. “Most of these units are very similar in design, but the cabinetry or packaging is a major selling point,” said Sloboda. “Consumers should consider the wide range of heaters available and their own taste in features and design before buying one.” Slobada said, “Other alternatives, like sealing air leaks, adding insulation or tuning up your heating system so it operates more efficiently are just a few of the options that won’t increase your overall energy use.”

January 2019 Today in Mississippi 11



A Mississippi Electric Cooperative

Invest a Little SAVE A LOT! Saving energy at home can be simple and free: Turn off the lights and TV when you’re not using them; lower the thermostat at night. But for a bigger impact on your electric bill, make a little bit more of an effort and invest a few bucks in energy-saving equipment. Here’s what to buy: LEDs. Next time a light bulb burns out, replace it with an LED. They last for years and use their energy to produce light, not heat. LED bulbs can screw right into the lamps and fixtures you have. But when it’s time to replace those, consider buying LED fixtures for even greater savings. Good-qualify power strips. Plug your electronic equipment into them. Before you go to bed at night, unplug those strips. If energy-intensive appliances like computers, printers and video game consoles are left plugged in after you turn them off, they still use energy—constantly. The only way to stop wasting that energy is to unplug. New windows. If your old ones are single-pane versions, you might as well leave them open all winter. They’re no match for the cold air, which can seep through them. And they don’t do a good job of keeping your heated air inside. If that’s too much for now, at least plug the leaks around your windows and doors with weatherstripping or caulk. Window shades. Uncovered windows are great for views, but terrible for your energy bill. Your heating bill will be lower in the winter and your air conditioning costs will drop in the summer if you use blinds, curtains or awnings on windows. Uncover them on sunny winter days to let the natural warmth come into your home, but close them up after dark when the temperature dips. Programmable thermostat. Everyone forgets to lower the heat once in a while. A programmable thermostat will do that for you. Program yours to lower at bedtime, and then automatically warm the house up just before everyone wakes up. It can lower the heat again once everyone leaves for school and work in the morning and crank it back up before the family gets home in the afternoon. The services of qualified technicians. Keeping your heating and cooling system clean and well-maintained will help it run more smoothly and efficiently. Likewise, keeping vents clear—including the one for your clothes dryer—will keep your family safer and your appliances running as they should.


Quick Tips to Avoid High Winter Bills Looking to lower your bills this winter? Use the 10 tips below to conserve energy.


Seal air leaks and insulate well to prevent heat from escaping and cold air from entering your home.


Reduce waste heat by installing a programmable thermostat.

3 4 5 6 7

Turn off lights when not in use.

Lower your water heater temperature. The Dept. of Energy recommends using the warm setting (120 degrees) during fall and winter months. Unplug electronics like kitchen appliances and TVs when you’re away. Open blinds and curtains during the day to allow sunlight in to warm your home.

Close blinds and curtains at night to keep cold, drafty air out.


Use power strips for multiple appliances, and turn off the main switch when you’re away from home.


Wash clothes in cold water, and use cold-water detergent whenever possible.


Replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, which use at least 75 percent less energy. Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy

TIP of the


Turn off kitchen, bath and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you’re done cooking or bathing. When replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models. Source:



Today in Mississippi


January 2019

Loaded Vegetable Diet Soup 1 medium onion, chopped 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced 2 small carrots, peeled and chopped 3 celery stalks, chopped 1 Tbsp. olive oil 1 tsp. kosher salt 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tsp. Italian seasoning 2 cups low-sodium V8 or tomato juice

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth 1 (14.5-oz.) can Italian seasoned diced tomatoes, undrained 1 (14.5-oz.) can kidney beans, drained 2 medium zucchini, chopped 2 cups fresh or frozen green beans, cut ¼ cup pearl barley 1 tsp. hot sauce or to taste

Sauté onion, mushrooms, carrots and celery in olive oil and salt until the vegetables are just tender. Stir in garlic, Italian seasoning, V8 juice, chicken broth, tomatoes, kidney beans, zucchini, green beans and pearl barley. Bring to a simmer. Cook at a low simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the barley and vegetables are tender. Season to taste with hot sauce and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Dill Butter ½ cup soft butter 2 tsp. dried dill weed

2 tsp. chopped chives ½ tsp. lemon juice

Mix well. Perfect on grilled salmon.

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder

Recipes from

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When moms band together, they can do anything—including publishing a cookbook. About three years ago, a group of “school moms” in the West Point area began sharing recipes, menu ideas and homemaking tips for rearing their large families. They stayed in touch online even as some of the families moved to other states. The result is a 378-page coil-bound cookbook packed with recipes (from appetizers to laundry soap), plus seasonal menus, child-training tips, organizing aids and inspirational quotes, all packaged in a colorful retro design. “Love Wears an Apron: Menus, Tips and Inspiration” may be ordered from or Price is $24.99 plus S&H.

Caramel Apple Dumplings 2 Tbsp. butter 1 ½ cups brown sugar 1 ½ cups water 1 ¼ cups flour ½ cup sugar 2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt 2 Tbsp. soft butter ½ cup milk 2 tsp. vanilla extract (or 1 tsp. each of vanilla and caramel flavoring) ½ cup finely diced apples

Heat until boiling the butter, brown sugar and water; reduce to simmer. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add soft butter and mix until crumbly. Add milk and vanilla. Add diced apples and stir until combined. Drop by teaspoonfuls into simmer sauce. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes without lifting lid. Serve warm with ice cream. Serves 6 to 8.

2 Tbsp. butter 1 ½ lb. chicken breast meat, cut into chunks ½ cup chopped onion 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 chicken bouillon cubes or paste 1 cup hot water 1 tsp. cumin

2 cups half-and-half 2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese 1 can whole kernel corn, drained 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained 1 small can green chilies ¼ to 1 tsp. hot pepper sauce 1 medium tomato, chopped Parsley, to taste

Melt butter in skillet. Sauté chicken, onion and garlic until done. Add bouillon, water and cumin to chicken mixture. Cook for 5 minutes. Add half-and-half, cheese, corn, beans, chilies, hot pepper sauce, tomato and parsley. Stir until cheese is melted and soup is hot. Serves 6. Note: May substitute a can of Rotel tomatoes for the tomato and hot pepper sauce.

Chicken and Grits 4 cups water 2 Tbsp. butter 1 tsp. salt

1 cup white grits ½ cup shredded cheese 4 strips bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces

Bring water, butter and salt to a boil. Whisk in grits, stirring occasionally, cooking until smooth and creamy, about 20 minutes. Stir in cheese. Fry bacon and remove from skillet. Leave 1 tablespoon grease and set bacon aside. ½ cup chicken broth 2 Tbsp. cream 2 tsp. lemon juice Dash Worcestershire sauce 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

½ tsp. Cajun seasoning ¼ tsp. salt ¼ tsp. black pepper Pinch cayenne pepper

Combine broth, cream, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Set aside. Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes and put into a bowl. Add Cajun seasoning, salt and peppers. Stir chicken to coat evenly. Reserved bacon grease 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 Tbsp. chopped green pepper

1 Tbsp. minced jalapeño (optional) 1 Tbsp. parsley

Heat reserved bacon grease in skillet until you see first wisp of smoke. Quickly add chicken mixture and spread into an even layer. Reduce heat to medium-high and coat, stirring for 5 minutes. Add garlic, onion and jalapeño. Cook and stir for 5 more minutes. Add broth mixture and cooked bacon. Cook and stir until chicken is done. Turn off heat. Stir in parsley. Spoon cheesy grits into bowl and top with chicken. Serves 8.

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Today in Mississippi I 13

Gary answers frequent garden-related questions he questions being emailed to me are literally filling up my inbox. I thought I’d share a couple of these questions, along with my answers that should help home gardeners before we head into the 2019 spring and summer gardening seasons.


“Gary, I want to plant some plants to attract butterflies next year. What’s the difference between butterfly weed and butterfly bush?” One of the best butterfly-attracting plants for our home landscapes is butterfly weed, known botanically as Asclepias. Butterfly weed is low maintenance, attracts a lot of butterflies besides monarchs and is deer resistant. Several species are native to Mississippi, but one you should consider is Asclepias Southern tuberosa. This Gardening perennial grows by Dr. Gary Bachman well all across the state. Its clusters of tubular flowers become prominent in late summer and early fall. They bloom in various shades of orange, but some have flowers that are more yellow or red. Tropical milkweed is a species of butterfly weed that is not native, but it blooms from spring through fall. I wouldn’t rely entirely on this species as there is concern about tropical milkweed being a host for parasites that can harm butterflies. But a couple of these fast-growing plants would provide a good source of forage until our native species start producing more foliage. Butterfly bush, known botanically as Buddleia, has panicles of sweetly fragrant, tiny blooms in various shades of white, blue, purple, pink, red and even yellow. The flowers are displayed on arching graceful stems. Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds love these flowers. Plant butterfly bush in full sun for best flowering, as shade reduces flowering, and the plant becomes thin and

Asclepias tuberosa, left, is a perennial variety of native butterfly weed that attracts butterflies with its prominent flowers in late summer and early fall. Lichens, above, are fungi and algae living in a symbiotic relationship. Although they can be found outdoors on almost any hard surface, lichens commonly use trees and shrubs for support. Photos: MSU Extension/Gary Bachman

leggy. Butterfly bush tolerates any soil type as long as it’s well drained. When new shoots start to appear in the spring, prune last year’s growth back to about 6 inches from the ground. This step encourages new growth, and the flowers are produced on new wood. Deadheading will help side shoots develop larger flower heads.

“Gary, there’s gray-green, moldy-looking ‘stuff’ on my oak trees. Is this going kill my trees?” The green, moldy stuff is called lichen, which is a very interesting

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organism found throughout the world. Lichen is an unlikely combination of fungi and algae living in a symbiotic relationship on the plant’s bark. Trees and shrubs are only used for support. The algae supply food via photosynthesis, and the fungi gather water and other needed nutrients. When shrubs and trees struggle, their canopy tends to thin out, letting more light into the interior. Lichens, which naturally occur on the trees’ bark, are opportunistic and increase their growth as a tree canopy declines. As trees and shrubs continue to decline, the lichens become more noticeable, giving the illusion that they are causing the problem. As a result, homeowners think the lichen is responsible for the tree and shrub decline. Lichen will grow out-

doors on any hard surface. You may have seen it on wooden bird houses, and I’ve even seen lichen on a satellite dish. There really are no compounds to remove lichen, but there’s also no real need to remove it. The best way to discourage lichen growth is to have a healthy and well-growing plant. Do you have a question about something related to your home garden and landscape? Send it to me at, and I’ll get the answer for you.

Dr. Gary Bachman is an associate Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs.

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Today in Mississippi


January 2019



Kittens Readers capture the beauty and humor 2 of kittenhood. 1. Pixie, by Maria Pearson, Enterprise; East Mississippi Electric member. 2. Millie, by P. Mikell Davis, DVM, Starkville; 4-County Electric member. 3. Millie, by Tamara Thurman, Brookhaven; Magnolia Electric Power member. 4. Nova, by Deborah Powell, Crystal Springs; Southern Pine Electric member. 5. Cleo, by Charla Pierce, Toomsuba. 6. Jett, by Sharon Steele, Summit; Magnolia Electric Power member. 7. Sassy, by Amanda Rushing, Moss Point; Singing River Electric member. 8. Smokey JoAnn, by Bridget Regan, Magnolia; Magnolia Electric Power member. 9. Tazie, by Candy Moore, Union; Central Electric member. 10. Sleepy kittens, by Sandra Windham, Gautier; Singing River Electric member. 11. Steel, by Evelyn King, McComb; Magnolia Electric Power member. 12. Barney and Mowgli, by Sandra Smith, Bay Springs; Southern Pine Electric member. 13. Joel Springfield with a new kitty, by Bobbye Gayle Makamson, Itta Bena; Delta Electric member.




January 2019



Today in Mississippi



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CONGRATULATIONS to Allen Hill, of Laurel, winner of $200 in our 2018 “Picture This” random prize drawing!

Our next ‘Picture This’ photo theme: Something Old Send us your photos by March 18. Selected photos will appear in the April issue of “Today in Mississippi.” See details on page 17.





Today in Mississippi


January 2019

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Type or print your ad clearly. Be sure to include your telephone number. Deadline is the 10th of each month for the next month’s issue. Rate is $2.50 per word, 10-word minimum. Mail payment with your ad to Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300. Have any questions? Phone 601-605-8600 or email

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January 2019

Today in Mississippi


Next in “Picture This”

Something Old

Submit your most creative photo(s) of anything that has historical or nostalgic value for you or your community. Be sure to identify your subject and tell us why you chose it. Selected photos will appear in the

April issue of Today in Mississippi.

Submission guidelines

• Photos must be in sharp focus. • Photos must be the original work of an amateur photographer (of any age). • Photos may be either color or black and white, print or digital. • Digital photos must be high-resolution JPG files of at least 1 MB in size. If emailing a phone photo, select “actual size” before sending. We cannot use compressed photo files. • Please do not use photo-editing software to adjust colors or tones. We prefer to do it ourselves, if necessary, according to our production standards. • Photos with the date stamped on the image cannot be used. • Each entry must be accompanied by the photographer’s name, address, phone number and electric power association (if applicable). Include the name(s) of any recognizable people or places in the picture. Feel free to add any other details you like. • Prints will be returned if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. We cannot, however, guarantee their safe return through the mail.

How to submit photos

Submissions must be emailed or postmarked by

March 18.

Attach digital photos to your email message and send to If submitting more than one photo, please attach all photos to only one email message, if possible. Please be sure to include all information requested in the guidelines. Or, mail prints or a CD to Picture This, Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300. Photographers whose photos are published are entered in a random drawing for a $200 cash prize to be awarded in December 2019. Question? Contact Today in Mississippi at 601-605-8600 or


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Today in Mississippi I January 2019

Tell me it’s not true couple weeks ago, Mr. Roy walked into the kitchen where I was emptying the dishwasher and said, “You’ll never believe what I just heard and saw on TV.” I smiled. “You’re wrong. In today’s times, I’ll believe almost anything you tell me.” “Well, sit down and hold on,” he said. “Sears is declaring bankruptcy and closing all of their stores.” Even though I knew the company was going through some hard times, the finality of the closings brought tears to my eyes—especially for someone my age who has such good memories of the Sears stores and their mail-order catalogs. The Christmas season brings many memories of looking at those “Christmas Books,” as I later referred to them. I remember how I waited in anticipation for the Sear’s Christmas catalog to arrive in the mail. I spent hours viewing the new edition and marking the toys I wanted. I actually marked a lot more toys than I knew Santa would bring. About a month before Christmas Mother would say, “Okay, you can underline four toys that you want Santa Claus to bring you, but remember, don’t underline the most expensive toys and only four.” At the time, I couldn’t figure out


what kind of a business arrangement Santa Claus and Sears had worked out. But it seemed to work, because in most cases Old Santa found out what items I marked and did a pretty good job putting them under our tree. In the 1940s and 50s, and before, the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog was the source for many items that rural Americans used. I can remember my mother and grandGrin ‘n’ mother ordering Bare It everything from chicken biddies to by Kay Grafe Sunday hats from those big, thick catalogs. If they were alive today and Sears still sold the same type goods, my mother and grandmother would say, “I don’t believe it! Where will I get my canning supplies and underwear?” Until the end of the 1960s and early 70s, those catalog sales were big business. Sears opened a small office in the late 1960s in Lucedale where people (like me) could stop by. A clerk would place the order, then call the customer when the package arrived. I liked that, since they would also send it back if folks were displeased with the item. Until the 1940s you could even pur-


Events Want more than 445,600 readers to know about your special event? Events open to the public will be published free of charge as space allows. Submit details at least two months prior to the event date. Submissions must include a phone number with area code for publication. Send to Mississippi Events, Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300; fax to 601-605-8601; or email to Events are subject to change. We recommend calling to confirm details before traveling.

The Inspirations in Concert, Jan. 11, Petal. First Baptist Church of Runnelstown; 7 p.m. Love offering. Details: 601-583-3733.

Kane Brown: Live Forever Tour, Jan. 18, Southaven. Admission; 7 p.m. Landers Center. Details: 662-393-8770.

chase a house that could be assembled from a kit. In the 1910s and 20s the Sears catalog displayed the latest lady’s fashions for sale. And in the late 1800s you could order fancy horse carriages and farm implements. Early editions included all sorts of patent medicines and medical supplies. The Sears mail-order business back then was like today’s Sears could not provide one- to two-day delivery like Amazon, but back then people were more patient and didn’t demand instant gratification as they do today. Sears mail-order customers thought it was wonderful to be able to look at an item in a catalog, mail in an order and have the item, or items, mailed to them. And they never had to leave the farm. As a side note, I can remember going into our local post office and hearing baby chicks chirping from their Sears shipping boxes. And you could hear people commenting about how it was time for the country ladies to order their “biddies.” Age has taught me a lot of things, and one certainly is that many things in life are constantly changing, and we need to learn to adjust to those changes. Sears either could not, or would not, adjust to the needs and desires of the marketplace. Businesses today have to constantly change to meet the needs and wants of a very fickle public.

Oxford Fiber Arts Festival, Jan. 24-27, Oxford. Exhibition, lectures, demonstrations, vendor market, classes. Family activity day Jan. 26 with animals, crafts, more. Powerhouse Community Arts Center. Details: 662-236-6429; Gulf Coast Orchid Society Show and Sale, Jan. 25-27, Gautier. Exhibits, sales. Free basic orchid culture class Jan. 27. Free admission. Gautier Convention Center. Details: 601-530-8778, 228-424-7374. An Evening with Travis Tritt, Jan. 30, Hattiesburg. Admission; 7:30 p.m. Saenger Theater. Details: 601-584-4888; Belles & Buoys 41st Annual Mardi Gras

Sometimes when Mr. Roy and I are traveling, we play a game called “Do you remember?” For example, I might say, “Do you remember when all of the men at church on Sunday wore dress hats, and why do you think that ended?” Or, “Ladies must have a pair of gloves for each clothing outfit.” He always comes up with something to keep the game going. “Do you remember when there were vent windows in automobiles, and why did that end?” I used to love those pretty whitewall tires on automobiles. Why aren’t those still available as an option? Remember the copy machines? When I taught school we stood in line for our turn to “run off” tests on the copy machine. Those machines were used in all fields of work. If you are Mr. Roy’s and my age, try playing this game sometime, as you stroll down memory lane. Actually, try it if you’re younger. With the explosion of technology, young folks can almost watch the change as smartphones improve every year. Mr. Roy and I watch each other as a new wrinkle appears every few months. God has been good to us, even with wrinkles. And I’m joyful that I continue to have you, my faithful readers. Have a very happy, prosperous and blessed New Year! Kay Grafe is the author of “Oh My Gosh, Virginia.” To order, send name, address, phone number and $16.95, plus $3.50 S&H to Kay Grafe, 2142 Fig Farm Road, Lucedale, MS 39452.

Festival, Feb. 1-2, Biloxi. Square and round dancing and workshops. Admission. Woolmarket Community Center. Details: 228-831-3127; Oxford Film Festival, Feb. 6-10, Oxford. Celebrates independent filmmaking with screenings, panel discussions, social events. Admission. Details: 877-560-3456; Kelly Clarkson: The Meaning of Life Tour, Feb. 9, Southaven. Admission; 7 p.m. Landers Center. Details: Starkville Farm Toy Show, Feb. 15-16, Starkville. Buy, sell, trade. Friday 5-9 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. Starkville Sportsplex. Details: 601-562-8859.

January 2019


Today in Mississippi



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