Saturday, October 31, 2009

Musings-November 2009

Musings . . .

Wasn’t it just April a bit ago? Oh, and then a couple of months later there was the summer jaunt to the Florida beaches. Yes, and then school started and football—but how can November already be here?! This month’s ready-or-not-here-I-am insistence has caught us off guard. However, always on board for good causes, good times, and good news, we are ready to rally ‘round November’s numerous noteworthy events and holidays—our voting responsibilities on Election Day; our measureless gratitude to fallen, former, and still-fighting American soldiers on Veterans Day; and our celebration of the blessings in our lives on Thanksgiving.

While on the subject of blessings, what inestimable blessings befall us, both as family and community, when our children-turned-professionals choose to come back to their hometowns to establish residence and share with us their lives and their talents. With economic opportunities attracting and awaiting them elsewhere, what is it that brings these young professionals with their burgeoning families back home? Certainly a job market that provides lucrative positions for the levels of shills and degrees they’ve acquired.

Beyond this, though, lies the utopia of having immediate and extended family next door, down the street, across town, or a ten-minute drive away to enfold, nurture, and provide a support system as it instills family values and family traditions. For these returning young couples and their children, how rich will be their growing-up and growing-old years, enjoying first-hand and hands-on their grandparents, great aunts and uncles, aunts and uncles, and cousins galore—not to mention the sisterhood and brotherhood of their moms’ and dads’ friends, deemed “real characters” from grade school. These shared times will not be semi- or quadri-annual catch-up sessions, but instead the literal multi-weekly times of their lives that frame the most phenomenal memories and foster the dearest affections.

In one of our feature articles this month, we spotlight a sampling of these families in Vicksburg, Mississippi, who, with all respect to Thomas Wolfe, have come home again and are thriving in the welcoming arms of their families, friends, and hometowns. Many of our communities are experiencing a similar return of their young professionals, a trend we hope continues on the rise—and surely to be counted a blessing this Thanksgiving--in our lives along and beyond the Mississippi.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Musings-October 2009

Just as the last quarter of football brings fans the excitement of the game’s final moments, so the last quarter of each year promises the most exciting occasions as October brims with festivals and a myriad of autumn events and ushers in the heavyweights of 09’s holiday season.
October’s fun fests and fabulous fairs furnish the perfect panacea for the stress and worries many of us share over the political, economic, and moral pulse of our nation. Putting these cares at bay, festivals surround us with a plethora of positives—perky attitudes, friendly faces, enthusiastic involvement, and a delectable array of fest and fair food, all at no or minimal cost—totally fun-filled days and weekends away from our often too real lives.
For centuries, festivals have brought light-hearted moments to pressure-filled and hope-full times. From the root of our western-world culture, comes the tradition of the ancient Greeks’ using the Dionysian festival to release the tension of their worries and coax the god to grant more productive vineyards and heartier harvests. Also to honor their gods and win their favor, early African tribes staged elaborate pre-planting and pre-harvest festivals to insure the success of their crops, the core of their economy. On the much less urgent side, the Middle Ages gave us May Day festivals, celebrating spring and fertility, and jousting festivals, celebrating knights and warriors’ bravado—virtually any “serious” excuse to go a-festivaling!
And, far be it for us to break with a centuries-old and multi-continent tradition! Granted, festivals now are more of a diversion than a dire need, yet they serve a purpose similar to those of ancient and storied times: They bless us with respite from our “cares and woes,” lighten our hearts, and renew our spirits.
So, this October, do your part to preserve and promote tradition. Take time to “take a load off”; enjoy the festivals; and revel in your communities’ social, theatrical, artistic, and charitable events. However, save some of that energy and enthusiasm for October’s spirited, curtain-call celebration—Halloween—the holiday season’s debut. Of course, even on Halloween, festivals will abound as All Hallow’s Eve honors its spooks and spirits, witches and warlocks, ghouls and goblins and then puts them to rest, issuing in Thanksgiving, Hannukuh, and Christmas. What an exciting month at hand and what exciting months to come in our lives along and beyond the Mississippi!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Spotlight of the month...The Shootist

By William Dees

Call it buck fever, the shakes or whatever. When a young fellow sees a deer he can get overly excited. The mind plays tricks, things that seem to be there are figments of an over stimulated imagination. The loud boom of a shotgun abruptly breaks the peaceful silence of the woods.

Usually, the sound of a shot excites nearby hunters and they look forward to returning to camp to see if the fellow who fired bagged a buck. Unfortunately, this is not the case here. Shots fired by this hunter are as common as falling asleep in your tree stand. It occurred all the time.

In order to keep from hurting anyone’s feelings, I’ll call him the Shootist. He developed this habit of laying down suppressive fire at the age of ten. I speculate that the reason he fired so often was that he and all the rest of us young boys were wrapped up in the Bigfoot phenomenon going on at the time.

Movies and books, we soaked up everything we could about the giant hairy creature. It is an understatement to say it gave all of us kids a case of the nerves when we got dropped off at our stands. Maybe, this was why he left buckshot all over twelve hundred acres of our hunting lease. I don’t really know, but we sure got a kick out of it.

In the mid-seventies, our club was not heavily populated with whitetails. You could go an entire season and only see six or eight deer. If you killed one, you had earned it. A typical season would see us harvest fifteen bucks and a doe or two using dogs. Many hunters would go an entire season without firing a shot.

After shooting and missing several nice bucks, suspicion soon fell on the Shootist. The grumbling and doubt was starting. “How is he seeing so many deer?”, “How can all of them be big mature bucks?” Finally, “How can he count all the points but miss the deer.”

The stories he told bordered on incredible. When the men running the dogs would get to his stand after he shot, he would hold up his arms like a rack and say “ten point“ or “twelve point.“ What followed was the usual fruitless search for blood, along with some scratched up and very pissed off men.

When the Shootist returned to camp after another miss, a crowd of older men would usually gather to ask him to recount his recent adventure.

He would become dead serious and take center stage, describing the event in minute detail. “He came from behind me, It was an eleven point, he was chasing 3 five points, one of which had a strange mole under his right eye, may have been a tick.” The story would continue with all the men wearing big grins on their faces. “He jumped just as I fired.” or “I knocked him down, I don’t know why they couldn’t find any blood.” He usually spoke these last words as they were cutting off his shirt tail for the hundredth time….

Over the years, he had so many shirt tails on the wall of the camp, that some folks said it acted as insulation and not as much wood was required to keep the place warm and comfortable. I imagine his butt got quite cold, as I don’t believe he owned a single shirt with the tail still attached. This went on for several years.

One gentleman, who wasn’t seeing any deer and was quite small in stature, asked if he could get in the Shootist’s pocket so he could finally get a shot at a buck.The only person that believed he was really seeing all those deer was his dad, who had to get a second job to keep the Shootist in buckshot.

The dramatic rise in the cost of shot shells during the late seventies can be directly attributed to the massive quantities being consumed by the Shootist.

Statistics confirmed that this forced thousands of hunters from the sport, unable to afford shells. When the Shootist was confronted with this information years later, he pointed out the fact that had he been able to kill all those bucks, he could have fed thousands, ending world hunger and taking the planet into a new and enlightened era.

I am proud to report that the Shootist turned out to be an excellent deer hunter, the best turkey caller I know, a terrific husband & father, and is still the same loveable soul we enjoyed spending many hours with at that camp long ago. He was and still is the closest thing to a brother I have. Thanks for the memories brother; I only wish you would have had a son, so we could do it all over again.

*Williams Dee's can be contacted at if you have any questions or comments

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Spotlight of the month.......Tailgating: Not Just a Hobby but a Way of Life

Bluffs & Bayous is now doing a monthly spotlight that will just be found on our blog. Each month we will pick a topic of interest from a person, place and thing to an idea that will be showcased on our blog. Some months it will correlate with our magazine's theme and some months it will not. So we hope you continue to check out our blog. Thanks

Tailgating: Not Just a Hobby but a Way of Life

College football season, as much a part of the Southern way of life as grits, please and thank you, debutante, y’all, and true hospitality. When looking up the definition of the word “fan,” one will note that it derives from the word fanatic and college football fans from the South give the word new meaning. It is more than just a game, it is a way of life, an obsession. And as with every other Southern obsession, we pursue our love of college football with flamboyant style. Each year as summer winds down, no matter where you go in the South, the main topic of conversation will be the upcoming football season. But it is not just the game itself that we find ourselves entranced with, college football requires an entire day’s worth of festivities, including several hours worth of tailgating. From the Grove at Ole Miss, to the Junction at Mississippi State, each southern school has its own tailgating traditions.

For the college football fan, there is nothing like the feeling of getting to campus early on a game day to prepare for the game with a little tailgating. Immediately upon stepping foot on campus, the excitement is in the air: the aroma of grills and the various foods that fans have brought to enjoy prior to kickoff; the echoing of the fight song in the distance as the band warms up in preparation for their march to the stadium; and the chatter of friends and foes (opposing fans), discussing a assortment of topics, from the upcoming game to the overbearing boss. This is what makes college football special in the South, it is not just a game, it is a well planned social event. Tailgates are coordinated all week prior to the game on who will be responsible for each aspect of making the perfect tailgate. Who will be responsible for the tent? Who will take care of the food? Who is going to make sure there is a way to keep an eye on the other games that day? And last but definitely not least, who is going to handle the drinks? But the tailgate itself is not the only concern, most even carefully prepare their game day outfit, making sure to include the home team’s colors in some way. And all that preparation is not without reward, because even if the home team is struggling, the fans can still enjoy a good tailgate. After all, like they say, the home team may lose the game but you cannot lose a tailgate. As a result, even those who may not be that interested in the game itself, find themselves huge fans of college football season. Where else can you get together with friends from every stage of life, while having a good meal and being entertained for an entire day?

This article was written by Phillip Bass, a law student at the University of Mississippi and a graduate of Mississippi State University.

Friday, August 7, 2009

August Insight from our Editors

Whether or not we have or have had children headed back to school at the end of summer break, we all were for many years headed back to school ourselves about this time of the year. Many of us still may be headed that way as teachers and continuing education students. Thus, from these circumstances, individually or collectively, we know the anticipation, the quickening pace, and the bit of anxiety over the possibility of daunting coursework or lessons to be learned.

In addition to these classroom-related emotions, however, is the thrill that begins to escalate in us all, that is, in all of us with any pigskin potency whatsoever flowing in our veins, as the magic of football season casts its spell here in the South. From pee-wee wrangling and junior high and high school skirmishes to college clashes and professional combat, we who create the spirit of the season and follow its hype feel the temperatures rising—it’s football fever time!

So much of this fever rests on the power of traditions as they emanate from our families, friends, and schools. For decades in most cases and nearly centuries in some, these traditions fervently flow from generation to generation, expanding and deepening in their significance. And while so much fun, entertainment, and festivity accompany these traditions, so does an engrained seriousness. We joke about rivalries—but we are not kidding. We recall and recap with raised eyebrows and a bit of glimmer in our eyes those most un-judicious judgment calls against our teams, perhaps forgiving inept officials—but we never forget. We complain about our team’s weaknesses and errors with those of like loyalties—but take major offense when this criticism comes from those with deviant allegiances.

The intensity of such football fervor actually begins on the pee-wee level although we keep it in tow, really wanting everyone to play, really wanting everyone to do well, really wanting the games to be positive experiences about competition, and naturally wanting our children and their teams to achieve success. At the junior high level, though, the fervor grows, and by high school it becomes a virtual fever that in college escalates to epidemic proportions of fan-based preparation, celebration, and braggadocio.

Renowned for such escalated excitement are SEC football and SEC football fans and, actually, football teams and fans in the South at large. Which of these teams and its fans pushes the temperature highest—is a question with resounding affirmations from all sides! One team with its fans definitely in the running are the Ole Miss Rebels who have an undeniably affluent heritage of football lore and legacy, an avid and fanatic fan base, and a generations-rich tailgating tradition. Our feature articles this month explore this hotty-toddy hype that fuels Rebel mania.

Also for your reference this month as multitudes head back to school and so many of us begin to finalize our football season weekend, road-trip, and tailgating plans, we have included football schedules for area high schools and colleges, and for the New Orleans Saints. Such preparations, of course, are just the first symptoms of the approaching fever of Southern football mania. Once you’ve caught it, immunity is out of the question, and the only treatment lies in continued exposure. Yes, the mania, the fever, the fervor are contagious and habit forming—and, in our lives along and beyond the Mississippi, we applaud the addiction!

- Cheryl & Jean

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July 2009 Cover story, "Taking It Outside," featuring two Mississippi homes

Our featured families this month have taken it outside—their living and entertainment space, that is. Cindy and Al Windham in Vicksburg, Mississippi, have landscaped and decked their living areas outside under shady oaks and rolling hills. Tim and Samantha Porter live in Jackson, Mississippi, on two-and-a-half acres in a suburban neighborhood where their beautifully landscaped grounds offer activities for all ages. A couple of weeks ago, I visited with these families to get the inside scoop on their outside lives.

The Windhams enjoy gardening and flowers. Al acquired his green thumb from his mother, who all day, every day spent time gardening at their Edwards, Mississippi, home. Al’s sister, Kay Turner, is also a gardener, meticulously tending her old-fashioned tea roses. Both swap gardening tips, plants, and creative gardening ideas. Cindy Windham learned to arrange flowers from her mother, who was a florist. While Al is in charge of the landscaped grounds, Cindy arranges their home-grown, cut flowers and places them as fragrant, colorful accents inside and outside.

Recently, the Windhams hosted a family reunion with family members filling the home and meandering throughout the home’s spacious wrapped decks. The dining area is covered with a pergola whose plant chandelier offers blooms and greenery overhead. For early morning breakfast, brunch, lunch, or supper, this area is a refreshing place to dine. Off the master bedroom is a sitting area with a fireplace for added warmth and coziness on cool evenings. This area is shaded, but speckled sunlight dances in and out as the wind moves the leaves overhead.

The sunny side of the deck welcomes visitors who enter through the back, and below the drive are the Windhams’ cutting beds and herb garden. Al and Cindy created their landscaped gardens with inspiration from various other gardens they had toured and from a number of books and images, but they tailored the areas to suit the terrain and climate of their home.

One of the latest additions to the Windhams’ outdoor living and entertaining space is the pier deck that leads to the outskirts of the grounds and offers color from mid-May until the first frost. In our southern clime, such shade with its accompanying breezes in the midst of summer makes outdoor amusements and entertaining a pleasure; certainly, this was the case for me and accompanying Bluffs & Bayous staff and photographer.

Just down I-20 from Vicksburg, the Porter family was relaxing at home after a rigorous morning of summer camps and classes. The children welcomed us at the door as we took in the panorama of the Swiss-chateau-styled, six-bedroom home stylishly situated on two-and-a-half acres in north Jackson. Lisa Palmer, the decorator for the interior and exterior living spaces, and architect Tim Taylor understood Tim and Samantha’s vision while designing the family’s living spaces. Tim was working at home the day we stopped by, and he and Samantha offered us a tour of their custom-built and designed home. Tim is the cook of the family, and the home offers ample areas for all moods of cooking and dining.

As we entered the covered patio off the family room, we noted....

For more of our cover story and other insight, visit

Friday, June 26, 2009


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Natchezian, John Burns, authors "Personally Yours"

John Grady Burns, a native of Natchez, Mississippi, currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia, recently staged a kick-off book signing for his newest publication, Personally Yours, during the Natchez Garden Club’s Party for Preservation, held at The Towers, home of Ginger Hyland and James Wesley Forde in Natchez.Burns graduated with a BS in Horticulture and Retail Floral Management from Mississippi State University where he studied under Professor Emeritus Ralph Null, internationally recognized leader in floral arts and retail floriculture. Upon graduation, Burns was selected to go to Washington, D.C., to work with the White House and Blair House (home of the Vice-President) as well as with several embassies and dignitaries.Since the 1980s, Atlanta, Georgia, has been home for Burns, his skilled floral designs and prestige attracting such famous clients and accounts as the Ritz Carlton Atlanta and the Atlanta Symphony. He has carved an impressive niche for himself as a premiere designer of weddings and special events. Formerly, Burns also has taught the art of floral design at Kennesaw State College and presently teaches at Halls Atlanta Floral Design School

For more of Burns visit