Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Southern Bell, Really?

I have been accused of speaking ill of the redneck population of the south. And, I offer an apology to anyone I have offended because there is no offense meant. I came from a family where my Mama aspired for the Deb society and elevated my father from his position as a pharmacist to a member "of the medical profession". Daddy on the other hand was happy to drink either bourbon or Pabst with his friends, depending on the company he was keeping at the time. Daddy always liked to say he loved, "Rednecks, white socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer," as my mother cringed and hoped no one was close enough to hear him. 

Looking for a definition of  Redneck, I found the following:

"A Redneck is often (but not always) from the southern regions of the U.S. and makes a decision to place less emphasis on education and culture even when it's available, and instead values simpler, more base pursuits like sex, driving and drinking (in various combinations)."

Not being able to find a definition for Southern Snob, I settled for Southern Bell and found the following, "A delicate woman of Southern birth, prone to fainting spells, mint juleps, and Electra complexes."

Given a choice of these two lifestyles, when you look at this way, I don't think there is any question which one I would prefer. After all, it was Rhett Butler who said,  "With enough courage, you can do without a reputation." And, if there was one thing my Daddy instilled in me it was courage. And, Mama will just have to deal with the reputation issue. After all, reputations are so over rated.

Photography Post - Sunflower

Bright sunflower with a busy bee.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Cousins Are Never Removed

My Mama was telling me about someone in our family who was a first cousin second removed. I always wondered about this "removed" bit. I started doing research (I'll spare you the details) but basically it is how many generations someone is to your closet ancestor. Given that some southern family trees don't branch,  it is best to use the term "cousin" and stop at that.

Then it got interesting. The text started talking about Double First Cousins (two siblings of one family reproduce with two siblings of another family). And, Half Cousins (the children of two half-siblings and their respective partners).Down here a Half Cousin is anyone who shows up with the same last name, in your generation, and has questionable heritage. As long as they are articulate, clean, don't wear anything velvet or shiny we welcome them in. 

They tried to throw in "Cousin-in-law". Well, let me tell you, if you are in the south and your spouse's cousins refer to you as a "Cousin in Law" you may as well take a hint - they don't like you, probably never have, and no chance in Hell they ever will. It would be best for you to find a divorce lawyer now because it's not good now and not going to get any better.

Then we get real technical with "Parallel" or "Cross Cousins" which are by definition half siblings and who can marry and who cannot. This memo didn't get to everybody. But, they're none the worst for it. Hey, some folks can use six toes on one foot. And, there's something to said about everyone in the family having the same last name. 

Basically in the south, a cousin is someone you are kin to in some fashion. You may know, you may not (and you may not want to know.) It doesn't matter if they are a first, a removed, or a kissin' cousin, out on a limb or on your branch, you're stuck with 'em cause they're kin. And, down here that means a lot. 

Photography Post - Shell

A shell found on Bull Island.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Photography Post - Trinity Church Yard

A marker in the cemetery of Trinity Episcopal Church on Edisto Island, South Carolina. The church was founded in 1774. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Oh, the Cruelty of it All

I have been trying to come up with some event for a man that is as painful and humiliating as - you guessed it - a woman having to try on a swimsuit. If we ever questioned the gender of God, this is one Hell of a case that he is male. A female God would never subject another woman to such agony. (It is against Mother Nature - Come to think of it, too bad she is not in charge.)

And, I'm not sure what is worse, watching fit tanned young women (who never appreciate their bodies at that age) carelessly trying on suit after suit, simply concerned about the color - making me feel like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Or, other middle aged women who have no business whatsoever wearing a swimsuit, much less putting their friends in an untenable position by asking if it makes their rear end look "wide". A good friend would say, "How does it feel?", a better friend would say, "The color looks great." And, her best friend would say, "What if we go get a glass of wine."

Either way, I cringe and run back in the dressing room hoping that I have not sunk to those lows. True, I am no Victoria's Secret Model (never even came close) but , I still can wear a swimsuit without offending most people. (Well, my youngest daughter is offended. Then she is offended by anything I think is acceptable. But, I digress.) As long as I still fit into regular sizes, then I'm OK. As long as I still fit into regular sizes then I'm OK. As long as . . .

And every year "they" (the cruel powers that be) come out with another version of their idea of a slimming swimsuit. Please define 'slimming'? Slimming what? The high thigh cut ones that are designed to make your legs look longer and more 'toned' only give my generous thighs more room to spread. One school of design suggests 'healthy' women wear bright patterns for a more 'slimmer' look. Then there is the other school who will say stick with 'black' because it hides everything.

So I am in the dressing room with a black swim suit that is very boring, and a bright orange and yellow Hawaiian print that is definitely lively. I put on the colorful one and it is comfortable - score one. Since  it is quiet in the dressing area, I venture out to look in the large mirror. It is at that time that three dressing room doors behind me open and almost in sync, three women walk out as if they are stepping out of the swim suit edition of Sports Illustrated. 

And, there are the four of us. Suddenly I feel like a VW van from early 70's painted in psychedelic colors standing next to a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, and a Saleen S7. To add insult to injury, one of the girls looks at me, smiles and says, "You know they say black is a good color this year."

Where are my friends when I need them for that glass of wine?

Photography Post - Red Dawn

Sunrise on a cold morning over a pond on, of all places, the 14th hole, of the local country club.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mama and Magnolias

I'm not sure what it is about my Mama and Magnolias (her masterpiece aside). She and my father graduated from Wake Forest and she will quickly tell you they were there when the college was still at the old campus in Wake Forest, NC before it was relocated to Winston-Salem. In fact, they can remember the day the entire student body was loaded on buses and taken to the new campus for the groundbreaking where they heard former President Harry Truman speak at the ceremony. 

Although I never saw the old campus, I know from my mother's many reminiscences that there were "100's" of beautiful magnolias throughout. In fact from her description, it must have been a virtual forest, and as a child I was sure that was where the name came from - a forest of Magnolia trees owned by a Mr. Wake. (Which, after doing some research due to curiosity, not that I would ever question my Mama, I learned that it was truly named for the "Forest of Wake" being in Wake county North Carolina. Who knew?)

But the biggest deal was the Magnolia Festival held every spring and the crowning of the Magnolia Queen and her Court. I can remember her pulling out her college year books and showing me pictures of the Magnolia Queens and their court. And, they were beautiful women. But let's face it, southern women tend to be beautiful and I can assure you that the powers to be at Wake Forest (who ever chose the queen and her court) were going to pick the cream of the crop. Mama would wax nostalgic as she recalled the year Mary Jo (somebody - I never can remember her last name) won. Daddy always remembered her because of her red hair. 

What is it about men and red haired women? But, I digress.

Her junior year, my mama was part the Magnolia Queen's court. And her picture in the year book showed her even more lovely than the other ladies. As a little girl, although I never asked, (God knows I learned something from my lessons in "Betty Lane Gramling's School of Charm"), I always wondered why she wasn't queen. It wasn't until I was older that I learned she actually graduated a semester early and therefore was not there for her senior spring when the Magnolia Queen would have been chosen from her class. Of course, in my mind, there is little doubt, she would have had the title, only her academic excellence kept her from it. 

(God, I hate it when good grades prevent you being Queen. What a bummer.)

Photography Post - Magnolia Blossum

Need I say more.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Large and Loud

I was sitting in line at the Dairy-O (the home of the world famous "Curley Burger") and the diesel engine of the F-350 pickup truck in front of me was so loud Miss Cordelia could hardly hear my simple order of a Diet Coke.

Is that size truck necessary? Really? Why he could have moved his house with in, if he had left the wheels on it. There is something about being loud and large down here. Now, I wasn't raised reared that way. My Aunt Kat, my Mama, and especially my Daddy were from the school that a child was to be seen and not heard. As I grew up, Aunt Kat was bent on making sure I understood the importance of a lady not calling attention to herself - being prim and proper (and what not).

So loud and large goes against my grain. Of course, Texas is an exception. Everything is loud and large there, and everyone knows you don't mess with Texas. Here the "L&L" folks fall into two categories; let's just say the red necks and the ones who want to be on top of the social ladder. (And honey, I'll tell you right now you're either from it or marry it and chances are if you marry it, you're from it, but I digress.) 

If you think about it, which men drive the biggest pick-ups with the most chrome? And, which 'ladies' lollygag around town in a brand spankin' new SUV, the size of which would hold an army platoon and safely move them down Bagbad's airport road? It can be confusing as to who is showing they arrived and who is arriving to show.

And, big, let's talk about hair. When it comes to women, need I say more? The bigger the better - tease it, perm it, cut it, curl it, stack it up high. Sometime's the difference is just the beautician. After all, doesn't everyone aspire to be  an LB-01 Preference by L'Oreal blond. The only difference is whether you're willing to part with $175 or you get your sister-in-law, Martha, to do it in her kitchen after the kids are asleep, before Earl gets home.

And, loud. Some folks have no shame. You can hear them in Wal-mart yelling down aisle four, "Erline, don't forget the extra steaks,  Junior's bringing Betty Sue's folks by tonight." But then there's the loud attire that also calls your attention. Fushia, green, and egg plant with iridescent sequins and matching rhine stone shoes just don't look particularly pleasing on anyone during the day. (I don't care what the lady at Nieman Marcus said.)

Aunt Kat was wise in her advice to not call attention to myself.  And, although in doing so, I know I will miss out on a lot of the loud and large living - I'll hopefully avoid any confusion.  Besides, I prefer Superior Preference 6 1/2G Lightest Golden Brown.

Photography Post - Lily pads

A simple lily bloom among the pads in a low country pond.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Modern Marvel of Duct Tape

A few months back (and while I was out of town) I was enjoying some adult beverages with colleagues when someone made a comment to a friend of mind that she never parted with her Louis Vuitton bag.( And, I'm sure I'm the only one who had to Google it, but if not, I'll save you the time. Those are the brown handbags and luggage folks proudly tote around with the LV logo on them. Confused me, 'cause I was brought up that a young lady always used her own monogram. But I digress.) Any who, her response was, "Of course I always have it. I wouldn't go anywhere without it. In fact it is indispensable.

I interjected, "So if you were stranded on a desert island, you would want your bag?" "Well, of course. What would you take?" "For starters - duct tape." At this point the rest of the table ordered another round and sat back. "And, matches and WD-40," I added. Now, I don't get credit for being so prepared. Mrs. Hewett taught us well when we working on our "Survival" badge in Girl Scouts. "And, a mirror." "Well, I've got one of those," my friend said. Everyone got a chuckle out of that.

Seriously, though, duct tape is a fundamental staple around our house. And, we have two kinds. We have regular duct tape and industrial (will hold everything together through a hurricane) strength duct tape. And, around here, there are acceptable uses for duct tape and those that will show your true colors. Duct taping two pieces of insulation together that are behind the yard house is fine. Using it to mend the rip in the front seat of your 1983 Chevy indicates you most likely have a major appliance on your front porch, there's a CB antennae on the top of your truck, or more than likely there's a painting on black velvet some where in your house.

Who hasn't used the magic gray sticky strand as a badge of honor? "I was able to fix it with duct tape until I could get to the store." Or shame, "Why it's amazing that cooler's water tight, seen'ns that it's barely held together by duct tape." After all, what other miracle of modern man can salvage so many dire situations, it can substitute for a lint brush, fix sneakers, repair a garden hose, cover the torn cover of a book, temporarily hem your dress, hide a spare key, fix vinyl siding, and yes, even, repair that Louis Vuitton bag - almost as good as new.  

And, for those who have no pride, they make red duct tape to "fix" broken tail lights. What a modern marvel.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Photography Post - Artist at work

I'm not sure where the artist was, but they left their easel on the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Photography Post - Graves at Sheldon Church

I showed a photograph of Old Sheldon Church earlier. Here is another one of some of the graves. Note the roots of the tree that are growing around the sarcophagus in the foreground.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Traditonal Formal SOUTHERN Invitations

As the story of the wedding continues, the MOTB wanted the event to be special and a memorable occasion for all. Every time she saw something in a magazine, on television, or at someone else's wedding, I would be given the task of researching whatever the dream item of the day was. Now this got interesting because sometimes I had a vague description from a TV show, sometimes a picture from a magazine, and the worst, the phone number of another MOTB. 

By the time it was all over, we had amassed quite the array of possible wedding treats. There were samples of 9 different types of chocolates (some specially designed for the bride and some in specially designed wrappers) to give as favors to all the guests. My favorite were the miniature bottles of liqueur decorated with a ribbon embellished with the bride and groom's initials, that I found amusing given this was going to be a Southern Baptist wedding. 

The most elaborate were the ornate personalized boxes that would be placed under every guest's seat in the church. As the bride and groom were being presented as "Mr. and Mrs.", each guest would be instructed to reach under their seat, pick up the box, and open it, releasing a butterfly creating a "romantic scene of beautiful butterflies for the bride and groom as they walked down the aisle." Now in order to create this phenomena of butterflies, a chrysalis had to be placed in each of these boxes that was at the exact age to mature and come out of it's cocoon at this precise time - like within a few minutes. 

When it came down to it, neither the chocolates nor the liqueurs nor the butterflies made the final cut. By that time, all the attention was on the invitations and the list. Those were the traditional engraved invitations. After all, this was a formal wedding.  I had already contacted the company we used for all the MOTB's engraved stationary and put them on notice. It was just a matter of selecting the font. (The card stock and style were not even in question - traditional  and formal.) 

Then someone saw an invitation from California that was "just to die for". A sample was procured. What arrived was more than this little southern girl could comprehend. (Although, I have since personally received one as an invitation to a good friend's wedding - in California no less. But, I digress.) 

It wasn't an invitation, it was more of a presentation. When I opened the cardboard box it was shipped in there, wrapped in tissue, was the "invitation" - a white satin covered box with a wide blue grosgrain ribbon tied around it in a large bow. When you removed the ribbon and opened the box, there was tissue, that was more like organza than paper, carefully folded and sealed with a foil sticker embossed with the bride's monogram. After you opened that (carefully, because you felt like you were violating the presentation if some part was "ripped") inside were several pieces of delicate rice paper, engraved in gold, tied together with a thin gold ribbon. These were the invitation itself, a map to the church and reception venue, and a reply card and addressed envelope. (I almost expected a butterfly to escape as the last pieces were carefully removed.) 

The bride was excited.  This definitely made a statement, but in the eyes of the MOTB, it failed to pass the "formal traditional invitation" test, although I sensed some conflict on her part. "Well, the invitation itself is engraved, but can you imagine opening a formal invitation with ribbons it in? " was her comment as if trying to justify something. Everyone who saw the "invitation" commented about the fancy box and the ribbons. They were all impressed and it showed. 

After much wrangling, gnashing of teeth, and debate, it was decided that at $7.95 each, this was a formal wedding and only a traditional invitation would do. After all, that was something from California and what did they know about a proper formal southern wedding.

The traditional invitations were ordered. A week later, we received a shipment of half inch wide grosgrain ribbon. When I asked the MOTB about it, she responded, "Oh, that's for the invitations. I thought if we tied a bow around each one before we put it in the envelope, it would be a nice touch."

Photography Post - A Colorful House

Once again, this picture is not "doctored". This is the way this house looks is real life. I had this photo framed in my gallery and one day this older gentleman came in. He stopped and said "Hey that house sits across from my farm. And, you know what? There were two of them - just alike. And, someone moved the other one." Who knew?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It Must Be Correct

Looking at the address on the envelope of the wedding invitation to my daughter's best friend's wedding I was reminded of the year I spent assisting a very serious (and dedicated) mother of the bride (MOTB) plan and execute a rather large and elaborate (to say the least) wedding for her daughter. It was an educational experience to say the least. The best lesson I learned was to pray that both of my daughters eloped. 

The first matter at hand was putting together the guest list which would become the bane of my existence. We had to gather the MOTB's Christmas card list, the church's membership list, the address lists of all the social clubs she was a member of, the names and addresses of her husband's business contacts, and of course the family members. It would be a while before anyone remembered that the groom's family, let alone the bride and groom, could possibly have some guests they would like to invite. But I digress.

All these lists had to be combined, the duplicates removed, and then it went back and forth between the MOTB and her husband over who was on the list and who needed to be removed. Names would be struck off and then added back the following week. Every Monday morning I would find a note with some names on my desk, "Please check and see if these are on the list." And, the round robin would start once more.

At one point, I had a separate list of names that had been pulled off the main list and included anyone on death's door, with a terminal disease, with marital problems, in the process of a divorce, or whose house was for sale. The MOTB was determined that the invitations would be addressed correctly. If parties were separated at the time the invitations were delivered, then they needed to be addressed accordingly. And, she would not have an invitation sent to someone who had already passed away. That would be most disrespectful to the family. So I kept up with the obituaries, the MLS, and the local gossip to ensure that list was up-to-date.

And, the names - they had to be complete and correct. (To the point that I had a copy of the style manual put together by the corresponding social secretary at the White House which contained the formal way to address everyone from a Four Star General to a Potentate to a Maharajah - should we have one on the list.)

I remember one prominent business man always used his middle initial "M" and never his middle name. The MOTB had me call his office to obtain his middle name so his invitation would be correctly addressed. His assistant told me, as I expected, just to use the initial, that was his preference.  The MOTB would have none of that and called him herself. After several minutes of polite but emphatic language on her part, he finally said,"What difference does it make? The invitation is coming to me. If I say 'M' is correct, then by God it's correct." She hung up in defeat. "Have it his way. But it is not correct. You cannot address a formal invitation without a full name.

Looking down the list, I cringed. There was the name of a doctor with an initial. I knew him and knew that the initial was not short for anything - it was just a "J". He did not even put a period after it. Amy Vanderbilt didn't cover this one, nor did the White House. Before the MOTB made the call she commented, "You don't suppose he would consider changing it to 'John' would you? That certainly would make my life easier."

Photography Post - St. Helena Chapel of Ease

St. Helena Parish Chapel of Ease in Frogmore, South Carolina. Built in 1740 and burned in a forest fire in 1886. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Friday, March 16, 2012

Photography Post - Magnolia Gardens

An example of my work on canvas. This was taken from a photograph of one of the ponds at Magnolia Gardens during the peak of their spring flowers. One of the lovely bridges is in the background. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

An Abundant Colorful Pie

My Mama told me years ago, "If you want to preserve your reputation as a good cook, never give out the recipe to your best dishes. And, if forced to do so, just leave out a small key ingredient." I learned this the hard way when I found myself at a pot luck dinner having to listen to the rave reviews a (now former) friend of mine was receiving for a dish she made from one of my recipes. In all the adulation, as she gushed about how she made the pie, she never once happened to mention that I was the one who gave her the recipe. As I smoldered over my glass of wine, Scarlett's angry pledge, "As God as my witness . . ." went through my mind as my Mama's words came back to me.

So years later when a good friend asked me for one of my treasured recipes, I thought of that unpleasant incident, realized that her friendship was more dear to me than being petty over claiming bragging rights for an apple pie. Besides, she lived two states away. So, not only did I send her the recipe, word for word, I also included all the tweaks, my daughter and I had made to the dish over the years. As a true friend, I revealed all.

As it turned out, I had nothing to fear about my recipe being duplicated. I got a call Monday morning, "Well I made the pies last night." "Great, how were they?" "You didn't tell me the recipe was for two pies?" "The recipe says that." "Well I figured that out after I got to the end of the recipe and was about finished. I had planned on making two pies, so I had doubled the ingredients." I thought that would not be an issue, she could just make four pies, but I was wrong. "So my pie pans were full, very full," she continued. "You put it all in just two pans?" "Yep."

Then she went on to tell about putting the cinnamon sugar topping (a key ingredient that is added half way through the baking process) on top of the lattice crust. "I told you that I added the top crust after the topping." "Oh, that would have made sense." In my mind I am picturing these pie pans, overflowing with pie filling with the sugary topping piled atop the lattice crust. Then she added, "They are in the toaster oven now. They were not quite done when I brought them in the office this morning." I guess not. "But they smell so good."

I can't wait to hear the final verdict. "Oh, one more thing, do you peel your apples before you add them to the mix?" "Of course." "Oh. The recipe didn't say anything about that." "So you left the peel on?" "Uh, yeah. But, it's colorful."

Photography Post - Green Wrought Iron

Charleston is known for its wrought iron. I found this example at Magnolia Cemetery. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

They're Claiming Kin and Eating Catfish

Oh Lordy, now they are claiming kin down here, saying they like catfish, and befriending Jeff Foxworthy. (Next thing you know they'll start commenting about only making left turns when they drive.) Like my Aunty used to say, "God love 'em, . . . someone's gottta."

Move along now. Nothing to see here. There is little doubt in my mind, if it were not politically incorrect, one of them would break out in a chorus of "Dixie" at any given moment. (Of course, it ain't over - some one may yet be willing to sell their soul to the devil.)

And, yes the stars fell on Alabama but it's best to keep it on down low, down south. And, I'd really be careful in Mississippi. Strange things tend to happen there. (According to the Kalbs and Ray Stevens.) There was that incident in the First Self-Righteous Church where "seven deacons and the pastor got saved, Twenty-five thousand dollars was raised, and fifty volunteered for missions in the Congo on the spot. Even without an invitation there were at least five hundred rededications, And [they] all got baptized whether [they] needed it or not."

So save some squirrel getting loose, Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, maybe we'll make it through this and life will return to (our) normal.

Photography Post - Soy Bean Field

As you have probably have caught on by now, I love early morning light. This particular morning I was out in the rural parts of Calhoun County, South Carolina. Who knew pecan trees and soy beans could be so lovely?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It Ain't Fittin'

For God's sake, will someone tell them, it's not "Cheesey Grits". If you want grits with cheese in them, you order, "Cheese Grits".  . .  y'all.

Honestly, you don't have to try to be one of us to get our attention, affection (or our vote). Come to think of it, we would appreciate it, if you wouldn't try. Some folks can screw up a two car funeral.

Come on down, sit a spell, we'd love to have you. We'll serve you sweet tea, good bourbon, and BBQ that will make a tadpole slap a whale. We'll show you a good time on a Sat'day night at a juke joint down the road with some of the best music you ever heard. You can go with us for fresh oysters on the dock at sunset overlooking the marsh. We'll mosey under a mile long canopy of live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. You can go uptown to the hi faluten world renown restaurants, down town to the local dive for collards and hot biscuits, or out back for pulled pork that has been slow cooking over hickory coals all night.

We love company and we don't ask for much. But, a little advice here, "southern" don't fit well unless you're from here. Like Mammy said: "It ain't fittin'... it ain't fittin'. It jes' ain't fittin'... It ain't fittin'."

Photography Post - Middleton Place

Although I have never been able to photograph this scene correctly (there is way too much noise here) it is a favorite of mine. This is Middleton Place Plantation (built 1755), looking down the main drive from the front gates at dawn.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

You're Only Southern if You're From Here

Why do folks just think they can mosey on down here, start saying "ya'll", ordering grits, and then call themselves "southern". I hate to tell them, but it doesn't work like that. If you aren't from here, you're not southern.  You can marry into it, move down here, or buy some land but it still doesn't make you southern. 

And, for God's sake, please don't try to adopt a southern accent. Talk about giving us the heebie jeebies. (It makes my skin crawl just to think about it.) You can search your family tree to find some long loss relative who lived here at one time. Should you find one, then you have a relative who lived here a while back. That's nice, but it still doesn't make you southern, bless your heart. Which by the way does not mean "I pray for you" or "Thank you". Frankly, it is our polite way of saying, "God help you, because you are helpless."

Our question is, "Who's your mama?" or "Where're you from?" If you're from here, chances are we are kin. Every where else in the world, they say there are six degrees of separation between most folks, down here there are only three. Therefore, it's best to not say anything bad about anyone seeinshow there's a good chance they're kin to the person you're talking to. 

Photography Post - Little Green One

A little guy escaping from a coffee cup.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Good Ol' Boys, Red Necks, and Po' White Trash

Someone who was not from here, might get a red neck, po' white trash, and a good ol' boy confused just because they all drive a pick up truck. Well let me clue you in, if you pay attention, the differences are glaringly obvious. First off, if the truck is new, chances are it belongs to a red neck. Good ol' boys hang on to their trucks for a long time. Like most things down here, there is an emotional attachment. Po' white trash don't have the money to buy a new one nor do they care.

Now a gun rack in the back is a toss up. Both good ol' boys and red necks hunt. The tie breaker here is going to be the confederate flag or Dale Jr. decal on the back window. Either is a dead give away for a red neck. If all else fails just close your eyes and listen. If you heard that truck before you saw it, chances are it is equipped with a performance exhaust system. That and aftermarket automotive lighting are the dream of all red neck young men. What more says "Come hither" to that sweet young lady, than a glass pack muffler rumbling underneath a truck with special external lighting?

The dash board of the po' white trash's pickup is going to be inches thick in light bills, Cheeto wrappers, sale papers, and a Cool Whip container or two. Chances are at least one hub cap is going to be missing and, most likely, a tail light won't work. And, it will look as if it hasn't been washed in a month of Sundays, because, well, chances are it hasn't. 

The good ol' boy's truck will mostly be clean. If you look around, there'll be a large drink cup from the local Short Stop in the cup holder, some letters he needs to drop in the mail, and maybe a shirt or two that need to go to the cleaners. And, there'll be dog hair. He takes his dog with him everywhere. And, unlike the red neck who puts his dog in the back of the truck, Beau rides up front. (Po' white trash don't take their dogs with them. They stay at home under the porch - next to the old car up on the blocks.) 

So, a good rule of thumb is: if you hear it coming and the dog's in the back, chances are  it's a red neck, if it's nothing fancy and the dog's up front, it's a good ol' boy, and if looking at the cab of the truck, you're not sure whether you need to call the health department to have it  condemned or the local garage to have it towed , it belongs to po' white trash.

Photography Post - Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, SC

This is a canvas version of a photograph I took one morning in the mist at the cemetery. It is hauntingly lovely, full of live oaks draped in Spanish moss. This special place dates back to 1861 and  has internments from every major American conflict since and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Food Tells It All

Now, I read the other day that only a true Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who’s got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor’s woes are a real crisis, they also know to send over a large batch of banana pudding! Of course our friends in times of bereavement or stress are SOL if they are waiting on the hot fried chicken from our household, seeing that I don't fry chicken, but I do serve up a nice ham and fresh (tiny) butter beans. As for the bananna pudding, I'll put mine up against anyone else's, thank you very much.

But there is always the issue of how high regard you hold the distressed family. And, it's all in the food. This is especially true when there is a death and friends start bringing food to the house. Now you might think that the food is to feed the grieving family. And, it does serve that purpose. However, it has always been my theory that the primary motive behind sending food to the family was, one, we're all southern and that's what you do, but really it's our way of letting everyone know what we think of the family - like a secret code.

If you send a cake, then you think well of the family, as long as the cake is home made, and whole. Sending slices on a tray, just says "this is what we had left over - enjoy." And, sending a store bought cake says one of two things, either you don't think much of the family or you're not from here and don't know no better. A basket of bread, shows you are being polite like your Mama talk you, but that's about it. A loaf of white bread is just an insult to the family.

Home made salad means a lot, especially if it is  chicken salad. Of course, if you use dark meat, folks will talk about you for weeks. (Every one from a nice family knows better than that.) But, the highest compliment is bringing a platter of meat. Sending a ham, a  fried chicken, or platter of BBQ shows that this was 'show 'nugh someone you thought a lot about'. Posthumously, you have arrived when the neighbors start bringing meat. 

Now, the church ladies have a book back in the kitchen where they write down every dish that everyone brings to the family. You can rest assured that when folks come and drop their food off, their eyes are going to glance over that list to see who brought what. "Potato salad. Can you believe that Sally Jane just brought potato salad. I thought their families were pretty close." "Well, look here. Margaret brought ham. Just who do you think she is fooling? You know she never forgave Sam for his little indiscretions."  "But, that was twenty years ago?" "She said he broke up her brother's marriage." "Can you believe Linda Sue brought a cake? A bet you a dime she bought it at the Piggly Wiggly?" "Well, maybe this time she put it in her own container." "I don't know. Her mama was a Jenkins. She may not know any better. Bless her heart."

Photography Post - Flower Ladies in Cuba

This is a work on mine on canvas taken from a photograph I took of flower ladies on a square in Havana Vieja (Old Havana), Cuba.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mamie, Fode, and Southern Speak

Speaking of "southernisms", to further show the differences between my Granny, known as Mamie aka Mary Margaret and her sister (my "Aunty") Fode aka Flora Katherine, they tended to use different southern terms.

I can remember hearing my proper Granny saying things like, "He's too big for his britches" or calling a young person a "wippersnapper". And, she would be "gettn' ready" to go the store.  "Once in a blue moon" she would have a "tip or two" with my Dad after supper.  And, she always wanted us to get our "picture made" in our "Sunday go to meeting clothes." 

My Aunty, on the other hand, was a little more colorful to say the least - much to her sister's dismay.  Someone poor "didn't have a pot to pee in". And, when my Granny commented that they had raised the drinking age from 18 to 21, Aunty's comment was that "the world was going to Hell in a hand basket." Where my Granny would refer to someone in the community as to having "passed away".  Aunty would tell us, he was "as dead as a door nail."

Then there were the subjects Granny wouldn't touch. When it was revealed (in the 70's) that the daughter of some friends of the family was pregnant at the time of her wedding.  Granny was gracious and in her proper way, just didn't acknowledge that small issue. (In her mind, like many southern ladies of her time, if you didn't talk about it - it didn't exist.) Aunty just laughed (as she took a long drag off her Salem), "Well they ate dessert before they said grace."

Photography Post - Cypress Lined Lake

A lake lined with Cypress trees at sunset in the lake area of central Florida.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Things You Say

 I was discussing the new fashion styles for women with a friend of mine. I commented on a particular dress, "That's uglier than homemade soup." She just started laughing, "What?" "Oh, for cryn' out loud, you can't say you like that?" "I'm not laughing at the dress." Then it dawned on me, she was laughing at me. "Where do you get the things you say?" "Like what?" "Like homemade soup? Uglier than homemade soup?" "Come on, that's older than dirt." She just died laughing.
There were several thoughts that went through my mind, none of which (come to think of it) were going to help my case. Did she think I had just fallen off a turnip truck? These were all sayings I had heard since I was knee high to a bull frog.

"Since I moved down here, I have heard the oddest things. I expected to hear the southern accent, but it is the sayings that I find so amusing." "Well, I'm glad we're so entertaining." "Please don't take it the wrong way. I find it very endearing." "Oh honey, Bless your heart, I'm sure you do.

Photography Post - Garden Bridge

The bridge at Magnolia Gardens done on canvas. Magnolia Gardens were founded in 1676 as a plantation outside of Charleston, SC  and opened as one of the first public gardens in the country in 1870.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Photography Post - Bone Yard Beach

What happens when the sea reclaims the land including the forest on it. The result is called a "Bone Yard Beach". We have several in South Carolina. This one is on Bull Island in the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bless Her Heart

At one of the conferences I attended in the last year or two, I met a lady from New Jersey. We were with a group at dinner, in several meetings together, and then on a shuttle to the airport. We bonded when our flights were delayed due to weather for several hours. It is not a stretch to say that Bev and I have little in common and she saw me a source of amusement. If nothing else, she found my accent something akin to a foreign dialect. I was much too polite to tell her that the sound of her voice made my skin crawl.

But, other than those small issues, we hit it off and have kept in touch. 

However, during those hours of confinement in the airport, I spent most of the time explaining many misconceptions of life down here. "I've always wanted to go down south to visit." "Well, you should come down sometime." "I just can't imagine the heat and the humidity, and what it would do to my hair." "Well, that's how we keep the yankees out." After she realized I was kidding I added, "We do have air conditioning, you know."

"Are you married?" she asked. "Yes, and you?" "No. Divorced." "I'm sorry." "I'm not. He was a jerk." My mama didn't really teach me a good answer to that one. "Where did you meet your husband?" "At a family reunion, where else?" I said waiting for her reaction. She was speechless. (I could see the thought going through her head, 'My God it's true!') "Seriously, we were in school together. You knew I was kidding right?" 

Then I explained how I grew up in a small town and he grew up in a rural community and came from a generation of farmers. I joked about how he wanted to move back to the farm someday. 

"Well, you just hear things." "Like we eat road kill?" "Yeah", she said laughing. I laughed too and added, "Only if it is really fresh. And, never if it is a oppossum. But a fresh coon is a fine thing." With this, I may have lost her. After a minute or two, she asked, "You are kidding?" "Yes, I am kidding. We do not eat road kill." Then I added , "We use our own guns and kill them ourselves."

There I was, sitting in my Talbots sweater set, nicely pressed khaki pants, and tassel flats. She, on the other hand, was wearing a low cut top decorated with sequins, tight jeans, and heals. (As I have said before, good southern girls don't wear shiny clothes unless the occasion is formal.)  My headband was no match for her teased bleached big hair. I definitely felt out of my league. 

Finally, the weather delay was lifted and her flight was called. We exchanged email addresses. "Now send me your mailing address also", she said. "You know, the name of your place," she added. "Our town?" "No, your farm?" Then it dawned on me, "Honey, contrary to popular belief, we all don't live at Tara." 

But, bless her heart, I would rather live under the delusion that I was going back to the land of Scarlet than the world of the Situation and Snooki.

Photography Post - Bricks Ruins of Old Sheldon Church

A close-up view of the remains of the brick columns of Old Sheldon Church in Yemassee, SC. The church was burned twice and all that remains are haunting ruins.