Monday, May 31, 2021

Fried Chicken, Lightn' Bugs, Hair Spray, Bubba, and Baby

Memorial Day, this year in particularly, is the "opening" of summer. It is when school is out (or close to being out). Swimming pools are uncovered. Some say that Memorial Day is the first time it is fittin' to wear white. Personally, I have always thought it to be Easter, but that's just me. That brings to mind other customs, traditions, and beliefs, sometimes referred to as archaic, that are still embedded in our psyche.

Wearing white shoes (with the exception of athletic shoes) after the first Monday in September shows that you were either raised reared in a barn, have no sense of pride, or, when it comes to clothes - are totally uncouth.

One can tell the status of a family by the ratio of meat dishes over all other types of food brought by friends, neighbors, and loved ones when a member of the family dies. If you want to get into the weeds, look at the ratio of fried chicken over ham.
Show up as a hostess at a luncheon with store bought cookies or a cake in the box, and there's a good chance  you'll  get thrown out of the Service League (and maybe run out of town in shame).

Some women still frown upon those who put dark meat in their chicken salad. Adding grapes is still questionable (however the Food Chanel may justify that one).

Down here "Firefly" is a type of British shoe or vodka. "Lightn' Bugs" are the magical creatures that light up the yard at dusk.

Don't ask us for directions and expect to understand the landmarks, "Go to the red light, turn right and go down a piece until you come to the old Piggly Wiggly. Turn left, and after a mile or two there will be John McDean's Store, it's a Shell station, no maybe Esso, I can't remember. Turn right just after the store and you will see the place you are looking for on the left. But if you come to the burnt tree you have gone too far." (Of course the Piggly Wiggly closed 12 years ago and there is a Dollar Store there now, McDean's Store is an Exxon station, and the burnt tree fell down a while back, but we all know where it is - you can't miss that long curve.)

Going out in public with wet hair is beneath us.

Hair spray was created for southern women and we are in mourning for the aerosol can. Hair "Products" may be more environmentally friendly and easier on your tresses, but nothing holds big hair like good ol' hairspray.

A southern woman always has a casserole (or two) in the freezer in case an emergency arises such as a friend or relative suddenly taking ill. This allows us to show up prepared with a home cooked meal.

A string of pearls can be worn with anything.

We have been monogramming our sheets, towels, and the collars of our children's Peter Pan shirts long before the fad and we will still be adding our initials and monograms to such items long after this whim fades away.

We name our children some odd names, but they are family names we are proud of, so get over it. And, so what if we  go beyond Jr.'s and have the 3rd's and 4th's. Then there are the nicknames - Bubba, Jr., Skeeter, Little Bob. Sweetie, Baby,  Sport, and Honeybunch are truly terms of endearment.

And, yes, College Football, is a religion down here, along with good BBQ. 

Bottom line, honey, if you don't get it,  Bless Your Heart,we really don't care. It's not like our feelings are going to be hurt.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

If You See a Fork in the Road - Take It

One of my hobbies is collecting antique sterling flatware. In doing so, I have spent a great deal of time trying to identify some random piece I found in the back of an old antique store. And for those not so inclined, here is a bit of knowledge I have learned. A full place setting consists of more than just a knife, fork, and spoon or even a dinner fork, salad fork, dinner knife, teaspoon, and butter knife. A full place setting is made up of 56 different pieces, with few being  on the table at any given time. With each course, there is a different set of utensils, not to mention the dozens of various serving utensils.

Take place forks for example. Beyond the dinner fork and salad fork, there are Cake Forks, Pie Forks,Caviar Forks, and a Cherry Fork (not to be confused with a Strawberry Fork). There are Terrapin Forks, Escargot Forks, Lobster Forks, Oyster Forks, Sardine Forks, and Fish Forks. There are Ice Cream Forks - that differ from Ice Cream Spoons. You may also find a Ramekin Fork. I could go on, but I will not bore you.

There are also different sizes of place settings. For instance a luncheon setting is a bit smaller than a dinner setting.  And there is a Grille size (but very rare) that is larger than the dinner setting.

The height of sterling flatware was in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. As I often say, the Victorians never found a dish that they could not create a unique utensil for.  Perhaps the concern of not knowing which fork to use has some merit after all.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Mysteries of the Universe

Now that I am in my 60's I am beginning to learn there are certain mysteries of the universe. Oh, there were many I experienced as a child. Examples were: How did Mama always know I was guilty of something? Why did a fried chicken only have 2 legs? Why was the answer to one question always, "Someday you'll be old enough but not now."? Then the answer to next, "You know you are too old for that." Why did the thirty minute Christmas dinner at Grandmama's before we opened our Christmas presents take FOREVER but the two weeks we spent at her house each summer go by so fast? But I digress.

The enigmas that stump me today include folding a fitted sheet. Yes, I know Martha Stewart did an entire program showing how easy it is. But, then Martha and her minions are not in my laundry room every Saturday morning when I struggle with the elastic pockets that do not square up, only to try "folding" it the best I can into something that resembles a somewhat organized wad of cloth.

Or that the term "Well Done" in respect to steak actually means, "A decent piece of meat, burnt to a crisp and ruined."

That someone puts boiled peanuts in cans and worse yet, people buy them, consume them, and think they are tasty.

That men can detail and wash a car and operate a TV remote control yet picking up their clothes off the floor or putting the toilet seat down is beyond their comprehension.

Speaking of remote controls, why do TVs require 2 remote controls to operate and isn't the term "universal remote" an oxymoron?

And above everything, how can just eating a 1 pound box of Godiva chocolates cause one to gain 5 pounds? No wonder I was never good at math.

Friday, May 28, 2021

A Goose Chase, a Snipe Hunt, and Down a Rabbit Hole

With our frenetic life,  everyone these days talks about living in the "Rat Race", "Running in Circles", going on a "Goose Chase" or "Snipe Hunt", falling down a "Rabbit Hole", etc. Often, my life is so crazy I am usually dizzy, feel as if I should have some geese and snipe to show for something, and I am very wary of Rabbit Holes.

For the record I have hunted snipe - real snipe, not just the fool's game or a joke often played on campers. My daddy belonged to a hunt club in the low country and one of their quarry was Snipe. Yes, they exist. They are actually not easy to hunt because when they are flushed they go straight up and then have an erratic flight pattern. (The term "Sniper" came from a Snipe hunter as in one with excellent hunting skills.) So now you know, but I digress.

Several weeks ago, I decided I would search out some very old churches in the upstate. After identifying the ones I wanted to see, I had to locate them on a map. This was no easy feat given many of them are located on small roads in cryptic locations. Any directions I could find may as well said something like, "When you get into town turn right by the old Piggly Wiggly. Then after the third blue house make a left. Go until you see farmer John's pond on the right and the church will be on your left."

From experience I know the Piggly Wiggly probably have closed several years ago, so figuring out that landmark is a crap shoot at best. One of the blue houses burned down and the other two have now been painted white, and how in the Hell is someone supposed to know what pond belongs to farmer John?

This is where I feel as if I am going down the rabbit hole - following ambiguous directions to small towns that are now just a deserted general store, to find the unmarked street down which a two hundred year old shuttered church sits among the kudzu. And why you ask? A photograph? Yes, I too, often question my sanity.

All that said, last week I headed out with lists of vague directions to arcane places of worship. As I proceeded down Highway 25 I came upon a sign that said "Historic Cokesbury College". Having never heard of such, I decided to detour left and take a look see. It wasn't on my well prepared list but then proper planning is so overrated.

While visiting this spot, the gentleman sweeping the front porch, offered to show me around. While doing so, he asked what had brought me there. I explained I was on a photo tour of old churches. His face lit up. He mentioned several churches that were on my list. Then he asked me if Mt. Vernon on Hwy 61 was one I planned to see.

Not being familiar with that one, I inquired about it. He explained it was a beautiful old historic church that I could find off Highway 61 on Mt. Vernon Church road. A friend of his was trying to buy the church and move it. I made a mental note to add it to the list, thanked him, and made my exit.

When I got in my car, I pulled up the area of the state on Google maps. I could not find Highway 61 nor could I find a reference to a Mt. Vernon church. Whatever. I went on my way.

I turned off Highway 25 onto Highway 10 had headed toward Troy (population 93) found the first church on my list. After a circuitous route over the river and through the woods, I found the next church on my list. As I headed up Highway 81 toward Mt. Carmel (population 173) and the next church on my list, I noticed "Mt. Vernon Church Rd" to my left. Aha! Highway 81 not 61.

I turned around and turned off onto Mt Vernon Road. Sure enough a mile or so down the road on the left I saw the sign for the church. However, when the church itself came into view I was somewhat taken aback. Instead of an old wooden structure, a century old brick building, or historic masonry hall I had been expecting, what lay before me was a non-descript white squatty vinyl siding covered building that was twenty years old at most. This was of no historical significance. I looked behind it to see if there was a original structure, but no.

Not to be deterred, I continued down the road a bit to see if perhaps the original church remained on another site. After several miles I gave up chasing that goose.

Back on Highway 81 I made my way to Mt. Carmel and found that small old church exactly where it was supposed to be. There was one more house of God on my list I wanted to find while I was in the area. The directions were even more fuzzy than the others. When I was researching the other churches I could not find a photograph or drawing of this one. I found several references to it, but no history per se. My curiosity was peaked.

After heading the wrong direction for several miles and making a few wrong turns I felt like I must be pretty close. I drove down the country road through stands of pines and hay fields. Much of the land in this part of the world looks the same. Finally I saw the sign for the church. Great. As I saw it I realized this was one of the first churches I had photographed that morning. When you start running in circles it is time to take your goose and go home.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

So I'm Quaint

Years ago, I was having drinks one evening with some ladies at a conference in Portland Oregon and we were trying to discuss anything but business. Naturally I had taken a great deal grief earlier that day about my southern drawl. I only hoped they were as interested in the topic of my session as they were with the way I talked.

While we sat there that evening talking they started asking questions and as more rounds of wine were poured their inquiries seemed more and more to come my direction. "Do you really have your own personal note cards?"

" Are your daughter's clothes monogrammed?"

"Do you have those things down there, you know those dances called, oh what are they? Cotillions, yeah Cotillions, do you have those?"

Finally I made them stop. Yes, I explained, I did have some personal note cards. And, yes, both my daughters did wear some monogrammed clothes. Then I did my best to explain that we were just generally social down here and the term "cotillion" could refer to the couples' dance club my husband and I were in or the organization of mothers who had formal dances for their high school aged daughters twice a year. I figured they really meant debutante balls but I wasn't about to go down that rabbit hole with them.

The round robin discussion about monogrammed clothes made it sound as if I was sending my children off to school every day either with their names emboldened across their chest or the family crest stitched on them. It got lost in translation. I hoped no one thought to ask me about monogrammed sheets and towels or, God forbid, glassware.

Then one young girl from Wisconsin commented, "Well I'm just not sure what I would do with the personal note cards. I only write my grandmother because she doesn't use email. What would I do with the rest of it."

Another lady from California laughed,"Oh, I imagine she writes a lot of notes. (Speaking as if I were not at the table.) Down there they write notes for everything, thanking you for anything you did, to let you know she was thinking about you, or that she will not be able to come to your party."


"Well, it is just something we were brought up doing," I added.

"We call it quaint," said the lady from California. So I had been put in my place - quaint.

Then one lady who had been sitting quietly through all this spoke up. "I think if you are smart, you find a mother who has good taste. Then you name your daughter so she has the same initials as the daughter of that lady then you purchase the child's clothes as she grows out of them for your daughter."

I thought for a moment, should I explain the term "tacky" to them. No, I let that one die. But I made a mental note to remind them before the night was over that every young lady in the south does not have a double name that includes 'Billy' or 'Bobby"and our diet includes more than fried food. I wanted them to understand we all do not live in some grand plantation house and some of us drink unsweetened tea. Ladies from the south do not "swoon" (or at least none in my generation that I am aware of).  We do venture north of the Mason Dixon Line. Contrary to popular belief, we do not marry our cousins. 

I can handle quaint, but somewhere we need to draw the line. I may have a penchant for note writing and my daughters surely knew their initials by age two, however, even though our family tree may be gnarly, it certainly branches out wide.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Don' Confuse Fair weather with Hell

Many a man has rued the day he assumed the southern charm of his fair maiden was a barometer of the weakness of her character. How could something this sweet and delicate be bothered with serious issues. Well, Hell hath no fury as a southern woman scorned. As I mentioned earlier, a lady may take to her room with the vapors to recover but under that delicate demeanor lies a force to be reckoned with.

Just saying.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

If it Tastes Like a Duck

In full disclosure, this is an older post  from an earlier iteration of my blog that dates back to 2013. However, I wanted to share it with those new "Gentle Readers".

As many know, I enjoy cooking and like to think that I am pretty good at it. At least my friends and family compliment me. Either I am accomplished - and they are sincere or I am so pitiful that they offer positive accolades to make me feel better. Whatever the case, the family keeps assigning me dishes for the family reunion as opposed to paper products. (Cousin Helen should take a hint - her "prized" beef and eggplant casserole should be retired.)

We have some friends who share our affection for good food and the husband has prepared some of the best meals I have ever experienced. His dishes are usually Cajun but can vary. Although I have never watched him cook I would love to spend time with him to learn all the little details that make his meals so special. I am sure I could pick up much from his methods of preparation, his choice of seasonings, even the way he cuts his vegetables and meats. Whatever he prepares is always an unbelievable gastronomical feat.

Needless to say, when they come to dinner, it is a nerve racking experience for me. The bar has been raised. Being of a competitive nature, I start early researching recipes for something different, a little exotic but not too "out there". After all, I wouldn't want anyone to think I put any effort into it, you know, just a little dish I do every once in a while. (And for this occasion I do use a recipe and mind you, I follow every step - for I fear failure.)

This particular night was going to be one of those occasions. We were going to have duck. I started early in the morning. I washed the duck in cold water and then steamed it over black tea for an hour in an oven. Ok, I could do this, I told myself. The remaining preparation involved carefully rubbing the bird with a special herb butter blend, roasting, basting, resting the canard, (praying to the gods of all fowl), tenting it, then collecting the juices, and reducing them with the juice of freshly squeezed blood oranges. Then I carefully prepared the bird for presentation.

The dinner was most enjoyable and I basked in my success, modestly accepting the compliments from all of my guests. Over dessert, I remarked that even though, I had to admit, I was pleased with my duck, I had always loved the unique flavor of his duck and hoped one day he would show me how he prepared his dish.

He smiled and said, "That's easy. I just take the duck, wash it, cut off the breasts, throw the remainder of the bird away, then lightly saute it in a pan with butter." Then he added, "Oh, and I throw a bit of salt and pepper on it to taste."

So much for the recipe books.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Animal Crackers in my Soup

 "Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?" I found this to be a profound thought if one ponders it. If the purpose of a vegetarian's  diet is to spare the life of living creatures, then wouldn't the thought of eating a baked replica of them cause them to take pause, albeit of flour and sugar? Is this hypocritical?

I have no problems with vegetarians at all as long as (1) they practice it for a sane reason they are dedicated to, and (2) they do not judge nor proselytize those of us carnivores, taking in account that down south, 95% of us are carnivores. That 5% being part of the Yankees who settled in Florida and other folks who feel the need to forgo meat. Remember we are the ones who have cookbooks on road kill. There is a reason we refer to an Armadillo as Opossum on the Half Shell.

A girl I worked with years ago declared she was a vegetarian. When ever we went out for lunch, she generally ordered salads. One day, at the annual Fall Church Bazaar, we found ourselves sitting at the table with the local priest, whom we knew very well. Lunch was their famous vegetable soup.

As the church ladies came by and filled everyone's bowl at the table, my friend looked at me in horror. "There is beef in this soup." I had forgotten there was beef in the soup and felt badly about it. Then she continued in a panicky whisper, "What am I going to do?" 

"Don't worry, just have a few of the corn bread muffins and we will stop on the way back to work and pick something up for you." 

I took a spoonful of my soup and savored the flavor I had enjoyed every year at the Bazaar. When I looked over at my friend, I could see her getting even more anxious."Are your alright?" 

"No," she said in a whisper,"What will the Father think if I don't finish my soup." 

I hated to tell her since he was rector of the church and there were hundreds gathered to speak to him, whether or not she cleaned her bowl was not going to be his first (or last) thought. "Don't worry." "But, I don't want him to judge me because I am a vegetarian."

On the way back to work, I asked her just why she was a vegetarian. "Well, a good friend of mine in college was and I thought if she was, then it must be a good thing to do." 

"And, what were her reasons?" 

"I never really asked." 

"Do you like meat?" 

"Yes, I love steak and hamburgers." 

"So you have no ethical reason or health reason or political reason?" 

"No, not really."

"Maybe you should consider giving it up and just eating a regular diet." 

"But what would my friend think?" 

"If she is a good friend, it shouldn't bother her. She won't even know it until you dine together." 

"I guess not." 

"When do you think you'll see her again?" "Oh, I don't know, she hasn't really been available for a year or two now? I leave messages but she is so busy she never has a chance to return my calls." 

"In that case, I think she would happy you made a your own decision." 

"Still, I think I should call her." 

Exhausted by the conversation, I replied,"You just do that."

Come to think of it, I'm not sure which is worse, an arrogant vegetarian out to covert the world, or one blindly following along, simply because someone said it was a good idea. The jury is out on that one.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Third Rock from the Sun

What if the expedition from outer space - you know the one that was thwarted at Area 51 - ever returns to visit? God help them if they happen to land in our country, somewhere in the rural south. Let's say their sophisticated GPS puts them square in the middle of a trailer park. Now, I'm not talking about a community of pre-constructed modular housing. I mean a good ol' trailer park - the kind that attracts tornadoes. If so their view of planet Earth would be fairly skewed. OK, it would be damn skewed.

I can just imagine their report back to the mother ship. There would be some debate that Earthlings' worship their "wheeled transport vehicles". After all they have them as idols raised on rock like platforms in their yards. Yet, they do not clean them nor seem to take care of them, often operating them with pieces missing and evidence of damage to the exterior. In their homes they have pieces of pottery decorated with colorful pictures of vehicles sporting of numbers and a black and white flag scattered about on tables and shelves and adorning their walls.

They inhabit metal modules divided into several living spaces. Often the floor is covered with a matted green fibrous material. The main rooms of most modules include at least one throne type chair reserved for the head of the family unit. Male Earthlings are fond of their metal defense devices that are used to kill other lower forms of life. Then the heads of those prizes are displayed in the living modules - perhaps as idols.

Earthlings consume mass quantities of a grain based beverage and white flat pieces of grain based food smeared with a white congealed product topped with slices of a round flat pink food that contains some animal product. Other consumables include bags of thin flat pieces of a tuber type plant, large vessels containing two toed feet of some lower life form preserved in a pink liquid, and other large vessels of whole poultry ova also preserved in pink liquid.

And one last mystifying point of these Earthlings - they are in search of a god named Elvis that lore said died many years ago, but many have faith still exists among them. Large images of his likeness on a black napped background can often be found adorning the walls of their living modules in a very visible place.

Over the years, having come into contact with many sophisticated space ships supposedly launched from this planet, they would be confused. But then after their visit to our planet, no doubt their only conclusion could be that Earthlings are searching the heavens for this this God named Elvis.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Hissy Fit

 As Boz Scaggs (for you children of the 70's) so famously said, "Danger there's breakdown dead ahead."

Isn't everyone entitled to a nervous breakdown every once in a while. Now southern women all know about pity parties. Oh you may deny it, but each one of you is guilty of throwing one of these in your honor. What woman hasn't gone to her bed for a day or two (with a pint of ice cream - or a box of chocolates in my case) and cried her eyes out over some (at the time) most horrible thing, that now seems almost frivolous?

Don't laugh. There is a time and place for these hysterics. A proper southern lady is one who knows when and where to pitch her fit, air her grievances. It is the ones who choose to have a hissy fit in public who give the female gender such a bad reputation.

Ladies retire to their rooms in moments of reflection - ie they are pissed as Hell, their feelings are hurt, and they are plotting revenge. The remaining general female population, on the other hand, make sure God and everyone know who has wronged them and what they intend to do about it. The former find greater satisfaction in their retaliation since generally when the dust settles they are far above the fray, while the later find themselves bruised and battered but proud to wear the sash and crown of revenge.

But a nervous breakdown is a whole 'nuther ball game. This is a card carrying medical condition diagnosed by a physician requiring serious treatment - far more than smelling salts and a good bath. Even retail therapy, with all its miraculous therapeutic powers cannot save one from a "melt down". Two pints of Godiva Double Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream will not soothe the "anxiety" or relieve the "depression" of a breakdown.

Every family has "that" relative that is spoken about in hushed tones. The one where tales of her "break down" are legendary, so much so it is hard to tell fact from fiction. Did she suffer more than one? How long was she "away"? Rumors of shock treatments, years of psychotic drugs, and idle gossip about whether or not she will ever be "right" are whispered at every family gathering.

We all have at least one such kin among us. Right? The beauty of being southern is that we don't hide the skeletons in our closets. No, we open the doors, invite them to come out, and let them dance. It is not the dancing skeletons one should fear, rather it is the scorned southern women in their rooms seeking retribution. Even when we feel we deserve one, are even entitled to one, we do not have time for nervous breakdowns.

Friday, May 21, 2021


My soul has been saved - right there by the dairy case in Wal-mart. I guess that is as good a place as any. And it wasn't as if I thought I was in need of divine salvation. However this older gray haired church lady with her hat, purse, and coordinating shoes saw things differently.

As I opened the door to refrigerated case to get a carton of milk I noticed her behind me. I asked if I was in her way or if I could get something for her. She didn't say anything until I turned around. I found a small sheet of paper in my face with notes written in a very shaky handwriting separated by lines and noted with colored numbers.

At first I thought she was showing me her shopping list and asking for help. I was wrong. She pointed her crooked finger to line number 4. "You are familiar with Pastor Pascal aren't you?" "No, I don't think I am." "Well you need to listen to this. This is where he talks about God and the Pope and the Rapture." She could tell I was a little lost.

Then she pulled a CD from the hand written list. Only then did I notice that the handwritten list was actually a piece of paper that had been cut and taped together with scotch tape to make a sleeve for the CD. "It's all here. And there is so much more. Pastor Pascal tells you all you need to know for the second reckoning. You know when our Lord Jesus comes back." I thought carefully before I said anything lest I find myself into a deeper soul saving salvation review.

"I'll take these home," referring to the CD and the pamphlet, The Rapture, a Second Look,"and read them tonight." Then I removed the CD from the handwritten sleeve and handed the sleeve back to her. "Here, you keep this and you can use it with another CD and give it to someone else." "But, you won't know what is on the CD." (Knowing I was damned to Hell anyway so a little white lie to please a God fearing church lady would certainly be forgiven.) I continued, "I'll listen to whole thing, not just pieces of it." She smiled. "Oh, the Lord bless you. Glory be to God."

As I left the store I started thinking, is this the Rapture Redux, given our near miss in October 2011 according to Harold Camping and Warren Jaffs' failed prediction of December of 2013 (but we all knew he is crazy as a goat). And we should not forget Grigori Rasputin who told us it would all end in August of 2013. But then he also was the private mystic adviser to the Romanovs and we know what happened to them. So why should I question Pastor Pascal being any more (or less) nefarious.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

To Venture from the Zone or not.

 I was reading an article in the New York Times about taking chances and living outside your comfort zone. This got me thinking - how far am I willing to venture outside my comfort zone. For instance, given the chance, I would drive a foreign sports car on a test track at a fast rate of speed. However, the idea of sky diving scares the you what out of me.

I would gladly try a glass of absinthe, once thought to be a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug and hallucinogen. But, I would never get a monkey for a pet.

Trips to India and Istanbul are at the top of my travel bucket list. However, at this time I doubt the US State Department would be too cotton on a US citizen going to Istanbul. And with the surge of COVID cases in India, I have put that trip on hold - for while. That said, performing on stage is something that I have nightmares about. You know when you wake up, and pray that the scene of you being on stage, stark naked, and not being able to speak, was actually a very bad dream.

I have friends who have gone bungee jumping and loved it. Me, not so much. As my Mama would say, "That would give me the heebee jeebees." But then again, I'm more than willing to try a very difficult recipe for the first time the night I am entertaining 12, guests, some I have never met. In truth, I have done this several times, with success. My thought is, if my attempt fails in a glorious manner, then at least there will be a great story to entertain my guests with as they dine on either a burnt meal or some other barely edible entree.

To add to my "Not ever going to try it, so don't ask" list, I would never dye my hair blue, go cliff diving, or ride a large roller coaster (think of the possible loose screws that may be barely holding it together, given the the high, drunk, and/or idiotic carnies who are hired to assemble said carnival ride (of death)), or get a tattoo. 

Maybe we should all take a few steps out of our comfort zones and partake of some feared or forbidden activity. On second thought, I'll pass. I like my little zone, it's quite cozy and suits me very well. As I have often said, enjoying life is all about grabbing as many brass rings as you can. But I have no desire to be forced to redeem them posthumously. After all, who knows what idiots put the merry-go-round together.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Live Large or Stay on the Porch

 Sometimes we need to see life through someone else's eyes to appreciate our world. While living in Charleston I had such an experience.

A co-worker of mine who comes from North of the Mason Dixon line was still getting used to being among-st us. She appreciated southern culture - that of the refined gentile lifestyle, where our tables are set with sterling silver, all the children know their manners, and (most) everyone is friendly and helpful. She was a little taken aback when while walking her dogs one evening she noticed that her neighbors carried glasses of wine while walking their canines (the men carried bottles of beer).

If that did not set her back, a visit to her hair dresser may have. She went to an upscale salon on King Street that offers their clientele a glass of white wine during their visit. She saw that as hospitable. It was the gentlemen who walked in carrying highballs of bourbon to get their hair cut, that threw her. (Seems a well known bar is next door and the men would stop there first to pick up a bit of refreshment before coming in for their appointments.)

She asked me if this was the norm or the exception. I explained this was pretty much the norm in Charleston, the southern culture even with its manners, civility, breeding, and good taste, was much more relaxed when it came to our social ways. Basically we enjoy entertaining and having a good time. Not that we approach life with reckless abandon, but we go large or go home. (For example, where else do men think nothing of wearing Kelly green ties with pink flamingos on them, bright plaid madras pants, or seersucker suits of any color - in public.)

Then I told her about our girls trip last summer where the five of us commandeered a table by the pool for a week at the small boutique hotel where we were staying in the Keys. We needed it to accommodate our half gallons of vodka and scotch and cooler of beer, wine, and champagne, as well as the mixers and garnishes. Early every morning we would start with Bloody Marys and Mimosas, move on to beer and by the late afternoon be into the liquor or wine. At the beginning of the week, we were getting odd looks from the other guests. However by mid week, we could tell those looks of mild objection had turned to more than slight envy.

When I finished my tale I realized the expression on my friend's face indicated she would never look at me in the same light. I'm not sure if my story confirmed what she thought she knew or revealed a side of me that scared her. It is what it is.

Later she asked a gentleman in our office (who was from Pennsylvania), "Do you notice they drink down here a lot?"

The conversation among the three of us continued about the social norms in Charleston and how strong one's constitution had to be to keep up. I made it clear that I was an old dog and knew when it was time to climb back on the porch.

The conversation ended with my comment,"And, we haven't even gotten to football season yet."

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Cruelty that Never Ends

I made the mistake of once again trying to find a new bathing suit - sober. And, it has gotten worse since my last foray into the wilderness of swimsuits. I found myself staring at two racks. One was full of itsy bitsy tops and the other, teeny weeny bottoms. Really? They could at least keep the two parts together, the humiliation is greater when one is forced to face it twice.

There were no "one-piece-that-makes-everyone-look-slimmer" choices to be found. You know the ones that are made of at least one yard of fabric that would discreetly hide the sags and weight of a middle age woman. If I thought there was a conspiracy earlier, now I know the coup has occurred, we have lost, and the new regime is in place. That regime being the young, lithe, slender, (sickeningly so) Sports Illustrated type women who can wear these small patches of cloth they call swim suits these days. Oh, to be around when they hit middle age and the cruel fate of the years catches up with them. But I digress.

As I stood there looking at the racks of swatches and string labeled "Swim Suits", a sales girl approached me. "Can I help you?" "I'm afraid not. I assume there are no more modest flattering suits this year?" "No mam." (OK, let's add polite insult to injury here.) "They just don't seem to be the fashion any more." "Certainly, someone must be making them. After all, we, you know the baby boomers (I assumed she had studied about us in her history class.) are a pretty big market you would think someone would want to tap into."

She asked, "Is it just one piece suits you are looking for?" When I told her yes, she smiled and said, "I think I can help you. There is a store down town called Maes. I am sure they will have one piece suits. My grandmother shops there all the time. "

I was afraid to qualify my request by adding that I did not want said suit to be made of wool or cover my knees. And, that a rubber bathing cap was not necessary. I graciously thanked her nonetheless.

Men of my age may tire of hearing women bemoan the ordeal of trying to find a swimsuit, I just wish they would have to sport a Speedo on the beach for a day. Perhaps, then he would feel our pain.

Yes, if there were any doubt - this is proof - God is a man. A female god would never have us suffer such agony year after year.

Monday, May 17, 2021

A Southern Belle, 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 Belle 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, bless her soul. After all, in the end, aren't reputations are so over rated.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

God is a Man

 If you ever questioned the gender of God (as in the God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth), there is little doubt in my mind that God is a man. Now, I do not base this on the male identity assigned to him in the Bible, or God Forbid (no pun intended) that he is a he because the Bible says so, rather I consider his actions. 

Take child birth for instance. If God were a woman, this would be a condition regulated to both sexes. She would want the man to truly appreciate the pain and agony of birth. Not that women do not appreciate or love the joy of bringing a new life into the world, why limit the joy and pain to one gender.

If God were a woman, there would be no disparity among the genders. The centuries of women being socially and politically held down by men, would never have been an issue. There would be equality among the genders. All people, male and female, would have every opportunity known to man. Those last words, just another reference to the domination of men. If God were a woman, the reference of "mankind" would most likely be "to men and women". Should we applaud the term "mankind" as the inclusion of the female gender  - as a kind of man? I think not. The references never end.

Speaking of the the male tense. If God were a woman would the Declaration of the United States state "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . . "  I doubt it. Neither the words "woman" nor "she" are mentioned in the text of that document. 

As for the US Constitution,  the Equal Rights Amendment (the ERA) was first drafted in 1923, it took until 1972 before the amendment to the US Constitution was passed by the (predominantly male) Congress. Finally in 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Amendment, the number needed to enact the law. However, in the long 49 year arduous process, 5 states have since rescinded their ratification. Most stating that the amendment is unnecessary, that women are included in the reference of "Man". Isn't that magnanimous of them. 

Oh, there have been considerations, such as "Lady Liberty". Not to mention hurricanes that were all given female names. Well, that was until 1978 when male names were added to the rotation as a notion of "equality".

Which brings us to the question of "Mother Nature" and "Mother Earth".  These references date back to the wisdom on the Mycenaean Greeks in 12th or 13th century BC. However, once again, these personifications refer to the planet Earth, a small speck in the cosmic world, unlike the almighty God, who reigns over the entire universe.  

In Genesis 1:27, it reads "So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him". According to the Bible woman was an afterthought, created from the rib of the male. Perhaps in his own wisdom, God foresaw procreation, and needed someone else to handle that burden.

Don't get me wrong I am not a feminist, just someone opining on the state of the universe. However, one must remember, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature". But then again, that was from a commercial for margarine, an imitation of butter. At least women are given credit in this instance of sense and good taste.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Drunks, Fools, and Southern Women

My mother was southern, very southern. She majored in Religious Education at Wake Forest. She was extremely talented as a painter and a seamstress. And she could quote passages from Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette and believed every word of it. 

She was one of the southern women of her generation who held down a full time job (as a Case Worker for the Department of Social Services for 30 years or so) as well as managing her own money, but believed that the husband was the man of the house and pretty much deferred to his decisions.

She was obsessed with sterling silver - the family silver, antique silver, as well as new silver. 

During most of my childhood she fought the addiction of alcohol, sometimes winning, often times not so much. Eventually she sobered up, but as a child it made life very interesting around the house. 

All bets were off when she was in the kitchen. She was a good cook, but it was not something she really cared about.  However, if need be, she could rise to the occasion.

Given her state, at any given time, while I was growing up, or the state of her kitchen for that matter, it is a testament to innate breeding of the southern woman in her, that she insisted we eat with sterling silver flatware. There were times there was no meal, but the table was always set with the silver. Often we gathered only to realize dinner was not going to be ready before bedtime so we opted for sandwiches. It would not be unusual to find a severely burnt piece of beef in the oven a day or two later. I found it easier to throw out the pan along with whatever was left over from the extensive roasting. 

One of the most amazing things about her, was her ability to perfectly fry chicken, moist and crispy, no matter what her state - stone cold sober or three sheets to the wind. It didn't matter, it was a true talent, an innate skill. 

We credited our not contracting any food born illness or bungee bungee disease from Samonella, E colli, or a Norovirus due to the sterling silver flatware. I truly believe God looks after drunks, fools, southern women, and various combinations of the former, because no one died and our home never burned down.

Friday, May 14, 2021

A True Southern Cook

I was talking about southern cooking with a friend of mine recently. She was asking if my mother taught me to cook. I explained that no, in fact she never let me in the kitchen. When I got married boiling water was a challenge.

She went on to talk about how she was now cooking new cuisines such as Asian Fusion, Tapas, Thai, and Ethiopian. Even though she did not articulate in so many words, she was saying, "Southern is so yesterday".

"But I know you like true southern food. In fact every thing I have eaten you fixed was quite tasty. There is an art to true southern cooking. So many people these days think they are southern cooks but they don't know what they are talking about."

Wow, I thought, here was a compliment. After all I had watched my Grandmama and Granny cook as a child.

She continued, "Nothing irritates me more than cooks who profess to be true 'Southern Cooks' but when you get down to brass tacks, they are cooking out of Junior League cookbooks, using instant rice, and still feeding their children that disgusting stuff from that Kraft blue box they call macaroni and cheese."

I agreed and we went on to discuss our childhood memories of being in the kitchen with our grandmothers, watching them carefully make biscuits, fry chicken, and bake cakes. She did have me when it came to watching her mother. My childhood memories of Mama's cooking were more of burnt roasts discovered the next morning. (Although my Mama could fry the best chicken I ever had despite her state of sobriety (or not) at the time.)

That evening while I was fixing supper I started thinking about my cooking. I will not deny that I feel as if I am a fairly good cook. One exception, in full disclosure, I cannot fry chicken. Everyone has a character failure - this is mine. There are worse. I can make macaroni and cheese that is rich with sharp white cheddar and cream with a touch of truffle oil, blacken salmon filets like a seasoned chef (no pun intended), bake a Lemon Doberge cake with homemade lemon curd between each of the 4 layers, to name some of my favorite recipes. 

I love good cornbread with bits of jalapenos and cheese. Collards are always a good green vegetable to add to any meal. I only use real creamy butter, never never never anything else. Anything, short of dessert, can be enhanced with the addition of bacon. I never learned how to cook a potato until I was married (and started reading about cooking) because I grew up with rice at every meal.

I make a mean roux that can be used as a base for gravy, gumbo, etouffee, or bechamel sauce. My pimento cheese is rich with real roasted peppers (that I roast myself) and sharp cheddar. 

My cooking is truly southern. I liberally utilize the two of the three food groups: butter and bacon.

OK, my conscious is heavy here. I spent years trying master collards only to finally learn the secret from a newly published cookbook - oh the humility of it. I tired of my biscuits being the butt of family jokes, so I resorted to the bagged frozen ones from Pillsbury. Grandmama, forgive me, I have failed you. My cornbread starts with a 45 cent box of Jiffy mix - shoot me now. But I have no apologies for the truffle oil in the macaroni, it is just damn good.

Now that I have confessed my sins in the kitchen, I can cook, bake, baste, braise, simmer, broil, and saute with pride. Everyone has skeletons in their pantry. I am just happy to put on an apron and dance with mine.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Grandparents by Any Other Name

 There is nothing like grandchildren. I could stop there and any grandparent would hardily agree.

The reaction to that declaration is often, "Aren't they great. You can enjoy them and send them home when you are tired." But, in my mind, a true grandparent would never say that (even if they shared that belief when they had been run ragged by 1 or 2 small children). But, I digress.

Grandchildren open your mind to their unabashedly clear unfiltered thoughts. To me it is refreshing to get a blatant answer to any question. I am often surprised by their look at life. Their minds are free of the clutter we "old" folks have amassed over the years. They truly live in the moment all the time. I only wish their world would stay that way.

Naturally it is easier to have patience and dote on Grandchildren. Grandparents are more mature than they were when they were raising rearing their own children. And more often than not, a grandchild's love is honest and rarely changes as they age. 

Unlike the idiotic, slow minded person you were at times in the minds of your children, Grandchildren see their grandparents as a fountain of love and knowledge. 

As a grandparent, my granddaughters are the cutest, the brightest, most creative, funniest, and loving - naturally. Of course we are quick to agree with other grandparents as they brag on their grandchildren. Being polite, I was reared that way. (But, I know my grandchildren are the best! Just Saying.)

I grew up hearing endearing stories by my father about his beloved maternal grandmother, who lived with them after his grandfather died. She was Scottish, and her name was Mary Stewart Currie. He called her 'GranCurrie". I was named for her - Ann Currie. She died many years before I was born. Hearing his stories of her, I would love to have met her. She was a very important part of my father's childhood. My daughter always said she wanted her children to call me "GranCurrie" (like her Great Great Grandmother) and so it is. I  am thrilled to be referred to in such an endearing way.  

Grandparents are all given a moniker. Some of these are the choice of the grandparents themselves - Grandmama, Grandmother, Maamaa, Granny, Granddaddy, Papa, to name a few. My parents were Doc and Zeezee to my girls. I think the most endearing names are those assigned by the grandchildren themselves, I question any grandparent who doesn't except these names as a true sign of love. 

It's like my Daddy said, "If I had known how wonderful granchildren are, I would have had them first!

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

True Girl Friends are Always There

I truly believe that a woman's super powers are the close friendships she has with other women. These relationships are there for support, fun, and entertainment. They serve as a sounding board, teacher, trainer, mentor, marital therapist, stylist, wardrobe consultant, and any thing else they need to be in order to support each other. Only those few close friends who meet all these roles are to be considered true "Girl Friends". 

Being with your girl friends is often like being on a tropical island in the middle of stormy seas. With them one's cares are left behind, if only even for an hour or two.

Girl friends are honest and frank when you need to hear the truth, compassionate and understanding when things are not going well, and compatriots when times call for a good fun.

Girl friends are the ones you want with you when trying on swimsuits, they are only ones who will share the agony of the search and provide an honest opinion when asked. 

They are the ones with whom you can bare your soul, confess your sins, share your dreams, and ask for advice. They are there to share your gossip, fears, trials and triumphs. They are blatantly honest, fiercely supportive, non-judgmental, and always available. They are the ones with you through good times and bad. 

True girl friends are always there when you need them yet they know when to leave you alone. They remember all the good times, quickly forget the spats you may have had, forgive you of any sins, and always take your side.

Men may have their friends who share a love of sports and games. They may help each other with a project or two.  They may converse about the news, politics, or their sports team, but, they rarely share those emotional bonds, true honesty, and support women find with their true friends.

Girl friends are those you can always count on, will always defend you - even when they disagree, and are dedicated to the end. Once when an older lady was asked what a true girl friend was, she smiled, thought for a minute, and said, "If I ever meet my demise in an untimely matter, my girl friends, without being asked, will be the first at my home to make sure there are no dirty clothes thrown about, that the beds are made, and the old food and condiments have been cleaned from my refrigerator - and all before anyone else arrives."

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Oh, I Would Never Do That

 Growing Old is a Bitch! Funny, I never thought much about it in my youth. Perhaps I was in denial, more likely I was trying to cope with my daily life. Well, "Surprise!" It's here. I am on the tail end of Middle Age and onto whatever the next phase of life is called. Actually in my mind, every few years the age "Middle Age" moves back 4 or 5 years. We all cannot age like Jane Fonda. Honestly she is like Benjamin Button, aging younger each year at the age of 83. But, I digress.

As I passed through my youth and the birthdays came quicker, I had mental notes of what  was "Old Age". These were things I swore I would never do. There were these things women did, bought, and wore that showed their age. I could not imagine finding myself at the point where I would do, buy, and wear such things.

Why would anyone need reading glasses? Who wants to look like a librarian with glasses hanging from a chain around your neck. These days I have to make sure I have a spare pair at any given time should the ones I am currently using get misplaced or broken.

Wrinkle cream, seriously, why would anyone use such? Now I find myself lingering in aisle at the drugstore perusing the shelves of "Anti-Aging" cream, trying to identify the one that will be more effective, Of course I have to use my reading glasses to see the fine print on the back of the box. By the way, when did they start making all the print on the boxes so"Fine"?

High heels make ones legs look better. Lower heels are for old ladies. I haven't worn high heels in years. In fact I'm not sure where all the boxes with my "heels" are these days. Flat shoes are comfortable. Besides I am past the age of making my legs look better. They are what they are. I have other concerns.

Swim wear, they all fit, just find the color and style you like best. Not! These days I find myself wondering if there is such a thing as an age appropriate bathing suit that does bring to mind the woolen swimming suits woman wore in the early 1900's that covered most of one's body. Obviously the designers today are all in their late 20's.

Vitamins, yes. But those designated for "Seniors" in the silver bottle - never. Now I ask myself why would anyone think that a silver labelled bottle would have anything to do with old age.

Plastic surgery, what an insane idea. Who would be so vain that they would pay money for surgery to make one look younger. Women age gracefully. But these days, I ask myself how much "work" could I have done that would make me look a bit younger, but not be so much that everyone would know I did it.

All those obnoxious traits my mother had, the way she would do things, her attitude. I would never.   Now I find myself waking up at night in a cold sweat fearing that I have become my mother.  Any of you who have followed this blog in the past or read my book, know that becoming my mother would either be something I could never achieve or a disaster. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

First You Pray

Clemmie, an institution in our family, was a dear lady quick to issue words of wisdom. She suffered no fools and always had a sense of humor.

Her advice to my daughter, if she ever had any problems with husband, was to just "Choke him and dare him to die."

She always looked on the positive side. She told me the one day. "You know what I say - first you cry, then you mourn, then you pray, then you get on with life."

When a physical therapist commented to her, "We can always hope and pray." She quickly corrected him, "No surree, you pray, then you hope." When he asked her if she thought she would be able to take some steps the following day, her response was, "Now, you know I ain't got no a $94 answer to your $84 question."

We had visited her in the hospital when her stays there had became more and more frequent. As she got more frail and her her gray hair thinned, we knew her time with us was growing nigh. But she was always upbeat. She always kept that sense of humor about her.

Then early the following week about 9:30 one evening her granddaughter called, "I just wanted to let you know Grandmama has given up she is ready to go home." Knowing she was already at 'home" and not at the hospital I was not sure how to interpret this.

So I asked when did this happen. Her reply, "Oh, just today. See she stopped eating and drinking last Friday."

"Oh, I am so sorry. What can we do?"

"Well I thought you might want to come see her before she passes. She's real weak but she opens her eyes and she knows who is in the room. I'm just not sure she'll be here tomorrow."

Obviously my initial interpretation that wrong. Good thing I didn't ask when the arrangements were. I thanked her for calling and told her we would probably be out there later that evening.

We did go and she was alive, just barely. It was Tuesday and she had not had anything to eat or drink since Friday.  Clemmie had told them weeks earlier, when it was time, it was time. She did not want any help. She was DNR. After we visited with her, we stepped in the kitchen to talk with her granddaughter.

"I don't see how long she can go on like this?"

"Well," she said,"we think she is waiting on my uncle Earl to come from Philadelphia. She keeps asking for him."

"When will he be here?"

"Not until Friday."

We left. I took the family some food on Thursday and Clemmie was about the same, just a shadow of her former self, still holding on for Earl.

On Saturday morning her granddaughter called, "Grandmama's gone."

I chose my words carefully for fear of misinterpreting her. For all I knew she could mean - "gone" to the hospital or "gone" up the road. Hopefully she had gone "home" as they say. "I am so sorry. But this has to be for the best. She was so frail."


"But did Earl make it?"

"Yes mam he did. His train came in about 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon."

When I put the phone down I knew a very important part of our family's life had ended. I also knew her words of wisdom would always be with us. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Fry It, You'll Like It

"Fried Pickles"? Should I be surprised? No. We fry everything down here. In fact someone said, "Southerners don't age, they just drop dead". If you look at the list of foods we fry, you would know why. But, we die happy.

Now, I'm not talking about silly things like Snickers candy bars, Twinkie's, Oreo's, or Coca Cola. Yes, there are folks out there who "fry" Coca Cola. Talk about the ultimate oxymoron - Fried Diet Coke! I'm talking about real food, meats and vegetables. And, when it comes to frying, we don't stop with chicken, potatoes, or fish, we go to the next level - chicken livers, gizzards (which are actually giblets), chitlins (the viscera intestines of a pig) (Note here: I don't eat all this.), okra, green tomatoes, hush puppies, sweet potatoes, and the list goes on. - alligator, squash, mushrooms. It's all going to taste better fried.

We like it "deep fried" not just pan fried. Any serious (honest) cook will tell you that the best fried foods are fried in lard (or Crisco, a close 2nd choice) not any kind of healthy oil and in a well cured cast iron skillet. We may die early, but by God when we go, we go out most contented having eaten well during our short life span.

The State Fair of Texas fancies itself as the "Fried Food Capitol of Texas". In my mind, it may have been game, set, match when in 2009 they gave the Big Tex Food Award in creativity to a concessionaire for "Deep Fried Butter" described as "100% pure butter whipped 'til light and fluffy, then specially sweetened with a choice of several flavors. The tantalizing mixture is surrounded by a special dough and quick fried." I don't think this can be topped as the ultimate fried dish - not that I would ever eat it. But then again, in Texas they fry pecan pies.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Trinity of Southern Food

The term "Healthy Southern Cooking" is the ultimate oxymoron. Folks from up north often comment on Southern Cuisine and how much they love it. They also lament, it just doesn't taste the same "up there". Well there is a simple reason for all this, down here we have three main food groups, Butter, Bacon, and BBQ. (BBQ alone deserves its own post to do it justice.)

 Part of southern cooking, let's say the heart of southern cooking, is the flavor. And that flavor is not something you can bottle (short of someones secret BBQ sauce) or put in a flavor packet. The collards taste just right because of the thick pieces of bacon, hunk of fat back, or piece of salted pork you browned in the pot before you threw the collards in. 

Biscuits will not work correctly without Crisco or lard. (And for the record, I seriously doubt Bisquick contains dehydrated lard.) OK, you can fry chicken in vegetable oil and it will taste great. But I can assure you it tastes better fried in Crisco. 

There is a reason Butter is a food group down here. For instance, a decent biscuit is not decent without a pat of sweet creamy butter. "I can't believe it's not butter" isn't - just in case your mother never told you. Margarine is blasphemy. 

And there is little argument that bacon added to anything tastes better. This can be a sandwich, a casserole, or a pot of green beans, to name a few. One of newest fads on gourmet menus is Pork Belly. One again we are way ahead of you. Pork Belly is nothing more than extra thick slabs of bacon.

There are several truths in southern fare: Real Macaroni and Cheese does not come from a blue box. There is no such thing as "Oven Baked Fried Chicken". Powered gravy should be outlawed. Canned collards and boiled peanuts are disgusting. And the words "turkey" and "bacon" should never be associated with one another. 

I realize that due to heart health issues some folks need to abstain from the saturated fats. Everything in moderation. However, anyone who knows anything about the south knows moderation is not in our DNA. The only time southern women use moderation is in their words when writing a note of regret to the hostess of a party they did not want to attend in the first place.

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Coup de Grace of Ignorance in the South

 As polite and friendly as the Southern culture is famous for, there are many faux pas that can occur when one doesn't know any better. Just one of these alone can trip up the mere mortal. Then there are the cardinal sins, some so egregious they can bring about a fate worse than death.That said here is a short list of those missteps, mistakes, no nos, and gaffes that are frowned upon. 

Putting dark meat in your chicken salad is one. I have known some ladies who found an invitation to join the local garden club rescinded for this misjudgment. 

Showing up at the Junior League meeting with store bought cookies is another. And if they are still in the plastic container, you may as well leave town. This is the type sin that will bring disgrace on the family for generations. 

A third is forgetting to put flowers in the church when it is one's assigned Sunday. Worse yet, forgetting to remove the dead arrangement prior to the following Sunday service. This can be the kiss of death, especially if the lady placing flowers on the alter that following Sunday is one known to gossip. 

While on the subject of flowers, it is frowned upon, let me rephrase that, one should never leave plastic flowers on a grave - not even the 'realistic' silk blossoms. Not only is this seen as disrespectful to the dearly departed, it is down right tacky. 

Wearing white to a funeral or black to a Deb ball - enough said. 

 Commenting about a lady's weight in mixed company. Even if it is so, one doesn't want to seem petty. 
Re-gifting a wedding gift or any gift for that matter, of course that is unless you can do it without getting caught.

Not using Duke's Mayonnaise in your chicken salad or your deviled eggs. Nothing else will do. . . period. 

And you thought wearing white shoes prior to Easter or after Labor Day was the only thing to worry about. If so, bless your heart, you can't help it, you just don't know any better.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Lessons, Love, and Joy of Mother's Day

In 1914 the second Sunday of May was proclaimed as Mother's Day by President Woodrow Wilson. It was to be a day of "public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country". But it did not become a commercial celebration until the early 1920's when the Hallmark Card Company began creating and producing Mother's Day cards. So now you know the rest of the story. 

As a little girl, my father would have corsages sent to my mother and me to wear to church as celebrations of this day. He and my brother would also sport boutonnieres in their lapels. All of red flowers, indicating our mothers were alive. After my paternal grandmother passed away, my father's boutonniere was white, indicating his mother was no longer with us. Memories of these flowers come to mind when I remember Mother's Days of my youth.

Years later (many years ago) as a new mother, I often found my Mother's Day celebrations caught up in those of my mother and mother-in-law. Don't get me wrong, they deserved the honor and praise of the day. The family may have gone to a restaurant, a picnic at the family pond, or our home for lunch. Anyone who knows me, is aware of my love of cooking and entertaining, so the later was neither a bother nor a burden. 

However, I remember asking myself, "I'm a mother, why are our Mother's Day celebrations always around what others want to do?" Ah, the ignorance and egocentric feelings of youth. 

It wasn't as if my husband and children did not honor me as their wife and mother. There were always very thoughtful (and generous) gifts of flowers, jewelry, or perfume. Naturally the most precious were those cards and other crafts carefully made by my daughters. One that comes to mind was a "Snow Globe" constructed of an upside down baby food jar full of water, glitter, and a plastic flower. I knew it had very carefully been crafted with love and pride. Even these many (many) years later, I still have a few of these very special cards and gifts.

As time moved on my mother-in-law passed away followed several years later by the premature death of my mother. My granddaughters were born and I found myself "Matriarch" of the family. 

But there is an emptiness. As much as I enjoy the day with my family, I find there is a feeling of loss. Memories of my mother and mother-in-law are always on my mind. Not only do I dearly miss them, especially on this special day, I often think of the lessons of motherhood I learned from them. 

But then that loss is tempered by the pride I have watching my older daughter as an exceptional person and mother and my youngest as a wonderful young lady.  Memories of those Mother's Days as a young mother make me appreciate my daughters and granddaughters even more. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Yes, It's Me Again

 That's right, after a long sabbatical, my Blog is back. There have been several reincarnations over the years -  each a bit different. This time I am embarking on a new adventure. In my spare time, I would like to become a freelance writer. (We can all dream big.) So each post will be my take on some random idea. It may be the story of something that happened to me, came to my mind, or some odd topic I wish to opine on. My posts will be whatever comes to my mind when I sit down to write.

I do have one request, let me hear from you. Comment on the posts. Be honest - good, bad, or indifferent. Ask questions, submit ideas, or share your thoughts. As you read the (hopefully)  daily posts, should the notion strike you, pass the link onto friends and acquaintances. Any exposure is welcome.

So, here we go. 

PS My dedicated readers from over the years may see a story or two they find familiar. These will be thrown in for the benefit of new followers. Even though the Blog has the same name, it is a fresh start. 

Rainy Days and Mondays



I may be in denial, but in my mind, I am somewhere in my late 40's, well south of my true age of 60 something.

Yesterday I over heard a conversation among several young folks in their 20's. Referring to the inclement weather of the day. A young man remarked, "This reminds me of that old song 'Rainy Day and Mondays'. 

My interest was peaked since the Carpenters were a favorite group of my mine in my younger days.

The conversation continued as someone else asked, "What song?"

"You know the one that goes [and he started singing] '. . . hanging around, nothing to do but frown, rainy days and Mondays always get me down."

A young lady, sporting hair in several shades of pink and purple commented, "Never heard that one. Who sings it?"

I wanted to answer. It was the Carpenters, of course. But, I refrained.

The young man replied, "I'm not sure, maybe the Hammer Heads,"

"No, it was the Carpenters, I remember my mother played that song a lot," responded a young lady in her late thirties. "She loved their music. That song is old, I think from some time in the 70's."

The tune and lyrics played in my head, 'What I've got they used to call the blues. Nothing is really wrong. Feeling like I don't belong . . .'

The young man laughed. "That was 50 something years ago."

Ouch!  What is the old saying, 'You're as old as you feel.' Then I remembered the first line of the song, 'Talking to myself and feeling old . . .'  Reality is truly a bitch.