The Southern Humorists Present ...
May and June are All About Dixie Months!
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Being Southern is much more than livin' down South - it's a frame of mind and the Southern Humorists are here to educate y'all in the Southern way. Sit back, slice yo'self a piece of lemon ice box pie and get to grinnin'!
Thanks for readin', y'all!
Make sure y'all visit http://www.SouthernHumorists.com for more Southern Humor!
| Southern Humorists discuss "What exactly defines being Southern?" | Beachin' | It Might Be a Redneck Wedding ... | Queen of Kudzu | Slipping Into Southern | Cletus on Bein' Southern| Dixie on My Mind | South of Where?| Gravel Gertie Explains Being Southern! | Tornado Games | Southern Fu| Hillbilly Heritage | Size Isn't Important - Yeah Right! | Fathers-to-be Should Get the Support They Need| Amid the Magnolias | Southern Angel's Mid-Summer Southern Supper |
Southern Humorists discuss "What exactly defines being Southern?"
Chase Jackson said, "Being southern means you don't have to retire to the north."
David Decker said, "Being southern means a myriad of things... One thing for me is... Being Southern means that I don't buy into the idea that sliding around a frozen pond whilst trying to hit a piece of rubber into a net qualifies as a bonafide sport. 'Hockey' was and shall always be merely the completion of the hyphenated phrase of rejection known as 'Horse-Hockey.' Being Southern means that I know for a fact that some animal somewhere must have given either its life, or at the very least its hide, in order to provide the main projectile involved, for something to rightly be called a 'sport.' That ought to get the pot good and stirred up. Happy Mother's Day, ladies."
Pam - perpetually curious - Dragon asked, "Er...you know of a way to get the hide off a critter without having its insides spill out onto the ground, thereby killing it?"
David D. responded, "I was neither validating nor condemning the process of how the projectile gets made, Pamela. I was simply making an observation. Your leather purse, belt, and shoes got here in much the same way."
Pam - extremely carnivorous - Dragon said, "Hey, I got no problem with offing critters to eat or wear or play with, just wondered how you got their hide without killing them. This could be a rather remarkable way of having your critter and wearing it too."
David D. offered, "Happy Mother's Day, precious ladies. May you all be thought of by the words of Proverbs 31:10-ff."
Sheila Moss remarked, "I just came home from an air show, ya'll. Now that's a good ol' gal's way to spend Mother's day. It was great, all the stuff I like: hammerheads, Cuban eights, loops, twists, near passes. The Thunderbirds were there. First air show since the Blue Angels were canceled the weekend after 9/11. I'm glad they brought it back. It was hot out there on the asphalt, though. Somehow only my left foot got sunburned. Weird. "
Chase responded, "You must not be very far from me, Sheila. We talked about going to the air show but decided to save gas money and go to our local spring art show here in Foley, AL. I've been to a couple Blue Angel shows in Pensacola. They're spectacular."
Tempa Worsham said, "[Being Southern is] A way of life! Peanuts inside a bottle of Coke-Cola is considered a delicacy. Highways and back roads where every passer-by extends an index finger from the steering wheel or gives a nod of acknowledgment. A truck is considered the family sedan. Buttered biscuits with homemade preserves are breakfast, lunch, supper and desert. A lifestyle where parts of the pig no northerner, easterner, or westerner would eat are the food staple. When good manners run as deep as well water. A world were the phrase 'your Momma' will get you in a whole heap of trouble I don't think you can define Southern, it is a way of life! If I had raised my boys somewhere else I couldn't have given them southern. They'd have seen it in me, like the child of a germen grandmother witnesses German. But they couldn't have become it! You can't fake it. You can't create it. Those who have run from it always come back (even if just for a visit). Those who mimic it in fun, don't understand it. Those who love it, have lived it!"
Angela Gillaspie added, "And y'all don't forget, it's Southern with a capital 'S'!"
Marta Martin said, "I'm a genetically altered Northerner....sort of like a cyborg Southerner. For us, this is what it means to be southern-----It's my kids rolling their eyes in northern restaurants when sweet tea is not offered on the menu. It's my son packing Dr. Pepper in his suitcase and not understanding why he is offered Root Beer instead by unsuspecting Northerners. It's wearing shorts and sandals as late as Halloween and as early as St. Patrick's Day, weather permitting. It's having people I grew up with telling me, 'You talk funny now.' It's telling people who ask, 'When are you moving back north?' that I am already home."
Ben Baker proclaimed, "Southern is attitude. As is redneck. My brother, who is more well-traveled than me, has met rednecks in Canada. Except for saying things like 'aboot' and not meaning a type of foot covering and being covered in snow for entirely too many days during the year, Canadian rednecks are the same as South Georgia rednecks. I do put this caveat - This is information from my brother who has a master's degree in Latin and English and teaches English. His redneck license is under constant review. Southern is having a sticker on your boat that reads - Eat More G.R.I.T.S. and then not being able to haul your boat to your Grandma's house for fear of having to explain the sticker. Southern is knowing what kaolin is used for. Southern is understanding God, Guns & Guts made this country what it is and anyone who tries to take away any of the three is in danger of finding out exactly what all three can do. Southern is deep-fried. Anything. Seriously. You can roll a corncob in flour & meal and fry it in peanut oil and a Southerner will at least try to eat it. While I'm here, if anyone wants to come help get an 800 pound gator this Friday, call me for directions. After getting the gator, we plan to have a gator-fry. Bring your own beer. We got the taters and bread covered. This is Southern too - that is Southern is getting the main course for supper from your yard."
David D. replied, "Great post, Ben. Buzzard in the freezer, huh? Thought they were best eaten fresh off the pavement. Maybe that's just an Alabama thing. Semper Fi, Dude."
Angela asked, "Ben, what in the devil is kaolin? Is it something like Mercurochrome? Lordy, my momma used that to cure everything. I haven't seen that in years."
Ben said, "You either have to be a Southern black person or have grown up around them and their kitchens. Kaolin is a type of clay (OK, dirt) used by some Southerners in cooking. They add some kaolin to greens & things."
Marta added, "That's what is in kaopectate, too."
Angela said, "Ah, them fortified greens will keep your colon happy. Hey, does red clay count as kaolin? I grew up all around that stuff and while I poured it in the dog's ears and ate dirt as a child, I never heard of putting it in my greens. It makes a right purty mud pie, though. Just make sure you have sweet tea with it. Mmm!"
Dave Wayne remembered, "My ex-girlfriend was from California. She's convinced that the reason some Southerners have bad teeth is from all the sweet tea we drink. She had never had sweet tea before she moved to Mississippi. However, when she moved back to California, teeth intact, she took the love of sweet tea with her. Now her whole family drinks it. I guess the dentists in CA will have to increase their overtime hours."
David D. said, "I don't feel the compulsion to have to explain to anyone what being southern means. I have not only kept my southern-ness, but I have also kept it rat 'chere at home where it belongs. I have not exported myself nor my ways nor my likes and dislikes to any other part of this great country and demanded that the locals adopt me nor them. I have not gone into their back yards and made fun of their traditions and their quirks. I have not accused them of being bigoted ignoramuses who intermarry and practice varmint-like hygiene. I may not like the way they talk, but they have the freedom to use their brogue when they are at home - Jes' like we do. I love where I live, where I was born and where I was brought up. I would not trade the geography, nor the drawl and the slang, nor the sweetea and fried pies, nor any of the other indigenous and glorious things about my home for all the other places on earth that I have been. Doubtless, I would be able to stomach outsiders coming into my southern domain a whole lot better if they respected these (and other) things - just as they would want me to do if I had invaded their space. That's all."
Angela sniffed, "I think I need a tissue - that was beautiful, just purtier than a speckled pup. Snnniiiffffff."
We're going beachin' in a few days. I should be good at it as I've been a few hundred times -- maybe thousands if you count stock tanks and fishing holes. My dermatologist can vouch for it.
I don't have good beach genes but go along because I'm out-schmoozed by the women in my life - all seven of them. All have olive skin, webbed feet, and are fond of sand dunes and salty air (hum along). All know my soft spots.
It's strange that a guy with whipped cream legs has daughters and granddaughters that bake like ACME bricks and never turn a freckle. Inglés o Español? I've got more freckles on one hand than the whole caboodle have on their collective ecru bodies.
I used to wonder & well, you know, but SB ended speculation. She says dark features and olive skin trump a freckle-faced wimpy-poo when it comes to offspring any time. She plays the race card at its darkest, and lightest, "But you Irish are better at throwing down a pint."
Yeah, but we don't eat spaghetti for breakfast and call our daddy, "Godfather." Fuhgitaboutit!
With Pre-Sun number 30, a sombrero and canopy, I'm pretty cool. Not That kind of cool, but cool in a covered up way. But I don't have a fix for handling all the stuff you have to take to the beach. That, too, is not in my genes.
Why don't they put a floating Wal-Mart in the gulf? Floats, chairs, recliners, coolers, coozies, oil and sun screen, umbrellas, castle-molds, diggers, toys, towels, food and drinks ... Have I left something out? You bet -- a rubber hammer and a rubber suit. It's good that I pack my shorts and my other shorts in a garbage bag; otherwise there'd be no room. Just squash those things around whereever. Yep, it's heavy duty.
I know you can go swank and get all this stuff delivered to you on the beach or at the condo spa. We're not going swank. The little people - age four and seven - make the rules. All they want is a condo on the beach and a decent sand castle. They'll get theirs.
All I want is someone to carry the stuff, a potty on the beach and a self-inflating canopy. Not a chance.
Mostly, I'm just joshing.
Since my beach age is about six, I have a great time with the little girls. The giggling and screams of delight (mine) at finding one more mud-filled shell -- and dodging the froth-tipped rows of rushing aqua erases all cares of a world gone mad, and a sore back.
Then there are the kaleidoscopic sunrises that pierce the morning silence with striations of unparalleled brilliance. If but for a day, they bring life and sheen to a sleeping bed of sand laid gently grain by grain as in a jigsaw puzzle. Together with the warm aquamarine waters, they form the beautiful gulf coast - inspiration for a million Kodak Moments.
The rhythmic roar of the mighty force of water lashing against a resisting force of solid ground offers a hypnotic cacophony and a constant reminder of a higher power. I will listen and watch in awe. There is no doubt as to who's in charge.
"Honey, close the drapes and keep it down in there, we're trying to sleep. And don't forget to put the coffee on."
"I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky..."
Shooting the Breeze, Southern Style
It might be
a redneck wedding...
If the groom is wearing a bowling shirt
If the bride wears a crop top so her tattoo
If the bride's hair is bigger than her
If the bride carries a bouquet of
If the bridesmaids have fringe on their
skirts and vests
If the wedding is delayed because the
groom's truck wouldn't start
If the bride's father brings a shotgun to
If the wedding march is played on dueling
If the friends of the groom TP the church
If the decorations include any pink
If the best man is wearing a baseball cap
If the preacher has sideburns and wide
If they throw corn at the couple instead of
If the musical selections include Loretta
Lynn or George Jones
If the photographer is using a disposable
camera from Wal-Mart
If the groom’s men have western boots and
sequins on their shirts
If the reception is held at the local
If the hor dourves include pork skins and
If guests play pinball machines or shoot
pool at the reception
If there is a jug in the backroom
If the wedding gifts include hubcaps,
ammunition, or IOUs
If the wedding buffet includes pork
barbecue and toothpicks
If the getaway car is a pickup truck with
Pabst beer cans tied behind it
If the wedding announcement is in the free
If the couple plans to honeymoon in
If the newlyweds will reside in a mobile
If the groom gives chewing tobacco for
If the bride does too
Copyright 2005 Sheila Moss
Queen of Kudzu
I hail from the South, as y'all can tell,
Tipping cows and gigging frogs, spittin' in a pail.
I'm the Queen of Kudzu!
I love NASCAR and save bacon grease,
Swat away June Bugs as I pick a fat peach.
My backyard has four half-nekkid younguns
Digging in the red clay, fighting over wild onions.
I'm the Queen of Kudzu!
I swim in a spring - I swim in a crick
I've even been known to taste a salt lick.
I sit on the front porch, rocking in the twilight,
Crickets and cicadas saw - I love the music of night.
Below the moon, I've run nekkid through the corn
Just 'cause I could - there's no need for scorn.
I'm the Queen of Kudzu!
I wear a lightning bug ring,
Go fishing for cats and love to hear Elvis sing.
I love Jesus and pray many times a day
His promise is true - I try to live His way.
I'm the Queen of Kudzu!
I watch the snow fall on the pines,
Then rush to buy milk and bread down at the five-and-dime.
I fry my chicken, taters, okra, and cornbread,
Roll out my biscuits - my family is well fed.
I pick poke salet and kudzu too,
Cook 'em up with fat back and will serve them to you.
My gravy is chocolate, tomato, Sawmill, and red-eyed
I'm the Queen of Kudzu - on a John Deere I ride!
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Slipping Into Southern
I don't recall the exact moment I became a Southerner though my older sister will tell you that my brother and I were Southerners at birth. We were born in Pittsburgh. Southern Pennsylvania, of course. It might help if you knew my life was a study in contrasts. I married a Southerner named Grant. I can still see my Uncle Miles rolling his eyes at the irony.
My brother left home soon after college graduation and found what made him comfortable----a pair of cowboy boots, a Tanya Tucker cassette and a job coaching college football.
All my life I wanted to go to Clemson. It was simply an urge. My mother forbade me to go so far from home. Instead I wound up at a small private school in Ohio. I began working country radio my sophomore year of college. Callers on the request line said, "Where are you from? Arkansas?" Maybe I was born with a drawl.
My sister, meanwhile, took cooking classes and learned to make delicate swans out of puff pastry. She filled them with crabmeat. I never did understand all the formality in her life. Twenty some years later we still reside on opposite ends of the spectrum and the Mason-Dixon line. She says, "po-tah-toe" and I say "grits".
Still, it goes without saying that I learned the most from a true Southerner; that bastard I married. I can remember being tickled to hear him say the name of the fast food restaurant where I had worked as a teenager. "You worked for Wanky's?"
"You mean Winky's."
"What'd I say?" he replied, eyes twinkling. Oh, that Southern charm.
Because of him I learned to make Dirty Rice, Pralines, Etouffe, Gumbo and Beignets. His family was entrenched so deep in the south that their thick drawls could barely wrap themselves around the "R" in my name. From these people I learned much.
Beaucoup. You should go to Target. They're having beaucoup sales right now. It became déclassé to say many or "a lot". Why not speak French if you can?
Reckon. My elderly mother, born in Croatia, battling an organic brain disorder, cocked her head at me and said, "Vat is reckon?" She began tuning me out when I came home to visit her. I realize now we were no longer speaking the same language in more ways than one.
Grant also taught me the fine art of might-could and might-should. Just in case one of those words wasn't enough, why not use both? "We might-could make the 7 o'clock movie if we left now." Or "You might-should take your jacket. It's supposed to get cold."
Then there are those fine expressions you use when you just don't know what else to say. They're very handy.
"Ell, I'll be." That should be WELL, I'll be--but after a while that old W just drops off. You should use it when the course of events surprises you. Events that are unfortunate and leave you at a loss for words will require a blessing. Bless your heart! Oh, bless his heart. When the victims of sad or unfortunate events are very young or small, we go one better. "Ah, love its' heart!" It doesn't matter that the gender of the baby has well been determined by its' birth. You will love ITS' heart until he or she walks and talks.
Another expression I have fondly made my own is "Have at it" ...it sorta means go ahead you dumbass-it don't matter how many times I've said no-you're gonna do it anyway. Or quite simply, "be my guest". Can I try out your new chainsaw? Have at it.
This year marks my 23rd year as a Southerner. Three of my children are natives. I talked with a college friend last week who shrieked with laughter when I called. "You are such a hick," he said. This morning I listened to a phone message I left a colleague at work. He's right. I sound like one of those damn Hee Haw Honeys. Ell, I'll be!
Cletus on Bein' Southern
Dixie on My Mind
When you tell someone you are from the South, certain stereotypical images immediately come to mind. Some are good, others not so much. And thanks to Jeff Foxworthy and the Blue Collar boys those images grow exponentially every time the show airs.
Of course, I never really have to tell anyone I am from the south. As soon as I open my mouth, the secret is out. No, it's not the Bubba Teeth (at least not yet), it's the accent. My Jawja drawl kind of gives it away.
When people, and when I say people I am talking about people not from around here, and when I say around here I mean not from the South, encounter a true, born and bred Southerner a certain image comes to mind.
They immediately think of an illiterate, cheap beer drinkin', tobacco juice spittin', NASCAR lovin', hound dog raisin', shotgun totin', teeth-missin', trailer park livin', moonshine makin', pickup truck drivin', catfishin', Rebel yellin', Dukes of Hazzard watchin', stars n' bars wavin', pork munchin', John Deere hat wearin' moron married to their cousin.
Right now, someone just read this entire list, scratched their head, and asked, "Yea, so what's wrong with that?" Of the above list, which is not exhaustive by any means, at least nine of the stereotypes are or have been true about me. I'll just leave it up to your imagination which ones fit and which ones don't.
But to those of us who were born and raised in the heart of Dixie, being Southern transcends stereotypes and takes on a whole new meaning. It's a way of life, a school of thought, a society all unto itself. I can think of a few things that are uniquely Southern to me.
Being Southern means you never have to ask for "sweet tea." If you walk into a restaurant and there is a pitcher on the table, it's filled with tea, and it is definitely sweet. As a matter of fact, the two words are so intertwined that they are pronounced as one. "Yes, ma'am, I'd like sweetea to drink with my barbecue."
The word barbecue equals pork. We don't barbecue beef and when we are invited over for a barbecue, we expect a hawg on the pit, not a burger. Everyone knows what "stew" is. It ain't Irish, beef or lamb. You may interject the word hash for stew. They are the same thing.
We know before you tell us that we are not speaking correct English. But then again, neither is the Bostonian who "pahks the cah in the gahrage." Don't worry, we're all fixin' to correct our language as soon as we carry our mama to the Swamp Guinea.
Speaking of travelling, where I am from you can go up or down and drive in the same direction. "Mark, you need to come up and see me some time," said Delbert. "I'll be down there to see you as quick as I get a chance, Delbert," was my reply.
Generally speaking, I think we have a better sense of humor than most other folks. Trust me, it ain't nawthern folks who bought all those "You Might Just be a Redneck" albums. Not only that, I doubt anyone from New England can even understand Larry the Cable Guy without a translator. Now, that's funny, I don't care who you are.
We still use titles such as sir and ma'am, or at least we should. We respect our mama and our daddy. We were taught to respect our elders as well. When you see someone misbehavin', you immediately think "Now I know his mama taught him better'n that."
The list of things that are truly southern are as long as, if not infinitely longer than the list of stereotypes. So call me a "good ol' boy." Call me a redneck. You can even call me a Reb. Jus' don't call me late for supper.
South of Where?
As a kid I thought the stories and poems--and even cartoons--were nuts, talking about the "first robin of spring." Robins were winter birds--that was when I saw most of them--and don't they look the part, brown with a holiday red? Crowding into the pyracantha bushes feasting on winter berries? It was a long time before I realized that we were simply on (or at the end of) their migration route--that they abounded in the winter because they weren't somewhere else. That ours was a place they "flew for the winter" even though we weren't in the South. What on Earth does the San Francisco Bay Area have in common with the South? Aside of course from Mark Twain. Nothing, right? So how did I come to be invited to join a Southern Humorists group? I mean, I prefer my tea hot and unsugared. I grew up hearing about the rabbits my dad raised for food, but far from having eaten rabbit myself, I've had two of the critters as beloved household pets. Me, a Southerner?
It's true the invitation came about the time I was reading The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, but that hardly proves anything. Lots of people read that book, just as lots of people read William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Peter Taylor--well, maybe not Peter Taylor, but you get the idea. Most of my writing is not exactly regional; it's pretty much set in the endless suburbs of . . . somewhere. It's fictional, and labeled as such, and there's not a lot of autobiographical content. Certainly not 100% guaranteed honest true stuff about quail-hunting catfish and such. Fiction! And none of it ever mentioned the fact that the very idea of referring to Eudora Welty by any name less formal that MISS Welty gives me the heebie-jeebies, or that when I was little my dad used to go around the house singing, "I'm a Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech" despite never having attended a class there or, for all I know, set foot in Georgia at all. I never wrote a word about the theme party my brother threw in college, where guests were offered peculiar meat products and everyone sat on the porch throwing empty beer cans on the lawn (my brother and his roommate wanted to park a car there, but the landlord wouldn't let them). And it never seemed relevant or worth mentioning that in a small restaurant once a friend of mine enjoyed an off-menu item that turned out to be squirrel and alligator on the same plate. Nor did I think anybody would have cared that we had magnolia trees on our block, or that my dad's Aunt Lillie (like the rest of us, born and bred in California) liked to keep a little cotton patch in her yard. She gave ripe bolls to kids (me included), and who could blame her for that?
And I never publicly admitted my personal acquaintance with possums. My mother used to raise orphaned baby possums--not for eating. She'd wean them, then teach them to find food. (Start by sticking it in front of their faces; if necessary, put it in their mouths. Eventually they'll learn to track it down from as much as several inches away.) When they finally learned the skills of adult possums, such as drooling (this they managed to pick up on their own), she turned them loose in a suitable place where no one would complain. I never said anything about this, and am not sure even now that confession is all that good for the soul, at least where possums are concerned.
But I will admit that I can't imagine why I was ever invited to join the Southern Humorists.
Unless it was just good old Southern Hospitality.
S. D. Youngren is the author of the fiction web site "Rowena's Page," http://sdy.org/rowena/, which is unmistakably set in suburban somewhere. She was born and raised in San José, California. She and her husband now live in Los Angeles, which, while not very far North at all, still isn't really in the South.
Gravel Gertie Explains Being Southern!
Whether we're farming our dirt, racin' our rebuilt heaps, or fluffing out our big hair, we're proud, so get the heck out of our pork rinds! If y'all wanna know what the deal is about being Southern, well, just read on and get educated.
Dear Gertie, what's the deal with bacon grease? Who eats bacon anyway? I don't get it. ~ Nancy in New York
Dear Nancy, bacon grease is a gift from God Himself. The uses for bacon grease are unlimited. You can use it to fry okra, season beans, fry taters, flavor stews, make sawmill gravy, season cornbread, make a dressing, and many other things. As far as who eats bacon, I have to admit that I'm not a big bacon eater, but it's mandatory that I fry up a pound or two for Sunday breakfast just so that I can have my glorious bacon drippings. Bacon is a great topping for potatoes, salad, sandwiches, nachos, and French fries. Yup, bacon and its drippings are fattening, but a little will go a long way! And if you don't get it by now, you never will, bubba.
My Daddy told me that when he was a pup, a show of prestige was how much lard you had rendered, so having bacon grease ain't just good taste, it's a status symbol. Click here for more on bacon grease.
Dear Gertie, Why do Southerners always say y'all instead of you? ~ Ned from Nantucket
Dear Ned, when we are talking one-on-one, kinda like now, we use "you" because it is in the singular form. Using "you" in the plural form seems like bad manners to us, so that's why we say "y'all," short for "you all." We don't want anyone to feel left out.
Gert, Why do Southerners have couches on their front porches? ~Ina from Illinois
Hi Ina! Most of the time when I can afford a new couch, I hate to part with my old one. Lots of memories were made on that blue faux naugahyde, so many times we just put it on the front porch. We spend a lot of time on our front porches jawing with our neighbors, so why not be comfortable?
Dear Gertie, Why do Southerners like to fry everything? ~Frank in Lincoln
Hey Frank! We don't like to fry everything, but many things are better fried. Frying vegetables is quick and cheap (especially if you recycle the grease) and that's why we prefer this cooking method. Fried pickles, donuts, taters, onion rings, and okra are awesome!
Gert, I don't understand the prevalence of abandoned appliances and vehicles in Southern yards. Why? ~Elliot from Nevada
Dear Eliot, our broken down appliances and vehicles clutter our domains for usually one reason: we might just get it working again someday. There's always hope. 90% of us are poorer than church mice and it just tears us up to part with anything that cost more that $10. If the washing machine stopped spinning, then I'll betcha Uncle Hubert could fix it (after it sit on his porch for a month or year or two).
I reckon that's where our interest in CAT, NASCAR, and feed and grain co-ops come in too. Not having much cash to buy cars, we'd fix the old heap that Granny Early left to us -- parts are cheap when you pull them off of other heaps.
We are a proud people, we expect to work hard to earn our pay. We want to stretch our budget so we reuse everything from pantyhose (to wrap our Vidalia onions in down in the cellar or to filter the dryer) to tin foil (to wrap our stove eyes in). We eat pork because we use and reuse purt-near every part of the pig (except for the hair and eyeballs) -- well, we used to. Nowadays, many younger Southerners just buy fat back and packaged barbecue.
Dear Gertie, Do Southerners really marry their cousins? ~Jane from Jamestown
Dear Jane, we Southerners have some strange ways down here, I admit. Many years ago, some of us were known to marry our cousin. Why? A long time ago, the only folks that lived close by were family; there was slim pickin's, so to speak. Look at those Brits! Ya can't tell me there wasn't any inbreeding there. Charles and his momma look just like their relatives from hundreds of years ago -- ugly and pointy noses and everything. I reckon some folks ain't much for pollutin' the gene pool, or havin' a family tree that don't branch too often.
Dear Gertie, Why do Southerner women have big hair? ~Karen from Kalamazoo
Dear Karen, big hair is our birthright. We use our hair to attract (and keep) males -- kinda like a peacock. The humidity down here most of the year is 110%, so we take great pains to preserve and enhance our coiffures. Teasing, gelling, and spraying our hair so that it stands up about a foot above our heads ensures that our date/spouse can find us in a crowd (like a football stadium, picnic, mall, or tent revival).
Dear Gert, Why do Southerners love car racing? ~Amber from Ohio
Hi Amber! Racing is gaining in popularity all over, sugar! It ain't a Southern thang any more. Sure it's popular here, but other folks are beginning to follow this sport. Racing started here in the South when the whiskey bootleggers would out run the law in their rebuilt Chevys. I know & I come from a family of Tennessee bootleggers. Hell far, ya gotta make a livin' to feed the babies.
Dear Gertie, Why are Southerners portrayed as rednecks? ~William from Wetumpka
Hey William, I do have to say that I don't like that stereotype. The term redneck comes from when the poor folk worked in the fields as laborers while the blue bloods stayed inside and counted their gold bars and drank their whiskey "neat." Since the laborers wore blue jeans and had a tan, they were made fun of because of what they represented: dirt farmers. Have you noticed how popular it is to have a tan and wear jeans nowadays?J
Y'all click on over and visit Gertie's spot on the web Gertie's Wisdom from the Salt Lick
More than one aghast work/writing colleague have offered the observation -- after having read my two '04 tornado chase columns -- that I appear to enjoy living my life on the edge.
Had they completed the observation with the words, 'of boredom', I'd know they've been peeking.
How someone lives their life often differs considerably between reality and perception. To me, somone who hang glides, rock climbs, parachutes, races crotch rocket motorcycles, wrestles alligators, runs with the bulls, or teaches a class of five year olds...now those persons are living their lives on the edge. By comparison, my own brand of tornado chasing for photos is relatively benign and risk-free. Really. I face more risk when I drive to work, play golf, or nerve up to ask a woman for a date.
That's living my life on the edge, especially with the latter, but I digress.
Let's look at tornado 'chasing': with a little bit of reading and application of good common sense, one can safely partake of tornado chasing by ordering videos of it from The Weather Channel. But that's too boring (besides, I already have the videos). So I enhance the experience by doing the reading and research, and donating a portion of my common sense for redistribution in the future gene pool. I want my my own photos. It's really that simple.
And don't think for a moment that the storms haven't taken notice.
They know that if schedules coincide and I'm not navigationally challenged, I'll be right there, lurking with a camera in one hand and a sphincter that's one spasm away from oops, depending on the success or failure of my angle of pursuit.
If a tornado thinks about it, it should and will be flattered: it has, at the absolute best, a two-three hour shelf clearing/flattening/scattering life on this Earth. Fruit flies live longer. If I -- or anyone -- catches a particular tornado's image on film and put it on my wall, let alone the Internet, that one tornado achieves...immortality. Fame. Recognition. It potentially gets honorable mention from legions of TV and radio weather babes from Seattle to Miami, like Denver's KUSA weather doll, Kathy Sabine, as well as on highlight films of the National Weather Service and The Discovery Channel.
Don't think that most young, aspiring hook echoes don't dream of this, when they compare notes while awaiting their turn at churning up some terra firma. I mean, look what the thought of 15 faux-minutes of (sh) fame does to simple folks who appear on Jerry Springer, Ricki Lake and some future Who Wants To Make A Fool Of Themselves On National TV In A Faux Reality Show? Don't you think a tornado -- so casually dismissed as a mindless, arbitrary leviathan, a violent anomaly of meterological Nature -- craves such moments in the limelight, too?
If lawyers can argue that sand has rights, if vegans can argue that chickens have dreams, desires and a genuine appreciation for Thanksgiving, wouldn't it logically follow that something far more awesome and powerful than sand or chickens would wish to aspire to something greater than a mere F rating on The Weather Channel?
Not to be confused with the other 'F' rating, so popular in politics these days.
Of course, I trust and hope that no such leviathan, seeking the kind of fame suggested, will tear up anyones' neighborhood; too many have achieved infamy and high F ratings (both kinds), with just such demonstrations.
But there's no need for that: there's plenty of room for it on the eastern plains of Colorado, plenty of open, sparsely populated space where it can do all the dusty dirty dancing it desires; where it can say to a fellow funnel, "it sucks to be you", and mean it as a compliment; where it can go where the deer and the antelope play, where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are all stormy all day. Unless it shows up near habitation, and everything Man and beast scatters with a prompt, "oh SH**!".
Which digresses into another issue, tornadic psychological problems; but that's another story and Dr. Laura or Dr. Phil's field of expertise, not mine.
So to those who think I'm living life on the edge by trying to photograph tornados, I hope you now realize that I'm merely performing a cyclonic public service for the greater meterological good.
Or, as some shyster lawyer might opportunistically suggest down the road, I'm shamelessly contributing to the delinquency of a tornado. *Sigh*
To Put The Barn Down Gently, Say Cheese, and visit Mike Bay's Main Cloud go to: http://www.outofthinair.homestead.com/home.html
After long study, an all night kung-fu movie marathon and the better part of a case of cold ones, I have come to a conclusion.
The martial arts, kung-fu, jui-jitsu, tae kwon do, karate, chop suey, ping pong, etc., were all created in the South.
Someone is going to point out that these are actually ancient arts created in the Orient hundreds if not thousands of years ago. You can't prove that to me. As far as I'm concerned, anything that happened before May 12, 1967, is questionable. I wasn't around to see it so I can't swear that it happened. (Come to think of it, I can't swear that last week actually happened because I don't remember it either.)
I first got the suspicion that the martial arts were created in the South when I walked past the TV one night. Shari was watching a karate movie, "Attack of the Bad Dialogue" or something like that.
This one guy was standing dead still, feet spread apart. All of a sudden, he was flying through the air in a giant flip that sent his heels spinning over his head. He landed a few feet away on his feet, nary a hair out of place.
"I can do that," I said. "Done it in fact."
I could see the questioning look my bride's face and moved quickly to intercept.
"Was walking along quail hunting down on Warrior Creek. Took a big step and looked down. Biggest moccasin I've ever seen right between my feet grinning at me. I back-flipped back to the truck," I said.
My attention turned back to the TV. Here came another guy whirling his arms like mad and doing a pretty fair Shuffle with his feet.
"Yep. Been there, done that," I said.
"Oh sure. Yeah. Another moccasin," Shari said.
"Nope. Hornets. Was fishing Little River with Hawgin' one day. He snagged a tree and jerked the line. Biggest red hornet nest I've ever seen fell out. Them things aimed right at me and Hawgin'. Stung me to death ... twice as I remember it," I said.
The fellow with the fancy arm movements then began to jump around, whirling and spinning and twisting.
"Yep. See that? Uh huhn. Done that too," I said.
"Let me guess. Ummmm. You fell into the camp fire and caught on fire," my Mississippi Belle suggested.
"Nope," I replied. "That fellow rolling around on the ground now and kicking out, that's what Hawgin' did when he fell into the fire. I never fell into the fire. I've got more sense than that. That one over there twisting and jerking and such, he's done fell into a fire ant nest. They're biting him so bad he can't get his pants off."
After a while this older fellow came out and started doing all kinds of slow-motion moves. He wasn't fighting at that point, just moving around real graceful and slow.
"Yep. That fellow knows what it's like to get caught in briars. Can¹t move too fast or them things will wrap you up tight," I said.
Then, he started some very graceful high leg lifts, still in slow motion.
"Crossing a barbed wire, electric fence. Done that too," I said.
From screen left came a younger man. He moved his mouth about three times. I figured he was adjusting his chewing tobacco. A few seconds later the announcer said, "Now Double Chin, I must inflict severe bodily injuries upon your person in retaliation for the poor grades you afforded me as a young child in your school of multi discipline learning." In mid leg-lift, the old man suddenly jerked up and away to land on his feet a few yards away.
"I wish he¹d do that again. Every time the electric fence zaps me it knocks me flat on my butt," I said.
Shari left the room.
I decided this needed more research. The next Friday night I visited the video store and rented every martial arts movie in the place. Through the cinematic vision of Hong Kong movie moguls, I quickly learned the basic kung-fu styles which are named after animals for some reason.
Being of a scientific mind (Dad was a Georgia Tech graduate) I related this to my Southern heritage and quickly discovered that all forms do indeed trace their roots to things Southern. In fact, most of Rem can be found at one of my family reunions
Crane Style: In the movie a Crane Style fighter hops around on one foot, reaches his arms out and angles his hands from his wrists. He darts in and out very fast in a kind of pecking motion.
Southern basis: Trying to grab a hot biscuit out of the oven without burning your hands and fingers or reaching for the last piece of fried chicken at a Baker Family reunion.
Tiger Style: Low crouch with hands reaching out like claws. Long raking moves are the attack.
Southern basis: Reaching through the tool box on the back of the truck for that socket that just slipped off the sliding tray. This type move can also be seen as various Baker family members reach for the large industrial-strength napkins after making short work of a meal big enough to feed many starving African nations.
Bear Style: Large, powerful sweeps with rib-crushing hugs.
Southern basis: This is, pure and simple, Friday night high school football. Period. Or, any one of my aunts at a Baker Family reunion when I was 5 years old and the only young¹un in the crowd.
Eagle Style: High swooping attacks and a lot of jumping around as opposed to the high swooping attacks and a lot of jumping around as found in the other styles.
Southern basis: Crop dusting. These fellows come in from on high, swoop down and put a whipping on various critters with an assortment of pesticides. Also, Grandma walking around after everybody is done eating and she¹s picking up plates to be washed.
Snake Style: Twisting, diving, sliding, smooth moves on both attack and defense. Hands dash in and out with lightning speed.
Southern basis: This could come from a variety of places: Trying to talk the Game Warden out of giving you a ticket for killing one dove over the limit. Sliding down the pond bank because you lost your footing. You can think of more I'm sure. But, if you really want to see something move like there¹s no bones in the body, watch a Baker young'un get a whipping with a peach tree switch wielded by an angry momma. You'd swear that child was rubber instead of flesh and bone.
Some might wonder why the movie makers didn¹t develop a fighting style based on the momma with a peachtree switch.
Simple. Each fighting style has a weakness and can be beaten.
A South Georgia momma with a peachtree switch is the most fearsome entity of wrath and destruction ever created. Nothing can stand in the way, including, but not limited to: Grizzly bears, rabid wolverines, intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles, Sherman tanks, etc. We could have won The War without a shot being fired if a few Southern mommas had taken some peachtree switches to Washington.
Ben Baker is the world's official redneck guru. When not out shooting wild hogs, catching large alligators and working on jacked-up 4x4 trucks, he writes columns. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe
Size is Not Important - Yeah, Right!
There is no worse psychological trauma a female can have than swim suit shopping. After winter, we've all put on a few pounds and nothing reminds us more of that than trying on a swim suit. And the styles we have to choose from! Take it from me; you'll get more coverage if you just wear the money.
I made the mistake of slipping into (after greasing my entire body with bear fat) some of this season's newest designs, all of which are made specifically for twenty-year-olds with perfect bodies.
The first suit I managed to get into (after 20 minutes of trying . . . and it was MY size!) immediately cut off the circulation to all my vital organs. The dressing room attendant found me on the floor, blue and gasping. The paramedics had to have a surgeon talk them through getting me out of the thing! But did I take the hint and go home?
Oh, no. Not me.
I tried on another one.
It was called "Palm Tree," I think because, if you take one look at yourself in it, you want to hang yourself from the nearest one.
Next was the "Chaplin" model. If you don't feel like a little tramp in this number, you have no shame whatsoever.
Then there were the suits with the push-up bras in the tops. I tried on one of these and it made me look like I had some weird sort of glandular condition! I flashed back to that commercial, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" because if I ever fall over in that thing, the floor would be my home.
Conversely, there are suits that have built-in "bottom shapers." I'd be afraid to swim in that one for fear I'd be molested by any number of large, seagoing mammals. And the manatee look wasn't quite the image I was going for, anyway.
I gave up on the two-piece suits and switched to one-piece suits.
These weren't much better.
The first one I tried had so many straps that went in such a multitude of directions that it would've made a better macramé plant holder than a piece of apparel. Who designs these things? A dominatrix with a grudge?
Finally, I'd had it.
When the clerk came to check on my progress, I reached out, grabbed her by the throat, and yanked her into my dressing cubicle.
"Arrrgh," she remarked pleasantly.
"Ok, listen and listen good," I growled in my best James Cagney. "I'm going to hold you hostage here until I get a bathing suit that fits me! I want a suit that hugs my body - not jack-slapping it senseless! I want contours, not contortion! By God, I WANT TO LOOK LIKE I BELONG AT A RESORT, NOT A CONDEMNED BUILDING!"
"Arrrrrgh," she replied, and I released my chokehold.
"Well, we do have suits in plus sizes . . . ARRRRGHHH!"
"Wrong answer!" I shrieked, renewing my grip. "I am a size EIGHT, not size eighteen!"
In the meantime, the police arrived with a hostage negotiator in tow. No, he really was - his car ran out of gas halfway to the store.
"Put down your weapons and tell us your demands," a tinny bullhornish voice shouted.
Weapons? PLUS SIZES? Apparently, while I wan't looking, I had become both the Hindenberg AND John Dillinger!
"Release the hostage and we'll give you what you want," the negotiator shouted.
"Suits me," I said, relaxing my grip on the clerk. "Go out and talk to them. You are already very much aware of what I want."
"Don't be a dork," this fount of teenage wisdom admonished. "If you let me go, the'll just rush the dressing room and haul you out by your heels!"
"Exactly how do you come to be so knowledgeable about these things?" I asked.
She rolled her eyes. "Duuuuh! Ever hear of 'CSI?'"
"CSI? And what does this stand for? 'Churlish Simian Intellect,' perhaps? Hmmmm?" I asked, reaching out for her neck again.
She got the point.
She backed as far away from me as the 3 x 3 dressing room would allow.
"All right," I said. "What would you suggest I do?"
"Geez! You step out of the booth, holding me in front of you as a human shield in case they start shooting. . ."
"Hold it! Back the truck up! What do you mean 'shooting'? Why would they shoot me?"
"Because you're holding me hostage!"
"But you told me to keep holding you hostage!"
"ANYhow, then you make your demands and don't let me leave until you get what you want."
"It seems to me that letting you leave at all is going to put me in kind of a bad position, don't you think?"
"Well, yeah, eventually."
"This is not good. I have to think."
"Better do it quick. A tank just pulled up out front, along with a S.W.A.T. van."
"Oh, for God's sake. . ."
"And I think they're getting the tear gas ready. . . "
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Why am I not surprised?"
"We'd better walk out of here. Tear gas really hurts your eyes and throat," she said.
I had less than no curiosity about how she came by that little bit of trivia.
Out we walked.
After the riot died down, I spoke to the arresting officer. . . one Theresa Rentaria, Sargent. As briefly as I could, I summed up the afternoon events that led us to gather here together.
She looked at me, shook her head, then drew her sidearm.
I squeezed my eyes shut, waiting for the impact and thinking that this was the most ridiculous reason I could think of for execution, when she said . . .
"You're under arrest! Up against the counter! Assume the position and spread 'em!"
I looked up. She was in the process of patting down, then handcuffing the store manager!
In answer to my astounded expression, she said, "Under the circumstances, m'am, I think you were remarkably restrained. I went through the same thing this morning! This moron's going to jail before somebody gets maimed - torture is STILL illegal in this state!"
Crime may not pay, but it sure as hell should sell tickets!
Copyright 2004, 2005 by Linda Lightfoot. All rights reserved.
Fathers-to-be Should Get the Support They Need
Support for women who are pregnant is a burgeoning industry. Traditionally, women always had their doctor. A person of science who was able to convey the experience of birth in terms of weight gain and dilation. Doctor's often showed up on delivery day as well to help bring the child into the world. Masked and technically professional, women tended to find them proficient in the task of birthing, but generally aloof, cold and heartless.
To support the experience women now can turn to two new additions to the birthing industry - the mid-wife and the doula. A mid-wife helps with all stages of the birth process but cannot actually deliver a baby unless there is some kind of wacky emergency requiring immediate intervention. A doula can deliver a baby, but only if its postage paid.
As you can see, women, i.e., new or repeat mothers to be, seem to have a wide range of supports available to ease, or smooth out the experience of giving birth. For new or repeat fathers-to-be there is, well, almost nothing available.
Sure, men can attend birthing classes with their partners. This experience certainly puts men in their place as birth facilitator. Men can learn how to help their partner breathe, learn when to shout 'push', and learn how to get out of the way to let the professionals 'handle it.'
Still, as fulfilling as the birthing class can be for men there does appear to be something missing. In comparing the help available to women with that available for men, and here we're talking about real hands on, day in, day out man-friendly help, there is really nothing for men of this nature. In some communities there are fathers groups, but these are most often focused on post-birth child rearing issues not birth process issues.
Men can get books on birthing out of the library or from a local big box retailer of books, but this information is generally sterile; focused largely on staying out of the way as much as possible.
There is very little for men in the way of emotional pregnancy-related support provided by caring human contact. This is why men also need expert non-medically trained help to assist them in getting through the birth process almost totally unscathed. This help should be available to men when and as they need it.
As soon as a doctor is aware a woman is pregnant, he would identify the father-to-be (or 'FTB') either by name or by standard paternity identification methods and refer him to a special service provider called a 'Dufas' (pronounced just as it looks, i.e., 'doofus').
The 'Dufas', which stands for Dumb Uninformed Father-to-be Assistance Service, would provide the necessary emotional support a man needs to help him cope and survive the pregnancy and birthing process. There would be on-call support either by phone or in person to answer such questions as: how often do I have to run to the store to fulfil my wife's cravings? [Every time]; or, why can't I just get some sleep? [Because you're in this together], or what have I done? [No easy answer here].
The 'Dufas' would also help meet the emotional needs of the father-to-be. Here the Dufas would arrange for man-only time with other fathers-to-be perhaps on a golf course or at a sporting event so the father-to-be can stay in touch with his essential man-ness, a key part of his impending fatherliness.
Alternatively, if there are issues, and the father-to-be is unable to bury them, the 'Dufas' would provide some targeted counselling designed to alleviate the pain felt by the issue allowing the father-to-be to remain calm and at least appear to be in control of himself and, if possible, the situation.
The "Dufas' would also be available for the birthing experience to cheer the father-to-be on in his role as birth partner, to explain 'procedures', to help the father-to-be to avoid inappropriate comments such as 'ewww, that's gross' or 'that's disgusting', to encourage positive role modelling and supportive behaviour such as 'he's got your eyes, sweetie' or 'your beautiful, honey' or 'I'm here for you, baby.'
Afterwards, while the new mother is recovering, the 'Dufas' would be there for the father-to-be helping to hand out cigars or some such other appropriate token, marking the transition from supportive life partner to father. This is the kind of help and support a father-to-be needs and it's time the birthing industry stepped up and provided it. Only a 'Dufas' can do this.
The time is now.
For more humor like this go to the Witworld Humor Centre at http://www.geocities.com/witworld/
The other night, my husband and I were watching Cops on the television where the police were called to a domestic disturbance. A toothless and drunk old man and his gray and sullen wife met the police at the door. I told my husband, "You know -- if they were in Georgia or Tennessee, they just might be some of my relatives." He laughed at me and returned his concentration to the unfolding drama on the television. I told him, "I'm serious." "Uh hum," he answered. When the commercial came on, I asked him if he had any relatives like that, and he laughed at me as if I was crazy. It then dawned on me that not everyone has the proud hillbilly heritage that I do.
There is a difference between a country and a hillbilly type of Southerner. Country folk are sweet, poor, give-you-the-shirt-off-their-back, and God-fearin' Southerners, and hillbillies are ornery, drinkin', poor, and God-fearin' Southerners. There are both country folk and hillbillies on my mom's and dad's side of the family (although, no one will admit it), so I come by my sweet and ornery way honestly.
My parents both had tough childhoods, and they like to share stories of their hard luck. My daddy was raised on a farm and had nine sisters and two brothers, so he obviously knows how to bush-hog and the great value of the Sears and Roebuck catalog. A single mother raised Momma and they lived in the city where there are actual paved roads and indoor plumbing.
Daddy takes great pride in telling the story of how he had to walk to school (uphill in the snow both ways) and was so poor he had to take a sweet potato in his lunch.
"One day," he reminisces, "I done gone and forgot all about that sweet potater in my desk." He then takes a deep breath and says, "I can still smell that rotten tater."
My mom's favorite story to tell was when she was a schoolgirl; she could only afford one pair of socks. "I had to wash those socks out every night," she painfully remembers. Those were some hard times for my parents. I cannot imagine walking to school, much less washing my socks out every day--I would only do it twice a week (if that much). Momma and Daddy had very humble beginnings and worked hard to make sure my two sisters and I were loved, had full bellies, and a good education. I am very proud to be their daughter.
Every family has their crazy uncles and sweet old aunts, but some of my blood-relatives and non-blood-relatives go beyond description. When I tell my dear husband of my relatives, he thinks I am making it all up. For example, I have an Uncle Booger (a.k.a. "Baby" Junior--that's another story) who loved his Pabst Blue Ribbon col' beer more than anything (even more than his blushing bride, Aunt Pet-Pet).
One time Pet-Pet purchased Booger a new pair of blue suede shoes (Elvis was--is big, remember) and put them next to their bed so that Booger would see them when he arrived home. Booger came home drunk (again) and when he saw the blue shoes, he thought that Pet-Pet had her a man hiding there in the house. He took those shoes outside, grabbed his rabbit gun and shot those blue suckers.
In his alcohol-hazed mind, those shoes took on a life of their own and came after him. So he quickly reloaded his buckshot and fired again. Pet-Pet was pissed. She ran outside and started hollering at Booger about how much those shoes cost down at the mercantile. He looked her square in the eye, wiped the sweat from his brow, and somberly said, "Don' matter now woman, they is dead; I done kilt em'."
I do not think it would be right to mention Uncle Booger's real name, but I can tell you that his last name ends in Junior. We also call him Uncle Junior, and sometimes "Baby" Junior as I mentioned above. In the small town we lived in, there was a bridge over a creek (or 'crick' as we called it). Every time the town would fix the bridge, Uncle Booger would run into it with his pickup truck because he was so drunk; we called the bridge "Booger's Bridge."
Uncle Booger was in and out of the Georgia Big House several times for stealing, plus he wound up in jail after he got mad at another one of our relatives and shot her in the leg. I do not remember why he shot her, but it probably had to do with those darned blue shoes. Anyway, one of the times he was in prison (I forget which time), he had a toothache. Apparently, brushing his teeth never occurred to him. It was hurting him so badly he went to the infirmary and told the doctor, "I wantcha to pull ever durned tooth in my hayyud; thar ain't no sense in keepin' teeth that hurt so dadgum much." The doctor complied, and henceforth Uncle Booger was called "Baby" Junior because he had no teeth.
Sometime I am going to take my city-boy husband down those dirt roads where some of my kinfolk live to prove to him that I am telling the truth. Some of my relatives would just as soon spit at us as look at us because they are meaner than a barrel full of striped snakes, but the majority of my relatives would welcome us with open arms; they would ask us to come in and 'sit a spell' while we watch Hee-Haw reruns on the tube. We would sip on a 'cold drank' and talk about how well Norma Sue's beauty parlor is doing. I would caution my husband beforehand not to bring up the subjects of politics, prison, or blue shoes. If he did, we just might be the next domestic disturbance featured on Cops.
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Amid the Magnolias
When I moved to Louisiana, I knew there would be an adjustment to my environment, and language. The physical environment is very much like the Midwest with rolling hay fields, Oak trees and such. Louisiana has a few more swamps (sorry, Bayous) than I am used to and the first time I saw a Cypress tree in the water growing, I laughed. I have now grown attached to the bayous that house both beaver and painted turtles; two of my favorite of wild animals. Numbers in the northern states for these creatures have dwindled drastically.
There is one animal I will never get used to and that is the Chigger. There is no creature alive that can cause more discomfort for its size than this little beast. Where do they come from? I swear I am a Chigger Oasis. They fly in each year on their private miniscule jets to land on my ankles, legs, and well, other places that my mother taught me not to scratch in public. There must be a special that they all find that reads, " come feast on human flesh insert your feeding tube here! Enjoy your meal, yummmmy!" Or maybe they are detoured from their preferred meal of birds and reptiles. "Sir, we seem to have been detoured from our original and preferred hosts of birds and reptiles. I have spotted a fine human leg we can land onto and wreak our normal itch-infested havoc."
"Make it so." Comes the head Chigger's reply.
Then I itch for days on end. I know you hear what I am talking about. So far in this last week I have applied three bottles of Calamine Lotion and I have yet to find relief. Before the application of afore mentioned lotion, I asked around to find out what miracle cure had worked for others. I was advised to use nail polish to smother the Chigger that was believed to lay beneath the skins surface. Other suggestions included, alcohol, turpentine and even bleach baths. Gulp! Scratching, limping and still scratching, I finally drove my ragged myself to a pharmacist.
"Nothing will relieve the itch of a Chigger bite," he said. "Although lotions like Calamine will give temporary relief." He advised me to quit scratching or I would cause infection in my bites.
"Yes you can. Just don't scratch." His smile was serene.
"Yeah, I could lose weight too if I just stop eating." I snapped and then slapped at my hand as it crept to scratch a knee bite. "Stop that!" I looked back at the pharmacist, "see I have no control over this. Can't you help me?"
"I think, well, maybe Angela can help you." He backed away from the counter and nodded to his assistant.
"May I help you?" Angela looked as excited to wait on me as a fly caught in a spider web. I couldn't blame her, really. I must have looked a fright having left the house without my usual care to clothing and hair. The continued slapping of my own hands to not scratch myself probably didn't sharpen her zeal either. Yet, she graciously led me to the aisle of anti-itch creams and quickly walked away. After the humiliation of slapping, scratching and mumblings, I made it out the door and home with the Calamine Lotion.
I have found that prevention, as in most cases for any situation, is the best medicine. So in order to prevent Chigger infestation in my house, I am ripping out all my carpet. Hey, it keeps my hands busy. Also, I am trading my cat in ( the possible carrier of Chiggers) for a turtle. Wait, a turtle is a reptile. Okay, keep the cat, but the carpet still goes.
Southern Angel's Mid-Summer Southern Supper
Hungry? Well, here's the menu for one of my favorite suppers: Stuffed bell peppers, Tomato-Cuke-Onion Salad, Crowders, Fried Okra, Grilled Squash, Cornbread, Nanner Puddin', and Blackberry Cobbler with Homemade Ice Cream
Stuffed Bell Peppers
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained well
5 or 6 medium bell peppers
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (or onion flakes)
2 teaspoons salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
1 tablespoon Teriyaki sauce
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 egg, slightly beaten
Wash and clean out inside of peppers and blanche for 3 minutes. (Blanche means to dunk in boiling water, y'all.)
Season rice with Teriyaki and salt to taste. Mix together 1 can tomato sauce, meat, rice, and seasonings.
When you are happy with the flavor, stir in egg and stuff each pepper. Top the peppers with the remaining can of tomato sauce.
Put stuffed peppers in large oven dish, pour 3/4 cup water in bottom of pan; cover with foil and let bake at 350° for an hour and a half.
Cool for 20 minutes, then serve.
2-3 Tomatoes from the garden, washed and sliced
2-3 Vidalia Onions, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1-2 Garden cucumbers, peeled and sliced
Salt and pepper
Toss together all ingredients. If you have one of those fancy herb gardens, chop up some dill, basil, or chives too and add 'em. Serve immediately. If you're in a hurry or just lazy, use bottled Italian dressing instead of the oil and vinegar.
Crowders (AKA Cowpeas)
A good mess of shelled and rinsed crowder peas fresh from the garden
2 or so cubes of beef boullion
1 small onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup bacon grease
3 cloves minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
In large pot, add bacon grease and fry onion and garlic until lightly browned, then add crowders and enough water to cover. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until peas pop, about a half hour. Re-season as you need, honey. My goodness, I'm drooling.
I recommend that all frying should be done in cast iron
2 parts Cornmeal and 1 part all-purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper
2 parts Crisco and 1 part bacon grease
Rinse okra and cover with cornmeal mixture. Fry in grease until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and eat. Burp.
Summer squash, washed and sliced 1-inch thick
Vidalia onions, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Place the squash and onions on top of your grill. Brush with dressing. Wait a minute or two, then flip 'em, brush with dressing, wait another minute or two then take 'em up. My daddy uses one of those fish broiler contraptions to put the squash and onions in. He swears up and down it makes it easier to grill the squash.
2 cups of self-rising cornmeal
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup bacon grease (or vegetable oil if you're a Yankee)
1 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat well-greased 8- or 10-inch skillet in 425º oven. Or if you are skillet-less, grease an 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking pan. Blend all ingredients, stirring until moistened. The batter should be lumpy. Pour batter into preheated skillet or pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes for 8-inch skillet, 20 to 25 minutes for 10-inch skillet, or 25 to 30 minutes for 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking pan.
I don't want any hate mail over this recipe, so I'll just go ahead and say now that this is the quick and easy recipe and yes ma'am, it ain't no where near as good as the long and slow recipe.
2 ripe bananas, sliced 1/2-inch slices
1 large package (5.something or another ounce) instant vanilla pudding
3 cups cold milk
1 8-ounce container Cool Whip lite, thawed
1 box Nilla wafers cookies (sorry for being redundant with the wafers-cookies, but there just might be somebody out there that don't know that a wafer is a cookie
Mix milk with pudding mix. In a large bowl, put a layer of cookies on bottom, and then put on a layer of bananas (using a third of them). Pour a third of the pudding on bananas and spread a third of the container of Cool whip on top of the pudding.
Put another layer (or two) of cookies (I like to use a lot of cookies so that I don't get that nasty nanner pudding juice that you sometimes get after a couple of days), put on a layer of bananas (again, using a third of them), pour a third of the pudding, and spread a third of the container of Cool whip on top of the pudding.
You should know what you're gonna do next ... another layer of cookies, the last of the nanners, the last of the pudding, and top it off with the last of the Cool Whip.
If you want to get fancy, you can crumble some cookies on top of the Cool Whip as garnish.
Chill for a while. It's best to serve this the next day, but I'll understand if you can't wait.
6 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup sugar plus 1-2 tablespoons sugar (for sprinkling on top)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup milk (or water)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten
Preheat oven to 375º.
Almost cover the berries with water; add sugar and cook until boiling in a big heavy sauce pot. Mix the 1/2 cup sugar with 1/3 cup cornstarch and add to berries to thicken. Taste the berries and add more sugar if needed. Grease bottom of 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan, and pour in berry mixture.
For the topping, combine flour, milk, 1/2 sugar, butter, and egg. Beat with spoon until batter is smooth. Drop by spoonfuls on berry mixture, spreading evenly. (It spreads over berries while baking.) Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375° for 30 to 35 minutes, until topping is golden brown.
Lemon Ice Box Pie
I added this at the last minute - there's been several requests!
3 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice (juice of 3 lemons or so)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (that's grated lemon rind for you rednecks out there), optional
9 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup margarine
Preheat oven to 350°. Melt margarine. Mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted margarine, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Press into 9-inch pie plate.
Mix together lemon juice, lemon zest, and Sweetened and Condensed milk. Beat in egg yolks. Pour into crust.
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually beat in remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar. Beat until stiff and glossy. Cover pie with egg white mixture and bake around 20 minutes. Completely cool before serving.
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