Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve and the Moon Pie

This time of the holiday season is a great time to reflect on the passing of another year (no matter how bad it was or how much you learned to hate termites! - oh, I do digress, don't I?) But the New Year is also a great time to learn about how other people celebrate this time of year. 

Along with the Southern New Year's tradition of black eyed peas and cornbread at midnight, one of my favorite celebrations in the South involves a 600 lb Moon Pie. (No, not a real one - more's the pity - this is actually a metal replica!) Although the Moon Pie was originally produced in Chattanooga, Tennessee the delicious treat has become the center of the New Year's Celebration in Mobile, Alabama. At the stroke of midnight, the gigantic metal snack is dropped to bring in the New Year! 

In addition, the celebration - called MoonPie over Mobile - includes a Mardi Gras like parade where mini Moon Pies (produced especially for Moon Over Mobile) are tossed to the throngs. There is also lots of live jazz music and blues and even a giant specially baked Moon Pie for the enjoyment of the revelers. 

A final thought, am I the only one who feels that the Moon Pie (or lighted Ball, or star or Hog*) goes the wrong direction to indicate the New year? Why down? Wouldn't it be so much better if the indicator went up the side of the building or tower and the lights go off, rockets explode and people shout as the New Year begins? Let's work on that for next year, shall we?

Have a great New Year, from your Southern Pal, Marv!

====================
*Yes, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, they drop a big ol' Hog to mark the beginning of the New Year. No, not a real Hog, a big fiberglass and metal hog that lights up when it hits the new year. Yeah, Moon Pies and Hogs for New Years - that's Southern Living! 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Old Christmas - A Southern Tradition

There are many Christmas Traditions in the South, but none so unusual as "Old Christmas." Celebrated in the area of the Outer Banks, North Carolina, Old Christmas is celebrated - not on December 25, but on January 6.  

The basis for "Old Christmas" goes back to 1752, when England switched to the Gregorian Calendar which shortened the year. News traveled slow in those days, and on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the English settlers didn't get the word for decades, and had been celebrating the holiday when they always had, on what, in the new calendar, was Jan. 6.

Legend has it that the settlers didn't want to change and decided to merely keep celebrating the holiday on January 6.  Because of this, residents have found a place for both holidays. Christmas Day has become a time for family togetherness. Jan. 6, called Old Christmas, is a big community party.

Old Christmas celebrations have, in the past, been known to become rather rowdy and the celebration doesn't end until the arrival of Old Buck. Legend says that Old Buck was a wild bull that used to run amok on the Banks, and his spirit returns at each Old Christmas party in the form of a couple of folks dressed in an approximation of a bull outfit.

Old Buck runs around, makes adults laugh and scares a few children. But he’s also a reminder that this place, a finger of sand to which some of the toughest people in the world cling, is still a bit wild.

So, Merry Christmas and Happy 'Old Christmas' to you all! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Glitter and the King

Ok, so last week I didn't post anything.  To be honest, I was too sick to even remember what a blog was. I spent the entire week home in bed. I won't go into detail, but suffice to say that I'm feeling better and am back at work and even took a walk over to the Arcade to mail a Christmas Letter to the Grand Kids.  The closest Post Office is located in the center of the famous Arcade, one of America's oldest covered shopping centers and located right in the heart of Nashville, and there in lies our story for today.  

The pic above was taken as I walked back out of the Arcade,  The place sort of snuck up on me and surprised me. As I've noted in the past, the Arcade is filled with all manner of businesses from shoe shine to a tobacco shop.  Mostly, you'll find quick eateries for the downtown worker to lunch upon.  Deli Sandwiches, Mexican, Eastern and even a nifty little Cupcake place (now closed, unfortunately) have all spent time in the covered spaces, but this is not a restaurant!

It's a bit nondescript, and it took me a moment or two to realize what I was seeing due to the hanging Christmas Decorations.  Take a close look at the sign in that window.  That's right, it's a Wedding Chapel.  The Rhinestone Wedding Chapel, to be exact.  I've always felt that we needed a bit more rhinestone in the business fare in the center of our city and it looks like they got it right.  

Not only that, the second poster is even better.  
ELVIS!!  ELVIS IS DOING WEDDINGS IN DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE!  Did I shout that loud enough?  I expect I did.  My wife and I often joked about getting married by Elvis, but when the time came we opted instead for the county clerk.  I think wearing a pair of gold sunglasses and a white speckled suit may have  been a better idea. Hey, we do have an anniversary coming up.....

Yes, I've deleted the phone number as I'm not about to advertise for someone else, so if you really can't find them, inbox me and I'll put you in touch.  Just remember, I get pics...lots of pics!  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Is it the Death of Southern Ettiquette?

While walking through the city the other day, I happened to get to a door just ahead of a woman who was carrying a couple of big packages.  (Christmas shopping, perhaps?)  As we both encountered the door at the same time, I pulled it open and stepped back to allow her to go first.  She stopped and looked at me. Then she looked at the open door.  She didn't say a word but it was obvious she wasn't used to that.  She looked at me again, while people passed her by and entered the door and after a few more moments she tentatively walked through the door. 

While all the people walked past us, and when she had finally entered the door, I noted that not one of them paused to say "Thank you."  None. Not one.  And this woman with the packages didn't either.  It got me wondering are good manners finally dead?  In our fast paced, internet based, stare at your phone while you try to carry a conversation world, have manners been forgotten?

There is a history of Manners in the South (yes, all caps.)  Southern Gentility and Manners seem to go hand in hand.  In fact, let's ask the unasked question; What are Southern manners? I'm not talking about keeping your elbows off the table or which fork to use, but more about how to treat one another whether you are acquainted or not.  

Southern Manners are, of course, cemented in Christianity.  Nashville is known as the Buckle of the Bible Belt* after all. Manners in general, and Southern Manners specifically are based on the simplicity of the Golden Rule:  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." 

I've done a bit of research (talked to a few southern friends) and have come up with a sort of Primer for Southern Manners and offer it here as a place for people to learn and perhaps keep the idea of good manners from dying. 

Southern manners are based on 5 basic principles.
  • Be Humble. Others first, yourself last. Self-denial and deference to others ("After you") are the cornerstone of good manners, acting selfish or uppity is not.
  • Be Courteous: Remember the Golden Rule. Go out of your way to be helpful and kind to everyone you encounter.
  • Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Don't be uncouth, rude, brash, loud, coarse, or cause a commotion in public.
  • Be Friendly: Put your best foot forward, whether you've been properly introduced or don't know the person from a hole in the ground.
  • Be Modest:  Practice modesty in all situations. "Why, shucks, I guess I was in the right place at the right time" would work just fine upon learning that you had won the Pulitzer Prize.
By keeping this five pointed approach in your life, you can easily become more well mannered - Dixie Style.  But there's more (of course).
  •  Always remember to say Please and Thank you.  Always ask, never tell. The only way to make a request is to ask for it, directives are much too surly.  Say "Thank you" without fail.   To show them you're really grateful, dress it up with "Thank you kindly," "Thanks a whole lot," "Preciate it". If your request is denied, say "Well, thank you anyway."  Keeping these two in your vocabulary is the very cornerstone of good manners.  
  • Always use "Sir" or "Ma'am."  It's as important as Please and Thank you.
  • Always refer to those of the female gender as Ladies. The descriptive "Woman" is usually reserved in Dixie for females of questionable respect. If you are a gentleman, then treat all ladies with a courtliness, deference, and respect you'd accord members of the royal family since, in the South, ladies occupy such status. This is an immutable rule of order in Dixie, no matter what may be happening elsewhere on this planet.
  • Hold the door open for all members of the fairer sex, regardless of their social station. 
  • Stand when a lady enters or leaves a room.
  • Walk on the street-side of a side-walk, when accompanying a lady.
In the south, being well mannered is not being "Politically Correct."  It stands head and shoulders above such trivial things.  PC, to a Southerner, is merely a way people try to excuse not bringing kids up properly, and not teaching them Good Southern Manners.

---------------------------------------------------
*The Bible Belt is an informal term for a region in the south-eastern and south-central United States in which socially conservative evangelical Protestantism is a significant part of the culture and Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation's average.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Duck Tape is Really Just Another Tool

There have been many jokes and stories of how Duct Tape is one of the wonders of the universe (I often refer to it as the Silver Savior.)  Though I'm not here to dispute that (duck tape is too much a part of my life!) there is something about Duck tape that a lot of people don't understand.

Usually jokes about Duck tape fall into two categories. A) Duck Tape doing something it was not meant to do, like tape together a crack in the asphalt, and B) Duck tape being used to make something like a prom dress.  These two simple suggestions not withstanding, Duck tape is mostly used to stick two things together. Duck tape is so much more than that.

There is an axiom that if it doesn't move and it's supposed to, use WD-40; and if it moves and it's not supposed to move, use Duck Tape.  What a lot of people fail to see is the utilitarian mode of Duck Tape: Duck tape as a tool in itself.  So much so, in fact, that we should really call it Tool Tape  or maybe Duck Tool Tape or Duck Tape Tool (I'm digressing, aren't I? Sorry bout that...)

I know I carry around a roll of Duck Tape (yes, always capitalized.  Always!) and I keep a big roll of it in every tool box and near every work area.  Not to tape things up permanently, but as a tool in getting things done.  This is the quintessential use of Duck Tape.  As a temporary bond while you work, an extra pair of hands or just a grip when you need it.

I've used Duck tape in the following 'Duck Tool' ways.
  • You can open a stuck jar with Duck Tape by sticking one end along the edge of the lid and pulling on the other end.  
  • Duck Tape, by its fabric nature and linear tensile strength makes a great temporary carrying handle.  Wrap it around the item to be carried and leave enough to fold together for a handle.
  • And of course, I've used Duck Tape to keep my knee pads in place while I crawl around under the house. 
  • Most recently, I used Duck Tape wrapped around my fingers to keep metal filings from being embedded under my skin while installing drywall screws.  
  • And of course, you can use it for baby sitting, as the above picture demonstrates.  (No, not me, I wouldn't do that to a stuffed Duck!) 
You can still make that new suit out of Duck Tape, and you can still use it to repair some old broken window or decorate your living room with it. That's your decision.  But if you're like me, you strive to the Southern Ideal of the best uses of Duck Tape.

Put some in your tool chest and rely on it often.  Tell everyone that Southern Guy, Marv, explained it all to you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ugly Is as Ugly Does

It's cold out and for some unknown reason, total strangers make odd comments to each other as they get on the bus.  Today a guy sat down next to me and we engaged in the usual "Ooo Wee, ain't it COLD!" before getting out our reading material: His was his phone, mine was my Electronic Reader.

After a few minutes, this guy nudges me as some other guy gets on and he mutters the phrase "Who ever said Ugly goes all the way to the bone was sure right there, amirightbuddy?"  And I glanced up to see a guy I've seen on the bus many times.  He's short, round and very much resembles Danny Divito in his days on 'Taxi.'  He wears a dirty baseball cap and carries a dirty grey canvas zippered bag.  Dirty scuffed work books barely stay on his feet due to the laces being shorter than needed and the tops of the boots open and flapping about.  But with all his dirty hat, bag and even his jeans look well used, he is self effacing, polite and doesn't even smell bad.  

I was struck by the comment made by my unnamed fellow passenger as rather subjective and decide that his comment needs no extra input on my part.  But the more I thought on it, the more it sort of got to me.  Who is HE to be commenting on the looks of anyone, let alone this hard working sole on the bus.

Been a while since I've done a flashback and doing it while some stranger stares me down may seem odd, but let's do it anyway.

Many years ago I worked as a salesman for mobile homes. Not just any  homes, but the Cadillac of Mobile Homes. Very well made, very pricey! On one particular rainy afternoon, we salesmen watched out the front window of our office as a worn out station wagon stopped and jerked its way into the parking lot.  We could make out the dirty face of the driver, the dirty face of the wife and the dirty faces of 3 - no wait, is that 5? kids bouncing around in the back seat.  It was obvious to us that these were people just looking for a way to get out of the house  and let the kids run a bit to wear them out.

We did what any salesman would do: we stood stock still.  

The boss came out of his office and asked pointedly who was going to help the family and we all just sort of shrugged.  He grabbed a handful of umbrellas out of the closet and ran out into the rain throwing epithets of laziness back at us.  We watched as he handed out umbrellas and escorted the family into the most expensive home on the lot.  

In a short while, he returned escorting the family into his office where he made a sale. CASH. He later explained that the father owned a construction company which had just got the bid on a new high school in a small town about an hour away.  He hated to be away from his family so he was buying a mobile home for them to live in during the construction.  The wife home schooled their 5 children and didn't mind the move.  The car was borrowed as his new Mercedes as in the shop for a tune up and her BMW was across town where they would pick it up on the way home. Commission lost, Lesson Learned: never judge a book by its cover, or a person by their worn clothes, boots or dirty canvas bag.  

Coming back to the present, I note that the guy next to me was no real beauty.  He had a big red drinker's nose, a bad comb over and a beard that was more fantasy than reality.  Though he wore a suit, he smelled badly of cigarettes and I'm guessing he hadn't brushed his teeth in a decade. 

I realized he was looking at me expecting some sort of comment about the Divito Look-A-Like who now sat in the back of the bus.  All in all, I just didn't agree with his assessment, but couldn't really say that in so many words. I also didn't want to blatantly insult the guy with a comment on the drinker's nose, comb over etc.  My endeavors to be a true southern gentleman would not allow it.

In my efforts to be the Southern Gentleman, I came up with the best line I could think of.  I put my eyes back on my reader and said rather matter of fact, "We're all ugly to someone, Bubba."  We rode the rest of the way in silence.

Southern Detente, my friends, Southern Detente. 


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Civil War Reenactments - The Subculture


One cannot live in the South without hearing the almost daily reference to The Great War of Northern Aggression - called the Civil War by Historians and Northerners.  Now, I don't wish to get into a long discussion of the aggression of the north, the way in which it has always been depicted or the color of the uniforms.  (Grey? Seriously?  All the colors of the rainbow and they chose GREY?) 

This week, I'd like to take a few minutes and share with you information about a subculture of individuals (of both north and south) and their love of the war. Well, not really the war, I mean how can someone 'love' a war?  What they love, what they live for is the reenactment of the major (and even some minor) battles of the war itself.  

This is not a bad thing, and I wish to clarify that anything that allows us to learn from history is always a good thing.  The part that amazes me is how these people (women included) go out into the hot, humid and sometimes cold weather and stand around for hours just to reenact one battle which may only take a few minutes to complete.  If it were me? I'd be in an RV watching the entire thing on closed circuit cameras mounted on the roof along with the requisite mosquito cannons pointed in all directions.  (Hate them skeeters, I duz!)  

In addition, I must admit that there are groups of enactors across the country, in the north, and even as far west as Oregon.  Not only THAT, but within the subculture of  "Re-enactors" you have factions or subcategories of enthusiasts, according to their dedication and accuracy in the performance of their roles.   

There are basically three:  
  • Hardcore: This is the true passionate re-enactor who goes out of his way to buy period manufactured hardware or period accurate clothing.  They wear the same clothes, carry what a soldier of that time may have carried and even cut their hair with a rusty sabre while sitting in an old barn. They are careful not to use any modern fabrics or comforts.    It should go without saying that they look with hard 1800's disdain on anyone who is not in this category. 
  • Farbs:  Farbs are, to the best that I can tell, the direct opposite of the Harcore ReEnactor. They try to be authentic, but get outfits made by costume shops, or buy props rather than official period pieces.  They enjoy the hobby but don't get too wrapped up in its authenticity.  (And before you ask, no one really knows where the term FARB originated.) 
  • Mainstream:   Right in the middle are what both sides call 'mainstreamers'.  These are the people who don't fall exactly into either camp.  They may buy authentic clothing, but still keep their prescription lenses, and comfy underwear.  Its sort of based on what is important - to them.  Comfort, and their own level of need trump what is authentic.  
Of course, none of these categories mentions anything about an RV, cameras or mosquito cannons. I don't think anyone is going to let me set my own category, so I guess I will fall into the one category not part of the re-enactment: Spectators.

Yes, make your own category in life. That's the true southern way.  


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

One Potato Two Potato

I've stated it time and time again, I love the South.  Yes, capitalized all formal like.  There is no real one reason why I love the south, but just the other day I came upon something that not only surprised me and delighted me but again cemented that thought that the South is the place to be.  

There I was walking to work in the early light when I came up on the most interesting display you see above.  I took a picture. Like it was an art installation of some sort. I marveled at its simplicity.  

Take a closer look.  In fact, here, let me blow it up for you.  
Yep, that's right.  Two medium sized baking potatoes laying right there on the sidewalk in downtown NashVegas.  I looked around for the requisite butter and sour cream (without Sour Cream it's hardly Kosher) but, alas, none to be found.  No ketchup for fries, no pan for hash browns - nothing.  Just a couple of Idaho Spuds hanging out in the Art District of Music City.  It was enough to make you smile, and a smile first thing in the morning on the way to work is the best way to start the day.  

Now, I hear what you're thinking.  I'm spooky that way.  How does a couple of spuds falling out of a shopper's shopping bag mean the South is so wonderful.  It's not the great potates, nor the location, but the fact that someone took the time to carefully lay these off to the side where they a) wouldn't be underfoot and thus destroyed by people headed to the day's toiling, and b) possibly be found by the owner who might come looking for them.  

Now, you begin to see why I love the South?  
Is any more proof needed?  I think not.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I Didn't See You There - Dinnertime Edition

As much as this falls into that area of Suthun Camouflage, I'd love to make a little joke about how if I put my blackened chicken sandwich (with requisite fries) on it to eat; that I might lose it because, well, it's camouflaged.  But this time, this is less of a camo design than an homage to camo design.  (Did I use that work right, bubba?)

This is not the typical leaves on the ground camo design we usually find when out and about.  (Saw a guy the other day with two types of camo on at the same time!  I hear ya: If he was camouflaged, how did I see him. Stop that, you're making me digress!) This design is a combination of both leaves & sticks, but also the side of a log cabin.  It's more picturesque than really 'camo.'  Made of high impact polystyrene, they're designed for use at picnics, barbecues or other outdoor events where plastic dinnerware would be required.

I'd really like to have some of these dishes and may actually find them in my house one day but for the moment, I will just enjoy them in the store.  Just another reason to love things found in the south.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shopping the Roadside

One of the things I enjoy about the south is the way that Southerners dispose of unwanted but usable items. (Though I'm not entirely sure that this is a Southern thing; but let's get past that and enjoy my amazing writing skills, shall we?)

Every so often I'll be driving down the street and see things sitting by the roadside.  TVs, shelves, even exercise equipment just sitting there.  Sometimes they will have a hand written sign saying "FREE" or "TAKE ME" and always I slow down to see what it might be. The objects in the picture above turned out to be a bin of silk flowers.  I'd like to have kept the bin, but didn't want the flowers.  I'll pass.
A couple of days later, on the same road, here's a line up of three TVs and a couple of mattresses. I can tell by the design that these are older style 'non-digital' TVs and as I don't really need any more TVs; again - I'll pass.  

In all this passing up of roadside shopping, the thing to note is that these things DO disappear. People pick them up, take them home and fix them, clean them and end up with some usable item for their home.  

In fact, I've done it myself!  In my work area right now are two chairs we 'rescued' from the side of the road, which my wife and I will refinish when the living room is done.  (Oh there I go again, mentioning that dang living room project and I said I wasn't going to go there.  But at least I'm digressing again which is always a good sign.)  

I also once picked up a nice Gun Cabinet. (Yes, Bubba, capitalized.) Now, every southerner with a gun has a special place to put them and a gun cabinet seemed the ideal solution to my storage needs.  Load it up and take it home!  The front glass door was cracked but I planned on covering that for more security.  To make a long story short, my projects (read: living room) never included the cabinet, and it ended up by the side of the road in front of my house along with an old mirror, an old vacuum cleaner and a TV (I guess there must always be a TV).  They were gone in no time.  

When I'm considering getting rid of things I no longer want or need, it's amazing to me that there is someone else that would overlook the mouse droppings in the bottom or the spider webs on the back and (hopefully) get some use out of it.  If not, they are probably like me, and will place it back on the side of the road.  

Now I'm wondering how many times that gun cabinet has been passed along by the road side.  Life here in the south sure can be thought provoking.  


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pretty as a Pitcher

Not too long ago I put up a very popular post about mason jars as drinking glasses.  Ever since that time I keep my eye out for those handled mugs and I even update the post from time to time.  Today, I surprised myself. What you see above is the pitcher to go with those mugs.

Made by Alladin and not Mason, this big two-quart pitcher is made of thick polystyrene and is light as a feather! (Ok, so maybe slightly heavier than a feather, but much lighter than glass would be in the same size!  Am! I! using! enough! exclamation! points?)  Made to resemble a big canning jar, it has both the Aladdin and Mason names formed into its side.  I'm figuring it for about a two quart pitcher (just right for Kool Aid!) and I wonder at the nifty effect of putting black cherry Kool Aid into that Blue Pitcher.

I looked around for the matching mugs to go with this pitcher, but all I found were cups with caps and straws. It would seem to me that this should be a set: 1 handled pitcher and 4 matching handled glasses.   Must I think of Everything?  A stylish way to drink your favorite beverage and the plastic won't break easily.

Maybe I just need to look around a bit more.  The South Hides Things Very Well!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chalk it up to the South

"I Believe In You!"
Every morning, I get off the bus for work and walk down one block to enjoy the city.  I get a snootful from the place that's cooking bacon and I get a few minutes to relax and look at the art on the walls of the Art Galleries (4 of them) along this street.  

Monday, I had a bit of a surprise, as you see there at the top.  Someone had left a nice thought in multi-colored chalk on the sidewalk right outside the bacon place.  It made me smile to such a degree I had to stop and take a picture.  Then I headed on. 

Only a few steps further, and I found another drawing.
Happy Day
And yet another.  Then I saw that they continued all the way down this one block.  There was barely enough light from the art galleries to take the pics, but my flash made sure I didn't miss any of it. 
"You Are Loved"
When I got to work I showed the collection of shots to a couple of people and we endeavored to figure out what was the motivation behind this Chalk Mural.
"Dream Big"
One person thought it might have something to do with the monthly First Saturday Art Crawl here in Downtown Nashville. Near 100 people attend every month and enjoy art openings and special receptions. 
"The World Is Beautiful"
Could this be the work of the Downtown Partnership as part of the Art Crawl? 
"If you want to live low, live low.
If you want to live high, live high."

The second person I showed the shots to thought it might have been the work of one or two people for someone else.  Someone with a special interview, perhaps, starting a new job or even new in town. 
The last idea was that it was the work of a couple of college students high on life and with more chalk than things to do on a Weekend. 
'I believe in you! You can do the thing! :)
The drawings were just amateur enough to make this more plausible, but there just doesn't seem to be a cohesive agreement here at the office nor enough evidence for anyone to guess one way or the other.  .
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who
mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind"
"Positive Mind Positive Life" - "Follow your Bliss"

"Imagination is more important than knowledge - Albert Einstein"
The most interesting part of this is that 15 minutes after I took these pictures and was at work, it started to rain, washing away the mural in a matter of minutes.  I may have been one of the few people who saw it in its original state.
"As long as humans live, happiness is possible."
I'm glad I got the pics, first because I really doubt anyone at work would have believed me.  So it's nice to have 'evidence.'
"You can be anything you ewant to be when you grow up"
And second because I'm happy to have them all to put here for your enjoyment. 
"Make today the best day of your life"
So, if you're looking for a way to spread a little joy, and don't have plans this evening, pick up a package of colored chalk and decorate a sidewalk for someone in your life.

Just another way to bring a piece of the South into your own area. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Invention Intervention - Foam It Up!

This is an invention to be shared. It's one I came up with myself and I encourage you to try it.  I'm sure you recognize the can of stuff pictured above.  It's a can of spray foam, used to fill in cracks and openings to keep out critters and drafts. The hard plastic tube allows you to aim the foam into even the smallest cracks and crevices. I use it EVERYWHERE I can! 

The problem?  To use the can of foam properly, you turn it upside down.  This means it's difficult to use the spray foam in ceilings or when you're crawling around under the house foaming spots above you. Oh sure, you can use it upright for the first few squirts, but you run out of usable foam quickly and it's best when inverted...even says so on the can. So, what do you do?

Just the other day, an idea came to me while wandering around the big hardware store.  Over in plumbing I picked up a 20' roll of polyvinyl tubing for a  mere $2.99

I took the roll home and cut off about 12-18 inches, leaving one end flat cut and the other with an angle about 45 degrees.  The straight part of the can of foam pops right off and the flat cut end of the tubing fits right on in its place. The other end accepts the straight stick with a nice tight fit. (The angle cut helps here...)
The Result: Now you can invert the can and yet hold the stick UP to spray the foam up into whatever you like! (For one handed operation I attach the stick near the bottom of the can with a strip of duck tape.)  When done, the vinyl tubing pops right off and can be discarded. (Total cost about 50¢.)  Run a pipe cleaner into the two plastic ends and they can be reused again and again!

When you show this off to your neighbors (and I'm sure you will) you can take all the credit you want, but be sure to say that it's Southern Thinking at Its Best!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Urban Greenery


It's a truly amazing place I live in.  I mean that. I discover more to enjoy every day.  Take today for instance. Every morning, I get off the bus for work a block early, just so I can walk by one restaurant where they are already cooking (read: bacon) and then walk by the art galleries (four of them!)  It relaxes me and reaffirms my love of this wonderful place. (Mmmm, bacon...!)

You can imagine my surprise when I come across the above.  Yes, you see it right; that is a stretch of green grass sod laid out carefully in the parking lane of the downtown two lane street.  A couple of us stood there and wondered about it for a while.  Art Installation? It is right in front of one of the art galleries.  Picnic Area? Hmm not really wide enough for a good picnic.  There is no fence around it, so it's there for some obvious reason.  AND the nifty red cones indicate that there may be more sod by the end of the day.  It's a conundrum of sorts that's for sure.

But all in all, this is one of the reasons I so enjoy living and working in the South - in Nashville in particular. It shows the constant energy of the people around you every day.  How many people came downtown today and didn't see this?  No one from my office saw it and were amazed when I showed them the photo. So, it's there only for the finite fortunate few who venture out enough to see the city.  

Ya gotta just love that about your city or town. I sure do.
Maybe there will be something in the paper later to explain this.

------------------------

As it turns out, it was part of a downtown company's employee appreciation day.  Not sure how the grass played in, but it's nice to know.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Marv Returns to Write Another Day

12 ft. Sheets of drywall, not as easy as it sounds...
I'm getting to the point where I hate to go home.  I'm having to work on the house every free moment and when I'm not working on the house, I'm thinking about working on the house, thinking about the next part of the project, thinking about the cost, planning what tools I will need (and where I might have left them) along with the ever present "Did I get THEM all?" (Meaning, of course, the termites.)

As you can see, the floor has been replaced, along with 10 of the floor joists. (My neighbor, the retired construction worker helped with all that.) I've replaced many of the wall studs, and replaced the insulation.  I've added a couple of new outlets, fixed the outside walls and am beginning work on the drywall.  The work is getting done, but it's really taking a toll.

Such a toll, in fact, that I ended up spending the night in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer.  Not fun, and it also forced me to spend a couple of weeks not doing anything on the house. I just sit here staring at the plastic covering the room, remembering the half done drywall and trying not to think of all the little things that are not getting done. Double Not Fun.

So, to keep myself from ending up in the hospital again, or from slamming my head face first into the side of the bus on the way home from work, I've decided that I will (read: must) get back to The Marvinators Place and put down some decidedly non-termite related blog posts, digressions and all. 

I can tell that this puts you all in a quiver.
I promise not to digress (much) and give my retired English-teacher brother Bubba some much needed practice in correcting my Its and It's.  See you next week!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Life in the South- Taking a Break


This termite thing has been a wild wild ride and it's not over.  My emotions are gone.  I'm pretty much numb from it all. I encourage you all, if you own a home to have it inspected for termites on a regular basis, or learn how to do it yourself.  If you have a giving heart, please click the GOFUNDME link at the top right and give a little to help.  Every dollar will get my own personal Southern Thank you in reply!

I love the south. I love blogging and I like writing for those few who stop by regularly and read.   Please don't let my emotional setbacks deter you from reading some (or all) of my other posts on life in the south. If you scroll down on the right, you'll find the archive, and down further, some of the more popular posts this month.

I will return, but I'm just not sure how soon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Termite War - News From the Front

The Termite War has escalated. When the first signs of war were found, I crawled into enemy territory and engaged in hand to hand combat while at the same time spreading chemical deterrents in the form of Boric Acid.  A week later I found that the boric acid is doing well, but the termites are fighting back. They had built free standing tunnels (known as 'castles' in the trade)  in an effort to get to the wood in the floor of my living room.

Undaunted, I again attacked. This time I flooded them with wet boric acid, along with much slashing and mashing with my big metal putty knife.  (Yes, it sounds cute, but it's deadly to termites!  They run screaming from it like extras in a Godzilla movie!)

In addition, my arsenal has grown with the addition of POISON STAKES! (Insert loud evil laugh here.) I have implanted several 'bait and wait' stations around the house to draw in any termites and which will also kill entire colonies.  

Termites are not special in the South.  Termites can be found in every state in the union, except for Alaska.  I have to admit, that regardless, finding termites in your home can be a daunting and disheartening discovery.  As a Southerner, I've taken this on as another DIY project - mainly because I can't afford to pay anyone to do it.  

This blog may be late for the next few weeks as I tear out the floor in my living room and replace the termite eaten joists.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Under the House and Other Frightening Thoughts.


It's no secret, I hate going under my house and in the last couple of weeks, I've gone under there more times than I want to admit.  It's dark and dank and has all manner of man-sized eight-legged-creatures waiting for me to happen by so that they can do their worst.  I've made no bones about the fact that I really hate going under the house.  Why?  Ok, let's examine the factors. 

It's dark. In the movies when someone goes under their house, there's always light from somewhere, but under my house it's like crawling around the inside of a black box with a black sack on my head.  In recent years my wife has given me a couple of really good high intensity lights and they really do dispense with the dark but really only add to the creepy factor!

And then there's the smell.  It's a sort of deep double strong rich loamy smell added with overtones of heavy mold.  Even that is not as bad as it used to be since I found a really good respirator that filters out the mold and smells. I used to spend the night after a trip under the house battling a fever or cough from breathing so much of the mold. Now, I just fight the nightmares.

And, of course, the spiders.  That's the big one! The spiders are the worst!  Anything with more legs than a cat has no business living under my house!  I always take bug spray under the house with me to deal with the spiders along with a baseball bat, a hockey stick and a sawed-off shotgun! (Ok, I joke. I don't own a hockey stick.)

The real problem (other than the aforementioned spiders) is getting ready to go under the house.  It's not a walk in the park.  I have to start with special clothes.  The clothes I wear have to be old clothes because if they cannot come clean, they have to be burned.  Yes, burned. It's the only way to get rid of that smell. (Sometimes my wife has to wash them 3 times before they are good enough to just sit on the porch between subterranean expeditions.) 

I choose old blue jeans loose enough for crawling and getting into strange positions and a sweatshirt with a hood to protect my ears and head. So after I put on the pants and sweatshirt that have been hanging out on the patio, I carry my socks to the carport where I've kept my boots from the last trip under the house and finish getting dressed.

Then comes the 'gathering of the tools.'  I have to get together all the tools that I need to complete whatever job I'm going to be doing. I don't want to have to come out from under the house just to get that one thing I need to finish that one job. So, I think through the job and gather everything.  Screwdrivers, spray foam, paper towels, and of course the two new lights. This can take an hour or  more as I track down those little special tools that I need - where did I leave that putty knife? What about that hand auger?  Oh wait, I'm going to need my duck tape..where is it?  It can take a while to find them all. 

Once the tools are gathered, It's time finalize my outfit. I wear a pair of gel filled knee pads (thank you to the wife, once again, who got them for me.) The knee pads need special care.  They need to be duck-taped into place so that they will stay in place while I crawl around on all fours and sometimes on my stomach while I'm 'down under.' Lastly, the respirator, which must be strapped into place and tested.  Then the light which straps onto my forehead and I'm ready for the dungeon.  Oh wait, where are my gloves? 

By this point, I'm totally worn out from getting ready.
Maybe a nap before I head under the house.  ...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tunneler II - The Evil Spawn in the Lawn


Not long ago I wrote about these little critters who live under my lawn. No, not leprechauns, these are destructive little vermin known as moles. They've all but ruined my nice neat lawn! They tunnel around under the lawn eating worms and even as cool as a bunch of subterranean tunnels sounds, they must go.  The tunnels and the moles.  Hey, the tunnels are too small for me, anyway. 

In addition to writing about them, I also explained a tried and true southern solution to the problem, namely Juicy Fruit Gum.  Last week, in the early evening, sun still streaming down in the hours after work, I had plenty of time to go out and carefully put Juicy Fruit gum into 6 or 7 areas of the tunnels. It is important to not get your smelly human scent on the gum, so I carefully broke it up using the paper it was wrapped in and placed them into several  of the open holes and a few I even cut into the tunnels.  I then let them sit for 3 days.

Bright at early Saturday morning I went to complete the 2nd part of my Lawn Wars Attack: Shock and Awe! Dressed in my pajama pants, a tee shirt and a long sleeved light jacket, I donned my hard garden shoes and went out to smash down the tunnels. Using a short, but heavy, step and jamming my heels into the soft dirt I went over as much area as I could smashing down the soft tunnels and returning the lawn to some semblance of flat.  I knew that if you don't get the lawn as flat as possible, the little hillocks will get hard as a rock and pushing a mower over it will be like 4 wheeling with no suspension.

I'm sure I looked the foole (with the requisite extra 'e') as I stomped up and down the yard, taking ultra small steps to be sure I got as much coverage as possible. I probably looked like I was doing some strange and ancient "Lawn Dance" as I moved up and down, stomping and stomping. Then I found something surprising. The tunnels covered more than half my yard!  It was a veritable mole-a-lapalooza! 

I finally wore myself out and went in. Now, comes the waiting game. Waiting to see if the moles come back or if the Juicy Fruit did the trick. In the meantime, the photo above shows what they do to a lawn. The smashed tunnels leave big brown spots rife for weeds to take over before the grass fills in. What am I saying...my lawn is mostly weeds anyway.

It's still going to be a bumpy mow, but at least I feel like I've made a good southern attempt at it.  Time will tell.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Fear and Loathing in Nashville

It is with much sadness, trepidation, fear, anger and a slew of other emotions that cannot be dictated here that I enter a new project here at the homestead.  Homestead? Sounds like I have acres of lush farmland and a few dozen head of cattle.  No, I have a house on a standard lot and a few hundred head of termites.  

Termites are found in every region of the US, not just the South, so I can't really say this is a Southern problem. It's a problem, but just not something you find only in the South.  Problem might be too light of a word, too.  I mean, I cannot begin to tell you the emotions that come up while you are eating dinner and suddenly you're watching a swarm of termites head across your living room carpet.  Two hours later, you've vacuumed up all the little *&^%*! and now it's time to get to the truth. Just how long have these little *&^%*! been munching on the underside of my house?  

This explains the Walter White-ish get up you see me wearing above.  As much as I hate going under the house, I must go spelunking in search of bugs.  And while I'm at it, I'll be spreading the good cheer that is Boric Acid and termite bug killer.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be tearing apart my house to take out the termite hollowed wood.   You can just read how excited I am to be doing that!  In fact, you'll probably see it posted here...

So, keep coming back. Cry along with Marv and follow my fun adventures.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Swamp - It's A Southern Thing

There is one place in the south I've never been. Not in the 20 some years I've lived here, and it's not hard (if you know me) to understand that I may never visit there, and I'm ok with that. 

The Swamp.

Just saying the words will conjure up images of green sludgy monsters or alligator hunters with accents so heavy you can barely understand them. The swamps of the southern US are as vast as they are amazing. Yes, amazing.  Think of this for a minute.  Let's start with the Okefenokee Swamp. Covering 700 square miles of South Georgia and North Florida, lies a huge bowl-shaped depression in which the Okefenokee Swamp developed. About 25 miles across and 40 miles long, this is a unique 1,000 sq mile area of primitive wetland, hosting hundreds of species of wildlife. 

But, even bigger is the Atchafalaya Basin.  Only about 20 miles wide but over 150 miles in length, the swamp covers a mind boggling 2200 square miles.  The Atchafalaya Basin, or Atchafalaya Swamp, is the largest wetland and swamp in the United States. Located in south central Louisiana, it is a combination of wetlands and river delta area where the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico converge.  

Perhaps the part that amazes me about these wet areas is that people actually live in the swamp. Yep, and it takes a special breed.  They erect houses on the water and, travel up and down the water-ways the way we traverse asphalt and of course, make a living on (and maybe even IN) the swamp.  

Being a good southerner, you'd think I'd be anxious to head on into the swamp and get me some of them 'gatuz' during 'gatuh seezun.'  The problem is the media. No, wait, the problem is that the media has educated us properly and shown us all the dangerous snakes, poisonous spiders and aggressive aforementioned 'gatuz' that prowl the waters of the swamp looking for innocent Nashville Blog Writers to eat.  The Atchafalaya  is even home to the Lousiana Black Bear which, although on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service threatened list, can still eat a Good-Ol-Boy Wanna be like me without a second thought. 

No, you will not find me in the swamp.  I am amazed at the people who live there, and even more amazed to watch them catch fish and 'gatuz' but I will not be traveling there for a visit.  No post cards, no selfies, no way Jose Billy Bob!  I have enough trouble with the arachnids in my crawl space without traveling there just to tangle with some over-sized swamp spider bent on my destruction. 

Perhaps that's why those shows on cable are so popular.  We all are amazed at these incredible people who live in the swamp, but the closest we want to get is punching the button on the remote control.  It's probably what's going on in my house. And, again, I'm ok with that.  

Suddenly, I'm in the mood to spray for spiders...and maybe snakes and gaters too...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Nashville - The Athens of the South

Every good Southerner, nay every good citizen knows a bit about their city that sets it apart from the rest of the world. Everyone knows that Nashville has a rich history of Country Music (yes, with the requisite capital letters!)  Perhaps it would be a bit of a shock to learn that sitting in the middle of a large park in the southern part of Nashville sits the only full sized replica of the Parthenon built anywhere in the world.  Now, for the uninformed, the Parthenon is a temple built in honor of the god Athena and sits at the top of the Athenian Acropolis (naturaly) in Greece.

Originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition, this replica of the original Parthenon in Athens serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles found in the Naos are direct casts of the original sculptures which adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon, dating back to 438 B.C. The originals of these powerful fragments are housed in the British Museum in London. 

Oh geez, did that put anyone to sleep?  Let's try to stay awake here.  

Your next question may be why?  Why put this big, full sized replica in the middle of a park in the middle of a city in the middle of the US? Quite simply, Nashville has always been called the "Athens of the South" and the directors of the 1897 exposition wished to expand on this and so it was decided that the Parthenon would center the exposition perfectly. 

It was originally slated to be torn down after the exposition (as most all of the other buildings were,) but locals loved it so that they left it.  Weather defaced it to such a degree that it was completely rebuilt in 1920 and refaced in the early 1990's.  It houses an art collection and is big enough for public and private parties. It has even been used in movies as backdrop to such action films as Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. 

So if you're planning a trip to Nashville, be sure to add this to your itinerary alongside the music studios, live music venues and gift shops.  

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Attack of the Tunneler!


Deep into the Lawn Wars, I've found a new Nemesis! Yes, with the capital letter and all! It all started last year, in a small area beside the house, the side with the big heat/air unit.  The ground felt...well...squishy.  As I walked behind the mower, my steps sunk into the lawn in certain areas.

My response: what the-?  My wife, the erstwhile naturalist and manga cum wilderness knew more. Mole. No, not one of those brown bumps on your arms (or elsewhere) these are little burrowing varmints that make little tunnels in your greenery and eat the worms.  Now, the good Lawn Ranger knows that worms help aerate the lawn, thus giving more water to those areas that need it.  The mole had to go.

My online research gave me little.  No, I'm not using chemicals and no, I don't want to trap it.  I want to get rid of the destruction, yes, but research says that there is little you can do other than spraying your entire yard with castor oil. The best answer seemed to be just stomp down their tunnels on a regular basis and they move on. So for several days I dutifully got on my big boots and stomped up and down the tunnels.

And. Amazingly. It. WORKED!  The mole was gone! Huzzah Huzzah! I danced in the street.  Oh but wait...now this spring, I have a new area - somewhat bigger than the other, but more tunnels.  Curses!  The little rodent had merely moved!  (Cue wild thrashing of limbs and gnashing of teeth.)

So, the war begins anew.  With one minor change.  This year, I am using a time honored and storied remedy. Juicy Fruit Gum.  Yes, you read that right. Juicy Fruit Gum. 

Wrigley's Juicyfruit Chewing Gum - 40 / Box 
Handed down from my father-in-law to my magna-cum-wilderness spouse, Juicy Fruit Gum is said to a) attract and b) kill such things as moles and gophers.  The trick to the entire thing is to NOT get any of your human scent on the gum.  Using gloves you roll the gum up or twist it up into a worm shape. Moles and gophers love the smell of Juicy Fruit and love to eat worms. Then you just stick it into the tunnels that are used most.  (Without gleefully cackling too much, or getting your evil human scent on anything nearby. They eat the gum.  And. Die.  (Cue more dancing in the street amid evil cackling...)

I have only just begun my wars with the evil Roedor de la C├ęspede*, but know this: The South shall win this war.  Mark my words.  The South shall WIN!



*Rodent of the Lawn

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Leaf Me Alone, I'll Rake it Later


It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me (or reads this blog on a regular basis) that I don't do a lot of excessive work around the yard.  Mowing and edging are about it. No weeding, no spraying, no placing of cement creatures with cute smiles and little umbrellas. No, nothing more than mowing or edging. This means that come Fall, the leaves fall and I leave them where they fall. (Or is that LEAF them where they fall?)

Raking leaves, as any good Lawn Ranger knows, allows the lawn to get more light and keeps insects from making an all you can eat buffet out of your grassy yard. In MY lawn? Grass? No, more like weeds, clover and some strange light green stuff I'd rather not get too close to.  Not really in need of sunlight and protection.  

The experts say to get the grass off properly, start with a blower (yeah, right) and finish it  up with a rake. No, not going to happen. You see, here in the south, we get about 2 weeks of fall, and then it's a rainy cold winter.  There's just not time to blow the leaves and then rake them.  Getting wet leaves to rake up off a wet lawn is akin to herding cats.  Wet cats. Not only that, but the weather makes it near impossible to plan to do this.  Other areas get nice cool weekend days during Autumn to rake and pile leaves. Here in the glorious South, we get rain. Cold. Wet. Rain.

So, it all comes down to the Springtime to get the leaves up.Which, because of the rainy spring here in the South, again makes it difficult. It means waiting for a sunny afternoon and getting out the blower to blow the piled leaves off the patio, out of the carport and out of the corners by the fence.  Scoop them up with my big snow shovel and into a bag. 

Looks good.  Until the stupid leaves fall again later this year. It's a never ending fight, here in the South. Ok OK, MID-South, but you know what I mean, right?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Downtown Additions - Nashville's New Amphitheater

Headed home in the bus the other day when I did one of those things I rarely do.  I looked up from my book to watch the city go by.  Well, I really wasn't day dreaming, I was trying to get a gauge on when the bus might actually be in my area of the city.  My lovely Mrs. likes to schedule dinner on the table practically as I walk in and my being able to pull myself away from my book to gauge the time helps her in this endeavor.  But, again, I digress.  

We hadn't even traveled out of downtown when I spied something new. A construction site where there used to be a big meadow. (Yes, a meadow just downtown, as odd as that might be.) It's something new and different, so I took a picture thinking "Oh, gotta add this to my blog..."  It was the next day when I had done the research to find out what exactly was being built next to the river.  A New Amphitheater.  

Oh.  Yes, Nashville needs one more venue for music down on the river.  Nashville is fairly starving for music venues.  (You catch the sarcasm?  Heavy on the irony?)  Ok, so we all know Nashville is "Music City" and there used to be a great Amphitheater many miles from downtown with acres of parking where all the greats once played and it's neat to see the city embrace this need and replace it.  In fact, here is a rendering of the new amphitheater:
You can see the river there on the right and downtown right smack dab there on the left.  Me? I love the idea of an amphitheater!  I have a background in music and the idea of natural acoustics has been part of my DNA ever since I first attended a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. 

Now, I rarely question things southern, but I have to admit there are some puzzling aspects to this.  I know what you're thinking.  Parking.  Well, you'll be surprised to learn that the bridge you see upper right is a pedestrian bridge which leads across the river to the big parking lots adjacent to the stadium where the Titans play: LP Field. There is even the train station just the other side of the bridge (See the tracks there along the River?) where people can ride into downtown for a concert and then ride home.  You might also be thinking of the mosquitoes which would be living along the river in the summer.  Again, you'd be surprised to learn that this is not the case with a faster moving river like the Cumberland.  

No, all things being equal, the design and features of the Now-Being-Constructed Nashville Naming-Rights-To-Be-Sold-Later Amphitheater are pretty much a diamond in the rough.  Yeah.  Except for one little thing.  That low building there to the left?  It's right across the street.  And it's not surprising to learn that these are Condos. There have been a lot of new condos being built in the downtown area and these are some of the best. But, y'see, the people who live there will now have to live with live music from the new amphitheater.  Yes, acoustics may keep this to a minimum, but I'm not going to be laying any money down on one of these lofts just yet.  

As I said, the New Nashville Naming-Rights-To-Be-Sold-Later Amphitheater is in the works, but for the life of me I can't seem to find an estimated date of completion.  Now, my brother Bubba says that this means it will be completed on time. But, Bubba, WHAT time?  There is no mention of a date to enjoy the amenities at the  Now-Being-Constructed Nashville Naming-Rights-To-Be-Sold-Later Amphitheater.

I think I will just keep watch on the site.  Who knows, I may learn something in the doing. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nashville - Home of the Goo Goo Cluster


It's been almost 30 years since I first moved to this great city.  I've been here so long I consider myself well versed in the lore and all things unique to my home: Nashville.  It amazed me then when my brother, who lives out in Sunny Southern California, called me one day to ask a favor.  He wanted me to send him some candy. Say What? 

He and his wife had been watching one of those shows about the origins of [whatever] and discovered a candy that's been around over 100 years and is made right here in Nashville!  It's called the GOO GOO CLUSTER and it was also the first combination candy bar ever produced!  To be honest (and in so doing, I will most assuredly lose some Good Ol' Boy Points I may have saved up in the last year) I'd never heard of the Goo Goo Cluster.  

In 1912, in a copper kettle at the Standard Candy Company at Clark & First Avenue in Nashville, TN, the world’s first ever combination candy bar was invented. A roundish mound of caramel, marshmallow nougat, fresh roasted peanuts and real milk chocolate; its renegade shape was more difficult to wrap than the conventional rectangular or square shapes of the day. More importantly, this was the first time multiple elements were being mass-produced in a retail confection. Previous to the advent of the Goo Goo Cluster, candy bar manufacturing consisted of bars solely using chocolate, caramel or taffy. The Goo Goo Cluster represented the first time a bar consisted of more than just one principal ingredient.

The Goo Goo Cluster recipe hasn’t changed over the years, although the cooking method has undergone a few tweaks. Goo Goos used to be hand dipped and sold without wrappers under glass at drug store candy counters. With the dawn of hand wrapping, ladies would swaddle the Goo Goo Clusters in tinfoil. Eventually, machinery was put in place to automate wrapping the Goo Goo Cluster. Today, the process of making Goo Goos is so streamlined that Standard Candy in Nashville can produce 20,000 Goo Goo Clusters an hour!

And what about that name?  The story of how the candy came to be named comes in many versions. Some people say that it was named Goo Goo because it’s the first thing a baby says. Howell Campbell, Jr., the man whose father invented the Goo Goo Cluster, says that his father used to ride the streetcar to work every day and he would talk the matter over with fellow passengers. Mr. Campbell was announcing to fellow passengers on the streetcar his newborn son’s first words and a school teacher made the connection with the candy. She suggested Mr. Campbell name his treat Goo Goo! It is so good, people will ask for it from birth. 

Although my brother had to get me to send him some, the Goo Goo Cluster can be found all over the US (and then some) and I recommend it for all candy lovers and for all Southern WannaBe's like me.  Just don't be calling me to send you some!  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Southern Walker and the Puppy Popper

Headed off to the store the other day I see this couple walking down the street, both carrying very long walking sticks. It reminded me of a southern man I once knew who walked every day and who carried a stick much like that which he referred to as his "Puppy Popper." It was amazing to me to learn that this is a standard walking item here in the South - complete with the moniker. Now, before you start writing letters and getting all upset, let me at least digress a few times. 

You see, here in the south, there are a lot of dog owners who feel that they should allow their dog to run free, and therefore do not put up fences, use leashes or attempt to contain them at all.  Those who know dogs know that this means that the dog WILL run free and will consider any part of the adjoining property or roads to be theirs -AND, as it's theirs (or so they perceive,) they will protect it from any sort of attacks - such as that older couple walking calmly down the street.  

The Puppy Popper (no Trademark or Copyright on that name - that I know of...) is a defensive item, carried to ward off these over zealous animals and protect oneself from their protective endeavors. Myself, I think it might be better to use it on the owners who endanger their pets by allowing them to run 'free' but that might not go over well.

Once, not too long ago, on a walk when carrying my cane (don't start) I happened upon this very situation. As I walked by a house, the dog came running out (no chain, no fence,) hackles up, barking and baring its teeth. Now, the nurturer in me wanted to calmly point out to the animal that we were merely passers by and his (her) endeavors to get us to leave were rather overzealous to say the least.  The alarmist in me took over, however and I raised up the cane to protect myself.  To which the dog stopped and walked back to its home, leaving me rather confused as to what the frak just happened.

Perhaps the dog was intrigued by my all teak cane and came running out and shouting (in dog language) "What a neat cane!  What's it made of? SHOW ME SHOW ME SHOW ME!!"  And when I raised it up, he thought "Ok, cool.  Thanks. Seeyabye." And went back to protecting his house.  In truth, it could just be that the Puppy Popper did its job.  Others who carry them tell me that just waving the thing around can usually diffuse the situation and rarely (if ever) has any of them had to actually Pop any Puppies.

So, the next time you find yourself walking in the South, be sure to carry a Puppy Popper (or a nice teak wood cane) and you'll feel more southern in the doing.