Friday, December 25, 2015

Southern Ingenuity - The Table Saw

As any regular reader knows, I've been repairing a major problem on my house.  It has taken a long time because I only get about a day and a half to work on it every weekend, and some times even less than that.  I'm getting down to the end (or at least I hope I am) and wouldn't you know it - I came up short on tools.

Now, follow along here.  I am trimming the room and needed a particular sized piece of wood in a 12 foot length.  I go to the big hardware store to get some and it turns out that they don't carry what I need in 12 foot length.  It's a special order.  (Read: $$$!!)  So I went on home and started to think.  What I realized rather quickly is that with a table saw, I could buy a wider piece and cut it in half myself. But as I've already pointed out, I have no table saw.  More thought. 

Aha, says I!  (Yes, I really said "Aha!" out loud.) I had seen an article on some woodworking or DIY website where some clever tool man had turned a rotary saw into a table saw.  Since I just happened to have an extra rotary saw, this seemed doable.  I removed the switch and wired it to be 'always on' and then cut some plywood I had laying about.  Add some scrap 2x4s and I had myself a genuine hand made do-it-yerself-and-get-r-done Table Saw.  (Yes, capital letters, Bubba, because I said so.) 

It probably will take the addition of a set of legs to do it up right, but it's done and if it hadn't rained that afternoon, I'd have been out there cutting lumber and taking names!  

The first good weekend in January, Look Out!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Holiday Must-See in the South

Southern Christmas Vacations: Atlanta Pink Pig Rides

It's the holidays and although I'm pretty sure you already have plans for the time off, I'd like to take a minute to tell you about some great things to do in the South at this time of year.

The first is Atlanta, Georgia, where Macy's Department store has this great tradition of a pink train with the engine a Pink Pig.   Located in Lenox Square in Buckhead, children have been riding Priscilla, the bubblegum-colored train in the shape of a pig, continuously for 56 years. The 2009 version moved through a life-size storybook showing the ride’s history. This rite of passage costs $3 a trip; hours and printable two-for-one discount coupons at macys.com/campaign/pinkpig/home.jsp

Next stop, Louisville, Kentucky where the Actor's Theater, 316 West Main Street has been producing Charle's Dicken's 'A Christman Carol' for 34 years.  The script is updated and the production also boasts 16 added songs, dancing and actors who play instruments.  December 8-27; from $27, kids ages 5-14 pay half-price December 8-16.
 
Next we jump down to Orlando, and yeah, Walt Disney World, where every year is the annual Candlelight Processional at EpcotAlong with a breathtaking mass choir and 50-piece orchestra there are celebrith narrators, a different one each night.  Locals come year after year along with out-of-towners. Requires park admission; shows at 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15 p.m. disneyworld.com.

So start making those plans for next year and make it a Holiday to remember, here in the South.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Carvana - Rhymes with Nirvana

The South is innovative. I've learned this after many years here in the mid-south.  But when something this innovative comes to town, you just have to see it for yourself.  Nashville has become home to the first vending machine of its kind. Once before we got vending machines that dispensed live bait. Now, it's a monster building sized vending machine that dispenses cars.  Yes, that's right, brand new automobiles.

Carvana, a company out of Atlanta has been selling cars with a door to door delivery for some time. You've no doubt seen their television spots with their  flat bed trucks delivering cars of all types to homeowners. Now, with the advent of the Car Vending machine, they add a new dimension to their selling. 

Now, don't go thinking you can walk up to the big thing and start inputting your spare change.  Carvana's machine is for pickup of post purchases. What that means is that you buy the car online, and then the car is shipped to the Vending Machine building.  You arrive and after some minor paperwork, they present you with a big token, which you insert into the machine. The car arrives, you take possession, and drive away!  It's the stuff of marketing dreams.

I bought a  new car in 2013 and though the general idea of getting the car delivered from a George Jetson type space-age vending machine may seem exciting, I would think I'd miss the human interaction.  There is the give and take, walking around the show room and the test drive not to mention the free coffee and/or snacks. When you add in robots, things change. You cannot haggle with a robot.  Believe me, I've tried. 

So, perhaps the next time I'm in the mood for a new car, I may just use the Carvana machine.  
It's local here in the South, after all.  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Tale of the Water Heater

When it comes to being a true Southerner (with the requisite capital S) it's been my experience that Southerners are also good with tools.  Though I feel I am good with tools, there is a lot to be said for true experience (or maybe true Southern Experience.)

Case in point, the Water Heater (see above.) This last week, I had taken a couple of days off to get caught up on the house rebuild and had, indeed, made significant inroads on tile and grout when the lovely Mrs. calmly pointed out that there was a minor leak in the water heater. Initial investigation showed me a very minor leak in what appeared to be the cold water inlet and I felt I could repair said leak in short order.  Quite typical of a southern home owner's repair.  However, experience should have taught me otherwise.  

After a short trip to the big hardware store, I spent a bit too long gathering my tools (where do they go when they're not in use?  Who moves these things when I'm not looking?) and was ready to begin at 9:00 AM.  Immediately, I discovered that the leak was not coming from the inlet, but from the "sacrificial anode" (which protects the water heater from corrosion.  Next stop: Irony.)  Back out to the shed to get a socket wrench and then back out to the shed again when I discovered that the socket I brought in was too small.  With the right size socket, try as I might, the anode won't budge.  So, back out to the shed where I get my impact wrench.  Correct socket + Impact Wrench = still cannot remove the anode as it is corroded and rusted tight.  (Welcome to Irony, end of the line.) 

At this point, the only thing left to do is replace the water heater. So, I set the old water heater to drain and headed to the  big hardware store for visit #2.  They are quick to get the water heater for me and in no time I'm back at the house, water heater brought in, unpacked, down the steps, tight turn into the laundry room and I'm ready to put it in place.  Wait.  It's too big.  For some strange reason, it's four inches wider than the old one (supposedly of the same model.) So I have to now pack the dang thing up, and haul it back up the steps, through the house out to the car, load it and head to the big hardware store and tell the guy I got the wrong one (and put up with their laughter.) 

For future reference, I did learn that these days, water heaters are now differently configured and have more insulation and ceramic linings and we can all blame the EPA and the government.  

The return is no problem and they even have a narrower water heater just for me, but as fate would have it, they are out of stock.  (Yes, I checked the other hardware store right across the street and they didn't have it either.)  So I make the trek to the big hardware store a few miles away where they have one of the size I need.  (Is this visit #3?  I'm going to call it - yes.) 

Home again, home again, jiggidy jig, in the house, unpack, down the steps, into the laundry room and set it in place.  Only now-  (Stay with me buckaroos!) - the new water heater is too TALL.  This means that the wires AND water connectors are too short.  BACK to the  big hardware store (yes, that's right, visit #4) to get a junction box (you can see it attached like a carbuncle on top of the water heater) and a longer connector for the inlet.  More work with the *#$%* Water Heater and finally, FINALLY, it's done.  

Finishing time 6:00 PM  Six frakking o'clock, Bubba!  Experience is  a great teacher and I now know that you measure EVERYTHING. and second guess nothing. (You should also put away your tools where you can find them again, but I'm not going to go into that today.)

Lastly, for the record: the water is nice and hot. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

When Good Tools Go Bad

As you no doubt know, I love tools.  I've posted this here several times.  I like having tools around, I like using them, I like the way they help me.  Some tools are, of course, better than others.  By better, I mean of course, more universal. Most tool guys are always on the lookout for that one tool that can do more than just cut open a bag of cement. So when I find a tool that does that and so much more, it becomes my 'go-to-tool' (or go-tool.)

See that tool up there?  For a long long time, it's been my go-tool for the honey-do projects and working around the house.  It's more than universal.  You can't see it, but in addition to the knife blade and alligator grip nose, it's got a wire cutter and stripper, 2 standard flat-head screw drivers, a phillips screw driver, an awl, a can-opener, bottle opener and a fish descaler and hook remover (because you never know when you're going to catch a fish while you're hanging drywall.) It also came with a set of special bits and a nut driver in a special belt pouch.  The whole thing is not much heavier than my usual pocket knife I carry to work, but made so much better.

And it recently broke. (Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth!)

I can't begin to tell you about it. I was lost all weekend, reaching for my go-tool and realizing that I couldn't use it as it was broken.  Then I'd look at it and fiddle with it and try to figure out how to fix it. Maybe if I found the part it needs online and then find out that, no, the parts are not available anywhere and by then I've totally forgotten the project I was working on.

Other than losing the go-tool, the problem now comes in finding a suitable replacement.  This one was gift, from my wife.  Now I will have to start trolling the online stores, big box hardware stores and even yard sales for just the right tool to become the new go-tool in my tool box arsenal. 

I suppose that it's really not so bad as I will get to spend time in the big hardware store comparing multi-tools to replace it. I can hear my wife's eyes rolling from here.




Friday, November 13, 2015

Thank you, Joe Biden!


Ok, first the facts.  Vice President Joe Biden  (Pronounced like Bye Bye) was in Nashville this last Thursday to deliver the keynote address at the National League of Cities conference. He was here for several days and stayed at the hotel right downtown.  I like Biden. A damn sight more than I like his boss, but let's not get into that.  

Ok, so Biden was in town. His speech is completed and he's headed to the airport.  Have you ever had the Pres or Vice Pres in your city headed to the airport?  It works like this:

First, the Secret Service (who are none too secret if you ask me) put together an unknown path from the aforementioned hotel to the additionally aforementioned airport.  Just before Mr. VP is ready to go, they lock down the chosen path by blocking any and all traffic into this corridor. Into the limo, big black SUVs pull out and it's off to the airport. The corridor is not unblocked until the entire entourage is several minutes past. When they are sure they won't need to return to the point of origin, they re-open the streets.


Simple, yes?  Yes.  

What this means if you've never experienced it, is that during frakking rush hour, none of the major streets are available to get home! It means that all the traffic that regularly uses these roads (4 lane streets, 8 lane highways and the like) is trying desperately to find some way to get home. It means plenty of angry drivers driving on routes they don't want to be on, driving bumper to bumper, stop and go. And the result: it took my bus about 2 and a half hours to complete a route it usually takes only 30 minutes to complete!  

Thanks, Joe!

There is only one major advantage to this and it's only for those of us to take the bus or ride in ride share.  We have time to read.  I may have been ravenous when I got home to my dried out dinner (Biden's fault, not the wife...) but I had time to finish a book I started only that morning.  So, again, Thanks, Joe!

But yeah, the dinner was dry and for that, yeah, Thanks again, Joe.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Ubiquitous Southern White Suit


Boss Hogg wore one.  Colonel Sanders wore one.  Don Johnson wore one in both Miami Vice and Django Unchained.  Though Crockett didn't really embody the typical Southern Gentleman, the white suit (with either a black string tie or white bow tie) has always been used to denote a man of Southern class, gentility, and affluence.

But Why?  That's the question, why do Southern men get remembered for wearing white suits?

Looking around the Internet, someone mentioned that a white suit would be cooler and in the south this was important in the southern heat.  Yes, white clothing is, indeed, cooler, but not really that cool when you're wearing a shirt, a 3 piece suit and a tie.  In addition, the Caribbean is also known for hot weather and their suit of choice is made of Seersucker.  (It breathes, you see...) Cuba is also known for white suits, but this doesn't explain how it came to be associated with the affluent Southern Gentleman.

My research found a scan of an old cigar box label which shows an old southern plantation owner in all white thus proving that this is not some TV Trope trotted out for quick character identification. But I was stuck on the why..

Until, that is, I came upon a thread from a few years back where people were talking about the white suit and what it meant and most importantly WHY. You can imagine how hard it is to keep a white suit looking clean and white, especially back in the days of horses and carriages. Not only that, but suits back then were washable as they had no dry cleaning (or worsted wool.) So, it's the simple fact that someone is WEARING a white suit that says it all.  It says blatantly, "I have the resources at home to keep the suit looking its best!" This means one must be affluent enough to afford said constant cleaning as well as 2 if not 3 or 4 of these white suits to wear and impress the assembled.

So, if I'm going to be a true southerner, a true Gentleman of the South, I guess I had better get me a white suit. And, a black string tie.
Oh, and fried chicken.  Lots of fried chicken.  

Friday, October 30, 2015

Southern Idioms: Finer Than Frog HAIR

Walking down the street the other day I heard a nifty southern phrase when one guy asked another how he was doing.  "Finer than frog hair!" was the reply.  I knew at that moment that I would be adding it to this blog at one time or another. So here it is. 

Now, before I decided to do this, I did a little online research hoping to learn some more on this most interesting phrase, its origins, its etymology and such.  What I learned is that though most online sources can express what the phrase means, most have no idea where it started nor when. And all of the sites I visited missed the pun entirely. (As for origins, one site did mention that it must have come from the south, so I'll go with that.)

What amazes me is that all of the sites gave essentially the same information or misinformation. They state that the fact that frog hair is not existent means that something is good. (What?)  Example: "Since frogs do not have hair, something that is "finer than frog hair" means something that is as thin/fine/excellent as possible." I don't get how something thin is excellent.  Witness, for example, thin paper is not as good as thicker linen paper. To say something is excellent merely because it is thin (or nonexistent) is a misnomer. In this way, the meaning of the phrase (and the joke) is lost.

That's right, the joke.  In every example I found none of them went into the fact that the phrase makes use of a pun in the form of a homophone using just about every single definition of the word 'fine.'

  • Fine as to make or become thinner.
  • Fine as an adverb, meaning in a satisfactory or pleasing manner; very well.
  • Fine as in very small particles found in mining, milling, etc.
  • Fine to describe a thread, filament, or person's (or a frog's) hair as thin.
  • Fine as of high quality.
So, the next time someone asks how you are, tell them you're 'finer than frog hair' and then laugh loud and long at your terrific pun. One of the most incredible puns of all time, and its southern in origin...or at least I'm going to say that.  

So, there you are.  

Friday, October 23, 2015

Wipers On, No Rain

Well, it's that time of year again, the fall.  Here in the South that means the leaves are falling off the trees and the Halloween decorations are being put up.  It also means that the nights are getting cooler and that means one of my really big pet peeves about the South. 

There is really no name for it, so let's just call it excess moisture. It works like this.  It's humid.  Very humid.  The temperature drops down, down, down until it reaches the 'dew point.'  This is the temperature at which the moisture in the air condenses enough to form water droplets on anything left outdoors.  Anything, but most importantly, the car.  

So, what happens is that it's a clear sky and there I am driving down the road with the wipers on full blast because once they wipe off the drops, the 'dew point' works with the high humidity and bingo, you got more moisture on the window blocking your vision. But worse than that, the side windows are opaque with moisture and watching for traffic becomes an exercise in tension. It. Drives. Me. Crazy! (Drives.  Get it? Get it?)

Ok, so recently, I found an amazing cure to this problem, a most Southern problem, to be sure and perhaps a most Southern solution.  Simply, I carry a terry cloth towel with me in the car.  There it is in the pic.  It's dirty (don't judge me) but it does the job.  Y'see, when I come out and discover it's cold and moist on the car, I take out the towel, and run it over the windows really quick, especially the sides.  I have no idea why this works, but it does.  I use the wipers on the windshield and run the towel all around the car.  Result: Driving to work (ok, just to the bus) with a 360° view.  AND the windows on the side don't refog the way the windshield does.  

I hang the towel on the steering wheel so it dries while I am gone and it's perfectly dry by the time I get off work.  Oh and of course I will make sure the towel gets washed regularly.  

So, there it is, my solution.  Don't 'tarry' and get  be sure to get yourself a 'cloth' for the windows.  (Tarry...Cloth...Get it? Get it? Ya did? Good.)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Southern Festival of Books

Friday I went out at lunch to take a walk.  I walk the same route every day and as I rounded the corner that takes me past the big plaza, I noted all kinds of tents and people milling about.  Detouring up into the plaza, I discovered it was the annual Southern Festival of Books!  

Every year, the Southern Festival of Books here in Nashville brings together publishers, authors and fans who enjoy the written word.  Forsaking my walk, I couldn't help but meander through the stacks of new books (mmmm new book smell!) and it took every thing I had not to purchase one or two.  
As anyone who has read this blog knows, I love to read.  I carry a couple of hundred books with me packed into my electronic reader.  (No brand names, please.) But, in truth, I really do miss the feel, the weight and yes, the smell of a newly opened book. To hear that spine creak knowing that you're delving into some new realm, with new friends or maybe old....a wonderful experience. 

The Southern Festival of Books has been around Nashville for 27 years. That's longer than I've been in Nashville. It is free and open to the public, no registration and is, basically, a celebration of the written word.  Writers, publishers, sellers, collectors and book enthusiasts collect in Nashville every year to share their love of books.  

Maybe next year I'll find out about the Festival of Books in time to get to some of the activities.  In the meantime, I can enjoy my photos and dream.  Oh, and I"ll download a couple of new books I found. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Southern Glory of Breakfast

Each meal of the day has it's own importance.  Breakfast, they say is the most important meal of the day.  (Who 'they' are is unimportant.) I love breakfast.  No, wait, I love SOUTHERN breakfast. Yeah, that's it. One of them big southern breakfasts which include eggs, bacon, toast and jam, and maybe some grits, waffles and pancakes; but the one thing I look forward the most to is the biscuits (oh yeah, don't forget the biscuits) and of course, country gravy.

Biscuits and Gravy.  Usually a plate with two biscuits are cut in half, and served open faced with a large amount of sausage country gravy poured generously over the top. Simple, beautiful, tasty.  

When I first encountered the mouthwatering delight that is biscuits and gravy I thought it was some sort of thrown-together spur-of-the-moment idea that the local chef had thought up.  He quickly schooled me on the error of my ways.  Biscuits and gravy goes back to  before the civil war the War of Northern Aggression.  Meat, being scarce, was stretched any way possible. One of the main ways was to create sausage.  Then, the sausage was put into gravy with a bit of milk and flour. Add pepper and you've got a mouth watering eye opener almost as good as a cup of coffee. (I said almost.) 

Southern Biscuits and Gravy can be found in just about every Southern homemaker's recipe book and is as prevalent as grits. I've seen the gravy as white as whitewash paint and as brown as the sausage itself.  Either way, the flavor is there.  I normally am not a sausage fan (yes, it's true!)  but in gravy over some warm, buttery southern biscuits I can't resist.

And if there's any left over, you'll find me dipping a biscuit into the pot when my wife isn't looking!
Southern eating, Yum!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Southern Loss and Feeding Habits

Last week I did not get a chance to post.  My wife and I were devastated by the death of our 17 yr old grandson.  It was a long and difficult week and we are still learning to live with the loss and the hole left in the entire family. Posting on my little blog seemed rather trivial at the time and took a back seat to other more important thoughts.  

Death is a subject not easily dealt with no matter where you live but I won't go into the subject of death today.  During our long stay with family, I noted an interesting twist on an old custom and I'd like to share it with you. 

In days of old, like back when I was a kid, when there was a loss such as this, the family would be visited by neighbors and friends each carrying a covered dish.  The single covered dish was the standard in 'neighbor' comfort food gift as it took little time to heat, and serve.  It was a way for the family to not have to think of cooking and the fridge was usually filled to overflowing with these gifts of love. The gift usually came with the tag "Just return it when you're through."

I fully expected this to be the case and was a bit surprised at the new twist.  The first person to show up with food, left several bags of Sub Sandwiches from a chain Sandwich shop. They also left large bags of chips. They were all huge sandwiches and enough variety that everyone was fed and fed well. A little while later, someone showed up with a huge bucket of chicken again from a national chain. Accompanying this was, of course, cole slaw and mashed 'taters. This happened all week long, each time a chain fast food and always enough to feed an army.  I don't think anyone brought a covered dish. 

It's also not clear to me whether this is a new Southern take on an old tradition, or a modern change that is nation wide. I may have to do some research on this.  Perhaps I can get some posters to tell stories on what happens in their neck of the woods.  


Thursday, September 17, 2015

All Hail THE CHIMNEYMASTER!

The Chimney is done and the self-made Chimney Cap is in place!  It took me less time than I had thought, but more work than I had thought.  A little background for our new readers:  Over a year ago, I had to attack my living room and tear out a section about 12 x 12 feet.  I worked most of the summer tearing out and then replacing joists, floor and walls. It was long hard work and my wife and I did it alone. The stress landed me in the hospital exactly 1 year ago this last weekend, which caused me to have to put a hold on these final parts of the project. Most importantly, was the chimney to my fireplace.

You'd think I would have got to that this summer, but if you'll read last week's post you'll see references to rain, and slippery roofs and reasons to put off the chimney install to the right weekend. Ok, so now we're caught up and you, like me, can marvel at the wonder the concept: This last weekend, the chimney was installed!  (Yes, I'm going to say that a few more times, I'm very proud of my accomplishment, so bear with me.)

I thought I'd share my efforts in preparation for the install.  Y'see, I needed a part to finish the chimney (look up there, ain't it keen?) and couldn't seem to find one anywhere. The part I needed was the ring that held the chimney pieces together.  (You can see it as it originally was installed here.) I had spent the day in the hardware store looking at 're-workable' stovepipe parts and found this: 
This is  a piece of stove pipe made for standard wood burning stoves which I knew I could use.  You see those three ends each has a separate collar held on with just a couple of rivets. It's a simple job for me to cut those rivets off and refashion the collars for my own use in assembly of a triple wall chimney (yeah, no one carries them anymore and the company has changed owners, so there's no way to find one, let alone replace it. Gotta re-manufacture it - a Southern Tradition in itself.) One collar for the inner chimney, one for the center chimney and the third to help the other two fit properly. Like this: 
 
Inner Chimney w/collarCenter Wall w/collar
And then of course the outer wall.  
There is still a lot to do on this project, but for the moment I'm going to be insufferable.  I've been walking around work showing off my pictures of the chimney like a new father showing off his offspring.  (I'd hand out cigars if they weren't so expensive!)

In truth, I feel I may have garnered more points to become a true Good Ol' Boy, a card carrying member of the True South. I showed off my ability to think through a problem, refashion something for my own use and I got a chance to fix things up right!  But more than that, I got to use an angle grinder to cut metal and throw a large plume of sparks out across the roof of my house. Very satisfying.  
The next day I took this pic of the storm collar and chimney cap combination with the rising sun shining off them.  I can hardly wait for the next rain storm!  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Chimney Repair and Metal Fabrication


It has been a summer to remember.  Heat and rain and more heat and more rain. Normally we would have heat all summer and then rain as the hurricane season hits the southern Atlantic. This year we have had a lot of rain all summer long - every weekend in fact.  

The rain and heat have kept me indoors and the major repair work standing still.  The next step to the work is to replace the chimney but in order to do that I have to be able to get up on the roof and as sure footed as I like to believe I am, I am not going up on the roof in the rain.  In addition, I expect the chimney will take me at least a day and a half if not two and there hasn't been a weekend without rain this entire summer. (Ok, I take that back, there's been two weekends, but I was out of town on both those weekends. Go figure.) 

Even as the summer comes to a close, I am eyeing a time when I can finalize the chimney and get the house finished. I've spent all summer looking for the one part I need to repair this and have finally come to the realization that I will need to get it fabricated. 

But where? How?

I've called all the metal fabrication shops in the area and  none are open on the weekend.  They're happy to see me during the week, but no one is available on the weekend.  I guess my next step is to take time off from work just to get this little thing made.

But then the Southerner in me takes over. That "we can find a way" attitude that gets things done by thinking through and doing, not getting someone else to do it.  Ok, so what's the answer?  Even the lovely Mrs. suggested that there had to be some ready made pipe or piece I could refashion, so I spend a day walking through the big hardware store looking at things that might work and bingo - I find it.  A piece of stove pipe with a couple of ready made pieces attached to it that can be cut off and refashioned around my chimney with just a little work.

In less than a day I've done just that. The collars are made and ready for installation along with the chimney itself.  Southern Genes?  Maybe so, but let's hold off on judgement until I get this project done!

See you next week!

Follow the fabrication completion by clicking here!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Atlanta - The Cosmopolitan South

I've lived in many cities in my life.  Denver, Los Angeles and even Reno Nevada.  Each has it's own flavor and as much as I enjoyed living in each of those areas (each for their own reasons) I absolutely love living in the south.  You know this already, though, didn't you?

Nashville, where I live and work, is called the 'Mid South.'  Places like Mississippi and Louisiana are called the Deep South.  The further south you go, you get deeper and deeper until you hit the gulf.  Then, there's Florida.  Yes, Florida is 'the south', but they don't have the southern accent so I just don't include them.  My blog, my rules.  But as usual, I digress. 

One of the most fun places to visit in the South is Atlanta, Georgia.  (Bubba Pronunciation Guide: et-LANN-uh, JO-juh)  Atlanta is considered to be a shining jewel of the south, a cosmopolitan city the likes of which you cannot find elsewhere. 

When someone first told me that Atlanta was very 'cosmopolitan', I figured it was where they published the magazine.  (No, really.) I later found out that Cosmopolitan means "familiar with and at ease in many different countries and cultures."  Atlanta is quite cosmopolitan! What makes it so 'cosmopolitan' is the wonderful mixture of southerners and transplants from across the globe, living in small tight knit groups within the matrix of a single city. 

This mix gives you incredible restaurants with 5 Star Michelin ratings sitting almost elbow to elbow with restaurants specializing in African, European, Australian cuisine and maybe even Caribbean with a Southern flair.  Anything is possible.  It makes Atlanta 'Cosmopolitan' with a capital 'C' AND a place to visit - here in the South!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Shine and Shinney

Not too long ago I was reading up on some Southern phrases and such and came up on one I had forgotten. Shinney. Pronounced like "mini" this single word brings to mind someone going quickly up a tree. "Shinney up that tree there and get that kitten for me, bubba!"  But shinney is a Southern word with a distinctly Southern meaning that's been around longer than most can remember. 

In the literary classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" Scout recounts of baked gloriousness:
"Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight."
Sounds like my kinda cake! A Lane Cake is a layered white cake that has both a bourbon soaked fruit filling as well as a bourbon butter cream frosting. Proof of Age obviously required.

Shinney, as it turns out is a Southern word for Bourbon or Whiskey. I found this out after a bit of research (read: trip to visit neighbor Bubba.) When I also asked about the etymology of the word, Bubba looked at me like I had insulted his momma.  So I said "History, Bubba, History of the word."

There is little known about the word shinney as it pertains to Bourbon.  Bubba was quick to tell me that shinney means "Bourbon" and not just any whiskey, though most good ol' boys would use it either way since at one time there was no distinction.  Now, in case you didn't know, there is a very important difference between bourbon and whiskey.

The simple answer is that bourbon is always whiskey, but whiskey is not always bourbon. If a bit confusing, note that a strict set of federal trade regulations defines what's what.

Whiskey spelled with an "e" is a distilled spirit made from fermented grain and usually aged in an oak barrel. The various types (rye, rye malt, malt, wheat, bourbon and corn) each require different ingredients and distilling processes in accordance with specific alcohol trade regulations, called the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits.

Bourbon is the most popular type of whiskey in the U.S. It was traditionally distilled in and around present-day Bourbon County, Kentucky. While bourbon whiskey has its roots in Kentucky, and continues to be primarily produced there, it is now manufactured in distilleries all over the United States. Manufacturers must meet the following requirements in order to advertise their whiskey product as "bourbon":

It must be produced in the U.S. from a grain mixture (called "mash") made up of at least 51 percent corn. It must be distilled to a maximum strength of 160 proof, bottled at a strength of at least 80 proof, and barreled for aging at no more than 125 proof. It must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. To qualify as "straight bourbon," the spirits must meet the above requirements as well as being aged for at least two years and containing no added coloring, flavoring or other spirits.

But none of that explains the origin of the word 'shinney.' So, I turned to the source of all knowledge Southern, Neighbor Bubba!  Bubba  explains that shinney is the darker cousin of shine, and by that he means moonshine.  Used as far back as the days of the American Revolution, shinney was a quick way to ask for a  certain type of beverage. You headed out for a little backwoods "shine" or into town for a bit of shinney at the tavern.

Moonshine is usually made from corn, but in truth, and in history, moonshine can be made from anything including wood!  The vast differences in both ingredients and manufacture of moonshine made it dangerous during it's heyday, but these days moonshine has even become a bit respectable (though to be sure, still illegal.)

So, whether you make your own shine in the bathroom tub or drive down to the local pub for a shinney, you can now at least use the vernacular and espouse the etymology with confidence.  Just don't' drink and drive.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Bass Fishing and Southern Abilities

When it comes to southern pass times, none is more revered than bass fishing.  Bass fishing is more than fishing and has such a following that it borders on religion.  There are bass fishing television shows, bass fishing conventions, bass fishing stores where you can get special bass fishing equipment and even specific bass fishing boats.  There are bass fishing contests where contestants have corporate sponsors and spend their waking non-fishing hours discussing the fine differences between lures and rods.  (Yes, plural: rods!)

My son-in-l;aw has recently got himself a fishing boat and more than a handful of different rods and reels (I never knew you should have more than one!) Just the other day, he invited me to go along on a quick afternoon trip to the local fishing hole.  I had to say no.  When he asked why, I had to tell the truth, and hang my head as I told him.

I don't fish.  I mean, I can toss fishing lures into the water, or bait a hook, but in the long run all I end up doing it drowning the bait. I am a terrible fisherman. In the somewhat vast experience I have with rods and reels and fish and bait, I've caught only one fish, and that was purely by accident.

I was a mere lad of 9 or 10 at the time.  I had seen a nice big trout swirling about my line and went to pull the line to "present" the bait a bit better. Instead, I snagged the trout in the rear fin.  I tossed him back because it just didn't' seem fair. I've never fished successful before or since.

To be honest, I've not been fishing in more than 20 years which, in itself, may keep me from ever really being recognized as a GOB. (Go ahead, check the link, I can wait. Done? Ok, moving on...)

Southern men seem to be fishermen from an early age.  The son-in-law takes his 4 yr old son fishing and the little tyke's even caught a few fish of his own.  He will, no doubt, become a GOB. Me? I'm still drowning bait.  I live in between two large bodies of water and have a third within easy driving distance.  You'd think I'd fish regularly.  I don't even own a single rod and reel.  (Let alone several.)

It's just another of those southern things that I don't have, won't have, can't get but would love to have that would surely make me one of the Southern population. 


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Animals Animals Everywhere

The other day as I was leaving for work at about 0h-dark-thirty and I was forced to stop on my porch in terror.  Not a second out of the door and I smelled the unmistakable odor of skunk wafting across my neighborhood.  Not wanting to get doused with a skunk bath first thing in the morning I am always careful to check the shadows and under the car and along the gully in front of the house before I sprint to the car.

No skunk, thank goodness.  Once before I came out my back door in the early morning no-light and my flashlight caught a couple of beedy eyes in the back of the carport.  Thinking it was just our outside cat, I began to call it as I bent to put out some food.  I stopped because there by my foot was the cat.  As I looked more into the carport, I noticed movement and out moseyed a skunk.  Me and the cat both departed hastily.

Both times I was lucky, and the skunk was lucky, too.  Once a few years ago, a skunk got in under our house and the smell in the house was unbearable. We had to get an exterminator to take care of it.  (Not so lucky for the skunk that time.)

It's days like these that only enforce the fact that here in the south and in my suburban neighborhood, there are animals aplenty.  Not just the odd skunk or passels of squirrels.  I've had a raccoon spend the night in my shed, possums lurking along the road in the early morning and of course, the odd skunk (lucky or not.) My neighbors tell stories of deer in their back yard, and I've seen odd eyes staring out under bushes as my car lights hit them at night.

The South is full of animals and not just out in the country areas. Most of us learn to live with them.  I point to the Southerners living in Louisiana who deal with 'gaters on a regular basis.  They are both a consternation and a unique addition to our days (the 'gaters, not the Southerners!)

As man encroaches on the wilderness more and more, we find animals in our back yards more and more.  It's not a Southern exclusive by any means.  But my Southern Neighbors treat it like an other slight annoyance, they turn it into advantage.  This means turning them wild things into food.  

I watch a southern show about alligator hunting.  The 'gaters are hunted yearly to keep the numbers from becoming too high.  On one episode, a couple of the hunters went out into the swamp and hunted squirrels for a stew for dinner. They did not kill for sport, and used all the meat that day.  

It's this close proximity that makes this seem like a trip to the grocery store and southerners use it easily.  They don't hunt for sport, and you'll find that most proud southern hunters wouldn't be caught dead hunting big game, nor  putting their heads on the walls. 

I don't hunt, unless you count hunting for bargains at the local thrift store.  But I sure appreciate those who do.  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Boats and Southern Waters.

Nashville is almost a major port. No, I don't mean to the gulf, check the map. Nashville seems all but surrounded by water.  There are two major bodies of water, Percy Priest Reservoir and Old Hickory Lake.  Percy Priest Reservoir is an incredible 47 miles long and has over 14,000 acres of water (with over 18,000 acres of public land surrounding it.) Old Hickory Lake is even longer at 97 miles long and contains over 22,000 acres of water. It's no wonder, then, that one of the big things for a Good Ol' Southern Boy to own would be a boat.

And no, I don't own a boat.

I've known a lot of folks here in the South that own boats.  Bubba owns a boat, my friend James owns three boats which he keeps at three different locations so he doesn't have to tow them.  Me? No boat.  As much as it seems fun to own a boat, I don't. I can imagine having one for zipping along the water, pulling water skiers, or perhaps getting into those back areas for that all important fishing that I don't do, or maybe since the Cumberland river is less than a mile away, I could forgo the 58 foot limo (read: city bus) to get me to work and take a boat right  on down town along the river!  No.  No boat. 

Someone once told me that the definition of a boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money.  Yeah, that makes me want to own one.  Another friend said that Boat is really an acronym for Break Out Another Thousand. Oh, my, I really need one of these now!  Money seems to be the defining feature for most former boat owners.  Or rather the boat's need for more money.  Insurance, towing trailer, licenses, fees and assorted maintenance, which I probably couldn't do myself, all take too much money.  That's right, break out another thousand.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I've found myself many times wondering what it would be like to have a boat, out on the water, cooler temps and smooth sailing.  I've even perused the local boat dealerships and online photos of great boats.  I do not, of course, look at the price tags.  But beyond the acronyms and jokes, I've never really understood the need for a boat if you don't fish (I don't) or water ski (I don't) or own a trailer hitch (I don't.)

Yes, yes, yes, I know, all that would come with the ownership of a boat,  but I just can't see the real need for something that, for me, would just sit in my driveway and cause arguments with the wife. Who am I kidding, it's probably just my non southern DNA proving once again I don't belong in the honored and storied group known as Good Ol' Boys.  It's the Not so Southern Cross I must bare. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sign of the Times - Times Two!

Ok, Boys and Girls, normally I don't repost blog posts and try to come up with new and interesting stuff about my ongoing struggles in the Southern World, but this is just too coincidental to ignore.  You see, last week I posted this post. Actually, less than a week, for it was just last Thursday, July 9.  Then, just after I posted it, things changed.  Read on.

Original post: For several weeks, there's been this sign that I pass every day on my walk to work.  Oddly, it's covered in cardboard.  I took a picture of both sides just to prove it.  A couple of curious folks have torn the cardboard just enough to see inside and you can tell it's one of those signs that every great city has.  "Something important blah blah blah happened on this spot on this date blah blah blah." Sort of like this one a couple of blocks away.  

I've been waiting for the day that they take the cardboard off and we can read the entire sign. It seemed apparent (to me anyway) that they were waiting for the right 'date' to reveal this auspicious sign. The first time I felt would have been Memorial Day, but that came and went and the cardboard was then replaced with this nifty blue tarp.  Then I thought maybe July 4, Independence Day!  Nope.  Still blue. 
I'm not really sure what's going on here, but I can only sit back and wait (and wonder why I didn't pull that cardboard open and read that sign a few months ago.) 

So, here it is Monday, July 13 and I'm headed to work and what's this? The blue tarp is gone! The sign is REVEALED!  In all its informative glory - and it IS important! The sign dates and deals with the "Nashville Sit-ins" of the 1960s which spurred the desegregation of the lunch counters here in Nashville, one of the most important steps in the civil rights movement of that time.  

Here are the two sides of the sign: 

I'd like to think my post about hidden signs spurred someone to reveal the sign, but I will probably never know.  I'm glad to see it revealed and hope people take the time to stop and read it.  

Thanks for reading...twice!
 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lego my Logo

For the last 6 years (yeah, that's right; 6 years!) I've tried to share my love of the South with those (few) of you who chose to stop by and read all about it.  From Moon Pies to street musicians, the South is a wonderful land in and of itself.  I've also gently (hopefully) chastised those things in the South which bother me such as the humidity, the heat and the humidity.  (Did I mention the humidity?)  It has been my efforts to blame myself for not fitting in rather than the inability of the South to please.  Not this week.  

Today, for your vilification, I bring you the new Tennessee State Logo as seen above.  I'm not going to assassinate the incredibly simplistic design which could easily have been created by an average 5th grader, but I will take to task the way in which the state went about obtaining this drawing. (Yes, drawing. To call it a design is an insult to professional logo designers everywhere.)

You see, the State of Tennessee paid $46,000 for this logo. That's right, $46,000.  Never mind the fact that any designer worth his stylus would have charged considerable less (yeah, I asked around) the politicians of this great state took it upon themselves to spend an incredible amount of money on a simplistic design to represent the state. Now, for those not in the know, the state already had/has a very nice and recognizable logo, which you can see here:
  

This logo was designed with professional thought, combining the three areas of Tennessee into one with each area (East, West and Central) represented by a single star on a circular field of blue. It's known, it's good and it's solid as a design.  It means someone to the people.  Why replace it?

Now, from what the governor's office says, this New logo is only for a limited use on the Governor's website. (Which, again, begs the question, "46,000.00 for limited use??) So at least a lot of businesses, government offices or public signage won't need to be changed.  But that still leaves the question of...well... you know....($46,000.00 for a finite use logo??)

It is no secret that here in Tennessee there is a history of corrupt politicians and back room deals such as the now infamous 'Tennessee Waltz Sting' operation which resulted in the indictment of over a dozen politicians and aids just a few years ago. I can't help but wonder who made some back room deal to profit from this erroneous and expensive decision.  When the Governor could easily have opened a contest for this "limited use" logo and asked for submissions from professionals, non-professionals, state employees or even grade schoolers with a prize of say, a couple grand, they could have had a much better logo and better acceptance from the public in general.

Ok, so now at least you know the history of the 'new' logo as well as the general "acceptance" thereof. Yes, I'm pretty sure you can see that I'm more than a little upset. And to be sure, I'm upset at both the simplistic design and the price paid.  Let's face it, even if it had been a great design, $46,000.00 for a simple logo is way too much.  Ok, done proselytizing.

Next week, back to the fun stuff.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Grilling Out and Dining In


It's that time of year, when we all break out the charcoal or the gas grill and toss everything we want to eat on those hot narrow slats to cook. GRILLIN' (yes, all caps!) Just the thought is enough to get the oral juices flowing and the mind thinking of ribs, steak or barbequed anything! One of my most favorite parts of living in the south is that, because of the weather, we can almost grill year round.  (Ok, so not this last year, too much snow, but there have been years when we were able to grill out at least once or twice a month during the winter!)

But it's not the winter alone that is the problem. It's also this hot, humid summer.  When the temp goes up and the humidity goes up with it, stepping outside is like having someone hit you with a hot sponge (wrapped around a tire iron!)  Then you add to that the mosquitoes, wasps, barking dogs, the 'wrong neighbors' (if you know what I mean) and that whole "standing in front of a flaming hot grill on a hot day" thing and you've got the makings for a very bad afternoon.  That's not even considering the time you then sit down and eat and (hopefully) have a lovely time bonding with whomever you've invited for the Barbie Queue. (Get in line there, and get ya' some of that hot meat!) You're chasing away the flies with one hand and wondering why your burger smells like bug spray.

So, what does a good ol' former Colorado boy (ok, MAN) do to grill out when it's too hot to stand over the flame and too cold to stand without the flame?  Well , you do what I do.  I call it "Grillin' Out and Dining In."

First, I make sure that Neighbor Bubba, Lord of the Bar-Be-Que and Grillmaster Supreme, doesn't see me when I go out to heat up the grill and back inside while the grill prepares itself. Second, I take the plate of raw goodies out to the grill and place them on to cook. I close the grill and head back to the A/C (or heat, depending) checking my watch as I go.  In just a few minutes, I'm back out to the grill (Bubba glancing over from his back yard? No? ...good...) and turn the cooking goodies on the grill.  Check the watch, back to the house.  I continue this until everything is done, and I turn off the grill as I head back into the house where waits the plates, silverware and most importantly, no mosquitoes, barking dogs or problematic weather.  

Grilling out, Eating in.  

It's a Southern thing. Well, it's a Marvinatorsplace thing.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thirst Quenching!

Summer is here and with it of comes those long hot days and long hot nights. And hot days mean a hot and thirsty family. My wife and I use those big thirst quenching quart jars and make up handy grab n go beverages. But if you're having s few friends over, you can go through a pitcher of your favorite beverage in seconds.  

A couple of weeks ago I attended the graduation of not one, but TWO daughters who graduated from the same college at the same time (and both with honors! - Oh but I do digress.)  Afterward there was a party where the beverages were kept, not in a pitcher in the fridge, but in one of these big glass dispensers. Each holds about 3-4 gallons of cool refreshment and can be kept cold by sitting them in a shallow pan of ice.  Perfect. I refilled my glass of Peach (or was it mango) Sangria more times than I care to admit.  (ok, 4 times.  I didn't say I didn't know how many, I said I didn't want to admit how many.)

I found this display the following week and gave considerable thought to picking one up for the fridge.  They appear to be hand made with cork or plastic seals so it would be easy to keep things fresh.  Perfect for those long hot Southern summer days when the light goes on and on and the kids can't be kept indoors.  Yeah, good times.

I wonder if brother Bubba (the retired school teacher) has made any wine lately.  It's good wine for Sangria or for removing varnish from old furniture. (and again, I digress. ) 


Thursday, June 11, 2015

You Can't Eat Them D*mn Grits!

There are fewer foods more iconic to the south than grits.  Oh there's also Southern Fried Chicken and Chicken and Waffles, but when it really comes down to it, grits is the one that everyone says is only found in the south.  Yeah, I hear ya, you CAN find it elsewhere, but only in the south is grits added to your breakfast when you didn't order it.

Now, the non-southerner in me thinks back on a routine that George Carlin did about how to make grits. It was a long, quickly intoned set of instructions of how to flip, fry, mash, cook and otherwise prepare the grits, ending with "Throw them out, cuz you can't eat them d*mn grits!"  (Cue laughter.) 

All my life I've had that in me. When I got to the south all I could think was that in order to eat grits, real grits, it was going to take considerable fortitude to get past my palate, much like Scottish Haggis* (and I've never had Haggis.)  You can imagine my surprise when I learned that grits is made of corn. Corn? Ok, says I, I love corn.  Why wouldn't I love Grits?  So, I decided to try them.  

The first time I saw grits on my plate, I thought it was some mistake. We had gone out for breakfast and the menu said 'grits' with every meal. When the dish came, I thought again: "You can't eat them d*mn grits!" There was this strange mess in one corner, an off-white color, with the consistency of mealy pudding. 'This is corn? Some sort of Southern Breakfast Corn Mush?' (Oh yeah, maybe Carlin was right.) But I had endeavored to be a good Southerner and try them, so I quickly put a forkful in my mouth and reached for a glass of milk to wash it down.  

And then the flavor hit me.  

Corn.  Delicious, flavorful corn.  A bit bland, but most definitely there. No need to wash this down quickly. It was there to savor.  I glanced around to see others in the restaurant adding such things as butter and sugar (yes, sugar!) to their grits. (Even salt and pepper, if you've a mind...)   I considered how I like my corn on the cob, with butter and salt, but this seemed something different, something new, something special.  I went with a touch of butter and a touch of sugar. Again, a forkful.

More flavor. Was it possible?  
Yes.  I finished them off that day and make them a  breakfast staple whenever possible.

Over the years, I've found the exact amount of sugar (half teaspoon) to the exact amount of butter (about a whole teaspoon) and although I don't have grits much these days, it's no longer the scary "You can't eat them d*mn grits!" affair it was when I first arrived.  In addition, I've found more than one restaurant that serves grits in new and exciting savory dishes for both lunch and dinner.  

Grits gets its name from 'grist.'   In the South Carolina Low-country, the uncooked ground corn is known as "grist", and the cooked dish is "hominy." (Hominy?  I dunno, thirty or forty, I expect. Yes, I joke. Keep reading.) This is distinct from the usual use of the term hominy. Grits are either yellow or white, depending on the color of corn.

Originally cooked with a weak lye solution to separate the corn from the hulls, you can cook your own grits at home with just a bit of practice - and that's no lye.  (Yes, that's another joke.  Feel free to share it with anyone who is a groan adult. Oh look another joke, I could do this all day, but let's move on.) There are literally hundreds of recipes on the Internet (what did people do before the Internet?) but I find using the directions on the side of a package of store bought grits to be the best.  (Yes, store bought. Don't look at me like that!  I'm doing the best I can here!)

It's simply grits, water and a touch of salt, stir as you bring to a boil and set aside to thicken, much like cooking oatmeal.  You can have it with breakfast or as a meal in itself.  In fact, I read recently of a wedding with a Grits Bar.  (I. Kid. You. Not. Grits served in a  martini glass with many different things with which to top or add.) And, no, you don't have to ask, it was a very Southern Wedding. 

I won't go into how to cook Haggis*. 
You're welcome.  

===================================
*Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal's stomach for cooking and serving.

ew....

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Grass Grows

Grass grows.  Not much else you can say about that, but that it grows.  Every year at this time, we drag out the weapons of grass destruction and fight a seemingly unending, non-winnable war with the lawn. Cut, Water, Growth, Cut. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. It's exhausting. Here in the South, grass grows incredibly fast.  In fact everything grows incredibly fast. It must be the moisture in the ground coupled with the moisture in the air coupled with just a touch of sadism. I end up mowing my lawn once a week just to keep ahead of it.  (And there are some weeks I feel it needs be cut more than once!) 

But then again, my lawn is mostly weeds and weeds grow faster than grass. The only time it actually looks good is when it's freshly mowed.  Then, at least I can stand back and see how nice it looks...or at least appears to look.  Once the weeds grow a bit, it's obvious they are not grass. Even my crab grass is mostly weeds.  (Just another reason to keep it mowed.) They poke their heads up and look at me like "Yeah, we're back!"  

There was a time when I used a weed and feed type fertilizer and weed killer on it.  I was out there two times a year with a broadcast spreader, just like it said on the label, making sure that every inch got covered.  Result? Greenest weeds in these parts. I expected to come out one morning and find weed experts with blue ribbons waiting for me.

The frustrating part is that the lawns around me all look so much better. They all look so flat and green, the way grass is supposed to look.  Although, I haven't been over to check, but  I'm pretty sure theirs are also nothing but weeds, too.  The "grass is always greener" effect has me also too green.

I think my neighbors all feel the same way about this war as I do, though.  When I'm out there, sweating like a pig and pushing that mower around and one of them drives by, we make eye contact and there's that nearly imperceptible nod which says they understand. "Been there, done that!" it says. "Take No Prisoners!" and off they drive.  It gives me just a bit more strength to press on.

It's rained this week. This time of year, it rains a lot. I guess I had better get out there and mow the ...lawn.
Yeah, let's call it a lawn.  My Southern Lawn (full of weeds.)  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Southern Chow Chow

Just the other day I was walking through a local thrift store and came across this coffee mug.  No, it's not a Magic Mug and so I didn't pick it up for my collection, but the product being advertised reminded me of a great southern tradition named 'Chow-chow.' (Yes, Yes, you heard right right!)

Chow-Chow is a spicy peppery pickled relish made from a combination of vegetables. Mainly any combination of green tomato, cabbage, chayote, red tomatoes, onions, carrots, beans, asparagus, cauliflower and peas are used, but here in the South, there's a little something added that you don't find anywhere else.  Chili peppers.  From Mild to Extra Hot, Spicy Chow Chow can be found all over the south.  

They say it came from the Arcadians who moved from Nova Scotia to the areas of Louisiana around New Orleans. The Cajun influence added the spice. That's the neat thing about Southern Food. What you bring in, gets the Southern Treatment. The only thing no one knows is where it gets its name. the closest guess is from the inclusion of chayote, but it's not definitive.

Ok, now the confession. I've never had Chow-chow. Not from lack of wanting, you understand.  It's just that every chow chow I've ever come across had onions. I didn't find a single one that didn't have onions. And, unfortunately, as with most Southern Foods, onions and I do not get along. (Read: Allergies.)

So, if you get a chance to taste Southern Chow-Chow, do so.  And you can tell me all about it in the comments!  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Neighbor Bubba and Facebook

Throughout the many years I've lived at my current house here in The South, I've known my neighbor, Bubba.  He has lived in the South his whole life and much of what I ascribe to 'being southern' I get from knowing him and being in such a long friendship.  Bubba is not one to follow fashion (he wears overalls most days,) is not into gourmet food (his idea of gourmet food is delivered pizza,) and, which has amazed me more times than not, he does not use a lot of modern day technology.  

Oh don't get me wrong.  He's got a cell phone and a computer in his house, but where other people find solace in them, he considers them a 'necessary nuisance.' Where other people use their cell phone for the Internet, special apps, games and social media, I am pretty sure Bubba uses his just for checking the time and making phone calls. 

It was  his birthday the other day and I asked him if he got a lot of birthday greetings on Facebook. He looked at me like I had cast aspersions on his mother and said, "Facebook?"  He took a minute to spit on the ground and rubbed it in with the heel of his boot and continued.  "No, that face place is not for birthday greetings.  My boys know that and they know I didn't raise them that way." 

Bubba went on to express his feelings about all of social media as nothing more than a repository for dancing cats and baby pictures and though it's always nice to see pictures of his cousins and his grand-babies it's not for special day greetings.  In anticipation of my next comment, it stated flatly, "No, not even through the private messaging." He did not comment further on the dancing cats. 

"Y'see, " says Bubba, "When it's some one's  birthday, or Father's day, or Mother's day or any other day you want to HONOR someone, sitting down 'atcher keyboard and typing a line or two is nothing. That's not honoring them. That's getting an obligation out of the way. That's for you, not them. You want to honor someone, you get your keister (yes, he said keister) up offa that couch, you go to the Card Store or Dollar Store or wherever you can find the right card and  you buy that card - or mebbe (yes, he pronounced it meh-bee) you MAKE a card. And then you hand write a note inside the card and mail the card. Or, better yet, you take that card over and hand present it to them mebbe along with a proper gift to show that person how much they truly mean to you. That's how you honor someone on a special day. Even a gift card that you chose and purchased online and had delivered in their electronical (Bubba pronunciation guide: E-lec-TRON-ical) email is better'n just a Facebook greeting."

(Yes, he said both 'electronical' and 'email.'  Bubba is not fluent in techno-speak.)

"Facebook?" he ranted, "That's for those borderline people where you want to say 'Hey!*' but you don't want to say 'I just saved $5 by sending you a birthday greeting on Facebook.' For your cousin, your college room-mate or those guys you play Call of Duty with, yeah, I can see that; but for important people, people that mean something in your life? No, not Facebook.  And not Tweeter or Grouple any of them other thangs. (Yes, he said 'thangs.') I am sure my Momma raised me better and I hope I passed that on to my boys, too!"  

True to his word (or his rant,) later that day, Bubba's two boys showed up with their entire families in tow along with gifts, take out pizzas and a case (or two) of non-light beer (just sodas for the kids.) They spent the early evening in celebration and then they packed said family, sleeping children and all back to their homes.  Bubba had been properly honored on his day.

Now I have a whole new Southern Perspective on Social Media and Honoring Someone Special on a special day. You want to send greetings, that's fine. But to really honor someone takes more than social media. It takes more than a keyboard. It takes something special to honor someone special.

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*'Hey' is a Southern Greeting, much like 'Hi.'  It is considered to be a shortening of the phrase "Hey, there!"


Thursday, May 14, 2015

What's That Smell?

My wife and I were out perusing the local shops this last weekend when I came upon the display above and I nearly choked on my own tongue. Ok, I'm not a stranger to Duck Tape (Yes, Duck, not Duct!) and in fact, I keep a roll of the Silver Savior in my tool shed, another on the back porch and yet a third in the car. (There might be one in my night stand, but I'm not admitting to anything.) Duck Tape is almost a requirement for a suthun man to keep handy - but this was something totally unexpected. 

It wasn't that long ago when found that Duck Tape had come out with such wonderful things as colored Duck Tape, both solid colors and playful patterns. Though a Justin Bieber Duck Tape leaves me rather cool I can totally understand zebra stripes, polka dots and camouflage.

This, though... it's like something in Denmark: it smells. (I'll give you a moment to catch that Shakespearean reference. Got it? Good, let's move on.)

Seriously, it does indeed smell. Look closely (if you haven't already) and you'll see that this Duck Tape display is full of SCENTED Duck Tape. Scented. Sort of like Scratch 'N Sniff for Adults.

There are currently 6 'flavors' in 6 colors. Pink smells like Bubble Gum. Fuscia smells like cup cakes. Purple smells like grapes. Yellow smells like sugared lemons. Green smells like mint. And, lastly, Orange smells like Orange Creme. I would imagine these are best used in crafts, as using a Pink, Bubble Gum scented duck tape to repair your seat covers may not quite be what you're looking for. 

Good quality Duck Tape, now in Scents. 
It makes Cents.
And that joke doesn't make Sense.   
Ok, I'll stop with the puns now.